CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
The film, Captain America: The First Avenger, was a good film, with some great action and a good story to boot. There were some issues with the second half of the movie, as it felt a bit rushed, but nevertheless, it was successful enough to make Chris Evans to become the new Captain America.
What elevates this movie is the probably the best part of the movie: the score by Alan Silvestri.
Alan Silvestri has a plethora of film scores, most notably the Back to the Future and Predator series. Most of the time, he's collaborating with director Robert Zemeckis, and other times, he's writing film scores that are often action films.
It also became harder to tell its Alan Silvestri, mostly due to his change in his music composition. When you listen to his earlier work, like Back to the Future or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, you can immediately tell his writing style, like you can tell how John Williams writes or how James Horner writes. He uses a specific musical scale and as how my dad would describe it, "It's like listening to Carl W. Stalling", in that Silvestri makes heavy use on staccato notes, giving that "ta ta ta ta" sound.
I haven't listened to Alan Silvestri in a while, his last score being G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, and I barely remember how it sounds, other than having a lot of electronics.
Originally, Michael Giacchino, J.J. Abram's collaborator on many of his projects, was going to score it, which seems like a no-brainer, given that he had written scores that revolved around World War II, the most notable being the Medal of Honor video game series.
However, probably due to scheduling conflicts, he left the project and Alan Silvestri happens to be available. I was interested to hear what he had to offer for the music. I finally saw the film and heard the music.
It was glorious!
It was big, brassy, and bombastic. It given a theme to Captain America, it had very little electronics, with only hints of it in a few tracks. When you want to look for a great action score that's strictly orchestral, this one of the few best examples.
The biggest problem that the other Marvel movies had, starting with Iron Man, was that they sounded generic and didn't have much of a theme to latch onto a particular character. This is problematic considering that all these characters would eventually be put together in the awesome movie that is the Avengers.
It's not surprising that some of these scores sound generic since we're in an age where Hans Zimmer and his team at Remote Control Productions has near complete control on blockbuster movie scores, establishing a sound that continues to this day. A sound that is overly obnoxious in electronics and overshadowing the orchestra to a certain extent, to the point where it's hard to tell between the orchestra and electronics. Plus, it doesn't help that the scores are simplistic and doesn't really offer complexity in the composition.
It becomes harder for composers like John Williams, Cliff Eidelman, or even Alan Silvestri to find work, at least films that have a huge budget. There are so many talented composers out there doing small scale projects that they have potential to show off their talents in big movies like the Marvel movies, or even DC movies.
Besides all that, this soundtrack is the best out of all other Marvel movie soundtracks. The highlights on the album include "Farewell to Bucky", "Kruger Chase", "Troop Liberation", "Factory Inferno", "Triumphant Return", "Schmidt's Treasure", "Invader's Montage", "Motorcycle Mayhem", "Invasion", "This is My Choice", and "Passage of Time".
"Farewell to Bucky", "This is My Choice", and "Passage of Time" offer some pretty good dramatic moments to break from the action cues. "Passage of Time" being a very somber tune when Captain America is frozen in the Antarctic, with the end of the track having the orchestra triumphantly playing Captain America's theme.
"This is My Choice" starting where Captain America makes the choice to crash the airplane into the Antarctic, having his last chat with his love interest. His theme playing at the end somberly after he crashes and ending with a sad note."Farewell to Bucky" plays when Captain America was still a scrawny dude, discussing to his only friend, Bucky, why he wants to join the Army, which is more of an emotional reason. Hence, very heartfelt track here.
The rest of the highlights are all action cues, which are all great, but if I were to pick the best ones, it would be "Kruger Chase" and "Motorcycle Mayhem".
"Kruger Chase" starts off with the Hydra spy stealing the supersoldier formula and escaping, with a newly-formed Captain America giving chase on foot. Starting around at 1:26, the violins play certain notes that are reminiscent of Alan Silvestri's old music style, harkening back to Predator.
"Motorcycle Mayhem" is the same idea with "Kruger Chase", with the track at 0:48 sounding almost like Predator. It's moments like those that make you feel nostalgic for the composer's old style of writing. Yet, with "Motorcycle Mayhem", it's a great action piece in that it cleverly woves the theme in when Captain America does something heroic, akin to John Williams' Superman score.
There's also a song called "The Star-Spangled Man", which is a cheeky tune written in the style of Irving Berlin, composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by David Zippel. This song is pretty catchy, yet it's interesting to note that the mixing to this song compared to the mixing to the score is undeniably different. The song sounds like it's recorded in small set, while the score sounds like it's recorded in a large church hall if you get what I mean.
There was a time where I read in a post in some blog that a movie producer, I think Jerry Bruckheimer has said that music by composers like John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, was "girly" and not "manly" enough. Obviously, this person has not heard this score at all, because I would certainly think that this is "manly" enough for him.
Then again, this is the same guy who gave Alan Silvestri a hard time in the first Pirates of the Caribbean that Silvestri left the project and we got Hans Zimmer instead.