- Composed by Ramin Djawadi
- Back Lot Music / 2016 / 61m
The hugely-popular Warcraft series of video games (and later, more) began back in 1994 when the first game was released, since when it has spawned a devoted army of followers, spawned books, physical games – and now a film. Films based on video games are not traditionally the most accomplished things, so it was rather a surprise when Duncan Jones – of Moon fame – joined up as director. Despite his presence, the film has been greeted with a critical lambasting and isn’t generating nearly the kind of audience interest which might have been expected.
Presumably because he is the Game of Thrones composer, Ramin Djawadi was hired as the film’s composer over two years before the film ended up getting a release. He doesn’t seem a particularly natural fit for the director, but then nothing about the project does so perhaps it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Djawadi is – putting it mildly – not one of my favourite composers, but he did surprise me with his genuinely entertaining music for Pacific Rim a while back and so I was hoping very much for something more like that than the thin, simplistic, inexplicably popular Thrones music.
I guess the result is somewhere in between the two, but slightly more towards the tv show’s musical end of the scale. The album begins with its action-packed main theme, what Lord of the Rings would have sounded like with a Remote Control score. It’s a bit flimsy because of the thin orchestration (it would sound so much better if Djawadi had really gone for it) but it does the job. The sound of the second cue, “The Horde”, is more of a surprise: not the expected percussion but the exotic reeds which flutter somewhat aggressively over it, which lend the cue (and many parts of the score) a distinctive sound you wouldn’t expect it to have. The deep male vocals are done subtly (well, at least at first) and also lend a good sense of character. By the time it turns into full-on action, there’s a much fuller sound and it’s a lot more satisfying because of it.
In “Medivh” there’s a nice dramatic sweep – nothing we haven’t heard before, for sure, but it does the job with a long-lined theme – a pity it’s an instantly-forgettable one. The winds (I don’t know what they are – some sort of pan pipe variant, but played a lot more smoothly) are back in “Honour” and I like the ethereal sound Djawadi gets from them. The whistling synth which appears only subtly in the background is a bit curious, the noble strings which rise above it more suggestive of classical dignity.
The bulk of the score is constructed from the building blocks established in those opening four cues. My least favourite aspect is the darker action music, which isn’t as dominant as you might expect – the musical influence of the Dark Knight trilogy is evidently still going strong, and I just don’t like it (surely everyone’s bored of it by now) – fortunately there is a decent chunk of much less gloomy, fresher-sounding action as well. The more tender moments don’t last as long, but they’re done well. Admittedly a lot of the album does go in one ear and out the other and I can’t see myself returning to it much in future, but at the same time it’s frequently entertaining enough to keep you going and there are certainly worse ways of spending an hour of your time than listening to this.