Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thor: The Dark World Score Review

Hello again! The new film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World, has hit our theaters! Thor: The Dark World stars Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, and has Thor pitted again a incredibly strong and powerful adversary, once again. The score is composed by the wonderful Brian Tyler, and this is his second Marvel film this year, Iron Man 3 being his first. He's had a killer year, Tyler has! Iron Man 3 was a solid score, and Far Cry 3 was interesting, to say the least. But Assassin's Creed IV, by god, stole the bloody show for me! Tyler has me on as a fan, and I'm interested to see what he can do for this film. The score is 26 tracks long, and lasts for an hour and 17 minutes. Let's jump into it!


We start off with ascension for the theme, Thor: The Dark World. It's an awesome theme, very heroic sounding, yet a little unoriginal. The brass make great work. It has very few dark moments, and never ceases to feel old. It has an almost emotional ending, which has to be a real big highlight for me. Lokasenna showcases some incredible vocals, and drums and brass add bucket loads to the atmosphere. It slowly builds in volume and power, and it's quite beautiful. It's a MARVEL worthy piece, pardon the pun! It ends in a graceful manner, slightly overstaying its welcome, unfortunately. Asgard has a little more aggression and speed to start with, and has a very big emphasis on some amazing brass. Tyler knows how to work all angles of his orchestra, which is something I've come to appreciate the more I listen to him. So much is going on, yet it's so easy to listen to. The main set hits towards the end, and it's quite brilliant. The ending is an awesome send off, and catches you off guard twice! Damned Tyler, you gave me a jump!

Battle Of Vanaheim is a battle worthy piece, and really starts off with a powerful bang. It's short but efficient running time is good enough for this kind of piece, and leaves it enough time to go places. The theme comes from nowhere around the halfway point, and it's a nice addition to a solid piece. Origins starts off darker than any of our previous pieces, and various sets appear here and there, all of various levels of power and aggression. The percussion plays a vital piece in this piece, and Tyler knows how to work them well. Origins has a wonderful theme to it, and it plays with severe intensity for around half a minute, in and around the 2:00 minute mark. Tyler delivers a wonderful set towards the end, showcasing the theme once again, just before the ending. The Trial Of Loki has an almost mischievous air towards it, which is a big contrast to the powerful and brass based pieces we've been put to hearing over the past minutes. It's certainly darker and more uncertain than anything we've heard as of this far. Strings are put to great use in this piece, and play a huge part in making such an atmospheric and chilling piece. A certain stand out!

Into Eternity starts like Lokasenna; vocally based. It's a bit darker than before though, to begin with at least. The theme pops up again, and creates an emotional atmosphere, before drifting away multiple times. It's a very heroic piece, in contrast to our previous piece. It ends on a climactic note, and sends you off with some incredible violins chords. Escaping The Realm starts with speed and intensity, and it's constant beat and rhythm set up a very fast paced piece. Urgency is a key theme throughout this piece, with strings and percussion hammering away at an uncertain but speedy pace. A dangerous set turns up, to mix it up a little. It's more brass based than the rest of the piece has been, and it's always fun to hear Tyler play with his brass section. The ending offers nothing worthy of admiration, which is disappointing for such an interesting and wonderful piece. A Universe From Nothing has a delicate sound to it, to begin with. It reminds me of his Assassin's Creed IV score. Very smooth and timid, in a sense. It's interesting to listen to, but not exactly enjoyable. It offers, but never really gives, if that makes any sense!

Untouchable is one of the longer piece in the score, and Tyler has a lot of volume and speed changes in store! He never seems too certain on one constant rhythm. It's more like a montage of beats and sets, than a whole, singular piece. It builds multiple times to climaxes which are often not very satisfying. Yet, despite all this, it's still hosts a variety of wonderfully powerful and intense sets. Thor, Son Of Odin is the piece that's meant to represent Thor himself, and it does so fairly well. The piece is soft to begin with, before building and delivering the theme with an infectious percussion riff in the background. Tyler reinforces the theme, with a higher volume change and a stronger vocal riff. A good theme for Thor, I'd say. Shadows Of Loki feels like it should be at the end of a score, to be honest. It feels like a sending off piece. It's bright and inspiring. That's until we reach the halfway point. Then it becomes a dark and plotting kind of piece. It reminds me of The Dark Knight, or various Zimmer projects, at certain points. The piece lasts half a minute too long, in my mind. Sword And Council has the same theme as we've heard numerous times. To begin with at least. It drifts off and becomes a nice and predictable piece. Tyler takes you to places you've already been throughout this score. And seeing that we're only halfway through, that is not a good thing! It's certainly not unpleasant to listen to, not in the slightest. It's just not fresh and exciting, like the early parts of the score were.

Invasion Of Asgard takes pretty much no time in warming up. It's fresh and reinvigorating, something that I've been hoping for for a little while. It's first set is powerful and aggressive, whilst it's second set has a huge emphasis on percussion. It runs the show, maybe a little too much, but none the less, it's a good change from the slow and unexciting pace that we've been running for a small while. Tyler tricks us with the ending multiple times, as he's done before in the score. It's almost getting on my nerves! Betrayal has slow beginnings, and works it's way up and down in tone and volume, but stays complex and interesting. It's filled with a constant supply of smart and mischievous riffs, and it tries to do much within it's 4:03 time span. It drags on possibly a little too long, but ends with a bang to bring me satisfaction. Journey To Asgard is slow to start with, before the theme chirps in, and we get the powerful and grand feeling that Asgard conveys. The music drops out to wonderful effect, before picking back up and returning to the beautiful set we have going on. The vocals kick in for a short while, to end us off, and they do so wonderfully. Whilst not an original piece in the context of this score, it's still a wonderful piece to listen to!

Uprising is a refreshing piece. It has more flair and danger than a lot of the pieces we've listened to recently. It builds for a majority of the piece, before letting itself blast off and do some crazy jumps. Vortex, on the other hand, reverts back to old rhythms. Tyler seems to be lacking inspiration at this stage of the game, which is disappointing. This happens to be something that's most noticeable in Tyler scores, from his Assassin's Creed IV score, to Far Cry 3. The piece doesn't seem to do much for me. It's a pleasant piece, with some straight forward rhythms. It's nothing special, to be honest. I will admit that the final half minute was a well done change in pace. An Unlikely Alliance is not at all special. It's dark, but too perfect. It's too smooth and straight forward. It lets itself pick up and create a fairly fun atmosphere, but dies down towards the ending. Convergence is a light hearted piece, something to make you feel for our hero Thor. It reminds me at moments of pieces from Howard Shore's wonderful LOTR: Return Of The King score, chirpy but with undertones of darkness waiting to pounce. It's more unpredictable than some of the more recent pieces, and it's faster and more exciting, which is a much needed change. Tyler keeps the brass working to it's absolute limits, and to great effect! It ascends slowly, to much dramatic effect, and ends on some powerful blasting. A definite turn around for the score, luckily.

Beginning Of The End is the scores longest piece, clocking in at a total of 5:22 minutes. It keeps to basic rhythms and sets to begin with, before jumping out and delivering almost horror like melody's. It reminds me of Marco Beltrami's recent Carrie score, at certain points, with the hard hitting strings strumming away to edgy and cutting sounds. It's certainly more involving and exciting than a lot of the recent pieces. Unlike a lot of the rest of the score, the whole piece works together to build to a cutting and surreal climax at the end of the piece, which is certainly more satisfying than most other pieces. Deliverance is quite heroic and inspiring to begin with. It holds one of the emotional melodies for a good while, before beginning a saddening theme, and concluding with some dark strings and vocals. Battle Between Worlds is more urgent and intense than many of our previous pieces. It certainly has the marching feel towards it, which really draws you into this battle that is obviously taking place. It jumps up and down various times, the Tyler way! It falls a little flat and uninteresting multiple times during the piece, but it picks itself up and embarks on many different routes. As The Hammer Falls has a heap of grunt to it, something that I feel a lot of the score has been missing, and a constant violin riff is enough to have my heart pumping. The theme kicks in, for one of the final times in the score, and it's truly inspiring! The pieces picks up and changes pace multiple times, before ending on a lovely and heroic tune.

Legacy is our final proper piece Tyler has to offer, and it's delicate, and has no more of the urgency and intensity that we've been subjected to for the past few pieces. It's simple, and Tyler obviously doesn't want to overdo it or introduce anything really new to the table. Our theme plays for the final time, and it sounds magnificent, to be honest. It feels like an old fashioned superhero march theme, to my delight! And it ends, and our tiny 0:31 second piece Marvel Studios Fanfare begins, and it provides us with a simple set, much like our theme. It doesn't do much for me, which is a bad way to end, in my opinion.

Conclusion:
Tyler has provided a predictable but very enjoyable score for Thor: The Dark World. There are some huge highlights here, and some not so fantastic moments. But despite the downs, Tyler has provided an incredibly memorable score, that has a lot of infectious and inspiring pieces lying within. Tyler does overdo certain sets and themes, but keeps the majority of the score fresh and vivid, and keeps his eyes set on the prize. Every piece has a clear theme, and whilst this may make some listeners lose interest, knowing what's coming, I see it as a fantastic way of forming this world of Asgard around our ears. Great job Tyler, for providing another great score!

Highlights:
Thor: The Dark World
Lokasenna
Asgard
Origins
The Trial Of Loki*
Into Eternity*
Convergence
Deliverance
As The Hammer Falls*
Legacy*

Individual Piece Scores:
Thor: The Dark World-96
Lokasenna-97
Asgard-98
Battle Of Vanaheim-93
Origins-99
The Trial Of Loki-100*
Into Eternity-100*
Escaping The Realm-92
A Universe From Nothing-86
Untouchable-76
Thor, Son Of Odin-89
Shadows Of Loki-78
Sword And Council-75
Invasion Of Asgard-91
Betrayal-86
Journey To Asgard-95
Uprising-91
Vortex-78
An Unlikely Alliance-72
Convergence-96
Beginning Of The End-100
Deliverance-100*
Battle Between Worlds-90
As The Hammer Falls-100*
Legacy-100*
Marvel Studios Fanfare-65

Junkie Score: 90.11