Score Reviews‎ > ‎

Elysium by Ryan Amon (Review)

posted Aug 17, 2013, 11:00 AM by Kaya Savas

Elysium is a bit of a Cinderella story for composer Ryan Amon who has scored absolutely nothing but some trailer music until he got an email from Neill Blomkamp. Neill found some of Ryan's music on YouTube and tracked Ryan down to see if he wanted to score Elysium. No reason is known why District 9 composer Clinton Shorter wasn’t invited back or decided not to continue the collaboration. Anyway, what Ryan has done here is incredibly impressive for someone who has no film scoring experience and definitely lays down some foundation for him to grow as a composer.

Elysium is a bold action sci-fi flick that sort of plays out like a video game. Amon goes above the basic requirements and turns out a score that has a lot of character, textures and a grand scope. Giant orchestral sounds blend with rich electronic textures to craft a futuristic dystopia. The film itself butchers the score in my opinion as Blomkamp himself made Amon write music for 3-4 months or so without letting him see any footage or concepts. Blomkamp also moved a lot of the music around therefore disrupting the natural flow of things, and to add more unevenness threw in lots of source music. Hearing the music here in album form is a much better representation of Amon’s intentions. And while Amon himself declared there was no temp track I did find a bit of an Inceptionish/Tronish hangover in the style of the music. Nothing wrong with it, but some of the action pieces lacked a certain inspiration to make an impact on the film. The emotional stuff is a bit heavy-handed in the film, but the score plays it well. In the end the score is an extremely fun ride even if it feels a bit uninspired. The score is expertly crafted and very rich in detail, but it was in its execution and structure where I found it to be very standard.

Eysium is a fantastic effort from someone who has never scored a film before. Ryan Amon has tons of talent and you can’t doubt his abilities. However, the shortcomings of the score can probably be pointed to inexperience and possibly a director who muddled a bit too much even though he’s still a fledgling himself. It would be interesting to see Amon come back for Chappie (Blomkamp’s next film) to see what he can do with a foundation already set. I think once Ryan Amon finds his signature voice we’ll be in for a great treat. However as a composer who mainly writes trailer music one can imagine how many times he was asked to copy Inception or mimic Zimmer. That echoes into his score here. And while it doesn’t hurt the execution and enjoyability it does leave the score feeling a bit familiar.