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Soundtrack review: The Meg (Harry Gregson-Williams – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Meg (Harry Gregson-Williams – 2018)



“The Meg” is an upcoming science fiction action horror film directed by Jon Turteltaub with a screenplay by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Erich Hoeber, based on the 1997 science fiction book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten. The film stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, and Cliff Curtis, and follows a group of scientists who must stop a 75-foot Megalodon shark from terrorizing a beach. Harry Gregson Williams wrote the score, almost 20 years after contributing to another big shark movie, “Deep blue sea” where he helped Trevor Rabin. Harry is having a bit of a comeback in 2018, this is his third project after “Breath” and “The equalizer 2”.

The opening cue “Sub disaster” is quite fetching for me with the ominous tone (written in the purest electric HGW sound) and the heavy, pulsating beats that evoke the depth of the ocean and also represent a little homage to disaster scores of old. Every now and then there’s an echo of an animal sound that makes me think of Godzilla. As an opening cue, this hybrid between classical HGW and horror works very well. I must admit I was expecting a generic RCP inspired action score (not that it’s a bad thing) but I’m getting all sorts of nice surprises from this musically speaking. After the bombastic start comes the melodic “A new world” which is one of those cues that could work for a nature documentary about oceans, vast and almost sweeping in sound. This score gets me interesting, make me want to listen to it and anticipate what’s next instead of only making me excited for the movie.

As the score progresses I count it as the best from HGW’s recent efforts. I recognise the more pleasant parts of his electronic sound as the mix with a fresh monster menace sound for the action moments. The quieter passages are also nice and even if this doesn’t sound like much of a compliment, what I enjoy most about this score is that it never gets frustrating; when you are listening to as many scores as I do and hear all sorts of compositions sometimes the patience starts to wear thin with certain pieces but it’s not the case here.

There are also these sudden broad, sweeping motifs, like the middle part of “Prehistoric species” which for me touch on my best memories of orchestral disaster movie music, like “Jurassic park”. There are choirs, there are pounding percussion motifs and yes there is that dark monstrous sound that a score like this cannot succeed without. Other times the music just explodes in the epic sound of “Toshi’s sacrifice”. In recent year my favourite sci-fi scores have been the ones written just like this, always deep dark but with sudden warm melodic or epic inserts. I get the heroism, I get the action and adventure, I get the fear and this means that “The Meg” achieves it’s purpose also as a standalone listen.

I got more than I expected from “The Meg” as it was more layered, more nuanced than your average monster movie score and this certifies that Harry Gregson-Williams is back and this can only be a good thing for film music fans.

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Sub Disaster
Prehistoric Species
Toshi’s Sacrifice
You Saved Me
Dr. Zhang
To Our Friends

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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  1. Fabthelaw 8th August 2018

    Actually, Breath (the film) was released in 2017. But count Early Man as a 2018 release, so that still makes three.


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