Music By Ryan Amon
Varese Sarabande VSD-7212
29 Tracks/Disc Time: 71:11
After the surprise success of the Oscar nominated “District 9” over three years ago, Director Neill Blomkamp has been out of sight and largely in part that he has been developing a worthy follow up to his surprise blockbuster. Now armed (literally!) with a budget in the hundred millions (which is three times the original budget of D9), Blonkamp has brought us to the world of “Elysium” which takes places in the year 2154, where two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called “Elysium” and the rest live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes a government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in: by any means necessary. Max (Oscar Winner Matt Damon), a dying Earthling is backed into a corner when he agrees to take on a daunting mission to the luxurious station and if he’s successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds. The film also co-stars Oscar Winner Jodie Foster (“Taxi Driver”, “Silence Of The Lambs”), Alice Braga (“I Am Legend”), Diego Luna (“Y Tu Mama Tambien”) and Sharlito Copley (“District 9”, “The A-Team”).
While “District 9” featured an original and unique score by newcomer Clinton Shorter, Director Neill Blomkamp decided to go a radical direction this time around. Well, not so radical but bigger and more epic since the film takes place in a much grander, sophisticated world. So following in the footsteps of “District 9” in going with a newcomer to write the rather epic score for “Elysium”, Blomkamp secured the services of Ryan Amon, who up and until now I had personally never heard of and pretty was the same way I had felt when Clinton Shorter was attached to “District 9”. The results for this score are pretty surprising in that the score is completely original and fresh, but it is pretty much in the power mode that scores for this type of film pretty much offer nowadays that include the likes of “Man Of Steel” and “Pacific Rim” to name a few. The score utilizes a fair amount of electronics that create a grand, almost operatic atmosphere featuring a wordless vocalist to amp up this society that is destroying Earth’s inhabitants as they kill themselves.
“Heaven And Earth” opens the album with a pure Zimmer like atmosphere of electronics backed with heavy percussion and a solumn cello solo to reflect what has happend to humanity on Earth in the future. This would set up score’s excellent finale in both “Elysium” and “New Heaven, New Earth”, which are excellent highlights amongst a few others in this very lengthy album. The album features some loud and aggressive material that is very solid for what they are and that is reinforce the action on screen which include the tracks “Zero Injuries Sustained”, “The Armory”, “I’m Right Behind You”, “Keep Them Busy”, “Kruger Suits Up” and “I’d Like Them Dead”. “Breaking A Promise” is another major highlight that really features a great wordless vocal to amp up the dramatics of Amon’s material as well as the film itself. “You Said You’d Do Anything” is another such highlight and is the polar opposite of “Breaking A Promise” featuring a throat singer along with reinforced percussion to amp the action and tension of the scene.
Varese Sarabande’s release of the score is in the long line the label’s introduction of fresh, young talented composers over their 35 year history and Ryan Amon is no exception. His score for this film is a work of originality and inventiveness which is clearly what the film needed. My major issue is that after a while, it really does wear you down and the material just gets louder and louder as it goes along which isn’t a terrible thing because of the originality factor. This is definitely a soundtrack that fans of Hans Zimmer and the latest generation that include Steve Jablonsky, Ramin Djawadi and Henry Jackman will really enjoy. I’m giving it a marginal but affectionate thumbs up for this very solid score that will grow you after every listen.