Movie Soundtracks That Are Definitely Better Than Their Films

Still from Space Jam © Warner Bros.
Still from Space Jam © Warner Bros.
Photo of Ryan Kristobak
Music Editor27 September 2017

Far too often, soundtracks fail to receive due credit for the impact they bring to the script, portrayals, and cinematography of a film. Some, like Boogie Nights, Titanic, Moulin Rouge!, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Forrest Gump are known for their music as much as their story. However, while many scores are pushed to the wayside, many films also fail to live up to the music.

Tarzan (1999)

YOOOUUU’LL BEEE IN MYYY HEEEAAARRT! Disney’s Tarzan is certainly a fine entry into its line of animated films, but it isn’t a classic. Phil Collins, on the other hand, is.

Space Jam (1996)

This will be unpopular, but it has to be said—nostalgia be damned, Space Jam isn’t technically a good film. Poking fun at Michael Jordan’s career? Great. Tune Squad jerseys? Hot. Bill Murray? Forever the best. For those who grew up with the film, the magic is still there, but it certainly isn’t a classic for anyone who’s discovered it as an adult.

The soundtrack, however, is riddled with jam after jam: “Fly Like an Eagle,” “I Found My Smile Again,” “I Believe I Can Fly,” “Hit ‘Em High.” And even that unfortunate Spin Doctors/Biz Markie “That’s the Way (I Like It)” cover can’t bring down the Quad City DJ’s theme song.

Many Things Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer is a prolific composer, and pretty much everything he creates or has a hand in musically ends up nothing short of stellar. Sometimes the films match (12 Years a Slave, The Lion King, Gladiator, anything with Christopher Nolan), but many times they do not (the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, King Arthur, two Transformers films). With over 100 soundtracks and scores to his name, it’s easiest to go through his discography in your own sweet time.

Garden State (2004)

If you’re thinking, “Woah, cowboy, Garden State is a very good movie,” you’re actually confusing the film with the sweet mixtape Zach Braff delivered to you (and everyone else) as if you were the girl whose heart he was determined to win over during the summer between high school and college. An indie who’s-who of the early aughts, Garden State’s big heart is mostly derived from its musical compilation, and a little bit from everything else.

Tron: Legacy (2010)

Tron: Legacy looked awesome, but probably 90 percent of the people who saw the film couldn’t recount its plot if asked. But Daft Punk did compose its soundtrack, and it kicked all of the ass. Name another soundtrack that received a 15-track remix album…

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace/Revenge of the Sith

Hayden Christensen, Jar Jar Binks, the battle for higher ground, deciding to hide Luke at the house where Anakin’s mother lived, this; there are a plenty of reasons why George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels didn’t match up to the original trilogy. On the other side, there’s Ewan McGregor, double-sided lightsabers, and John Williams.

While the scores for both films are outstanding from start to finish, the combined epic-ness of “Duel of the Fates” and “Battle of the Heroes” would still be enough to redeem electing Jar Jar to the Galactic Senate (seriously, wtf, guys) and the killing of younglings. As for Attack of the Clones, some things are best all together forgotten.

Flash Gordon (1980)

FLASH! A-AHH! SAVIOR OF THE UNIVERSE! Flash Gordon is delightfully silly, and really, that’s all a space opera whose hero is a star player for the New York Jets should ever hope to accomplish. Yet, in the battle for the over-the-top, ’80s camp, Queen emerged decidedly victorious.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Don’t get us wrong, there’s a lot that’s great about Remember the Titans. Denzel Washington and Will Patton knocked it out of the park with their lead performances, and every time I engage in a team sport I want to start a “Left side! Strong side!” chant, but its messages of racial rights and integration misses the mark a bit when so neatly slipped into the familiar sports-drama package. But we don’t need to remind you how often you listened to the soundtrack in the years following the film’s release.

Natural Born Killers

One could argue that Natural Born Killers, maybe, possibly, overdoes it on the violence, and that would be totally valid. Whether or not Oliver Stone’s versicolor, bloodbath bizarre is your cup of tea, there’s no denying Trent Reznor’s soundtrack expertly magnified its dark tones, often through experimental collages, as well as capturing the many shades of rock music that were developing during the early ’90s, himself included.

Batman Forever

Four words: Kiss from a Rose.

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