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Soundtrack review: The Cloverfield paradox (Bear McCreary – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Cloverfield paradox (Bear McCreary – 2018)

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“The Cloverfield Paradox” is a 2018 American science fiction horror film directed by Julius Onah, written by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung, and produced by J. J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions. It is the third installment in the Cloverfield franchise, following Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). The film stars Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, and Zhang Ziyi, and follows an international group of astronauts aboard a space station who, after using a particle accelerator to try to solve Earth’s energy crisis, must find a way home after accidentally traveling to an alternate dimension. Bear McCreary wrote the score.

The original JJ Abrams “Cloverfield” movie made quite a splash and so did the marketing for this prequel which dropped out of nowhere on Netflix right after the SuperBowl. It was funny to read on twitter people actually urging the game to end faster so they could see the movie. Bear McCreary is a special kind of mad genius and one of the more unique and chameleonic voices in film music. He can write the most spectacular orchestral scores of the most insane rock score and everything in between, including emotional compositions like “Rebel in the rye”. This time is seems he goes into space opera orchestral mood as it’s clear right from the sweeping and vivid “Overture”.

Every now and then a composition comes along that I know right from the start will be a classic, one for the ages. I felt it when Michael Giacchino opened “Jupiter ascending” and I felt it again this time as soon as the second cue, the dreamy and emotional piece “Ava and Michael” graced my ears with soulful and passionate motifs and elegiac choirs. I also adore scores that open up orchestrally with every new cue as if the more we advanced on the musical epic thread the more layers were added by the composer. The third cue “Converging overload” could stand proud on a Star Wars score as a spectacular and meaningful action piece. We have emotion, we have action but this is a sci-fi horror movie so the dark and scary motifs start developing from “Drifting in the dark” with stormy strings and frantic movements.

Bear’s comfort zone could very well be the horror genre and he creates a slimy and uncomfortable texture here that raises the hairs on the back of my head; its not quiet either, it’s the kind of stabbing, screeching horror sound that is so effective. Then it goes quiet but still creepy and menacing and this back and fourth with long cues makes the atmosphere of the score dense and believable. The majority of “The Cloverfield paradox” is dark and tense just like I would expect from a movie with a story like this; no further than last year we had “Life” which ended up producing one of the best scores of the year. As a fan of both the movie genre and this sound I can only sit back and enjoy, from the safe comfort of my house, the horror show that Bear McCreary is putting forth.

“The Cloverfield paradox” is a dense and robust full orchestral score where you will find everything that makes Sci-Fi horror tick, from quiet desperate moments to cues where the composer just lets the orchestra loose and a current of adrenaline rushes through every performer and instrument and something spectacular comes out. There’s also a main theme that creeps its way through different cues until it sticks inside my head. Bear McCreary wrote a complex and memorable score that works so well also outside the context of the movie because it provides the suspense, story elements and entertainment on its own. And “Spacewalk” will surely be one of the best cues of 2018.

I feel like even this isn’t enough to convey just how good this score is; I am grateful to find such spectacular, melodic and emotional stories where it’s clear that the composer was in a state of grace, that the script and movie inspired him and that all the elements came together to favour a magnum opus where the final four cues alone, worth half an hour, should be presented and taught in music film school together with your favourite John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith pieces. Do not miss this one.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 59 / 76

Album excellence: 77%

Highlights:
Overture
Ava and Michael
Converging Overload
In the Wall
Jensen
Molly
Airlock 6
A Message for Ava
Magno-Putty
Spacewalk
Launch Sequence
A Stable Beam
The Cloverfield Paradox

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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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