Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Musical Score By: Michael Giacchino

Distributed by: Sony Classical

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                The eighth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place ten years after the devastating ALZ-113 virus is unleashed on the world in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The virus has caused the collapse of human civilization as we know it.  Meanwhile, the genetically evolved apes, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), are living in peace in the Muir Woods.  Malcolm (Jason Clarke), co-leader of a group of human survivors, attempts to broker a peaceful cooperation with the apes in an attempt to gain access to a dam in their territory that can provide humans with electrical power.  But there is mistrust and treachery in the ranks of humans and apes alike.  Can a peaceful co-existence be achieved, or are humans and apes destined for war?

                The musical score of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was created by award-winning American composer Michael Giacchino.  Beginning at the age of ten, Giacchino showed interest in composing music for film, combining images with music while creating stop-motion films and their soundtracks at home.  Receiving a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts, Giacchino went on to take music classes at Juilliard and instruction in instrumentation and orchestration at UCLA.  Working for Disney, Giacchino composed a number of scores for video games which led to a career in scoring for television and film.  Since then, Giacchino has amassed an impressive resume of award-winning work.  He has created musical scores for such notable video games, television series and films as Medal of Honor: Underground, Call of Duty, Alias, Lost, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek and Star Trek: Into the Darkness.

                In creating the musical score for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Michael Giacchino wanted to acknowledge the work of the composers who came before him in this franchise: "I knew immediately that I wanted to acknowledge the experimental musical style which my hero Jerry Goldsmith chose for the original film by finding my own interesting sounds. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an extremely moving story about tolerance and how we deal with each other as a society I knew we would have to treat that subtext with great respect and dignity. I hope that I have done so while also honoring Jerry's original sound."

                Being a great fan of the original Planet of the Apes films, I was thankful that Giacchino decided on this approach.  I loved the throwback music featuring the piano key strikes and heavy percussion that helped define the unique score of the original movies.  Being a dark film, I wasn't surprised to hear sweet piano tracks infused with dark orchestral undertones, describing the tranquility of the ape civilization that is about to be disrupted by war. 

                Giacchino created a score that perfectly depicts the subtle emotional nuances of the characters as well as the adrenaline pounding excitement of the action sequences in the film.  My only problem with the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Soundtrack are the pun-laden titles of the tracks, like Level Plaguing Field, Look Who's Stalking, Past Their Primates, Monkey See, Monkey Coup, The Apes of Wrath, Aped Crusaders and more.  In my opinion, the tongue in cheek approach to the titles takes away something from the serious messages imparted by this film.  I know it's a science fiction film that no one believes can possibly come to fruition, but the messages given by this film are poignant and dramatic.  Some will scoff at me for not liking this one aspect of the soundtrack, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

                That being said, I think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is definitely a soundtrack worth checking out for both the fans of the original franchise and fans of the newer films.  Giacchono's scoring is solid in this soundtrack and I love the nods to Goldsmith's work as well.  Having only seen the older films, this score has inspired me to check out the new additions to the Planet of the Apes franchise!


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