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Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Henry Jackman

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (Soundtrack) by Henry Jackman
Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (Soundtrack) by Henry Jackman
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (Soundtrack) by Henry Jackman

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Composed by Henry Jackman
Hollywood Records (2014)

Rating: 7/10

Buy Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (Soundtrack) by Henry Jackmanl  from Amazon.com

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"HENRY JACKMAN’s score, on the surface, might be mistaken to be just another faithful member of the modern-action-score-society, but is actually much more. Subverting cursory investigations and expectations, Jackman’s score stealthily contributes to shaping our view of the ever-patriotic Captain, now wrapped in the paranoia of the modern political landscape, while at the same time blatantly calls our attention to the unnatural, forceful lengths some will go to apply their ideologies to the masses."

 

Oh Captain, My Captain
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

April isn’t supposed to be a month for blockbuster movies. Captain America isn’t supposed to offer one of the better stand-alone entries in The Avengers series of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and Henry Jackman isn’t supposed to be the one carrying on Cap’s musical story. Yet all these things are.

When last we left CAPTAIN AMERICA he, along with his new Avengers crew, had just saved New York and likely the rest of the world in the process … unless you count his brief Loki-channeled, cameo in THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Regardless, Captain America now finds himself in the post-911, post-tesseract, United States of America. Just as Tony Stark and Thor had to make significant life-adjustments as a result of the “Battle of the Tesseract,” so does Steve Rogers - perhaps even moreso.

It is in this modern, politically-grey, paranoid, and cynical America that Cap finds his next cinematic adventure. Fighting against a mysterious and formidable foe, known as The Winter Soldier, and an even greater, more elusive enemy, Captain America, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and the Falcon take on new biological, technological, and idealogical threats in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Leaving behind the nostalgic and simplistic patriotic tones of THE FIRST AVENGER and ALAN SILVESTRI’s pitch-perfect score, this Cap sequel’s original score is equally fitting. Perhaps not as listenable out of context, but it is difficult to argue that HENRY JACKMAN’s score for The Winter Soldier is not a fit for the film.

For those who have only listened to the original soundtrack as released by Hollywood Records, I have the greatest sympathy for you. Jackman’s original score is the poster-child for the need of context. It’s performance on soundtrack, without this context, is painfully disappointing. The score jumps from Bourne-like action to unadulterated Americana, to twisted-metallic-screams. If one has a Captain-America-like grit and determination for repeated listens, then there are threads that do connect many of these seemingly disparate patches together. My advice? See the film and make your subsequent listens to the score a substantially more pleasurable experience.

Henry Jackman’s score is evenly balanced between action, dramatic, and atmospheric cues; seven of the first two type and six of the last. The action and dramatic cues certainly hold the lion’s share of identifiable musical themes and moments, but, if one care to look closely enough, there are a number of interesting moments tucked within the many layers of the synth-symphonic-hybrid pieces as well.

Jackman gives us Captain America’s new theme right away in “Lemurian Star.” The core motif is now but three short brass notes compared to the six notes from Silvestri’s, fan-beloved, theme from THE FIRST AVENGER. In the film; however, we are first treated to a statement of Silvestri’s theme. It helps to warmly welcome us into this new film with something familiar. Cap’s new theme is treated in a variety of compelling ways throughout the score - ways which can easily be missed through one’s first few listens. In the not-so-subtle category, we have Jackman’s very Avengers-like treatment of Caps theme in “Project Insight” (2); easily among the best tracks of this release. In “Taking a Stand” (9), Caps theme is slower, more determined, and, at times, undergirded by rhythm that would make Brad Fiedel proud … or angry? Most intriguingly, Cap’s theme is played solemnly and reverently on solo piano in one of the final pieces of the film and soundtrack release, “End of Line” (17). It’s very likely that Jackman could have reworked Silvestri’s original theme into this film, but what he does do shouldn’t be overlooked simply because a different choice was made.

The most talked about element of this score has been Jackman’s theme for The Winter Soldier himself. Taking a page from Hans Zimmer’s superhero playbook, Jackman creates an audio signature for the Winter Soldier based two notes which are mixed and processed into a twisted wail of agony. We get our first injection of this “theme” unsurprisingly in “The Winter Soldier” (6) where it is accompanied by a plethora of unsettling electronic bursts and moans. Keeping the piece from simply falling into the ranks of dissonant, sound design, the underlying accompaniment is coherently militaristic and menacing. And this menace creeps everso cunningly into the proceeding track “Fallen” (7), where the last vestige of the “wail of the Winter Soldier” finally fades out.

The action of the film and score reaches its peak whenever Captain America and The Winter Soldier collide. “Into the Fray” (15) and “Countdown” (16) represent the climax of the film where heroes, villains, ideologies and thematic material seek to outwit or overpower the other. While the end result, as a stand-alone listening experience, may not be the most enjoyable, what remains compelling is the translation of the two main characters, Cap and Winnie, into the score through their respective, contrasting, themes and how Jackman plays them off one another so well.

Before we finish with this score, we’d be remiss in not examining one other secondary motif, which, while fairly light in it’s initial musical impact, is clear evidence of Jackman seeking to create a more nuanced and well-thought-out score than he has largely been credited for. HENRY JACKMAN’s theme for the head of S.H.I.E.L.D is introduced in “Alexander Pierce” (8). At first-listen, the piece comes off as rather typical, uninteresting, political-drama fare, but in the most subtle of ways, Jackman gives us something to hold on to; something that we’ll need by the end of the film. At the time of their introduction these elements seem harmless enough, but the subtly included low brass and timpani give an air of misguided patriotism and fading heroism. This pays emotional dividends when we reach “End of the Line” (21). Here, Alexander Payne’s theme is transformed into a truly emotional adagio.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, is arguably one of Marvel’s best feature films to date - certainly the gem of Phase 2 thus far. HENRY JACKMAN’s score, on the surface, might be mistaken to be just another faithful member of the modern-action-score-society, but is actually much more. Subverting cursory investigations and expectations, Jackman’s score stealthily contributes to shaping our view of the ever-patriotic Captain, now wrapped in the paranoia of the modern political landscape, while at the same time blatantly calls our attention to the unnatural, forceful lengths some will go to apply their ideologies to the masses. So does such a score, in isolation, make for an enjoyable listen? Not for everyone, but due credit should be given to Jackman’s attention to detail, advancing the character through thematic representation … and certainly for giving us one of the most memorable villain themes in recent memory. Finally, if I were to rate this score as it operates purely within the film, it would earn a firm 8/10. The loss of Silvestri’s theme completely on the soundtrack release is definitely felt and, despite the strength of Jackman’s theme for The Winter Soldier, the stand-alone listening experience is best reserved for when one wants to re-experience the film through it’s music. As a soundtrack release it earns a 6/10, so my final rating for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is a 7/10.

 

Rating: 7/10


 

1. Henry Jackman - Lemurian Star (3:06)  ***
2. Henry Jackman - Project Insight (1:29)  ****
3. Henry Jackman - The Smithsonian (1:36)  ****
4. Henry Jackman - An Old Friend (3:05)  ***
5. Henry Jackman - Fury (4:07)   **
6. Henry Jackman - The Winter Soldier (6:24)  ****
7. Henry Jackman - Fallen (2:51) ***
8. Henry Jackman - Alexander Pierce (2:59) ***
9. Henry Jackman - Taking a Stand (2:07) ***
10. Henry Jackman - Frozen in Time (3:52)  **
11. Henry Jackman - Hydra (6:47)  **
12. Henry Jackman - Natasha (1:12)  ***
13. Henry Jackman - The Causeway (2:42) ***
14. Henry Jackman - Time to Suit Up (2:05) ***
15. Henry Jackman - Into the Fray (6:05) ***
16. Henry Jackman - Countdown (4:26)  ****
17. Henry Jackman - End of the Line (2:51)  ****
18. Henry Jackman - Captain America (9:41)  ****
19. Harry James/ Orchestra - It's Been a Long, Long Time (3:24)
20. Marvin Gaye - Trouble Man (3:48)

Total Running Time: 75 minutes (Approximate)

 

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