In 2003 Elfman originally only had Tim Burton's Big Fish on his plate. But that change when he was called in to write a replacement score to Ang Lee's Hulk. Originally Mychael Danna wrote a score but I guess the studio didn't like what he came up with and wanted something more traditional. Although Elfman's score was far from traditional, imo. But the studio wanted someone who had experience in this particular genre. As well as someone they felt comfortable with.
Ang let (or demanded) Elfman get out of his comfort zone. And enabled him to write something unique from his other superhero scores. Something that you wouldn't expect from Elfman. I think Elfman succeeded. The amazing thing is Elfman had a month to score Hulk. So that alone is impressive. To come up with something unique and unlike anything he's ever done before.
Elfman's Hulk is another dense and textural score from him. It's also very percussive and ethnic. It really fits Ang's vision like a glove, imo. I also like that motif he gives the Hulk . It represents the psychological side of Hulk and Bruce Banner. As well as Bruce's childhood. I also like that he doesn't give Hulk a heroic theme/march since Hulk is an anti-hero at least in my eyes. But this is more of a thinking man's comic book score. Just like the film is a thinking man's comic book movie. I think the score really compliments the film nicely. The film wouldn't be as effective without Elfman's score, imo.
The "Main Titles" is very different from yor average superhero main titles. As well as Elfman's own superhero main titles (even Darkman). It's Herrmann-esque. Elfman does a homage to Herrmann's Vertigo. This main title (just like Elfman's other main titles) set the tone for the film perfectly. It lets people know that this isn't your average superhero movie. It feels psychological, tragic, dark and plenty of things that describes this Hulk and film perfectly. It also matches the images it's written for. It really sets you up for what's to come.
"Betty's Dream" introduces Bruce's and Betty's love theme. It fits what little romance Bruce and Betty had in the film. It's very beautiful and touching. As well as unique from Elfman's other love themes. Although it's similar to Elfman's POTA love theme. It also really goes well with the scene it's written for. The scene wouldn't be as effective without it. I also like the vocals by Natasha Atlas, which added more beauty and depth in the cue , imo. Though there are some micro- edits in the track.
"Captured" is another track that showed a side of Elfman we haven't heard before. Though this version is slightly different than the one in the film. This cue is played during the long scene where Banner is captured and being taken to a government facility by air. Natasha Atlas' vocals really elevate the track and is performed very well by her. I remember people were saying this track sounded like Black Hawk Down, why ? B/c it had vocals and ethnic music playing while helicopters are flying and soldiers are being shown?
Please this track sounds nothing like Zimmer. In fact I take this track over most MV/RC cues/scores.
"Hulk Out" cue really lives up to it's title. I love how the music builds up more and more. It's like a ticking time bomb ready to explode. It turns tragic, frustrating, angry, and chaotic. Elfman really nailed that scene. I like how the music was when Hulk sees his father after his destruction of the lab. Very touching and sad then it gets dark and angry just like the character itself. The theme ends off on an epic and strong note as the Hulk jumps in the air.
"The Truth Revealed" is a very sad and tragic track that reveals Bruce's and David's past. Atlas once again sells it with her vocals. She performed her vocals are beutifully and sad at the endof the cue. This track was oscar worthy, imo.
"Hulk's Freedom" is a beautiful, epic and peaceful track that captures what the Hulk is feeling as he's jumping in the air and enjoying his freedom. It really captures Hulk's freedom and feels like you're up there with him.
"A Man Again" is probably the highlight of the album b/c it really captures that scene so well. When Hulk is surrounded by the army in the middle of San Francisco as Betty tries to calm him down. It's a beautiful and sad track. It really enhances the scene and wouldn't be as effective without it.
"The Lake Battle" is an amazing track and is not scored like a typical comic book movie action scene, imo. It feels like something else. It's almost philosophical. He really takes the Hulk motif to epic proportions when Absorbing man strucks Hulk with lightning and you see Hulks silhouette in the clouds. I love how the music is when the camera pans through the ice river and pans though Hulk's mind. And as he tells his Dad to "Take it all !". The music was very strong and powerful. This track left an impression on me back in '03'. This track felt like something more than an action cue about Hulk and Absorbing man. It was a battle of wits. I remember I got a similar impression from Don Davis' "Neodammerung" track from The Matrix Revolutions score that same year. Both tracks felt like something more than just action music, imo. I can't put my finger on it. "The Lake Battle" is definitely one of the most unique action cues in any movie, imo.
Overall I like all the tracks. Each track have something I like about them. Some are heavily edited though, but still make great listening. This is another score that takes repeated listenings to appreciate. The score seems to be liked by some up here b/c of how unique it was from Elfman's past work and superhero scores by other composers. Some have complained that it felt rushed. But it doesn't to me. And I enjoy it everytime I listen to it. I think it's another great score from Elfman.