This is actually the first time I have ever written exclusively about movie soundtracks. Not even sure how to articulate my thoughts or describe music, but here goes!
I’m trying to create a list of my top movie soundtracks. This is not the way the Oscars pick their nominees, there is no evaluation of technical skill or difficulty. It’s just music that I like.
I’ll probably write about one or two films in each post, based on some sort of thematic similarity. Today’s post is about two movie soundtracks composed by the same person – John Powell.
John Powell specializes in two very different genres of films. On one hand, he is the man behind the scores of many successful animation films from Fox Animation/ Blue Sky Studios (The Ice Age movies, Robots, Horton Hears a Who! and Rio) and Dreamworks Animation (Antz, Road to El Dorado, Chicken Run, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon). But he has also composed the score for several high octane action films like Face/Off, the Bourne series, The Italian Job, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I don’t consider his animation work to be particularly memorable, but I am a fan of two of his action movie scores.
One is the opening score for The Italian Job remake of 2003. It feels like a perfect caper film score, starting off with lots of percussion, clicks and chimes, before the strings kick in at the 1:19 mark. I would describe it as intelligent, intriguing and upbeat.
The 2nd is the main theme for The Bourne Identity. There’s a long slow build up and then the string section kicks in with some staccato percussion which sounds like gun shots. It creates a sustained mood of excitement and anticipation, very much in keeping with the theme of the film.
Sadly, John Powell seems to be getting only animation projects these days, with his recent projects being Happy Feet Two, The Lorax and sequels to How to Train Your Dragon and Rio. I’m hoping he will get an action film assignment soon and there’ll be some more of that suspenseful music magic.