How Not To Score a Film


Staff member
Not that we are going to have any film to cut or score anyway, but just a heads up as to why it is so important that we're starting with the concept of developing themes specific to this project.

Oddly, I really like the Avengers Theme, and the Airport Battle theme from Civil War, which immediately made me think of the War to Begin All Wars.
I do find the Avengers theme one of the more memorable bits of music from the Marvel films, and am not suggesting that the composers failed utterly. I just think it was a missed opportunity with the score to create something a bit more unique. The Marvel films overall can be described as 'adequate' rather than 'amazing!' or rather, people might point to Captain America: Winter Soldier and call it a good film, but for the rest, they're going to describe them as 'fun' or 'entertaining'....not 'good movies.' And the generic/background music certainly isn't helping there.

There's a difference between George Lucas telling John Williams, "I want something like Wagner" for Star Wars, and the Mad Max: Fury Road people saying, this is a motorcycle chase scene, so let's just use the music from the motorcycle chase scene in Captain America and speed it up to fit our clip.

Avengers Theme (2012):

Contrast this with the themes from:

Narnia (2005)

or Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

or EVEN Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles (2005?)

The theme from Avengers gets your heartrate up and suggests epic fight scenes, I won't deny. It creates some level of anticipation (and also manages to incorporate leit-motifs from the individual Avengers). It's hardly a candidate for 'worst theme song ever'. lacks the emotional punch of many, many other great themes.
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My greatest disappointment with the MCU scoring in general is that they missed the opportunity do do exactly what we are looking for here.

If the themes of all of the heroes could be woven together into a single piece, which we would get when they were together, in pairs or as a team...

That's what the Music of the Ainur creates for us. Our characters' themes all have to be able to come together to form what is basically the story of the Universe.
I liked a lot of John Williams' work in almost all his films, particularly Revenge of the Sith, Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler's List, among others.

I also suggest listening to Trevor Jones's work for The Last of the Mohicans, Ennio Morricone's work in general Maybe Henry Jackman's The Winter Soldier for nightmarish scenes, such as creating Orcs.
Randy Edelman composed the music for Gettysburg, which is a favorite soundtrack of mine (Dragonheart, too). As is John Barry's from Dances With Wolves, Out of Africa, and others. Then of course there is the late James Horner, who did the music for Apollo 13, Braveheart, Titanic, and a bunch of other epic sound tracks.
I agree that 'Last of the Mohicans' has a great score, and Ennio Morricone does wonderful work (I'm most familiar with 'The Mission'). John Williams, I think, did a better job with Harry Potter than the Star Wars prequels, though I agree with you that 'Anakin vs Obi-wan' is awesome.

But the purpose of this thread wasn't just to say, 'hey, older scores are better!' but to point out some of the pitfalls of taking sections of soundtrack from one project, and then using it in another. The 'temp music' that they discuss 6 min. into the video is how movies end up sounding like each other and why we don't want to copy too much, even if Howard Shore did an awesome job on LotR. I'm glad that we're beginning at the beginning and trying to build from scratch and do our own compositions (even if nothing is really 'from scratch').
I had "Battle of the Heroes" in mind for Revenge of the Sith myself, the particular piece from The Last of the Mohicans is called Promontory, also known as The Gael by Dougie MacLean; it's heard during the final battle atop the cliffs.
Yes, I am familiar with 'Promentory' from Last of the Mohicans - great piece.

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And here is a response to the video I posted at the beginning of this thread. I still think I don't like this, but at least now I know why I prefer the soundtrack to the first Pirates of the Caribbean to the later ones.

i really love john boormans excalibur, but the soundtrack in some scenes seemed funny to me (not the music per se, i know they used a classic, but the context). this trailer is especially weird if you consider the soundtrack:
Well, Carmina Burana is a popular choice for trailers for action films, even though that music isn't used in the film itself.
It was used in the scene where Arthur rides to the Battle of Camlann... but i was referring to the Movie's score in general.
Hey, I just wanted to come back to this thread to say, I think the MCU soundtracks eventually found their voice, and this shows clearly in their most recent film. Alan Silvestri has really taken the lead role in setting a musical tone for these films, and uses the music of previous films to recall other moments in the series. He also has written one of the greatest eucatastrophe cues since Howard Shore's Ride of the Rohirrim, Forth Eorlingas, and End of All Things. I heartily recommend a rewatch of any MCU film scored by Silvestri paying special attention to the score. Had he been given greater creative control over scoring from the beginning, our earlier criticisms would likely not have happened.