Monsters vs. AliensThough composer Henry Jackman has worked in various music department roles on such high-level blockbusters as The Dark Knight, Hancock, The Da Vinci Code, two of the three Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Simpsons Movie, and Kung Fu Panda, the score for the upcoming Monsters vs. Aliens marks his debut as the lead composer for a feature. And from the sound of the tracks here, it appears that Jackman has been paying attention on all his assignments. He’s able to pull together the action sensibilities of The Dark Knight and Hancock – check out the intensely pounding “Do Something Violent!” with its super-fast-paced tempo and full orchestral involvement – with the cartoonish elements of The Simpsons Movie and Kung Fu Panda – “Meet the Monsters” is a hip, quirky piece that feels like an extended, spruced up sitcom introduction with jazzy Lilo Schifrin elements thrown in for good measure. Monsters vs. Aliens is a thrilling score that mixes dark superhero themes with childlike wonder, at times sounding like John Williams’ Superman score – listen to the opening of “Oversized Tin Can” and tell me I’m wrong – and at other times sounding like a goofy kid pleaser – okay, now check out the second half of “Oversized Tin Can.” For the most part Jackman’s score, produced by the revered Hans Zimmer, is an exercise in almost Disney-like enthusiasm. There are few moments that don’t include the majority of the orchestra, resulting in a powerful, full-bodied, multi-layered sound. But Jackman has enough sensibility to throw in hip, poppy references, allowing the sound to stay grounded and fun no matter how expansive the instrumentation gets. He even manages to get (cartoonily) emotional with the brief and a bit over-explanatory “Didn’t Mean To Crush You.” Jackman has set himself up as a powerful contributor to both the animated world and the action world in general.

Also included on the soundtrack are several songs from the film, including the instantly recognizable – and extremely conducive film mood-setters “Tell Him” by The Exciters and “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. Little River Band’s “Reminiscing” fits in perfectly between Jackman’s emotive “Didn’t Mean to Crush You” and his mysterious “Imprisoned By a Strange Being.” Both The B-52’s 1979 hit “Planet Claire” and The Buchanan Brothers’ 1947 country ditty “When you See (Those Flying Saucers)” obviously fit in simply due to their subject matter. The final track, Sheb Wooley’s novelty hit “Purple People Eater,” is a perfect wrap-up to the comic sentimentality of the rest of the album. There could have been no better wrap up to this album than the purple people eater’s horn solo and final Alvin and the Chipmunks-voiced proclamation of “Tequila.”

Zach’s Rating: 9 (out of 10)

To purchase the soundtrack from Monsters Vs. Aliens, visit Amazon

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