AGE OF HEROES – Michael Richard Plowman


Original Review by Alan Rogers (First uploaded at maintitles.net)

Age of Heroes stars Sean Bean as Captain Jones, the commander of the newly formed 30 Commando Unit during the Second World War, and we follow this “band of brothers” through their training and into their perilous first mission. The music is provided by British-born composer Michael Richard Plowman. Right from the start Plowman goes for the big theme approach with a significant dose of patriotism and this sound is maintained throughout the score.

During the early discussions between Plowman and the director, Adrian Vitoria, it was clear what was wanted: a “big score” based around themes. And Plowman definitely delivers on the themes, composing three prominent themes. As detailed in the informative liner notes, the score contains a heroic theme that harkens back to the strong themes of the old war movies, there’s the title theme (heard in the titles track “Age of Heroes” and which doubles up as the theme for the character of Private Rains) and there’s a “death theme” that’s used in the more sombre moments of the score. The film’s producers had a very clear vision for the music: it could be thematic but it needed to be “modern”. This meant that it had to be “aggressive, percussive and [with a] thick orchestration”. Given that remit the composer does deliver but I think that they may have tried a little too hard. “Thick orchestrations” overshadow somewhat the time and effort that has been put into using the themes effectively. To me, the feel to the score goes too far to the extreme and it ends up – on occasions – being a pastiche of the modern action score bordering on video game territory. This doesn’t mean that there are no stand out tracks. There tracks include “Battle of Dunkirk”, an exciting action cue that utilises many sections of the orchestra and “Heroes”, featuring a catchy ostinato figure in the strings that is well supported by some nice brass (though it’s not particularly original: the ostinato wouldn’t be out of place in a MediaVentures/Remote Control production and the brass reminds me too much of a theme from something like Harry Gregson-Williams’ Chronicles of Narnia scores). 

The score does sag a bit in the middle with “Dunkirk Mist” and “The Farm House”. These are predominantly atmospheric in nature but rather uninteresting. “Dunkirk Mist” in particular seems to feel it goes on forever: it may serve the film but here it just drags as a stand-alone listen. A quieter interlude to the score should be a welcome relief from the action scoring that has featured in the score up to this point but this is not the case for me. The score is a mix of live orchestra (The Hungarian Studio Orchestra) and synth elements (perhaps including sampled choir) and towards the end of the score tracks such as “Escape, Escape Now” and particularly “Mission and Tower Fight” sounds very synthy indeed. Even the strings sound as though they are artificial and it’s a but grating to listen to. It’s in these latter tracks that the score sounds more at home in a video game.

The score, on balance, is an enjoyable listen and has more positive than negative points. The score concludes with a good suite of the score’s themes and definitely finishes the CD on a high. Age of Heroes is Plowman’s biggest assignment to date and it does showcase his ability to handle the requirements of a multi-thematic score. It is a fun score and certainly worth investigating if you get the chance. Age of Heroes is available on the MovieScore Media label in both physical CD and as a good-quality digital download.

Rating: **½

  1. Age of Heroes (1:19)
  2. A New Hope (1:17)
  3. A Heroes Elegy (1:00)
  4. Battle of Dunkirk (2:22)
  5. March Across The Snow (0:48)
  6. The Last Request (1:01)
  7. Attack On The Ship (0:41)
  8. Heroes (2:00)
  9. Dark Heart (2:27)
  10. Dunkirk Mist (5:09)
  11. The Farm House (1:32)
  12. The Team (1:16)
  13. A Battle of The Fallen (4:37)
  14. Line Them Up To Die (1:06)
  15. Escape, Escape Now (3:18)
  16. Mission and Tower Fight (4:10)
  17. Heroes Last Stand (1:08)
  18. Age Heroes Suite (4:05)

Running Time: 39:24

MovieScore Media MMS11011 (2011)

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