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Real Steel by Danny Elfman (Review)

posted Oct 29, 2011, 12:46 PM by Kaya Savas

I think Danny Elfman is one of the hardest composers to put a finger on most notably because his style changes a lot. While he remains one of the greatest auteurs in the film music world, his style does change very often. I would find it pretty impressive if anyone listening to this blindly would guess Danny Elfman scored it. So what does that mean? Nothing, it's just an observation. The score is pretty good though.

Ever want to listen to something that is just pure inspiration? Something that is as far away from pretentious scoring as you can get? Well, Real Steel may be for you then. That's what this score is. It's a down to earth story that we've all heard or seen before in some fashion, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. The simple instrumentation makes it feel like a romcom score, but Elfman executes it with such precision that you can't help exposing your heart strings for some tugging. Then we get into the action music. Elfman mixes in strings with some hard electronics to give the score its robotic aggression. The score is all about overcoming the odds and it's an underdog story. So you should go in expecting everything your initial expectations were. The score is good at delivering those great "we did it!" moments, and it gave me some heartwarming chills now and then. I enjoyed it, which is something because I haven't been enjoying non-Burton Danny Elfman lately that much.

The score takes some inspiration from Conti and Zimmer (maybe more Jablonsky than Zimmer), but it's a great experience. It's something I could see 9-year old boys listening to on their iPods while sitting in the back seat of the car. Just like I was listening to The Rock when I was 9 on my Sony Walkman in the backseat of my parents' car. Enjoy this score because it truly is enjoyable. Danny Elfman never overdoes it and truly does inspire without making you cringe. I was surprised it turned out as well as it did, but don't let your pretentious thinking keep you away from this gem. It goes down smooth and you'll be coming back for more.
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