A while ago my husband and I watched the movie “Oblivion” when it came out on DVD/Streaming. We have very divergent tastes and it’s hard to find things that both of us are okay with watching.
I knew it was going to be a generic action picture that takes place in the post-apocalyptic world.
It is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.
I really can’t tell you what it was about or anything that happened because the sound design was so terrible that I feel compelled to complain about it.
The mixing was done very badly. The bass was set too high for a home theater experience. Every time something exploded our floors rattled because the subwoofer couldn’t deal with the vibrations being forced through it.
I don’t know how they did this, but there was a lot of annoying high pitched artifacts in the sound. So while the floors were rattling from the bass vibrations my ears were bleeding from these weird, inadvertent artifacts in the sound. I would be willing to bet money that the person who did the mix has hearing damage and didn’t bother to run things through a low-pass filter to make sure that anything annoying wouldn’t get through.
The absolute worst thing was the sound track. It was pretty generic, but there was something about the way it was composed that was completely horrible. There was no real melody, it was just a semi-monotonous droning. It was also in this weird pitch register where it needed to be either a lot lower or a little higher.
The soundtrack made me physically feel bad. I only got about two thirds through the movie because the sounds triggered a depressive response and I had to go to the bedroom to cry. It was a physical, emotional response to the music.
I have felt tremendous joy and other emotions to other music I have listened to. I probably spoke about this before, but when I heard Beethoven’s 5th Symphony live it was one of the most moving experiences I have had. When I heard “Skyfall” by Adele on the radio it really didn’t do anything for me, but hearing her perform it live at the Oscars it was a completely different piece of music. Something about the process of polishing and tuning the piece stripped it of its soul. Even though the live version was very badly mixed there was something in the performance that transcended the limitations.
I know most people don’t have the same sound sensitivities that I do, but seriously?? Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a movie and not care that it sounds like shit? Paying a composer some amount of money for a horrible generic soundtrack? If the soundtrack doesn’t add anything to the movie, get rid of it. The movie would be a lot better if there was no music in the background during a tense moment than it would be with a droning, whiny repetitive melody in the background.
Watch “Star Wars”. They took a lot of care with creating a great soundtrack. They created a lot of their sound effects. The music enhances the tension of what is going on in the scene. Watch “Battlestar Galactica”. The sound was very different than what you usually see in space battle sequences. It was primarily militaristic drums with no orchestral swells. It ramps up the tension and it is genius.
I have accepted that most movies coming out are not for me because they are aimed at teenaged boys in China who do not care about the nuances of American political history. I have TV shows like “Breaking Bad” to compensate me for the loss of American cinema. But it just breaks my heart that sound is on the same pile of things like plot and dialogue that are not considered important enough to even do competently.