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Star Trek
2009 Varèse

2010 Varèse

Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Produced by:
Michael Giacchino

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Tim Simonec

Co-Orchestrated by:
Peter Boyer
Richard Bronskill
Jack Hayes
Larry Kenton
Chad Seiter
Chris Tilton

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony

Labels and Dates:
Varèse Sarabande
(original issue)
(May 5th, 2009)

Varèse Sarabande
(expanded set)
(May 31st, 2010)

Also See:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: Nemesis

Audio Clips:
2009 Album:

5. Enterprising Young Men (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

10. Nero Death Experience (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

13. That New Car Smell (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

15. End Credits (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 2009 album is a regular U.S. release. The 2010 2-CD set was limited to 5,000 copies and sold primarily through soundtrack specialty outlets. It had a retail price of $30 through Varèse Sarabande's own website, although because the company did not offer the item at wholesale prices to other venders, those outlets typically offered the product for about $40.


Star Trek
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Buy it... if you like your adventure bold, your themes obvious, and the tone of your franchises musically refreshed periodically.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear any satisfying semblance of fantasy or tradition in a "Star Trek" score, or if you desire an album release that represents what you hear in the film.

Star Trek: (Michael Giacchino) After ten motion pictures and over 700 hours of television episodes, it was perhaps inevitable that Paramount would eventually succumb to the temptation to reboot the lastingly popular "Star Trek" franchise. If ever necessary, perhaps the late 2000's was the right time, rekindling the fire before the embers had died off completely after the concept's life on television had been extinguished with an unceremonious abbreviation to the "Enterprise" series a few years prior. With so much lore memorized by adoring fans, the "Star Trek" franchise reboot was a tricky prospect, potentially alienating the very viewership from which Paramount wished to milk solid grosses once again. For this endeavor, the studio turned to wildly successful television director J.J. Abrams, a non-Trekkie, to ensure that a fine balance between loyalty and revitalization was achieved. And, for the most part, Abrams has once again succeeded; while a certain amount of annoyance was stirred amongst concept die hards due to a few liberties taken with the history of the franchise's oldest back stories, enough major connections and trivial nods were employed in the script and other production values to please mainstream audiences at the very least. It is somewhat unfortunate that this restarting of the franchise could not exist without the paradoxes of time travel and a singularly one-dimensional villain (who some would say is too similar to the archrival in the previous film, Star Trek: Nemesis). These aspects, as well as some dubious art direction seemingly dialed in through time by the contemporary designers of Apple, Inc., didn't stop the film from earning over $76 million in its opening weekend, 50% greater than Paramount had hoped. From $4 million in pre-midnight screenings on the night before its opening to $8 million in IMAX showings during the same weekend, a consensus of positive reviews assisted in solidifying the studio's prior inclination to immediately green-light production of a twelfth Star Trek film for 2011 (utilizing, obviously, the rebooted crew and, if possible, an enthusiastic Leonard Nimoy, who quickly expressed interest in a continued role of some kind). Along for the ride a second time, in all likelihood, will be composer Michael Giacchino, fresh off of his rare, clean awards sweep for the functionally pretty, but outrageously overrated music for Up.

At 42 years of age at the time of this assignment, Giacchino is among those who grew up with the William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy films of the 1980's, himself an admitted fan of the music to come from those films. As Abrams' regular collaborator, his involvement in 2009's Star Trek was never really doubted. Hopes for his approach to the reboot were high for a number of reasons, foremost being the amount of talent the (then) Oscar-nominated composer had exhibited from the "Medal of Honor" video games to Pixar features and several franchise and concept reboots already in his career. Anyone familiar with his creative adaptation of his "Medal of Honor" music into both his "Lost" television and Ratatouille film music realizes his capability to smartly incorporate existing material (even if sometimes with a tongue in cheek attitude). For a few film score collectors, there was a wish to revisit Cliff Eidelman in the franchise. While his career in Hollywood never achieved the success that many had believe was inevitable in the early 1990's, Eidelman's music for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country represents an extremely compelling single entry in the franchise that adeptly closed the Kirk and Spock era with a keen balance of gothic menace and heroic fanfare. With the legendary Jerry Goldsmith's death and an assumption that none of the previous composers (on screens big or small) would be involved in the eleventh picture, Giacchino is among the best alternatives, serving as a capable and young voice for this franchise with the same potential for fruitful longevity in the concept that David Arnold has proven to be for the James Bond films since 1997. Perhaps not surprising are the numerous similarities between the intentions behind Giacchino's work for Star Trek and Arnold's highly acclaimed music for Casino Royale, the Bond franchise's equivalent reboot. Both scores utilize a familiar canvas for their basic atmosphere, not rocking the boat (as, for instance, the producers of "Enterprise" had decided to dabble with by employing a rock song incongruous to the series' underscores), and both were intentionally constructed without overt connections to the franchises' previous music until the maturation of the characters at the end of their initial stories. The fact that Giacchino's score sounds, in many places, more appropriate for a Daniel Craig era Bond film, however, is most likely an odd coincidence.

Therein lies the most intriguing aspect of this soundtrack. The lack of obvious references to themes by Goldsmith or James Horner isn't necessarily a detriment, and the withholding of Alexander Courage's fanfare and theme from "The Original Series" isn't particularly bothersome. "J.J. and I decided to hold off on that famous theme as long as we could," said Giacchino at the film's debut. "And, when we do use it, it's almost a reward for everything the characters have gone through." After the success of Arnold's unhindered performance of Monty Norman's original Bond theme at the end of Casino Royale, nobody can really fault Giacchino for delaying the same kind of popular connection in Star Trek. But far more interesting about Giacchino's music for this film is the fact that it doesn't exude any of the deeper, atmospheric characteristics of a usual Star Trek venture. It plays as though its personality is 70% focused on adventure and 30% focused on drama, and nowhere to be heard at any point is the concept of fantasy. At the heights of the Goldsmith, Horner, and Eidelman scores, there was an intangible element of awe that accompanied the concept of "the final frontier." In the scores of those three composers, this idea manifested itself in the form of majesty from slow tempi, broad strokes, and a deeply resounding sense of impact. Perhaps Horner's sea-faring title theme best represents this sense of larger than life fantasy, though Goldsmith's original 1978 score certainly poured on this element outside of its own fanfare. For Eidelman, a certain reliance on Gustav Holst's "The Planets" provided this feeling. Despite Giacchino's assertion that he did work some inspiration from these scores into his own music, that connection seems buried in mostly obscure progressions. Instead of addressing the element of fantasy as any strong score in this franchise has done before, the composer has instead created a straight forward adventure score that would be, with only a touch of jazz, a competent James Bond entry. A lack of any significant role for electronic rhythms or other effects contributes to this feeling, and it is possible that the extremely fast-paced narrative of the film precluded any notion of expansive majesty in this entry. On the whole, however, Star Trek doesn't fit in any tangible way with its predecessors, much like Leonard Rosenman's strikingly different tone for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. You know you're in for a shock when you hear the slamming orchestra hits in Giacchino's main title, a technique he reprises a few times to keep the adrenaline pounding.

Fortunately, Giacchino's work for Star Trek is infinitely better than Rosenman's insipidly positive and underpowered distraction. It may largely defy the musical canon of the franchise, but it's an entertaining score in its own context. The 107-piece orchestra and 40-member choir produces enough bombast to please almost any adventure fan, though the recording unfortunately doesn't feature the truly monumental, wetter mix that became standard with Goldsmith's later entries. Upon cursory evaluation, Star Trek could very well seem like a monothematic score, for Giacchino's employment of his new title theme is so engrained in a multitude of cues that it's difficult to shake after a while. The progressions of that theme aren't particularly dazzling, contorting in familiar phrases that mimic the most pleasing portions of Arnold's Casino Royale, Danny Elfman's Batman, and even a few simplistic, token Hans Zimmer neo-classical favorites. Its lyricism seems almost suited better for a hyperactive Broadway musical than a space opera that begs for a touch of vintage Erich Wolfgang Korngold influence. Both the structure of the theme and its repetition, not to mention several performances truly rich with low brass accompaniment (a bass trombone and three tubas do make a substantial impact), give the impression of ballsy style that roots the title theme closer to Bond territory than one traditionally for Captain Kirk. The almost overbearing use of the theme is somewhat of a disappointment; it literally does exist in nearly every major cue, changing its instrumentation and pacing but never questioning its own strongly cemented identity. It's also a theme that doesn't really function well in fragments. Goldsmith always handled this by utilizing the first four notes of his "friendship theme" (alternately representing Starfleet at times) as an alternative to breaking up and over-exposing his title fanfare. Some listeners may find Giacchino's theme to be too simplistic or one-dimensional to hold dear to heart, even if it is so prevalent that they can't help but hum the tune as they exit the theatre. By comparison, the explosion of Courage's fanfare and theme in the ten-minute finale and end credits cue is so blatantly out of place that it could ruin the application. Some intelligent counterpoint in the opening sequence of the "End Credits" may not save the awkwardly forced use of the classic theme in this loyal, but comparatively badly dated rendering. Unlike the ultra cool bursting of the Bond theme at the end of Casino Royale, the "Original Series" theme here holds little viable continuity in terms of style when placed against Giacchino's tone for the reboot.

The score's two major subthemes vary greatly in their originality. Giacchino's ideas for the vengeful villain, Nero, the Narada (Nero's ship from the future), and the treachery of the Romulan race on the whole are a bit predictable. The progression of his pounding, deep brass theme (applied mostly for Nero, essentially) uses minor thirds and a descending construct that is not too dissimilar to Goldsmith's handling of the similar villain in Star Trek: Nemesis. Thankfully, he also chose to apply a wicked array of percussion to the character and his species, and for this task, he went in search of unconventional sounds. His journey took him to a Los Angeles warehouse of unusual drums and other noise-making objects, from which he decided upon the banging of a 10-foot Coca-Cola sign, among other things, to accentuate the static, rhythmic propulsion of the character. On album, both the Nero theme and this bizarre percussion can be heard clearly in "Nero Sighted," though listeners expecting to hear a sound as brazenly unique as Goldsmith's "Blaster Beam" from Star Trek: The Motion Picture will be disappointed by how pedestrian most of the effects sound in the final mix. A combination of whacking on metallic, folding chairs and unconventional use of snare and cymbals (as Horner did in The Missing) would have yielded an equal result. That said, the theme is at least functional, able to instill a sense of dread even when not quoted in its entirety. Conversely, the third theme by Giacchino for Star Trek is its saving grace. Representing Spock and the Vulcans is a lovely, yearning piece that surprisingly defies the cold logic of the species by conveying the greatest, most sympathetic heart. Given that they are a primary target for genocide in the story, this isn't perhaps too much of a shock, but when you have to seek the tenderness in the Vulcan portions of any Star Trek score, despite Horner's second entry bordering on that idea, you know you have an unusual personality for your music in this franchise. Conveying this theme is the two-stringed, Chinese erhu, reminiscent of a human voice and, in this case, altered electronically to represent the problematic relationship between the Vulcans and their Romulan offshoots. With gorgeous harmonic resonance and the blurring of the ethnicity with synthetic processing, this theme's dedicated performances would sound at home in Klaus Badelt's The Promise. It would have been interesting to hear what Giacchino could have come up for Spock had he augmented this theme with a single male vocalist, denoting his solitary position. Likewise, a particular musical nod to Nimoy's appearance would have been nice. Still, as striking as the Vulcan performances are, Giacchino's other two primary themes seem mechanically stale by comparison.

2009 Album:
Only $7.99
The straight action sequences in Star Trek are also impressive in their own context, but once again they defy the sound you usually encounter in a film of this franchise. The frenetic density of many of the action pieces, not missing even a role for shrieking flutes on top, will remind listeners of the composer's early music for the "Medal of Honor" games, a style that earned him many comparisons to John Williams' later action music of thick layers. As such, much of this material might be better suited for a Star Wars film. In only a handful of places, Giacchino uses the choir for additional depth, culminating in the truly apocalyptic massive choral outbursts in "Nero Death Experience." By the time the 40 singers start chanting their doomsday cries, Star Trek starts emulating the primordial, Middle Earth tones of Howard Shore's famous The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's effective music, but it once again stands apart from the norm in the franchise and plays rather predictably in the realm of standard summer blockbusters. Giacchino, with all of his talent, surely could have conjured something more unique than this. All of this said, Star Trek is still a very engaging and consistently developed score from start to finish, loyal in its own associations and well orchestrated. The combination of Vulcan and subdued title themes in "That New Car Smell" stands among the best of the year. The "End Credits" piece is well rounded in that it touches upon all of the major ideas, but despite the good juxtaposition of the new title theme with Courage's original, the tone of the older theme is as misplaced and potentially obnoxious as Speedracer was for some Giacchino listeners. The original 2009 album release for Star Trek is problematic in its brevity, though. In tough economic times, it was hard to fault Varèse Sarabande for pressing only 45 minutes of music, but that presentation unfortunately cuts out a wealth of material from the middle portion of the film. Abstract cover art and cute track titles couldn't save the album from immediately drawing ire from fans, and the label responded with a "Deluxe Edition" of 5,000 copies as part of their Club series the following year. Unfortunately, this product had its own problems, most notably relating to the lack of the film version's choral overlays in three or four prominent tracks. Its packaging is also extremely disappointing, contained in a rare book format for Varèse without track titles on the rear or the expected level of detailed notes or session photography to make the package worth the while. The additional music on this $30 2-CD set quenches some fans' thirst for key missing cues (including more erhu/Vulcan moments on the first CD), but doesn't offer much to change a person's opinion about the entire work. Overall, Star Trek is a very strong score, but it's hard to shake that nagging feeling that Giacchino somehow missed the mark in creating this orphan. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: ***
    Music as Heard on Album: ****
    Overall: ****

Bias Check:For Michael Giacchino reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.35 (in 22 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.19 (in 13,394 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.03 Stars
Smart Average: 3.02 Stars*
***** 305 
**** 352 
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* 283 
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    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   In response to the question of sound qualit...
  Rebecca -- 1/29/11 (5:58 p.m.)
   From Courage to Giacchino: a Star Trek Lega...
  Rebecca -- 1/26/11 (12:19 a.m.)
   Vulcan Theme; appropriate?
  Glass -- 11/4/10 (1:50 a.m.)
   Re: Deluxe Edition leaves out choir
  OneBuckFilms -- 6/21/10 (5:42 p.m.)
   Re: Disappointing soundtrack
  Ken -- 6/21/10 (8:26 a.m.)
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 Track Listings (2009 Varèse Album): Total Time: 44:52

• 1. Star Trek (1:03)
• 2. Nailin' the Kelvin (2:09)
• 3. Labor of Love (2:51)
• 4. Hella Bar Talk (1:55)
• 5. Enterprising Young Men (2:39)
• 6. Nero Sighted (3:23)
• 7. Nice to Meld You (3:13)
• 8. Run and Shoot Offense (2:04)
• 9. Does It Still McFly? (2:03)
• 10. Nero Death Experience* (5:38)
• 11. Nero Fiddles, Narada Burns (2:34)
• 12. Back from Black (0:59)
• 13. That New Car Smell (4:46)
• 14. To Boldly Go* (0:26)
• 15. End Credits* (9:11)

* contains the original television theme by Alexander Courage

 Track Listings (2010 Varèse Set): Total Time: 98:50

CD 1: (55:15)
• 1. Star Trek (2:26)
• 2. Narada Boom (2:51)
• 3. Hack to the Future (1:23)
• 4. Nailin' the Kelvin (2:10)
• 5. Labor of Love (2:44)
• 6. Main Title (0:46)
• 7. Head to Heart Conversation (1:08)
• 8. One Proud Mother (1:38)
• 9. Hella Bar Talk (1:55)
• 10. The Flask at Hand (0:29)
• 11. Welcome Back, Spock (1:09)
• 12. Vulcan Gets a Good Drilling (1:30)
• 13. Hangar Management (2:46)
• 14. Enterprising Young Men (3:05)
• 15. Flying Into a Trphlthdl (3:24)
• 16. Nero Sighted (3:23)
• 17. Matter? I Barely Know Her! (2:05)
• 18. Jehosafats (3:03)
• 19. Chutes and Matter (3:23)
• 20. A Whole in My Hearth (0:56)
• 21. I've Fallen and I Can't Beam Up! (1:51)
• 22. Spock Goes Spelunking (1:28)
• 23. An Endangered Species (3:10)
• 24. Galaxy's Worst Sushi Bar (2:14)
• 25. Mandatory Leave of Absence (1:19)
• 26. Dad's Route to School (0:34)
• 27. Frozen Dinner (1:30)
• 28. You Snowin' Me? (0:50)
CD 2: (43:35)
• 1. Nice to Meld You (3:14)
• 2. Hail to the Chief (0:52)
• 3. I Gotta Beam Me (2:02)
• 4. Scotty's Tanked (1:37)
• 5. What's With You? (2:12)
• 6. Either Way, Someone's Going Down (2:44)
• 7. Trekking Down the Narada (2:31)
• 8. Run and Shoot Offense (2:03)
• 9. Does It Still McFly? (2:02)
• 10. Nero Death Experience* (5:38)
• 11. Nero Fiddles, Narada Burns (2:28)
• 12. Black Holes Have a Lot of Pull (0:55)
• 13. Back From Black (0:57)
• 14. That New Car Smell (4:46)
• 15. To Boldly Go* (0:26)
• 16. End Credits* (9:11)

* contains the original television theme by Alexander Courage

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 2009 album includes a list of performers and a note from the director. The 2010 set comes in a larger hard-cover book and contains the same note from the director and list of performers, as well as a note from science fiction industry guru Kerry O'Quinn. The rest of the 20+ pages of the set features photography from the film and one shot from the recording sessions.

  All artwork and sound clips from Star Trek are Copyright © 2009, Varèse Sarabande (original issue), Varèse Sarabande (expanded set). The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/10/09 and last updated 6/18/10. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved. The villain's name in this film may have special meaning for descendents of WWII Danish immigrants.