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Captain America: The First Avenger
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Alan Silvestri

Co-Orchestrated by:
John Ashton Thomas
Mark Graham
Dave Metzger

Co-Produced by:
David Bifano

Song Composed and Produced by:
Alan Menken

Song Lyrics by:
David Zippel

Song Orchestrated and Arranged by:
Michael Kosarin
Doug Besterman
Martin Erskine

Disney/Buena Vista Records

Release Date:
July 19th, 2011

Also See:
Back to the Future
Van Helsing
The A-Team
Iron Man
The Rocketeer

Audio Clips:
6. Training the Supersoldier (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

16. Triumphant Return (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

20. Motorcycle Mayhem (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

26. Star Spangled Man (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release. The initial version sold on iTunes contains an additional score track.


Captain America: The First Avenger

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Buy it... if you miss Alan Silvestri's robust symphonic action methodology of an era long gone in his career, for The First Avenger features propulsive rhythmic force that will remind you of the composer's best works.

Avoid it... if you expect too much from a score that is structurally sound and quite engaging in its second half, but one that is also surprisingly generic in its thematic applications and nebulous in its narrative flow.

Captain America: The First Avenger: (Alan Silvestri) Like many of the adaptations of the Marvel Comics superheroes to the big screen, Captain America: The First Avenger was a long time (and legally challenged) on its path through pre-production. When director Joe Johnston's movie finally arrived in 2011, however, it was well received critically and popularly. It's an origin story that almost entirely devotes itself to the character's formation in the 1940's and his battle against the evil, equally supernatural terrorist forces of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. When a patriotic young Steve Rogers wishes to enlist to fight in the military, he is rejected because he lacks in physical stature. When he's recruited into a top secret government program that aims to create a super-soldier, however, he ends up being chosen and becomes the muscle-bound Captain America of fame. He sets out to save his friends in the European front and battle the Nazis' equivalent super-soldier and prevent the associated group of villains from unleashing a powerful cube of mythical powers upon America. At the end of the picture, Captain America: The First Avenger shifts the hero to modern times so that he can be indoctrinated into the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization in the manner common to the long-term Marvel cinematic plan. Johnston had for many years been a collaborator with composer James Horner, though since 1999 he has rotated between some of the biggest film music names in the industry during his limited schedule. For Captain America: The First Avenger, he hired veteran action expert Alan Silvestri for the task. The Marvel universe on screen has experienced an odd juxtaposition of soundtrack styles that demonstrates the ongoing battle between Bronze Age and Digital Age sensibilities in the popular expectations of blockbuster music. These scores have ranged from the brainless, contemporary tones of Hans Zimmer/Remote Control associate Ramin Djawadi to the surprisingly varied, symphonic contributions of Scottish composers Craig Armstrong and Patrick Doyle.

The unashamed American sensibilities of The First Avenger likely made Silvestri a good choice, though that depends in part upon whether you're expecting to hear the Silvestri of the 1980's or that of the 2000's, because his career in the action realm has taken a disappointing turn towards the generic since his initial burst onto the scene with Back to the Future and Predator. The latter half of the 2000's has seen a series of substandard orchestral and hybrid scores from the composer, led by G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and The A-Team. Silvestri's relatively low level of activity during this time, writing just one score per year on average, caused understandably high expectations for his take on The First Avenger, a film with the promise of considerably more merit than those previous assignments. How unreasonable those expectations may be for you will determine your reaction to the finished product, because while Silvestri succeeds in producing a rowdy action score that transcends the level of muck he has written in the genre since Van Helsing, there is no doubt that The First Avenger will have substantial difficulty challenging the composer's classics. It's a solid score from start to finish, almost entirely symphonic and saturated with the composer's recognizable mannerisms. A bold primary theme is accompanied by propulsive rhythmic movements typical to Silvestri's style of snare-slapping excitement. Several structural techniques in the score, including some minor motifs, will remind of passages from both Back to the Future and Predator, especially in cues like "VitaRays" and "Motorcycle Mayhem." This material is the closest fans have come to hearing a reprise of this vintage Silvestri writing for years, and when considered as a "wall of sound" approach within this subset of his career, the score is very satisfying as a background listening experience. Unrestrained orchestral muscularity of this kind is so rare in this generation of film music that The First Avenger is pleasing to the ears, particularly in the major action material utilized in the second half of the picture.

On the other hand, Silvestri's efforts for The First Avenger are far from perfect. The main theme is heard in "Captain America," "Captain America 'We Did It'," "Captain America," and "Captain America March" (proof that composer needs to work some better descriptors into those track titles) and is heroic to a fault, its patriotism unrestrained to such a degree that it could be a bit too bright and shiny for some listeners to tolerate for long. Because of its ballsy attitude, the theme has difficulty annunciated itself in situations that call for softer references, discouraging it from being applied frequently in the majority of the underscore. If Silvestri was counting on his main "Captain America" theme for The First Avenger to carry most of the load in terms of memorability, he succeeds. This despite the fact that the melody sounds like a generic cross between several of the "Medal of Honor" video game scores and, oddly enough, typical flighty, heroic music from David Newman such as Galaxy Quest. But it causes the narrative flow of the entire score to suffer because of its inflexibility. Melodic cohesion aside from this theme is lacking, too, each cue tending to follow unique motific ideas without forming obvious identities. The exception may be the villain's theme for Red Skull, HYDRA, and the magical "tesseract," heard initially in "Frozen Wasteland" and revisited several times throughout the score in the form of three ominously rising minor notes before a lower unresolved conclusion. The wholesome conversation cues don't accomplish much other than to serve as pleasant interludes before Silvestri's more quietly noble variants of the main theme in "This is My Choice" and "Passage of Time." Overall, the score seems to strive at every moment to be the equivalent of Horner's The Rocketeer, and yet it simply doesn't have the narrative cohesion or convincing sense of awe to achieve that goal. It's always great to hear Silvestri in his vintage action mode, regardless of the score's flaws, however, and it therefore has to be recommended on album. That product takes a while to get moving, its initial ten minutes quite slow. If you doze off, you'll miss an odd application of Fred Steiner's Romulan theme from the original "Star Trek" series at 1:12 into "Rain Fire Upon Them" (it's a bit too obvious to be just a coincidence).

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At the end of the standard album presentation for The First Avenger, you'll find a new Alan Menken song, "Star Spangled Man," an genuine homage to Irving Berlin wartime musical songs that is played alone in the mix on screen. The production number's style is definitely true to that era, but it's so blatantly out of place next to Silvestri's score that it's tough to handle. The choral techniques are very clearly vintage Menken as well, even down to the hideously obnoxious female voices as whiny counterpoint (they're one of those things that makes you cringe from the days of Hercules), and the stereotypical Broadway-style conclusion is a bit over the top. Despite the discrepancies in style, though, the reason the Silvestri and Menken parts don't mesh at all is because of their highly disparate mixing. Both were recorded by the same engineers on the same stage, but they went different routes thereafter. It seems that the Menken song was mixed as to intentionally sound archival and thus fit the newsreel style of propaganda atmosphere evident in its other aspects. All the wet, live ambience of Silvestri's booming recording is drained out to create a significantly smaller soundscape. It's a curious song, and an understandable one given the Buena Vista/Disney connection with the soundtrack, but it's doubtful that 90% of the listeners to the Silvestri score will pay much mind to it. What should infuriate those Silvestri collectors is the fact that the "Captain America March" concert arrangement of the main theme was omitted from the CD album and available only as an individually downloadable track on iTunes (and not, at least initially). It's the fullest and most impressive performance of the theme, though its 2:40 in running time will bother some John Williams collectors who should notice Silvestri's painfully shameless usage of the maestro's Star Wars-era concert suite constructs. The final thirty seconds in particular is almost like a parody of Williams' classic trademarks, but regardless of this fact, the track should have been included on the album's other incarnations. For viewers of the film, you'll hear this recording over the closing credits. In the end, The First Avenger is a rousing and entertaining score if you seek robust Silvestri action methods of yesteryear for half an hour of explosive symphonic ambience. Don't expect, however, to fall in love with it. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Alan Silvestri reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.36 (in 33 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.24 (in 31,647 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.37 Stars
Smart Average: 3.32 Stars*
***** 127 
**** 185 
*** 130 
** 79 
* 69 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Alternate Review at Best Original Scores
  orion_mk3 -- 3/4/15 (1:39 p.m.)
   Re: the hero
  Spooooooor -- 3/13/14 (7:10 a.m.)
   the hero
  Snaky -- 8/2/13 (4:08 p.m.)
   A bit like Star Trek
  Captain Future -- 8/22/11 (7:46 a.m.)
   Alternative review at
  Southall -- 8/6/11 (4:00 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 71:53

• 1. Captain America (Main Titles) (0:56)
• 2. Frozen Wasteland (1:53)
• 3. Schmidt's Treasure (3:01)
• 4. Farewell to Bucky (2:50)
• 5. Hydra Lab (1:54)
• 6. Training the Supersoldier (1:08)
• 7. Schmidt's Story (1:59)
• 8. VitaRays (4:25)
• 9. Captain America "We Did It" (1:59)
• 10. Kruger Chase (2:55)
• 11. Hostage on the Pier (2:46)
• 12. General's Resign (2:18)
• 13. Unauthorized Night Flight (3:13)
• 14. Troop Liberation (5:06)
• 15. Factory Inferno (5:05)
• 16. Triumphant Return (2:16)
• 17. Invader's Montage (2:15)
• 18. Hydra Train (3:27)
• 19. Rain Fire Upon Them (1:39)
• 20. Motorcycle Mayhem (3:05)
• 21. Invasion (5:09)
• 22. Fight on the Flight Deck (3:30)
• 23. This is My Choice (3:26)
• 24. Passage of Time (1:35)
• 25. Captain America (1:08)
• 26. Star Spangled Man* (2:53)
• 27. Captain America March** (2:37)

* composed by Alan Menken, lyrics by David Zippel, and performed by The Star Spangled Singers
** iTunes-only track (bringing total album time to 74:30)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains a fold-out poster, but it features no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Captain America: The First Avenger are Copyright © 2011, Disney/Buena Vista Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/26/11 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2011-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.