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X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2009 / 45m

The fourth film of the X-Men franchise arrived in controversial fashion at the start of the 2009 blockbuster season, with Richard Donner reportedly reshooting large portions of it and then somebody being fired after leaking it on the internet before it had even been released in cinemas.  Anyway, the clunkily-titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine does what its title implies, with Hugh Jackman reprising his role as the dullest of the main characters in the previous films. It received better reviews than X-Men 3 (as did the film I made of myself clipping my toe-nails while singing “Jerusalem”, in fairness) and made a load of money, so I guess X-Men Origins: <insert name here> will be next.

Musically, this series has not been somewhat mixed.  Michael Kamen toiled in difficult circumstances on the first film and provided a brooding score which was very impressive, but could have been even better had its director not asked him to take all the themes out; and then John Ottman scored the second entry, which is all I need to say.  Things did perk up when John Powell provided a great score for the otherwise-dreadful third part and now Powell’s old mate Harry Gregson-Williams gets his chance on the franchise.

Harry Gregson-Williams

Harry Gregson-Williams

Unfortunately, his score meanders along lifelessly and is a big disappointment.  While he wouldn’t be my first choice for a film like this, Gregson-Williams has displayed some flair for writing decent action/adventure music in the past (most recently with the seriously underrated Prince Caspian), but this score seems to share more in common with his exceptionally dull music for Tony Scott thrillers than with the more expressive side of his musical personality.

Drum loops abound – is there anything which so deadens the pulse of a film music fan than hearing an off-the-shelf drum loop going on for bar after bar?  And in between that is an awful lot of completely uninteresting filler, the orchestra noodling along not doing anything. Of course, comic-book films don’t have themes any more – who needs a theme?  Well, if anything needs a theme, it’s a comic-book film; and there is a theme which recurs here, but it’s never properly developed, which is a great pity because it could certainly have been turned into something more enjoyable if the composer (or, perhaps more likely, the filmmakers) had had the inclination.

If you don’t pay much attention to the music and just let it drift into your consciousness when it becomes a bit more interesting, then there are some moments on the album which are worthy of consideration – unfortunately it tends to be a few moments here and there rather than any complete pieces.  Why couldn’t Gregson-Williams have developed a bit more music along the lines of the punchy, aggressive passage in the middle of “Victor Visits”?  Or done a bit more with the piano theme he introduces in “Kayla”?  The action music, when it finally arrives, injects some much-needed energy, but even this seems to be a case of just going through the motions – there’s nothing even vaguely unique about it.  Against a backdrop of depressing pieces of drivel like Iron Man being the way filmmakers want to go with music, it’s easy to listen to something like this and think it’s better than it really is; but go back a few years to when films like this actually received proper scores and it’s hard to really know what the point of it is.

Rating: ** | |

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  1. Timothy Snyder (Reply) on Monday 19 May, 2014 at 20:15

    Actually, The Last Stand received much better reviews than this film did. The third X-Men is one of those movies that has become increasingly hated as the years have progressed. Truth be told, at the time of it’s release, many thought it was okay. Nothing spectacular. A disappointing followup to the second film. But okay.

    As for this soundtrack, I didn’t think it was so bad. Had a couple of nice themes. Not his best work, for sure, but it could be worse.