John Carter

Composed By: Michael Giacchino

Distributed by: Walt Disney Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Based on the 1917 novel A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter is an action adventure film starring Taylor Kitsch in the title role as the war-weary ex-military captain who finds himself mysteriously transported to Barsoom (Mars) where he becomes involved in an epic battle between the inhabitants of the planet.  Fraught with action, adventure, romance and political intrigue, John Carter, also starring Willem Defoe and Lynn Collins, will be released in theaters March 9, 2012.

            The musical score of John Carter was composed by New Jersey-born composer Michael Giacchino, who began his venture into music at the age of ten, putting music to stop-motion films he created on his brotherís pool table at home. He later went to the SSchool of Visual Arts in New York majoring in film production, and the Juilliard School where he studied music.  It was while at Juilliard that he was first introduced to Disney, working at the publicity offices for Disney and Universal in New York.  He would eventually move to Los Angeles where he would work in Disney Studiosí film publicity department and later at Disney Interactive.  In 1997, Giacchino was given his start as a composer when DreamWorks Interactive asked him to write the musical score of the Playstation The Lost World: Jurassic Park video game.  Since then Michael Giacchino has composed musical scores for Medal of Honor, Ratatouille, Up, Cloverfield, Super 8, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and more.

            As luck would have it, Michael Giacchino was stoked to create a musical score for this sort of film: ďIíve always wanted to travel to Mars. I never knew, however, that it would take a 100-year-old book, the imagination of an incredible director, sharp as nails producers, a supportive family and a music team equivalent in guts and talent to NASAís original space pioneers to get me there.Ē  To create the musical score for such an epic adventure, Giacchino combined his orchestral score with the vocalizations of Iranian-born Azam Ali, a singer trained in  Western classical vocal styles and the techniques of India, Persia and Eastern Europe.

            The musical score of John Carter is bold and extremely heroic, featuring loud horn fanfares and percussions.  One would expect this sort of musical score to accompany the adventures of a comic book hero and, although this movie is based upon a book and not a comic book, this sort of score fits the film and its setting perfectly.  Mixed with the vocals by Azam Ali, the score takes on an exotic air, immediately letting listeners know they arenít in Kansas anymore. 

            My only complaint about this musical score is that it seemed to drag on forever.  Each track seemed to be extremely long, the shortest being a little over a minute, but the longest clocking in at nearly nine minutes.  And some tracks sound like they were written for multiple scenes with pauses between the compositions within the track. 

            Overall, I think Michael Giacchino hit the mark with this score, perfectly capturing the exoticness of the locale and the heroic adventures of John Carter.  However, that being said, Iím not sure I would want to buy this soundtrack as a stand alone album.  The John Carter Soundtrack is one of those albums that will be perfect for a fan of the film, but not something your average music lover would want to purchase.


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