Jupiter Ascending has all the makings of an instant classic. With stunning CGI effects creating the most beautiful canvas, megastar leads in Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, writing by the team that brought us The Matrix, an enormous $175 million budget and drawing comparisons with Star Wars, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and even Harry Potter. What could go wrong? Amidst the truly shocking reception of the film by cinema-goers, there is one thing the movie makers can be proud to hang their hat on, and that is the gorgeous score by the multi award winning composer Michael Giacchino.
Giacchino is certainly developing an impressive discography, penning the score’s to some of the most revered projects in recent history. Not only can he proudly lay claim to his work on Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Star Trek, Lost and the Call Of Duty series, but has also taken home multiple Grammy’s, an Emmy, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. If nothing else, the team at Jupiter Ascending sure did get it right with their selection of composer. Giacchino is about as exciting as they come, and boy has he delivered.
With 23 tracks, spanning two discs, Giacchino gives us over 100 minutes of soundtrack heaven. The grandeur of this new world is not understated, with a big bold opening in the form of Jupiter Ascending – 1st Movement, the orchestra immediately fierce and moving quickly into a suspenseful and lonely operatic vocal whose melody will serve as the theme of the film. Jupiter Ascending – 3rd Movement romances us into a false sense of security, with pretty keys acting as a kind of lullaby before the real drama begins to unfold after the one minute mark. The choir’s sporadic vocal contribution makes for a fearful suspense, which is rife throughout the entire score. Scrambled Eggs serves to prey on that fear once again, with Giacchino’s quirky title not to be underestimated. The Shadow Chase delivers more of what you would expect from the title, with a chaotic blend that is just downright scary.
Moving on to disc two, there is more of the same in It’s A Hellava Chase save for perhaps a little more whimsy, even a wacky waltz at the six minute mark that works to make it beautiful and all the more deranged. Abdicate This! would make for a brilliant fight scene as would the aptly titled Flying Dinosaur Fight which gave me my favourite marching percussion performance of the entire score. The ten minute Commitment is a thing of beauty, playing with every emotion they’ve hit on so far and bringing this epic score to a fitting end.
All in all, I can’t for the life of me work out what has gone so horribly wrong with this film. The soundtrack is truly masterful, with terrifying confrontations, moments of tenderness and a fun sense of magic all working in it’s favour. The use of strings and horns is lovely, while the control Giacchino demonstrates in his use of percussion and choir vocals makes for an exciting and unpredictable ride that surely can only translate on the big screen? But by all accounts, while the film may fall flat for some, the soundtrack is the kind of piece that makes me thankful I’m a music reviewer, and not a movie critic.