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Dredd by Paul Leonard-Morgan (Review)

posted Oct 15, 2012, 10:15 PM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Oct 18, 2012, 10:55 AM ]

Paul Leonard-Morgan is a composer who knows how to build immersive textures and worlds through sound. He does so on the series MI-5 (aka Spooks) and he did so in Limitless. His score for Dredd falls in line with his previous works as it sets itself apart from his previous scores but shares all the characteristics of his voice as a storyteller. Dredd is not your standard studio blockbuster and the score isn't either. Instead of big predictable sounds we get deep and intricate textures that build melodies. From track 1 the music is already pulling you in and building a sonic universe around you.

Dredd is indeed a melodic score so there is no worries for those who don't like ambient textures. While the music is quite textural with many layers, it still builds a very progressive score. The score is loud and industrial with heavy electronics. Many people shun electronic scores, and I don't understand why. Technology is a tool; filmmakers use it to build CGI worlds and creatures, but for some reason traditionalists can't accept it as an instrument. Well go prance in a meadow if you're not ready for the kick-ass score of Dredd. The music is rhythmic and propulsive. There is a constant flow of energy throughout and Paul has a grip on the structure masterfully here. Some of the music has a meditative quality to it and I found it to be trancelike even. You can tell his music has gotten more focused with each new score, and Dredd is a finely tuned machine. The music is structured for heavy action editing in the film, and acts as the blanket that unifies everything rather than a boxing glove that punches on every beat. Since the film has a "slo-mo" theme in the narrative, the music plays on that with time slowing down and speeding up. This creates even more textures that build interesting layers. The score does have its quiet moments as well to let some air in. The space between the immersive tracks lets the story breath and adds to the narrative structure. The journey ends on a very ethereal and spacial note with the track "Ma-Ma's Requiem". The final track reminds you of the universe you just journeyed through.

Dredd is an immensely enjoyable breath of fresh air amongst summer action films. Leonard-Morgan's style is precise and finely tuned to craft an immensely immersive sci-fi world. Dredd's electronic soundscape creates such intricate textures and layers that make the listening experience very absorbing. The music absorbs you from the get go and it's a great ride to the end. This score is not overly loud, but it does serve a nice amount of balls to the wall here and there. It's a great action score that isn't dumbed down.

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