Saturday, May 26, 2007

From the Archive: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" Soundtrack Review

Soundtrack Rating: A

Welcome to The Archive, a comprehensive collection of reviews dating back to 2007, originally written for The Denver Post’s YourHub.Com website and print edition!  In the archive, you’ll find hundreds of movie, DVD, Blu-Ray, and TV reviews, along with other special features.  You can access the complete Archive Collection by clicking here, and read about the archive project by clicking here. 

Continue reading after the jump to access my original review of the soundtrack album for "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.”

From the Jonathan R. Lack Review Archives:
“At World's End”
Soundtrack Review originally published May 26th, 2007

Of all the things that wowed me when seeing The Curse of the Black Pearl for the first time, the musical score was possibly the most awe-inspiring. The score for Curse of the Black Pearl was epic and grand, and the themes from the movie were stuck in your head for weeks afterward. Disney's soundtrack for the film, containing the score, proved that the score would be a classic even without the film behind it.

Three years later, Dead Man's Chest is released, with another rollicking score. Sadly, the score for Dead Man's Chest doesn't fare as well without the film, but is still a fun listen on the soundtrack CD. So the big question is, how does the soundtrack for At World's End hold up?

In my review of the film, I mentioned that I thought the score was excellent, and having just gotten the soundtrack, I can say it holds up without the film just as well as the score for Curse of the Black Pearl. If you ever doubt the genius of composer Hans Zimmer, just pop in the soundtrack for At World's End. He remixes his musical motifs to fit with certain themes going on in the film, like giving Jack Sparrow's theme a very Chinese feel in Singapore, or drawing out Davy Jones theme to where every note is very long, giving it a doom feel that the scene it plays during needed. Zimmer also shows is talents for multi-layered segments of score, mixing new music with old motifs, or weaving seamlessly through motifs like the Black Pearl sails through the water.

To best review the soundtrack, I'll do a by-track analysis of the CD.

1. Hoist the Colours

Played in the film during the opening moments, this track is actually a vocal track sung by a chorus of pirates on thier way to the gallows. The lyrics are as haunting as the tune itself, and starts the soundtrack off on the right foot.

2. Singapore

A selection of the music played in Singapore, this track feels very Chinese and is a great listen. Hearing the Pirates theme played on traditional Chinese instruments is a great idea, and even when the themes become more traditionally Western, Zimmer keeps a slight Chinese feel to it.

3. At Wit's End

This track contains many themes found from all parts of the movie, and introduces the new adventuring theme, as well as the new love story motif, both of which are unbelievably great listens. The themes are as epic as they are human, and all classically Zimmer. Davy Jones theme is re-introduced at this point, and is re-arranged in many interesting ways, includingthe"doom" version I mentioned above. The track then goes into adventuring music found when our Heroes are headed the end of the earth to save Jack Sparrow.

4. Multiple Jacks

Well, this track certainly doesn't have the depth of the other tracks, but its even more fun. All of Jack Sparrow's themes are collected here, all of them humorously re-arranged to feel disjointed and clumsy, showing Jack's madness from being trapped in Davy Jones locker. When Jack finally does regain somediginty in this scene in the film, the music becomes a little more dignified, but still disjointed. The disjointed themes in this track play a few times during the rest of the film.

5. Up is Down

This track uses an assortment of cool sounding instruments, from the mix of a fiddle and flute, early, it keeps building up its collection of instrumentation until a very full Orchestra is playing the fun theme from this part of the film. This track just screams adventure, and the vast and fun instrumentation makes it a real winner.

6. I See Dead People in Boats

Alright, the track title sucks. This movie is about 17th century Pirates, can we keep the pop culture refrences out? Oh well. The music presented here is actually outstanding. It starts with a much slower version of the new adventure theme that At World's End boasts from start to finish. It then goes into another slow, but this time very, very sad melody as, in the film, Elizabeth learns something horrible about the fate of her father. Finally, this slips into another adventure piece as Elizabeth tries to reverse the fate of here father. Something that is interesting to note is that in the film, this track was played before track 5.

7. The Brethren Court

All Pirates themes (for individual pirates, priacy itself, groups of pirates, etc.) are collected here with various re-arrangments as, in the film, the Pirates meet to decide what to do about the doom headed thier way. There's some slow parts, some fast parts, and some very interesting and excellent instrumentation set to the tune of "Hoist the Colours," that sound fun this time, instead of haunting.

8. Parlay

This track plays in the film whenElizabeth, Jack, and Barbossa go to discussterms with Cutler Beckett, and themusic isvery upbeat, and uses a rock guitar in the middle, as the two sides approach in the film. A short, but fun and interesting track.

9. Calypso

This track uses a large vocal choir in the middle as a climactic event that I won't give away here takes place. The rest of, it however, is a little bit slow, but is a good listen. You can tell this piece is the calm before the storm piece.

10. What Shall We Die For

What indeed? This track plays in the movie right before the final battle, when Elizabeth gives an inspirational speech to all the Pirates, as they decide its finally time to fight or die, or both. Even out of context playing on this CD, this piece just feels inspirational. It re-arranges the main theme of Pirates At World's End boasts, anddraws itout to feel inspirational. There's a vocal choir near the end that really enhances the music.

11. I Don't Think Now is the Best Time

A lot of stuff happens in this track. It is a condensed version of the music that plays during the climactic 45 minute battle, but once again screams adventure. Without seeing the film, you know something big is going on during this part, and something romanticnear the end of the track. Zimmer really shows that heknows how toseamlessly blend and switch motifs in this section.

12.One Day

Played in the scenes following the climactic battle, this piece serves as a catch-all for the love themes and the adventure themes that accompany them. Many motifs played briefly throughout the soundtrack get a chance to breath in this part,
and it is a truly excellent track. Once again, many motifs are mixed and switch seamlessly, all building up to the main love theme of the moviethat is finally played in full, along with some new instrumentation at the very end that makes it all the more excellent.It gives the same feel the scenes it accompanies in the film does; there is victory, but it is somewhat bittersweet. This is one the album's best tracks, and you won't get it out of your head for a long time.

13. Drink Up Me Hearties

This track ends the film, and the album. The accordian plays a fun little tune at the beginning, but the track slips into Jack Sparrow's themes before it builds up and transitions perfectly to the theme that ends every movie and plays during the credits. This time, the song is allowed to continue a ways into the suite played during the credits, something that neither of the other soundtracks have done. This lets the film and the soundtrack end on a very upbeat, fun, and adventurous feel.

This is one the best film scores of the decade, and should become as much of a classic as the score for Curse of the Black Pearl. It is certainly a better score, deeper and with more experimental and interesting instrumentation that enhances the music. Curse of the Black Pearl might be a funner listen sometimes, but sometimes is doesn't even hold a candle to the music of At World's End. I think it's high time for Zimmer to get an Oscar for his work, and if this score doesn't win the award this year, then a serious misdeed has been done.

Drink up me hearites, Yo Ho!!!

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