Saturday, May 9, 2009

Soundtrack Review: Watchmen -- Music From the Motion Picture (2009)

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Music From the Motion Picture

Watchmen: Original Score
By Tyler Bates

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My Chemical Romance - Watchmen (Music from the Motion Picture)

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While I'll be the first to admit-- although friends assure me that I'd enjoy reading the Watchmen-- I was bored out of my mind watching the Watchmen on the big screen this past March. However... when it comes to listening to the Watchmen in the form of Watchmen's Original Soundtrack comprised of classics by such diverse artists as Nat King Cole, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Billie Holiday, and Jimi Hendrix-- well, that's a different story altogether.

For, when this soundtrack landed in my lap courtesy of Warner Music Group and Reprise Records, it quickly found its way moving into the "most played tracks" list in my computer's iTunes application.

Opening with My Chemical Romance's punk anthem styled take on Bob Dylan's classic "Desolation Row" from my personal favorite record of all time-- Highway 61 Revisited-- in a chaotically crazed rendition that perfectly fits in with the film's 1985 setting, 300 director Zack Snyder was able to get Gerard Way and My Chemical Romance to break their tradition of seldom contributing to cinematic works based on the guys' major affinity for the original graphic novel.

Likewise, he managed one hell of a coup in persuading "Row"'s original singer/songwriter Bob Dylan to lend his '60s smash "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in the film's most effective usage of visuals and music transposed over a montage illustrating the glory, madness, nihilism, and bizarre re-interpretation of history when the Watchmen's actions are taken into account.

And it's precisely for this reason that the disc becomes far more successful than its overly long-winded and clinically cool film by establishing an attitude, immediacy, and instant connection with its audience based on the strength of the amazingly talented roster of artists whose music has become twentieth century staples.

This is emphasized by the darkly ironic utilization of Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" as the film opens and the most notorious Watchmen member is pushed through the glass window of his tall apartment building in the unforgiving night sky several stories down until he lands on the hard concrete. And it's solidified even more by Snyder's bold decision to avoid period trappings in this historically strange alternate reality by weaving in classics like Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence," K.C. & The Sunshine Band's "I'm Your Boogie Man," and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" into some very atypical cinematic places.

Yet amazingly-- and just like Jackie Earle Haley's remarkable performance as Rorschach that constantly changes as the picture spirals out of control making his turn the movie's sole saving grace-- this gamble pays off extremely well from the Apocalypse Now images of "Ride of the Valkyries" that are called up in our mind and more.

The only song that seems like a strange fit and indeed, wasn't actually used in the feature film but rather its tie-in DVD and Blu-ray Tales From the Black Freighter that worked in a missing piece of the graphic novel in its animated Warner Brothers release is the otherwise talented Nina Simone's ill-placed closing number "Private Jenny." By including "Jenny" as the finale, the soundtrack meanders where it should have simply placed a final stamp on the powerful compilation.

Although undoubtedly, music fans most likely have all of the records and CDs in their collection or the wildly popular songs like "Me and Bobby McGee" in numerous other albums-- it's a cool, compact musical tapestry that weaves together some of last century's greats from various genres and for fans of the Watchmen universe, it has the added bonus of containing an insanely colorful CD insert comprised of portrait snapshots of its central ensemble cast of characters.

Music From The Motion Picture Watchmen

1. Desolation Row - My Chemical Romance
2. Unforgettable - Nat King Cole
3. The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan
4. The Sound Of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel
5. Me & Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin
6. I'm Your Boogie Man - KC & The Sunshine Band
7. You're My Thrill - Billie Holiday
8. Pruit Igoe & Prophecies – The Philip Glass Ensemble
9. Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
10. All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
11. Ride of the Valkyries - Budapest Symphony Orchestra
12. Pirate Jenny - Nina Simone*
* - used in the end credits of the Tales From The Black Freighter DVD.

Watchmen Original Motion Picture Score

1. Rescue Mission
2. Don’t Get Too Misty Eyed
3. Tonight The Comedian Died
4. Silk Spectre
5. We’ll Live Longer
6. You Quit!
7. Only Two Names Remain
8. The American Dream
9. Edward Blake – The Comedian
10. The Last Laugh
11. Prison Fight
12. Just Look Around You
13. Dan’s Apocalyptic Dream
14. Who Murdered Hollis Mason?
15. What About Janie Slater?
16. I’ll Tell You About Rorschach
17. Countdown
18. It Was Me
19. All That Is Good
20.Requiem (Excerpted from Mozart’s Requiem)
21. I Love You Mom
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