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Oh Captain, My Captain
Review by Christopher Coleman
April isn’t supposed to be a month for blockbuster movies. Captain America isn’t supposed to offer one of the better stand-alone entries in The Avengers series of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and Henry Jackman isn’t supposed to be the one carrying on Cap’s musical story. Yet all these things are.
When last we left CAPTAIN AMERICA he, along with his new Avengers crew, had just saved New York and likely the rest of the world in the process … unless you count his brief Loki-channeled, cameo in THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Regardless, Captain America now finds himself in the post-911, post-tesseract, United States of America. Just as Tony Stark and Thor had to make significant life-adjustments as a result of the “Battle of the Tesseract,” so does Steve Rogers - perhaps even moreso.
It is in this modern, politically-grey, paranoid, and cynical America that Cap finds his next cinematic adventure. Fighting against a mysterious and formidable foe, known as The Winter Soldier, and an even greater, more elusive enemy, Captain America, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and the Falcon take on new biological, technological, and idealogical threats in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Leaving behind the nostalgic and simplistic patriotic tones of THE FIRST AVENGER and ALAN SILVESTRI’s pitch-perfect score, this Cap sequel’s original score is equally fitting. Perhaps not as listenable out of context, but it is difficult to argue that HENRY JACKMAN’s score for The Winter Soldier is not a fit for the film.
For those who have only listened to the original soundtrack as released by Hollywood Records, I have the greatest sympathy for you. Jackman’s original score is the poster-child for the need of context. It’s performance on soundtrack, without this context, is painfully disappointing. The score jumps from Bourne-like action to unadulterated Americana, to twisted-metallic-screams. If one has a Captain-America-like grit and determination for repeated listens, then there are threads that do connect many of these seemingly disparate patches together. My advice? See the film and make your subsequent listens to the score a substantially more pleasurable experience.
Henry Jackman’s score is evenly balanced between action, dramatic, and atmospheric cues; seven of the first two type and six of the last. The action and dramatic cues certainly hold the lion’s share of identifiable musical themes and moments, but, if one care to look closely enough, there are a number of interesting moments tucked within the many layers of the synth-symphonic-hybrid pieces as well.
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