WONDER WOMAN / COMPOSER: RUPERT GREGSON-WILLIAMS / LABEL: AT THE MOVIES/MUSIC ON VINYL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Rupert Gregson-Williams' score for Wonder Woman uses the usual superhero action tropes of thumping drums and big brass to give heft to the film's intense action sequences. It's the composer's use of strings, however, which presents the music with a sense of height and movement. Rather than go for the easy route by having the brass scream or the percussion roll triumphantly, Gregson-Williams uses the strings to convey a sense of loss, melancholy, and constant movement.
Listening to this score, it almost feels as if the music is flying along, just above the Earth's surface, and then landing purposefully to stake a claim and settle scores. Early on, the flutes and pennywhistles of Amazons of Themyscira give it this lilting feel that seems like it's trying to go for wistful, but actually just ends up sounding Celtic.
It's all very pretty and elegiac for the better part of the first side of the first LP, but everything kicks into proper action gear during No Man's Land, which marks the first appearance of Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL's Is She with You? theme from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The nearly nine-minute track is nicely propulsive, and especially benefits from some drums sounding like cannon fire, really hammering home the sense of rushing from the trenches into open territory during the Great War.
Wonder Woman's Wrath, featuring squeals of electronics, pounding drums, and what sounds like a horn crying ‘havok!’ kicks off the first side of the second LP, and it's exactly the piece of music one would need to rally troops and take on the never-ending hordes of the enemy. Hell Hath No Fury takes that aforementioned melancholy and movement and joins them into a piece that puts across the resigned sense of obligation Diana has to her duties. This is a warrior doing what she has to, not what she wants to, but committing herself fully because she knows it's the right thing. To Be Human, by pop star Sia, and featuring Labrinth, is fine, as far as end credits songs go, but the movies not about a romance between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. The interest of using love to demonstrate how Diana joined humanity after leaving the Amazons is intriguing, but focusing on just the one relationship while she also interacts with Etta Candy and has a friendship with her, along with the members of Trevor's squad, just seems reductive.
It's pressed as a double red and gold marbled vinyl LP, and it's loud as hell. Action Reaction will make the floor beneath the listener's speakers fairly shake, and one might want to hide the pets as it approaches the clanging Brad Fiedel-like closing moments. It's astonishing just how good these At the Movies/Music on Vinyl pressings can sound, but each one seems to make a step further forward in terms of fidelity and clarity.