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The Expendables

2010 / Lions Gate Records / 63 mins

Muscular, bold action music that also has a touch of sadness to it at points. There's plenty of heavy brass, choir and churning strings to keep the action going. It also spices things up a bit with some guitar work that adds a little personality. There's a decent main theme and few recurring action motifs that hold the album together. All-in-all it's a good score that manages to do just enough to stand out.
Highlight: Mayhem and Finale (5:47)


The Bourne Supremacy

2004 / Varèse Sarabande / 44 mins

Less reliant on electronics than its predecessor, it's still a solid collection of chase/action music, lead by the trademark ostinato string motif to represent Bourne's various highly skilled actions. What makes it stand above the others in the series is it's thematic material however, with some nice renditions of the theme representing the search for peace and redemption in some truly touching moments.
Highlight: Berlin Foot Chase (5:16)


Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

2004 (1983) / Sony Classical / 148 mins

A fantastic conclusion to the original trilogy, bringing a nice sense of closure to many of the themes and ideas from the first two scores. A choir, something not common in the series to this point, is brought into the mix with foreboding male vocals giving the Emperor, and the finale in general, a very climactic feel. The frequent interplay of all the different themes, both old and new, is endlessly entertaining.
Highlight: The Battle of Endor III (6:04)


The Matrix Revolutions

2003 / Warner Bros/Maverick / 66 mins

The closing of the Matrix trilogy is a tour de force of orchestra and choir. The musicians are constantly pushed, with blast of brass, booming drums and epic choir throughout. The album also adds a unique electronic flavor to parts of the score with collaborations by trance group Juno Reactor. All-in-all a decisive conclusion with enough thematic material to become a thoroughly gripping experience.
Highlight: Neodämmerung (5:59)


The Dark Knight

2008 / Reprise / 73 mins

Overall this score is dark, but with some great moments of tragedy and triumph shining through. The music for Batman is very heroic and brooding, and there's some interesting material for the new characters. However, there's also some less interesting electronically driven stuff that doesn't really sustain itself, and a few of the tracks are too long and repetitive, making for an enjoyable but flawed score.
Highlight: Introduce a Little Anarchy (3:42)



2012 (1987) / Intrada / 76 mins

A big, muscular action score with a bit of a primal feeling at times, perfect for the film it comes from. The percussion work especially stands out, but the rest of the orchestra gets a workout at times too. Silvestri includes lots of great themes and motifs for both the humans and the predator. However, this new extended album contains a lot of suspense material that, while well done, drags the listening experience down.
Highlight: The Aftermath / The Pick-Up and End Credits (7:01)


Apollo 13 (Promo)

1995 / PROMO / 59 mins

A very triumphant score, that has a feeling of understated respect and heroism while still being a soaring, majestic experience. Often the trumpets or female vocalists come to the forefront, playing out the main theme on top of Horner's typically beautiful string sections. The promo, which contains no speech over the music, is definitely the way to go in my opinion, although it's harder to find and more expensive.
Highlight: End Credits (6:59)

Highlander: The Original Scores

1995 / Edeltone / 63 mins

A selection of tracks from the first three Highlander scores, it's an eclectic and fun mix. Over the course of the album you have epic music befitting battling immortal beings (trumpet fanfare, choir, bagpipes), and you also have music that reminds you this is very much a product of the late 80s (synthesizers, electric guitar). It's not always high art, but it's almost always fun, so I recommend it.
Highlight: The Highlander Theme (5:22)


Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

2004 (1980) / Sony / 124 mins

Once again Williams' mastery is on full display, with a grand space opera that, much like the film, is even stronger than the original. Excellent new themes appear, including the now famous Imperial March, which shows up often throughout the album. The themes from the first film are reprised as well, blending together with the new material to create a rich tapestry of musical storytelling.
Highlight: The Asteroid Field (4:15)


The Missing

2003 / Sony / 77 mins

It's definitely a spiritual successor to Legends of the Fall. However it leans a lot more on the darker side of things, only occasionally reaching the beautiful heights of the former. The rest of the score is mostly comprised of lush strings and brass accented by flutes and ethnic percussion. What really sets it apart is the occasional use of native chants, which create an almost mystical atmosphere.
Highlight: The Long Ride Home (16:12)