The Monsters vs Aliens soundtrack is indeed disappointing, but I guess it’s good that the worst thing one can say about it is that there are no surprises. If you’ve spent more than, oh, say five years of your life going to see films, you’ll know exactly what to expect from a soundtrack to an inoffensive children’s movie about cutely bizarre creatures.
Henry Jackman’s original score takes no risks whatsoever. It gives us the obvious buildups, the necessary tension, the soaring release…and nothing more. It’s not poor composition, but it’s stiflingly textbook. One almost feels sorry for the poor little soundtrack; always being squished, as it were, beneath the thumb of its own composer.
It’s pretty music, but it’s not something you’ll remember, and if you’re tempted to purchase this soundtrack for your children, I can guarantee it will bore them stiff. They may have enjoyed the film, but it certainly wasn’t because of the twinkly little piano interludes; it was because of the lovability of the strange creatures on display. This music is good, but it isn’t loveable. It’s like the really sweet grandmother whose never done you any harm, but still doesn’t make you want to visit her.
Fortunately six of the tracks on this soundtrack are from vintage artists, and these selections are all very good. The B-52’s, the Little River Band, The Exciters. I’m always a fan of films digging out classic tracks (or forgotten classics, or–best of all–should-have-been classics) so it’s nice that we’re given the original recordings here instead of modern-day pop-updates.
Part of the motivation to go with the older, original tracks, I’m sure, is down to the 1950s aesthetic of the Monsters vs Aliens film…the way it’s sort of ironically rooted in the fantasies and paranoia of a time long gone. Sure, you’d be hard-pressed to fit the B-52’s into the world this film is looking to create, but as the target audience is going to be somewhere around ten years old, we doubt they’ll mind the thematic anachronism.
It’s not a totally worthless purchase, but one it’s difficult to recommend overall. If you really need to own a copy of Wooly Bully or Purple People Eater, there are better albums to buy than this. The retro tracks can all be found on superior compilations, and though they might be found buried beneath dozens of other tracks you’ve never heard, I can guarantee they will be more rewarding musically than the paint-by-numbers kiddie-film score you’ll find here.
Monsters Vs. Aliens soundtrack is out now.