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Jack the Giant Slayer
Album Cover Art
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Produced by:

Conducted by:
Jeffrey Schindler

Co-Orchestrated by:
Rick Giovinazzo
Jason Livesay
Nolan Livesay
Frank Macchia
John Ashton Thomas
Larry Groupe
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WaterTower Music
(February 26th, 2013)
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Regular U.S. release, primarily distributed via download but later also availabile through's "CDr on demand" service.
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Buy it... if you love old-fashioned, orchestral adventure scores that combine soaring themes, choral grandeur, accessible harmonies, impressive instrumental colors, and a stunning recording quality.

Avoid it... if you demand absolutely coherent thematic integrity and detest being reminded of prior classics in the genre, two issues that John Ottman struggled with just enough in this assignment to reduce the score in stature by a small notch.
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WRITTEN 2/17/13
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Jack the Giant Slayer: (John Ottman) The shared concepts of the "Jack the Giant Killer" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairy tales have been adapted to the big screen a number of times over the previous century, but never had they been combined in the fashion eventually chosen by director Bryan Singer for 2013's Jack the Giant Slayer. The infamous farmhand at the center of these tales, Jack, experiences portions of both adventures as he obtains a magic bean that sprouts and lifts his house to a land of the clouds in which the mythical giants of old England reside. In this case, the giants descend and challenge the knights and Jack, whose is keen upon saving the princess of the land, for the control of the entire kingdom. Featuring a relatively minor cast, Jack the Giant Slayer (which went through much of its production as Jack the Giant Killer) is a change of pace for Singer and, with its relatively new photography methods, 3D technology, and wild bevy of special effects, the project was pushed back by Warner Brothers by a year, lengthening its overall production lifespan to four years. Involved in Jack the Giant Slayer as an associate producer, editor, and composer is Singer collaborator John Ottman, whose career, after a flurry of superhero scores in the 2000's, slowed down considerably in the 2010's. Part of his absence from the spotlight was due to his extended duties on Jack the Giant Slayer, which occupied two years of his attention. As the composer for the project, he made the determination that he wanted to approach the story from a classical standpoint, utilizing an old-fashioned orchestral adventure mould and, in so doing, reflecting many of the same sentiments expressed by Michael Giacchino for John Carter in 2012. Between John Carter, Andrew Lockington's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, and Jack the Giant Slayer, the swashbuckling symphonic bravado of an older generation of Hollywood has returned with satisfying force during this era, all with impressive results. Ottman specifically sought to avoid the potential pitfalls of this scoring assignment, avoiding "cutesy" and frivolous mechanisms while also steering clear of a musical tone that would be taken too seriously. Interestingly, the score was a journey for him as well, with the main theme eluding him until late in the process and the complexity of his product exhibiting influences from other composers whose styles Ottman obviously cares for.

Perhaps the most intriguing attribute of Jack the Giant Slayer is just how much the score deviates from Ottman's own mannerisms. You do hear a few of his melodic tendencies at times, and there are moments of suspenseful propulsion that will remind of the highlights of his low-profile horror works, but this is music that explores as much new complicated territory for the composer as it does pay tribute to the great scores and composers of yesteryear. Those two aspects of Jack the Giant Slayer are its most clearly defining. It is a work of incredible technical complexity, offering thematic layers that intermingle in difficult ways and instrumental applications that are wildly creative, the latter in some cases rivaling Howard Shore's music for Middle Earth. A crystal-clear recording exposes a masterful job of utilizing each section of the orchestra in engaging performance techniques, forcing performers in some cases to test the limits of their instruments' capabilities. Very challenging dissonant layers occupy significant sections, potentially harming the accessibility of the overall work, but even in these tough passages, Ottman maintains your interest with his textures. The other aspect of Jack the Giant Slayer that will arrest listeners, as mentioned before, is the plain fact that the score maintains traits that will, no matter Ottman's intentions in this regard, remind listeners of the music of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Hans Zimmer, Christopher Young, Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat, Alan Silvestri, Craig Armstrong, and Brian Tyler, and this review will point to specific instances where Ottman raises connections to each of those artists. Most of these reminders come in Ottman's handling of secondary lines of action during a cue or rhythmic motions and instrumental choices, and none is poorly handled in such a way as to generate "temp track" controversy. Instead, Ottman, either wittingly or otherwise, seems to have handled Jack the Giant Slayer with his own favorite composers in the same frame of mind that Tyler would probably allow. There really is nothing to fret when a composer like Ottman, in the process of intentionally seeking the orchestral adventure sound of a previous generation, raises a significant dose of Goldsmith mannerisms. Given that Ottman has had difficulty defining his own compositional style after his early, deviously-natured 1990's successes, it may be rewarding for some listeners to hear him channel more generic genre tones into one wickedly powerful result.

Before launching into a discussion about the themes of Jack the Giant Slayer, it's important to emphasize once again that the instrumental colors of the score are the reason for its success. The motifs themselves are not really that ingenious, and in many ways, they aren't organized as well as they could have been, but Ottman goes so overboard in fleshing out these ideas that their sheer size and scope allow them to succeed anyway. You can tell from the finished product that he had a few creative challenges when conjuring the themes, because while they are applied consistently throughout, they don't enunciate their intentions as well as they otherwise might have. The press releases for the score indicate the four main themes of the work, though that list doesn't entirely make sense when you compare it to the finished product. What isn't to be questioned is the attractiveness of Ottman's two very clearly delineated primary themes. The first is the one for Jack, and it is here where the composer struggled. Only when Singer pointed out a specific minor motif during a scene with the character and asked for that idea to be expanded did this main theme come to fruition, and by that point in the production process, Ottman had to go back and change several cues in Jack the Giant Slayer to utilize the theme. Fortunately, it's a great barn-burner of a theme, roaring immediately out of the gates in the opening "Jack and Isabelle (Theme from Jack the Giant Slayer)" track on album. This concert-like performance until the 1:22 mark utilizes brass techniques from both Williams (0:20 - 0:34) and Goldsmith (0:56 to 1:11) and is so exuberant that it even allows a tambourine a few moments to shine and features a traditional string interlude sequence. At 0:40 into "Logo Mania," Ottman comes the closest to the deeper brass personality of his Fantastic Four material with the theme, but he quickly translates the idea for soothing violins and choir (then to woodwinds and cello) early in "To Cloister." Faint references over troubled atmosphere from 0:46 to 1:15 in "How Do You Do" are followed at 3:14 into "Story of the Giants" by the first of several quick, tacked-on references of a partial phrase of the theme to end a suspenseful cue (the same technique is heard in large choral form at the end of "Roderick's Demise/The Beanstalk Falls"). Softer, melancholy renditions exist on woodwinds and strings at 2:10 into "The Legends are True/First Kiss," 2:35 into "Onward and Downward!," 2:13 into "Waking a Sleeping Giant," and the start of "Goodbyes."

Ottman was successful in leaving listeners with strident performances of his main Jack theme for Jack the Giant Slayer in the final cues, referencing very bold fragments of the idea at 4:06 into "Chase to Cloister" and throughout the first two minutes of "Sniffing Out Fear/All is Lost" before savoring victory in redemptive, slow, and pronounced performances during the first two minutes of "The New King/Stories." Less of a presence at the end of the score, unfortunately, is Ottman's love theme for the kidnapped princess, Isabelle. It is introduced on harp at 1:23 into "Jack and Isabelle (Theme from Jack the Giant Slayer)," an appropriate choice of instrument given the historical role of the harp in the stories, before being passed to woodwinds and then to the full ensemble in the remainder of that track. Horner enthusiasts will appreciate Ottman's nod to that composer's style of plaintive solo horn melodies mixed into that equation. Thereafter, the theme is mostly adjoined to other ideas, serving as a brief interlude to a rising fantasy motif at 0:24 into "The Climb" and returning to the harp for twenty seconds at the start of "How Do You Do" and faintly over dissonance at 1:20 into that same cue. The theme enjoys slight but pretty interlude duty at 2:41 into "The Legends are True/First Kiss" that may remind some listeners of Naoki Sato sentimentality. Similarly, the idea occupies the last minute of "Goodbyes" with subtlety and informs a unique waltz sequence in the middle of "The New King/Stories." More obviously, weightier enunciation of this theme might have helped the romantic aspect of the score, though the fantasy nature of the remaining themes helps pick up the slack. Among these is an idea that Ottman wrote for the crown, introduced with mystical choral allure in "Power of the Crown." This cue eventually builds to a stomping statement of resiliency that is lovely but slightly evil in its major/minor-shifting tone. A variation of this idea is explored at 2:27 into "Roderick's Demise/The Beanstalk Falls," with immensely massive choral shades that remind of Young's bombastic Hellraiser work. The religious tone continues from 4:29 to 4:55 into that same cue, by which time the theme has transformed into a full requiem mass. That overwhelming expression of chime-banging, orchestral and choral tone is reprised at 4:54 into "The Battle." More appealingly, Ottman allows the theme to influence the villainous close to "The New King/Stories," intertwining the idea as necessary with his underutilized and somewhat nebulous idea for the antagonist, Roderick.

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Average: 3.72 Stars
***** 155 5 Stars
**** 132 4 Stars
*** 86 3 Stars
** 46 2 Stars
* 34 1 Stars
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Silvestri again...
L.F. - July 8, 2013, at 10:20 p.m.
1 comment  (581 views)
This is AMAZING!   Expand >>
Richard Kleiner - March 26, 2013, at 1:31 p.m.
2 comments  (941 views)
Newest: March 29, 2013, at 3:21 Gashoe13
Music Similarities   Expand >>
Johnny Trash - March 24, 2013, at 8:23 p.m.
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Newest: March 29, 2013, at 6:13 Johnny Trash

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 72:50
• 1. Jack and Isabelle (Theme from Jack the Giant Slayer) (3:56)
• 2. Logo Mania (1:00)
• 3. To Cloister (1:28)
• 4. The Climb (2:41)
• 5. Fee Appears (3:16)
• 6. How Do You Do (2:23)
• 7. Why Do People Scream? (3:17)
• 8. Story of the Giants (3:22)
• 9. Welcome to Gantua (4:12)
• 10. Power of the Crown (1:21)
• 11. Not Wildly Keen on Heights (2:19)
• 12. Top of the World (2:30)
• 13. The Legends are True/First Kiss (3:43)
• 14. Roderick's Demise/The Beanstalk Falls (5:36)
• 15. Kitchen Nightmare (3:24)
• 16. Onward and Downward! (3:19)
• 17. Waking a Sleeping Giant (2:21)
• 18. Chase to Cloister (5:19)
• 19. Goodbyes (2:29)
• 20. The Battle (5:31)
• 21. Sniffing Out Fear/All is Lost (5:07)
• 22. The New King/Stories (4:17)

Notes Icon
The insert includes a long note from John Ottman about the creative process behind the score.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Jack the Giant Slayer are Copyright © 2013, WaterTower Music and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 2/17/13 (and not updated significantly since).
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