Soundtrack Review: TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
When it comes to a Michael Bay film, you can usually count on two things: huge action and a driving soundtrack to accompany it. As has been true with the previous two TRANSFORMERS films, DARK OF THE MOON delivers on both counts with a collection of music designed to give that additional adrenaline boost one would expect from a summer blockbuster. When previewing the soundtrack, I was excited to hear songs that immediately got my heart pounding, but while watching the film found that Steve Jablonsky's (who also composed the previous two TRANSFORMERS films) score was relied on much more than the soundtrack. This choice was not entirely surprising, considering the majority of the film's trailers also opted to use scored selections rather than one of the soundtrack's more recognizable songs, creating a heightened sense of drama (rather than just focusing on the action) which seemed to be the theme of this third installment.
Although a bit more score-heavy this time around, the soundtrack is certainly featured and we not only rejoin characters we have come to know, but some familiar artists who are back again as well. Almost as much a part of the TRANSFORMERS world as the robots themselves, Linkin Park and Taking Back Sunday (who were also featured on the first two soundtracks) are back for a third round with “Iridescent” and “Faith (When I Let You Down)” while the Goo Goo Dolls return to the franchise with “All That You Are.” Rather than simply turning up the volume, each artist delivers a track that has a bit more weight to it, helping to support the feeling of intensified drama intended for DARK OF THE MOON. The tracks still feature pounding percussion and driving guitars, but are also infused with a greater sense of emotion.
The track titles alone indicate TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON will not just be a struggle to survive, but a struggle to keep the core crew together as we watch what could be the final battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Songs like “The Only Hope For Me Is You” by My Chemical Romance and “Get Thru This” by Art of Dying keep the pace, but do so with lyrics that help flesh out the full breadth of the fight this time around. Black Veil Brides and Mastodon step on the gas with “Set The World On Fire” and “Just Got Paid” while Theory Of A Deadman and Staind turn in more dramatic rock anthems with “Head Above Water” and “The Bottom.”
One of my main issues while watching TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON was finding that, despite having followed Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), Bumblebee, and Megatron (Hugo Weaving) through three films, the story itself has lost some of its heart along the way and looked to the soundtrack to fill in those gaps. TRANSFORMERS is no stranger to destruction, but the destruction has become more spectacle than plot point and its effect on the characters has gotten increasingly rushed over to get to the next big explosion. Playing a rock ballad from Linkin Park or the Goo Goo Dolls over a scene that is supposed to tug at your heartstrings is simply not enough and (more than anything) comes across as lazy. Meaningful lyrics can help enhance a scene, but they should not be the main thing relied on to say what the characters themselves should be able to.
However, outside of the film, the soundtrack is a solid selection of rock and alternative tracks from some of today’s well-known artists and simply fun to listen to. As has been true with the past two soundtracks for TRANSFORMERS and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, the compilations work well on their own and succeed in translating the blockbuster feeling of the film well after you have left the theater. Without the effects, screaming, and sounds of the main characters transforming from cars into robots to compete with, the soundtrack is able to truly stand out and grab one's attention. Unfortunately within the film, it tends to get lost in the shuffle and used as filler within a scene rather than the icing to help drive home the action or the drama.
This soundtrack is available through Warner Bros.
1. "Iridescent" - Linkin Park
2. "Monster" - Paramore
3. "The Only Hope For Me Is You" - My Chemical Romance
4. "Faith (When I Let You Down)" - Taking Back Sunday
5. "The Bottom" - Staind
6. "Get Thru This" - Art of Dying
7. "All That You Are" - Goo Goo Dolls
8. "Head Above Water" - Theory Of A Deadman
9. "Set The World On Fire" - Black Veil Brides
10. "Alive & Awake (The Quickening)" - Skillet
11. "Just Got Paid" - Mastodon