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X-Men: The Movie (Soundtrack) by Michael Kamen

No X-Cuses!
Review by Christopher Coleman

Composed and Conducted by Michael Kamen
Produced by Michael Kamen, Stephen McLaughlin and Christopher Brooks
Orchestrations by Robert Elhai and Brad Warnaar
Performed by the LA Allstar Orchestra
Released by Decca Records- July 2000

X-Men: The Movie (Soundtrack) by Michael Kamen

X-Men: The Movie

X-Men: The Movie (Soundtrack) by Michael Kamen

Category

Score
Originality 3
Music Selection 3
Composition 4
CD Length 6
Track Order 5
Performance 5
Final Score 4/10

When composer John Ottman was replaced by Michael Kamen as the man behind the music for the feature film, X-Men, there seemed to be a collective groan from film music appreciators around the globe.  Afterall, Ottman seemed perfectly suited for one of Marvel Comics' darker superhero series.  Kamen's most beloved work has rarely come from the realm of the heroic with possible exceptions being made for The Highlander and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  This choice for a replacement seemed somewhat curious.

While the film, baptized in every flavor of eye-candy, has been hyped for months, it has been the hope of some that the score would go a long way in making the film palatable.  Visually, it looks as though there will be little lacking.  Acting and storyline are different stories all together.  A high quality score might salvage such an x-perimental film...at least for film music fans. 

For composer John Ottman, X-Men could have gone a long way in further establishing him as a main stream film composer and could have given the film music community one of the more intriguing scores for the year 2000. Sadly, we can only speculate.  With Ottman, literally, out of the picture, director Bryan Singer, certainly had a wealth of other composers, who could bring a futuristic flair to a full orchestral extravaganza, to choose from.  What about Craig Armstrong, Mychael Danna, Graeme Revell, Harry Gregson-Williams or Jeff Rona?  Schedules permitting, any one of these would have been an intriguing choice.  With the abundance of talent out there and superhero-mutants as the central characters, there really are no x-cuses for not delivering a full scale, memorable score.  With all of the possibilities that lay before the director and producers, Michael Kamen was handed the pen and baton.

The somewhat familiar theme from the cartoon series X-Men makes its first appearance; albeit rather subtly, in track 2, Ambush.  A few notes of this theme work their way into a few intermediate tracks, but It isn't until track 9, Museum Fight, that the theme truly asserts itself.  By this time; however, the listener has likely lost interest in the score completely.  The majority of the score is filled with tense and dark orchestral underscore with no discernable theme.  Electronic rhythms interject themselves in many places- providing a contemporary or futuristic feel to the score as well.  While Kamen and the LA Allstar Orchestra provide an adequate, technical performance and while the mix of synthesizers and drum loops are weaved in with only minor injuries, the end result is flat, at best.  The sum total of Michael Kamen's efforts, as presented by the CD release from Decca Records, is mostly unremarkable.

The one track that finally perks the ears a bit is the last, Logan and Rogue (12). Here Kamen returns to his romantic/ dramatic side.  As he does so wonderfully, he is able to x-hibit beautiful strings while adding the softest touch of sadness to their melody.  Of course, one would not expect more than one or two tracks of this type for a superhero film, but this easily stakes claim as the highlight of the soundtrack.

Michael Kamen's light has always shone brightest when composing for films such as Circle of Friends, or Mr. Holland's Opus.  He has proven that he can do "sentimental" with the best of them; however, adventure and heroism are less suitable platforms to showcase his talents.  With a bunch of determined, colorful, diverse, superheros like the X-Men, it is unfortunate that the score just can't be described similarly. 

Track Listing and Ratings

 Track  Title  Time

  Rating

1 Death Camp 3:05  **
2 Ambush 3:26  **
3 Mutant School 3:48  ***
4 Magneto's Lair 5:01  **
5 Cerebro 2:13  **
6 Train 2:35  *
7 Magneto Stand Off 3:01  **
8 The X-Jet 3:47  **
9 Museum Fight 2:21  **
10 The Statue of Liberty 2:38  *
11 Final Showdown 2:31  **
12 Logan and Rogue 5:57  ***
 

Total Running Time

40:23  
 
 



Referenced Reviews:  

 

Quick Quotes

Had Joel McNeely not replaced Michael Kamen on The Avengers two years ago, Kamen might have very well produced this exact same result for that film. In the case of X-Men, Kamen replaced the popularly rising composer John Ottman, whose credits include a variety of films of a darker nature. Kamen, however, has been noted for both his large action scores of the past decade and his Academy Award winning song-writing abilities that reach back closer to his rock roots. His score for X-Men straddles the line between electronic ingenuity and traditional orchestral elements. ***

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks


The score appears to have all the right noises: action, suspense, crescendos and even some tender moments, but not in the right order. Even in the action sequences the cues are bland and lacking in a general theme. In places you are reminded of a Danny Elfman score dark and broody, but Mr Kamen never achieves the menace and excitement of BATMAN or DARKMAN.
***

Mikael Carlsson - Music from the Movies

 

Composer Michael Kamen
Composer 
Michael Kamen

 

X-Men: The Movie (Soundtrack) by Michael Kamen

 

 


All artwork from X-Men is exclusive property of Decca Records (c) 2000.  Its appearance is for informational purposes only.
Review format version 4.5

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