Notes from Nuge: Summer of Blockbusters

This year we have had some great blockbusters. Of course no film would be half as good without the instrumental score heightening your imagination.

In the tradition of our fearless leader I have dedicated my life (well the last few weeks) to reviewing the soundtracks of the films of 2011 so far. Which one was my favourite, well you just have to read on to find out.

Thor

First out of the box is Thor by Patrick Doyle. Previously Doyle has done music on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Eragon. Thor was a BIG film and it needed a BIG score so was Doyle up to the task?

The first two tracks are done well but where we really get a feel for the themes and Asgard is in Sons of Odin. The epic and regal feel shines through complimenting the visuals on screen. The theme carries on into Ride to the Observatory where it starts slowly but then the Asgard theme once again kicks in. The battle scenes are brought to life with Frost Giant Battle complete with pounding drums and heavy trumpets.

The opposite end of the score are the slow quiet tracks but help the various scenes but the emotion seems pulled back from most of these with Odin Confesses being the only one that really works.

The action scenes on Earth have a different motive than the ones on Asgard, while still good, they are not up to the same standard as the Asgard ones. The Compound and The Destroyer being the two main ones. The exception here is Thor Kills the Destroyer which combines both theme to great effect.

Rounding off the album is Earth to Asgard which brings all the themes together in one tight short ending. A good score with some decent and memorable themes.

GS Rating: 4/5

X-Men: First Class

The excellent prequel X-Men film that truly delivered on it’s potential. During the movie I thought the music was instantly recognisable and just perfect. There is no trace of the original X-Men trilogy score and that works.

The score is composed by Henry Jackman who did Aliens Vs Monsters. We start with track one First Class which brings in the excellent new theme for the movie and it delivers. Classy and intelligent. Moving straight into Pain and Anger this score really starts to deliver. You can feel the emotion in every note.

Frankenstein’s Monster changes the tone to start and the delivers a rousing ending using the theme. My favourite track has to be X-Training which is slightly techno but works so well with the montage sequence of the film.

So bottom line is that this is an excellent score.

GS Rating 5/5

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America was a wonderful looking movie with some stunning visuals in the finest tradition of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Rocketeer. When I heard that Alan Silvestri was composing the music for this I was very pleased as his Back to the Future is one of my all time favourite scores.

Then it went downhill when I started to listen. I remember now thinking during the film that nothing really stood out on the music. Listening again I can see why. While there is no problem with the music it is flat and not very memorable.

Triumphant return raises your patriotic spirits and Hydra train brings a nice crescendo of foreboding. But the Captain America track should be the highlight of the album but after listening to this 5 times I still cannot remember it. Cap needs a sterling and inspiring theme but this is just a nice noble unforgettable tune.

In fact the only thing that made me smile was the USO type Star Spangled Man song.

GS Rating 2.5/5

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I was not looking forward to this film at all but I have to eat my words and say I loved this reimagining of the Apes franchise. A prequel and reboot all in one. It worked, but how was the music?

The second score from Patrick Doyle this year after Thor. As fitting with the movie the score has some slow intense tracks that bring the ethical war that happens in the story. The themes for Caesar where he is growing like Off You Go are slow building with an emotional leap at the end. Other tracks tug at the heartstrings like Who Am I. The action kicks in gear from Zoo Breakout onwards with the tension coming through and you start to feel the drums come into play with great effect. You really get the sense of advancing apes really coming alive in Golden Gate Bridge. We end on an emotional high note with Caesar’s Home which starts beautifully and finishes with a rousing but subtle ending.

GS Rating: 3/5

Cowboys and Aliens

Not having seen the film I was not sure how much I would relate to this album by Harry Gregson-Williams. I liked his other work on films like Wolverine and Unstoppable.

Starting off with Jake Lonergan I immediately found myself smiling to this catchy tune and was immediately transported to the Wild West. Most of the other tracks work with the atmosphere and setting but it really needs more like A Kid, A Dog & A Woman to show how good this score could be. Another great tune is Alien Air Attack which reminds me of Back to the Future for some reason. The album finishes with See you around, a great uplifting western closing track.

A good fun score with some really cool vibes going on.

GS Rating 4/5

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I was a huge fan of the score from the first movie by Steve Jablonsky who returns to complete his trilogy of work.

We jump straight into it with Dark Side of the Moon which quickly sets the tone for the rest of the album, moody and dark. The score feels just like a Michael Bay movie big and bold. The problem is that most tracks sound the same. I wanted to hear the themes from the first movie like Autobots which we get a glimpse of in There is no Plan but no where else. Probably the most impressive track here is Shockwave’s Revenge which is, yep you guessed it big and bold but also very loud. Although The World Needs You Now is quite inspiring and rousing. However this really all blends into one giant mix of big loud sounds but not much heart.

GS Rating: 2/5

Green Lantern

Another film I have not seen but wanted to check out the score by James Newton Howard who I admire and respect for his great work.

The first track Prologue/Parrallax Unbound starts off well with a sense of urgency and doom. The excellent and exciting techno Drone Dogfight sets up a hardcore futuristic action theme. Genesis of Good has a decent enough build up but left you wanting more. The techno orchestral mash up comes back in the in the quick The Induction Process with surprising effect. Welcome to Oa brings the intergalactic feel to the forefront which continues with Were Going To Fly Now.  Another mash up is You have to be Chosen which combines techno with a rather haunting melody. But the biggest track here goes to the Hal Battles Parrallax which at 7.19 minutes displays everything you want from a finale.

A good enough soundtrack, shame the movie was just plain bad (from what I hear).

GS Rating 3/5

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I loved the score from the first film and the tracks The Black Pearl and Will and Elizabeth still are just gloriously fantastic. The music for 2 and 3 were just boring and tired so I did not have much hope for this one composed by Hans Zimmer.

The first track jumps straight into familiar territory and exemplifies the naughty Jack Sparrow to perfection. Then we get Angelica which changes the whole dynamic of the score by introducing Rodrigo Y Gabriela and his acoustic guitar. This fits in with the Penelope Cruz character very well. Mutiny brings back the classic Pirates theme but only in a cameo. We are treated to more tracks by Gabriela to great effect. The track that concerned me the most was Mermaids, it was down right scary. Palm Tree Escape is just plain fun combining the pirates theme score with the guitar to amazing results. With On Stranger Tides Zimmer adds in the gothic choir to build up the atmosphere and dread. The End Credits is a return to form for the theme which cannot help but bring a smile and a feeling of adventure.

Then something strange happens. We get 7 bonus tracks which are remixes of previous tracks with some strange and peculiar results. Final thoughts, a good album with some highlights but not enough adventure.

GS Rating 3/5

 

So there we have it, some good some not so good but what do you think?

 

Also must give out a special mention to a score but not from a film but rather a video game. Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine has one of the best scores I have heard in years. An absolute must for people who want to hear epic scale and full on battle themes.

GS Reporter: Montoya

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