"Zero Dark Thirty"
London Symphony Orchestra
Madison Gate Records (Amazon On Demand)
18 Tracks - Disc Time: 52:31 Grade: B
"Zero Dark Thirty" which has was the number one box office film this past weekend after a pre-Christmas opening that had critics buzzing and ended up with several Oscar nominations in particular for Oscar Winner Screenwriter Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) and the streaking hot, Jessica Chastain for Leading Actress. Of course, the film has been surrounded by some controversy that has been unwarranted by most but still the film has been a critical darling for the most part. The film is Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow's follow up to the Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, which is a lengthy film that deals with the lengthy decade long process in capturing and eventually killing the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden by a squad of NAVY S.E.A.L. Team 6. in May of 2011. The film itself revolves around the leader of manhunt, CIA operative named Maya (Chastain), who an experienced interrogator who at first doesn't resort to extreme measures to hunt down the infamous Al-Quida leader which is at first a very frustrating and ardious task for her. Her years of frustration may have paid off when her knowledge of the leader eventually leads the Navy S.E.A.L.S to the one place that he has been all along and is confident that the mission will be a complete success and eventually was. The film co-stars Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong and James Gandolfini.
While the film has been a huge success in its acting and production design, Academy Award nominee Alexandre Desplat (earning a well deserved Oscar nod for Argo), was a rather interesting choice for Director Kathryn Bigelow after the successful collaboration between her and composers Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders on The Hurt Locker, providing a moody, atmospheric score that really set the musical tone for that film. Desplat for this film essentially almost recreates the same moody atmosphere that Beltrami had done, but with a rather heavy dose of The London Symphony Orchestra, who's raw orchestrial musical power had provided the great musical backing of legendary films such as Star Wars and Superman The Movie. Desplat's third score in his Middle Eastern trilogy (which includes the aformentioned Argo and 2005's Syriana) is a pretty solid score that really does back the mood of the location as well as the frustrations of Maya.
The darkly hued material and musical style is tied mainly to a theme that is minimalistic and brooding setting up the films' harsh setting introduced in the opening track "Flight To Compound" which features some Middle Eastern instrumentation combined with the use of the Armenian instrument, the duduk, which adds flavor along with touches of a pulsing synthesizer motif and developed further in later tracks such as Northern Territories, Ammar, . While Desplat throws in some pensive moments such as 21 Days and Maya On Plane that does give you some more lighter material to savor amongst this mostly dark tapestry. Desplat also infuses some action based material that isn't quite as exciting as one might think starting with SEALs Take Off, which is easily the best of the bunch with its electric and pounding rhythms and other tracks such as Preparation For Attack and Chopper do add some solid backing to the SEAL's track.
The album is a dark work coming from one of the most verstile composers in the business at the moment, but my main problem is that is that it's too repetitive at times and while there is a central theme, there isn't really a secondary theme that would really consider memorable. There are good moments in the score, but I honestly prefer Argo, which had a considerable amount of variying material that made me enjoy that score much more than this one. Still Zero Dark Thirty is a considerably moody and strong work from a composer who has practically mastered films from the Middle East at this point in his career. Good recomendation.