Scoring Nerdom

Scoring Nerdom

Scoring Nerdom

3 comments 📅20 June 2016, 13:28

Have you ever watched an epic sequence in a movie, or played an intense mission on a game without the sound on? If you haven’t tried it sometime you should and see how much of a difference hearing and not hearing the music. I mention this because the score of a movie or game, especially when it comes to Sci-Fi and Fantasy, is I feel an often overlooked and underrated aspect. I personally put major emphasis on listening to the music when I’m playing a game or watching a movie. Though I’ve not ever heard a truly bad score, a lack luster one can greatly affect how much I like a movie or game.

BvS-DOJFor example, one of my issues with many of the Marvel movies is the scores are often times lacking in my view. There are some that have their moments but many just don’t have the gravitas to support the movie. This was most obvious with both Avengers movies, as well as the Thor films, and to an extent the Captain Americas. Though their scores were O.K. I don’t think they could stand on their own. DC has this same issue as well with Man of Steel and even more so with Batman vs Superman.

What do I mean by scores being able to “stand on their own?” What I mean is that the music should enhance the scene taking place. If you heard the music on its own, you should be able to get an idea of what is going on in the scene or at the very least the mood of it. The scores for most of the Star Wars series, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit series are full of great examples. Duel of the Fates, Luke’s theme, Vader’s theme, Hobbiton, Rohan, Moria, etc are all pieces you could hear, almost instantly recognize, and be able to vaguely tell what is going on. Or you are able to associate that music with a character. Distinct music like that I think is essential. Imagine what SW would be like if Vader’s theme was forgettable. Listen to the music for Shelob’s lair in LOTR and tell me it doesn’t convey a feeling of discomfort. X-Men, Batman (Chris Nolan’s and Tim Burton’s), Superman Returns, Iron Man, and Transformers all have scores that can stand alone.swvslotr

Even in the gaming world, the score can define a game. The Legend of Zelda, Halo, and Assassins Creed have all instantly recognizable sound. Halo alone you can tell what it is just from a few seconds of hearing the opening music of the game. Skyrim wouldn’t be the same without a score to match that vast world.

Great scores can lift a good movie to be great and can take on a life of their own. They give you goosebumps and lock scenes into your mind. When you hear Duel of the Fates you can see in your mind the deathly dance that is X-Men_Days_of_Future_Past_soundtrackplaying out all through the battle between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul. Superman’s theme instantly makes you feel better and the impression you can soar among the clouds. “Hope” from Days of Future Past not only lets you feel the sadness of Xavier for how the world is but also his hope for humanity by simply changing the notes on the piano and then introducing the rest of the orchestra.

In contrast lack luster scores can make movies and scenes forgettable or not have the power that they should. In BvS the major final sequence is hampered by not having a score to support it. In fact, I remembered the lack of a good score for that scene more than I did the scene itself. Thor and Avengers had some good baselines but the scores weren’t able to take that next step.

All of this being said, music like everything else is very subjective. But I think for sci-fi and fantasy movies, games, and TV shows to really shine they need a great score to go with them. They need Duel of the Fates, or Superman, or Batman level of music to really set them apart from all the rest. So the next time you watch a movie or play a game, listen a little more to the music in the background. Believe me it can make the experience far more enjoyable listening to it.


  1. Kaitlyn Booth
    24 June 2016, 19:49 Kaitlyn Booth

    David, I did an interview with a bunch of composers at SDCC last year. it was awesome.

  2. Tad
    22 July 2016, 15:05 Tad

    I don’t know if I’d call it a “score”, per se, but the soundtrack for Suicide Squad is already getting me pumped up for the movie.

    It seems to fit into the “anything for a dollar” mindset that DC seems to have, as well as providing some insight into how the characters are being interpreted. I totally dig it.

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