Review: Star Trek Into Darkness Sound Track

While Star Trek films have had 8 different directors (Wise, Meyer, Nimoy, Shatner, Carson, Frakes, Baird, and Abrams), the composer club is slightly more exclusive with six (Goldsmith, Horner, Rosenman, Eidelman, McCarthy, and Giacchino). It is arguable that amongst all the behind the scenes artists, the composer has the most power to influence the emotional energy of a film, perhaps even more than the director or cinematographer. The music influences what the audience feels, and when it is done right, it enhances the actor’s performances, the director’s vision, and the cinematographer’s created mood. When the music fails to resonate, it harms a film through distraction or obvious manipulation. Michael Giacchino’s music for Star Trek Into Darkness is one of the former soundtracks, helping to enhance the story and giving STID additional emotional life. Hit the jump for our full review of the Star Trek Into Darkness sound track.

Giacchino’s soundtrack begins with a rousing piece after his logo music that, like the film, feels as it opens in the middle of an ongoing adventure. Track 1: “Logos/Pranking the Natives” cleverly reminds the listener of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, especially “Winter” around the two minute mark. Whether by design or accident, the Vivaldi vibe works because the characters are in essence traveling through various seasons and weather conditions during their romp on Nibiru. The second and third track are also dedicated to the culminating adventure of escaping the tribe and rescuing Spock. Track 3: “Sub Prime Directive” includes a syncopated and heroic version of the Enterprise theme from the first film. The inclusion of Alexander Courage’s original theme is welcomed and appropriate here.

Speaking of the Enterprise theme that Giacchino uses, it is also the theme for Kirk. Giacchino’s use of the same theme for both ship and captain demonstrates his appreciation and respect for the heart of these characters. Indeed, it is arguable that in the film itself, the fate of the Enterprise and Kirk are linked together. When Kirk is damaged emotionally by Pike’s death, the Enterprise is damaged by Marcus’ sabotage. When Kirk learns to replace his hubris with sacrifice, his spirit is resurrected (as he will be later physically), which in turn, saves and resurrects the Enterprise (literally, from the heavens). The correlative aspects of ship and captain are symbolized by the use of the same theme for both by Giacchino.

There is also a welcomed diversity of styles on the STID soundtrack, perhaps much more so than on Giacchino’s 2009 effort. Track 4: “London Calling” and 11: “Buying the Space Farm” are quiet piano pieces which become emotionally stirring as they progress. These give emotion and sympathy to the characters, including, ironically, Harrison/Khan, whose theme has a lovely quality despite its ominous nature. Contrast that with the almost rock like Klingon chase music of Track 6: “The Kronos Wartet.” The new Klingon theme is a pastiche of previous Klingon music. There are hints of Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic music, and the clanking sounds are pure James Horner from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The inclusion of the Klingon chorus reminds also of Cliff Eidelman’s own winning Klingon music from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Despite these references, Giacchino has created an original piece which pays homage without being parody or repetition. It honors that which came before while moving the Klingon music into the new universe. Most interesting is that Giacchino’s theme includes punctuated string and brass which sound almost like unexpected bat’leth strikes by a Klingon.

Track 12: “The San Fran Hustle” combines many of the leitmotifs used in the film: there is Harrison/Khan’s theme, the Enterprise theme, hints of the Klingon clanging, and even a definite, yet subtle, use of the “Amok Time” battle music (at 1:59 in the track) as Spock chases and fights Khan in the streets of San Francisco. It is a bombastic celebration of all the tracks and character themes.

he soundtrack ends with Track 14: “Star Trek Main Theme” which is the only misstep on the CD release. It is very important in the film that we hear the original Courage theme because it signifies that the 5 year mission has begun. There is only a hint of Courage’s theme included in this truncated end title music included on the CD. The entire end credits music should have been included. To make the CD a satisfying listen on its own, Courage should have been included. Hopefully, we will be getting an expanded or complete 2 CD set soon. That being said, Track 14 is a wonderful, bombastic reiteration of the Enterprise/Kirk theme with a choir and a most energetic percussion usage.

There are many litmus tests for measuring the success of a soundtrack CD. Is it thoughtful and clever? Did the music enhance the film when watching it? On its own, is the CD an enjoyable experience which tells the same story only through music instead of dialog and action? Is it worth listen to again and again? On all of the counts, Giacchino’s STID soundtrack earns a “yes” and earns a place next to the other classic music of one of entertainment’s most enduring and important science fiction franchises.

The Star Trek Into Darkness soundtrack is now available for purchase at many retailers including at Amazon for $11.88.

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Elias Javalis
June 30, 2013 6:51 am

Bought it from Itunes – Its quite good!! In fact more detailed than the previous one – awaiting for the Deluxe!

June 30, 2013 8:00 am

I am not 100% on this, but isn’t the music we hear during the main credits exactly the same we heard in Star Trek (2009)

Maybe they meant to include that instead of “Star Trek Main Theme” as track 14.

So if you listen to the CD, after track 13 “Kirk Enterprises” immediately switch to track 15 from Star Trek (2009) soundtrack

June 30, 2013 8:02 am

I greatly enjoyed it, having purchased it before I saw the film so as to get a feel for the music on its own. I loved the first one, and this serves as a great follow up. There’s a couple of other places where I felt a bit of earlier influence: at the end of “Brigadoom” (which would match the arrival of the Vengeance) there was some brass that reminded me of V’Ger’s arrival in TMP; then again during “Ship to Ship” some of the string build up recalled Spock’s space suit flight from TMP as well. Please don’t read this as a complaint, I thought that was fantastic.

My complaint has nothing to do with the soundtrack itself (which I love), but rather that they are again releasing a deluxe version months after the first release. Please just give me the whole damn thing up front instead of bilking me for more money later.

June 30, 2013 9:53 am

The soundtrack is wonderful, I got it on iTunes after I first saw the film and have relived the experience through the music many times since.

I do wish though they had included all the music from the film, some of the pieces I miss: Kirk and McCoy diving to the Enterprise, the Enterprise rising from the clouds of Earth after Sulu engages thrusters (see the pattern? I can’t get enough of the Enterprise theme). And the TOS title music from the end.

London Calling is among my favourites.

June 30, 2013 10:48 am

To me the best track was not included on the release (Ode To Harrison) it is an extended version of the Khan theme and I think it is really a tremendous bad guy piece.

I just ripped it from the radio broadcast he did a few weeks ago and added in with the rest of the soundtrack from iTunes.

James Cannon - Runcorn Trekkie UK
June 30, 2013 11:49 am

Liked it, downloaded a torrent rather than buy it. Will buy the two disk set when released .

June 30, 2013 12:47 pm

@ 6

You don’t need to tell the world you torrented it lollllll

James Cannon - Runcorn Trekkie UK
June 30, 2013 1:32 pm

That should say: ‘ I’d download’ … Bloody iPhone autocorrect. Grrr.

Preferred this than the 2009 track. MG really outdid himself on this one.

My fave is still ST:3 soundtrack by James Horner. Awesome.

June 30, 2013 1:41 pm

2. danielcw – June 30, 2013

Not quite. The parts they both share are conducted a bit differently (listen closely and you’ll spot differences), and also where the 2009 credits include Spock’s theme (erhu violin) and Nero’s theme, STID has at least London Calling in place of those, can’t remember what else…

My point being – the end credits are nowhere the same in STID compared to 2009.

June 30, 2013 2:18 pm

I’ll probably never understand why they shortened the end theme…it’s not just the updated TOS theme by A. Courage that’s missing… it’s the entire “Ode to John Harrison” thing… That theme is pure gold and it’s only heard breiefly throughout the movie score itself. It’s what we’ve been abale to listen to on this site even before the film was released… It’s simply unforgivable to leave that out on the soundtrack release…

Apart from that, Michael Giacchino is the best Star Trek score composer of all times, yes, even ahead of Goldsmith’s TMP, Horner’s TWOK and Eidelman’s TUC… all of these are grand, but Giacchino’s theme is the only one that works as a personal motivation in all sorts of situations…:-)

June 30, 2013 2:55 pm

Surely the ‘Enterprise/Kirk’ theme can now be called the (nuTrek) Main Theme? Particularly since it accompanies the main titles of both films. Yes the Courage theme makes brief appearances but Abrams’ Trek has it’s own now, and it’s fantastic, IMO. The way it comes in during the natives/Enterprise warp-way sequence was breath-taking.

Keachick - rose pinenut
June 30, 2013 2:59 pm

It’s funny, but I cannot remember much of the music to this film. I recognized some themes from the first Star Trek movie (in this series) but other than that, not much.

However, that does not mean that the film music was not good. In fact, that the music did not overtake the story and dialogue is why it is actually very good film music. I think it is something of a worry if about the only thing that is memorable about a movie is its musical score. Music should accompany and enhance, not be a substitute for good storytelling and acting.

USS Continuity NCC-1985
June 30, 2013 3:31 pm

I don’t always post here, but wanted to say that I love this soundtrack!! My favorite tracks are probably “Sub Prime Directive”, “Kronos Wartet”, “Brigadoom” (especially the last 41 seconds!!!). It may not be as great as Horner’s score for WOK but I definitely have been listening to it just as much. I can be really passionate about cinematic scores to the point where I’ll listen to certain tracks from certain soundtracks based on my moods. I’m kind of embarrassed to say that when the STID soundtrack came out, I listened to “Sub Prime Directive” every time I drove my car out of my building’s parking structure on full blast!! Please tell me someone else does this too. :)

June 30, 2013 3:45 pm

I didn’t find the music in STID memorable in any way, it was very much the same as ST09, with just few new tracks.

They should get a new composer for the next one.

USS Continuity NCC-1985
June 30, 2013 3:47 pm

Never mind, its back up. :)

June 30, 2013 5:11 pm

Smike sorry but I guarantee you that in 20 years Giacchino’s Star Trek theme will be no where near as loved or remembered as Goldsmiths triumphant TMP theme, or even Horner’s Haunting TWOK main title

June 30, 2013 5:24 pm

I’ll wait for the 2-disc delux edition, unless that doesn’t happen of course.

Dr. Image
June 30, 2013 5:24 pm

Goldsmith’s TMP score will be lauded for ages. The rest, not so much. (Nor, sadly, Goldsmith’s other repetative-motif Trek efforts.)

Dennis C
June 30, 2013 5:42 pm

My favorite Trek scores are TMP, WoK, SFS and FF.

The score for Star Trek III is by far the most somber. Spock’s theme, introduced in Star Trek II, is used to great effect when Sarek melds with Kirk. Overall it’s a very strong score.

What makes a score strong for me is how much of it stays with me aftrer leaving a film. The score for STID was, for me, repetitive and unmemorable. Other than the main title which carried over from ’09 I couldn’t remember any of it even after the third viewing.

June 30, 2013 5:46 pm

The very brief Harrison theme is memorable, and the piano piece a welcome novelty.
The rest is a boring repetition of the last soundtrack, which was already repetitive enough…

June 30, 2013 6:12 pm

The music is OK but does not stand up well as just music to listen to, and that to me is an important measurement of how good a soundtrack score is.

Theatre Historian
June 30, 2013 6:36 pm

No offense to Giacchino I love alot of his scores, and there is plenty to enjoy with his two Trek scores, but I am inclined to side with those who are saying that they are a bit to repetitve and forgettable.

Don’t get me wrong there are some great moments but the past 2 scores on a whole are not ICONIC. But that is just my personal opinon YMMV.
scores like movies are very personaly subjective.

Theatre Historian
June 30, 2013 6:37 pm

I just want to throw in I loved his score for The Incredibles, and his beautiful score for UP

Theatre Historian
June 30, 2013 6:38 pm

Also I did enjoy his adaptation of the star wars themes the he scored for the Star Tours II attraction, but I am very thankful that John Williams has been confirmed as scoring Episode VII.

June 30, 2013 6:46 pm

@ 17. NCC-73515 – June 30, 2013

“The rest is a boring repetition of the last soundtrack, which was already repetitive enough…”

Precisely, it was repetitive as as the movie itself was. STID after all was repeating what was done before, so it is no surprise that soundtrack is repetitive & boring as well.

Russell Meyers
June 30, 2013 6:49 pm

Good score but not enough original content for my liking. Thanks for the article John, always enjoy reading your stuff!

Captain, USS Northstar
June 30, 2013 6:54 pm

@16 — I’m surprised you didn’t add First Contact to your list: I love that score. And, even though some people don’t like the movie, I thought Insurrection had some nice moments in it as well.

@ 19 — I love the music from The Incredibles as well!

On whole, I enjoyed Mr. Giacchino’s work for both ST09 and STID, but agree with the reviewer: the End Title music should have been included. That’s when we get to hear snippets of all the film’s various themes.

John Tenuto
June 30, 2013 7:19 pm

#22 Thanks Russell!

June 30, 2013 9:54 pm

Grab any season of LOST and you will be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and this Star Trek score. The music is unoriginal, uninspired, and uninspiring.

June 30, 2013 9:56 pm

@10 “I’ll probably never understand why they shortened the end theme…it’s not just the updated TOS theme by A. Courage that’s missing… it’s the entire “Ode to John Harrison” thing… That theme is pure gold and it’s only heard breiefly throughout the movie score itself. It’s what we’ve been abale to listen to on this site even before the film was released… It’s simply unforgivable to leave that out on the soundtrack release…”

Oh, cry me a fracking, river. Come on dude. LOL

June 30, 2013 10:17 pm


The music here really isn’t that similar to his Lost score. There are touchstones for sure, but it’s not like he comes anywhere near say Horner’s level of self-thievery.

June 30, 2013 11:57 pm

I think that film scores are very important to a films success.

For me, the music to Star Trek Into Darkness is a triumph – I was humming the main theme many days after leaving the cinema, so job done. If you asked me to hum a few bars of the music in Man of Steel…..well, I cant.

July 1, 2013 12:13 am

@9: thanks for the input, but how can I listen to the endcredits from STID right now?

July 1, 2013 3:19 am

33. danielcw – July 1, 2013

I don’t think there’s a way to listen to the whole end credits sequence right now unless you pop into a cinema and sit through the film… I’ve tried searching online but so far nothing has turned up. Blu-Ray release can’t come soon enough.
I agree with those who call this score memorable and catchy – the Enterprise theme never seems to leave my head and London Calling may suddenly manifest itself in my whistling without warning…

July 1, 2013 6:17 am

“I am not 100% on this, but isn’t the music we hear during the main credits exactly the same we heard in Star Trek (2009)”

It’s not. Courage’s theme arrangement is different. But the omission of the entire is understandable – while the 2009 version was a full, specially arranged suite, STID ending credits contain unedited (more or less) versions of the tracks that are already on the CD (for instance “London Calling”).

Still, I’d like to have the new arrangement of Courage’s theme.

July 1, 2013 6:20 am

@33 – you can listen to the end credits on Trekmovie. At one point Giacchino posted several movies from the recording sessions

July 1, 2013 6:54 am

@ 10
The Ode to Harrison Theme is on youtube in full if you want to listen to it/download it:

John in Canada, eh?
July 1, 2013 8:55 am

Great review. Thanks for the article.

I think Giacchino is a talented composer, who has done some great work. But I feel a little ‘misled’ with the music for this film. In 2009, we were told that the classic Trek theme was held back because, until Kirk was in the command chair with his gold shirt, we hadn’t yet ‘earned it.’ Well, there was no excuse not to use it more in this flick.

And considering that these movies take place alongside the original series, parallel universe style, you’d think there would be more nods to the classic themes from previous Treks. With all the “Wrath of Khan” references, it would be natural to include some of Horner’s cues from that film here. Seems a wasted opportunity that all we get was a few seconds of the “Amok Time” fight scene theme.

#3: Agree completely! Having to repurchase a CD to get a few missing tracks is annoying. I’ll wait this one out.

Red Dead Ryan
July 1, 2013 9:32 am


“Grab any season of LOST and you will be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and this Star Trek score. The music is unoriginal, uninspired, and uninspiring.”

Grab any post by Fubamushu and you will be hard pressed to tell if he can actually post something that doesn’t involve whining like a petulant five year old. :-)

July 1, 2013 10:22 am

@6 – That is still stealing, whether you buy it later or not.

Unless it’s lossless at iTunes (spit) I don’t know why people are getting it there and not the CD, which is lossless. It’s $2 more at Amazon and you can rip it to your heart’s content at home.

July 1, 2013 12:11 pm

Where can I watch it for free?

Emperor Mike of the Alternate Empire
July 1, 2013 12:57 pm

I think Michael Giacchino did a fantastic job. I can’t tell you how many times I has listned to Trek 09. Already i have listned to this one a doxen times at least.
Tmp is still #1 in my Book. Along with Trek 2 and 4 and 6.

Cap'n Calhoun
July 1, 2013 2:35 pm

Not a huge part of the soundtrack, but probably worth noting in the review that the MP3 album comes with a localized bonus track in many countries. (“The Growl” in The U.S.)

July 1, 2013 3:14 pm

It’s a great CD…but judgment will have to wait until we get an expanded CD set.

Track 3 is my favorite and one of my all time favorite Trek tracks. The 1:40 mark and after is EPIC.

Still, Star Trek 1/3/5 have yet to be topped, in my opinion. Amazing CD’s.

July 1, 2013 3:16 pm

” In 2009, we were told that the classic Trek theme was held back because, until Kirk was in the command chair with his gold shirt, we hadn’t yet ‘earned it.”

That’s not the first time I’ve heard that one. Deju vu actually. The same thing was said about the Casino Royale soundtrack..that the Bond theme was not going to be used until Bond became “Bond”…it’s still not used as much in the last two bond flick, although Skyfall used it a few times…

July 1, 2013 3:18 pm

While I’m sad about the lack of the TOS theme being used..I am glad they are not relying on it alone. I LOVE the idea that, musically, this cast and crew have their own theme music. The theme of the TOS movies was James Horners score, Next Gen borrowed and made TNG theme their own and now this crew has one of the best themes to ever come out of Trek music.

Curious Cadet
July 1, 2013 6:42 pm

@32. James,
“I was humming the main theme many days after leaving the cinema, so job done.”

Giacchino’s forte is not really themes so much as it is leitmotifs (so far as his original works are concerned). While infinitely catchy, the brevity of the tunes abruptly ends and becomes repetitive. Whistling in this fashion quickly tires for others. This leads to a piecemeal effect in his scores that aren’t as full and complete as say a John Wlliams score, where the themes evolve and vary as the score develops. I find much of his underscore is comprised of several of these themes jammed into each other, often with little transition. That’s not to say they are bad — they’re not — but they just aren’t fully developed as themes would be.

July 1, 2013 8:26 pm

I love the music from the film, but I’ll wait on a COMPLETE soundtrack.

July 2, 2013 12:05 am

“Giacchino’s forte is not really themes so much as it is leitmotifs”

what’s the difference?

“his scores that aren’t as full and complete as say a John Wlliams score”

Funny, the few Williams-scores I fully listened to are really boring and underdeveloped to me. His big themes are great, no doubt, but outside of it, his score lack a lot imho.

July 2, 2013 12:17 am

@42: Are you sure the bonustracks are “localized”? I looked at (Germany), used Spotify with a German account, and looked at the German iTunes store. The Growl is always the bonustrack.