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Soundtrack review: Colossal (Bear McCreary – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Colossal (Bear McCreary – 2016)

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“Colossal” is a 2016 science fiction comedy film directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo. The film stars Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Simon Pegg, Agam Darshi and Tim Blake Nelson. After losing her job and boyfriend in New York City, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) moves back to her hometown in upstate New York only to discover how strangely connected she is to an enormous Kaiju attacking Seoul, South Korea. The music was written by Bear McCreary because why not, who else could navigate a plot like this from the inside.

After an ominous prologue the composer surprises me with a piano and string driven theme, “A monster hypothesis” which makes me think of a long drive down the coast towards an isolated place where I will be alone. The way the piano plays evokes the images of trees moving fast by my window and I think this is one of the first moments ever when a score by someone else makes me think of Alexandre Desplat since his way of using the piano is his trademark.

The music of “Colossal” is not at all monster oriented; Bear didn’t go for the thrills, he wanted his music to express the emotions, be they good or bad, and be they joy, sadness or fear, of the main character.  There is a certain familiarity in the score as I’ve heard it in dark thrillers a few times before. Usually I expect Bear McCreary’s music to always surprise me and this sometimes hurts the listening experience; this score is quite beautiful and the string passages hit the spot but the rest of the music just falls in the normal thriller category that could work in any number of movies.

Bear’s signature finally comes in the grungy “The most irresponsible thing” where I recognize his delightfully neurotic style. It’s just an exception though in an otherwise quiet score. “The birth of a monster” shows potential as it has an intense buildup but the sensation doesn’t last for long. “Colossal” is like a monster that resides underwater and every now and then rears its huge and scary head above the lake but most of the times I just feel it’s threatening presence without much else. It’s dark and not a lot more.

I will take away from this score the few scattered moments of string melancholy and the exciting finale. I will come back to my thoughts on “Colossal” once I hear how it works in context.

Cue rating: 78 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 41

Album excellence: 17%

Highlights:

The Colossal Finale Part 1

The Colossal Finale Part 2

 

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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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