Iron Man 3


Pro: Very active and a lot of fun
Con: Hmm? What?

The Bottom Line: I had too much fun listening to this soundtrack again to write a bottom line.

The first time I heard Brian Tyler was in Battle L.A. And I loved that soundtrack. I used it for writing work. A lot. So while watching Iron Man 3 on the big screen, I didn’t realize right away who I was listening to. Just that while Tony Stark tried not to get killed while his fancy house blew up, I ought to take a gander at the soundtrack. I’m not even sure if it connected in my brain then that I was looking at the same composer. But once it did, I was pretty excited.

I love discovering new artists. Even if they’ve been creating for years, they’re new to me. But hey, that just gives me a backlog of goodies to check out. Tyler has been around for quite some time, working with Bill Paxton twice among other things, and slowly but surely working his way into the ring of top dogs to land some sweet gigs – including a nice little chunk of the Marvel world. You’ll see him again in Age of Ultron. I’m looking forward to that.

I’ll go ahead and do a track-by-track description with this one, though it does hit 20 tracks. It’s a whopping 75 minutes, and the best part is that you won’t find a track under 2 minutes. I call that a success.

1. Iron Man 3 (2:24) – If you want to know what the main theme of the movie is, Tyler doesn’t play around. Here it is, fully comprised and ready to rock your socks off. The use of brass to trumpet the theme is excellent, as it stays low and powerful rather than hitting into Captain America triumphant territory. The addition of the chorus makes it even better. Heck, it’s just all around good. Tony Stark would approve, I think.

2. War Machine (7:19) – A really nice little segment. It takes it’s time, with almost kind of a spy feel going on for much of it, all while playing with the main Iron Man theme. A lot of various percussion and other little things happening for a great combination of sounds that will keep your ears interested.

3. Attack on 10880 Malibu Point (4:36) – This is what made me stand up and take notice. It’s very dramatic, very exciting, and uses a little bit of everything from the orchestra, and all of it goes 110%. You get the attempted escape, the main Iron Man theme in tense fashion, and eventually a winding end. It’s really fun to listen to.

4. Isolation (2:01) – Quiet, after so much excitement. It’s softer and very fitting of the title, complete with low harp and gentle chorus – in the Iron Man theme. Tyler likes to use piano, too. I love his instrument choices.

5. Dive Bombers (2:24) – I like the kind of warped back and forth sound we’ve got going on here. Creepy lurking chorus expands into a lot of hammering drums and that sense of a ticking clock that grows ever more urgent as the tracks rolls on. And guess what theme we end on? Yeah, baby!

6. New Beginnings (3:55) – This is definitely the magical, sparkling end that includes fireworks for Pepper. I like it for its dramatic flair, all while being triumphant without the corniness.

7. Extremis (5:07) – Slower and starting a little sad, it’s not long before the strings start doing their wind-up into something more interesting – and in some ways almost mystical sounding. The sprinkling of background piano gives it just the right touch.

8. Stark (4:32) – A slower, “been knocked down but I’m still standing” version of the Iron Man theme – that is, before the drums start pounding and shit gets real.

9. Leverage (2:16) – Primarily strings take us through this one, and while they start off in the darkness, the drums and horns aren’t exactly content with being left behind. They burst through at the end and tug some chorus along with them.

10. The Mandarin (2:37) – Slow, dark, and doesn’t play well with others.

11. Heat and Iron (5:43) – Some hopeful chorus starts things out before drifting off. Then things get spiced up with more percussion striking back and forth as things start to take off.

12. Misfire (3:27) – A slow, lurking beginning, before the strings head up their winding staircase to seemingly nowhere – but wait! The Iron Man theme is here!

13. Culmination (2:30) – More bad guys creeping around corners, so we’ve got a few faster and a few slower parts moving back and forth.

14. The Mechanic (3:44) – It starts out a little sad, a little lost, before kicking back into gear and with plenty of Tony Stark flavor.

15. Hot Pepper (4:42) – Pepper has some issues, and though it starts out almost uplifting, things get pretty nasty pretty quickly. More percussion and various takes on the Iron Man theme with a sad, faded end.

16. Another Lesson from the Mandarin (2:57) – Wavering bad guy stuff, complete with Middle Eastern flair for the Mandarin himself.

17. Dr. Wu (2:41) – This takes its time, and we’re finally left without the drums and blaring horns to something a little more slow and steady.

18. Return (6:20) – We begin with Tony’s uncertain piano, but eventually turns into more tense tones. It marches right along, occasionally slowing, but never losing its edge.

19. Battle Finale (3:57) – Of course, it wouldn’t be the finale without the Iron Man in full gear, now would it? Crashing cymbals, drums that don’t stop, and the entire orchestra and chorus rocking out, be sure to turn this one up. It does take a moment to turn into battle music with a tiny bit of down-time in certain spots, before ratcheting back up again. (Hints of track 3 sneak in, too.)

20. Can You Dig It (Iron Man 3 Main Titles) (2:42) – This is more of a fun-filled, faster-paced version of the Iron Man theme with some unique instrumentation choices – so keep your volume up for this one as well.

I find myself listening to tracks 1, 3, 6, 19, and 20 a lot. Those are definitely my favorites, but I can always let the entire soundtrack play and have a good time. One of the really awesome things about this soundtrack is how the theme never gets old. There are times when composers either create a theme that isn’t enjoyable or use it in such a fashion that it becomes repetitive, but here Tyler hits the nail on the head and every time it comes on I get excited.

The one issue I do have is that the tracks are in the order of the movie. At all. I guess that’s obvious given that “Attack on 10880 Malibu Point” is the third track when it should really be somewhere in the middle, and “New Beginnings” should be near the very end. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter because for most of them I know where I am in the movie. Likewise, since I use these as sheer musical enjoyment anyway, it shouldn’t really matter where I am in the movie. However, I do like resolution-type songs (such as “New Beginnings”) to appear near the end of all the dramatic goodies. After all, we are telling a story, so at least have some things in their proper places, yes?

But that’s not Tyler’s fault. Even if it were, the music is still excellent and that’s the main focus here, is it not? While during the middle area pieces are rather similar in their design, I like what Tyler does overall so much that I’m not bothered by it. Even if I don’t listen to the entire CD, I’ll still be more than happy to put on the tracks listed above and have a great time.

So if you’re going to venture into the world of Marvel music, this is certainly a great place to start. You’ll have fun, you’ll get to sample some of Tyler’s style before Ultron, and it might even lead you off in other directions, such as Battle L.A. And from there – who knows?

NT

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I am an author, I sell books for a living, and I love music like there's no tomorrow. I've experienced much of this country, from forested hills of the East, to the golden plains of the Midwest, the sandy beaches of the Southeast, and the oh-so-majestic mountains of the Rockies. And when all else fails, eat chocolate.