The Toy Soldiers Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score The Toy Soldiers by Nathaniel Levisay.
At a glance:
39 minutes of score
Geek Score: 83.6
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 12.6
Album Excellence: 32%
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The Toy Soldiers is a 2014 drama film written and directed by Erik Peter Carlson and starring Najarra Townsend, Constance Brenneman and Chandler Rylko. It’s a movie set in the 80s and the director wanted to make a movie that sounded and felt like the 80s. It’s a drama movie about these characters from different walks of life whose stories intertwine in an 80s roller rink called The Toy Soldiers. It was originally a Kickstarter project where they only asked for $6.000 and got just over $8.000 to fund it. So it’s quite the low budget film, but just reading about it and watching the trailer twitches that nostalgia bone of mine. I LOVE the 80s and I LIVED the 80s. It is my favorite decade by far and I can’t wait to dig into the soundtrack produced by Howlin’ Wolf Records where there’s a mix of songs and score by Nathaniel Levisay. I know Nathaniel from a couple of excellent horror scores, but this one has to sound a lot different. I’m hoping that it can evoke some feelings inside me and revisit the past and a decade that I love so much.
We start with ‘Main Title, The 1980’s’ and it begins with a swirling synth rhythm, not necessarily 80s, but an ambiguous one. The main theme starts at 48 seconds in with a very nice warm motif. I like the synth pads just after 2:20, very warm and inviting. Ok, so it’s not the 80s explosion I had hoped, but it’s a good start. ‘Prove Something To The World’ is getting me closer to the decade I love with lovely synth pads, warm and lovely. I think this is the cue where they present all the various characters and their back stories. Must have been quite a hard cue to score, but Nathaniel said that the characters themselves didn’t have themes so that eases things a bit. If each character should have a theme, it would probably make for a very messy cue. I love this cue, it’s so calm and wonderful and does remind me of the glorious 80s. ‘We’re Rock Hard’ takes the main theme and does something really great with it. I like the instrumental choices Levisay has done here. The part from 2:15 is epic with the added percussion of a rock God. Let it happen, it’s awesome.
In the middle we leave the 80s a bit and go into contemporary drama mode. ‘The Hellacious Tale Of Mary Part I’, ‘Our Rad Beats Couldn’t Save This Place’, ‘You’ and ‘Don’t Want To Miss Out On My Something’ mostly feature guitar, synth pads and doesn’t stand out in any way, but it’s good solid drama scoring for any kind of drama film these days. ‘The Hellacious Tale Of Marey Part II’ goes a bit back to where it began, in the realm of synths even though there’s a guitar playing the motif. ‘Is This A Moment’ depicts a rape scene for the movie and it was no doubt hard to find the right sound and balance for this cue. It starts warm and nice, very simple. At 1:17 a scary sound appears, like something from the horror movies and it’s interesting when it’s used on top of such a warm and welcoming piece of music. There’s a subtle ghostly voice appearing just before the 2 minute mark. Can’t make out what the voice is saying, but it adds flavor to the music. The nice synth underscoring completely disappear midway in the cue at around 3:30. A thin eerie string is playing along with ghostly voices and effects. A synth is plying along with the strings, but it’s warmth is gone. This is now a shift in temperature to the much colder. at 4:25 the voice appears in much stronger force. I don’t believe it’s words, but just singing. This is the climax of the cue as the warmer synths come in again around 4:50 portraying maybe the aftermaths for that horrific event. It’s not a comfortable cue to listen to, but it stems from an uncomfortable scene. The music is solid like the rest of the score. ‘The One Who Loves You’ takes me to a nicer place, like a beach in the 80sm just contemplating and thinking while watching the waves in the distance. Lovely strong synth pads that is an instant time machine for me. ‘The End Of An Era And Finale’ is the ending cue which starts with a very strange effect. Wonder what that’s about? It quickly goes to a more standard drama scoring mode with guitar and synths. A nice cue to end a good score.
So The Toy Soldiers didn’t quite deliver what I’d hoped. It had moments of wonderful music that made me emotional thinking back to a wonderful decade, but it also had some standard modern drama cues which I could do without and yet I enjoyed it all. The Toy Soldiers is not a time machine, it’s a very good and solid drama score set in the 80s. Even though it mixes modern scoring with the 80s sound, it comes across as quite consistent and good to me. I would also like to mention the 4 tracks by Daily Bread and Gloss which are great music for us 80s kids.
2. Prove Something To The World *
3. We’re Rock Hard
10. The One Who Loves You