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  • Composed by Steve Jablonsky
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2012 / 77:28

I remember playing the game Battleship when I was younger.  I don’t really remember it featuring an armada of invading Transformer-like aliens, but perhaps my memory’s playing tricks.  It’s been so successful that follow-up films have already been greenlit – I am particularly looking forward to Monopoly, in which an armada of invading Transformer-like aliens attempts to take over the world by skilfully buying and selling properties.  The Transformers similarity of Battleship even extends to its score, composed by Steve Jablonsky who has made his name on that franchise.  After a couple of tracks on my first listen I assumed this score was going to be more of the same – easy-listening fluff, Batman Begins-style action ostinatos.  I was preparing to copy-and-paste from my “it’s OK but won’t win any awards” template, had my fingers poised over Ctrl+V when… oh deary me, “Full Attack” starts.

Fans of Rice Krispies may well get a shock if they listen to the music over breakfast because the snaps, crackles and pops will continue coming from their stereo long after the cereal has been consumed.  That’s essentially what the score is – the occasional burst of power anthem punctuating endless repetition of electronic snaps, crackles and pops.  A case could be made that there is in fact more musical value in a recording of a bowl of Rice Krispies.  Still, if that’s what floats your boat then get your incontinence pads ready because you have a whole 78 minutes of it here.  I wouldn’t expect the music for a film as banal-looking as this one to be anything particularly creative – and I’m hardly the biggest fan of the Transformers scores – but even those low expectations turned out to be wildly optimistic.  There’s one idea here – representing the aliens with metallic clangs – and it’s just repeated ad nauseum.  I’m sure it doesn’t harm the film, and sadly that’s the level the bar seems to have been set these days for blockbusters like this.  The album certainly harms my brain.  * |

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  1. Chris Avis (Reply) on Wednesday 9 May, 2012 at 00:42

    I have to admit I’d been looking forward to your review of this album. Nobody does disdain over the current state of film music quite as well as you! You manage to channel the irate rage of an old man complaining about the damn kids on his lawn oh so well with these reviews.

    All kidding aside, I think you’re being a bit generous with this rating. I downloaded one track from the score when it first came out and I can’t even get through that without feeling like a migraine is coming on.



  2. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Wednesday 9 May, 2012 at 12:31

    Fully agreed. I went into this album expecting at least a guilty pleasure, and came out of it with a reeling headache that wouldn’t go away for a week.

    Shame, Peter Berg’s previous movies have occasionally had some pretty good scores in them (The Rundown, Hancock etc.). And yet in an interview he claims Jablonsky’s the best he’s ever worked with. The best at sacrificing his artistic intregrity, I don’t doubt.

  3. Jan Windsheimer (Reply) on Saturday 15 March, 2014 at 14:26

    You took the (admittedly) worst track on the whole album and then judged all of it based on this?
    Ive read quite some of your reviews over the past few days, and i mostly agree with them. But here it just seems you were already set in your judgement when you read “Jablonsky” and didnt really bother to listen to it beyond “Full Attack”.

    I take immense pleasure in listening to the tracks 1 to 6 (minus Full Attack). “The Art of War” was my alarm clock tune for almost a year, and “The Beacon Project” & “Objects Make Impact” are also immensely fun to listen to. It gets a little shallow in the middle (and so does the movie) but “USS John Paul Jones”, “We Have a Battleship” and “Somebody’s Gonna Kiss the Donkey” are great tracks.
    The album should have ended there.

    Now, i only know 2 Jablonsky scores, and none of them is “Transformers” so maybe i just dont see the big picture
    But all on its own, this score does the job of supporting the (however bad) movie and its genuinely enjoyable. Its a simple score for a simple movie. Dont expect any more than that…

    Just my 2 cents.

  4. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Sunday 16 March, 2014 at 13:40

    Some of the most celebrated names in film scoring [GOLDSMITH, MORRICONE, HORNER etc] have written scores for “simple movies”– the result Jan, some of their most admired music. In the capable hands of skilled composers, their music manipulates the reactions and emotions of viewers > boring storylines, dreary characters, trite dialogue, insipid acting and shoddy editing becomes palatable…there is something very magical about film music and its ability to reach into the subconcious and alter perceptions of what is happening on screen. I loved JABLONSKY’s music for the TRANSFORMERS franchise and GEARS OF WAR 2&3’s video games. The Renaissance-flavoured YOUR HIGHNESS is a favourite…the film, incidentally, had the worst reviews I’ve read! Of late though, his music for Gangster Squad, Battleship, Pain & Gain and Ender’s Game reached unacceptable lows, not withstanding the isolated tracks of inspired scoring. JABLONSKY’s music has provided lots of very satisfying listening, and I’m hoping future projects will excite his creative muse to deliver scores that, work, not only for the films they’re written for, but also as a remarkable listening experience for his many devotees.

  5. Brendan Cochran (Reply) on Thursday 4 December, 2014 at 08:38

    “Fans of Rice Krispies may well get a shock if they listen to the music over breakfast because the snaps, crackles and pops will continue coming from their stereo long after the cereal has been consumed.”

    Possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever read