To Boldly Go

What made this STAR TREK so appealing to me? I haven’t seen a STAR TREK film since 1984’s THE VOYAGE HOME. I didn’t watch any of the later TV incarnations and I certainly left my Trekkie days back in my teen years. So why this particular STAR TREK and why now?

Was it the Hollywood hype? To a certain extent, guilty. Was it the attractive young cast? A little eye candy never hurts. And certainly Michael Giacchino’s score helped get me in the mood. So what was the outcome?

Two words…AWE-SOME!

Not very journalistic and certainly not grammatically correct. But accurate. I expected exciting, I did not expect moving.

Die-hard Trekkies should be pleased. There is no winking at the audience, no “Aren’t we clever?” The actors and the filmmakers commit themselves to these beloved characters and believably form the relationships that have survived since the original television series debuted over 40 years ago.

Top-notch production values, from the art direction, film editing, and sound design, to the jaw-dropping special effects showcase the film’s well-spent budget. Director J. J. Abrams not only films the action sequences with the proper amount of brio, but he allows the film its proper breathing space. And it’s the quiet moments that take this film a cut above your typical blockbuster.

And what about Giacchino’s score?

As to be expected, there is a lot more music than can be found on the Varese Sarabande soundtrack album, which is unfortunate. But leaving that quibble aside, the music accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. And in three specific moments, it reminded me why I love film music in the first place.

The love theme I mentioned in my earlier post, wasn’t quite what I expected at all. I detest spoilers, so let’s just say that “Labor of Love” is another one of Giacchino’s cleverly titled cues that exctly explains the situation. Bravo to Abrams for dialing out the sound effects and letting Giacchino’s lovely theme take center stage, providing an unexpected moment of real feeling early in the film.

The crescendo into the main theme that accompanies the film’s title card gave me a rush of musical adrenaline that I haven’t felt from film music in a long time. The applause for the words “STAR TREK” and the Starfleet emblem are only enhanced by Giacchino’s majestic theme.

That same music (part of the “Enterprising Young Men” cue on the soundtrack album) accompanies our first sight of the Enterprise. Much like Jerry Goldsmith’s parallel moment in STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE, Giacchino’s music suggests majesty, awe, and the appearance of an old friend (at least for the audience).

Giacchino’s brash score may not boldly go where no one has gone before, but it delivers us into the world of Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise with a sure musical hand. It’s no space opera, more like a space symphony, and a damn exciting one at that.

See the film in IMAX if posssible, immerse yourself, and revel in the unexpected moments of laughter, joy, and deja vu. This is a STAR TREK for a new generation and, as I said earlier, may it–and Michael Giacchino’s place within it–live long and prosper.

6 comments

  1. While the motion picture itself is phenomenal, and the sound design was worth the (IMAX) price of admission on its own, the Giacchino score was less than I was expecting.

    Maybe I was just oversold by his brilliant Incredibles and Ratatouille scores and was expecting too much, or perhaps the director was too married to the temp tracks because I thought I heard too much that seemed overly derivative. The first half worked the lower brass section so hard they appeared to go on holiday when the choir then arrived.

    What I really missed was more homage to the Alexander Courage theme. Giacchino’s greatest talent may be his ability to suggest genre. It almost seems like he was told not to.

    Not that this isn’t a brilliant score. There isn’t bad cue in the movie, and the music never gets caught in the act overselling a scene.

    This is a movie I’ll be watching several times, and a soundtrack I’ve not yet listened to alone. Perhaps I just need more time to understand the film and the part the music plays in supporting it.

    1. Those are some interesting points and I can see how you may not be sold on it just from seeing the movie. There’s a lot on screen demanding your attention. Giacchino has said he didn’t want to focus on Courage’s theme (or any of the other previous Star Trek themes) because that particular music is associated with actions and stories that haven’t happened yet. I’d have to agree with him on that one. It’s as if with the appearance of Courage’s memorable theme at the end of the film, the crew of the Enterprise is at last complete and new journeys are yet to be made.

      I hadn’t thought about Giacchino suggesting genre, so that was an interesting point. But as I see it, the Star Trek genre, at least as we’re familiar with it, doesn’t happen until the end of the film. I totally bought Giacchino’s musical world for this particular Star Trek. And there are some memorable melodies I keep hearing.

      Hopefully once you have a chance to hear the score on its own, the score may click more with you. Then again, should it do that in the film itself? However, Giacchino is also at the mercy of the sound team and other outside forces. It’ll be interesting to hear what you think once you hear the score on the album.

      1. While I think it was a good idea to not include any of the other themes (until the end credits which blurred ST-TNG and Original Series), I was very disappointed with the lack of any strong theme throughout. Sure — the first time we saw the Enterprise, the music was majestic and helped fill you with awe. But did the musical idea stand on it’s own?

        Now, while I’ve only seen the movie once and there *was* a lot going on, I can only remember one theme (I’ll call it the “Bad Guy theme” since I don’t own the soundtrack at this time) that was repeated. Where was a “Kirk” theme or a “Spock” theme? Where was a strong “Enterprise” theme?

        I have to say that the movie left me rather disappointed in terms of the music side of things. But everyone likes different things so to each their own!

        1. I think the Enterprise theme DID stand on its own. It gave me shivers when I first heard it on the CD and definitely in the movie. The “Bad Guy theme” for Nero is the other strong theme.

          As for a lack of other themes for Kirk and Spock, the way I’m interpreting it is that they’re not the Kirk and Spock (or any other characters) that we know yet. Not until the end of the film does the Enterprise crew that we know come together. Perhaps there will be themes for other characters in later installments. Maybe not. I don’t know how Giacchino will approach it (assuming he will stay on board).

          I understand your disappointment, but give it more time. It may grow on you. Then again, it may not. To each their own as you so aptly put it. :)

        2. Just got done listening to the Giacchino podcast at the new FSM Online. Apparently, in addition to Nero’s theme, there ARE themes for Kirk and Spock. What I thought of as the Enterprise theme is actually Kirk’s theme. Spock’s theme can be heard at the beginning of track 13 (and elsewhere) on the CD. Straight from the composer’s lips. :)

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