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Iron Man by Ramin Djawadi

Iron Man

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Iron Man (Soundtrack) by Ramin Djawadi

Iron Man
Composed by Ramin Djawadi
Lions Gate Records (2008)

Rating: 6/10

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Listen to this soundclip of Iron ManDriving with the Top Down (356 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Iron ManVacation's Over (361 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Iron ManExtra Dry, Extra Olives (351 kb)


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“As much as I had prepared myself to dislike this score...as much as I thought I'd be among the throngs of haters...and as much as I long for classically-styled scores for superhero films, IRON MAN has won me over. ”

Guitar Hero
Review by Christopher Coleman

Composer Ramin Djawadi

"I'm sure people will be surprised with this score because we did do something different. I'm sure there will be some purists that will expect the typical, lush, orchestral score. Some people are going to love it and some people are going to hate it."

Read the full interview with RAMIN DJAWADI

With Speed Racer, Indiana Jones, Prince Caspian and The Incredible Hulk, the Summer of 2008 will surely go down as one of the most "heroic" of the decade. Leading the way comes the hotly anticipated IRON MAN. Ever since the first teaser was released, comic-book fans have been rusting themselves stiff with drool. At the same time, some film music fans found themselves similarly rusty, but, in their case, it was due to a drizzle of tears. Director JohnFavreau saw relatively good success with composer JOHN DEBNEY in year's past, so it was a general expectation that Favreau and Debney would hook up again for the beloved heavy-metal-hero. There was great surprise when it was announced that composer RAMIN DJAWADI would be laying down the score for IRON MAN's first foray as a live-action adventure hero. The film itself has been met with critical acclaim and is shaping up to be one of the highest rated superhero films of the last ten years.

While sticking to the core of the Iron Man origin story, Favreau does contemporize his telling.  Still he makes enough references to the many versions of the Iron Man origin story that fans of at least two generations should be well appeased. The all-star cast of Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Terence Howard go along way to solidify the film, but the quick and witty writing makes this a superhero film for the adult in us all. The final result is one of the better comic-book-to-feature-film-jobs to ever come out of Hollywood. IRON MAN sets itself apart by several means and among them is the contribution of composer RAMIN DJAWADI.

The core of the IRON MAN score is, as has become well-discussed, founded upon the electric guitar. It was John Favreau's idea, from very early on, that the music for IRON MAN would go a different superhero-path. While the score does contain some of the necessary genre-conventions, the electric undercurrent provided by Djawadi's guitar is the single most distinguishing factor of the music. With the gritty and rousing trailers, which featured music from Black Sabbath, the audience was conditioned for just such a score. Djawadi with both degree in film music composition AND guitar performance (not too mention a big comic book fan) must have been the first of all "salivators" as he contemplated the task before him. IRON MAN is an aggressively entertaining film with a score to match. While the score may be guitar-centric and may be an auto-turn-off for some, Ramin Djawadi makes this effort far from a one-instrument-wonder, if you dare to give the score a fair shake.

The IRON MAN score is founded upon two motifs.  There is the aptly-chosen rock-band motif and then the more traditional orchestral element.  The rock motif is made up of five notes (sometimes extended to seven notes) which Djawadi develops through the length of the score. It functions more as a theme for the development of the Iron-man-concept: forming the base of both Iron Man's theme and later for the Iron Monger. In "Trinkets to Kill a Prince" (4) we can hear the formation of the motif performed comparatively softly on strings. From there we hear progressively aggressive use of the motif through Mark I (5), Fireman (6), until we reach track 12. "Iron Man" (12) builds, without sacrificing it's edginess, to a fitting heroic-crescendo.

The second and orchestral motif is first heard In "Vacation's Over" (7). We hear a grand four-note theme played by full orchestra which later becomes another five-note theme when we hear it in "Driving with the Top Down" (1).  This track would chronologically would follow "Gulmira," (13) and gives us an appropriately "elevated" performance and proves to be one of the more enjoyable tracks of the release. In the climactic "Arc Reaktor" (17) we hear both motifs; themselves locked in a musical battle of their own.

Of course IRON MAN isn't all metallic mayhem.  With Tony Stark's assistant and potential-love interest, Pepper Potts, we often get a dose of IRON MAN's softer side.  Djawadi maintains a distinct level of restraint, but in "Vacation's Over" (7), Extra Dry, Extra Olives (11) and "Are Those Bullet Holes?" (14) we get a few necessary respites..if only for a few seconds. Far from full-blown romantic pieces, Djawadi simply teases at what might lay ahead for the mogul and his assistant. Djawadi has left himself a lot of room to develop here...perhaps too much.  I would have liked a bit more depth in this aspect of the IRON MAN score from the start, but with strong rumors of a sequel by 2010, we won't have too long to wait to see what develops.

One of the best surprises of the movie and score is the use of the Iron Man theme from the cartoon series of the mid-60s. While Tony Stark gambles in a Las Vegas casino we hear an interesting big-band-adaptation of the classic theme (see track 2 "Tony Stark's Theme/ Iron Man 2008"). This clever nod is only outdone by the album's producers throwing in the the actual original theme by Jack Urbont as the final track. 

As much as I had prepared myself to dislike this score...as much as I thought I'd be among the throngs of haters...and as much as I long for classically-styled scores for superhero films, IRON MAN has won me over. Lionsgate Records captures the most of the significant cues, but the release does suffer due to the inclusion of "Institutionalized" (18) by Suicidal Tendencies. For those of you who are already predisposed against the entire Remote Control genre of film music, you'll likely only find more fuel for your personal, RC-bond-fires in IRON MAN. Now, for those who can appreciate their brand of music for what it is, IRON MAN may be a industrially-clever diversion for you. In the past, I've trounced on many-a-score that featured such heavy, rock-elements. Generally, I find such scores abrasive and unlistenable, but somehow RAMIN DJAWADI has kept from crossing that line.  In fact, a traditional, all-symphonic score would not have worked better for this film.


Rating: 6/10

 

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Driving with the Top Down 3:10  ****
2 Iron Man 2008 version (John O'Brien) 1:05  ***
3 Merchant of Death 2:14  ****
4 Trinkets to Kill a Prince 3:07  ***
5 Mark I 3:53  ***
6 Fireman 2:09  ****
7 Vacation's Over 3:34  ****
8 Golden Egg 4:12  ***
9 DamnKid (DJ Boborobo) 1:12  ***
10 Mark II 2:47  ***
11 Extra Dry, Extra Olives 1:43  **
12 Iron Man 3:30  ***
13 Gulmira 4:05  ***
14 Are Those Bullet Holes 2:00  ***
15 Section 16 2:33  **
16 Iron Monger 4:45  ***
17 Arc Reaktor 3:55  ****
18 Institutionalized (Suicidal Tendencies) 3:49  *
19 Iron Man 60's Theme (Jack Urbont) 0:20  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 54 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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