The competent but uninspiring AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) fails to call us to battle.
Review by Matt Cummings
It’s easy to understand why 2012’s THE AVENGERS was such a huge success, chief among them was the score by Composer Alan Silvestri, whose effort ranks among my top 5 of all time. When I heard that Silvestri was returning to score AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, it seemed like we were primed for another incredible experience. And while the film is on its way to becoming an instant classic, the same cannot be said of its soundtrack. Competent but inspiring, it never makes a case to enjoy it outside of the theater.
It’s been two years since The Avengers broke up, and our heroes have all gone their separate ways: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) have witnessed the end of Asgard, while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) haven’t spoken since the events of CIVIL WAR. But all of that changes with the arrival of The Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin), who has been searching for the six Infinity Stones and has already destroyed several worlds in an effort to find them. As his journey brings him to Earth, his heralds meet a scattered team of heroes including Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Spider-man (Tom Holland) an ailing Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), the wayward Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson). Should Thanos acquire all six Stones, he plans to wipe out half of all life throughout the universe; that doesn’t sit well with Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and the rest of The Guardians of The Galaxy, even though Gamora (Zoe Saldana) holds on to a deadly secret that could bring Thanos the destruction he desires. Outwitted and out-matched at every turn, The Avengers join forces with Black Panther (Chadwick Bozeman) at Wakanda in a desperate attempt to keep half of the universe from falling to Thanos’ idea of a ‘Final Solution.’
Silvestri has enjoyed a resurgence since he composed CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, granting its titular character with the best hero theme of the franchise. But what makes a great score is not only its timelessness but its ability to serve as auditory markers for important moments in that particular film. Consider John Williams’ tenth track on STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE, The Battle of Yavin. We know exactly what’s happening during this cut, just as we remember Silvestri’s now-iconic tracks Assemble and Helicarrier. INFINITY WAR lacks these markers, instead drifting through dark soundscapes that arrive immediately in track #2’s Travel Delays and #3’s Undying Fidelity. Each are dark and sinister, but nothing about them or the first 10 tracks is memorable, and the trend only stops once in awhile to impress, such as the last 10 seconds of One Way Ticket, in which Spider-man is final “dubbed” by Stark as an Avenger. But then it’s back to accompanying pieces with very little difference emerging between them.
It’s not that Silvestri is making crap here. Each track combines his trademark elements from BACK TO THE FUTURE and FIRST AVENGER, and it’s clear that he knows how to command trombones, violins, and even timpanis to create mood. It works quite well in the film, but by itself the product just doesn’t hold up. Even for You is an exception here, as Thanos gets a sort of family love theme, and it’s a powerful moment in the film, as is the somber End Credits. AVENGERS was perhaps lighting in a bottle for Silvestri, a moment equal to STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE or Hans Zimmer’s INTERSTELLAR that comes once in a generation. Perhaps that greatness will return for AVENGERS 4, as we’ve learned he will give a voice to film as well.
THE BOTTOM LINE
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) is a competent and well-engineered companion to a film that fails to take the chances which made its predecessor so iconic. Its 30 tracks meander into dark and menacing territory but neither delivers sweeping heroic themes nor encourages them to take up arms with our heroes. Silvestri is a great composer who perhaps has already delivered his Opus; as proven with others like Williams, Zimmer and John Barry, Silvestri could deliver another before his career is over. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t hold up to our scrutiny.
Marvel Music/Hollywood Records are releasing two versions of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack with the digital Deluxe Edition already available and the CD version available on May 18. At the time of this posting, we were unaware of any special packaging.