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Guardians Of The Galaxy by Tyler Bates (Review)

posted Jul 16, 2014, 8:22 PM by Kaya Savas

James Gunn and Tyler Bates are as thick as thieves, and Bates has scored everything Gunn has done since Gunn wrote the screenplay for the Dawn Of The Dead remake. Gunn’s directorial efforts for features is limited though as he had only done two feature films before Guardians Of The Galaxy, which made him the perfect director in Marvel’s eyes. Like Branagh on Thor before him, Gunn was able to bring his composer onboard. Marvel didn’t overturn him and force him to use Brian Tyler. So, it was going to be interesting to see what Bates would be able to cook up with his biggest musical canvas to date (yes, bigger than Watchmen or 300). The big pull for Guardians Of The Galaxy thus far in its marketing is the unique use of Blue Suede’s “Hooked On A Feeling”, and pitching them as a band of renegade misfits. Tyler Bates on the other hand has actually scored a more than decent score to help bring the Guardians to life for the first time. The score tries hard to break the generic Marvel superhero mold and succeeds in areas while staying safe in others. 

Here we have another group of heroes who will band together, each bring something to the table and unite to fight some evil force. Bates does an admirable job at bringing a sense of adventure and orchestral force to craft the narrative. In fact this score is quite structurally impressive as it carries us through the story. It has a simple theme and variation approach. The theme for the Guardians won’t blow you away, but it holds together in that it’s not overbearing yet still gets you excited. This score took a while for me to warm up to as the first act is actually quite generic. Simple pulsating strings and percolating trumpets started to wear thin on me, but around the halfway mark Bates started to bring in the good stuff. I found “The Kyln Escape” to be a great action track that kicked the score in the direction it needed to go. Bates finally ditches the pulsing and pounding strings on a loop for some more structured tracks. The final act builds to some great moments as you feel the music really try to find a unique sound. In some cases it does. The music for Groot in “Groot Spores” and “Groot Coccoon” are mesmerizing. It has that sense of wonderment and magic that you really want in a score like this. Bates does a great job wrapping the adventure up too. You feel the layers of the orchestra moving instead of just one big sound. The use of chorus helps bring some gravitas to the big finale moments. The conclusion of the score is of that classic adventure feel, with a little playfulness and soothing wind-down.

Guardians Of The Galaxy is a great summer adventure score done with that classic approach in mind. It has the thrills, the fun, the heroism and romanticism all weaved through it. It unfortunately lacks anything that makes it unique and memorable as a whole. When you hear those Groot moments or the quirk of the Collector you will cry out, “why can’t we have more of that!”. I was hoping for unique soundscapes, amazement and wonderment. The neon green and purple of the poster makes it seem like a first-class space adventure. And for something like that I was hoping for little more sci-fi instead of traditional orchestra all the way through. The moments of wonder that Bates did manage to get in are really stunning, they just come and go too quickly. In the end the score has plenty of merits to make it stand on its own, but at times you could swap this with Silvestri's The Avengers or Tyler's Iron Man 3 and have a hard time telling the difference. This is a really good orchestral score that needed a little extra flavor, but it's a safe bet for some adventurous orchestral fun.