- Composed by Brian Tyler
- Hollywood Records / 2013 / 78m
The seemingly unstoppable Marvel money-making machine at the cinema continues in 2013 with Thor: The Dark World, the latest instalment in the Avengers franchise, with Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as the housewives’ favourite. This time round, there’s lots of buildings being blown up, a few fights and some witty banter – the creativity that goes into these things is continually astonishing. No Kenneth Branagh in the director’s chair this time round, though, duties falling instead to Alan Taylor, who has previously worked mostly in television, including a lot of big HBO shows.
Taylor’s original choice of composer was Carter Burwell who didn’t seem the most natural of choices, so it wasn’t entirely a surprise when he departed the project (seemingly not the director’s choice, but the studio’s); a very capable replacement was hired in the form of Brian Tyler, who also scored the previous film in the franchise, Iron Man 3, and just maybe he will become the “house composer” for this series, which has so far failed to establish any kind of distinctive musical identity. Some might say that it didn’t have much musical quality at all until Alan Silvestri came on board for Captain America and The Avengers, both of which were entertaining scores with very memorable themes that perhaps seemed to shine a little brighter just by virtue of being better than the pretty mediocre scores that had accompanied many of the films in the series beforehand.
The good news is that Thor: The Dark World is a hugely satisfying score, one of the most entertaining of Tyler’s career and in my opinion at least the most entertaining music written for this universe of characters so far. It opens with a full-length presentation of its muscular, punchy, main theme, which has already divided opinion – I’m surprised by how many comments I’ve read about it being too simplistic – I love it! Then in the second cue, “Lokasenna”, a secondary theme is heard – there’s a wailing woman, but don’t worry, it’s better than any written description would make it sound. I’ll observe again that Tyler’s music essentially comes across as a high-class, brilliantly-orchestrated version of the Remote Control sound – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s got massive entertainment value.
The real star is the action music, which unsurprisingly dominates. A lot of it is based on the main theme, and maybe you’ll get a little tired of hearing it by the end of the very long album, but I don’t really think it’s a problem here – it’s a malleable enough melody that it can be used in many different ways. There are numerous highlights – “Escaping the Realm” is breathless, appropriately thunderous, dare I say quite epic in scope. And there are plenty of others like it. There are hints at times of Howard Shore’s Middle Earth music – of course there’s not the thematic depth here (and it’s more fun!) but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that was the kind of sound Tyler was aiming at. And, despite the proliferation of action, it doesn’t ever feel too much – it doesn’t suffer from the pitfall of exaggerating the importance of moments so often that there’s ultimately no importance anywhere.
When things do slow down and take a breath for a while, the music remains interesting – there’s always something going on. And I know some people think it’s a bit of a predictable theme, but it’s great to actually have an identifiable theme for the lead character, something which you might think would be a basic requirement in a film like this. Above anything else, this is pure entertainment; while the album could probably be a bit better with a bit of trimming, even at its CD-filling length it doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s great!