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CD: X2 - X-Men United (2003)

Review Rating:   Excellent
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July 19, 2012

Tracks / Album Length:

CD1: 22 tracks / (60:01)
CD2: 10 tracks / (52:16)


Composer: John Ottman

Special Notes:

24-page colour booklet with liner notes by Daniel Schweiger / Limited to 3500 copies.

Comments :    

John Ottman’s BIG score for X2 gets the deluxe treatment in this expanded 2-disc set, almost doubling the 2003 CD’s original content with longer and wholly new cues.

It might seem like a Why bother? move, given the original album was perfectly fine, but with pretty much every cue now spread over 2 CDs, the score has its inherent epic flow, allowing listeners to appreciate the theme variations as the score moves from quick main theme intro to battles, villainous behaviour, and the inner torment that affects both adult and kid X-Men.

Ottman’s main theme is a lean gem that heralds the characters, and captures their raison d’etre whenever they’re drafted to tackle crises. The rest of the score deals with the conflicts of both villains, heroes, and the few grey characters unsure of what they ought to do with their unique skills. It’s a smart approach, because by keeping the main theme small, there are more opportunities to spin off extremely divergent variations, and Ottman avoids the unwanted pitfall of slamming listeners with the same theme like a sledgehammer. Besides the main title and brief quotes within “Nightcrawler Attack,” it takes several cues before the theme is formally re-introduced, and even afterwards, its usage is almost perfunctory, because Ottman is more interested in commenting on direct screen action, subtext, and the complex relationships between the troubled X-Men who’ve gone from full time crime fighters to part-time mentors.

Amid the grandiose orchestral writing, Ottman also seemed to channel a bit of Jerry Goldsmith (notably the raucous brass in “Mansion Attack”) and James Horner, yet there’s also sly humour within the score, notably little woodwind gestures that recall the wry playfulness in Ottman’s The Cable Guy (1996).

La-La Land’s 2-disc set features a crisply mastered score with a few alternates at the end to satisfy completists, and Daniel Schweiger’s liner notes provide a solid overview of the film’s production history. This is easily one of the composer’s best scores, and fans will be delighted its full scope has been restored to CD.


© 2012 Mark R. Hasan

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