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Re: Zimmer, team, alums Pt 6 - RC 2008-10: Supes, Sequels, and Sherlock, oh my! (6b)
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• Posted by: Riley KZ
• Date: Thursday, July 7, 2022, at 12:33 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Zimmer, team, alums Pt 6 - RC 2008-10: Supes, ... (JBlough)

> This is part of a series. The first part of the 2008-10 set is here:

> -----------------------

> The Tudors Season 2 (2008) - ***
> Trevor Morris

> RC discovery #45.

> This maintains the general style of the first season’s music (real
> instruments and voices doing pseudo-medieval stuff + sampled orchestra +
> some King Arthur adjacencies), so if you liked that or James Horner
> in synth mode then you’ll probably like this too. It does add some doom
> & gloom, especially with those gradually building dissonant crescendos
> that became a Media Ventures staple after Gladiator. Nothing’s as
> delightful as the prior season’s An Historic Love. And the album is
> a half hour longer than the first season’s album - granted, that’s still
> way shorter than some late season Vikings music releases, but it
> still makes it an item for series fans or Morris completists only. On the
> flip side, the album did include the cool-sounding end credits piece.

> Army of Two (2008) - **
> Trevor Morris; add’l by Todd Haberman

> This third-person shooter by EA was at the time notable for its campaign
> being designed so that almost every objective required teamwork with a
> partner (either your buddy playing on the other controller or an in-game
> character). Reviews were generally positive, and the franchise would
> produce two follow-up games. Trevor Morris had already done three game
> scores for EA, so it was unsurprising to see his name pop up in the
> credits. This score is yet another that seemed to have few requirements
> save to drag the Bruckheimer music template into games. This maybe leans a
> little more in the Rabin direction, what with the sampled string sounds
> and the edgy rock feel to many tracks.

> It’s not inherently bad or even obnoxious, but you have heard every trick
> in this bag before, and the lack of memorable recurring themes didn’t help
> either, especially when the album’s over an hour long. In 2008 film
> score terms, it’s Vantage Point.

> Deception (2008) - **½
> Ramin Djawadi; uncredited add’l music by Ryeland Allison & Rob
> Simon

> RC discovery #46.

> Never mind that acclaimed actors Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Ewan
> McGregor were in this poorly-reviewed erotic thriller. What the heck was
> acclaimed cinematographer Dante Spinotti (of Heat and L.A.
> Confidential
fame) doing shooting it? At the time, Ramin Djawadi was
> largely known for sound design-adjacent material, something that continued
> with this score. The dominant electronic elements play up the mystery and
> modernity of the film, while piano, solo cello, and acoustic guitar are
> often interspersed for intimacy. Sampled strings occasionally intrude for
> more active moments of tension. If you like atmospheric or textural music,
> the album will probably go down fine - it’s a less dull listening
> experience than the prior year’s Mr. Brooks, and at times is
> basically a less-sophisticated version of a Harry Gregson-Williams
> thriller score. But if you expect music for a film in this genre to have a
> hint of sensuality or femininity, you’ll be disappointed.

> At least the Berklee-trained guitarist got to play all the guitar parts on
> this score, something he wouldn’t get the chance to do on the blockbuster
> he worked on later in the year.

> Iron Man (2008) - ***
> Ramin Djawadi; add’l music & arrangements by Lorne Balfe, Atli
> Örvarsson, Bobby Tahouri, Clay Duncan & Ryeland Allison;
> ambient music design Rob Simon; executive music producer Hans Zimmer;
> orchestrated by Stephen Coleman & Matt Dunkley;
> conducted by Gavin Greenaway; electric guitar Arron Kaplan & Tom
> Morello; electric cello Martin Tillman; drums Ryeland Allison;
> technical composer assistant Jacob Shea; thanks to Bart Hendrickson and
> everyone at Remote Control; special thanks to Heitor Pereira

> “I pretty much liked all the big [comic books] - Superman, Iron Man,
> Spider-Man, The Hulk. When I went back to Germany [in 2007] to visit my
> parents, I found some old Marvel comics in German. I showed them to Jon
> and Kevin and we had a laugh.”

> Never mind thinking about the days before superhero movies dominated
> cinemas. Remember when Marvel Cinematic Universe movies used to
> occasionally be distributed by Paramount? The first film take on the
> somewhat lesser-known (at least relative to Batman, Superman, and
> Spider-Man) comic book character Tony Stark and his Iron Man suit was a
> runaway surprise success, serving as redemption for the career of actor
> Robert Downey Jr., establishing Jon Favreau (probably still better known
> as an actor at this point) as a major director, and setting up producer
> Kevin Feige to become a Hollywood creative titan for the next decade-plus.
> Along with Christopher Nolan’s earlier Batman Begins, it suggested
> a world where superhero movies could take themselves seriously and
> entertain audiences without devolving into large-scale cartoons.

> “Before I saw the trailer or the movie, I assumed it was going to be a
> traditional score - much more orchestral. Then I saw the trailer and
> [Black Sabbath’s] Iron Man song was in there. Jon kept mentioning the idea
> of rock guitars. I loved the idea as it would give us a different tone
> than other superhero movies.”

> Ramin Djawadi was a surprise composer choice. “I heard that they were
> still looking for a composer, and because I’m a big comic fan, I talked to
> my agent, I talked to Hans. I talked to Marvel given my previous
> relationships on Blade [Trinity].”
As with a number of earlier cases
> where a Media Ventures / Remote Control underling was getting an early
> shot as a major lead gig, Hans Zimmer was along as a security blanket for
> nervous studio executives. “Him coming on as a producer was a big part
> of how I got the job. He was very involved in a lot of the meetings. For
> sure there are some Hans-ish elements in this - which I’m proud of.”

> Djawadi would basically play the role of both composer and coordinator of
> a team that prior alums had often done (think Klaus Badelt on
> Pirates or Rupert Gregson-Williams on his first two Dreamworks
> scores). Contributor Ryeland Allison would say he “looked at the
> recklessness of Tony Stark [and] played to some of my strengths and
> embraced more electronic and percussive sounds, as opposed to
> orchestra.”

> Djawadi would encounter similar challenges that Hans had on Batman
> Begins
. First, as with that film’s Batmobile chase scene, most of this
> movie’s edit was constantly changing. “The picture was never locked.
> CGI shots weren’t done until the end. So you’d write rock material and
> then [the picture would change and you’d] realize, ‘no, this should be
> more orchestral.’ A lot of cues I’d record both [approaches]. We kept it
> open as long as we could.”
Second, it was an origin story where the
> superhero doesn’t truly emerge, which led to debates about whether a fully
> formed “hero theme” was even needed. “Rock-based music - a lot of the
> elements are like blocks where you can stack them. Some of the rhythmic
> elements I could just play without the theme, or a shortened version, so
> you don’t give away too much, but at the end you realize, ‘oh, I’ve been
> hearing this all along.’”
For most listeners, the most obvious element
> will be a relentlessly chugging guitar riff, a cool element that served
> the film well but also played to expectations (hammering away at the same
> note was becoming a Remote Control specialty at this point). An actual
> Iron Man theme would emerge in the second half of the film, though (then
> and now) it still oddly feels a bit like a cousin of Danny Elfman’s
> Spider-Man theme.

> Score critics were unusually unkind to this one when it came out (phrases
> like “extremely simplistic” and “aural sludge” were tossed around),
> possibly out of despair as this came the year after Steve Jablonsky’s
> derivative Transformers music and also as it seemed to suggest that
> superhero scores were going to hew close to the Zimmer mould from now on
> (some did, but many didn’t). But in retrospect the score feels more safe
> and stage-managed than outright embarrassing. It’s not a resplendently
> orchestrated work, but then Favreau (who also pushed the sound for the
> later Disney+ series The Mandalorian in an edgier direction) didn’t
> want something like that, and even with that in mind it’s not like we got
> the “unison brass” from a decade prior. It’s a thematic work, even if
> those themes weren’t the most complicated creations, and at least Djawadi
> applied some structural intelligence in making the rhythmic elements for
> Iron Man and the suit-wearing Iron Monger villain similar. The music
> during Tony’s first flight in his suit (Driving With The Top Down
> on the album) counts as a solid guilty pleasure, and the other action
> material makes for a good cross-section of familiar but energetic
> entertainment that definitely stands out in the film (in a positive way)
> and produces quite a few headbanging delights on album.

> “My fear on the electric guitar [was that] you couldn’t play a melody
> on it, because you’d fall into the 80s. The only choice I had was to be
> rhythmic-based and riff-based. I would love to be more thematic [in the
> sequel].”

> Considering that Djawadi was at this point known for sound design-adjacent
> scores (Prison Break, Mr. Brooks, the same year’s
> Deception), Iron Man if nothing else proved he could do
> other things. One could argue he wouldn’t have gotten Game of
> Thrones
without it.

> The album would include some songs played as source music, including a fun
> big band take on the theme from the 1960s animated series about the
> character. “That wasn’t me. That was a friend of Favreau’s: John
> O'Brien.”

I'm glad to see this getting a positive review. Never really understood the hatred for it -- it's simplistic, sure, and the hard rock elements could grate with anyone expecting Georges Delerue, but come on, it's a fuckin' Iron Man score! It's silly, it's swaggery, and it has a fun, hummable theme. I'm just fine with it.


> The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) - ****½
> Harry Gregson-Williams; add’l music by Stephen Barton, Halli Cauthery
> & David Buckley; orchestrated by Ladd McIntosh;
> vocals by Lisbeth Scott; electric violin by Hugh Marsh; ethnic woodwinds
> by Richard Harvey; percussion programming by Hybrid;
> ‘The Call’ arranged & produced by Gregson-Williams & Regina
> Spektor; thank you to Meri Gavin

> “It was pretty cool when I actually got to see what Reepicheep looked
> like. For the most part what I saw was a kind of blue spot where he was
> going to be. I had no idea what he was going to look like.”

> Two and a half years after The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
> took the holiday box office by storm, Disney and director Andrew Adamson
> would push out a sequel that brought the Pevensie children back to the
> world of Narnia. The film would do well enough at the worldwide box
> office, but its domestic numbers were less than its predecessor’s, and
> Adamson would end up leaving the franchise after feeling burned out from
> four-plus years of working on these films. Perhaps the only element of the
> second film that was considered equal or superior to the first film was
> the music by returning composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

> There is a little bit of cut-and-paste going on here, more so than we’d
> heard in the earlier Shrek sequels where Harry had stressed he was
> trying to avoid repeating himself. The vocals from the first film’s train
> travel music return as the kids arrive in Narnia. A creepy scene involving
> the near resurrection of the White Witch (a superfluous moment that tried
> to shoehorn in the best casting decision from the first film into the
> sequel, though it would be topped by an even more bizarre inclusion of the
> character in the next film) would largely reprise the weird-sounding music
> from the first film’s stone table sequence and some of its final battle
> music as well. Other elements of the first film’s battle music would
> inform parts of this entry’s mid-film castle raid sequence.

> Still, “out of 128 minutes of music in Caspian, only 32 of those
> minutes are related thematically to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
> I wanted to do something different with the Narnia theme and the music
> that surrounds the children in the first film.”
For the most part,
> Harry finds interesting ways to revisit his old ideas. Many of the earlier
> Narnia themes are treated to several dour, uncertain, or tentative
> performances in the first half of the film as the children discover a
> different Narnia that’s aged 1200 years, while Peter’s heroic theme (which
> had really evolved into the main franchise theme at this point) gets a
> sensationally bombastic statement in the film’s climax as a river god
> wipes out the remaining enemy forces.

> He also mixes up the sonic universe a bit. Reflecting the darker, less
> wondrous tone of the film, there’s decidedly less of the “new age”
> material that was a significant part of the first film’s score - namely
> the ethereal vocals, the pop-sounding percussion, and the frequent
> electric violin solos (though Hugh Marsh was still part of the ensemble
> here). For those who found these elements to be a frustrating part of
> The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, it made Caspian an
> improvement on the concept. But minimizing them did rob the sequel score
> of some of the prior work’s distinctive flavor. For better or worse, it
> plays as a more “standard” fantasy score, albeit one still very rooted in
> Gregson-Williams’ unique musical voice. Thankfully not gone: all the
> layered vocal work - if you loved what Harry had done with choir for the
> earlier Narnia score or Kingdom of Heaven the same year, you
> were probably going to love it here too.

> Still, where a sequel score often lives or dies is on the strength of its
> new material, and it’s here that Gregson-Williams succeeded in spades.
> “I did find it very difficult at first to find a spot where I could
> feel like I was striking a new chord. The title character of Prince
> Caspian is new to this movie so I dealt first with the eight minute
> opening sequence of the movie. It was pretty essential to me to not start
> with some old theme.”
The new theme for the titular prince kicks off
> the film in thrilling style (Prince Caspian Flees was a highlight
> of Harry’s output in the aughts), and the composer is able to get a good
> amount of mileage out of it, often keeping it in more muted settings in
> the middle of the film before developing it into a more rousing idea as
> the character comes more into his own. “When I first wrote Caspian’s
> theme, it came to me in 3/4 time as opposed to 4/4 time. [Andrew] looked
> at it and I could tell in his mind, ‘That’s a good melody but how the hell
> is that going to work during that eight minute night sequence as Prince
> Caspian is charging away?’ We agreed that if I couldn’t make it work in
> four and [feel] robust and heroic, then it wasn’t the theme for us. I got
> it to work in 4/4 in a kind of driving manner but that’s often the case
> with themes. Especially with a movie like Caspian [with] a hundred and
> twenty-eight minutes of music, you've got to be able to use your theme or
> you are dead.”

> Also showing up are more sinister ideas for the villainous Telmarines and
> their leader Miraz, which gave Gregson-Williams the opportunity to inject
> the work with some structural intelligence. “Miraz is the nemesis and
> the root of all evil whereas the children were on the path of good. So I
> flipped [their] theme over and presto I had a theme for Lord Miraz. But I
> doubt anybody in the world, apart from me, will hear that.”

> And there’s an amusing little idea for the mouse warrior Reepicheep.
> “Obviously it had to be a little bit playful. I wrote his theme quite
> quickly and then it was a case of ‘what instrument shall I play that theme
> on?’ I had, for a long time, thought of a little pennywhistle. We decided
> that it would probably make him a bit too cute. He’s quite a noble mouse
> and in many ways he is rather military. So it seemed to me a trumpet would
> be the best thing. To give it a slightly different flavor, we stuck a mute
> in the trumpet and to accompany that, with some very small parts, col
> legno strings. The wooden parts of the bows are closer to the head on the
> bows so it makes a kind of scratchy wooden sound. It can be used in an
> aggressive way but in this instance it served as a scratchy blissful sound
> to accompany the trumpet.”

> Like the first film’s score, Caspian would see an album release
> covering about half the score, plus a song featuring Regina Spektor, plus
> a few other “inspired by” songs. This was an adequate representation of
> the musical highlights, but the full score would eventually creep online
> via bootlegs possibly sourced from the isolated score feature on the DVD
> release. While hearing the score in full doesn’t quite induce a revelatory
> reevaluation as happened at least for me with The Lion, The Witch and
> the Wardrobe
, it would reveal a few additional sequences that would’ve
> been nice to have released legitimately including the introduction to
> Reepicheep’s theme and the full castle invasion sequence (only half of
> that made the album).

> Michael Apted took over the directing reins for the third film in the
> series and brought along his usual composer David Arnold. Score fans had
> mixed feelings about this. Arnold would end up composing a score that was
> considered by some to be one of the high points of film music in 2010, but
> others would lament the departure from the style Gregson-Williams had
> already established and the missed opportunity to let him finish what he
> started.

Yeah, it's awesome. Really wish he had stayed on board for Part 3, which I still think is a really overrated score.


> Kung Fu Panda (2008) - ****½
> Hans Zimmer & John Powell; add’l music by Henry Jackman & James
> McKee Smith; orchestrations by John Ashton Thomas,
> Dave Metzger, Kevin Kleisch, John A. Coleman, Jane Antonia Cornish, Jake
> Parker & Germaine Franco; add’l overdubs by
> James S. Levine; conducted by Gavin Greenaway; thank you’s to Ryeland
> Allison & Jacob Shea

> Another Dreamworks Animation movie with talking animals in the
> aughts meant another smash success that spawned multiple sequels,
> television specials, and series - though Kung Fu Panda still
> remains beloved for its gorgeous visuals, kinetic action scenes, and all
> star voice cast, as well as for perhaps being the rare hit Dreamworks film
> from this decade that eschewed humor based on pop culture references.
> Composer John Powell had basically been fired from Shrek
> mid-production by studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg and hadn’t been back in
> the Dreamworks or Remote Control worlds since. Zimmer would apparently
> call up Powell and ask him if he’d like another go at it. “Jeffrey was
> very kind and let me back into the fold. By that point I’d calmed
> down.”

> The resulting collaboration, as with Zimmer’s co-composition efforts with
> James Newton Howard on the Batman films, definitely would exhibit
> elements of both composer’s respective styles (this one feels something
> like 40% a Zimmer score and 60% a Powell score) but still end up with a
> whole that was fairly coherent. Powell would claim they’d pass around
> different ideas, just as he had done with Harry Gregson-Williams on the
> earlier Antz and Chicken Run scores. “Maybe I’d fix the
> nebulousness of something, or make it way smaller, or twice as fast. We
> were always kind of each other’s arranger and confidante - you need
> somebody who tells you something will be good but at that moment it’s
> stupid.”

> There’s a deft balance in this score between its various modes that I
> think really nailed and even helped enhance the tone of the film; it’s
> playful without being overly goofy or heavy on the slapstick - Powell
> would claim they had to be “a little careful about comedy music in
> that”
- and yet it’s counterbalanced by multiple moments of choral
> wonder and dramatic resonance. And the thematic core here is just aces,
> with multiple ideas (the “spiritual” tune for China and kung fu in
> general, the bouncy idea for the panda protagonist, the fanfare for the
> Furious Five fighters) being highly memorable and subject to a lot of
> impressive variations. The integration of a Western orchestra along with
> Eastern solo instruments isn’t perhaps as masterful as the earlier The
> Promise
, but it’s the next best thing (think of this work as that
> score’s more lighthearted cousin). Dreamworks Animation scores had been
> exuberant and energetic before, but they’d rarely been this gorgeously
> realized.

> I used to knock the electronic elements that show up in some of the
> villain tracks for, like, reasons I guess? They don’t really seem that
> jarring anymore - they’re not a perfectly clean fit with the soundscape,
> but they aren’t disruptive or abrasive.

Definitely don't love these ones as much as others around here.


> Get Smart (2008) - **1/2
> Trevor Rabin; add’l music by Paul Linford; orchestrated by Gordon
> Goodwin, Tom Calderaro & Rabin; conducted by Goodwin

> “Because I grew up in South Africa, I had heard of it but never saw it.
> But when I was going to be interviewed for the project, I really immersed
> myself in the whole thing, got the entire series and watched that a couple
> of times. I found it to be hilarious.”

> RC discovery #47.

> Looking back, it is astonishing how big of a decade the aughts was for
> studios adapting 1960s and 1970s television series into films. Rocky
> and Bullwinkle
. I Spy. Scooby Doo. S.W.A.T. Will
> Ferrell had Bewitched and Land of the Lost, critical
> and commercial failures both. Even Underdog got a movie! Get
> Smart
, an adaptation of Mel Brooks’ spy sitcom, got mixed reviews
> (though those made it a smash critical success compared to most of the
> others) but did stupendously well at the summer box office, due in part to
> the burgeoning stardom of actor Steve Carell in the wake of The
> Office
and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

> Rabin had done the music for the comedic action franchise National
> Treasure
, and for this action comedy he would somewhat channel the
> feel of those scores. “I thought it made the movie funnier by playing
> most of it straight and only occasionally playing the comedy comedically,
> musically speaking.”
As a result, we get Rabin’s trademark “are those
> real or not?” strings, as well as some Thomas Newman-adjacent material
> that makes me wonder if American Beauty was in the temp. Even the
> brass feels sampled at times, which probably helped with the comedy but
> does make the album listening experience feel unnecessarily cheap.

> Rabin did incorporate the theme from the original TV series by Irving
> Szathmary into several tracks. “I thought it was important to find a
> contemporary way of doing it without losing the essence of the original
> theme.”
Some of these (namely the Look tracks that seem to be
> demos) are quite goofy, as if Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song (the
> ah-ah ah vocal line) were being adapted into the Pink Panther
> sequels by Henry Mancini - I imagine this will be distracting for
> listeners who pick up on either influence.

> The score is basically the Rabin equivalent of what Elmer Bernstein did
> for comedies in the 1980s - take your action/adventure style and put it in
> funny films. Its album is fun enough despite its familiarity and sonic
> palette, even if it’s also a bit schizophrenic and perhaps only suited for
> those already enamored with Rabin’s distinctive style.

Hate to say it, but I would agree with this rating. It's not very good.


> Hancock (2008) - ***½
> John Powell; add’l music & programming by James McKee Smith, John
> Ashton Thomas & Henry Jackman;
> orchestrated by John Ashton Thomas; add’l orchestrations by Kevin Kliesch,
> Dave Metzger, Randy Kerber, Brad Dechter,
> Germaine Franco & Jane Cornish; conducted by Pete Anthony, Don Harper
> & Blake Neely; add’l percussion by
> Satnam Ramgotra; music production coordinator Germaine Franco; album
> edited & compiled by Daniel Lerner;
> Michael Mollo as Powell’s assistant; thank you to Hans Zimmer

> In the days before the superhero industrial complex had taken over
> Hollywood, along came Hancock, a movie about an alcoholic superhero
> with a script that had been in development hell for over a decade. An
> audacious, rude advertising campaign and the still-strong stardom of Will
> Smith ensured audiences would show up in droves, though no one was quite
> prepared for the mid-film shift to an origin story / doomed romance plot,
> and today it’s only really known for being a curious final entry in
> Smith’s decade-plus summer box office dominance. John Powell’s score,
> somewhat reflecting the all-over-the-place film, covers a lot of ground
> stylistically. Gospel/blues tones appear, as do small-scale acoustic
> ensembles Powell had played with on occasion since I Am Sam. The
> snazzy action mannerisms of Paycheck are here, sometimes bolstered
> by the orchestral ruckus from X-Men: The Last Stand. Bourne
> drums pop up every so often. These elements are largely disparate, though
> their occasional collisions are riotously entertaining, namely in the
> major action setpieces (Hollywood Blvd and the unused SUV
> Chase
) and the finale.

> The score isn’t exactly coherent; it’s more a sample platter of everything
> Powell was known for in live action films at the time. But its long-lined
> main themes are very good, and as Powell had often done they seem less
> connected to individual characters and more to overarching ideas, which
> allows for a significant amount of variation throughout the film.
> Considering the plot shifts in the film and the inclusion of a number of
> pop songs, Powell probably did as well as anyone could with the score.
> Expect to return to a handful of highlight tracks regularly. The album
> would include around 75% of the score, though it would omit much of the
> bank fight music from the middle of the movie that included an almost
> parodic nod to John Williams’ Superman.

Agreed. Doesn't really gel but the highlights are fantastic. Those last two cues I've listened to a stupid amount.

> -----------------------

> Next time: “Sid and Nancy”

....I'm racking my brain but have no clue what this could allude to haha

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