Many of today's scores for superhero movies simply miss the target. We're rarely treated to works of a substantial nature in this arena since these soundtracks are typically serviceable but fail to reach greatness. To craft a superhero score like you would for any common action flick is a big mistake and sways away from what should make these projects special. With Thor, I have to give Patrick Doyle credit for trying. He attempted to give this genre its just due.
The first thing that captured my attention early on is the establishment of a proper main theme for this hero and his background. I almost had to pinch myself. A superhero score with a respectable main theme has been tough to come by for many years and here, we finally had one to hum. In fact, this is the first instance in many moons in which I replayed a new theme in my head after the listening session. Praise be to Doyle, this one stuck. Fully realized in cues five and six, the first of the prominent themes from Thor dives into a melodic area that will place you firmly into the listening experience. When the Frost Giant arrives on the scene by track eight, you'll be well on your way toward a very rewarding symphonic adventure that's been long overdue. That it was Doyle behind it made it all the sweeter. Here is an established veteran of the craft who took on a new genre and added a new persona, in a sense, to his repertoire. The score felt modern in execution but also old-school in purpose, which is an interesting blend, for sure.
Accolades aside, there are still some issues with this soundtrack. The most glaring matter at hand is the album's length, which topples over the 70 minute mark when it's all done. This is simply too long for a score of this sort, there just isn't enough might to sustain such a lengthy running time (few scores warrant such a length, in fact). Instead of a tight 50+ minute package that would reward listeners at an even greater level, there are some patches of music that you'll have to get through which dampens the overall experience. Not that these cues aren't sufficiently composed for the film, they just cripple the momentum that could have been achieved had there been a few of these tracks left on the editing bay and not in the final package. The other critique I had is that the power of the orchestra felt diminished a bit. For some reason, this score lacked the type of epic sound that I was expecting, especially when you factor in that the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) was employed for this outing. I'd be curious to hear what can be done with future re-recordings of the thematic material (perhaps in a Silva compilation).
Ultimately, however, I am pleased with what Doyle achieved with Thor. Sure, there is constructive criticism to offer, but the overall impact the score had on me was a positive one and it will hopefully signal the call for more scores of this ilk. After all, comic book films are here to stay and it would be wonderful if more of my composing heroes like Doyle can join in on the fun.