Steve Jablonsky ‎– Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Music from the Motion Picture)

3 out of 5

Label: Paramount Music

Produced by: Kevin Globerman, Lori Castro (recorded by)

I haven’t listened to this soundtrack front and back, a handful of times, on different headphones and at different volumes, and none of it is sticking. That wouldn’t be so weird, except I remember actually taking note of the soundtrack during the movie, and reviews I’d read of the score – which had me wanting a physical copy, but relenting to digital when it was all that I could find – were actually pretty glowing. But it’s just not happening for me when I’m listening to it. There are quite a few really unique queues – The Falcon is an excellent, simplified update of a sort of classic TMNT theme; the villain tunes are pretty deeply quirky cuts; some of the battle queues (Jump! comes to mind, as I’m listening to it right now) do a great job of avoiding generic ebbs and flows in favor of a thrumming, momentous pace – as so I can imagine how some of the better sequences from the film, mixed with theater-booming sound, played up these queues really well. But still, not a lot of this sticks. I think, in part, it’s because it sounds very processed. The orchestration (if it exists) is very electronic, robbing some of the bigger moments of a sense of depth, which is a shame, as there are some neat touches randomly sprinkled throughout. But that randomness is also a culprit: I don’t feel like any strong themes really emerge, and spread across 60+ minutes of music and 22 tracks, that can be a bit daunting for a score. Compare that to Tyler Bates’ score for the first of the Michael Bay TMNT movies, during which very clear concepts come across pretty much right from the start, and gives us another reason Jablonsky’s score might drag behind a bit: it backs into its big moments. The standouts on Into the Shadows hit at the midway point of the soundtrack; before and after flirt with concepts but don’t necessarily bring them home. And going back to the movie experience, that might’ve been when I was most awake in the film as well.

Bay TMNT #1 was a tragic mess with some dang good music. Bay TMNT #2 was surprisingly a lot better, to the point of being good, but its tunes to take home – while definitely offering up more than just the standard action movie shtick – don’t successfully land on enough themes to be too memorable.