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  • Composed by Tom Holkenborg
  • Milan / 2016 / 68m

Set in the X-Men universe, Deadpool has been many years in development and finally here starring Ryan Reynolds in the title role.  Director Tim Miller’s film has attracted some attention thanks to its humour and breaking of the fourth wall, not to mention its foul-mouthed screenplay, and even though reviews have been generally OK but a little mixed, a sequel has already been greenlit.

Sometimes people accuse me of picking faults in things rather than focusing on the positives, so I’ll start by going through the good things about the soundtrack album.  It starts off in grand style with the classic 1981 recording of “Angel in the Morning” by country-rock singer Juice Newton.  Yes, the song’s production shows its age, but Newton belts it out with such vigour and the tune’s so pretty, it’s easy to forgive that and don’t be at all surprised if you find yourself singing along.  What a great start to the album!

Neil Sedaka

Neil Sedaka

The best is yet to come though – track eight is the great Neil Sedaka’s top-five hit single from 1961 “Calendar Girl”.  Sedaka, let’s remember, was not the first man to set foot on the moon – that was another Neil, Mr Armstrong – but it’s very easy to let one’s mind drift and imagine what Sedaka’s first words might have been had indeed he taken that small step – or was it a giant leap? – in 1969.  I like to think he’d have sung a medley of his hits – beginning of course with “Oh! Carol” and perhaps even including a cover version or two.  I guess all this will have to remain pure speculation because I must admit I have not corresponded personally with Mr Sedaka on this particular topic.

So, two classic songs, not bad going at all.  There are some other tracks on the album too, around 45 minutes’ worth of which are composed by Tom Holkenborg.  These are characterised by a series of very loud noises, often occurring within very close proximity with one another, largely performed by “retro” synths in an attempt to be cool (maybe they’re retro for a reason).  The famous and much beloved HORN OF DOOM makes a series of appearances, along with some attempted power anthems which neither have power nor are anthemic.  I suppose there must be a group of people out there who would find it entertaining – but if you’d like to try out a similar experience yet don’t feel willing to take the risk of buying the album, perhaps you could ask one of your friends to tighten your head in a vice and then drop a large metal object – an ocean liner, say – onto it.

The score is soulless and colourless,: the incessant obnoxious noise-filled action cues are entirely generic and the occasional attempts to do something different or emotional sound like they could be from a low-budget daytime tv show.  I don’t get it, I really don’t: it goes all over the place, lacks any cohesion, the only real “concept” behind it seems to have been “wouldn’t it be cool if we recreated the synth sound from Michael Jackson’s Beat It?” (answer: not if you do it like this) – how could something which sounds like this end up in a major 2016 film?  That’s no personal slight against the composer, who I’m sure did his best, but it’s depressing really; still, focus on the positives: after the last track of score, on comes George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” and I can honestly say there is nobody in history who will ever have been more relieved to hear that song.

Rating: No stars | |

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  1. Jonathan Ammon (Reply) on Friday 12 February, 2016 at 21:45

    Grand. Colossal. Epic. This review made me laugh out loud.

  2. OPMac (Reply) on Saturday 13 February, 2016 at 01:12

    So I assume you’re not thrilled by the prospect of Holkenborg doing Batman v Superman? LOL

    Also James, just wanted to know, what would you consider the worst superhero score ever? Deadpool, Cap 2 or Iron man?

    • Rory (Reply) on Friday 18 May, 2018 at 19:01

      He’s said a couple times (Age of Extinction is one if I recall) that Winter Soldier is “the worst film score in living memory.” So probably that.

      • James Southall (Reply) on Saturday 19 May, 2018 at 08:30

        Yeah, probably Winter Soldier. Iron Man perhaps more significantly bad given it was the first film in the series and so could have set the tone for what followed, but Winter Soldier is just awful.

        • Jules on Sunday 20 May, 2018 at 09:42

          That really surprises me. I think Winter Soldier is not a bad score at all, whereas this one actively irritates me.

          I think maybe the synthetic orchestra sound can work when used appropriately, and I really like tracks like “Project Insight”, “Smithsonian” (this one admittedly just recycles Silverstri’s fantastic theme), “End of the Line”. I don’t even mind the Winter Soldier’s theme.

          However, I am someone who tends to enjoy music based on the film itself first (with many exceptions). This score for me really works for the film: the conspiracy thriller elements and the mix of the American fanfare style and modern action music. I can definitely see how you find it boring to listen to though.

  3. SivakumarK (Reply) on Saturday 13 February, 2016 at 03:41

    Maybe Tom thought Colossus was the titular character.
    I have a very bad feeling about BvS.

  4. Brendan Cochran (Reply) on Saturday 13 February, 2016 at 04:43

    Hey I feel you on this one. It’s different. He’s doing something that probably makes sense for Deadpool as a character. I’ll judge more when I see the film, but you’re right to be confused about how different this music sounds.

  5. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Saturday 13 February, 2016 at 11:35

    Is it that “different” though, Brendan, or is it the usual collection of Man of Steel drums, faux-retro electronics and horns of doom that we’ve come to expect from Mr. XL?

  6. Chris Avis (Reply) on Saturday 13 February, 2016 at 20:23

    Saw the movie last night – fun, but not an absolute classic. The score left absolutely no impression on me, good or bad. In fact, I remember thinking partway through, I know there’s music playing and as a soundtrack fan, I should be picking up on something, but it was all just background noise to me. Definitely not as offensive as say, Amazing Spiderman 2 or Man of Steel, though.


  7. tiago (Reply) on Sunday 14 February, 2016 at 01:48

    Hahahaha, epic review, James!

    I like Tom’s style, his scores for Mad Max and Divergent were kinda awesome, but this Deadpool score is really weak. It seems that he was so focused on Batman v Superman that he didn’t had the time (or the will) to write this score. It’s not quite Captain America 2 or Man of Steel-level of bad, but it is just… bland. Generic. And really boring (the songs were way lot cooler on the movie, though).

    And, with Tom and Hans doing BvS, Jackman on Civil War and John Ottman on the new X-Men movie, the prospects for super-hero scores in 2016 are looking pretty depressing.

  8. Daniel Henderson (Reply) on Wednesday 17 February, 2016 at 05:39

    Guys, seriously. There’s no way whatsoever the movie would have been better with a good score. It’s like ragging on Team America: World Police for having a by-the-numbers Media Ventures score when it absolutely needs one to work. Same thing with this movie.

  9. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Friday 19 February, 2016 at 11:13

    But the by-the-numbers MV score for Team America is a fun standalone listen…

  10. tiago (Reply) on Sunday 21 February, 2016 at 00:55

    I guess that’s the saddest part: in 2004, a cliched and by-the-numbers RC (or MV) score like Team America (which was totally intentional, since the movie is a parody for those Jerry Bruckheimer action films) could be fun and entertaining. These days, they’re just plain and boring. In my opinion, that’s the main problem of this Deadpool score, Tom didn’t know how to have much fun with the music. I don’t think any of us saw it coming, but here it this: we finally came to the time where we miss Mancina and Rabin.

    I can’t believe that I’m going to say this, but I guess a better choice for this movie would’ve been Henry Jackman. His best scores are for animations or action comedies like Gulliver’s Travels, Pixels, Kingsman, Kick-Ass… He know how to write compelling and funny scores for movies like these, and, specially, how to have fun with that. Chris Lennertz would’ve been interesting too.

  11. OPMac (Reply) on Saturday 27 February, 2016 at 14:56

    To be fair, Henry Jackman is actually not a bad composer overall. He just isn’t good at serious, dramatic live action works. His scores for Matthew Vaughn films and animated films are actually good. He would have done a fine job here if the producers let him have fun.

    It’s always bothersome when a movie with a score as bad as this succeeds. Deadpool is a fine, and fun movie that deserves big bucks, but this score doesn’t deserve any acclamation. Holkenborg is gonna get way overhyped because of this, and it looks like him returning to score Mad Max and DC movies will be a safe bet after the success of Deadpool. He really has not yet earned any of these glorious opportunities. It’s frustrating that composers like Beltrami and Tyler have had a history of scoring so many bad movies and flops but keep providing good music. On the other hand you have Holkenborg, who provides mediocrity for great movies. Could you imagine a Beltrami Batman theme? Or a Brian Tyler Mad Max score? Or the other way around? Beltrami doesn’t deserve a lame film like Gods of Egypt. Holkenborg, on the other hand, does.

  12. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Monday 29 February, 2016 at 11:34

    To play devil’s advocate, I think Gods of Egypt is a better canvas for a film score than Deadpool, so maybe it’s OK being this way around for us film score fans. 😉

  13. OPMac (Reply) on Monday 29 February, 2016 at 22:45

    True. But in the long run, no one other than us fans will recognize Beltrami’s efforts. On the other hand, JXL will eventually get handed bigger canvases.