Two war movies released very close together, one from America and one from Russia, both telling or re-telling stories based upon true events. The film from Russia is T-34 which tells the story of the Russian built tank that was produced in their hundreds during WWll, it also focuses upon the German invasion of Russia and the vital role that this tank in-particular played in fighting the Nazi war machine. It also has an interesting storyline which is the central thread of the movie, with the Nazi’s realising that Russian tank crews are better than their own, so they recruit POW’s who are tank crew members to train their own tank crews. Things however do not go as planned, the Nazi’s think that the Russian tank is unarmed as the training begins, but this is not so and the T-34 blasts its way out of the POW camp, the film then tells the story of the Russian crews attempt to return to the Red Army and of how they are pursued by German Panther tanks. It’s an exciting and quite graphic movie, with realistic looking battles and a strong cast and script. The second war film to be released is MIDWAY and yes it tells the story of the battle of Midway again in the second world war, but this time involving American and Japanese forces, sadly it’s a repeat of the debacle that was PEARL HARBOUR a few years ago, and yes there are factual events portrayed but why do Hollywood movies add bits and pieces, well I suppose its for dramatic effect, oh and yes to make money too, there are spectacular effects in the movie but I think they spent a lot more on these than they did the story, so it’s a no from me for this slice of Hollywood tat. The Russian movie is in my opinion far superior its gritty and realistic rather than glitzy and well boring. But it’s the music that I am really concerned about, so MIDWAY, yes where do we start? The score is by Thomas Wander and Harald Kloser, and is a work that sadly is rather heavy on grating synthetic cues, which outnumber the symphonic elements by the sound of things, I listened through three times and could only really find one cue that I thought might be of any interest which is track number seven THIS IS IT, its dramatic and forthright in its overall sound, but short lived and does not really develop into anything that one can latch onto to call memorable, I am not going to talk anymore about this film or its score, as it is another wasted opportunity in the case of the music to create something that at least has hints of themes, I think the composers must have listened to DUNKIRK and thought, oh yes “THE DRONE THE JARRING AND REPETATIVE SYNTHETIC SOUNDS, WE WILL GO FOR THAT”.
So quickly moving on to the score for the movie T-34, the main credit for the score is given to composer Vadim Maevskiy, but on looking at the soundtrack details one can see that it is a collaboration of various composers and artists. These include, Ivan Burlaev, Dmitry Noskov and Alexander Turkunov. However, the music is consistently very good indeed throughout and one would assume that this is the work of just one composer. T-34 is a growling, brooding, dark and ominous sounding score, which perfectly suits the films storyline and its action led and often brutal scenes. This is a score that is effective even with the sounds of battle raging, it is a fusion of choral, symphonic and synthetic and although it certainly sounds as if the synthetics have the upper hand here it never declines into a mish mash of harsh sounding and jagged stabs which are not entertaining but only annoying like so many other film scores these days. In the hands of the right composer, electronics are effective and the sounds achieved can be remarkable, which is the case in T-34, there are a couple of cues that I did think were a little out of place, ATTACK(track 5) for example, which to me sounds initial more like a backing track for a song by Coldplay with strumming rock orientated guitars and percussion driving these and also in DEATH (track 6) we hear the influence of electronic or sample scoring, which I have to say I am no fan of. I think it was Maurice Jarre that told me an electronic score was far more expensive to create than an orchestral one, which surprised me as I thought it would be vice versa. T-34 has some really nice poignant moments and that is all they are moments because most are brief respites in a work that is geared up to be powerful and action themed. RAGE (track 8) is a stand-out cue, again largely synthetic, it is still effective and possess a driving and relentless sound that is an integral part of the movie and the scene that it supports. As the piece builds and develops the intensity of the drama also becomes more prominent. Which can also be said for track 9, TOP GERMANS. Then as if out of nowhere comes APPELPLATZ, which begins in a rather apprehensive fashion, with percussive elements introducing the piece, the mood however soon alters and the music becomes softer and more welcoming or melancholy, with rich strings making an entry punctuated by bell effect and beautiful choir, the mood soon reverts to a darker and more martial sound as it melts away. FIRING FIELD too is a cue that just oozes quality, with driving strings and solo trumpet creating a forceful and wonderfully infectious sound before this combination and introduction fades to segue into a lilting piano solo. This is an interesting soundtrack, it is up-beat, emotive, patriotic and at times chaotic and harrowing and one that I think you should take a listen to. Available on I tunes, and Spotify.