Soundtrack Review: THE AVENGERS (Alan Silvestri)

Music Composed and Conducted by Alan Silvestri
Label: Hollywood/Intrada
Catalogue: D001759402
Release Date: 01/05/2012
Rating: ****

After years  and having hyped it in all the possible ways through ‘introductory’ stand alone movies, Paramount finally in 2012 hit the screens with its’ The Avengers’ movie.  The movie in itself is as bombastic, flashy and exaggerated as it can be, and that’s exactly why it works: you don’t put together four Marvel heroes into a motion picture without inserting action and explosions. There’s no real thought here, the deepness of the plot sacrificed to the purpose of showing a(nother) battle between good and evil, spiced up with doom and a bit of irony, courtesy mostly of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. Surprisingly enough, Joss Whedon is able to give all the team’s members, and even the secondary characters, enough screen time, though it’s obviously recommended to watch the previous movies to completely understand the full plot, because it is the result that all those movies together were pointing to.

Sadly, and here we come to the point of this review, the same can’t be said for the score. Alan Silvestri was chosen to score the movie, after having composed the music for Captain America: The First Avenger. And he did, but cutting almost all ties musically to the previous movies’ scores. ‘Almost’ because, quite conveniently, he retained the theme from his own related score, Captain America’s, evident even to a person who’s just watched both movies. All the other themes are seemingly lost in this score. Nor the theme for Thor(a highlight of Patrick Doyle’s score), nor the theme for Iron Man (nor Djawadi’s nor Debney’s) nor, as far as the reviewer could reckon, the themes from Hulk are present.

Considering the completely different musical roots of the previous scores, could seem an obvious choice, but at the same time a lazy choice. Most of the score here is action material, sometimes, especially in the first half, interwoven with some atmospheric and brooding background music, but none of it shows the themes or identities for the single members of the team, nor the previous established ones, nor new ones. Instead, Alan Silvestri gives us a ride way less intellectualistic but at the same time very fitting and working in the context: this score feels very consistent from start to end, despite the fact that it doesn’t create many themes, most of them only hinted.

The only true major theme is ‘The Avengers’ theme which appears the first time in full scale at the third track of album, ‘Tunnel Chase’, while featuring in different ways in most of the late album tracks, which are the music appearing in the last half hour of the movie, with the apocalyptic battle which our heroes face finally united as a real team. The theme is nothing particularly original or breathtaking, but it’s entertaining and remains in the head enough to remain recognizable and define the movie and the new group as a whole. It works extremely well not only on screen, where it is placed in a very formulaic way, but also as a standalone experience in the soundtrack.

Among the other themes there is a sort of mystery theme, used mostly for Agent Romanoff. It’s a broody theme, hinting at the difficult past of the character, and used scarcely, easily drowned by the massive doses of the main theme.

As expected, the score is a sort of crescendo. After a sort of overture with the first three tracks culminating with the first true deliver of the main theme, we have a long session of atmospheric pieces lightly burdened with some action, but when we finally hit  the second half of the score, we get the best action material, which, as usual with Silvestri, it is an harmonic pot where woodwinds and percussions lead the way, with some traces of electronic as attempting connection with the high tech focuses of the story, primarily Iron Man.

All in all, it’s an enjoyable soundtrack as standing alone work, functional and at the same time exciting enough for the viewer. The four stars are for the good work in a soundtrack that could have sounded bland, but instead is able to drive the film’s story and emotions fairly well, and with enough personality to not sound excessively as a clone of other superhero soundtracks. In the opinion of the writer, a more thorough attempt to give specific identities to the characters, so to create a soundtrack more connected to the previous incarnations of the heroes could have helped the final result reach something more.

Track Listing:

1. Arrival
2. Doors Open from Both Sides
3. Tunnel Chase
4. Interrogation
5. Stark Goes Green
6. Helicarrier
7. Subjugation
8.  Don’t Take My Stuff
9. Red Ledger
10. Assault
11. They Called It
12. Performance Issues
13. Seeing, Not Believing
14. Assemble
15.  Got a Ride
16. A Little Help
17. One Way Trip
18. A Promise
19. The Avengers

Total Time: 75:17

Reviewed by Thomas Piras

2 thoughts on “Soundtrack Review: THE AVENGERS (Alan Silvestri)

  1. In my opinion, Alan did a pretty good work on The Avengers. The main theme is great, very heroic and exciting, and the action cues are some of the best composed by him in a long time. I don’t understand why does this great action score received so many criticism.


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