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Thor: The Dark World
Composed, Co-Conducted, and Produced by:
Brian Tyler

Co-Conducted by:
Allan Wilson

Performed by:
The Philharmonic Orchestra of London

The London Philharmonic Orchestra

Hollywood Records/
Intrada Records

Release Date:
November 5th, 2013

Also See:
Iron Man 3
Children of Dune
The Avengers

Audio Clips:
1. Thor: The Dark World (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

3. Asgard (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

7. Into Eternity (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

8. Escaping the Realm (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release. The CD was released a week after the digital version.


Thor: The Dark World

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Buy it... if you appreciated Brian Tyler's approach to Iron Man 3 and are enthused by the composer's ability to provide massively ballsy action and fantasy tones with an organically recorded ensemble and no heavy processing.

Avoid it... if you lament the inexplicable abandonment of Patrick Doyle's thematic identities from the previous film, an indefensible choice by Tyler that is exacerbated by the generic nature of his own themes for the character and concept.

Thor: The Dark World: (Brian Tyler) Another half a billion dollars awaited the eighth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it has come to be known, when Thor: The Dark World hit the screens in 2013. The second of Thor's solo ventures in this franchise, this movie shifts focus from Earth to the Norse mythology home world of Asgard, where a plethora of relational problems exist spanning eons of time and involving nothing less that mystical weaponry, suspended animation, and deceptive personification. This universe combines the mythological aspects of the past with the science fiction elements of the future, providing the Marvel realm with its sole pure avenue of exploring either. Because Thor is a god-like force and the other heroes from the comics are humans in glitzy suits, a movie like Thor: The Dark World can use the word "dark" in its title as a license to steal some dirtiness and outrageousness from the Batman franchise and shift it to another planet. Audiences soaked it up, of course, making this entry one of the better received and profitable ones in the Marvel series. Gone was director Kenneth Branagh, however, and with him composer Patrick Doyle. Incoming director Alan Taylor tapped Carter Burwell to write the music for Thor: The Dark World, an intriguing choice after that composer's evolving action sound for the Twilight franchise. But Burwell was reportedly forced out of the production by the studio and replaced with a safe workhorse of the genre, Brian Tyler, who had already lent his talents to Iron Man 3. The constant rotation of composers in these Marvel films has absolutely devastated any chance for the series to maintain a consistent sound in its music, with only Alan Silvestri having carried over a theme from one film to another. Tyler, like Doyle, has proven capable of satisfying studio executives by adapting his musical style to serve expectations built by the Hans Zimmer/Remote Control operation while not completely abandoning orchestral traditions. The score by Doyle for 2011's Thor, in fact, is an engaging merging of those techniques, albeit heavier on the side of orchestral nuance. Tyler claims to have taken a completely different approach to the concept given the change of location in the story, opting instead for a far more overbearing fantasy tone, still symphonic but strongly influenced by the qualities of today's more common blockbuster scores.

Tyler has stepped into the middle of franchises several times in the past, sometimes recognizing existing themes (Rambo, Final Destination) while at other times only alluding to their demeanor or style and branching off in his own direction (Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem, The Fast and the Furious). In the case of Thor: The Dark World, Tyler makes two decisions about the direction the music should take; one of these decisions yielded solid results while the other is nonsensical and disappointing. First, however, the positive: Tyler must be commended for his ability to force the Remote Control sound back into the orchestral realm, no easy task. The irony of all the efforts of Hans Zimmer and his offshoots and ghostwriters is the fact that much of the sound yielded from their electronic manipulation of live recordings can actually be produced organically. Tyler has proven this capability before, including in Iron Man 3, a surprisingly decent symphonic venture, and shows in Thor: The Dark World that all the pounding bass-heavy muscularity of the average Remote Control-inspired score can really be generated using the proper application of brass and percussion. It's interesting to compare this Tyler music to the concurrent output of Steve Jablonsky for Ender's Game, the latter an exercise in tired stupidity and generic regurgitation. Both works rely upon incredibly simple and repetitive thematic constructs, overbearing muscularity, and mournful female vocals that are spoon-fed directly to the raging hormones of the listeners, but whereas Jablonsky offers no complexity of surrounding activity to the soundscape, Tyler takes those basic ingredients and layers them with effective counterpoint and organic performances. The percussion element seems to be an area of pride for Tyler, his own performances tending towards more ancient-sounding drums rather than snare or sampled alternatives. Most importantly, Tyler doesn't bother with distracting electronic manipulation of his recordings to achieve desired results. While the end of "Into Eternity" does seemingly have some unusual vocal emphasis, the rest of this score is the kind of almost nonstop bravado that could be performed live by an ensemble without the need for any overlays. Some listeners will despise the unyieldingly ballsy and repetitive tone of this work and reject it much like they did Iron Man 3, but kudos absolutely have to be given to Tyler for at least attempting to preserve some dying semblances of Jerry Goldsmith's mannerisms in an era when frightfully dumb action film music is being accepted by the mainstream.

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Then there is the downside of this score: Tyler's inexplicable decision to abandon Doyle's themes from the first film. In his defense, Tyler has claimed that the different look and feel of Thor: The Dark World, along with its even greater fantasy emphasis, necessitated the increased size of the score's sound but also the elimination of Doyle's identity. This is nonsense, and Tyler should know that. He has been writing long enough now to realize that nearly any identity can be manipulated to serve a different purpose. What served Thor as a young man can still function for him as an adult, but in different, evolving ways. Anyone can listen to Doyle's various versions of his cue, "Thor Kills the Destroyer," and realize the potential for Tyler to run with it. Instead, Tyler decided to provide a new, very simple set of themes for the sequel, ones utilizing juvenile progressions that are masked by their extensive orchestrations. The main theme for Thor: The Dark World is worthy of some eye rolls, its anthemic performances blasting away countless times in full (often with choir) during the score. The tender portions featuring female vocals by two soloists are a lesser translation of this theme's same basic progressions, all of these aspects reminiscent of the main theme from Tyler's outstanding Children of Dune. The amount of beef may be greater in these renditions, but essentially half of Thor: The Dark World is constructed on ideas originally set forth in that popular 2003 television project, relating it to, of all things, Partition as well. While Tyler has insisted that there are several secondary themes at work in the 2013 score, it's difficult to really distinguish any of them outside of a sneaky string and harp motif for Thor's troublesome brother, Loki. That's because every idea in this work is blown so out of proportion that any nuances within the constructs are destined to be lost. Not all of this emphasis on simplicity is negative, however. At least Tyler knows how to hit the guilty pleasure points effectively, "Into Eternity" an outstanding fantasy cue. Likewise, his incorporation of the Captain America theme by Silvestri into "An Unlikely Alliance" is a nice touch. His recording of a new Marvel Studios logo fanfare is also a highlight, featuring a motif arguably better than anything in this score. The lack of Doyle's themes in Thor: The Dark World is a deal-breaker for some listeners, and Tyler's explanations on this matter are inadequate. But you have to appreciate what Tyler has done with this score and Iron Man 3 to wrestle the series back into the orchestral realm while instilling the masculinity that a composer like Silvestri cannot supply. Ultimately, that push for organic brawn edges out the deficiencies of the thematic constructs and allows for this score to receive a higher rating. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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: 3.53 Stars
Smart Average: 3.39 Stars*
***** 112 
**** 123 
*** 90 
** 54 
* 36 
  (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 (1:38 p.m.)
   Re: Lack of Doyle's Themes
  Phil -- 3/10/14 (5:23 a.m.)
   Re: Lack of Doyle's Themes
  AhN -- 1/7/14 (7:57 p.m.)
   Re: Lack of Doyle's Themes
  Ryan W. -- 1/7/14 (7:16 a.m.)
   Re: Lack of Doyle's Themes
  Edmund Meinerts -- 1/6/14 (2:40 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 77:32

• 1. Thor: The Dark World (2:10)
• 2. Lokasenna (2:31)
• 3. Asgard (1:55)
• 4. Battle of Vanaheim (1:39)
• 5. Origins (3:49)
• 6. The Trial of Loki (2:38)
• 7. Into Eternity (3:40)
• 8. Escaping the Realm (3:53)
• 9. A Universe from Nothing (2:20)
• 10. Untouchable (4:08)
• 11. Thor, Son of Odin (1:51)
• 12. Shadows of Loki (2:25)
• 13. Sword and Council (3:46)
• 14. Invasion of Asgard (2:59)
• 15. Betrayal (4:02)
• 16. Journey to Asgard (2:17)
• 17. Uprising (2:35)
• 18. Vortex (2:20)
• 19. An Unlikely Alliance (3:47)
• 20. Convergence (3:42)
• 21. Beginning of the End (5:20)
• 22. Deliverance (2:21)
• 23. Battle Between Worlds (3:29)
• 24. As the Hammer Falls (2:40)
• 25. Legacy (4:08)
• 26. Marvel Studios Fanfare (0:29)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Thor: The Dark World are Copyright © 2013, Hollywood Records/ Intrada 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 12/28/13 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2013-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.