John Powell continues to rack up scoring assignments at quite a frequent pace over the past few years. Rarely, though, does he have an opportunity to strike up a complete orchestral effort like he was able to do for "X-Men: The Last Stand." To truly get a gauge of Powell's capabilities, I think this was the type of soundtrack we had to wait on before his complete style and range could be judged.
So how did he do? Well, if you heard the score in the film, you will know that Powell's work is fairly positive and actually plays a tactical role in the movie itself. I write that last statement only because it seems like most directors have forgotten how powerful an element it is to use well written music as a key influence in a movie these days. It's quite fortunate that 'X-Men: The Last Stand" strays away from that disheartening trend and uses music that helps impact the key moments within it. In short, we actually have a summer movie that uses real, honest-to-goodness themes.
The main theme is for the X-Men team itself. It's a very intense, action-oriented motif that seems to package the main elements from the first two movies and blend it into one. The secondary theme, constructed for the Dark Phoenix, is a culmination of evil. Powell uses both the choir and orchestra together to muster an ominous medley that swirls with anger. When heard/seen in the movie, you'll see that it works quite effectively and dramatically. The third notable theme is what I call the 'flying mutant' motif, which makes for perhaps my favorite moments on the soundtrack because it is so uplifting! Powell calls on his melodic side to deliver a very heroic and courageous statement, which is called upon brilliantly in the film, by the way.
Combine all of the themes, factor in some supporting action cues and mysterious underscore, and there you have an effective synopsis of what this soundtrack is all about!
I'll not go on to write that this is the pinnacle of superhero scores as we know it. What I will state, however, is that Powell created a supremely functional score that adds quality to the film and certainly makes for an above-par listening experience as a soundtrack. I can also say that it tops the previous 'X-Men' installment from John Ottman, but also respects the musical voice both he and Michael Kamen had established.
This is a respectable and enjoyable effort. Had there been a bit more inclusion of the main themes in the middle portion of the soundtrack, as opposed to predominant underscore, then John Powell's "X-Men" entry would have gained even more accolades from me.