Review by Helen San
OBLIVION is a visually stunning sci-fi blockbuster about drone repair personnel on a post-apocalyptic earth, with enough mind-bending plot twists to give Phillip K. Dick a run for his money. Billing Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, and Morgan Freeman (it’s mostly just Tom Cruise), the film’s scene-stealing star was actually its breathtaking CGI cinematography. And where you have beautiful images, you must have beautiful music.
I’ll be honest. I am not a big fan of forays into film music by electronic bands. Didn’t much care for FIGHT CLUB by DUST BROTHERS. Definitely didn’t swoon over HANNA by THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS. When TRON: LEGACY director Joseph Kosinski recruited the French electronic band DAFT PUNK to compose the score, film music fans like myself were skeptical. On one hand, the Tron franchise wears the mystique of avant garde electronica quite well. On the other hand—memories of THE SOCIAL NETWORK by Nine Inch Nails (ahem, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) still make me shudder.
But TRON: LEGACY turned out to be a fantastic and eminently listenable score. DAFT PUNK had some chops. And they had arrangement help from a classically trained composer, JOSEPH TRAPANESE. So when I sat down to listen to a score to another Kosinski film, by a French electronic band (M83), with Trapanese as co-composer, I was rightly hopeful. M83’s OBLIVION is every bit as enjoyable as TRON: LEGACY, and then some.
As a reviewer, I would be remiss if I didn’t see a pattern emerging: Kosinski and Trapenese. Kosinki seems to have an intuitive talent for directing good music for his screens; he knows how to pick them and shape them. And Trapanese knows how to marry electronic music to orchestral arrangements for film like nobody’s business. What they give us is the kind of collaborative genius that makes for a darn good soundtrack.