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War for the Planet of the Apes (Michael Giacchino) 

August 2, 2017

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

Michael Giacchino, 2017, Sony Classical
17 tracks, 75:10

Michael Giacchino can’t escape the planet of the apes and thus returns to the planet of the apes with a score for the War for the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Directed by Matt Reeves (who also directed Dawn…), War ftPotA tells a tale in which Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. Mind you, Caesar is a monkey, not a Roman emperor. So I’d expect banana-peel booby traps, shit-flinging and Clyde giving it the middle finger. That Michael Giacchino would be scoring the movie was pretty much a gibbon, considering he scored Dawn… and you’d think his approach would be along simian lines.

What does it sound like? And is it any good?

I wasn’t (and still am not) a fan of Giacchino’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, so it’s with some trepidation that I dived into War. My problem with Dawn being that it feels like sound design more than music. Sure, it has a main theme, but it’s sparsely used in my opinion. Despite the score coming to life towards the end, the overall atmosphere of Dawn is one I can’t really appreciate. Not then, not now. It is just a bit too abstract for me.

War is different; and better for it. Let’s start with the secondary ‘main’ theme. First heard in “The Great Ape Processional” on Dawn, it makes a repeat appearance in the sequel score. Although quite a simplistic, almost childish, melody, it sounds quite poignant during “Paradise Found”. It does remind me a bit of something from Jurassic World, as do most of the quiet parts. I like this gentle side of Giacchino so I don’t mind these similarities. There’s something really reassuring about it, almost like a lullaby.

War comes with a new central theme (I don’t believe it’s in Dawn). It is a very simplistic descending motif, first heard in “Exodus Wounds”. It arguably only has three notes with varying chords behind them. But again, there is something rather noble and beautiful about it. Giacchino offers many variations ranging from solo piano performances to sweeping orchestral statements. So simple, so effective.

Also first heard in “Exodus Wounds” is another central theme; a somewhat more sinister 9-note melody. It’s brass lead and has a rather John Barry-esque vibe to it. I think it reminds me a little of The Black Hole, but could easily be some 60s Bond villain theme. Again, I’m not complaining! It too returns throughout in many guises.

So we have a number of strong themes recurring throughout the album in numerous variations. Already it’s infinitely more enjoyable than Dawn was. In terms of style and orchestrations it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from Giacchino. The writing and orchestrations are very detailed and sophisticated. The choir makes for a nice addition and helps make the score feel a little more epic. At times it’s a little interchangeable with Jurassic World and Star Trek, but I’m not one to mind that very much.

It is, however, a very long album. Seventy-five minutes of apes music is probably 20-or so too many. There is a fair bit of atmospheric filler music that isn’t all that interesting to listen to. Still, there is plenty to enjoy here. I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Rating [3.5/5]

Tracklist:

01. Apes’ Past is Prologue
02. Assault of the Earth
03. Exodus Wounds
04. The Posse Polonaise
05. The Bad Ape Bagatelle
06. Don’t Luca Now
07. Koba Dependent
08. The Ecstasy of the Bold
09. Apes Together Strong
10. A Tide in the Affairs of Apes
11. Planet of the Escapes
12. The Hating Game
13. A Man Named Suicide
14. More Red Than Alive
15. Migration
16. Paradise Found
17. End Credits


Review (C) 2017 Synchrotones

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