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Soundtrack review: Marvel’s Spider-man (John Paesano – 2018)

Game scores

Soundtrack review: Marvel’s Spider-man (John Paesano – 2018)



“Marvel’s Spider-Man”, commonly referred to as Spider-Man, is an action-adventure game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4, based on the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man. Released worldwide on September 7, 2018, it is the first licensed game developed by Insomniac. The game tells a new story about Spider-Man that is not tied to an existing comic book, video game, or film, and covers both the Peter Parker and Spider-Man aspects of the character. Spider-Man was well received upon release. Critics hailed it as one of the best superhero games ever made, praising its gameplay, particularly the combat and web-swinging mechanics, graphics, story, and design of New York City, while expressing criticism for a lack of innovation in its open-world design. John Paesano wrote the score.

Games and super heroes…the recipe should be simple: epic and immersive; it doesn’t matter if it’s Spider man or any other hero, this is what I’m looking for and John Paesano’s “Maze runner” and Netflix Marvel show scores show that he’s got what it takes to deliver. Anyway this particular character has inspired composers for decades, from Danny Elfman to James Horner, Hans Zimmer or Christopher Young and the opening title theme shows that Paesano has got the bug as well, with a sweeping, inspirational anthem like sound. There’s also that hidden Marvel hint of strings that ties to the usual opening fanfare. This opening gives a pretty good idea for the emotional moments of the score while “The golden age” defines the action moments. John Paesano didn’t overthink this score and he didn’t fall into the superhero scoring trap where composers make the music too complex and too similar. I am enjoying the cues without being overwhelmed, I smile as I listen to this score and I get my fix of motivation, melodies, suspense and even touches of electronic nostalgia in cues like “Inside the numbers”. The orchestral to electronic ratio is high enough as to please a large number of listeners.

“Marvel’s Spider-man” is a robust and effervescent super hero score that in some moments reminds me of Danny Elfman’s sound from scores like “Alice in Wonderland”; there’s that vivacity, the celebratory tone, those spectacular and invigorating horns, the choir, and a cue like “City of hope” will be on my list for best cues of 2018 at the end of the year. As the game tales both tales, of Spidey and Peter, John Paesano also balances the action with the spiritual in his score. Most of all, his music makes me feel all the inspirational moments and I have a few cues that I will try for my running playlists. This is one of the better scores of 2018 and you should look no further for your orchestral superhero fix.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

The Golden Age
All the King’s Men
City of Hope
The Man He Was
City on Alert
The Breakthrough
Worlds Colliding
Chasing Down the Devil
Negative View
Destroying Your Own Creation
The Final Lesson
Behind the Mask

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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