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Michael Giacchino's THE BATMAN (2022)


Jay
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I guess I should've been more specific in my Elfman Spidey analysis, since I obviously have enough affinity for his theme if it's in my favorite score of all time.

 

I should've clarified that I meant the main four note melody that the opening titles primarily focuses on, since I sort of get the impression with the Gia critiques that we're only looking at the bare essentials of his work thus far.

 

And yet I guess that's where my attempted breakdown falls apart, because there's so much detail and glamor within Danny's work that Giacchino simply hasn't even begin to touch with his. The Raimi theme has so much variation and playfulness throughout the trilogy, yet all the MCU one can muster is effectively three moods.

 

Hell, thinking about it now: with the way each note in the theme is drawn out, you can very easily picture Spidey taking a swing for each one. That's the kind of picturesque quality that Elfman can bring to his music than even he himself has trouble replicating now.

 

I'm starting to think I should've saved myself the trouble of writing that post and said I like the simple just as much as the intricate :P

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Sounds like a piece written for a biopic movie that focuses solely on the private life of Bruce Wayne. Quite disappointing that it never even develops that 5-note Imperial March motive into anything more.

 

On a side note, there is some "After the Drop" from Medal of Honor: Frontline in here too (first heard around 1:12).

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1 hour ago, TownerFan said:

 

What happened is that the sensibility of current directors and producers changed a lot. They don't want long-lined melodies, they don't want counterpoint, virtuosic writing or a sophisticated approach. They prefer something much simpler and devoided of any musical complexity. Why? Because the music should never get in the way of their vision, nor the composer is someone allowed to impose his or her own vision to the film. Music is just one color of the filmmaker's palette and he or she wants to have total control over it. Now, of course you can be both simple and musically creative while serving the picture, but the issue is that, more often than not, this approach doesn't produce something interesting enough as music. I don't judge Giacchino here (I listened to this new piece only once without my full attention, so I'll avoid any quick judgement), but I fear that even big name composers like him today are somewhat cornered by producers and directors to write pieces along these lines, i.e. all atmosphere without a defined melodic or thematic personality. The music does create a halo around the images, but it never takes full control (despite being often mixed at impossibly loud volume). I read somwehere that Giacchino wrote this piece before filming began so I guess that he sketched some basic ideas to get the ball rolling, then the filmmakers fell in love with the demo and decided it had to be the theme and that's what he had to work with (that's my assumption, of course). I mean, these processes are always hard to fathom from the outside. I know of top composers submitting demos to producers and then being asked to strip down the composition to the point that sometimes what remains at the end is just the bass line. The review process can be really frustrating for the composer.

 

Also, the majority of the audience of today is not at all welcoming a film score with a clear musical voice (in the sense of the traditional orchestral vernacular) because a lot of people feels like it's dated and taking too much attention to itself, as a sophisticated harmonic language for example is now seen as something really from the past. You have to read the comments on YouTube under music videos or tracks to truly realize how today's audience thinks and feels about music that is just a notch more sophisticated than the average pop piece (a guy on YT labeled one of Adele's songs from the latest album as "something out of an old Disney movie" just because the piece uses jazzy chords and a more spiced-up harmonic vocabulary). That's the world we live in today.

 

Sorry for the long post.

Don't apologise, it's a very perceptive and interesting post. The strange thing is that a lot of today's filmmakers grew up with 80s and 90s movies, with memorable scores by JW, Jerry, James Horner, Danny Elfman etc. (the JJ As of the world) and profess a love of those movies of their youth and their music but this doesn't always seem to translate into their own films. Maybe there's much more producer pressure; I'm sure producers are much less sentimental about these things than the filmmakers themselves.

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20 minutes ago, Tom Guernsey said:

Don't apologise, it's a very perceptive and interesting post. The strange thing is that a lot of today's filmmakers grew up with 80s and 90s movies, with memorable scores by JW, Jerry, James Horner, Danny Elfman etc. (the JJ As of the world) and profess a love of those movies of their youth and their music but this doesn't always seem to translate into their own films. Maybe there's much more producer pressure; I'm sure producers are much less sentimental about these things than the filmmakers themselves.

 

Thanks. I agree with you. Also, I don't want to make it look like a blanket statement about ALL the film music produced today. What we're talking about here is mainstream Hollywood fare that was once domain of highly creative individuals and now is run mostly by a mixture of committee, marketing honchos and algorithms. It's extremely hard to get something creative and stimulating out of such an impossibly pressure-laden, money-driven, hype-addicted environment.

 

There is good, interesting and even sophisticated music written for films and tv today, but you have to look for it outside the Hollywood mainstream for the most part (take a listen to Mikael Carlsson's playlist on Spotify about his own list of best scores of 2021, there is some really nice stuff there, even if a lot of it isn't my cup of tea)

 

 

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Here is the track on all the places I could find it at

 

https://tidal.com/browse/album/211439010

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09PTV2NXX/

https://music.apple.com/us/album/the-batman-from-the-batman-single/1603609255

https://open.spotify.com/album/17zHcTl1W5UB4G7kr6e838?si=FbxuMBtKQ8itEFgWtpSaNA

https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mRmeO6KoxVClJVtkDe1NfO-3QJaKGu89Y

 

In addition to the one posted to youtube under Michael Giacchino, the WaterTower Records channel also has it again but with moving video and comments enabled

 

 

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Whelp, looks like @TownerFanwas 100% right. The YouTube comments love this non-theme, and some put it up there with Elfman and Shirly Walker's work. This is the type of music we're stuck with for now with these type of directors. Has nice mood and some flair, but no intricate melodies or anything that allows it to stand out as unique. 

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40 minutes ago, superultramegaa said:

Whelp, looks like @TownerFanwas 100% right. The YouTube comments love this non-theme, and some put it up there with Elfman and Shirly Walker's work. This is the type of music we're stuck with for now with these type of directors. Has nice mood and some flair, but no intricate melodies or anything that allows it to stand out as unique. 

I enjoyed it more than I expected to based on the comments but it does feel a bit vague in place. The bass line definitely sounds like someone tracing the outline start of the Imperial March (albeit not much more than that) and it never quite turns into anything especially interesting. Certainly not a match of Elfman or Walker (whose Batman theme remains my favourite, even over Elfman).

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6 hours ago, bruce marshall said:

JWfanners love to pretend they are qualified to critique music like a professional.

😎

If we shouldn’t do such, then what’s the point of a forum about film music? 

 

@TownerFan Curious that they’d give much thought or go so far as to homogenize a composer’s work, when more than likely the score’s going to be buried under sound effects anyway. 

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10 hours ago, HunterTech said:

These complaints about Gia's themes for Bats and Spidey not being particularly character descriptive are interesting to me, because well..... would you say Elfman's Spider-Man theme really embodies the character that well? Completely isolated from the rest of the themes and the general feel (hell, just consider only the main melody), is there really anything about it that feels particularly insect like, jovial, or down to earth? That's probably just my knowledge of the character really coloring it, but I don't think it's quite as specific as Williams Superman or even his own Batman. It's almost a riff on the latter in a way.

 

In comparison, Gia's Spidey wonderfully captures the "friendly neighborhood" vibe the character is supposed to stand for initially. I guess the issue is that after Homecoming, that aspect essentially feels abandoned, given they're much more concerned with the regular theatrics that a superhero score has, since FFH and NWH are much bigger in scale. As such, it ends up making less of an impact because in effect it has turned into a standard superhero fanfare with what the subsequent scores ask of it.

 

I singled out Danny's Spider-Man in particular because I think it only ends up embodying the character once you factor in everything else from the score, since it's ultimately the whole package that informs whether it really suits the material or is used meaningfully. It's effectively a long winded way of saying "hey maybe we should properly judge once we get the whole picture."

 

As others have already said, Danny Elfman's Spider embodied Spider-Man. The wonder, the power, and most of all, the responsibility. The music personified "with great power comes great responsibility." You get none of that with Gia's score. 

5 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

Don't apologise, it's a very perceptive and interesting post. The strange thing is that a lot of today's filmmakers grew up with 80s and 90s movies, with memorable scores by JW, Jerry, James Horner, Danny Elfman etc. (the JJ As of the world) and profess a love of those movies of their youth and their music but this doesn't always seem to translate into their own films. Maybe there's much more producer pressure; I'm sure producers are much less sentimental about these things than the filmmakers themselves.

 

I don't think it has anything to do with producer pressure as much as they want to create their own path in filmmaking.  I also think the art form has changed and taste has changed. 

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2 minutes ago, Mephariel said:

 

As others have already said, Danny Elfman's Spider embodied Spider-Man. The wonder, the power, and most of all, the responsibility. The music personified "with great power comes great responsibility." You get none of that with Gia's score. 

 

 

Giacchino's theme fits the Spider-Man of the movie he was scoring very well I thought.  It's a lighter tone; he wasn't scoring Raimi's take.  I will say though that I think in its most memorable presentation, with the pizzicato strings, the theme feels a little too similar to Beck's Ant-Man theme.

 

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I sat through the first two Raimi Spider-Man movies involuntarily when they came out and don’t see what “character” there is to “musically embody” beyond being very whiny and having a toxic girlfriend.

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3 minutes ago, Kasey Kockroach said:

I sat through the first two Raimi Spider-Man movies involuntarily when they came out and don’t see what “character” there is to “musically embody” beyond being very whiny and having a toxic girlfriend.

 

Must... contain... rage...

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19 minutes ago, Jay said:

But I don't see the point in comparing it to older themes written for the same character in other places

 

And it's hard to separate out that opinion from how a person feels about the different takes on the character overall.  Like does one prefer Walker's theme to other Batman themes, or just the animated series overall to other Batman shows/movies, and how inseparable are those things?

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13 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

 

And it's hard to separate out that opinion from how a person feels about the different takes on the character overall.  Like does one prefer Walker's theme to other Batman themes, or just the animated series overall to other Batman shows/movies, and how inseparable are those things?

For my own part, I don't have a massive investment in comic book characters or the various incarnations. Having said that, I guess Walker's theme embodies the character most closely for me, mysterious, dark, but also fairly grand. Elfman's does that too but Walker's feels just a bit more thoughtful rather than action packed. But they are both great themes, as is Goldenthal's. Similarly, for me, Elfman's take on Spider-Man is perhaps the most complex, weaving (haha) various facets of the character and his alter-ego in the opening titles and then taking those ideas and using them intelligently throughout the scores. Having said that, I find Horner's the most memorable being one of those melodies that randomly pops into my head unbidden frequently yet Giacchino's theme, especially when it's not over-orchestrated and presented with a lighter touch, best characterises PP/Spider-Man as a geeky, relatively ordinary kid whose heroism is a little more grounded (metaphorically) than the grand heroics of Superman etc. I've thought about this way too much...

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1 hour ago, Jay said:

I honestly and truly don't see the point of listening to this and pondering on how it compares to other music written for the same character in the past

 

Giacchino wasn't hired to composer a theme that embodies the entire 80whatever years of the character


Giacchino was hired to give Matt Reeves the score he wanted for this particular film

 

I think it makes sense to compare what Giacchino is doing against what everyone is doing scoring superhero films of the 2020s

 

And it makes sense to compare what Giachino is doing against his own body of work

 

But I don't see the point in comparing it to older themes written for the same character in other places

I absolutely agree with what you said. Musical themes aren't supposed to represent a character of its entirety but nevertheless composers will explore commonalities in different iterations of the same character and reflect it in their work. 

 

The only doubt I had was when Danny Elfman completely ditched Batman's musical element in BvS and re-arranged his 1989 Batman theme to (successfully, at least to my opinion) represent a 2017 Batman who was grumpy and cynical when introduced. That is the only time I wondered whether it is feasible to use a prominent old theme to represent a new version of the same character through different arrangement and orchestrations. 

 

It's Giacchino composing for Matt Reeves so my first reaction is to comparing the new theme with his Apes work. The only problem I have is the transition to the "Batman rhythm" is way too abrupt. 

6 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

I feel the same way about Walker’s Batman theme as I do about her Superman theme: a great companion to its film inspiration but definitely not better than the film theme.  Which is not meant to diminish her work in any way!

Unrelated to MG's work here, I think Walker truly excelled at making themes for two famous superheroes that are needed in animation without losing the gusto of their symphonic and heroic vibe. Hence I was beyond happy when hearing Wallfisch captured the same vibe in his Shazam theme. 

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1 hour ago, Disco Stu said:

 

And it's hard to separate out that opinion from how a person feels about the different takes on the character overall.  Like does one prefer Walker's theme to other Batman themes, or just the animated series overall to other Batman shows/movies, and how inseparable are those things?

 

Without having seen the new film, nothing in it suggests that a theme like Elfman's or Walker's would feel out of place. In fact, the Animated Series used both, and they both worked very well.

 

And even though Batman is probably the most versatile of all superheroes, with a myriad of different aproaches to the material, I still feel the themes by Elfman, Walker and Goldenthal captured the broad strokes of what the character has always been (with the exception of the really campy aproach), and really elevate and add to the believability of a really far fetched concept.

 

This theme is just non descript. It has no character. It's not a theme that captures a certain version of Batman. It's a theme that really does not capture anything at all. No identity. Just a very general mood

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8 minutes ago, Jaaaackified said:

Unrelated to MG's work here, I think Walker truly excelled at making themes for two famous superheroes that are needed in animation without losing the gusto of their symphonic and heroic vibe. Hence I was beyond happy when hearing Wallfisch captured the same vibe in his Shazam theme. 

 

My daughter has gotten really into Superman: The Animated Series lately (Batman TAS just didn't grab her interest) and it's been great to revisit for me, what a great theme!

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Giacchino's batman motif seems to fit the stuff I've seen so far. The tone, look and feel of it. Which is of course his job. As a fan of Reeves, Pattinson and Giacchino, I'm looking forward to the end result. 

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I think the tone of this film, and the way the character seems to be presented wouldn't really gel with any Elfmanesque fanfare-type theme, or the brooding noodling of Zimmer's take, and when I first heard this new theme Giacchino had written I thought it was almost completely different from what I was expecting, and that's great. There's a tinge of sadness? It's more introspective than overtly extroverted and it leads me to think that the first half the track is for Bruce's character, whilst the rising second half is a motif for the Batman character.

 

One track released so far, so there's not a lot to go on, but already people judging the entire score...

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He does seem to be writing a for a much more human and less gothic Batman. I didn't expect to hear so much major key material in the first half. It's definitely different. Curious to hear the full thing.

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4 hours ago, Arpy said:

One track released so far, so there's not a lot to go on, but already people judging the entire score...

 

Film music fans beaten down so much by the modern age of mediocre they've developed stockholm syndrome. 

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4 hours ago, blondheim said:

He does seem to be writing a for a much more human and less gothic Batman. I didn't expect to hear so much major key material in the first half. It's definitely different. Curious to hear the full thing.

Yeah, the less gothic nature is interesting. It does make the theme more relatable in a way and less spectacle. Very curious to see how it works in the throughout score and with the film.

 

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Those last few minutes are really dire, aren’t they? I was expecting that “theme” to actually evolve into something rather than just a crescendo.

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12 hours ago, Alex said:

Those last few minutes are really dire, aren’t they? I was expecting that “theme” to actually evolve into something rather than just a crescendo.

 

It isn't even a musical crescendo. It's just turning up the volume dial.

 

Anyways, new clip. Only source music though - 

 

 

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45 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Anyways, new clip. Only source music though - 

 

Seems more like a Joker move than a Riddler move in that scene. Guess we can't stop attempting to emulate The Dark Knight's success.

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8 minutes ago, bruce marshall said:

Why don't they just film in black and white instead of that yucky desaturated look.😒

 

It is Hollywood code for "this is a serious high-minded stately adult film". They have been doing this trope for over 20 years now. I think oddly enough Spielberg who might have started it with Saving Private Ryan. Since then the desaturated look has become standard Hollywood practice whenever they want to appear serious and grave.

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3 hours ago, TheUlyssesian said:

 

It is Hollywood code for "this is a serious high-minded stately adult film". They have been doing this trope for over 20 years now. I think oddly enough Spielberg who might have started it with Saving Private Ryan. Since then the desaturated look has become standard Hollywood practice whenever they want to appear serious and grave.

At least Spielberg did it on Saving Private Ryan for fairly sound reason, having been inspired (if that’s the word) by the haunting photographs taken of the Normandy landings, the aesthetic for which he sought to emulate. Then again, those photographs came out as they did because of an error when they were processed but that only seems to add to their haunting power. 

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He showed a good deal of skills for writing interesting music in the past (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, many sections of Lost, several parts of Mission Impossible 3 and of course a lot of stuff he wrote for videogames), so I tend to think he's answering to what filmmakers/the industry etc. is asking for at the moment.

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I think he has written a bunch of really fun music in the past. But I can't say I have ever thought any of it was particularly interesting. I haven't listened to Lost, though

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Some of the worst photoshopping I've seen in a while, Catwoman's head is way too big for the body lol

 

 

FENEQMQ.jpg

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The movie looks fantastic visually. But I've only seen the trailer, not the new scene.

 

The new Giacchino cue sounds like we're getting the most painfully pedestrian Batman theme yet...

 

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On 26/01/2022 at 10:23 AM, KK said:

The movie looks fantastic visually. But I've only seen the trailer, not the new scene.

 

The new Giacchino cue sounds like we're getting the most painfully pedestrian Batman theme yet...

 

But he's the Next John Williams. Actually he steals more from himself than Horner ever did.

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Listened to this track. Starts off interesting, but then completely falls off when it tries to have some melody, then falls down even lower with the bridge which wanders away into even more nothing, then that pedestrian buildup thing... yikes. Why can't he just go back to writing small quirky scores that fit his voice? Who the hell keeps employing him for this nothing?

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