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Star Trek: Into Darkness by Michael Giacchino (Review)

posted May 21, 2013, 5:45 PM by Kaya Savas

I remember sitting down with my Playstation in 1999 and playing a video game called Medal Of Honor. Beyond the gameplay, WWII setting and long nights with friends playing till 1am there was the music. That’s how I was introduced to Michael Giacchino. Ever since then I have listened, watched him grow as a composer, watch him accept his Oscar and he continues to move and thrill me with his work. Nothing has changed since 1999. Giacchino is still one of the most thrilling and talented auteurs working in the music industry, and his music continues to do wonders. Star Trek: Into Darkness sees Michael re-teaming with J.J. Abrams for their 4th picture together. Don’t forget they also worked on two shows as well (Alias and LOST). The first Star Trek was a big, loud and thunderously exhilarating score. It also had heart and emotion. Giacchino made Star Trek his own as his themes and motifs took shape yet he still paid tribute to the past with Alexander Courage & Gene Roodenberry’s original TV theme. The score was pure Giacchino, and it made the film an absolutely entertaining blast. Now Giacchino returns to the Star Trek universe with Star Trek: Into Darkness. This time the score is even stronger as it relies less on the bold themes and more on structure. It has heart and it’s a riveting listen. 

Star Trek has in incredible musical history from the TV series to the films. With composers like Courage, Horner, Goldsmith and many more adding their voice it makes it easier for a new composer to make it their own. As Giacchino brings us back into the world we immediately dive right into the plot. Cumberbatch plays Khan in the film and Giacchino gives him a brilliantly simple theme that is just perfect. The theme blends into the score very well and it’s not overpowering in a way that calls attention to itself. It allows the character to define itself instead of the music defining it. This isn’t "The Imperial March" or the Joker’s theme here, which is great. The score relies less on the main theme this time around allowing it to feel like a legitimate extension of the first one yet still reminding us this is Star Trek. “The Kronos Wartet” (hilarious track title) is a fantastic track that brings in a chorus and really creates a deep and heavy sound while still being propulsive. Just listening to the flow of the music is stunning. The music goes where it naturally should but Giacchino always adds the ups and downs to make it constantly engaging. Everything wraps up nicely in a similar fashion to how the first film’s score wrapped up.

Star Trek: Into Darkness is a fantastic orchestral romp through space. The music is deeper and more rounded this time. It gives a sense of weight to the film’s plot and adds the epic scope that J.J. Abrams was going for. The score is always energetic with an organic emotional current running through it all. Unfortunately the album only runs for about 44-minutes, which is a shame. This is exactly what happened last time, but we got a limited edition 2-disc set for Star Trek 1. So I’m hoping the same will happen. I could get into a long rant about how recording in The United States always leads to disappointingly short albums (higher prices, fees and royalties for orchestras), but will not. I’m sure it makes sense financially to release a 44-minute album and then a limited issue expanded release, but it shouldn’t be that way. Anyway, here’s hoping this sells well and we get an expanded release in the future. For now we can enjoy Michael’s terrific work in this compressed version, which is still superb.