Tony Black reviews the Star Trek Beyond score…
If there is one composer who in the last decade has truly risen to be one of the greats in cinema, it’s Michael Giacchino, and his scores for the J.J. Abrams spearheaded Star Trek reboot series have been among his glittering achievements. He managed to blend for the first 2009 movie a soaring mesh of Alexander Courage’s classic original 1960’s TV theme with a rip roaring adventure sensibility, while in the 2013 sequel he added dark, melancholic and sinister details within the tapestry to deliver a score in many respects better than the movie itself. Star Trek Beyond, his third orchestral work in the series, is a lighter and brighter score to reflect Justin Lin’s lighter & brighter picture; a bravura mixture of themes he’s been weaving since the first reboot film, fused with a brace of exciting action beats and memorably epic refrains to befit a film celebrating 50 years of science-fiction’s most famous franchise. It’s one hell of a musical roller coaster ride.
The standard revived Star Trek theme kicks us off with ‘Logo & Prosper’, short but sweet and in keeping with how Giacchino always kicks off these themes, but there just feels an extra added sense of measured gravitas and weight this time around. ‘Thank Your Lucky Star Date’ continues that feeling of substance, as his music helps to reintroduce the crew of the Enterprise with a mix of emotions. It’s with a stunning connected piece of three tracks where he blows the doors off however – firstly ‘The Dance of the Nebula’ escalates tension neatly with steady flutes and building drums signalling the Enterprise heading, quite literally, beyond, before ‘A Swarm Reception’ kicks into gear the first major set piece of the movie as drums and violins rhythmically pound in equally pulse-pounding fashion, set to a devastating attack on everyone’s favourite starship. ‘Hitting the Saucer a Little too Hard’ not only continues Giacchino’s delightful penchant for whimsical cue titles, but caps off the extended action sequence with power before a mournful choir caps us off with heart wrenching sadness.
Gearing into new areas, Giacchino delivers a genuinely alien refrain for ‘Jaylah Damage’, with a decidedly Arabian texture, before later the accompanying ‘Mocking Jaylah’ almost steals the show with a stonking, stomping array of spiralling, complex cues which give Jaylah her own central heroic and desperate battle music. After a rousing set of climactic beats which follow through on the work established in earlier tracks, Giacchino brings everything back down to earth for ‘Par-tay for the Course’ at the end, softly concluding the tapestry before leading into what stands as his finest rendition of the ‘Star Trek Main Theme’ yet, a much more slowed down delivery of his own reworked take on the material, which only makes it sound more epic and significant as the film concludes a story which truly crafts the Enterprise crew as we know and love them.
It’s hard to say if Star Trek Beyond is the best Michael Giacchino score in this franchise because, frankly, they’ve all been terrific in different ways depending on the texture of the movie. What he succeeds in achieving for Beyond is retaining the successful version of his own Star Trek score while unleashing the action adventure stylistics which characterise the picture itself, resting alongside what we see on screen neatly. It’s too early to tell if this is a classic Trek score, but it certainly has standout cues akin to tracks such as ‘Enterprising Young Men’ or ‘The Kronos Wartet’ from the previous two films, and for that alone deserves to stand at least on a par. Once again, a home run from one of the new masters.