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Composed and Co-Orchestrated by:

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
James Shearman

Produced by:
Maggie Rodford

Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra
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Buena Vista Records
(May 3rd, 2011)
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Regular U.S. release.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if the current Hans Zimmer/Remote Control methodology of scoring a summer blockbuster drives you nuts and you've waited years for someone like Patrick Doyle to intellectually translate that sound into a clever and resounding symphonic environment.

Avoid it... if, as in The Last Airbender and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from the previous year, you lack the patience to dig deeply into a complicated fantasy score to discover its subtle riches.
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WRITTEN 5/6/11
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Thor: (Patrick Doyle) Despite the box office success of Marvel Comics properties on the big screen over the past decade, the production development of many of those concepts has languished in a perpetual state of disarray. Suffering foremost from these delays and endless shifts in crew has been Thor, though after the character's cameo at the end of Iron Man 2 and finally some coordinated efforts to bring the Marvel universe together for The Avengers in the 2010's, the legend of the god of thunder finally slams his famous hammer to reasonably positive critical response in 2011. The plot of the film essentially introduces the character and the mythical kingdom of Asgard from which he is banished by his father for recklessness. Sent to Earth by King Odin (none other than Anthony Hopkins), one of the realms under the kingdom's protection, Thor and his hammer are the topic of interest by not only government operatives (wormholes spitting people out on our planet are indeed curious) but also a scientist in the form of Natalie Portman (vulnerable superheroes need their squeeze). Only when Thor proves his worthiness can he lift his hammer and wield his godly powers, and he does so just in time to confront his brother, who has taken it upon himself to engage in some double-dealing in order to win his father's affections away from Thor and rule Asgard. As expected, the film leaves open the door for future plotlines with a hidden scene after the credits. While the sequences on Earth left some critics cold, the battles between Asgard and the villains, the Frost Giants, were generally well-received. Perhaps some of the film's artistic merits can be attributed to Kenneth Branagh, the English actor/director who made his fame adapting Shakespearean tales in the 1990's but has toiled with more obscure projects throughout the 2000's. Branagh salvaged the production rather late in the process, and an expected but equally intriguing revelation was the director's decision to stay loyal to composer Patrick Doyle for Thor's original music. Fans of blockbuster superhero movies have a right to be suspicious of the studio back and forth that ensues in these situations, especially given what happened when another composer known mostly for sophisticated symphonic music, Mychael Danna, was brought on board in a similar situation because of an existing collaboration (2003's Hulk). Even Doyle reportedly found himself initially outside of his comfort zone when approaching Thor, recognizing that the rhythmic loops, string ostinato's, and slammed percussion of today's blockbuster sound, one defined by Hans Zimmer's minions at Remote Control, was not in his musical vocabulary.

While unfamiliar with this specific territory, Doyle has cranked out his fair share of beefy action scores despite his reputation as an accomplished romance and drama composer. His music for Frankenstein and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire remain solid favorites of his collecting base, and Eragon and The Last Legion may exist out of the same spotlight but are also dependable four-star experiences. There was much hope that Doyle, despite studio and producer pressure to modernize his sound, would finally transcend into unquestioned five-star territory for Thor, and judging from the reaction of fans and some other critics, he has failed to avail himself of that opportunity. In reality, though, Thor receives the kind of music that suffers from the letdown associated with missing unreasonably high expectations, and for what it is, the score is quite commendable intellectually and entertaining in its highlights. Much has been made of Doyle's easily apparent, reportedly forced attempt to adapt the Zimmer/RC methodologies into this score, some going so far as to claim that he sacrificed the integrity of his musical style in order to satisfy a larger trend that involves the use of "dumbed down" music for these kinds of situations. On the other hand, though, when you compare what Doyle accomplished for Thor to Alexandre Desplat's recent refusal to significantly adapt his style to fit the Harry Potter franchise, you have to admire Doyle's flexibility. While Doyle enthusiasts may bellyache that there aren't enough of his own tendencies in Thor, along with too much RC-related simplicity, there is in fact a decent amount of Doyle style to hear in this score, and in many ways, the composer emulated James Newton Howard's take on the RC style rather than the Zimmer drones themselves. The score that comes to mind the most in this regard is Howard's The Last Airbender, which similarly intellectualizes some common RC traits. Likewise, Doyle takes the symphonic route, only occasionally enhancing the soundscape (and mostly deep bass) with synthetic overlays; familiar Doyle electronic tones early in "The Compound" yield to a Jerry Goldsmith/The Shadow-like pace-setter at 4:27 into that cue. All of the looped percussion and string techniques you usually hear overwrought in scores like Transformers and Iron Man are orchestrated traditionally, with outstanding results. A plethora of clanging metallic percussion (worthy of the title character and his hammer) accompanies rhythmic sequences very similar to The Last Airbender. Occasional vocal accents grace the score, including a solemn, subtle soloist in the seldom-heard but beautiful secondary theme for Odin and deep choral accompaniment of a grave, melodramatic nature in "Banishment" and others.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.46 Stars
***** 222 5 Stars
**** 267 4 Stars
*** 201 3 Stars
** 119 2 Stars
* 87 1 Stars
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Alternate Review at Best Original Scores
orion_mk3 - March 4, 2015, at 12:36 p.m.
1 comment  (1079 views)
Fantastic Score
Brent - December 4, 2011, at 11:39 p.m.
1 comment  (1736 views)
Another Winner From Doyle
JoukoYli-Kiikka - July 18, 2011, at 4:32 a.m.
1 comment  (1859 views)
Underrated score
Richard Kleiner - June 25, 2011, at 9:42 p.m.
1 comment  (2053 views)
Adrian - May 8, 2011, at 7:57 p.m.
1 comment  (2389 views)
Good, I'm not insane
Paul - May 7, 2011, at 4:49 p.m.
1 comment  (2396 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 71:55
• 1. Chasing the Storm (3:11)
• 2. Prologue (3:09)
• 3. Sons of Odin (1:48)
• 4. A New King (3:01)
• 5. Ride to Observatory (2:10)
• 6. To Jotunheim (2:19)
• 7. Laufey (3:40)
• 8. Frost Giant Battle (4:22)
• 9. Banishment (1:53)
• 10. Crisis in Asgard (2:19)
• 11. Odin Confesses (2:43)
• 12. Hammer Found (1:11)
• 13. Urgent Matter (2:21)
• 14. The Compound (7:40)
• 15. Loki's Lie (1:54)
• 16. My Bastard Son (2:39)
• 17. Science and Magic (2:53)
• 18. The Destroyer (2:57)
• 19. Forgive Me (2:40)
• 20. Thor Kills the Destroyer (1:53)
• 21. Brothers Fight (6:59)
• 22. Letting Go (3:17)
• 23. Can You See Jane? (2:23)
• 24. Earth to Asgard (2:33)

Notes Icon
The insert includes notes from both the composer and director about the film and score.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Thor are Copyright © 2011, Buena Vista Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/6/11 (and not updated significantly since).
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