Beam me aboard!
Michael Quinn 2009
Bustle, bravura and sheer bombast are the defining elements of Michael Giacchino's brass-led, percussion-driven, drama-fuelled score that successfully re-defines Star Trek's musical landscape.
Giacchino was an inevitable choice as soon as JJ Abrams signed up to boldly go backwards to refashion the iconic franchise for its own next generation of audiences. Having worked together on television hits Lost and Alias, the two approach the double bind of this eleventh film – making it fresh while keeping it familiar – with a sure-footed deliberation that surprises and succeeds.
That the first echo of past glories echoes two Jerry Goldsmith cues – the haunting, slightly forlorn, not yet fully formed French horns of First Contact and the menacing, accelerated screech of the Klingon theme from The Motion Picture – says much about the centre of musical gravity in Giacchino's score.
While there's nothing here as poetic as the first sighting of the redesigned Enterprise in TMP (let alone, for that matter, Ilia's Theme) what we get instead is music that is muscular – Nailin' The Kelvin packed with testosterone; moody – it’s the yearning strings that you take away from Hella Bar Talk rather than the brooding woodwinds; and mean and menacing to mark the entrance of the film's Romulan villain in Nero Sighted.
Enterprising Young Men is where Giacchino sets his stamp on proceedings, his own fanfare-like theme re-worked into a cue that sounds as if it belongs more to a western than a space opera. Run and Shoot Offense brings things back to fundamentals, its squeezed high strings lifted straight from the original Trek television series, while eerie choral voices and kettle drums lend Nero Fiddles, Narada Burns an unsettling urgency.
But it's two final cues that gloriously seal the deal. The magnificently titled That New Car Smell begins just as the television theme does, layers it with reverb and a simply gorgeous contemplative theme on ehru (a haunting two-string fiddle from China) to magnificently précis previous cues. And the End Credits sequence blazingly incorporates Alexander Courage's immortal television theme to intertwine it around Giacchino's own thumping motifs. Beam me aboard!