FourScore Match-Up #7: "Batteries Not Included"

Today we’ve got robots, robots everywhere; good, bad, big, small, made of new parts and spare parts. Each film features four equally impressive scores about peace, love, family and even all out war. Quite a mixed bag of bolts, wouldn’t you say? In true Rock’em Sock’em format we pit these big guys (and not so big guys) up against one another. Leave it to great composers to craft such amazing scores to make you feel emotional for walking trash cans.

So which of these can take a licking and keep on ticking?? Is the story of a boy and his Giant, How about that gorgeous CG moral lesson touting we can shine no matter what we’re made of? Is it those awesome 80’s autonomous robots in their quest for peace? Or is it the determined little trash compactor who’s also a hopeless romantic? Find out after the jump…

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

The Iron Giant -The rock solid Michael Kamen delivers again contributing to make Brad Bird’s first feature film an underrated hit and downright classic. Kamen’s score makes something so seemingly cold and 2 dimensional feel very warm and 3 dimensional. Tied perfectly to that 60’s nostalgia, Kamen’s use of strings and woodwinds are a welcome sound to the ears and brings a kid’s movie to another level. Though the film takes a turn into some unexpected and slightly mature themes (like life, death and nuclear holocaust) Kamen doesn’t get too overbearing. Still as a kid’s film it is fun, lively and was basically a Pixar quality film before Bird’s big break with The Incredibles.

(Favorite Tracks: Space Car and Souls Don’t Die)

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Robots – I honestly don’t know a whole lot of John Powell off the top of my head but his score here is quite entertaining to say the least. Hints of brilliance abound and a vast array of instruments make this just as rich and colorful as the unique robots on screen. Some instruments sound like they are just as improvised/makeshift as spare parts that comprise our heroes. While inventive it’s a drawback that the music, while so great and dynamic, changes too constantly. Therefore what is fresh, engaging and non-traditional music doesn’t really make for a cohesive theme throughout. Still it’s fun and compliments the zany antics of Mel Brooks and Robin Williams (among others) robot on-screen alter egos. This is bound to keep kids entertained but with enough sophistication to keep adults interested.

(Favorite Tracks: Wild Ride and Big Weld Workshop)

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Transformers – With a weight that is probably on par with a payload Optimus would be capable of hauling, Steve Jablonsky gives believable life to Transformers and goes eons beyond what you’d expect for cartoon show/toy line adaptation. Wow, these aren’t the toy robots we grew up with and I commend Jablonsky for such a reverent and majestic sound. It aids the movie in making it more serious, instantly unifying 30 year olds who actually grew up with the original Transformers and those younger fans watch this while shouting “Go Autobots”. Frequent collaborator on other Micheal Bay films, creating themes bigger than the film itself is par for the course. But in the case of Transformers Jablonsky outdoes even himself and even dwarfs the mighty Autobots with such an epic sound. Now that’s talent!

(Favorite Tracks: Autobots and Arrival To Earth )

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

WALL·E – Playful, sincere and captivating, the music’s ability to charm you is about as much of a surprise as having your heart stolen by a robot lead without any real dialog…or vocals for that matter. Capturing a weightlessness that is more representative of WALL-E’s love for EVE than the zero G in space, Thomas Newman creates probably his finest work since Road to Perdition. It’s effective in its simplicity and recalls the same level of warmth and emotion he gave to Finding Nemo. Man, Newman has a knack for these CG films doesn’t he? Though it starts out small the film really gets nearly as large in scale as Transformers, right down to helping decide the fate of mankind…and this is a kids movie?:P

(Favorite Tracks: Define Dancing, All That Love’s About and Desperate Eve)

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

FourScore Ruling:

Well in this Rock’em Sock’em event I could have sworn that a behemoth like the Autobots (powered by Jablonsky who is quickly becoming one of my favorite modern composers) would have cleaned up all connteders sending them to the junk pile. While Jablonsky’s score does take an extremely close second place, today’s win comes from the most unlikely of the bunch. That said, the score to WALL-E kicks these other “tin cans” to the curb. Yup, Newman’s perfectly tailored score fits the story and nearly does the storytelling on it’s own. So while WALL- E and EVE’s cute expressions told so much more than their laconic chirps, it was Newman’s score that, so to speak, fleshed it all out.

You‘ve got to ask yourself one question Megatron: “Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”