Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

June 16th, 2012, 7:17 pm #11

1989 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra

Following Temple of Doom, Williams' output was far less spectacular. While he provided a handful of decent scores to less notable films; it wasn't until Indiana Jones returned four years later that we finally saw the action master again.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was a wonderful return to form. In fact, from this point on, Williams' action music seemed to be a bit more impressive from an orchestration standpoint. It was a bit less thematic at times, but perhaps a bit more complex also.

Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra is a great combining of Williams' humorous style and his bravado action. A perfect match for the film itself.

The track introduces us to the lighthearted humor from the winds as they acquaint us to the track's recurring chase theme.

An outburst of the Raider's March at 1:05 begins the action and 1:21 gives us a wonderfully integrated statement of Last Crusade's bombastic Nazi Theme.

The chase theme plays out the cue in rousing fashion and builds to fantastic crescendo as Indy gives his jousting combatant the old 'flagpole through the spokes.'

Like the sequence it scores, this is an incredibly fun and satisfying cue.

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

June 18th, 2012, 11:12 pm #12

1989 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - On The Tank/Belly of the Steel Beast

I know what you're thinking. 'Hey, that Scherzo track is great, but it's not as epic as the previous Indy tracks on this list!'

Well here you go.

On The Tank and Belly of the Steel Beast are Last Crusade's big, bombastic action show-stoppers as Indy pursues and fights his way to his captured father and Marcus Brody.

As mentioned in the previous post, you will notice much less reliance on themes here. The Raider's March shows up in thrilling fashion in both cues and On The Tank ends with the theme for the 'Joneses,' but almost the entirety of the of the sequence relies on brilliant orchestration and excellent unique phrases.

Listing all the highlights here would take paragraphs and I am not musically knowledgeable enough to add any insight on these increasingly complex and extraordinary cues.

Listen to them. You'll see what I mean.

Our eleventh entry - On The Tank and Belly of the Steel Beast.

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

June 19th, 2012, 11:22 pm #13

1991 - Hook - The Ultimate War

Remember when I said Williams' action scoring became a bit less thematic? Well that absolutely did not apply to Hook.

The Ultimate War is Williams at his swashbuckling best.

The movie may be among Spielberg's most mediocre, but the score was a triumph.

Presented in three parts, the music for the film's climactic clash of good and evil has everything and the kitchen sink.

Every theme from the film is presented in spectacular fashion (Pan, Hook, the children, the lost boys, Neverland, etc.).

The colorful orchestration and energetic performances combine for an exceptional and thrilling 17 minutes of adventure score bliss.

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

June 21st, 2012, 12:19 am #14

1992 - Far and Away - The Land Race

Here's a great one that goes under the radar.

A mediocre effort from director Ron Howard, Far and Away seems all but forgotten.

The one enduring contribution was John Williams' magnificent score.

The score is sweeping, ethnic and beautiful, but Williams breaks out the big guns for The Land Race sequence.

An incredibly satisfying cue, The Land Race is brimming with energy and optimism.

The thematic power is exceptional, highlighted by the triumphant statement after the three-minute mark.

Our thirteenth entry is that forgotten gem- The Land Race

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

June 21st, 2012, 9:52 pm #15

1993 - Jurassic Park - T-Rex Rescue

While John Williams' score for Jurassic Park will always be best known for its noble fanfare and sweeping theme, it also contains some of his finest dissonant action writing.

T-Rex Rescue emphasizes the horror aspect of the film as our protagonists find themselves cornered and pursued by a vicious trio of raptors.

The harsh, suspenseful sound begins with statements of the ominous danger theme and that of the raptors.

It's far less melodic than we expect from Williams and very effective in ratcheting up the tension without devolving into noise as many lesser horror scores do.

A moment of triumph is afforded, however, as the door locks are engaged. It's accompanied by a celebratory statement of the famous fanfare.

It's short-lived, however. The raptors break through the glass and the violent sound returns with supreme force, building fantastically to the climactic rescue. It ends with a flourish that is pure Williams.

If you need a counter-weight to Far and Away's optimism, here is Williams in his finest suspense form.

Our fourteenth entry is T-Rex Rescue.

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

June 24th, 2012, 11:14 pm #16

1997 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park - The Hunt

To say Williams' output following Jurassic Park was a disappointment is an understatement.

Williams did not score a film in 1994 and 1995/96 saw two years of mediocre scores to mediocre films.

Williams finally returned to form in 1997, although it was his pair of dramatic scores (Amistad, Seven Years in Tibet) that were the more accomplished works.

Nevertheless, Williams' score to the mega-hyped Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World, was the most exciting action material we had heard since the original.

Like the film, Williams' score is considered something of a letdown, if only for its understandable abandonment of the original's wondrous themes. The Lost World is far more of a horror/suspense film than the original.

For what it is, however, The Lost World is a good score and a unique one in Williams' career. It's a violent, percussive score with a main theme that is far more mysterious than his trademark fanfares.

The Hunt is a great piece of action scoring that was mostly unused in the final cut of the film. In a baffling move, Spielberg decided to track in portions of the main theme instead of utilizing the finest action cue Williams composed for the film. Even the best directors drop the ball sometimes.

The Hunt is a very satisfying, propulsive cue that is a good representation of the score's more ominous nature. In it, the main theme is cleverly rendered almost unrecognizable by Williams.

The exotic percussion is a staple of the score and is utilized to great effect here.

The Hunt is a great example of Williams' more mature, suspenseful action style and is very worthy of being our fifteenth entry.

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

June 29th, 2012, 1:01 am #17

1999 - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - Duel of the Fates

Our last entry was a highly anticipated film that disappointed. This one is on an entirely different level.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was perhaps the most hyped film release of all time and it has polarized the Star Wars fan base since its debut in May of 1999.

The one aspect of the film that has been almost universally praised, however, is John Williams' superb score.

The highlight is undoubtedly Duel of the Fates, a monumentally epic action piece of operatic proportions. It's arguably Williams' most popular modern composition.

The stunning Sanskrit chants from the choir, the ominous, rolling string lines, the startling, punctuated blasts of brass, this is epic action scoring at its finest.

Interestingly, this piece was not originally intended to be used as it appears in the film. This was conceived as a concert piece to be played over the end credits. The theme did appear in a cue for part of the lightsaber duel, but did not encompass the entire sequence as it does in the final version.

This is perhaps one of the few instances where score meddling actually benefited the film. This piece was simply too incredible to be confined to a single portion of the film's climactic duel.

The theme would reappear in both Episodes II and III.

Our sixteenth entry is the masterful Duel of the Fates.

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

July 2nd, 2012, 1:34 am #18

2001 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - The Quidditch Match

In our last entry Williams made his triumphant return to a franchise inseparable from his superb work. Two years later he would launch a new one.

The first Harry Potter film is an incredible score, rife with the thematic brilliance of Star Wars and the wonder of Hook.

Hedwig's Theme became musical identity of the franchise and was used throughout the series even after Williams departed following the third film.

The Quidditch Match is arguably the best action cue in the entire franchise and it's truly a masterpiece.

Although the trademark opening of Hedwig's Theme is not featured, just about every secondary theme is. There are almost too many to mention. You could write a thesis based on the themes in this score.

Following a grand fanfare to introduce the the match, we jump into the action with the film's frantic flying theme after the two-minute mark.

The energy is consistently high and the orchestration exceptional.

The tensions increase through the first half of the sequence, eventually leading to a statement of the Voldemort's Theme at 5:12.

It's Hermione to the rescue, however; accompanied by the Hedwig B theme (The one usually reserved for exterior shots of the castle).

The music begins to soar once again and it builds to a spectacular climax including a trumpet solo seven minutes in.

A calm rendition of Hedwig's B Theme signifies the conclusion of the match before erupting for once last victorious fanfare. It transitions to a gorgeous statement of the Williams' heartwarming friendship theme to close the cue.

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

July 2nd, 2012, 10:51 pm #19

2002 - Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones - The Arena

Another Star Wars films, another entry on our list.

Williams once again delivers a superb score and perhaps the best developed leitmotif of the prequels in Anakin and Padme's Love Theme. This track begins with the Love Pledge cue, where you will hear this beautiful and tragic theme in its full glory.

It segues directly into The Arena, a massive and rousing action cue originally intended to score our heroes' battle for survival against three fearsome alien beasts. Originally intended because much of the middle portion was unused in the final film.

George Lucas preferred the music-less approach for this sequence; a bizarre choice given the franchises wall-to-wall scoring approach and the phenomenal quality of Williams' composition. It's not the only strange musical choice in the film. Many cues were directly pasted from Williams' Phantom Menace score and even repeated among sequences in Attack of the Clones.

Apparently Lucas had nothing against the piece itself, though. In a nice surprise, the unused portion would actually show up in Episode III scoring Lord Vader's march on the Jedi Temple.

Regardless of its strange history, The Arena is a fantastic action cue. Its recurring theme (Introduced at 2:40) is a fantastic example of the very best of Williams' modern action scoring. What follows is a brassy and bold march filled with great energy and thematic direction.

The Love Theme shows up at 6:10 and again in suspenseful fashion a minute later. A ominous statement of the force theme appears at 7:39 before the cue spirals to a frantic end.

Enjoy our eighteenth entry - The Arena.

Joined: October 14th, 2010, 7:21 pm

July 3rd, 2012, 9:05 pm #20

2002 - Minority Report - Anderton's Great Escape

2002 was a big year for Williams, providing scores to Star Wars and Harry Potter sequels as well as a pair of Spielberg films in Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can.

Minority Report may not rank highly among the composer's work as a whole, but it's a good score to a phenomenal film (One of Spielberg's very best in my opinion).

The score does contain an extraordinary action track in Anderton's Great Escape.

Spanning multiple action set pieces including a jet pack chase and a fight through a futuristic car factory, it's nearly seven minutes of glorious bombast.

The more mature, violent sound will no doubt recall The Lost World and much of the action scoring in the latter two Star Wars prequels.

The relentless intensity is palpable and performed with great symphonic power.

It ends with a more quintessentially Williams flourish as Anderton victoriously escapes his captors.

Our nineteenth entry is the explosive Anderton's Great Escape.