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Thor: The Dark World by Brian Tyler

Thor: The Dark World

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Thor: The Dark World (Soundtrack) by Brian Tyler











Thor: The Dark World (Soundtrack) by Brian Tyler

Thor: The Dark World
Composed by Brian Tyler
Hollywood Records (2013)

Rating: 7/10

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“It is a highly enjoyable score, but also a highly predictable one, and one can’t help but wish that this music had ambitions beyond its sheer volume. ”

Review by Edmund Meinerts


Another day, another Marvel film…With no end to the superhero craze in sight, THOR: THE DARK WORLD sees the hammer-swinging thunder-god’s home, Asgard, under threat from the Dark Elf Malekith, wielding a strange and evil force known as the Aether, and things become so desperate that Thor has to turn to his imprisoned brother (and eternal fan-favorite, who once again gets to smirk behind bars) Loki for help. The first film was directed by Kenneth Branagh and brought with it a strong but divisive PATRICK DOYLE score that has been hailed by some as a successful update of the composer’s style into the modern Hollywood blockbuster arena, and derided by others as a dumbing-down and repression of said style. With Branagh replaced by Alan Taylor for this sequel, the odds of DOYLE returning were slim; initially, CARTER BURWELL (of all people) was announced as his replacement, but he was ultimately replaced with the far safer choice of BRIAN TYLER, fresh off of his own Marvel excursion with IRON MAN 3.

Though TYLER has been known to keep thematic continuity when stepping into franchises in the past (RAMBO and THE FINAL DESTINATION), this time DOYLE’s themes are sadly left behind. On the other hand, ALAN SILVESTRI’s theme for Captain America makes a pleasantly surprising appearance to match that character’s humorous cameo (of sorts) in the film in “An Unlikely Alliance” (19). This marks the first time in the Marvel cinematic universe that a composer has used another’s theme, hopefully a step in the right direction for what has been an otherwise lamentably incongruous franchise in that department.

TYLER comes up with two significant thematic ideas for THE DARK WORLD. The first is a highly typical heroic anthem for Thor that is almost laughably derivative, blasting its way onto the album in the first cue with significant orchestral, choral and percussive force. It follows an extremely familiar chord progression that TYLER (though not only him, in fairness) has used in practically every major score of his to date – this particular iteration is similar to the popular “Summon the Worms” theme from CHILDREN OF DUNE. When the chanting choir kicks in, the theme takes on a generic trailer music vibe which could be bothersome for listeners looking for something a little more distinctive and memorable, but it is rousing and bombastic enough to work as a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, the canned reprises of this theme (e.g. “Sword and Council” (13), “Journey to Asgard” (16)) become stale rather quickly.

The theme becomes a little more interesting when translated into slower, more flowing dramatic forms, often with a lamenting female voice. This is heard in “Lokasenna” (2) and “Deliverance” (22), but truly unfurls in “Into Eternity” (7). While this causes the theme to resemble TYLER’s RAMBO (that’s the trouble with basing all of your themes on the same chords), the latter cue develops into a powerful adagio that even seems to take a cue or two from the LORD OF THE RINGS scores and THE LAST AIRBENDER (not bad company), and is the emotional highlight of the score.

The second theme, though not as much of a crowdpleaser, is a far more intriguing and, ahem, low-key identity for Thor’s brother-turned-enemy-turned-ally-of-convenience. The way this theme slithers unpredictably up and down the scale, never quite allowing itself to be pinned to a regular rhythm, is well-suited to the character’s ambiguous loyalties. It simmers quietly in “The Trial of Loki” (6) and “Shadows of Loki” (12), is translated into the action environment alongside Thor’s theme in “Escaping the Realm” (8) and is exploded to dramatic choral heights in “Betrayal” (15) (I would say spoiler, but come on, it’s Loki) before a brief reference in “Legacy” (25) warns us of future trickery.

The final identity in THE DARK WORLD represents Malekith and his Dark Elves and is really nothing more than an enormous bank of war drums in “Origins” (5), “Untouchable” (10), “Invasion of Asgard” (14) and others. A three-note motif on either low brass or some undefined, scratchy ethnic instrument also seems to exist, but the aggressive rhythmic environment is the most memorable aspect and provides propulsion to several of the score’s entertaining but somewhat interchangeable action sequences. A few smaller themes are worth mentioning: a noble motif at the outset of “Shadows of Loki” (12) and “Convergence” (20) seems almost like a tip of the hat to DOYLE, and a string theme in “Sword and Council” (13) and “Legacy” (25) oddly calls to mind Eowyn’s theme from the LORD OF THE RINGS scores. An anthem for “Asgard” (3) is enjoyable, but shares the same overused progressions as Thor’s theme and, for all intents and purposes, blends into it.

The album presentation of the score is classic TYLER; exhaustively long, puzzlingly out of order and concentrating its best material in the first third or so. It is a highly enjoyable score, but also a highly predictable one, and one can’t help but wish that this music had ambitions beyond its sheer volume. Over the past few years, TYLER’s rough and raw compositional voice – one that had intriguing streaks of GOLDSMITH and GOLDENTHAL running through it – has become gradually streamlined into what is essentially a better-orchestrated version of what HANS ZIMMER and his colleagues at Remote Control provide. Still enjoyable, mind you, still fun, but nowhere near as distinctive as the God of Thunder deserves.

Rating: 7/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Thor: The Dark World 2:11  ****
2 Lokasenna 2:31  ***
3 Asgard 1:56  ****
4 Battle of Vanaheim 1:40  ****
5 Origins 3:50  ****
6 The Trial of Loki 2:39  ***
7 Into Eternity 3:41  *****
8 Escaping the Realm 3:54  *****
9 A Universe from Nothing 2:22  ***
10 Untouchable 4:10  ****
11 Thor, Son of Odin 1:53  ****
12 Shadows of Loki 2:26  ****
13 Sword and Council 3:48  ***
14 Invasion of Asgard 2:19  ****
15 Betrayal 4:03  ****
16 Journey to Asgard 2:19  ***
17 Uprising 2:37  ****
18 Vortex 2:11  ***
19 An Unlikely Alliance 3:47  ***
20 Convergence 3:43  ****
21 Beginning of the End 5:22  ****
22 Deliverance 2:22  ***
23 Battle Between Worlds 3:31  ****
24 As the Hammer Falls 2:42  ****
25 Legacy 4:09  ***
26 Marvel Studios Fanfare 0:31  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 35 minutes  


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