Soundtrack Review: The Hunger Games (2012)
|Reviewer: JØrn Tillnes|
The Hunger Games Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score The Hunger Games by James Newton Howard.
"We have a lot of shorter cues that builds slowly into what could have been great, but never gets a chance to develop properly."
The Hunger Games is based on the novels by Suzanne Collins and has been a success at the cinema. Directed by Gary Ross and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth the story is set in the future where the Capitol selects a boy and a girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her young sister's place for the latest match. As gruesome it is to watch kids slaughter each other, it seems to be a hit, specially for those who read the books. The score is composed by James Newton Howard.
|1. The Hunger Games||***|
|2. Katniss Afoot||****|
|3. Reaping Day||***|
|4. The Train||****|
|5. Entering the Capitol||***|
|6. Preparing the Chariots||****|
|7. Horn of Plenty (by Arcade Fire)||*****|
|9. Learning the Skills||***|
|10. The Countdown||***|
|11. Booby Trap||***|
|12. Healing Katniss||****|
|13. Rue's Farewell||****|
|14. We Could Go Home||****|
|15. Searching for Peeta||****|
|16. The Cave||****|
|18. Tenuous Winners/Returning Home||*****|
The Hunger Games seems to be on everyone's lips these days. The extremely popular book series that turns into a very successful first film. Amongst us score fans, the score has been long anticipated and when hearing rumors of a 80+ orchestra with full choirs, you can't help but drool at the idea. I haven't read the books myself so I'm sure there's a lot I'm missing, but what I can judge is the music and what it feels like to me.
This score doesn't at sound like what I thought it would sound like after watching the trailers and reading about the film. It's very subdued, very subtle and I get a feeling like it could burst out any time, but that rarely happens. One of the times it happens is in the cue 'Horn Of Plenty' and the buildup to it. Easily the best cue on the score and it's not even written and composed by James Newton Howard, but from the band Arcade Fire. Howard did however orchestrate it and his influence is all over this cue somehow. You get blaring horns, some choir (that sounds much better on film) and a great theme.
What about Katniss? Her cues are very distinguishable from the rest like in the cue 'Katniss Afoot' which features a guitar and more "homey" feel to it. One of the better cues on the score is 'Healing Katniss' the features some subtle but very moving string work and of course some guitar. The brutality of the games is literally felt in cues like 'Booby Trap' with a more ethnic feel to it, but it isn't quite enough to convince me of it's true power. In the end you have another powerful cue called 'Tenuous Winner/Returning Home' which is a quite beautiful track where you hear the main theme of The Hunger Games with a solo violin in the beginning. It develops into this beautiful soulful and emotional track, one that I can truly get into and understand.
It's a good score by James Newton Howard to an even greater film. I am disappointed of the lack of great powerful themes that really hits me. Instead we have a lot of shorter cues that builds slowly into what could have been great, but never gets a chance to develop properly. Judging by the success of this film, I'm pretty sure they are working on the sequels already and I have a feeling we might see some of these themes developed further if James Newton Howard were to score them. Until then, this is a nice teaser.