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Section Header
John Carter
(2012)
Composed and Produced by:
Michael Giacchino

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Tim Simonec

Co-Orchestrated by:
Andrea Datzman
Peter Boyer
Mark Gasbarro
Ira Hearshen
Norman Ludwin
Cameron Patrick

Label:
Walt Disney Records

Release Date:
March 6th, 2012

Also See:
Lost (TV)
Super 8
Medal of Honor

Audio Clips:
2. Get Carter (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

7. Zodanga Happened (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

14. The Prize is Barsoom (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

19. John Carter of Mars (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Availability:
Regular U.S. release. The CD version of the soundtrack, despite its bargain retail pricing, was advertised as being "limited," but the quantity of the production run was never specified.

Awards:
  None.









John Carter
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Buy it... if you constantly yearn for a return to the days of John Williams' symphonic adventure and fantasy style of bombastic and dynamic "space opera" grandeur from the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Avoid it... if you expect Michael Giacchino, despite his uncanny ability to emulate some of the best Williams techniques, to reach the same level of narrative mastery despite writing an enthusiastic and entertaining throwback romp.



Giacchino
John Carter: (Michael Giacchino) It only took one hundred years for Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1912 science fiction novels to be adapted to the big screen, but not due a lack of trying. The concept was originally set to become the first feature-length animated movie in American history in the mid-1930's, though MGM pulled the plug after years of production work because the concept was deemed to outlandish for audiences at the time. Through the subsequent decades, the concept languished in limbo due to perpetual assessments that special effects technology had not matured enough to do justice to the story. When Disney finally went ahead with John Carter in the 2010's, the studio envisioned a trilogy of adventures, the first establishing how the titular Earthling came to become a hero on Mars. The former American Confederate Cavalry solider is transported accidentally to Mars in 1868 and finds himself in the midst of a civil war between various races of creatures that range from normal humanoids to the tall, nasty-looking green aliens more commonly associated with the planet. A mixture of beasts from Middle-Earth and flight technology from the future collide in this conflict, and Carter fortunately discovers that due to Mars' lesser gravity and his own bone density, he has movement and fighting capabilities beyond those of the native inhabitants. There is, of course, a princess involved, as well as massive battles for control of the planet and some misdirection back on Earth to set up a cinematic sequel. Disney, however, did not impress critics and American audiences upon the debut of John Carter, the highly mixed reviews (largely praising the look but lambasting the script) translating into surprisingly poor domestic box office numbers. While the international earnings for the movie were substantially better (seemingly bringing overall grosses nearly even with the $250 million budget), Disney publicly declared the film a massive loss after all considerations. Oblivious to all of this turmoil was composer Michael Giacchino, who was instructed by director Andrew Stanton to write a hugely orchestral space opera score from the height of the 1970's and 1980's for the concept. Giacchino had affirmed his feature career scoring Pixar movies in the 2000's, but for Disney and John Carter, he impressively supplies music of a different level of bravado and scale in the fantasy genre. It's the kind of throwback assignment that typically makes composers giddy, especially with the resources available to Giacchino for this project.

For enthusiasts of John Williams' redefinition of fantasy and adventure music during the height of his career, Giacchino's approach to John Carter will be a pleasure to hear. Few composers were allowed to dominate films with shamelessly melodic and massively orchestral music in the 2000's, and such emotional sentimentality was clearly the intent here. It helps that Giacchino was once considered a possible clone of Williams back in the days of his "Medal of Honor" video game scores; while he largely abandoned that emulation after his transition to television and cinema, the composer finally returns to resurrect some of that Indiana Jones character once again for this context. To lesser degrees, you also encounter influences from Maurice Jarre (who unintentionally seems to have defined the sound of sweeping desert vistas on any planet) and James Horner (whose common use of "hanging," anticipatory bass notes resolving a few beats late is utilized several times in this work). The scope of the score is broad but conventional, using orchestra and choir in standard methodology for most of the score's duration. Exotic solo vocals and spicy percussive flavoring are afforded to the civilizations of Mars, offering some of the most intriguing moments of music in the film. The orchestra is the centerpiece, however, and Giacchino wastes little time exercising to define the score's main themes with grandeur. Two themes dominate the work, the first for the primary character (and the general adventure mode) and the second for Princess Dejah and their relationship. These ideas are woven into nearly every corner of the score, each suggested when not obviously called for and performed by conflicted sets of instrumentation to denote conflict and/or conquest. The main theme is a rollicking affair introduced in full near the outset of "Get Carter," stated with heroic brass layers and prefaced by the Williams-typical pulsating bass string rhythms. The progressions of this idea are vaguely reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia, soliciting the aforementioned Jarre connections. Its tempo resides closer to the swashbuckler domain, however, easily applying the melody to whipping and roaring action sequences later in the film. Giacchino cleverly adapts the theme to the instrumentation of Mars with increasing saturation as the score progresses, pitting it in sonic battle with the percussion of the warring species and eventually stating it fully in the choral spirit of the planet's softer tones in "Thernabout." The translation of the theme into a full-blooded waltz for the comedic "Gravity of the Situation" is a surprising highlight and a great exhibit of the composer's sense of humor.

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The love theme in John Carter will be blindingly obvious to Giacchino collectors in each of its performances because of its adherence to progressions and instrumentation nearly identical to a pivotal theme from the "Lost" television series. Teased out in "Thark Side of Barsoom," this theme flourishes with melodrama in "A Change of Heart" and poignantly punctuates the end of "Not Quite Finished." It joins the main theme in anchoring the meaty second half of "John Carter of Mars." Giacchino's secondary melodies for the various species and interests on Mars are not stated as clearly for suite purposes, but his integration of these representations is equally impressive. The themes, which range from hopeful three-note phrases to domineering five-note fanfares, cover the spectrum of the planet's peoples and their conflicting motives. The quasi-religious end is covered in the flowing theme of "The Blue Light Special" (repeated in the mid-section of "John Carter of Mars") while the militaristic alternative is handled with brass figures of dread over Giacchino's usual infusion of creative percussion sounds, in this case emphasizing metallic clicking and clanging. The composer keeps the score fresh by constantly rotating between these themes, and it always helps to have a core of robust action cues of Williams-like style. The pair of "The Prize is Barsoom" and "The Fight for Helium" are a highly engaging and enjoyable pinnacle to the action featuring the main theme, the latter even referring back to the waltz sequence for a moment. Few moments of outright dissonance (usually reserved for crescendos and stingers at the ends of cues in "Lost" style) exist in John Carter, making its listening experience on album a smooth one. The lengthy sequences of easily digestible, tonal calm or light suspense, including nearly the entire post-battle storyline at the end of the film, are worth noting for their Up-like sincerity. The final cue confirms that Giacchino's primary themes are memorable enough to anchor a trilogy, should Disney decide to take the chance. The score as a whole is extremely enjoyable, and skeptics of the sometimes deadening, muted mix of the composer's work by Dan Wallin will be relieved by a more vibrant presentation here (though reverb is still too diminished for a fantasy score of this size). The weaknesses of the work relate to its somewhat muddy enunciations of its Mars-related secondary themes and a seeming inability by Giacchino to nail the narrative flow of the story through satisfying transitions (with an extended sense of anticipation). A more clearly delineated suite of all the themes would have been merited as well. The level of Williams' story-telling mastery is constantly suggested but remains an arm's length away. Still, it's a romp of a score that touches upon several of the composer's best attributes with dynamic enthusiasm. ****   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Michael Giacchino reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.35 (in 22 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.18 (in 13,200 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 3.66 Stars
Smart Average: 3.49 Stars*
***** 157 
**** 124 
*** 87 
** 48 
* 43 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: Dan Wallin.
  NoImSparticus -- 12/23/13 (3:17 p.m.)
   Review
  FilmMusicSite.com -- 7/5/13 (1:56 a.m.)
   Michael Giacchino's compelling achievement ...
  LordoftheFuture -- 11/12/12 (7:16 p.m.)
   Great Score!
  NjabuloPhungula -- 5/21/12 (12:02 a.m.)
   Re: Dan Wallin.
  hewhomustnotbenamed -- 4/22/12 (2:14 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  




 Track Listings: Total Time: 74:13


• 1. A Thern for the Worse (7:38)
• 2. Get Carter (4:24)
• 3. Gravity of the Situation (1:20)
• 4. Thark Side of Barsoom (2:55)
• 5. Sab Than Pursues the Princess (5:33)
• 6. The Temple of Issus (3:24)
• 7. Zodanga Happened (4:01)
• 8. The Blue Light Special (4:11)
• 9. Carter They Come, Carter They Fall (3:54)
• 10. A Change of Heart (3:03)
• 11. A Thern Warning (4:03)
• 12. The Second Biggest Apes I've Seen This Month (2:35)
• 13. The Right of Challenge (2:22)
• 14. The Prize is Barsoom (4:28)
• 15. The Fight for Helium (4:32)
• 16. Not Quite Finished (2:05)
• 17. Thernabout (1:18)
• 18. Ten Bitter Years (3:11)
• 19. John Carter of Mars (8:53)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The insert includes a list of performers and short notes about the score from the composer and director.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from John Carter are Copyright © 2012, Walt Disney Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 4/2/12 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.