Film Score Friday: ‘Music From The Transformers Trilogy’ by Steve Jablonsky

The Transformers trilogy is an interesting beast. The first film was a surprisingly great sci-fi action film, the second was one of the worst pieces of junk I have ever sat through and the third comes somewhere in the middle. Despite the inconsistency in quality from film to film the one thing that remained steady in it’s excellence was Steve Jablonsky’s scores.

Jablonsky comes from the Hans Zimmer cadre of film composers who have dominated the movie score scene over the last decade. Like Klaus Badelt and Harry Gregson-Williams before him, Jablonsky made a significant impact in his career collaborating with a prolific filmmaker, Michael Bay. He had several good scores prior to Transformers, particularly The Island, but it wasn’t until he scored the giant talking robot opus that you knew you were listening to a real talent who has limitless potential.

Now at the end of the Transformers saga Silva Screen Records has put together a collection of the music from the entire trilogy, celebrating some of the best action sci-fi music ever written. The music is performed by London Music Works and does a really incredible job of capturing the essence of what the music is. This is especially great considering that at times the music actually sounds quite different.

Of course whenever you have a re-recording of music by a different group of musicians you will have a slightly different sound and quality to it. Sometimes that is because they synth out some of the instruments, maybe they don’t have all the same technology to mix it together the same or it even can just be plain old less talent. One this is certain with this release, there is no lack of talent anywhere on the disc. The music is all really well put together and often times sounds stunning. I mentioned that it can sound quite different, and it can, especially when Jablonsky used metallic sounds and filters in his score, but instead of limiting the enjoyment of the music, these versions actually stand well on their own.

One case in particular actually improves on the original arrangement. The track Nest from the second film basically uses the music from the the main Linkin Park song for that film. Upon the soundtrack’s original release I commented that it basically just sounded like a bad shoe-horned in cover to further integrate the song with the movie. Thankfully it didn’t reappear to often and I was able to carry on enjoying the music. Presented on this collection the track finally makes sense to me. I don’t know if it is because they didn’t use as many rock instruments or maybe just the context of where it sits on the album, but now it is one of my favorite bits on the entire release.

Of course it isn’t all just wine and roses. I have one massive gripe to levy against the people who put this set together, where is the theme for Scorponok! Such a piece brilliant action music, I still to this day listen to that track off the original film’s soundtrack several times a month. It is one of my favorite pieces of music from all of the last decade, let alone the Transformers trilogy. Needless to say this set made a major gaff in leaving that out of the release, especially considering some of the more redundant choices later on.

Three Favorite Tracks

The All Spark by Steve Jablonsky: Another one of my favorite tracks from the original film, this is also another track that I believe improves on the original. There was a quieter quality of the original track that plays very nicely, but the more full sounding version on this release just works so much better. This track has always been associated with nobility and strength, particularly in the face of overwhelming odd. While the original track made that point well, this newer version underlines it, puts in bold and adds about twelve exclamation points.

Nest by Steve Jablonsky: As I mentioned earlier, this track was a revelation. It changed my mind on what I had considered a major flaw in an otherwise fantastic series of scores. The Linkin Park music now plays to my ears the same as any of Jablonsky’s other action oriented themes and it often exceeds them. My best guess is that the context of the music being played by new people in the larger tapestry of a three film “best of” collection really eliminated some of the jarring edges of the original version. Much like how a filter over a lens and help hide flaws on a picture, it soothes the whole thing out and makes it all more cohesive.

Dark Side of the Moon by Steve Jablonsky: When I reviewed Transformers 3 in a pervious Film Score Friday, I remarked: “Easily my favorite track on the album… I can see myself listening to over and over again.” Well, I was honest when I said that, I have listened to this track over and over again in the months since it’s release, and I am very pleased that it made the translation to this collection very expertly. I equate the minor differences in the two versions of this track to listening to your favorite song on an album and live. It has all of the quality in both versions that make you love it, but a layer of difference that almost makes it two different listening experiences.

Least Favorite Track

Arrival to Earth by Steve Jablonsky: I am shocked and almost heart broken that this is my least favorite track. Arrival to Earth is my favorite Transformers track, it might even by my single favorite track ever. I quite literatly listen to the original version of this track an absurd amount of times a month, even now five years after the first films release. So you can imagine my shock and disappointed that the version of this epic piece of music in this release is borderline butchered. It is faster, which kills the momentum the beginning of the track is supposed to create, and for some reason the whole track has a cheap sound to it, which is really surprising because nothing else on this album does. I don’t even want to talk about it any more, bad form Album, bad form indeed.

All in all I actually am impressed with this release, some of the music is superb, and it even manages to improve in places on the original. However, there is still the two massive issues with the best two pieces of music Jablonsky has ever written for the franchise, one is manhandled and almost ruined, while the other fails to even make the cut. Even with those two major deductions, the album is still a great value and a worthwhile addition to any collection, particularly one that is missing any of these three original scores.

Total Score for The Music From The Transformers Trilogy:

4 out of 5

 

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