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Tuesday, May 04, 2010


The music for the first Iron Man film was of course provided by Ramin Djawadi, but director Jon Favreau has in the past worked with John Debney and presumably, on the back of Iron Man's success, he got to work again with the composer.
Iron Man 2, with Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow reprising their roles from the first film, and with the addition of chief villains Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke, new "goodie" Scarlett Johansson, and replacement "goodie" Don Cheadle, opens in US theatres on the 7th of this month, having already been released a few days here in the UK. Critical response here has been somewhat cool, with the general opinion that there's too much talk and not enough action.
There's already something of a soundtrack album out, featuring songs by heavy metal band AC/DC, many of which probably feature only briefly, if at all, in the film, which is usually the way of things. But John Debney has come up with over 70 minutes of score, though whether all of this was ultimately used in the film, I know not. Nor do I know how much of it will make the score album, to be released on the Sony Classical label at the incredibly late date of July 6th. But, in the meantime, the composer's publicists, Costa Communications, have kindly allowed me access to the score, so that I may give you an idea what to expect.
Debney's score is more traditional than Djawadi's effort, utilising large orchestral and choral forces, though he does retain the kick-ass electric guitars alongside.
Mickey Rourke's character, Russian physicist Ivan Danko's father apparently worked on the original design of Tony Stark's arc reactor, which powers Iron Man, as well as keeping Tony alive, and the start of the film has Danko making his own reactor and transforming into the deadly Whiplash. The opening cue, "Ivan's Metamorphosis," accompanies these scenes and is a dark affair for orchestra and choir, the music swelling to powerful heights early on and then later to a big crescendo, at which time the electric guitars join in, Djawadi utilised for the first film, join in, leading to a big doom-laden choral. There are further reprises of Ivan's music throughout, most notably in "Senate/Ivan Creates Drones" (after a suitably noble, snare drums-accompanied opening); and the final showdown tracks (more of which later).
There's more action to be found in the punchy "House Fight MK1," which includes some real bad-ass guitar work; the brief, but exciting "Rhodey Dons Suit;" the 7-minute set-piece "Monaco," where Ivan struts his stuff during the Grand Prix; the initially expectant, then punchy "Ivan Escapes;" "Sledgehammer Mk1," and "Mk 2," both of which tick along nicely and again features some real kick-ass guitar moments; "Black Widow Kicks Ass," which does what it says on the can; the two lengthy tracks that make up the final showdown between Stark. Rhodey and Vanko, "Iron Man Battles the drones" and Ivan Demise," both of which generate plenty of excitement and a good deal of menace, as one would indeed hope for; and the punchy heroics of "I Am Iron Man" - a proper superhero theme, if ever there was one.
Besides all the action, other notable tracks include the suitably foreboding"Dying Hero;" the very Bond-like travel music of "Monaco Drive;" the rocking "Gun Show;" the cool vibe of "Nick Fury" (how else could one accompany Sam Jackson?); and another lengthy set-piece, "New Element/Particle Accelerator," which again ticks along, often quite subdued though, before reaching awe-filled, then heroic heights.
On the lighter side are the likes of "Making Pepper CEO," with its tender flute and strings (reprised in "The Kiss"); the slightly Barryish theme for Johansson's "Black Widow" character, introduced in "Natalie Intro;" the sympathetic "Tony Discovers Dad's Secret;" and the syrupy, '50s-styled strings of "Make Way for Tomorrow Expo," which also receives a vocal treatment.
Djawadi's music for the first Iron Man was OK, but Debney's score for Iron Man 2 is infinitely better, certainly when heard away from the film, where it unfortunately will lose out some of the time to all the noisy mayhem going on up there on the screen. You should definitely check out the score album when it finally appears.


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