3 / 5 Stars
Inevitably, any new score by composer James Horner will have its critics and its fans. The fans will talk about how great the score is, how Horner wrote some amazing themes, how well it works in the film, and how the album is the best thing to listen to that week. The critics will talk about how the music sounds a lot like something he'd written previously, how the motifs are reused from earlier scores, how the 4-note "danger theme" keeps showing up, and how it's just like Braveheart, or something of that ilk. His latest score to Troy is no exception to thisand I found it to satisfy arguments on both sides.
After composer Gabriel Yared's score was removed from the film, Horner (who had previously worked with director Wolfgang Petersen on The Perfect Storm) came in to finish the project. Considering the limited timeframe in which had to write his score, Horner delivered the goods. The end result was a lengthy score that, in addition to having a few new themes, worked within the film and provided plenty of exciting moments. Conversely, the time crunch also resulted in a score that has plenty of "familiar" moments, mixed with a spattering of original ideas.
One of these ideas is a dual female harmony, first heard in "3200 Years Ago," which starts the film. A female solo, performed by Tanja Tzarovska, provides some ethnic-styled vocals towards the end of the cue, which has honestly started to become a bit clich after these few years. But, it still works! The heroic Trojan theme is first heard in "Troy," with ascending and descending brass scales in a major key. The "danger theme" mentioned earlier makes its first appearance as part of an action theme in "Achilles Leads the Myrmidons." This tense cue builds with the female vocals earlier mentioned, climaxing in a heroic fanfare theme which while reminding me of The Mask of Zorro, works exceptionally well. The pounding action in "The Greek Army and its Defeat" dominates the almost 10-minute long track, with the last part featuring Tanja in a mournful wailing solo.
The main love theme is first heard in "Briseis and Achilles." This intimate theme is played on dual woodwinds, which slowly builds to a string version towards the end. It's simple, and effectivesomething Horner does best. The score tends to mix up the action and the emotional cues, which works well from a listening standpoint. "The Trojans Attack" mixes it up a bit, as does "The Wooden Horse and the Sacking of Troy," a lengthy 10-minute long track that starts out sneaky as the Greeks emerge from the wooden horse, ultimately building up to a big action scene as they start to destroy the city. "Hector's Death" (which is a nice giveaway title) features pounding percussion, and then ultimately ends with wailing mournful female vocals again.
The big climactic track, "Through the Fire, Achilles... and Immortality" is an exceptionally long cue that encompasses the finale of the filmfrom the resolution of Achilles and his ultimate destiny, to the escape of Paris and Helen from the city. All of the themes make a reprise here in one form or another, and it's a great track that doesn't feature as much action as it does emotional material, making it a solid end to the score on this album. But of course, that's not all there is here. "Remember Me," a pop song sung by Josh Groban with Tanja Tzarovska, uses the love theme from the film as its base, and yet still comes across as slightly overdone and saccharine. Nonetheless, if you had to have a pop version of the love theme from Troy, you can't do any better than this song.
This album is a rather lengthy one, and as far as a listening experience goes, it's a bit hard to sit through the whole thing at once. There's just too much music! The themes are solid, though, and while there might be a bit of a similarity to something you might have heard before, it still works. In the end, that's what the score has to doand for that, James Horner's score to Troy works just fine.
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