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Spider-Man: Homecoming by Michael Giacchino (Review)

posted Jul 11, 2017, 1:11 AM by Koray Savas

Spider-Man in film has been a tumultuous franchise. In 15 years we have been misfortunate enough to endure six films, three reboots, and an eclectic mix of superhero scores from five-ish of Hollywood's top composers. The latest entry in Homecoming sees the famed comic book character returning into Marvel's hands after multiple failed attempts from previous owner Sony. With it comes a plethora of Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins, a fresh lead actor to bring the character back to its roots, as well as Michael Giacchino's bright and colorful musical score.

In previous scores from the franchise, the composers have always been able to pretty much nail down the tone of the character, and Giacchino is no different. Quick flourishing ostinati, percussion rhythms, and a touch of electric guitar echo the mischievous, conniving, teenage brat that Peter Parker is, while big bold, brass statements tap into the heroic mindset of the Spider-Man persona. The orchestration here takes center stage, sparking bright, thrilling passages of orchestral fervor that make up most of the action writing in the score. There are two prominent themes for Spider-Man and the Vulture that continuously play throughout, but their melodic structure leaves much to be desired, thus leaving not much of a lasting imprint once the album ends. Giacchino succeeds with the brightness and bombast, though it always feels fleeting. The volume and energy are always cranked up to 11, which may make for good, propulsive action scoring, but it sacrifices the nuance and rising build of a more complex narrative structure. With the music constantly on the precipice of climax, the score can lose sight of itself and bleed into white noise territory.

However, there are a handful of strong cues throughout the score that embody Giacchino's signature writing style. It can be refreshing when they kick in because it breaks up the wall of noise and gives the music some time to breathe. Apart from the fun rendition of the original 60s theme that opens the album, "Academic Decommitment," "High Tech Heist," and "On A Ned-To-Know Basis" highlight the Peter Parker side to the character. Moreover, "Monumental Meltdown" and "Lift Off" feature strong resemblances to Giacchino's Medal Of Honor scores from video games past, imbuing a strong sense of melody and rhythm. "Vulture Clash" has a really cool statement about one hundred seconds in that serves as a nice climax of climaxes; and lastly, the "Spider-Man: Homecoming Suite" gives you a nice sampling of everything the score has to offer, with some oddities tacked on at the end.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a good effort from Michael Giacchino, but its primary focus on flurries of orchestral bombast and high-octane action writing can blindside the listening experience a bit. The lack of a more intricate rising action in the narrative gives the music a style and energy that's hard to pin down, quickly leaving your head once it's all said and done. There are pockets of good character scoring and melodic adventure to be found throughout, giving the score a colorful spark worth checking out.