SUPPORT FILMTRACKS! CLICK HERE FIRST:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
iTunes (U.S.)
Amazon.ca
Amazon.fr
eBay (U.S.)
Amazon.de
Amazon.es
Half.com
Glisten Effect
Editorial Reviews
Scoreboard Forum
Viewer Ratings
Composers
Awards
   NEWEST MAJOR REVIEWS:
     1. Jurassic World
    2. Tomorrowland
   3. San Andreas
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
 5. Avengers: Age of Ultron
6. Cinderella
   BEST OF JAMES HORNER (1953-2015):
         1. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
        2. Willow
       3. The Land Before Time
      4. Glory
     5. Legends of the Fall
    6. Apollo 13
   7. Titanic
  8. The Legend of Zorro
 9. Avatar
10. The Amazing Spider-Man
Home Page
Skyfall
(2012)
Album Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
J.A.C. Redford
Steven Bernstein
Peter Boyer
Carl Johnson

Co-Produced by:
Bill Bernstein
Labels Icon
LABEL & RELEASE DATE
Sony Classical
(November 6th, 2012)
Availability Icon
ALBUM AVAILABILITY
The score-only album is a regular U.S. release. The download-only score album version from iTunes includes one additional track. The title song was released separately by the same label.
Awards
AWARDS
The title song won a Golden Globe, a Grammy Award, and an Academy Award. The score won a Grammy Award and was also nominated for an Academy Award.
Also See Icon
ALSO SEE




Decorative Nonsense
PRINTER FRIENDLY VIEW
(inverts site colors)



Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you are a Thomas Newman enthusiast who is curious to hear the composer bring the Bond franchise into his own comfort zone while exploring some new avenues of action with which to expand his career.

Avoid it... on the atrocious soundtrack album release if you expect to hear the fabulous title song by Adele or a score from Newman that competes favorably in the areas of panache, romance, or action when compared to his predecessors in the franchise.
Review Icon
EDITORIAL REVIEW
FILMTRACKS TRAFFIC RANK: #649
WRITTEN 11/13/12
Shopping Icon
BUY IT



Newman
Newman
Skyfall: (Thomas Newman) After a long production delay due to the financial troubles of studio MGM, the James Bond franchise continued into 2012 with the third entry of the Daniel Craig era, Skyfall. While the previous two films had been part of an explicit "Quantum trilogy" with a carefully connected narrative, Skyfall disappointingly abandons that storyline and instead functions as a standalone Bond entry with elements similar to 1995's Goldeneye. A former MI6 agent turns on the agency and uses frightening new technologies to wreak havoc on Britain's intelligence community, guiding the film franchise into a new age of social media and server hacking. Bond and MI6 fall into this agent's trap and allow him access to his ultimate target: agency leader "M." The script of Skyfall clearly shakes off the romantic espionage elements of the concept's past, favoring technological terror, British politics, and intense personal drama, forcing Bond to come to grips with his childhood while also pushing the agency towards a future of network-based villains. While this new focus pleased critics and audiences, the latter making Skyfall extraordinarily successful at the box office, it also opened the door for an extremely irritating number of logical fallacies in the story, the most baffling of which coming in the conclusive battle sequence taking place in Scotland. These fallacies suggest a grim outlook for the prospects of success for Britain's police and intelligence agencies, including even a complete failure by a younger version of technology wizard "Q" in this film, and one has to wonder if large bands of terrorist thugs with easy access to secret networks, heavy guns, and assault helicopters could really exist within Britain's borders. These issues are compounded by a change in the franchise's use of music as well, director Sam Mendes insisting upon bringing his own collaborating partner, composer Thomas Newman, into the production with him rather than trust the successful David Arnold with a continuation of the concept's existing sound. The scores for Bond films have historically been defined by the work of John Barry and then Arnold, the latter taking Barry's traditional methodology and continuously updating it for a sleeker technological age. Arnold's approach to Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace was widely praised in this regard, mindful of Bond's romantic heritage and melodic needs while continuing to develop his own ballsy action style for the character.

Certainly no slouch in the industry is Tom Newman, who entered the Bond franchise with a handful of Academy Award nominations and tremendous respect from his peers. His prior work with Mendes is impressive and he certainly knows how to touch upon the dramatic core of on-screen relationships. After his announcement as the next Bond composer (which initially was attributed to Arnold's attachment to the London Olympic Games but was later revealed to be solely by the choice of Mendes), concern was raised about the fact that Newman had never really had the opportunity to write technologically diverse action or espionage material with the pizzazz typically heard in the franchise. His reputation as a master of music for art house topics didn't help, though his intelligent writing and stated respect for the Bond concept somewhat calmed the nerves of Arnold enthusiasts who eventually gave him the benefit of the doubt. Newman stated repeatedly that he respected his position in the franchise and that, while his own style would obviously inform the picture, he would adhere to the classic Monty Norman theme and other structural aspects of prior Bond soundtracks. The production itself was in some ways careful to preserve the musical heritage of the concept, even going so far as to use John Barry's own home as the setting for the residence of "M" on screen. Likewise, the title song co-written and performed by British star Adele is clearly backwards looking, paying tribute to the famous and very stylish Barry and Shirley Bassey tone of the 1960's. Newman, conversely, seemed convinced that the appropriate way to address Skyfall was to utilize a balance of his own exotic, atmospheric inclinations and consult with the John Powell and James Newton Howard playbooks on how to score a modern technological chase thriller. The romantic elements of the prior scores, whether for character or location, are largely stripped from the equation by Newman. The feeling of panache is also almost entirely absent from Skyfall, the sense of coolness attributed to Bond's character a faint echo of his better days. Most importantly, Newman seems to have ignored standard procedural applications of Bond norms in his spotting of many scenes, infusing exotic atmosphere into London for no reason, toiling with suspenseful undertones when an emotional sense of lamentation was necessary, and inserting obnoxious, technologically-minded loops and other contemporary techniques into scenes with action that degenerates into primordial hand-to-hand combat in the plot's explicit defiance of technology.

One group of listeners who will be thrilled by Skyfall is the dedicated Tom Newman fanbase. Indeed, the composer has created in this score a true "Newmanesque" product. He doesn't go as wild with his exotic instrumentation as he is known for doing, but his structures, led by pulsating string notes and slurred, rising figures, and his plucky sense of rhythm occupy much time in this work (all are best evident in "New Digs"). His knack for understatement is also a factor, several of Skyfall's major character cues barely registering in volume. Newman additionally is not a songwriter himself, his usual themes not the kind to be remembered by mainstream moviegoers, and this trait is a definite disaster in his rendering of this score. Bond films have always strived for a strong melodic core, a key part of their romantic appeal, and Newman manages to maneuver through his entire contribution without concocting a single coherent and consistently developed major motif. Part of the blame for Skyfall's total thematic anonymity rests with the executives of the film, who did not arrange for the title song to be finished in time for Newman to incorporate its melody into the bulk of his score. Compounding this failure for Newman is the fact that Adele's song, co-written by her regular collaborator, Paul Epworth, is a stunning success. Accompanying a truly nightmarish opening title sequence that depicts Bond's journey through a living hell, this song is a throwback to the glory days of Bond like none other, eclipsing even the recent Bassey/Arnold collaboration for "No Good About Goodbye," a belated "Bond ghost song" of immensely attractive prowess that could very well have been intended for Quantum of Solace. Adele's "Skyfall" intentionally adheres to the chord progressions of Norman's classic theme and includes backing by a 77-piece orchestra arranged by Newman's orchestrator, J.A.C. Redford. The resulting song is a triumph of the modern age for the franchise and was declared as such by critics and fans. Its chart performance returned the Bond franchise to the Billboard ranks and is a ringing endorsement for an adherence to the days of classic Bond ballads with sultry voices and stylish brass. The orchestral backing in this song is impressively muscular, and fortunately for listeners, the abridged film version of the recording contains most of the best sequences from the full, nearly 5-minute song. Because it was completed late in the production process, Newman's score could only utilize the theme in "Komodo Dragon," which was reportedly recorded after the rest of the score to specifically make at least one token reference to the song in Newman's contribution.

Unfortunately, the overall disconnect between the song and score in Skyfall couldn't be greater. Everything that makes the Adele song great is absent from Newman's score, even the opening piano. In previous entries, when Arnold had been presented with the prospect of working without the song theme in his score, as in "Die Another Day" (Madonna's song didn't actually have a melody he could work with, much to his stated dismay), he had simply created his own set of themes for the assignment. Newman doesn't bother with this necessity, however, missing several opportunities to unleash themes for the love interests, the villain, and Bond's childhood. The most obvious place for a Bond score's themes to take flight is in the massive transitional location scenes, those in which overhead photography of scenery dominates during a transition in the story. Skyfall contains three such scenes, the first in Shanghai ("Brave New World"), a second for the lovely, aforementioned "Komodo Dragon" boat and fireworks sequence, and finally Severine's luxury yacht's sail to "The Chimera." These three sequences are still the obvious highlights of Newman's score, his music expressing large-scale melodic constructs in each case. But aside from the "Komodo Dragon" reference to the song (which is bracketed by the location's own theme that oddly fails to hit synchronization points with the photography in the final edit), Newman doesn't take advantage of these scenes to provide Skyfall with his own overarching theme. Nor does he use either one to express the romance typically afforded such occasions in Bond history; the sailing sequence in "The Chimera" would have been perfect for a massively bittersweet performance of the theme for Severine. That character's identity is confined to the cue "Severine" for a merely suggestive shower sequence, and the melody for this occasion (which only coincidentally has similarities to the Adele song's bridge phrase) is not only absent from the obviously necessary placement in "The Chimera," but is also only barely referenced in "Modigliani" (an arguable misstep) and is inexplicably absent from "Someone Usually Dies," which more than anything required a suspenseful and suggestive reference to her theme. The same might be able to be said about the equally low-key second half of "Komodo Dragon." For those complaining that the plot of Skyfall didn't allow for a romantic theme, that's not correct; Newman simply missed the boat (quite literally!) on where this theme needed to be placed. Likewise, the new Moneypenny character could have used some kind of motif or even some suggestion of their playful interactions in the music.

Ratings Icon
VIEWER RATINGS
745 TOTAL VOTES
Average: 2.74 Stars
***** 110 5 Stars
**** 116 4 Stars
*** 166 3 Stars
** 179 2 Stars
* 174 1 Stars
  (View results for all titles)

Comments Icon
COMMENTS
17 TOTAL COMMENTS
Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
Alternate review at Best Original Scores
orion_mk3 - April 25, 2014, at 9:14 a.m.
1 comment  (249 views)
Skyfall - Adele Theme Song
Martyn Love - March 13, 2013, at 7:22 p.m.
1 comment  (647 views)
Disagree with the revew   Expand >>
Ram - March 6, 2013, at 3:22 p.m.
2 comments  (914 views)
Newest: May 26, 2013, at 1:03 p.m.by Edmund Meinerts
Reviewing music? or # of leitmotifs?
Theowne - December 28, 2012, at 11:23 a.m.
1 comment  (1057 views)
Alternative review at movie-wave.net
Southall - December 4, 2012, at 2:19 p.m.
1 comment  (601 views)
Alternate review on Movie Music UK
Sparticus - November 21, 2012, at 2:08 p.m.
1 comment  (604 views)
More...


Track Listings Icon
TRACK LISTINGS AND AUDIO
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 77:17
• 1. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul (5:14)
• 2. Voluntary Retirement (2:22)
• 3. New Digs (2:32)
• 4. Severine (1:18)
• 5. Brave New World (1:50)
• 6. Shanghai Drive (1:26)
• 7. Jellyfish (3:22)
• 8. Silhouette (0:56)
• 9. Modigliani (1:04)
• 10. Day Wasted (1:31)
• 11. Quartermaster (4:58)
• 12. Someone Usually Dies (2:29)
• 13. Komodo Dragon (3:20)
• 14. The Bloody Shot (4:46)
• 15. Enjoying Death (1:13)
• 16. The Chimera (1:58)
• 17. Close Shave (1:32)
• 18. Health & Safety (1:29)
• 19. Granborough Road (2:32)
• 20. Tennyson (2:14)
• 21. Enquiry (2:49)
• 22. Breadcrumbs (2:02)
• 23. Skyfall (2:32)
• 24. Kill Them First (2:22)
• 25. Welcome to Scotland (3:21)
• 26. She's Mine (3:53)
• 27. The Moors (2:39)
• 28. Deep Water (5:11)
• 29. Mother (1:48)
• 30. Adrenaline (2:18)

Bonus iTunes Track:
• 31. Old Dog, New Tricks (1:49)
(total time does not include bonus track)

Notes Icon
NOTES AND QUOTES
The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.
Copyright © 2012-2015, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com 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 Skyfall are Copyright © 2012, Sony Classical and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/13/12 (and not updated significantly since).
Reviews Preload Scoreboard decoration Ratings Preload Composers Preload Awards Preload Home Preload Search Preload