Film Score Friday: ‘Transformers 3’ By Steve Jablonsky

The score for the first Michael Bay Transformers movie was something of a shock. I wasn’t expecting much from the movie, and I anticipated even less from the movie’s score. In fact, I expected something more like incomprehensible metal percussions and minimalism in the theme department.

What Steve Jablonsky delivered was nothing short of a revelation, I had a perfect  cinematic music moment during the arrival to earth scene. A moment where the music, movie and context of my own life all blended together for one transcendent moment.  This has only happened three other times in my life, and the composers responsible were named Wiliams, Goldsmith and Shore. So believe me when I say I really liked the music of the first film.

Then came Transformers 2, an abomination of truly grand proportions. The score was solid, but unspectacular. It had none of the awe and wonder that made made the first film’s music such a joy. In the absence of that we got instrumental Linkin Park! Whoop!

Now I understand a film that is second in a franchise isn’t going to have that same freshness, but I was expecting so much better. So now here we are at Transformers 3, Jablonsky has returned with almost everyone else and I am more than curious to hear what he has to offer.

Last week I gave you a review where I hadn’t seen the movie (well TV show actually), now this week I am giving you a review where I saw the movie first before I listend to the score album. In the movie, the music wasn’t as dominant as it was in the first film, but it was far more enjoyable than the last film’s score.

Jablonsky also did a really good job of subtly reminding the audience of his beautiful themes from the first film with out rehashing them ad nasum like so many other franchise films do. My only gripe about the music in the movie is the lack of any new themes that stand up to the Auto-Bots or Scorpinok’s theme. There was real a really good opportunity for a fantastic new villain theme with the addition of Shockwave, alas it never really comes together.

How the music sounds in the movie is one thing, but this review is for the music as it stands on the score album, and I have to admit my opinion was altered once I heard the music solo. I left the movie mildly disappointed with what I had heard. The movie was awesome but I wasn’t swept away with anything particularly new sounding. Once I started listening to the music on the album I found myself instantly second guessing myself.

The score was basically everything that I heard, but with out the spectacle the quality of the music really seemed to pop. I was concurred about a lack new themes, well I found them. They were just hidden in the movie. Shockwave did indeed have a new villain them, it wasn’t particularly mind blowing, and it was a little too “Inception-y” but it was there. Sentinel Prime has a really nice, noble quite theme, and the Dark of the Moon theme is just amazing.

While listening to the score on the album did make me like it a lot more, the music as a whole is still not near as good the original. There is still a missing quality, that lightning in a bottle that Jablonsky might need to leave Transformers to find again. Maybe it is a good thing I didn’t listen before I saw the movie, perhaps mild enjoyment followed by audible disappointment is worse that the pleasant surprise that I just missed some of the good music.

Three Favorite Tracks:

Dark Side of the Moon By Steve Jablonsky: Easily my favorite track on the album, and for the first time since the first film a track I can see myself listening to over and over again. Everything about the orchestral sound of Transformers is played up in this track. It has honor, dignity and yet it’s solemness foreshadows the darkness of the film. It fits the tone of the story to perfection and sounds like a more mature version of the music Jablonsky has been writing since ’07.

Sentinel Prime By Steve Jablonsky: Of the new character themes Jablonsky has written this is the only one that works really well. The noble Sentinel Prime of the past is given the kind of them that befits the once great leader of the Auto-Bots. The only negative I can say about this theme is that I would have liked to hear a really twisted and evil version of this theme after Sentinel Prime’s betrayal.

Battle By Steve Jablonsky: Nothing like some awesome fight scene music to get the blood pumping. This track lacks an epic theme like the Scorpinok attack from the first film, but it might very well be the best action movie written for this action film franchise. The suspense it builds is almost to much to bear as it ramps up and up and up. Truly if giant robots locked in intergalactic civil war this is the music they would kick each other’s ass to.

Least Favorite Track:

Shockwave’s Revenge By Steve Jablonsky: This track holds this dubious honor mostly because of the disappointment it breeds, not because it is bad music by any means. This had the chance to be the big, awesome new villain music of the movie, instead it plays with to many of the toy’s Zimmer made popular with Inception. Now I am aware of the connection Zimmer and Jablonsky share, but at this point in time I would have hoped Jablonsky’s own sound could have come through. It also just never solidifies into anything worthwhile after the so-so beginning. Not a strike out, but a pop fly that should have been at least a two bagger.

At the end of the day this score is very solid, nothing ground breaking, but good work. Jablonsky might have exhausted his ability to write epic Transformer music, I hope he moves on to greener pastures.

Total Score:

3 out of 5

  • Linda Ulett
    July 10, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Please release the score.  I pre ordered it from amazon but then they said it was unavailable.  I love 1 and 2 and would like to add 3 to my collection

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