The tracks are thoughtfully arranged out of film order, producing a fluent narrative...
Morag Reavley 2003
As comic book characters go, America's X-Men are pretty hardcore. With leather bodysuits and goth make-up, they look like a death-metal band after a particularly indecent night out. They're a long way from British comic-book heroes Lord Snooty and Desperate Dan.
And the film score for the second in the X-Men film franchise is suitably big, bad and baroque. Unlike the first - scored by Michael Kamen with mixed results - X2 is scored by John Ottman, director Bryan Singer's long-term collaborator, and a specialist in the macabre and malevolent. Previous work includes the delightfully-named Eight Legged Freaks and Snow White: A Tale Of Terror. The ideal qualifications, then, for orchestrating mutant super-heroes.
Ottman is a self-confessed Star Wars fan, and the John Williams heritage is evident from the start. Opener "Suite from X2" actually the films closing sequence introduces the scores wares: a driven main theme heavy with sawing strings and timpani; brassy flourishes and epic swoops; brooding sequences and hypertensive choirs.
The tracks are thoughtfully arranged out of film order, producing a fluent narrative based on flamboyant, over-the-top character themes. Mystique's "Sneaky Mystique" is predatory and mysterious, with a tinge of evil. "Cerebro" sounds suitably thoughtful, with intellectual strings. Like the devil, though, Ian McKellen's sinister Magneto gets the best tunes; "Magneto's Old Tricks" is a grandiose choral number full of menace and unexpected turns.
Which is where Ottman really departs from his Star Wars templates - in the darkness of his imagination, played out to the full in "If You Really Knew" with its squealing choir and eerie, made-up sounds.
This is an engaging and surprisingly listenable score, with Ottman a worthy contender for the epic adventure musical crown. Can't wait to hear his score for Desperate Dan: Attack Of The Killer Cow Pies.