Review: Star Trek (2009) Score

Star Trek, Score by Michael Giacchino
Star Trek Score, by Michael Giacchino

The new Star Trek score has a lot to live up to – the scores for all the original movies are all very memorable (some for good reasons, some for bad), and even the TV shows had great scores and themes (I especially love the Deep Space Nine theme).

Still, with a changing of the guard and a reboot, we also get a new take on the Trek themes and music from Michael Giacchino.  Does the new score live up to the standards set by the ones before it, or does it fall flat when compared?  Read after the jump to find out!

JJ Abrams has always stated that he was more a fan of Star Wars growing up than of Star Trek (I was too, honestly), so it’s no surprise that the score reflects that a bit.  While of course there are throwbacks to the theme of the original Star Trek series, the score emphasizes a new Trek theme that, while not quite reaching the iconic status I think it goes for, is relatively effective.  This is the score for an adventure film – there aren’t the military touches of Wrath of Khan, or some of the more epic granduer of some of the later films.

The composer, Michael Giacchino, actually won a Grammy (and was nominated for an Academy Award) for his work in the Pixar flick Ratatouille, and also did the score for The Incredibles. His background is relatively family-friendly, including flicks like Sky High and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, but in 2006, he hooked up with Bad Robot (JJ Abrams’ production company) and has done MI3, Cloverfield, and now Star Trek for them.  He also did Speed Racer, so he’s definitely into that retro-sounding vibe that you’ll hear in the last track on the CD (mentioned below).

The first time I listened to the score, I was underwhelmed.  It’s hard to listen to a score without having seen the movie first.  Very few movie scores can stand wholly without the film they come from and those few that can are exceptional.  I’d actually say one of the few scores I’ve heard in recent years that can stand without the media it came from is a video game score-Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.  Better than most movie scores!  Anyway, not having seen the new Star Trek, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage – the songs on the CD won’t remind me of a favorite scene in the movie, or how I felt watching it in a movie theater.

The Score has some...interesting track names
The Score has some...interesting track names

After repeat listenings, the score grew on me.  I heard some of the subtle themes Giacchino was going for, and found myself enjoying it.  The new Star Trek theme is very good – and borders on the epicness that they’re going for, but falls just shy.  Oddly enough, for a good portion of the soundtrack, I half expected a song to abruptly end and break into the Star Wars theme – I think the new Trek theme of this actually reminds me quite a bit of the “Battle of the Heroes” theme from Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Track 14, “To Boldly Go,” will be a standout fave for most Trek fans, despite its short running time.  I’m sure Chris Pine will be doing the “To Boldly Go…” speech while this plays before the movie’s credits.  Other standouts include the final track (“End Credits”), the first track (“Star Trek”), and one called “Hella Bar Talk.”  I’m assuming the name of the bar is Hella Bar, and that they’re not meaning that the bar talk is “hella.”  Hopefully.

After a few listenings, the score has definitely grown on me.  Will it be in heavy rotation on my iPod?  Probably not – few tracks stand as good separate tracks, but many are good movie score tracks.  If you’re a fan of Trek, I probably don’t need to tell you to pick this guy up.  If you’re not necessarily a Trek fan, but dig movie scores, I recommend picking up the standout tracks online above and giving them a listen to see if this’ll be up your alley.

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1 comment on “Review: Star Trek (2009) ScoreAdd yours →

  1. I just picked up the ST soundtrack and generally agree with your review, BUT I must say my two favorite tracks (cues) are 3 – Labor of Love and #5 Enterprising Young Men. The latter gave me goosebumps.

    Also, I SWEAR I hear a Lost phrase in #4.

    Nice job.

    My apologies I didn’t see the button or I would have clicked thru from IoM.

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