It’s Monday here at Max Level, and after a week off, we’re back with another Five Favorites! If you’re just joining us on this crazy little adventure, here’s what’s up: every week, I pick my five favorite things from whatever the hell I feel like and present them to you in a way that hopefully doesn’t hurt your beautiful little brains. In return, I hope you’ll share with me your top five in the selected category so we can all argue about how much our respective opinions suck!
I wanted to deviate a little bit from my usual video game-centered lists to delve into a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart: movie soundtracks. Here at Max Level, if we’re not gaming, we’re binging on Netflix and arguing over what films didn’t completely suck. As a long-time musician and film whore, I’ve amassed a huge collection of movies and their respective soundtracks over the years, and now I’m hoping I can share with you a few that have really blown me away.
And no, Hanz Zimmer is not on here. You’re welcome?
I wrote the title to this article, and instantly giggled because honestly, it wouldn’t be a proper list now without including Kick-Ass. The 2010 comic book adaption film is one of my favorite ultra-violent films of the past decade, and the soundtrack is so utterly perfect, I don’t exactly know where to begin. For the sake of this list, I’m going to combine the films score and soundtrack into one massive blob, because it’s all worth talking about. With artists like The Prodigy, Joan Jett, and Mika singing their way through children beating the living hell out of bad guys, there’s a whole lot to love. Even with all the blood, you just want to get up and dance. It’s energetic as hell, and really keeps the pace for the entire film. Likewise, the score is extremely visceral and befitting the genre. It should also be noted that John Murphy’s ‘In the House, In a Heartbeat’ and ‘Adagio in D Minor’ variation are some of the most prolific musical pieces of the last decade, and they’re used perfectly in the film. What more could you ask for?
I mention John Murphy above, and this won’t be the last time his name graces this list. If there’s one thing he knows how to do, it’s tug on your heart strings until you’re an emotional wreck — and that’s exactly what the Sunshine soundtrack does. The movie itself is extremely beautiful, so it’s only natural that the soundtrack would match. ‘Adagio in D Minor’, mentioned above relating to Kick-Ass, is the most notable track on this album, appearing quite a few times in different variations. I’ve used the word ethereal several times in this list, but I feel like it’s actually the only real way to explain this album. Every sound is transcendent, and carries with it the very essence of space and exploration — just as the film does. There’s really no decent way to explain how fitting the soundtrack is, so I suggest you prepare your earholes for a good listen. Oh, and I dare you not to get emotional at that one scene. You’ll know it.
3. Requiem for a Dream
Now here’s a film I think I can watch a thousand times over and still be completely enamored with — even with the infamous double-ended dildo scene. Clint Mansell has made quite a name for himself when it comes to scoring films, and his work with the Kronos Quartet is some of the most haunting music to have blessed my little ear holes. Darren Aronofsky’s film takes advantage of extreme minimalism, and the soundtrack follows suite. It reuses a lot of the core beats repeatedly through the album, but it’s a concept that’s never boring or trite. In fact, it’s one of the things that makes the soundtrack so magical. The music follows each character very closely, emitting an essence of their true selves and their drugs of choice. It’s heroin music, and it’s the perfect fit for this little monster film. The album is ridiculously dark and disturbing, and it will haunt you for quite some time — even after the film ends. It’s most famous for ‘Lux Aeterna’, a song that, even if you’ve never heard the title, I’m positive you’re familiar with. It’s been used in a countless number of tv spots, commercials, video games, sporting events, and even reorchestrated in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Tower‘s trailer. The Requiem for a Dream soundtrack is a must-have in any music collection, even if you’re not that into dildos.
2. 28 Weeks Later
I had trouble deciding if I wanted to used 28 Days Later or 28 Weeks later, but ultimately decide with the latter. The films are probably the most beloved and terrifying infected movies ever made, and the soundtracks only add the the atmosphere they’ve created. I talked very briefly about John Murphy earlier, and here’s where you get a full taste of his work. Every single piece of the soundtrack is raw and unabashed, aiding to the immensely visceral feel of the film. There are a lot of really heavy, stringed pieces, but the soundtrack is really driven by the more mellowed, dark, and subtly grandiose electronic-based pieces. It’s also an incredibility immense soundtrack, just by feel. It’s an emotional ride through fear, loss, and unknown endings. The best part of the album is the fact that Murphy reuses his ‘In the House, In a Heartbeat’ in a slightly different variation for very climactic scenes. It’s nostalgic and driven, yet overwhelmingly refreshing. If the world were to ever become overwhelmed by a rage virus, my only hope is that John Murphy will somehow find a way to score it.
The Chemical Brothers are a force to be reckoned with, and they prove it with their wickedly intense soundtrack for Joe Wright’s 2011 flick Hanna. It’s no secret that I am head-over-heels in love with kickass Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, so I went into Hanna with one thing in mind: my unabashed I-hope-it’s-not-creepy love. Little did I know, the soundtrack would completely blow my freaking mind. A few folks would criticize the extreme experimentation on the album as a flaw, but I’m positive that the eclectic lo-fi and core beats elevate the soundtrack to a completely ethereal plane. It carries with it a lot of innocence that fits Hanna’s new-world eyes, but also competes with the ultra-violence the film has to offer with beckoning undertones and heart-stomping beats. It’s dark, trippy, and when accompanied with the surreal and beautiful visuals of the film, it stands as one of the most uniquely haunting and psychedelic soundtracks to date.
Ah, wasn’t that nice? John Murphy was on this list twice, but if you’ve given them a listen, you’ll understand why. All of the music, whether solemn or explosively energetic, are perfect fits for their respective genres. They can be listened to time after time, yet never get old. They’ll also fill you with an overwhelming sense of emotion. Or is it just me?
Now that you’ve seen my list of kickass movie soundtracks, what’s on your fave five? Sound off in the comments below and let me know what albums you just can’t seem to shut up about.
Happy movie watching, nerds!