Top positive review
36 people found this helpful
on May 8, 2011
Legendary composer Patrick Doyle took up the mantle of Thor largely due to his friendship and comfort level with its director, Kenneth Branagh. Not that he was a bad choice, but some of his choices will make you wonder a little. In a recent interview with Film Score Monthly he stated that he wanted to create a new sound for Thor- a bigness of the subject matter, giving it a symphonic sweep while still keeping it 'cool'. Before anyone panics, Doyle firmly declared that Marvel allowed him to do his own thing with the score, placing very few restraints upon him. He actually thought he wasn't doing enough, but Marvel liked his approach and wanted to 'keep the groove going', even including some Vivaldi-esque and Wagnerian elements to compliment the storyline.
Doyle relates that he aimed for a Norwegian folk song feel for the character- a noble folk song, with lots of celtic influences. Thor's theme is very much this, like a well known ditty everyone learns as children. Noble, angst laden and reflective- which is appropriate for a powerful being cast down to learn humility- it also lacks the swagger and bombast that would've driven him here. It resembles Wendy Carlos' Tron theme in that it can extend over twenty notes at full usage, but generally stays around 14 or so. Thor's theme forms the basis for many of the cues, and after seeing the movie it does get to stick in your mind a little.
The heroic theme for Asgard is a three-note up-tempo horn bleat repeated three times underscored by a two-note combo on bass drum with hammer and anvil. This leads into a 23-note trumpet/trombone supported with courtly high strings in a four-note ostinato and a quick programmed drum roll. To be honest, again, it comes off as a little light to me. At first blush you'd actually mistake the Asgard theme for Thor's, but the heavy usage of the latter helps to identify it even without having seen the film.
Some highlights: *Potential Spoilers Alert*
Prologue: Odin tells his young sons Thor and Loki of the ancient war with the Frost Giants. It begins with a slightly reverbed double-time xylophone beat accompanied by a heartbeat pulse over a fading 8-note string measure all blending into an ostinato. The initial three notes of the Thor's theme slip in, and at :19 becomes a refrain on mid-strings as the ostinato deepens. At :42 the theme comes on in full, along with some intermitten programmed percussion including hammer and anvil. Trombones enter at 1:02 to flesh things out as the ostinato switches to high strings. If you listen closely you'll hear an electric cello drone underneath it all. Switches to a brief horn and drum bridge at 1:33 and the first appearance of the male chorus. Then at 1:58 its another refrain on horns before sliding down to softer strings at 2:22 to take us to the end. It's entertaining, but a little lacking.
Sons of Odin: Thor's ascension day as he's to be named Odin's successor. Somber and stately beginning with a nicely layered harmony by the entire range of strings until :31 when after a percussion-based transition switches to the debut of the Asgard theme at :38. It ends on a brief reprise of the theme on mid-strings.
To Jotunheim: Thor, Loki and their friends defy Odin and seek to confront Laufey, the Frost Giant king. Starts as a reprise of the Prologue until :48 when in a nice juxtaposition it becomes a darker, descending alternate of Thor for Loki's motif. This leads into another electronic percussion-based bridge until 1:44 brings back the Asgard motif to close things out.
Science & Magic: As their mutual attraction grows, Thor explains to Jane the mysteries of the universe. Another track built around Thor's theme, all played out on romantic high strings, clarinet and harp.
Forgive Me: As Thor, in mortal form, gives himself up to the Destroyer, he pleads Loki's forgiveness for however he believes Thor has wronged him. Very melancholy and bittersweet as befits an act of self-sacrifice. This one of those Vivaldi-esque pieces Doyle mentioned.
Can You See Jane?: Thor reflects upon all that's happened, asking Heimdall if he can see what Jane is doing on Earth. After a melodic layered string opening with some horn support, at the :45 mark it features an exquisite solo rendering of Thor's theme on cello until 1:18 when the other strings return to support it. 1:45 brings in the piano, and a higher string ostinato takes us to the end. Another of the score's Vivaldi moments.
Earth to Asgard: Plays during the credits, and the first track that Doyle actually composed for the score. Kicks off with the now-familiar xylophone, heartbeat pulse and string ostinato from the Prologue. :10 starts a reprise of the Thor theme on low cello until :25 when the taiko drums fuel the music until the rest of the strings and the horns arrive. More up tempo and stronger than the Prologue, it's the opus of the cd. Doyle admitted his own sons described as 'sick'.
For all its strong points and standout moments, ultimately Thor is one of those scores that works well enough for the movie but doesn't have enough legs to stand on its own. It only rates higher after having seen the film and gaining an appreciation for the cues. And I like that it lists the tracks in proper sequence, as they appear in the movie. The fact that this is even notable is a sad commentary. Yet another example of Amazon needing a ten-star rating system- it's only slightly better than a three, but for liking the movie it gets a four.