After a record number of Hollywood blockbusters this past summer, the fall movie season deserves analysis. Film music contributor Dr. Scott Stewart came to WABE’s studio to talk about the soundtracks from the fall lineup.
“The trends for pre-holiday autumn movie-going are less summer escapism and special effects but more down to business with impressing all those Oscar voters,” Stewart said. “One of the exciting aspects of award season is that there is more premium on plot sophistication and acting. … There are terrific independents and documentaries, all of which can have interesting music.”
For soundtrack enthusiasts, Stewart recommends the recent fantasy film “Goosebumps,” based on the children’s book series of the same name by R.L. Stine.
Danny Elfman composed the score. Stewart said, “From the get-go, this is quintessential Danny Elfman — a frantic, circus-like fantasy music land with choir and even a visit from our old friend, the theremin.”
While the new film “Pan” has received relatively bad reviews, composer John Powell created a powerful score, Stewart said.
“John Powell has the Midas touch when it comes to fantasy-adventure, whether animated or live action,” Stewart said. “His incredible grasp for instrumental color and packing as much music into a small amount of time is unprecedented.”
Composer Thomas Newman wrote two scores for the fall movie season. He notably composed Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” the first time John Williams has not composed for Spielberg. Newman also composed the new James Bond movie, “Spectre.”
“The Martian” stars Matt Damon as an astronaut who is presumed dead and left behind on Mars. Harry Gregson-Williams did the score. He is known for scoring films like “Shrek,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” along with video game work on “Metal Gear Solid” and “Call of Duty.” The film is also peppered with music from Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and other disco artists of the ’70s.
Stewart said, “Harry Gregson-Williams did some nimble ducking and diving around the disco hits by matching keys and tempos to come in and out of the pop tunes with his symphonic soundtrack.”
James Horner, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated composers, died in a plane crash in June. He left behind soundtracks for films that were in post-production. They included “Southpaw,” which came out in July, and “The 33,” which will be released this week and is based on the 2010 San Jose mining disaster in Chile.
Of course, the most anticipated film of the season is “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” with composer John Williams at the helm. Ticket sales in advance of the opening have already crushed much of the competition.