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Legend of the Guardians
  • Composed by David Hirschfelder
  • Watertower Music download / 2010 / 62:11

The last time I wrote the review of a soundtrack from a Zack Snyder film, I was interviewed by the BBC about it.  That was 300, one of the most controversial film scores there’s ever been; now there’s a Snyder film with a score far more worthy of attention, but I don’t suppose I’ll end up on the radio this time.  David Hirschfelder’s music from the absurdly-titled Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole is, in many ways, the anti-Tyler Bates.  Quite why Snyder’s ended up doing such an about-turn in his musical choices I don’t know, but I guess it doesn’t really matter – what we have here is an old-fashioned, big-themed, orchestral adventure score which is of the variety that got an awful lot of people into their film score habit in the first place but which is heard exceptionally rarely today, particularly in higher-profile releases (admittedly this animation didn’t do very well, but I’m not sure any film with a title like this one ever could).

It has to be said – it ain’t very original (though not in a 300 way).  Echoes of the big-scale adventure scores of John Williams here and James Horner there are present throughout, but frankly it’s been so long since I could say that about a score (even by Williams or Horner), it leads more to smiles than scowls.  The main theme is heard frequently and there are similarities to Williams’s Amazing Stories – but this is arranged differently – bigger, brassier and always a pleasure.  The score is full of energy – a big orchestra and occasional choir playing adventure-filled music for all its worth.  It’s a surprise hearing something on this scale from Hirschfelder – his first major score since the even-more-derivative but highly-enjoyable (and sadly unreleased) Australia; actually, it’s a surprise hearing it from anyone, since this sort of score has been resolutely out of fashion since a brief flurry in the mid-90s with things like Independence Day and Cutthroat Island.  It’s nowhere near as good as either of them, but fans of old-school film music in that vein will find much to enjoy.  Maybe there’s a temptation to overrate it just because it’s so unusual to hear something like this – but then again, it’s so big-hearted, it’s orchestrated so well and it’s just so enjoyable, it’s very hard to think of a reason not to recommend it.  *** 1/2

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  1. Matt C. (Reply) on Thursday 14 October, 2010 at 15:43

    I have to agree with you on the review. The score is definitely a throwback to classic scores by Williams and Horner and I like it. I just wished I loved it. The best cue on the score to me is “the Boy Was Right” and really did a lot to enhance the scene in the film, making for an electrifying, emotional moment. The action music varies from outstanding in the beginning and seems to become more generic as the album progresses, which is somewhat strange being that a lot of the orchestrations are quite unusual and complex for an animated film. Overall, though, this is a classy fun effort from Hirschfelder and one of the more recent scores in memory that I can listen to all the way through without getting bored or sidetracked, which is a compliment in and of itself.