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Soundtrack review: Avengers – Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler & Danny Elfman – 2015)

marvel-avengers-age-of-ultron-trailer-3

So many thoughts and words battling to get out of my mind and be poured on the screen in regard to the “Avengers – Age of Ultron” score… This was one of my three most awaited and anticipated scores of 2015. First there was the movie. I am a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first Avengers movie actually holds a very dear place in my heart: it was the movie I went to see with my now wife right after I proposed to her in London. Then, there’s Brian Tyler’s legendary work in the Marvel universe so far, his blistering themes for Iron Man and Thor and also his even better work for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” last year (that one is still my favorite Tyler theme) made me count the hours until the release of “Age of Ultron”. I was almost afraid to listen to this score because how far could Brian Tyler go? Is there anything beyond TMNT or Iron Man 3? How thunderous could his music get? Then strange rumors at first and news later started surfacing. Danny Elfman’s name appeared on the poster, almost unnoticed. I like Elfman, especially his action scores, but his and Tyler’s styles are way to different. Avengers needed the heart Elfman rarely displays. Pretty soon if became obvious that Elfman wrote more than just additional music and it got to the point where I was afraid he might have taken over the entire score. Finally the official track list appeared and it turned out he wrote about 40% of the music. Now this isn’t “Batman beings” or “The dark knight” in terms of collaboration. This is a hybrid score where each composer wrote his separate cues. I will treat the review as such and talk separately about each composer’s contribution.

Regardless of all this, the main title of a Brian Tyler score is one of the most exciting musical moments for me. What’s he going to come up with next? How loud and epic will it be? Can it beat Turtles? Will I run miles and miles with it in my ears, as I do with the other Brian Tyler recent main titles? Oh wait… It’s only 43 seconds long? Enough time for Brian Tyler to deliver some sort of intro… but the main theme goes to Danny Elfman this time with “Heroes” and I must admit it made me rise from my chair. Elfman channeled his inner action god and came up with something worth of the task. I might change my opinion during the course of this 80 minute score, but for now my doubts are away. Tyler helps with “Rise together” which conjures all the motivational and superhero juice this score needs. Running playlist, meet your new member.

Four tracks in and I am sold. The emotional moments that ended “Breaking and entering” sealed the deal. I am now fully invested in this score and everything not related to music has disappeared from my mind. As much as I try I can barely tell when Tyler ends and where Elfman begins. Just like this motley crew of superheroes, the two composers came together for a great cause and found the common ground from which to please our epic action hungry ears.

Danny Elfman’s first shining moment comes in the emotional “Ultron – twins”. I wonder if Brian Tyler didn’t have time to write the quieter moments of this score. He had them in “Thor: the dark world” and they were brilliant. This time the other guy (see what I did here?) seems to be responsible for them and the blending works. I recognize Elfman’s special brand of appealing darkness in here. This is his territory, this is the land he’s made home for more than 25 years.

I like the inserts, some subtle, some anything but, of the previous avengers themes in this one, be they Tyler’s Iron Man or Thor themes or Silvestri’s beautiful Avengers theme from the first movie, reworked by Danny Elfman. It is he who brings the more unusual breaks in the thunderous flow of “Avengers – Age of Ultron”. “Farmhouse” is a Thomas Newman lie soft theme that it’s as delightful as it’s sunny. As nice as moments like this one or “Inevitability- one good eye” are I’m still particular to the vintage Brian Tyler action pieces. This is what I came for, this is what The Avengers mean to me and this is what I will be left with once the score is over. It’s cues like “The battle” which comes from afar lie Thor’s hammer and hits you with its full force.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is an ambitious score which doesn’t disappoint. It’s true that at the first listen no particular theme rose and stuck to my memory as it happened with the previous Brian Tyler superhero compositions, but as a whole the score works. I will surely listen to it many times over and find my favorite pieces. Even without the theme power of “Thor: the dark world” or “Iron Man 3”, this latest Avengers score delivers on the powerful action and emotional content and fits my image of the idea of The Avengers. As a fan, I couldn’t ask for more. I can’t wait to hear it in context.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 45 / 78

Album excellence: 57%

Highlights:

Avengers: Age Of Ultron Title

Heroes

Rise Together

Breaking And Entering

It Begins

Birth Of Ultron

Ultron-Twins

Can You Stop This Thing?

Sacrifice

Seoul Searching

The Battle

The Farm

Fighting Back

Avengers Unite

Uprising

Outlook

Nothing Lasts Forever

New Avengers – Avengers: Age Of Ultron

About the author

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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