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Iron Man 3
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Brian Tyler

Performed by:
The London Philharmonic Orchestra

Hollywood Records

Release Date:
April 30th, 2013

Also See:
Iron Man
Iron Man 2
The Avengers

Audio Clips:
1. Iron Man 3 (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

6. New Beginnings (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

8. Stark (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

10. The Mandarin (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Regular U.S. release.


Iron Man 3
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Buy it... if you continue to appreciate Brian Tyler's ability to combine popular power anthem techniques and vibrant orchestral tradition into a thematically satisfying package.

Avoid it... if you demand either intellectual depth or musical continuity with the rock influences of the prior Iron Man scores, Tyler blazing a new trail with traditional functionality rather than stylish artistry as his goal.

Iron Man 3: (Brian Tyler) Proving itself once again the most popular individual facet of the Marvel cinematic universe based upon the company's popular comic series, "Iron Man" skyrocketed to over another billion dollars of international grosses with its third solo installment, Iron Man 3, in 2013. Wrangling between Paramount and Disney delayed this third entry in this character's sub-franchise for a year, but that didn't stop critics and audiences alike from admiring this improvement over its 2010 predecessor and specifically praising the better representation of hero Tony Stark in his efforts to thwart yet another demented villain with competing technology. In Iron Man 3, the long awaited appearance of the "Mandarin" leads to a showdown in which Stark and his sidekick, Iron Patriot, combat the creator of a regenerative medicinal agent who tests his experimental techniques on American veteran soldiers and eventually targets the President of the United States. Continued development between Stark and his love interest, Pepper, is explored concurrently to the investigation and eventual confrontation with the "Extremis" villains of the tale, fronted by some misdirection by the ever-awesome Ben Kingsley. Enthusiasts of the Mandarin character from the comics will likely be disappointed, however, by the lack of loyalty to the foe's established parameters from the comics. The Iron Man films experienced a transition in leadership with the third entry, director Jon Favreau handing the reigns over to veteran screenwriter Shane Black. With this change came a revision of the musical identity of the franchise, which had been defined by its wretched, failed marriage of rock and symphonic sensibilities in prior films. After an inexcusably poor effort by Ramin Djawadi for Iron Man, acclaimed Hollywood "score fixer" John Debney stepped in for Iron Man 2 and didn't fare much better, his attempts to infuse more robust orchestral elements into the equation hindered by an intentional hybrid approach that included direct contributions from the rock sector. With Alan Silvestri forcing old fashioned symphonic heroism into the more recent Marvel adaptations, Iron Man 3 seemingly follows a similar path by choice, the hiring of Brian Tyler allowing the masculine sound of the Hans Zimmer power anthem craze to be adapted into the traditional orchestral realm that Silvestri represents.

It should be no surprise that the scores in the Iron Man sub-franchise have improved in quality as they have sought to increasingly reinvest in traditional super-hero scoring techniques. Tyler was an excellent choice for this assignment, for he is among the few of the younger, 2000's generation of film composers to be able to access the most satisfying appeals of the Zimmer power anthem techniques and apply them in the context of proven orchestral dynamism that is not obsessed only with bass-dwelling instrumentation and mixes. The sonic palette for Iron Man 3 is ambitiously symphonic, minus an obvious role for woodwinds (as per usual for this context) but featuring Tyler's typical affinity for a wide range of percussive contributions. There is a fair amount of low string chopping to be heard here, and the brass is certainly led by its lower ranges, but adequate violin, trumpet, and high clanging percussion (including a tambourine) keep the overall sonic spectrum addressed well. The role of electronics is intriguingly limited, Tyler unfortunately unable, however, to resist the "sinking feeling effect," a descending bass tone, and some rambling background synthetic loops that at times attempt to resurrect Basil Poledouris' bass thumping (at other times, it's more squishy and resembles James Horner's effects for The Amazing Spider-Man). Electric guitar and other outward rock influences are tasteful and minimal, "Dive Bombers" concluding with a brief sequence of obvious coolness and the "Can You Dig It" end titles sequence an intentional throwback (one of those that straddles the line between tremendous fun and outrageous hideousness). A choir is utilized sparingly to augment a handful of the most fantastic sequences. In execution, Tyler's score is performed enthusiastically by the London ensemble but rarely exudes a sense of elegance due to a lack of obvious romanticism (having no love theme doesn't help) and an awkward absence of truly bold counterpoint lines. Tyler is one of the few composers active during this time who can take the brooding Zimmer power mode and infuse the style of Jerry Goldsmith and David Arnold into it, and while you hear Tyler accomplish this intelligent balance at times, much of the score's non-fanfare moments play like an extension of James Newton Howard's Salt. With the exception of "New Beginnings" and the throw-away "Dr. Wu" cue, little of Tyler's own unique past can be heard; rather, much of Iron Man 3 follows anthem-reliant techniques more common to Battle: Los Angeles, which by default puts him into more of a technically functional role than an artistic one.

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While the Iron Man franchise has never enjoyed thematic continuity in its music (a concept that comes at an extreme premium in an era witnessing the exit of John Williams), it's never too early to start employing dynamic musical identities for a concept's characters. Debney's score for the previous film, while inept in its whole, at least provided the primary characters with interesting themes. Both Debney and Tyler pay intentional or unintentional dues to the brainless minor-third pounding that existed in Djawadi's painful score, though Tyler thankfully keeps such usage to a few blatantly token moments in his score. He ignores Debney's identities, however, and devises major new themes for the heroes and villains in Iron Man 3. Stark receives his own power anthem heard frequently in Tyler's work, satisfyingly muscular if not strangely incomplete, and while the theme doesn't ever achieve musical resolution, it does feature a long and outstanding set of secondary phrases. The alternating between major and minor chords is a welcome tactic in any superhero score. The composer references this identity for the interactions with Pepper rather than conjure a distinct love theme, countering several bombastic performances during action sequences with a rather upbeat, more Tyler-like variant in the great finale, "New Beginnings." The villains' theme in Iron Man 3 is played well despite its anonymous progressions, its sinister five-note phrase introduced in "The Mandarin" before being explored extensively (with appropriately vague Eastern instrumental accents at times) near the end of "Heat and Iron," the beginning of "Another Lesson From Mandy," and in fuller action mode throughout "Return." These two themes don't mingle as well as hoped, but in a franchise with so much trouble enunciating anything musically, Tyler's approach still works. While on the whole there is room for improvement in the score, you have to look at Iron Man 3 as a significant improvement over the previous music in this specific series, and kudos are warranted for Tyler's continuing ability to reference popular power anthem devices without becoming brainless in his handling of an orchestra. He has become one of the truly effective crossover composers, ready to kick ass in today's world but mindful of Goldsmithian traditions. As usual, however, his album arrangement largely defeats his gains when considering the music out of context. This score is strong enough to merit a long album, but the lack of chronological ordering is even more detrimental this time around. Tyler, for all his immense talent and personality, needs to lose these bizarre presentation rearrangements and let his narratives shine. In this case, that narrative, when placed in proper order, is strong enough to earn a fourth star. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: ****
    Music as Heard on Album: ***
    Overall: ****

Bias Check:For Brian Tyler reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.28 (in 26 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.06 (in 13,568 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.25 Stars
Smart Average: 3.18 Stars*
***** 88 
**** 102 
*** 104 
** 69 
* 51 
  (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 (1:31 p.m.)
   FVSR Reviews Iron Man 3
  Brendan Cochran -- 10/19/14 (8:07 p.m.)
   Still Not Impressed
  Ed -- 6/14/13 (1:20 p.m.)
   Re: New Beginnings
  Edmund Meinerts -- 5/20/13 (4:37 a.m.)
   New Beginnings
  Dave Norlin -- 5/19/13 (10:02 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 75:53

• 1. Iron Man 3 (2:23)
• 2. War Machine (7:18)
• 3. Attack on 10880 Malibu Point (4:35)
• 4. Isolation (2:00)
• 5. Dive Bombers (2:24)
• 6. New Beginnings (3:54)
• 7. Extremis (5:06)
• 8. Stark (4:31)
• 9. Leverage (2:15)
• 10. The Mandarin (2:36)
• 11. Heat and Iron (5:42)
• 12. Misfire (3:26)
• 13. Culmination (2:29)
• 14. The Mechanic (3:43)
• 15. Hot Pepper (4:41)
• 16. Another Lesson From Mandy (2:56)
• 17. Dr. Wu (2:41)
• 18. Return (6:20)
• 19. Battle Finale (3:57)
• 20. Can You Dig It (Iron Man 3 Main Titles) (2:42)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film. Some copies of the CD suffer from a manufacturing malfunction that causes the final two or three tracks to be inaccessible.

  All artwork and sound clips from Iron Man 3 are Copyright © 2013, Hollywood 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 5/19/13 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2013-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.