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Soundtrack review: The 5th wave (Henry Jackman – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The 5th wave (Henry Jackman – 2016)


I must admit that as varied as Henry Jackman’s work has been so far, I don’t think I’ve heard him quite like in “Tsunami”. This is a stabbing and serious horror cue which goes all in and affects me even if I’m not listening to it in the darkness. I would go as far as saying it’s almost Herrmannesque in darkness. I don’t know if it was intended as homage to Bernard Herrmann but the level of chills was right up there. Yeah, I imagine this is the horror a tsunami brings. “Aftermath” makes me nod once again because it’s as heartbreaking and quiet as I would expect it.

But as enjoyable as the more emotional moments are, it’s the action part that really gets to me. Those are clear and honest and I connect with them instantly. Many other moments though are the kinds that require further listening from my part. Every now and then Henry Jackman writes a score like this which is complex and will probably be very divisive among film music fans. I love the pace and the ticking in the background but there are times when the music loses me a bit and I need to refocus.

The more I listen to the score the more I feel as if there’s something missing; it doesn’t have anything to do with the music, it’s just that “The 5th wave” sounds like the type of score which is eternally related to the movie. I feel as if I have a few puzzle pieces that don’t fit; the music as clearly written with the images in mind and will work much better in context. The standalone listen lacked something for me. this happened with “Captain America: The winter soldier” as well: the score wasn’t easy to listen to but once I heard it in the movie it all made sense.

“The 5th wave” is both interesting and puzzling. I enjoyed it a lot even with the few hiccups it had in the first half and I love the place the composer took it for the second one: a quiet, almost atmospheric musical land where I feel very comfortable and relaxed. The cues from “Flashback” on are the kind of reflective treasure I will keep close for special moments.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 29 / 54

Album excellence: 54%



Wright Patterson

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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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