I recently went to see the new Star Trek movie and I was grinning ear to ear from start to finish. I must note that I am a Trekkie and an avid science fiction fan. I am also a huge follower and listener to Michael Giacchino, whom in my opinion delivered his best performance in the Star Trek Saga yet. This article will feature which were my favorite tracks and why, from the latest epic in the Star Trek universe.
Logo and Prosper: (I absolutely love how Michael names his cues btw.)
The opening track completely fulfills its duty as a main title should. It gives us the main theme that we have to come to know and (I) love. The tone and mood here is more sombre and darker than the past openers. We are then hinted with the strings and building choir that is also familiar. I also enjoyed the hints at T.O.S. theme throughout this whole film.
Thank Your Lucky Star Date:I do not get tired of a theme if it is well written and fitting. Here we open with our main theme again and then delves into a romantic piano interlude featuring an arpeggiated version of this theme. The reverb swell on this piano is perfect. The strings with the counter melody that sweeps in keeps the listener’s ears tuned in to the film and in return are following the music closely for the next cue in direction.
Night on the York Town:I will just say straight forward this is my favorite cue for this film. This may be my new favorite cue from Michael Giacchino period. The development of theme, dynamic range, orchestration, and of course the mixing and performance all glue together in a way that is beyond phenomenal. We start off with mark tree and that haunting piano from earlier. We are treated with a growing string part that is humbling and nostalgic in unity. The minor turn around into our new theme is in good taste. We know the piece is modulating but into what? The staccato strings and horns and bells are light and almost playful. The mood here is welcoming as we see the new star base for the first time. You can not help yourself but be filled with wonder. The soaring melody for this scene and dramatic choir knock this one out of the park for me. I have been listing to Michael’s music since he scored the original Medal of honor games in the early 2000s. This piece reminds me very much of the music form those war games. It is welcoming, heroic and yet heavy with thought and feeling. I think this is one of the movies best themes and a great one that I wish I heard more of. It is not easy to write an anthem for humanity and what we can achieve. This is one of those moments for me. It is something I find very few composers can do, but has been done by James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams. In my opinion Michael Giacchino has made that leap with this one cue. Even the rest of the cue, which is darker and more subdue is still perfectly in tune with the picture. We can hear all the elements from before and are wrapped in an emotional blanket all the way through.
The Dance of the Nebula: This cue comes right in where we leave off at Yorktown. As the Enterprise approaches the unknown we are hinted with bits a the theme. Ominous string ostinatos and wailing instruments tell us of the danger that lies ahead. There are glimpses of hope and then strike the classic vibraphone and percussion heralding suspense. The suspense building here is spot on with what we see on screen with the nebulas and asteroids and so much floating around the enterprise.
A Swarm Reception:This scene is beyond intense. From a movie perspective this is a new type of enemy and attack on the Enterprise. The music is what sells this. There is so much sound going here with the sound effects but that is balanced well here with the music. The camera keeps jumping from in and out the ship and the music follows this dynamic well. The music let’s us know the enterprise is doomed and is going down long before it happens. Sonically we know the swarm has the upper hand. I love the string glissandos towards the end a lot.
Hitting the Saucer a Little Hard:This piece picks up right where the swarm leaves off. The strings are working hard here. With tremolos, glissando, and ostinato, this is tense. One can also here woodwinds and percussion sharing lines much like in William’s work. The B section here reminds me again of Medal of Honor which is definitely a plus. It is war and the ship is going down, meanwhile the modulations are going up, just adding to the feelings of tension rising here. The percussion and strings here feel so in tuned with a William’s score but this is all original work here. Just as one can hear Stravinsky and Holst in William’s music, it is a sign that all composers listen to each other to enrich their vocabulary and write good music. It is a way to learn and is not a negative attribute by any means. I enjoyed the second half of this cue with the rich horns and choir. So sad as we see the Enterprise falling to her death. (Honestly we know they will build another.) This is the requiem and it’s a mighty fine one i will admit. In a movie one only has so much time in a scene to convey a feeling, idea, or mood. This cue is 6 minutes, but the sad ending starts at the 4 minute mark. So in 2 minutes, the music has to say this is the end of the Enterprise in an unforgettable fashion. Here this “requiem for the Enterprise” is not long at all but in a matter of seconds the whole audience is sharing the same feeling seeing the ship lost in battle. That is the job of the composer.
I am always one of the last people out of the theater. I have to watch all the credits and see all the people that made this experience possible. If you’ve never done it, you will be shocked just how many people entertained you for 2 hours. Another thing to note about this is some of my favorite parts of a soundtrack are played for the credits. Many composers use the credits as a way to sum up the whole movie by the score. One will hear versions of main themes and characters’ themes all revisited here; all modulating and flowing into each other. I think it is something that all films should do. Michael Giacchino does not disappoint and has done that for each Star Trek movie. I love that you hear the original star trek theme at the end, because tradition is key in a story line like this one.