When watching a movie, one of the biggest selling points for me on an emotional level is the score. Be it character development, action sequences, or comedic moments, the right music can enhance almost any part of a film. You need look no further than recent hit Baby Driverto see just how much impact a soundtrack can have on a film. Truly great soundtracks don’t just enhance movie moments; they make movies unforgettable. When you hear the overpowering “Dun-Dun” of the Jaws theme, does the fear of the movie not come running back to you?
While fantastic scores often co-align with fantastic movies, that is not always the case. Sometimes, fantastic scores find themselves teamed up with not-so-fantastic movies. In many of these cases, rather than overshadowing the movie, the soundtrack actually saves it. Here are some cases where truly memorable soundtracks redeemed their movies.
1. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ (2014)
While I personally enjoy this film, there is no denying that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was critically a disappointment. The score, however, was phenomenal. They managed to hire Hans Zimmer for the soundtrack, who is undoubtedly one of the best composers in Hollywood right now. Zimmer is best known for composing the score for Inception, The Dark Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Lion King.
Zimmer managed to create a powerful and moving score for the film, with a new, recurring Spider-Man theme that I particularly enjoyed. The blaring horns at the end of the film put me at the edge of my seat. Add into that the awesome techno-tinged Electro theme by Pharrell Williams, and the soundtrack for Amazing Spider-Man 2becomes a worthwhile purchase.
2. ‘Tron: Legacy’ (2010)
There was a lot of buzz and excitement for the long-awaited reboot of Tron when it was released 7 years ago. While the movie did disappoint most critics, the soundtrack did not.
Composed by the 6-time Grammy award-winning French band Daft Punk, the score really helped to spice up some of the action sequences. The music manages to vary in moods, making the action sequences fun and exciting, and making the deep, touching moments slow and moving.
3. ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (2016)
Reviews of The Magnificent Seven were mixed, varying from pretty scathing to mostly lukewarm. Most agreed, though, that there was one knockout aspect of the movie, and that was the soundtrack.
The original Magnificent Seven theme is both iconic and has been one of my personal favorites for years. The classic theme stuck in my mind, along with the minds of many others. The soundtrack for the new film slowly eased into that classic theme. It started with the drumbeat of the theme, and kept adding different elements as the team assembled and as the story continued. By the time the credits rolled, the entire theme had pieced itself back together with full horns blaring. Honestly, it was a unique take on reusing a classic theme.
On a side note, this was actually the last score that two-time Oscar-winning composer James Horner, best known for Titanic and Avatar, composed before he passed away in 2015. Composer Simon Franglen, who had worked alongside Horner on Titanic and Avatar, took over after his passing to help accomplish Horner’s vision. And I have to say, he did a pretty damn good job.
4. ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ (2014)
This is one movie score that really surprised me. Composer Steve Jablonsky is certainly one of the lesser known composers on this list, but this soundtrack was seriously impressive. Jablonsky has worked with director Michael Bay on numerous projects in the past, including the first Transformers movie, and he certainly added a lot here. Honestly, Mark Wahlberg and the soundtrack probably saved this film.
The most badass part of this soundtrack for me is the inclusion of Imagine Dragons. Jablonsky worked alongside the music group to combine their talents and create a pretty badass score. My personal favorite track is above, and I will regularly listen to it while driving down the highway. It’s such a fun track!
5. ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ (1999)
While The Phantom Menace wasn’t necessarily bad, it did not stand very well next to the previous Star Wars films. Be it Jar Jar or the amped-up politics of the film, something really just made Phantom Menace inferior to the earlier movies.
Despite this, there are three words that save this movie: Duel of Fates. This incredible track from the score, which played during the climax of the film, is one that has become rather well-known over the last 18 years. John Williams certainly delivered again with Phantom Menace, creating yet another theme almost as good as the Imperial March.
Honestly, I could list dozens of more films where the soundtrack was the best part, but these five soundtracks in particular deserve more praise than they got. If you’ve got a movie that you love the soundtrack for far more than you love the actual movie, let me know in the comments!