ScoreKeeper Contemplates Christopher Young's SPIDER-MAN 3 Score!!
Published at: May 3, 2007, 11:23 p.m. CST by merrick
Greetings! ScoreKeeper here web-slinging my way through urban catacombs to spin my review of the score for SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007) opening in theaters nationwide this weekend.
MODERATE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
I am a staunch admirer of Danny Elfman’s work in SPIDER-MAN (2002), and SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004) and although I was disappointed his score was hacked up so much in the later of these two films I was also pleasantly intrigued by Christopher Young’s major contributions to the film; most notably the elevated train sequence concluding the picture.
When Elfman and director Sam Raimi parted ways and Chris Young was tasked to compose the score for SPIDER-MAN 3 I was all agog. Young is an immense talent capable of effectively expressing the most miniscule variations of emotion while demonstrating a prowess for storytelling spanning every genre of film imaginable. If I couldn’t experience SPIDER-MAN 3 with Elfman on board, Chris Young was suitable consolation.
The score begins with the familiar “Main Title” composed verbatim by Elfman as heard in the previous two installments. Roughly eighty seconds into the opening credit sequence, the music segues to new material championed by Young’s black suit motive. The transformation has begun and the baton has officially been passed.
Much of the earliest portions of the film utilize pastoral music reestablishing relationships developed through the prior two films. A moderately paced waltz expressed by a lovely solo violin reconnects Peter and Mary Jane and affirms their love and happiness together. This theme will be further developed throughout the picture in accordance to the struggles they face as a couple.
One of the pinnacle moments in the score was the birth of the Sandman; an opulent and tragic piece unexpected in a scene depicting the genesis of our central villain. The poetic phrasing of the music expresses volumes about a character who utters no words yet screams to speak. This is the moment that you realize that Young’s score is there to paint a significantly contrasting picture than what we are used to experiencing especially among comic book adaptations. This realization continues through subsequent scenes. When not in human form, cacophonous flutterings in the upper winds draw a literal portrait of the Sandman as he galavants around town as a flowing cloud of sand. Simple, yet astonishingly effective.
With the introduction of the black suit motive the score takes another curiously delicious bite out of the audience. It’s comprised of a call-and-answer triplet figure performed on horns reminiscent of the great Bernard Herrmann. Like a meticulously manicured garden, these planted seeds grow into venomous vines enrapturing the listener with each progressing frame. As Peter Parker reels from the symbiotic effects of the black suit, Young doesn’t merely plow through the narrative but rather shapes and coaxes it with astute supervision entwining subtle variations of the black suit motive.
Although the quieter, more dramatic moments in the film represent much of what I applaud in this score, the unabashed fervor and rousing excitement of the action sequences should not be relegated merely as sonic wallpaper. On the contrary, his action cues demonstrate as much precision of scoring and sensitivity towards emotion as the dramatic sequences do.
The first battle sequence between Harry and Peter is one of the more bombastic and muscular cues I’ve heard since “Jango’s Escape” from ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002) by John Williams. Yet all this noise is not arbitrary. It carefully contours the action highlighting intimate details surrounding the action of the attack. From the cascading downward spiral of the upper woodwinds, the rising chordal blows of the lower brass, and the densely harmonic tutti section featuring the entire orchestra and choir at the end of the segment, the music lives up to its visual counterpart supplying an aural experience which titillates the most ardent comic book aficionado.
When the two characters square off again later in the film, this time not as Spider-Man and New Goblin but rather Peter Parker and Harry Osborne, the music is careful not to simply mimic the score from their previous meeting but rather it takes on the feel of a classic 70’s street rumble. This wickedly cool moment in the score further develops the subtext while adding an antithetical angle to the underlining action.
Although Young’s score incorporates Elfman’s primary and secondary Spider-Man themes as well as the Goblin theme at opportune moments in the film, he doesn’t try to emulate Elfman in sound nor scope. It serves well to fit within the Spider-Man pantheon while simultaneously creating a polarity within the context of the Spider-Man world. This is neither an improvement nor a degradation upon Elfman’s earlier work but rather a collateral acheivement by another filmmaking talent.
As of this writing, I’ve heard no details of a score release although I would imagine we should be hearing of one in the near future. The two prior films released a song compilation album around the time of the release of the film with a score soundtrack a month or so following. I hope this practice continues so that I may rest a copy of Young’s SPIDER-MAN 3 score along side my two Elfman SPIDER-MAN scores thus completing the trifecta.
At least until it becomes a quadfecta.