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Oz The Great And Powerful by Danny Elfman (Review)

posted Mar 12, 2013, 11:51 AM by Koray Savas

Sam Raimi and Danny Elfman have been working together for awhile. The two first collaborated on 1990's Darkman, and Elfman composed the theme for his Evil Dead sequel Army Of Darkness as well as his 1998 film A Simple Plan. Then Spider-Man happened in 2002, which sky-rocketed at the box office and helped redefine the superhero film for a new generation, Elfman's wondrous score being an integral part of that. He returned to write the music for the sequel, but Raimi and him had a falling out, and thus the music for Spider-Man 2 and 3 became a rather large mess of multiple composers and rewrites, all the while retaining Elfman's iconic theme. Christopher Young finished where Elfman left off, and wrote the body of the score for Raimi's final Spider-Man film. Young also wrote the music for his next film, Drag Me To Hell. However, almost a decade after their separation, Raimi and Elfman have reunited for Disney's Oz The Great And Powerful.

Danny Elfman of late has been a very hit or miss composer. Despite his innate versatility and willingness to tackle new and different projects, he either hits the nail square on the head or hits it off-center and bends the nail a bit. The man is a legend in the industry and rarely composes uninteresting music, but at this point something like Oz could have been so much more than what it ultimately was. Even though this is a Sam Raimi film, it sounds like a Tim Burton one, and going off the trailers for the film, it looks like one too. Disney is riding off Burton and Elfman's big success with Alice In Wonderland and it seems like they want to recreate that here. The music sounds very much like what he wrote for Burton back in the 90s and early 00s. You will hear a bit of Edward Scissorhands in the wonderful "Main Titles," and a carbon copy of "Wonka's Welcome Song" from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory in "The Munchkin Welcome Song." There is good music intertwined with all the temp-tracking but that bogs the musical experience down a couple notches for me. The score's strongest aspect is the anthem-like theme Elfman wrote for Oz, which he makes no hesitation to use throughout, with an excellent rendition in "Call To Arms." There is rousing action writing, and a general sense of wonder and fantasy that oozes from the musical palette, that keeps the score afloat.

Raimi and Elfman's reunion is a good one, but it isn't great. The music suffers from Burton temp-tracking that gives the score a retreaded sound of which Elfman has done bigger and better in the past. His main theme and intricate string writing, backed with his signature chorus, however, make this musical journey ultimately worthwhile.