When X-Men: Days of Future Past came out a couple years back, the fans were pretty adamant on many things, including that the music was very, very good. John Ottman made his return to the franchise where he left after scoring X2: XMen United; this series so far has four composers over six films. X-Men: Apocalypse marks Ottman’s third collaboration with director Bryan Singer and the franchise, and I am pleased to say he does another wonderful job.
Right from the opening tracks, you know something amazing’s occurring, thanks to Ottman’s strong use of a choir- especially a clever arrangement on the second track. By the time the X-Men theme kicked in, which sounds just as fresh and new as ever, I was ready to watch the movie- if only I could!
The rest of the score (over twenty tracks in all) shows off Ottman’s strengths: the ability to make the slow numbers just as good as the fast paced numbers and how those same fast numbers all sound different in some manner. Unlike other composers who have certain styles or signatures that can only be identified on specific kinds of pieces, Ottman again proves his ability to spread his signature out over the entire score.
In doing so, we get music that sounds very different than many superhero scores today. Elements more associated with horror or suspense scores feature time and time again, then slight similarities to Ottman’s excellent Superman Returns score make themselves known. Of course, the action cues are here as well, but backed at moments by the full choir lets them stand out. Apocalypse himself isn’t without a dark, almost gothic theme that screams “unstoppable villain” and works great in between everything else.
Here’s a score that pretty much has a mix of almost everything, from suspense to action to, yes, even moments of fun. Does it sound like Ottman’s other scores to the X-Men series? Yes, but in a movie world filled with scores made on synths and numerous music cliches repeated over and over again, Ottman’s work lets us have a break and go back to when soundtracks were fun, no matter what movie they were written for. And in doing so, X-Men: Apocalypse becomes a score I’d highly recommend.