Soundtrack Review: BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
Creating score for a film that is ninety percent artillery unloading at breakneck speed for two hours is no easy task. It is difficult enough to hear a character’s dialogue over the chaos, let alone a carefully conducted string section. But without score, the emotional backbone needed to connect to the audience to those characters would be lost and the film could end up considered just an elaborate fireworks show. BATTLE: LOS ANGELES takes us into the war zone that Los Angeles has become as a group of Marines try and save the few surviving civilians while fighting off some out-of-this-world attackers.
Composer Brian Tyler is no stranger to navigating the tricky (and amplified) waters of scoring for action films with a resume that includes films such as CONSTANTINE, EAGLE EYE, and ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: REQUEIM. Tyler takes that experience and with BATTLE: LOS ANGELES has created a score that is bursting with dramatic orchestration and just enough electronic elements to keep it interesting and fresh. As one would expect, pulsating percussion drives the tension throughout, but then plateaus into hopeful strings and choral elements. It is this feeling of hope that runs throughout the score and is needed in a film that seems to be dealing with anything but.
The film’s theme (sounding almost like something from the aptly named band, Explosions in the Sky) is first introduced in the opening track, “Battle: Los Angeles Hymn,” and is echoed in various tracks over the course of the film (“Marines Don’t Quit” and “Abandoning Los Angeles”) to continue to give the audience that emotional tie back to the heart of the story and the reason you want these characters to keep fighting. While watching the film, it was difficult to really get to know the core group of characters well enough to truly care about their fates and this theme helped provide that tug needed to separate the film from a mindless video game.
The percussion elements not only help to drive the action, but almost sound like a military march. It is these subtle touches that give Tyler’s score that little something extra which make it stand out within the film and on its own. If there is one song that sums up the feel of BATTLE: LOS ANGELES it would be “Redemption” which drives you to the edge of your seat and does not let up from beginning to end. These more aggressive tracks are interspersed with tracks like “Elegy” and “Shelf Life,” which work to slow down the action and give us a moment to breathe, helping the driving tracks stand out all the more.
The soundtrack is dense at twenty-two tracks, which can get repetitive when listening to it on its own, but within the film it works to keep up the tension as well as the emotional connection to the characters. This is not a collection I would not necessarily purchase as a whole for personal listening, but I did enjoy particular selections, such as “Battle: Los Angeles Hymn” and “We Are Still Here,” which bookend the collection and stand well on their own merits. Tyler succeeds in creating a score that fills in the emotion where the story fails to provide it and does an impressive job of weaving together both electronic and orchestral music to sound not only current, but also (at times) slightly other worldly.
This soundtrack is available through Varese Sarabande.
1. “Battle: Los Angeles Hymn”
2. “Battle: Los Angeles Main Titles”
4. “Marines Don’t Quit”
5. “Command And Control Center”
8. “For Home, Country And Family”
9. “War Hymn”
11. “To Hell And Back”
13. “The Freeway”
14. “The Drone”
15. “Casualty Of War”
18. “Shelf Life”
19. “The World Is At War”
20. “Abandoning Los Angeles”
21. “Battle: Los Angeles”
22. “We Are Still Here”
All songs on this soundtrack composed by Brian Tyler.