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Soundtrack review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Michael Giacchino – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Michael Giacchino – 2017)

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The “Spider-man” franchise has had a turbulent evolution over the past 15 years. The “Homecoming” movie that’s coming up now in 2017 is basically the third reboot after the Sam Raimi trilogy which stared Tobey Maguire and the two movie series “The Amazing Spider-man” which stared Andrew Garfield. Personally I really enjoyed “The Amazing Spider-man” and especially its sequel and was really upset when Sony abandoned the series. I never understood the backlash directed at those movies. Now Spider-man became a part of “The Avengers” in “Captain America- Civil War” and Tom Holland really impressed me with his spectacular cameo there. I’m sure he’ll do a great job in the red and blue suit.

Musically the franchise has benefited by some great composers and scores. Danny Elfman did a fine job for the initial trilogy but for me, once again, it was the “Amazing” series that shined. James Horner wrote a gorgeous new theme for Spidey, heroic, horn based and overall a score that was like a balm for the soul, emotional and warm. Hans Zimmer took the reins for “The Amazing Spider-man 2” and wrote one of his best scores ever, a combination of love and hatred that I listen to quite frequently even today. He twisted the James Horner emotion and took it to new depths and in the meantime he froze it to chilling levels for the “Electro” moments. If you haven’t heard his score I recommend that you do.

In “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges. Once again one of the mightiest composers of our times, Michael Giacchino is called upon to write the music.

The score opens with the theme for the “Spider-man” TV show from the 60s and it’s a nice introduction to the history of the character, as is the start of “The world is changing” which places the character in its current universe by starting with a motif of Alan Silvestri’s “Avengers” theme. This opening cue is uneven as that theme is followed by a generic motif and then a very appealing and menacing one that shows that the world is not necessarily changing for the good.

What I was most curious about was the new “Spider-man” theme which is introduced in “Academic Decommitment” (yes it’s a Michael Giacchino score so expect the puns and the funny cue titles). It’s light and catchy and I like it because it fits the new vision on the character very well. The new Spidey is basically a kid, more so than the other two before him so his theme is supposed to sound like that; it’s nothing to get too excited about or to come back to very often. It also has a heist sound to it that makes me think of Brian Tyler’s “Now you see me” scores.

What’s clear to me is that this score is not taking itself too seriously in its opening stages. The music sounds closer to Giacchino’s animation music than to his Sci-fi and fantasy outputs. The more the score progresses the more I feel like I am indeed listening to a cartoon score with the quirks and sudden changes of pace they usually have. A cue like “Drag racing / An old van rundown” makes me imagine animated animals or characters chasing each other. This doesn’t mean the music isn’t exciting and fun to listen to. This particular cue had me raising the volume more and more. It’s adventurous and spectacular and a personal highlight from this score alongside “Bussed a move” which is about the only super hero sounding track from this album.

I did hear some of the usual Michael Giacchino tricks every now and then buried under the quirks he infused this score with. Sometimes I might hear a bit of “Lost” or, in the more alert moments, even “Star Trek” (check out “A boatload of trouble part 2”, “Fly-By-Night operation” and “Vulture clash” for this); those are my favourite pieces from “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. The score itself is a combination of adventurous animation music and heist music but both of them done rather regularly and I expected a bit more from Michael Giacchino since for me is is the new John Williams. “Spider-Man” is miles away from his rich back catalogue of great scores. This was a fun one time listen and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it in context but I don’t see myself revisiting it in the future.

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 66

Album excellence: 17%

Highlights:
Theme from ”Spider-Man”
Drag Racing / An Old Van Rundown
Bussed a Move
Vulture Clash
No Frills Proto COOL!

 

 

 

 

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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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