There are two album releases
for the "Watchmen" film; the score CD and song album, both available through
Reprise Records (WB). On the score album, the music of Tyler Bates is
represented at a running time of nearly 45 minutes and in very good sound
quality. Since this epic takes place in the mid-80s, you will notice a bit
of a retro vibe to the music (similar, in a way, to that of Bates' "Doomsday").
For the composer, this is the third collaboration between he and director
Zack Snyder, with their last film "300" serving as their breakthrough
Lets get one thing out
there right up front - "Watchmen" isn't your typical superhero score, so for
those listeners who are looking for bombast and big themes, you'll have to
turn elsewhere. As Bates himself stated, this score is more about ambience
and getting into the head space of the characters. Thus, at no point during
this score will you be greeted with the camp and fanfare you're used to from
other movies of this type. And lets be fair, the "Watchmen" sure as heck
aren't "Superfriends" so one can appreciate the approach that was taken by
Bates and company.
The score relies heavily on
electronics and a mid-80's sound design. The latter makes for an interesting
element since films that are based in another era are usually "updated" and
brought into the modern day. Kudos for "Watchmen" for staying put in the
80s! Bates' contribution to that comes both through use of guitars and
electronics that seem to be right at home in the decade. Just as with his "Doomsday"
score (and let's hope he doesn't get typecast as the retro guy!), Bates
delivers some enjoyable material with this latter day fare. However, the
shining moment of the soundtrack for me is the "Rescue Mission..."
"Rescue Mission" is the
first track on the score and everything about it feels right. The style
heard on this cue is everything I could have hoped for the "Watchmen" to be.
Indeed, this is the one moment on the score that Bates is given the
opportunity to come as close as possible to that of a traditional superhero
march. For me, I loved the driving pace, the electronic melodies and the
orchestral support on this track. If only there could have been more of the
same, than I would have been an extremely happy soundtrack critic! Sadly,
much of the ambience that I heard on the album takes away from the listening
experience and makes this score a bit of a challenge to sit through apart
from the movie.
Overall, with the plethora
of song material and the licensed material from Philip Glass in the film,
there really wasn't a lot of room for Bates to maneuver on this one. While
this album might be a bit too critically reviewed in some circles, I think
there are a few nice tidbits to enjoy (the electronic 'main' theme, 80's
homage) if given a chance on repeat listens. I didn't come out of this blown
away but at the same time, I didn't leave disgruntled either. It's a solid,
sometimes interesting, middle of the road score.
Temper your expectations
with the "Watchmen" score and you will find a few things to enjoy. While I
cannot recommend this at an $18 dollar clip, I would say that there's enough
to enjoy on here to warrant a digital purchase, especially if you're a fan
of a gothic inspired style of score.