Film scores

Soundtrack review: The last witch hunter (Steve Jablonsky – 2015)

“The last witch hunter” is a 2015 movie starring Vin Diesel and Rose Leslie (Yrgitte for you “Game of thrones” fans) and Elijah Wood, another iconic name for us geeks. Vin Diesel is an immortal witch-hunter who must stop a plague from ravaging New York City. The score was written by one of my favorite composers, Steve Jablonsky. It’s always exciting to get a new release from him. This score is released by Milan records.

I am caught completely by surprise by the tender and heartfelt overture of “I curse you with life”. But this is a bold, 8 minute long opening cue which has time to develop and start the story. We don’t get many scores that open with such mammoth cues lately. Cues like this, if they appear, are usually left towards the end of a score when the listener has had time to connect with the music. Well Steve Jablonsky does things differently and saved an 11 minutes cue for the end. “I curse you with life” works like a suite of fantasy music. Since we are thrown right in the middle of the exciting action I guess it means we will not get a theme in this score.

The pattern for the cues is classic: melodic opening followed by a buildup and explosion. The music has a lot of electronic sounds in is as you would expect from Steve and I found some echoes of his Transformers scores in here. Nothing wrong with that, but this makes the score sound without identity at times. I guess this would be my biggest problem with “The last witch hunter”; entertaining as it sounds, it doesn’t set itself apart from similar scores we’ve heard in the past few years.

The beginning of “Well hello, witch hunter” finally shoves me and makes a statement. The momentum doesn’t carry on unfortunately and the score returns to its generic fantasy horror sound. We have the moody melancholic moments, we have the bursts of energy and we have the haunted past punctuated by the piano. One of those moments “This isn’t real” ends up as my favorite from the score.

Fans of the genre will like this one. “The last witch hunter” is not a memorable score, but it’s easy to remember because you know the sound very well. This paradox and a few exciting moments scattered through the cues is what I take with me after listening to it. Oh and I am also left with a strong desire to listen to Alan Silvestri’s “Van Helsing”.

Cue rating: 79 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 7 / 65

Album excellence: 11%

Highlights:

This isn’t real

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About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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