It’s been a long time since I actually used the blog portion of the GOLiverse to BLOG. However, I’m awake, I saw Ant-Man today, and I wanted to get some thoughts about it out there. Unfortunately, having no opportunity to record Geek Out Loud yet – and given the late hour – I thought I would tackle something I rarely see written about or hear discussed. I think it’s time to take on the music of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Seldom does anyone begin anything at the end, but I’m Steve, this is the GOLiverse (The Podcast Universe that began with Geek Out Loud for those unfamiliar with the term), and I’ve never really done anything in any way that makes sense in the GOLiverse. Therefore, we begin…with the score/soundtrack for ANT-MAN.
I don’t really know how to write about music on a technical level. I usually do music by how I feel it. This way of “doing” music was built in because of movies like STAR WARS and SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. Ok…honestly, it’s because of one man, John Williams. It’s his fault. It’s his fault that people from my generation expect certain things out of their movie scores.
For me, the one thing I ask for is a definitive theme. Whether or not I like that theme will come later, but at least give me a recognizable theme that will carry through for (in this case) our hero. Beyond that, if I come out of the movie theater humming music from the movie, then I think it’s been at the very least a passable score.
Ant-Man brings us into the 3rd phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a way I didn’t quite expect. Even though, it’s been touted as the final movie of Phase 2, it ushers us into this 3rd (and final?) phase that began what seems like forever ago with Iron Man. It does so with a completely new hand holding the baton for the orchestra. Christophe Beck has gotten the ANT-MAN assignment. At first glance I didn’t recognize his name, but one quick IMDB session later and I’m blown away at the resume Beck has assembled during his career. His specialty seems to be in the comedic and kids movie realm having done the orchestral work for movies like THE HANGOVER, THE HANGOVER 2, the remake of THE PINK PANTHER, and PITCH PERFECT. What really caught my eye though is Beck is responsible for music from THE MUPPETS, THE MUPPETS MOST WANTED, and Disney’s most current kid-captivating film FROZEN. Throw in R.I.P.D. and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL for a little genre geek cred and it’s immediately clear that Beck is all over the board with what he brings to the table.
ANT-MAN needs the light, comic sensibility that goes with a more lighthearted feel good movie. At times, though, because it’s a super hero movie the verbose sweeping score that we’ve come to expect from our super hero franchises is called for.
Beck delivers. Not only does he deliver in the quiet moments of the movie, but also in the “heisty” (I made up a word) moments as well. Many times while watching the film, I thought we were about to be treated with a musical wink to the audience in the form of a few bars from Mission: Impossible. Instead what we get is the feeling of a heist being planned and pulled off. The brass is hitting all of the staccato notes as the action ramps up and as our hero is sneaking around the woodwinds and strings come in low and sustained surrounded by a percussion section filled with everything from the bombastic tympanies to the subtle rainmakers.
The best thing about the score is the fact THERE IS A THEME. ANT-MAN has a theme. While it may not be very memorable, and it kind of sounds like the generic themes of some of the predecessors in the MCU, it’s nice to know we get a theme for the little guy.
A few of my favorite tracks on the soundtrack are:
Track 1 – The Theme from Ant-Man – because WE GET A THEME
Track 6 – San Francisco, 1987 – it’s just a short but really nice piece of music that focuses in on Beck’s ability to take it down, communicate grandeur, and a little danger
Track 4 – Ant 247 – it’s a fun piece that captures a great moment in the movie
Track 9 – First Mission – GREAT CAMEO with a great lead in to said cameo
Track 15 – Scott Surfs on Ants – Not a real spoiler, but it’s a piece of music that uses the theme and kicks it in to a great 70’s TV show sounding riff as our heroes are attempting to go through with their plan in the movie.
Track 24 – Ants on a Train – Not only do I love the scene, but the music is great in the way that it gets going and seems to be unstoppable like a train.
Track 27 – Tales to Astonish – In the vein of Iron Man 3’s closing credits tune this hearkens back to a different time with some fun music featuring a surfer music sounding guitar and drums worthy of wipe out. It feels like we’ve just been in a movie for the late 60’s to mid 70’s and it’s a great feel for the closing credits to the movie.
Overall, though I’ve been really positive about the score in this review I can only end up recommending it if you’re a hardcore music person or you’re a completist like myself when it comes to having the music from these movies. While it has a theme and works in the context of the film, it’s not necessarily a score that will “stick to you.” Like many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it’s greatest weakness is in feeling like a pale reflection of the scores we’ve learned to expect from Super Hero films since John Williams score first accompanied those fantastic opening credits to SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. It’s definitely worth a listen and if you want it in your collection use the link below to grab it from Amazon and support the GOLiverse.