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Soundtrack review: X-men-Days of future past (John Ottman, 2014)

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Soundtrack review: X-men-Days of future past (John Ottman, 2014)

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“X-men” is my favorite comic book movie franchise. I’ve always connected best with these movies, I love the smart and engaging way in which the films are done and the characters built. I’ve grown fond of most of the characters, I’ve watched them evolve and whenever there’s a new movie out, me and my wife do a marathon of past movies. It’s a family tradition for us, stemmed from the fact that we saw “First class” when we were dating and the original X-men was the first movie we watched together at home. “Days of future past” surpassed all of them. It’s my favorite movie of the series, and it will end up in my top 5 movies of 2014 for sure.
The music of the franchise has been hit and miss. I disliked Michael Kamen’s original score, loved Ottman’s themes from X2, got ecstatic at the exaggerated “The last stand” score by John Powell, and my favorite was Henry Jackman’s “First class”. I loved the themes introduced there, especially for Magneto and I was hoping to get them again in “Days of future past”.
Since Brian Singer was back at the helm of the movie, he brought back John Ottman. I instantly remembered his X2 theme and couldn’t wait to hear it again. There’s a hint of it in the “The future- Main titles”, but not much. “Time’s up” comes next and it shakes all the doubts I might have had about the score. It’s a brilliant and intense action track which returns towards the end, in the film version, and gives me a new entry in the running playlist.
Once the mood is set, John Ottman hits with the first gut punch of the score: “Hope (Xavier’s theme)”. I didn’t expect to hear such a beautiful cue on this score. This is another track that makes me think of “Time”, from Inception, and to have a quality close to that is the mark of a timeless composition. This track will surely make the list of the best cues of 2014 at the end of the year. It’s a cue that manages to quiet down everything around it and lead us inside Charles Xavier’s tormented soul. It’s a track to calm all demons…And it’s also a cue that shows the direction the score was actually going to take. The most important parts of the movie are happening inside the main characters, with their internal struggles, self-doubts and attempts to find their place and make things right, each in his or her own way. “He lost everything”, “All those voices”, “I found them” or “How was she?” play on the heart and make “Days of future past” way more than a simple action score. These tracks feel very intimate and are a great standalone listen as well.
Then the action starts. From “Time’s up (film version)” until the end, its nonstop adrenaline rush. The cues are strong, fast, intense and addictive. The score grabs you suddenly and doesn’t let go until it’s over. And the big surprise comes at the very end…Days of future past has one of the best finishes to a score I’ve heard in a long time.  “Welcome back-end titles” starts as the final cue of a score like this one should…Slow, rewarding, speaking to the heart, the calm after the storm. A warm and gentle end of a score…except nothing’s as it seems in the X-men universe, and 100 seconds into the cue John Ottman’s unbelievable X2 theme returns as if from nowhere and thunders, obliterating everything around it and leaving me with my heart beating out of my chest and wondering what the hell happened and where was this theme until now. And how can the score end just when this happened? I want more! Yes, that’s how great that theme is.
Just like the movie, the score delivers. It’s not my favorite from the X-men universe, but it’s very close to that and I consider it a success and a worthy companion of a superb movie.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 81 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 43 / 69
Album excellence: 63%
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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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