Riddle me this: What do Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave have in common?
Well, they are both movies about a protagonist being forced into adversity. Captain Phillips does a serviceable job, being mostly interesting because the concept of modern day piracy is fascinating and foreign. It does have some emotion injected at the end but it’s hard to argue that 12 Years doesn’t deal with weightier injustices. The latter film also educates audiences on some of the smaller details of slavery and the period outlook, and while not perfectly executed, is probably the better film.
But what else do these movies have in common?
Hans Zimmer’s fucking Inception music.
The track Time plays during the final scenes of Inception and serves as the perfect capstone for a powerful tour de force. Unfortunately, Hollywood wants to piggy back off the best of the best and this song has been showing up in other movies.
Here it is in Captain Phillips:
Probably less obvious is its rendition in 12 Years a Slave:
Now, I understand the song can be a real tear jerker but, I gotta tell you, Hollywood, it kind of ruins the movies for me. I’m watching a boat captain get dragged into an escape craft by Somali pirates and then I hear the Inception song and think he is in a dream within a dream. Or maybe all poor Solomon Northrup has to do is kill himself and wake up in the arms of his loving wife, a free man again.
That’s the problem with trying to usurp something that is already iconic. Imagine if a gritty heist movie attempted to use the Darth Vader/ Empire theme from Star Wars- it just wouldn’t ever work. And I feel the same way about Inception’s flawless soundtrack. Leave it alone, please.
Now, Captain Phillips was composed by a student of Zimmer’s, although the credits do give the man a shout out. 12 Years? That was composed by Hans Zimmer himself. So here he is, essentially, just phoning it in.
But the plot thickens. Apparently there is another, very similar song, also composed by Hans for The Thin Red Line, called Journey To The Line. Listeners will discover that this is just an earlier version of Time (and Safe Now, and Solomon).
So now, how can we blame anybody but little old Hans? And, for someone very much on the record as hating everyone overusing techniques he pioneered in Inception, isn’t he being a little hypocritical?