Soundtrack Slice #2 – Arachnid Anthem

A quick side note: Whilst this is a series, I have no plans for any regularity when it comes to posting each instalment. Apologies for that. I have a lot of them planned, but as to when they’ll be written and put out there, don’t hold your breath.

Some proper etiquette stuff first. I am duty-bound by the unwritten rules of the internet to inform you that this post will include SPOILERS for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but keep your hair on, the scene I am going to talk about is basically inconsequential to the plot. However, proceed at your own risk.

#2 – You’re That Spider Guy
Artist: Hans Zimmer, The Magnificent Six
Film: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released to hardly any critical fanfare. Most movie-goers were also displeased, seeing the newest entry in a series no-one really asked for as perpetuation of the shameless cash-in sensibility that haunted the previous film. It didn’t help that the story was all over the place at times, bringing worrying flashbacks of the sprawling mess of Spider-Man 3. Being a Spidey fan since my childhood has meant that even though I have enjoyed the film upon first viewing, I have withheld my opinion until a second viewing in the hope that I can get past my adoration of the web-head enough to cast a proper critical eye over this second (fifth?) outing. What can I say? I’m not a professional critic.

What I am in no doubt about is the final scene of the film, which for my money encompasses everything that I loved from the 90s animated series, and therefore what I love about Spider-man; Peter Parker’s connection with the average New Yorker, his quips even in grim circumstances, and some well-choreographed action. To refresh your memory, Parker has given up his part-time superhero job in the wake of a tragedy, but the city still needs his heroics as is made evident by the reappearance of Rhino. I’m not entirely sure how he manages to pop up again but hey-ho. Rhino robs a bank and is slowed down by the police, but they’re horribly out-gunned. Cue a kid in Spidey garb who has clearly been raised on too much TV (I can relate) to slip the barricades and stand-up to the mechanized menace. The child looks like he’s about to become an ex-child, until someone shows up in the nick of time.

The music up to this point has been fairly quiet, starting with some melancholic strings to echo the dire straits that the city is in. When we cut to Andrew Garfield musing over his mask, there is subdued brass which starts to build – the echoes of heroism don’t have to remain echoes. Upon rejoining Rhino’s rampage the music carries some weight, like his heavy footsteps breaking the road, mixed with some distortion fitting of this mechanical interpretation. I like this because the score matches what we’re seeing and everyone gets their own theme or motif (not sure which one it is – I’m not musically educated enough).

Right before our hero decides to turn up, there’s a well-placed moment of silence, a moment of stillness as the onlookers and police regain hope that they will be saved. As Spidey takes charge of the situation, the small brass voice returns to the background and starts to swell. You can sense the build-up, the anticipation of the beat-down that is about to be unleashed. The tempo quickens, the music comes alive.

At the moment Spider-Man leaps into action in glorious slo-mo, there is an explosion of brass leading into triumphant fanfare as he deflects missiles in one smooth motion, and then whirls to meet Rhino’s oncoming charge. The final cut of the film is beautifully timed. The first fanfare ends with a double thud right at the moment when the manhole cover connects with Rhino’s face. It’s akin to leaving the film on an explosion. Boom. Roll credits.

The score continues past the cut to black with another fanfare, cementing the return of Spidey to his city-rescuing ways, and even though we don’t see the conclusion to the fight, we’re left in no doubt who won. Rhino is toast.

The placement of all of this – the scene and the score – is rather clever. By ending with such aplomb, the film may have won back some of the nay-sayers who found they weren’t enjoying it so much. It’s certainly there to leave you wanting more so that when sequel announcements surface, you might be less inclined to get angry at Sony Pictures. They’re a crafty corporation indeed.

Regardless of any issues that you might have with the film – and I’m sure there are many – this final scene is a perfect pairing of sound and vision. The score tells the story of the scene and evokes the appropriate emotions at the right times, so credit to Hans Zimmer and his supergroup for closing the film in resounding fashion.

Did this final scene work for you? What tracks from films have stuck in your mind? Feel free to wax lyrical in the comments below.

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