Friday, August 3, 2012

Soundtrack Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Courtesy Sony Music.
How nice to come across a comic book movie soundtrack that revels in melody and mystery, rather than succumbing to simple thumping, percussive elements! James Horner’s score for “The Amazing Spider-Man” also benefits from extended tracks that allow the composer to stretch his themes out and develop them a bit, instead of cutting them off shortly after the two-minute mark, which is generally what happens on another recent soundtrack I received, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” by Henry Jackman.

Where Jackman’s score does little more than pound or drone, Horner’s “Spider-Man” score takes a theme, played by the trumpet in the opening track, and develops it over the course of the album. The instrument has an inherently heroic quality about it, but here Horner echoes some sense of the isolation Peter Parker must feel as well, away from his birth parents, aloof and apart from his classmates, all while fighting the bad guys as the web-slinging Spider-Man.

Electronics are used throughout the score, either as added percussion, or as a synthesized voice. But they’re only a part of what is mostly a traditional orchestral palette that Horner uses.  As a point of comparison, I think Horner’s overuse of synthesized voices in his “Titanic” score sounds dated. Here, not only does the technology of 2012 sound better than 1997, but the synth is not used as the primary voice.

In addition to the main theme, some of my favorite moments in the score include the piano-based “Rooftop Kiss,” and the action scene cue, “Lizard At School!” which, though necessarily intense, never forgets the power of a good melody.

--Nathan Cone

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