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Rise Of The Guardians by Alexandre Desplat (Review)

posted Nov 29, 2012, 9:34 PM by Kaya Savas

Alexandre Desplat has been on a massive roll the past few years and his score for Rise Of The Guardians does mark a certain significance. This is actually the first Dreamworks Animation film that has not been scored by a member or ex-member of the Remote Control Productions family. That's right, in all of Dreamworks Animation's history every film has either been scored by Hans Zimmer, John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams or Rupert Gregson-Williams. With Hans obviously having a full slate, Harry putting his scoring career on hold and John Powell taking the year off it seems that Desplat had to fill some pretty darn big shoes. Rise Of The Guardians does live up to the tradition of amazing animated film scores from Dreamworks Animation. Desplat delivers a bold, rich and wonderfully structured score.

While this does come across as a super Christmas film one would not gather that from the score. Desplat does not treat this as a Christmas score, and because of that the music actually shines immensely. The album opens with "Still Dream" that sets up the entire score. This song introduces us to the central motif of the entire film and Desplat utilizes that within the body of the music. What follows is an absolutely tremendous effort. Desplat delivers such a large orchestral score with so many different layers and pieces that flow together like water. This is definitely one of his more impressively structured scores. It carries the weight of the story very well, and is actually more thematic than what we normally hear from him. This gives the music a nice grounding and something for the listener to grasp on to. Each character gets their own musical identity and everything is tied together by the "Still Believe" motif. It's an absolutely wonderful listen that really shines in its final act. The last third of the film is a tremendous string of music. Desplat plays the "all hope is lost" so well that you can't help but be sucked into the emotional pull of it. Then when everything is wrapped up in the end you truly feel every ounce of the music rush through you.

This is a grand musical event from Desplat. It's definitely one of the most memorable scores of the year and of his filmography. Last year I awarded Desplat's score for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close as best score of the year, and while this may not be the best of the year it surely belongs on the top 10 list. Desplat's score does the Dreamworks Animation legacy proud and meets the high standards Hans Zimmer set when he scored their first animated film with The Prince Of Egypt. It doesn't quite come to the emotional resonance I experienced in scores like How To Train Your Dragon or Shrek, but it's so full of story, character and life that it makes it a journey worth experiencing over and over again.