It's been about a month since the movie came out and I got the album. I haven't been avoiding the review of probably my most anticipated soundtrack of the year (though if Ice Age 4 is by John Powell I am quite keen on that new entry of that franchise), but I've rather been very very very busy with work. I find myself with a quiet morning, and no 3D capability (F%*King Carrara is malfunctioning yet again... proper rant post coming soon) so I figured a quick review of this album fit into the schedule.
Marvel's Avengers the soundtrack. The movie lived up to expectations, and frankly exceeded them. As this was a Joss Whedon film that was no real surprise. The score had equally, conceptually, big shoes to fill. The Marvel film franchise has been a real mess when it comes to sound identity and unity, and Avengers was a formal combination of all the elements. Could the soundtrack somehow combine the whacky variety of music?
The short answer no. Was Avengers the score a disappointment? Not entirely, but it wasn't all it could have been either.
The short summary of Avengers musically is it has a very strong theme, but the rest of the score is recycled and watered down versions of older Silvestri albums (Mummy Returns comes to mind in particular).
Where Avengers soars is the team's theme. While it doesn't blow classic themes like William's Superman or Elfman's Batman out of the water, I think it is just as functional and enjoyable as these. Time will tell if it becomes one of the great superhero themes (I suspect so, given the popularity of the film).
It is a perfect musical structure that captures the bringing together of power. While the rest of the orchestra plays a supporting role, the brass takes on the identity of our various heroes and their coming together. One brass section will call out to the rest of the brass, and after a short pause a stronger reply will come back from the other sections until all the brass has joined into the anthem. It is pretty powerful stuff. It reminds me of the opening theme to season 1 and 2 of Bruce Timm's Justice League, though they are very different in tune the construct is similar.
However apart from the heroes theme this movie falls flat on its face everywhere else. The underscore is bland and uninteresting, and the villians get absolutely no memorable material. The action music is watered down and less interesting variants of earlier Silvestri scores. The only exception is when the heroes fight each other in the middle of the film. If the rest of the battle music were of the quality of "Don't take my stuff" Avengers would be a much stronger album overall.
So apart from the strong theme Avengers is a real dud. The theme is quite worth seeking out though, but don't expect anything outside of that.
In the overall Marvel franchise I have to say Captain America remains my favourite overall entry, but Avengers theme is the best thing to come out of the series music so far.