Watchmen Soundtrack“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”

So says Bob Dylan in “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” And although it’s always decidedly illogical to ignore Bob Dylan’s commands, I’ll be doing so below with my reviews of both the soundtrack and the score for Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. Luckily, there’s not much to criticize.

Aside from the dual-disced Forrest Gump soundtrack, it’s hard to recall a film soundtrack with so many recognizable tracks grouped together to establish moods in a single film. “Music is a huge chunk of the bridge we’ve built to this other, weirdly altered world.” says director Zack Snyder in the liner notes for the Watchmen soundtrack. He’s right on the money with that sentiment, and from the songs included here, it’s pretty clear that he convinced his producers of the same. With infamous tracks ranging from Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” to Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” this is a soundtrack that doesn’t skimp on quality. Snyder has even managed to include three Bob Dylan tunes, though only one, “The Times They Are A-Changin'” – the track most reverently mentioned in reviews of the film  – is performed by Dylan himself. My Chemical Romance does a fiercely punk cover of “Desolation Row” and the Jimi Hendrix staple “All Along the Watchtower” is included in its original (and breathtaking) format. Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” takes on darker vibes here when placed into the world of Watchmen, while songs included from classic songstresses Nina Simone and Billie Holiday feel equal parts heavy and historical. The infamously talented Leonard Cohen offers the deep-voiced and choral “Hallelujah”  immediately following the unexplainable otherworldliness of The Philip Glass Ensemble’s “Pruit Igoe & Prophecies.” Overall, this is a soundtrack made for showcasing immense talent and even those who haven’t seen the film (which received mixed reviews) are sure to find more than enough to enjoy in this star-studded soundtrack.

Original Motion Picture Score“As always, it has been an incredible experience working with Tyler Bates. I’ve been amazed by his ability to completely immerse himself in the Watchmen universe finding a way to accent the subtle thematics of the story with musical cues that not only support, but enhance the film with a score that is both iconic and beautiful.” So says Wachmen director Zack Snyder in the liner notes for Bates’ Watchmen score. For those who don’t know, he’s speaking of veteran film composer Tyler Bates, who has carved an impressive niche in the film composition world by working almost exclusively with Zack Snyder and Rob Zombie – two directors known for unabashed cinematic violence and undeniable box office success. And while Bates sometimes goes for a slightly electronic vibe with his scores, he’s come away from that a bit with his work on Watchmen, (listen to “Dan’s Apocalyptic Dream,” though, if you’re afraid he’s left it behind completely). Working with The Hollywood Studio Symphony, Bates has created an entire world here, full of dark moods and darker explosions of action. The almost 45 minutes of music included on this score are enough to make obsessive Watchmen fans beg for the complete recordings. As with previous scores, Bates proves tha the is an expert when it comes to peaks and troughs, providing quiet moments that build quickly to violent and dangerous thematic sequences. There’s obviously something about Bates that keep Zombie and Snyder coming back to him film after film, and for my money it’s his uncanny ability to instill even the quietest moments in his scores with an unarming sense of disquiet and restlessness. In a prime example of this, the unnerving “I’ll Tell You About Rorschach” features what sounds like an amplified cat purr backing up a simplistic and ever increasing chunk of music that keeps you wondering when the climax is going to hit an just how off-putting it’s going to be. Bates inches forward and back repeatedly, as if mocking the listener for being so skiddish before backing off entirely, only to explode immediately into action in the first few seconds of the next track. It’s score work like this that makes Bates a Zombie/Snyder staple.

Zach’s Rating: soundtrack - 10 (out of 10), score – 10 (out of 10)

Visit Amazon to purchase the Watchmen Soundtrack
 and/or the Watchmen Original Motion Picture Score

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