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Has chameleon Elfman finally stopped channelling Herrmann?
Last post Mon, Jul 04 2022 by Macker, 21 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Jul 04 2022 07:35
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 612

Now I've watched the whole of Doctor Strange 2 (Multiverse of Madness).

Erm .....

I was bored by the whole thing and would have abandoned it; only my curiosity about how Elfman was scoring it kept me going, but only just. The film itself seemed to me a ham-fisted hack piece of writing and production. Five exec producers? When has that ever been a good portent? They threw a couple of experienced actors into a B movie, along with loadsa CGI and loadsa money - and they've still got a B movie; just a big-budget B movie with CGI.

The 'story' is almost all cold-blooded comic book reptilian will-to-power stuff, staged as a ridiculously long mishmash of triumphs and defeats, all dependent on puerile CGI. How the hell do you score a piece of crap like that without it sounding like a somewhat updated old epic wild-west action movie score? Well, Elfman managed to acquit himself like the pro he is.

In my book he didn't do terribly well but nor did he do terribly badly - and no, I don't think I heard a moment of anything Herrmann-ish! Lol. It's almost all orchestral, but no motifs and no obvious thematic coherence, nothing memorable or likely to pass the traditional "old grey whistle test"; just a somewhat nondescript big salad of this and that. For much of the time I seemed to sense an underlying tired and jaded feeling - which might have been Elfman or me or both. It's all completely different from the very HZ-ish trailer score, which made me think someone else wrote that - though in the long credits Elfman is the only named composer.

How about emotions and feelings portrayed in the film - or at least implied by the story? If we discount the many obvious but failed attempts to induce shock and awe, emotional content is minimal to none. One lame exception was that the evil witch at times obsessed over her yearning to be just a normal mom, and which Elfman treated with a sickly dose of Tinseltown schmaltz - probably because that's how the director treated it. Other than that, affect-engaging narrative was notable by its absence - cognitive jolts and perceptual novelties are supposed to make up for that I guess. It's not the kind of raw material likely to move adults or inspire a great score.

I also have a review by a 24 year old Zoomer (also a gamer, a hockey player, and a Finn). He couldn't remember anything about the music, but summed up the film in one word - Raaka. In Finnish it means something like raw, brutal, cruel, barbaric. (Finns are known for their terseness which at times can be Zen-like).

Bottom line - I'd say Elfman did what he could to make the best of a bad job. But a crap film is a crap film. It's not generally expected that anyone comes out of it smelling of roses. Of course I don't doubt that some will rave about it as a great movie with great music. Different folks, different ... y'know.

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
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