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Godzilla by Alexandre Desplat (Review)

posted Jun 11, 2014, 9:48 PM by Koray Savas

Alexandre Desplat continues his stellar year with the reboot of the infamous Godzilla franchise, which dates all the way back to the original film in 1954. The film is directed by relative newcomer Gareth Edwards, whose debut feature film Monsters boasts a similar tone and synopsis to the classic monster mayhem. This time around, however, things are much better than standard B-movie schlock, and while the film is high gloss, Desplat lets the orchestra loose for some very fine monster music fun.

There is still a general sense of drama and grandeur in the fabric of the score, but the action cues are really where the music shines, showcasing Desplat's affinity for old school orchestral bombast. His minimalist brooding style sneaks in, in a few places, but never really breaks through into the foreground (hear "In The Jungle" and "Following Godzilla"). It is certainly not Desplat's strongest of the year, as the album essentially runs on full blast throughout the entire running time, leaving little room for breath and development; however, the highlights make up for the lack of structure. The stellar opening cue, "Godzilla!" and the last act of the score, from "Two Against One" to "Back To The Ocean," make the journey worthwhile. There are some slight nods to Akira Ifukube's original score, but it never gets as close to Giacchino's 12-minute stint on Cloverfield. Moreover, there is a fantastic wailing siren call in the main theme that amps up the melody and vigor throughout the score. It is sparse, but it is a nice touch to represent Godzilla himself. Desplat also references Ligeti ever so slightly, in "Inside The Mines," and with his music having been used so heavily in the marketing campaign for the film, it comes as no surprise.

Godzilla is simply a fun way to spend 60 minutes. The lack of album structure and narrative flow disrupt the score from being a truly cohesive and satisfying journey, but the sheer energy of it all makes it hard not to like. Desplat holds nothing back and gives the orchestra a heavy workout, which can be bludgeoning at times but ultimately scratches that itch for loud in-your-face musical grandiloquence.