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Danny Elfman - "Spider-Man 2" Score Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Danny Elfman  
Spider-Man 2 Original Motion Picture Score
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Columbia Records
release year: 2004
performance: 6.0
sound 8.0
reviewed by: Paul Lingas

Danny Elfman, the former Oingo Boingo man, has made a fine career as a motion picture composer over the past 20-plus years. As the mainstay for director Tim Burton, Elfman has come to not only embody but personify the bizarre and unusual in film scoring. Depending on how you look at it, it is either fortunate or unfortunate that he has become the film composer’s version of a Marvel superhero, having scored “Batman,” “Spider-Man,” “The Hulk” and other comic book adaptations.
While Elfman still has a particular style, he has become a bit too mainstream-sounding, as evidenced by this score for “Spider-Man 2,” much of which is generic in its approach and execution. As his music has become more sophisticated, it has had the unfortunate side effect of becoming less like the vintage Elfman compositions movie-going audiences have come to know.

The “Main Titles” and overall love themes are the best. The main theme is both eerie and bombastic, with the Marvel comics strings and echoes of Elfman’s better moments in “Batman.” The love theme recalls some of Elfman’s more creative and sensitive moments, areas which recall many of the influences that found their way into “Edward Scissorhands.” The director of “Spider-Man 2,” Sam Raimi, has long been known as a unique talent with his own often bizarre way of presenting things, and it makes the relationship between director and composer similar to the one that Burton and Elfman have enjoyed over the years. Unfortunately, when dealing with a studio movie of this type, certain of Raimi’s sensibilities are reined in, and as a consequence, so are Elfman’s.

“Doc Ock is Born” sounds like typically scored action, while “The Bank/Saving May” is tedious in its loudest moments, sounding every bit like an action sequence. “Angry Arms/Rebuilding” has some haunting strings with spooky, angelic voices, perfectly complementing a sequence that hearkens back to director Raimi’s “Evil Dead” days. It is mysterious and bizarre, two musical tonalities that Elfman has always been a master at producing.

“A Phone Call/The Wrong Kiss/Peter’s Birthday” is another fine track, subtle and interesting, a quality that Elfman has improved on as he has become more familiar with film scoring. He has always been one to admit that he has a limited sense of cinematic composition, which is why he doesn’t do his own orchestrations or conducting. He is, however, a genius at coming up with ideas and tones that fit with the many interesting films he has done. This is why his style works so well with Burton, a filmmaker who also has his own way of looking at things. In fact, their last collaboration, “Big Fish,” demonstrated Elfman’s continuing maturity, as the film was a perfect mix of the bizarre Elfman of old with the new, more technically proficient Elfman.

“Spider-Man 2” suffers from too little of both of these qualities. There are wonderful moments, where you can either remember exactly what happened in the film or imagine alternatives, but there are other moments where you feel lost, wondering what on earth Spidey must be doing as the horns blare and the strings whine.

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