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Aquaman
(2018)
Album Cover Art
2018 WaterTower Regular
2018 WaterTower Alternate
Album 2 Cover Art
2019 WaterTower Deluxe
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Produced by:
Rupert Gregson-Williams

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Conducted by:
Alastair King

Co-Conducted by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Additional Music by:
Sven Faulconer
Evan Jolly
Tony Clarke
Joseph Bishara
Labels Icon
LABELS & RELEASE DATES
WaterTower Music
(Regular)
(December 14th, 2018)

WaterTower Music
(Deluxe Edition)
(July 19th, 2019)
Availability Icon
ALBUM AVAILABILITY
The 2018 WaterTower album is a regular U.S. release. The CD experienced very limited distribution in the first months of release, and cover art varied between batches of production. The 2019 follow-up from WaterTower with additional music, termed a "Deluxe Edition," was also a commercial product, though a vinyl option replaced a CD as an alternative to digital downloads.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you can power down your brain long enough to appreciate a rowdy, entertaining blend of Hans Zimmer methodology, Alan Silvestri heroics, and Vangelis synthetics in a melodically rich exposition of flair.

Avoid it... on either of the albums if you expect a satisfying presentation of the music you heard in the film, important score cues missing or the arrangement defying the narrative while supplying the more atrocious moments from outside contributors.
Review Icon
EDITORIAL REVIEW
FILMTRACKS TRAFFIC RANK: #1,638
WRITTEN 1/27/19, REVISED 2/17/21
Gregson-Williams
Gregson-Williams
Aquaman: (Rupert Gregson-Williams/Various) Insanely beautiful stupidity awaited viewers of Warner's Aquaman, the sixth of the studio's DC Extended Universe entries and proud recipient of over a billion dollars in box office grosses. The 2018 powerhouse spectacle is the opening solo installment for the Aquaman character, and director James Wan opted to explore the underwater world of Atlantis with excessively extravagant visuals that left little concern for a meaningful script. It's a ridiculously silly but mesmerizing diversion from all plausible reality, revealing the backstory of Aquaman as a superhero and the oceanic realm he's destined to rule. This after a troubled childhood, family betrayal, royal politics, and a whole lot of really bizarre Atlantean shit, not to mention villains with submerged armies and numerous hysterically ludicrous obstacles, all provide the conflict in the story. By the time Julie Andrews, who rejected a cameo in Mary Poppins Returns in favor of her appearance as a condescending squid-like force here, graces the story's latter half, we are all reminded to close our mouths. After all, we are not codfish, as she has chided us before. The wild blockbuster madness was not lost on the soundtrack for Aquaman, for which DC veteran Rupert Gregson-Williams, joined by the usual army of Remote Control Productions-affiliated ghostwriters, and Wan decided to supply an over-the-top score that only exacerbates the obviousness of everything witnessed on screen. Gregson-Williams' music for Wonder Woman was no triumph despite its catchy guilty-pleasure sensibilities, and the exact same equation applies to Aquaman. This music is not meant to stir the intellect; rather, it's intended to sound cool, a distinction clearly made by the composer and director as they selected the instrumental and stylistic personality of the score. Fortunately, the end result is a potential improvement over Wonder Woman in some ways, but the situation with the album is reversed; whereas the earlier score made for a rather attractive albeit still brainless album experience, the Aquaman albums are quite frustrating in their poor presentation of the arguably more engaging music.

In finding a distinctive character for the soundtrack for Aquaman, Gregson-Williams ultimately chose to resurrect a few retro styles and bloat their demeanor to new levels of noisy ruckus. First, of course, is the obligatory nod to Hans Zimmer's 1990's Media Ventures heritage, with power anthems galore, electric guitars a blazing, choral awe at no deficit, and the tonality of a juvenile rock song. Certainly, this score is evolved from those days, but the basic equation remains the same, and the influence is obvious at a place like 1:02 into "He Commands the Sea." Secondly comes a tribute to Vangelis 1980's style in the significant vintage keyboard tones, often manipulated to form this work's most distinguishing characteristic: obnoxiously effective pitch-altering accents at the forefront of the mix. The Vangelis love is embodied not just by the obvious Blade Runner aspect of the synthetics' tone but also in their rhythmic contributions, as heard at the start of "Kingdom of Atlantis," and the more traditional keyboarded elegance akin to 1492: Conquest of Paradise at a moment like 2:06 into "Swimming Lessons." The pitch-slurring effects sometimes raise these Vangelis origins blatantly, as in the latter half of "Arthur," though later they stray occasionally towards the sound of an electric guitar or violins making the same sound. One would think that this technique of aligning ascending and descending pitch effects to specific moments in the score is a representation of marine life communication or simply fluid movement as suggested by the ocean, but the composer seems to have chosen the electronic elements more ambiguously to represent the otherworldliness of the Atlantean kingdom and everything else fantastic witnessed down there. Never mind that there doesn't seem to be electricity in the place. The effect works better at some moments than others; it triumphs when Gregson-Williams manages to start the tone on a note complimentary to the counterpoint line of a theme and resolving either on a note within the primary thematic line or on the base key, as he does in "He Commands the Sea." When the pitch effect doesn't very clearly start and end within a tonal chord, it becomes more irritating. Such problems also occur when the melodic line slightly wavers in pitch on synthesizer, as in "Kingdom of Atlantis," a related tool of uniqueness that simply makes the listener feel as if three beers weren't enough.

Aside from the vintage Hans Zimmer thematic and choral equations and the synthetic tones and keyboarding of Vangelis, Gregson-Williams also infuses Aquaman with a few other elements of intrigue. Foremost in these efforts is the duduk, an Armenian oboe, applied for no intellectual reason on behalf of the familial relations in this story. Instead, it's employed because it is sufficiently strange. Throw in some oceanic sound effects related to calling seagulls and the echoing mix of repeated, wavy melodic structures along the way. Of course, there are villains toiling in the story, so the composer had to toss in some more recent Remote Control staples such as Zimmer's "horn of doom" (though more synthetic here) and outward distortion at the lowest registers to reinforce the notion that blasting away on key in those low octaves tickles the testicles of viewers better than anything more sophisticated. In the end, however, despite all the best efforts by the symphonic ensemble and choir to stir up the rowdy environment of comic book superhero lore, it's the electronic accompaniment that really defines the work, a cue like "He Commands the Sea" containing massively tonal orchestral expressions of victory and multiple performance inflections from male and combined chorus but ultimately defined by the synthetic sweeteners. The tone of Aquaman is expressed almost constantly in the development of one of the score's many themes, most of which entertaining in their blustery but satisfying simplicity. The album presentation is arranged to showcase these themes in succession, much like a typical Brian Tyler album of the era, without regard for the actual narrative of the film. Some of these suite-like tracks are cobbled together from multiple cues heard later in the movie. The "Arthur" suite opens immediately at 0:18 with the main superhero theme for Arthur/Aquaman, building to a momentous brass rendition that previews later trumpet-led versions that expose the theme as an all-to-close-for-comfort relative of Alan Silvestri's heroic identities for the competing Marvel universe. (Recall that Danny Elfman made the same minor misstep in Justice League.) The remainder of "Arthur" explores several variants on this Silvestri-like hero theme, and the idea explodes for the loftiest of optimistic, valiant intentions at the opening of "Suited and Booted." The main lines of the melody are often referenced in shorter bursts elsewhere as faster action demands.


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VIEWER RATINGS
284 TOTAL VOTES
Average: 3.17 Stars
***** 50 5 Stars
**** 73 4 Stars
*** 72 3 Stars
** 54 2 Stars
* 35 1 Stars
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COMMENTS
2 TOTAL COMMENTS
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One of the most surprising reviews
MikeC - April 1, 2019, at 8:31 a.m.
1 comment  (653 views)
This Filmtracks review sucks
Dill - January 27, 2019, at 5:59 p.m.
1 comment  (903 views)
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Track Listings Icon
TRACK LISTINGS
2018 WaterTower Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 65:02
• 1. Everything I Need (Film Version) - performed by Skylar Grey (3:16)
• 2. Arthur (4:40)
• 3. Kingdom of Atlantis (3:26)
• 4. It Wasn't Meant to Be (3:22)
• 5. Atlantean Soldiers (3:35)
• 6. What Does That Even Mean? (3:23)
• 7. The Legend of Atlan (1:57)
• 8. Swimming Lessons (3:03)
• 9. The Black Manta (2:49)
• 10. What Could Be Greater Than a King? (5:23)
• 11. Permission to Come Aboard (2:16)
• 12. Suited and Booted (4:25)
• 13. Between Land and Sea (2:55)
• 14. He Commands the Sea (3:34)
• 15. Map in a Bottle (2:15)
• 16. The Ring of Fire (4:58)
• 17. Reunited (1:31)
• 18. Everything I Need - performed by Skylar Grey (3:20)
• 19. Ocean to Ocean - performed by Pitbull and Rhea Robertson (2:25)
• 20. Trench Engaged (from Kingdom of the Trench) - composed by Joseph Bishara (2:29)
2019 WaterTower Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 100:45

Notes Icon
NOTES AND QUOTES
The insert of the 2018 album includes a list of performers and extensive credits but no extra information about the score or film. At least two variations of official cover art exist for that product. The 2019 album only features a vinyl option as a physical release, and no official packaging exists for the digital options.
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Aquaman are Copyright © 2018, 2019, WaterTower Music (Regular), WaterTower Music (Deluxe Edition) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/27/19 and last updated 2/17/21.
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