FourScore Match-Up #11: “How High the Sci-Fi?”

When we look to the stars what do we think of? Is it the desire to travel beyond them, engage in adventures (and misadventures) with alien compadres or do we wish to meet a star voyager come to Earth? But what happens when we finally meet said traveler…do they come in peace, or are they a threat? Today’s FourScore pits four truly spacey composers against one another regardless of how benign or malignant those characters in question may be.

But which will take the prize and be the ace of space?? Is it the the tale of the hardworking (is it too much to call him a spaced out) lunar custodian? Is the story of a love lost and found again thanks to some help from John Carpenter’s magic marbles? How about the broken family who is only able to pick up all the pieces when an alien invasion come a knockin? Or is it the story that show us no matter what forces in the universe exist, nothing is stronger than Bruce Willis’ love?? Find out after the jump…

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MoonClint Mansell is one of the most talented up and coming composers out there. Further he’s a musician who has a knack for getting the tone of the film without overpowering anything. His score for Moon is ethereal and dynamic but reserved. Above all his scores are pretty damn catchy and that’s what Clint Mansell does best. Even though he’s on one heck of a hot streak and continues work on some very fine films, his scores stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Standing out as one of the most memorable parts of Smokin’ Aces is easy but doing the same for Black Swan is not.

(Favorite Tracks: Welcome to Lunar Industries and We’re Going Home)

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Starman – John Carpenter usually scores his own films but this time around Jack Nitzsche gave John a run for the money. Nitzsche’s work is very dated but still hits the emotional high notes that make the film work. Like most 80’s scores it is drenched in synthesizers and even though it sounds like something you’d hear in a grade school field trip to your local planeteraium, among the schlock of the era, it fits very well in the Starman universe.

(Favorite Tracks: Honeymoon and Starman Leaves)

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Signs – Of all the M. Night collaborations Signs is without a doubt Howard’s finest. Probably because it’s the most unique dynamic and really gets you into the film more than his other efforts. Sure Unbreakable was fantastic, the Village was just beautiful but Signs simultaneously ratchets up the tension then turns on a dime to become something inspiring. To say it takes your breath away is an understatement…of course that tends to happen when you’ve jumped out of your seat.

(Favorite Tracks: Baby MonitorBoarding Up The House)

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The Fifth Element – Playful, tense and as wild as the visuals or any of Ruby Rhod’s outfits. To those not familiar with Luc Besson films, The Fifth Element probably seemed like a hodgepodge of ideas too crazy even for a comic book but Eric Serra masterfully helped sew the scenes and oddball elements together. Going for both a worldly and at times other worldly feeling Serra is all over the place (from techo opera to down and dirty drum beats) and it all just works.

(Favorite Tracks: Leeloo and Badaboom)

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FourScore Ruling:

Eric Serra won a previous FourScore that included another Luc Besson favorite and while Serra was in top form here, Newton Howard is tough to beat. Not only has he hit his stride in the last decade (getting much more attention after his work with Hans Zimmer on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) he’s one of the most versatile composers out there. Further he makes outstanding music that is really the most memorable part of any of his movies. Even if you didn’t like Signs you can’t tell me that you weren’t on the edge of your seat for at least part of the movie…you can thank Howard for that.

Howard reaches for the stars but pulls down the moon and a whole lot more.