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Soundtrack Review

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Star Trek Beyond
Music from the Motion Picture


Composer: Michael Giacchino
Performed by: The Hollywood Studio Symphony
Label: Varèse Sarabande
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 05 August 2016

Varèse Sarabande release Michael Giacchino's original score for Star Trek Beyond. The next installment in the globally popular Star Trek franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry and reintroduced by J.J. Abrams in 2009, returns with the Enterprise crew exploring the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test...

I've been a huge fan of Michael Giacchino since his work on the Medal of Honor console game series. In fact, along with Nathan McCree's music for the original Tomb Raider game (1996), Giacchino's music was one of the first game scores that made me sit up and take notice.

I was excited in 2009, when I heard he was composing the score for Star Trek. I bought that, and wasn't overly impressed. It's a good score, just a bit repetitive and lacking any real meat on the bones. For that reason I didn't bother with Star Trek into Darkness (2013), so when the score for Star Trek Beyond landed in my inbox I was intrigued, but not expecting much.

Sadly, like his work on Star Trek, Giacchino relies too heavily on the main theme. It's referenced so many times throughout this score that I was, briefly, convinced that it was in almost every single track. It's referenced way more than in Star Trek (which used it heavily), and while it's a great theme, it's not that good that it can be used as much as it is without being a huge distraction.

As an experiment I listened to the Star Trek album again and even though I've played both scores over and over again for weeks, I'd be hard pressed to work out which track was from which film. In the end it all merges into one. It doesn't help that the first four tracks on Beyond immediately open referencing the theme.

This wasn't an issue with James Horner's scores for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - they had very distinct themes for the characters and events. Beyond just seems to have the theme and some atmospheric music that is instantly forgettable. Incidentally there was a brief nod to Wrath of Kahn in the close of 'Motorcycles of Relief'.

The album contains 18 tracks (1 hr, 01 min, 04 sec) and while Giacchino turns in an impressive enough score, I can't help thinking that it's not a patch on some of his earlier work. 'Night on the Yorktown' is this album's one stand out track that allows Giacchino to showcase that spark he's previously produced in his work for movies like Super 8. 'The Dance of the Nebula' briefly harks back to his work on Medal of Honor.


Darren Rea

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