"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (Deluxe Edition)
Featuring Pharrell Williams And Johnny Marr,
Alicia Keys feat. Kendrick Lamar and Various
Columbia/Madison Gate Records
Disc 1: 16 Tracks/Disc Time: 56:20
Disc 2: 18 Tracks/Disc Time: 58:18
Everyone thought it was crazy to reboot "Spider-Man" after a successful trilogy that saw the best ("Spider-Man 2") and the worst ("Spider-Man 3") and its share of memorable villains in Doctor Octopus, The Green Goblin, Venom and Sandman. "The Amazing Spider-Man" proved to be a much better reboot than most and that was because of the perfect casting of Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network") in the role of Peter Parker along with that of the alluring Emma Stone and a great group of actors to back them up in Sally Field, Rhys Ifans, Campbell Scott, and Denis Leary. It was a no-brainer that sequel would follow that looks as overstuffed with three shoehorned villains in Rhyno, Electro and Green Goblin, just as "Spider-Man 3" did with Venom, Sandman and Hobgoblin. This time we see Peter Parker continuing where he left off the last film and unable to stay away (despite a promise to her deceased father) from Gwen Stacey (Stone) who is in love with her but there are sinister problems arising in Oscorp where the prodigal son, Harry (Dane DeHaan, "Lawless") has returned and assumed a new villainous identity in the Green Goblin, while another nerdy scientist named Max (Oscar Winner Jaime Foxx, "Ray") working at the company has assumed a new and dangerous power calling himself Electro and a Russian Mobster Aleksey (Paul Giamatti, "Romeo & Juliet") with a powerful exo-skeleton suit who calls himself Rhyno. Peter must face his biggest challenge of his life as well as the safety including his beloved Gwen and the formation what would become a future alliance of super villains known as "The Sinister Six" with one thing in mind: to kill Spider-Man.
I loved the original film and it worked on every level and one of them was the music of Oscar Winner James Horner, whose score wasn't your typical superhero one and was more subtle and thematic that it made the character worth rooting for even more. Sadly, Horner has not returned for a chance to finish the trilogy as "Amazing Spider-Man 3" will be coming out in 2016 thanks to the filmmakers. Oscar Winner and musical thespian Hans Zimmer has now taken the reigns from Horner, who has now scored three of the most popular superheroes in comic book history in Batman ("The Batman Begins" Trilogy), Superman ("Man Of Steel") and now Spider-Man. While Batman was a dark and effective work filled with power anthems and aided by the solid work of Oscar nominee James Newton Howard and Superman was a total bust in every regard including the disaster of not quoting John Williams' memorable theme. How does "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" fare? Well....this score is a major mix that works surprisingly in its own way and does have thematic material that is good, but also has its fair share of grating and over the top material.
Let's break down what works in this score that didn't work in Superman: Zimmer has written a rather sinister theme for that of Harry Osborn/Green Goblin ("Harry's Suite") that really works with some exciting string work and pulsing suspense that feels like a ticking time bomb for the character inside emotionally that pays off in "I'm Goblin" that features a raging sounding siren mixed with a plusing guitar theme that truly works and "Sum Total" which culminates this errie theme even further. What doesn't work and is to me the most annoying part is Electro's music which is far too over the top eventhough it has a great rock guitar solo by Johnny Marr, it really is very grating at times along with the vocal chanting featured which just throws you off and feels more like musical brainwashing than anything else featured in "Electro Suite", "I'm Electro", "My Enemy", "Look At Me" (which is the best of these tracks to be honest with a fun clarinet motif that really works) and "Still Crazy". The approach would've served better if a real choir was brought into the mix and the guitar work given a little less over the top work. I understand what Zimmer is trying to do with the character and it's clearly the one he loved with the most potential for reinventing the wheel has done many times before in scores like "Black Rain", "Crimson Tide", "Broken Arrow" and "The Peacemaker" which are clearly better scores than this one.
While Spider-Man does his own very cool theme in "There He Is" with pulsing electronics and guitar which is reminiscent of Danny Elfman's theme and gets some very pleasant moments in "I Chose You", "We're Best Friends", "You Need Me", "You're My Boy", "I'm Moving To England" and "You're That Spiderguy" which are excellent and good highlights that actually do have some of the score's best themes. The Deluxe Edition features songs by Alicia Keys featuring Kendrick Lamar and the streaking hot Pharrell Williams (who also was one of the many contributors to the score) which are the strongest out of the five featured in this set along with an Electro theme remix by Alvin Rusk and Zimmer that is just as annoying if not more than the original theme itself along with a complete and lengthy "Electro Suite", the stronger "Harry's Suite" and two original score tracks not featured on the first disc in "Cold War" and "No Place Like Home".
This Deluxe Edition is pretty packed featuring 114 minutes of music including more score than necessary in my opinion, but die hard fans of the film will most likely go for this version along with fans of Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams. This album goes more than a long, long way as in way too much because the music becomes a little too overbearing for its own good and Zimmer just went a little too overboard with Electro's music to be honest. It's just insane and annoying to the point that you really can't enjoy it except for a few tracks were the orchestra does play a major part in it. I can understand the filmmakers wanting a more bold and power approach much like the Marvel Produced films have for their scores, but this approach simply doesn't work for Spider-Man. Danny Elfman, Christopher Young and James Horner purely understood what the approach for the character was and that was subtle themes and memorable action when it needed it and that's why their scores were more successful in that regard. Zimmer's score is more serviceable to the story and the characters, more so than being a memorable standout entity which is also why his scores to Batman and Superman truly suffered most.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is definitely a tale of two scores. The first being a serviceable and at times entertaining listen that works best when it is not concentrating on a singular character and creating a musical drama much like he used to do before all the soloists and musical pyrotechnics that he's really sunk into now. The second is just a purely commercial work hence the involvement of artist like Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams in which Zimmer has just basically wants to reach the younger audience with this material which is clearly hit or miss. Will it appeal to them? Probably, probably not; but I will say that Zimmer does put alot of effort here unlike Superman after everyone torched him on that score which was deserving. I will commend him for it, but I can't recommend this score unfortunately. A few individual themes and a few solid moments don't constitute a solid complete score. More solid moments and more memorable themes and less of the grating Electro music would've given the score more redemption from start to finish. As I'm writing this, I feel as if I'm going back to the mid to late 80's and composer Maurice Jarre, who was going through a similar period as Zimmer is right now with all of these soloists and grating music which when it was bad it was really bad and when it was good, Jarre returned to his original orchestrial upbringing in time to resurrect his storied career. I think perhaps it's time for Zimmer himself to start to reinvent himself again and reintroduce himself back to the pure orchestra with a few soloists as possible that really brought him major notice starting with his solid score to "Rain Man". As is, a very disappointing thumbs down, despite some better work this time around.