Sunday, March 15, 2009

Movie Score Review: The Dark Knight (2 CD Special Edition)

When The Dark Knight came out, I bought the mp3 version of the one-disc score from Amazon. However, a short while ago it came to my attention that a 2 disc version of the score had been released. Oddly enough, the first disc was identical to the original release; the second disc had additional, unreleased music plus four "remixes". I absolutely had to have that additional music (except for the remixes; I hate remixes). Given the cost of the set (an outrageous $51.99) I was very grateful that Amazon allows you to buy individual tracks for $0.99. Thus, I spent an additional $10 and effectively ended up with the 2 disc score.

Although I enjoyed the Batman Begins score, The Dark Knight is substantially better. While it may not work as stand-alone music for some listeners (the music is closely tied to the tone and events in the movie), it is a fantastic work with a good balance of exciting, menacing, thoughtful, and tragic music.

The score is dominated by three musical cues: Batman's, the Joker's, and Harvey Dent's/Two-Face's. Batman's musical cue shows up from the first movie effectively unchanged. The Joker is given an atonal synthesizer score that is very appropriate for the portrayal of the character (throughout the movie I was able to predict when the Joker was about to appear since he is often preceded by his theme). Finally, Harvey Dent's/Two-Face's musical cue, like the character, depicts both dignity as well as tragedy.

My only complaint is that, like nearly all scores, the music is incomplete (about an hour or so of the music from the movie is missing). Nor is the music presented in the correct order. In fact, several individual tracks contain music from disparate parts of the movie. This is standard practice for movie scores, but it would have been nice to see The Dark Knight get the same treatment as Star Wars Episodes I, IV, V, and VI or the extended Lord of the Rings scores.

The music that's there is excellent, but the score's incompleteness and disorder earns the collection a 4 1/2 out of 5. By the way, if you intend to purchase the score, save yourself about $33 and buy the mp3 version of the collection.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Horrors of Collecting

Hi, my name is James and I'm a collector.
(support group) Hi, James.

Those who know me know that I collect a variety of things, all of them of a geeky nature: Godzilla movies, Star Wars books and comics, Star Wars Legos, etc. This is particularly difficult when the items you collect have limited availability. For example, any particular Star Wars Lego set is usually available for about a year to a year and a half. However, certain exclusive sets (especially those exclusive to Walmart or Target) may only be available for six months. Thus, in order to maintain the completeness of my collection, I run out and buy those sets, whether I have money on hand or not. Fortunately my wife hoards her allowance money (yes, we each receive an allowance; it keeps our frivolous spending down) and she'll often give me a loan. I was indebted to her for about three months after the last major release of Lego sets.

I usually check Amazon for items whose availability will soon be uncertain. I start to worry as soon as the "usually ships within..." changes from "two to three days" to "two weeks". The closest call I had was when Amazon stopped carrying a Star Wars Republic comic I wanted. I bought it for a reasonable $12 from an independent seller. Within two weeks a new copy of the comic was going for about $100.

The latest panic involved the two Godzilla movies Invasion of Astro-Monster and The Terror of Mechagodzilla. Apparently Classic Media has recently discontinued their Godzilla DVDs. Classic Media was the company that had been releasing the awesome two-disc collections of early Godzilla movies: one disc with the dubbed version released in the US and one disc with the original Japanese version with English sub-titles (the only way for a true fan to watch a Godzilla movie). Once I was able to get over my horror, off I went to borrow money from my wife so I could buy the two movies on Amazon. Astro-Monster will be coming from an independent seller, but he's covered by Amazon, so it's all good.

The collector's life is a hard one.


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