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Battleship

Battleship

By Phil Blanckley • May 14th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 2/5
BATTLESHIP (SOUNDTRACK)
Varese Sarabande / Colosseum Music

Release dates: May 8th 2012 (US), May 14th, 2012 (UK)
Running time: 78:00 minutes

Composer: Steve Jablonsky

Movie review

I always loved Battleships as a child. It was the closest I ever got to anything remotely war-like. Being a technophobe (apart from working a mixing desk that is), I never really got the hang of playing action packed video games, I was the one who couldn’t work the controls and got killed within the first minute.

Having worked on various projects for television, film and video games, Steve Jablonsky’s previous works include the soundtracks for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Transformers (2007), Desperate Housewives (2004-2012) and composing the music for video games such as Gears of War 2 (2008).

There’s no doubt in my mind that working on the Battleship soundtrack must have been like working on an extended computer game for Jablonsky. With the film being loosely based on the Battleships game, there’s plenty of action on screen to aid the composition of the soundtrack to accompany it.

 Battleship

In terms of style and compositional technique, the Battleship soundtrack is very much that of Transformers: highly repetitive, very little musical development and much of the same throughout, however in my mind I hadn’t expected much else for an action film such as this.

It doesn’t need to be orchestrated to define any level of emotion in particular. It’s there to drive the film and highlight the action. Throughout the soundtrack we see the use of the same instrumentation, and its themes are reinforced via the use of military style instrumentation and rhythms and bursts of electronic sound.

A considerable amount of the tracks appear to be ‘fillers’: there is little musical development and no establishment of melodic themes. This isn’t always a bad thing however; as on occasions this assists to put the few more notable melodic pieces on a pedestal. Most of the tracks throughout begin with an electronic soundscape accompanied by driving percussion.

TRACK LIST:

  • 1. First Transmission
  • 2. The Art Of War
  • 3. Full Attack
  • 4. You’re Going To The Navy
  • 5. The Beacon Project
  • 6. Objects Make Impact
  • 7. First Contact Part 1
  • 8. First Contact Part 2
  • 9. It’s Your Ship Now
  • 10. Shredders
  • 11. Regents Are On The Mainland
  • 12. Trying To Communicate
  • 13. Water Displacement
  • 14. Buoy Grid Battle
  • 15. USS John Paul Jones
  • 16. We Have A Battleship
  • 17. Somebody’s Gonna Kiss The Donkey
  • 18. Super Battle – Tom Morello
  • 19. Thug Fight – feat. Tom Morello
  • 20. Battle On Land And Sea
  • 21. Silver Star
  • 22. The Aliens
  • 23. Planet G
  • 24. Hopper

First Transmission opens the soundtrack with a soundscape of electronic instrumentation combined with a repetitive low staccato string riff and with percussive instrumentation that defines the rhythm, and it doesn’t really develop much more than this. The Art of War is a continuation of the first track and is much the same, with similar instrumentation and the addition of an electric guitar riff. It develops into much more of a percussive track, with the introduction of a bold brass melody mid way through. It has a heroic feel.

Full Attack creates a tense atmosphere through the use of syncopated electronic instrumentation over a repetitive electric guitar riff, which builds throughout with the addition of various electronic sounds, often panned left or right to add variation to the otherwise rather dull track.

Objects Make Impact again continues much the same, however does at one point crescendo into a burst of strings and brass before a diminuendo to almost silence. Towards the last minute of the track we see the introduction of a bold string and brass melody, which actually gained my interest and got me slightly excited. Unfortunately this only lasted for a short period, much to my dismay.

I had high hopes for First Contact Part 1, which failed to deliver (it was one of the filler tracks) as did First Contact Part 2, which was a huge disappointment as I feel there was opportunity to develop this much further in terms of melodic material and instrumentation. Even tracks such as Super Battle and Thug Fight featuring Tom Morello failed to create a contrast great enough to commend.

 Battleship

One area for which I must congratulate Jablonsky is with his use of dynamics and combination of electronic sounds. Bursts of loudness are contrasted with the complete opposite, often near silence. This works extremely well, and helps to create an atmosphere of apprehension and unknown throughout. For me this is the saving grace of the score.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the soundtrack did nothing for me. I much preferred Jablonsky’s score for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and absolutely love the material he has composed for Desperate Housewives.

I am disappointed, yet feel there must have been a little frustration for Jablonsky as he was limited as to how much he could have developed the soundtrack for a film such as Battleship. On the flip side, the music composed fits ideally within its intended genre, so for that the score cannot be criticized. It won’t appeal to everyone, but it will sit nicely on the CD stand amongst the collections of Jablonsky fans.

Unfortunately for me, it won’t be sitting next to my Desperate Housewives soundtrack.

Phil Blanckley

Phil Blanckley

Phil is a 27-year-old classically trained musician from Sheffield with qualifications in Popular Music, Classical Music and a BA (Hons) in Creative Music Technology and Sound Recording. He likes nothing better than locking himself in the studio and composing music of all genres.

Phil became interested in composing after learning how to play the Cello and Clarinet at a young age, and has never looked back since. His favourite composer is Danny Elfman, whose unconventional harmonies and rhythms in scores such as Edward Scissorhands still manage to bring a tear or two to his eye.

You can find him on Twitter @PhilBlanckley.

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