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Film Music 2011 by Silva Screen America

Film Music 2011

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Film Music 2011 (Soundtrack) by Silva Screen America
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Film Music 2011 (Soundtrack) by Silva Screen America

Film Music 2011
Silva Screen America (2012)

Rating: 6/10

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“As usual with a compilation album such as this, the target audience is not so much the devoted film score collector as it is the casual one, providing a brief overview of the year’s film scores in an easily digestible, 47-minute playlist.”

The Casual Annual
Review by Edmund Meinerts

Another year of film music passes, and as usual, Silva Screen Records have released their annual compilation album, FILM MUSIC 2011. Twelve cues have been selected from various well-known films, with five of them recorded by the Prague Symphony Orchestra and the rest receiving a reimagining by London Music Works. As usual with a compilation album such as this, the target audience is not so much the devoted film score collector as it is the casual one, providing a brief overview of the year’s film scores in an easily digestible, 47-minute playlist.

The album opens with one of the year’s best cues, the glorious “Thor Kills the Destroyer” (1) from PATRICK DOYLE’s THOR. Though the rest of the score attracted some criticism for its employment of recent blockbuster stylistics that some felt didn’t sit well with DOYLE’s more lyrical style, this particular cue is a two-minute outburst of sheer, unbridled heroics – a necessity on any best-of-2011 playlist. The performance here is impressively close to the original and opens the album in style. “Lily’s Theme” (2) follows, ALEXANDRE DESPLAT’s major new identity for HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2. It’s a pretty cue, and its inclusion makes sense, though it is perhaps not the score’s most robust or memorable.

JOHN WILLIAMS is the only composer represented twice on the album, with “The Reunion” (3) from WAR HORSE and “The Adventures of Tintin” (7) from, well, THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: SECRET OF THE UNICORN featuring. The former is full of that score’s lyrical, pastoral beauty and is a welcome inclusion, but the latter is cause for a bit of head-scratching. For the opening titles of the film, WILLIAMS concocted a madcap modern-jazz number reminiscent of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN that is entertaining in its own right and shows the composer’s skill in that genre. However, it’s a singular stylistic departure with only a few subtle connections to the otherwise entirely orchestral score. TINTIN’s lack of the instantly recognizable theme or concert suite that one is accustomed to from WILLIAMS is perhaps to blame for this, but “Sir Francis and the Unicorn” would still have been a more representative inclusion.

CLIFF MARTINEZ makes a brief appearance with “I Drive” (4) from DRIVE, and though not an offensive cue, its extremely basic chords and sparse electronic rendering make it stand out like a sore thumb from the rest of the album, especially sandwiched as it is between two of the most lyrical and thematic entries, those from WAR HORSE and MICHAEL GIACCHINO’s SUPER 8. The latter is arguably the highlight of the album, for despite the shortcomings SUPER 8 had as an album, its major thematic statements are nothing short of beautiful and are given plenty of time to breathe here. This cue is possibly the only one that is actually an improvement on its prior version, as it escapes the muted recording from which GIACCHINO’s scores tend to suffer.

A suite from CARTER BURWELL’s surprisingly satisfying score for TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 1 follows, “Love Death Birth” (6). Most of the suite is given over to extremely pleasant rambling of strings, piano, woodwind and acoustic guitar that features few of the challenging elements for which BURWELL’s scores are notorious. ALAN SILVESTRI’s “Captain America March” (8) ironically sounds closer to a classic JOHN WILLIAMS concert suite than either of the maestro’s own inclusions, but it’s hard to argue with the inclusion of such a rousing orchestral piece, even if the performance isn’t quite as enormous-sounding as the original.

This compilation’s big letdown comes in the form of the final four cues, the “Remote Control Productions section” of the album. “Mermaids” (9) is at least the best cue from HANS ZIMMER’s highly disappointing PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES, presenting the score’s only substantial new theme. It is let down by a synthesized-sounding performance here, particularly evident in the thrashing three-minute action sequence at the end of the cue (admittedly, ZIMMER’s own recording was synthesized-sounding too, but not to quite this extent).

That unconvincing, synthy sound extends to the final three cues on the album: “It’s Our Fight” (10) from STEVE JABLONSKY’s TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, “Magneto” (11) from HENRY JACKMAN’s X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and “Sky Fight/End Credits” from TREVOR MORRIS’ IMMORTALS. In addition to sounding rather low-budget, these all seem like very strange choices for inclusion. Though the repetitive, rock-tinged “Magneto” (11) theme dominated much of X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and effectively so, its main theme was a much more impressive composition and would have been the more logical choice here.

Even more problematic are “It’s Our Fight” (10) and “Sky Fight/End Credits” (12). These two cues are possibly among the most derivative of the year. The former makes liberal use of ZACK HEMSEY’s popular “Mind Heist” cue used in the trailers for INCEPTION (most blatantly at 1:18). The usage is so obvious that HEMSEY himself commented on it in his blog. Not only that, but the entire cue (like much of the music for TRANSFORMERS, admittedly) is blatantly derivative of previous ZIMMER scores, ranging from the low brass of INCEPTION to the chopping string patterns of THE DARK KNIGHT and even a brief reference to THE LAST SAMURAI at 5:00. As for “Sky Fight/End Credits” (12), even film music novices might recognize it as a reworking of “160 BPM” from ZIMMER’s ANGELS & DEMONS. The fact that these borderline-plagiaristic cues are considered the highlights of their respective scores doesn’t say a lot about either of them.

Inevitably, there is a lot of excellent film music left off this album because it was written for unpopular or unknown films. Something like MARK MCKENZIE’s THE GREATEST MIRACLE doesn’t stand the ghost of a chance for inclusion here. But that is an unavoidable issue that will only bother more devoted film music collectors. That group will probably not be interested in this album in the first place, as they probably already own much of the music featured upon it. For those who listen to scores on the side, this will provide a decent summary of the year’s music.

Rating: 6/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Thor Kills the Destroyer 1:54  *****
2 Lily's Theme 2:18  ****
3 The Reunion 3:55  ****
4 I Drive 2:00  **
5 Super 8 Suite 6:11  *****
6 Love Death Birth 6:10  ****
7 The Adventures of Tin Tin 3:07  ***
8 Captain America March 2:36  ****
9 Mermaids 8:07  ***
10 It's Our Fight 6:41  **
11 Magneto 1:52  **
12 Sky Fight/ End Credits 2:18  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 47 minutes  

 

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