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2012: Supernova – The Sci-Fi Film Music of Chris Ridenhour
  • Composed by Chris Ridenhour
  • MovieScore Media / 2011 / 71:42

The Asylum is a film studio which makes ultra-low-budget “mockbusters”, versions of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters that go direct-to-video (for instance, this year’s Battle of Los Angeles – try to guess what that one’s based on).  Providing the music for many of these films is the composer Chris Ridenhour, whose music has now been released on three compilation albums from MovieScore Media.  This album focuses on his sci-fi scores.  It’s important to note that this music is created with barely any budget at all – it’s samples all the way, but they’re expensive ones and the music is very much written in the orchestral “style”.  Ironically, that sets it apart from the music that appears in some of the films with the $200m budgets – Ridenhour’s adventure-packed music from 2012: Supernova is infinitely more interesting (and closer to David Arnold’s music for the director) than the wretchedly bland stuff that actually got written for Roland Emmerich’s 2012.

Princess of Mars is my personal favourite of the five scores represented on the album.  Relentlessly exciting, thematic, it’s just the kind of music that gets many film music fans’ pulses racing. Transmorphers: Fall Of Man is another score that seems far more palatable than the one for the film this one’s imitating.  It’s action-dominated again, but the suite does conclude with a tender theme (“Memory”) which shows another side to the composer. Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a little darker – and, while “subtle” wouldn’t be the right adjective, it’s certainly a little less in-your-face than the other scores here.  The disc concludes with The Terminators, which is more Elfman than Fiedel; and again, very enjoyable.  This album is a brilliant presentation of the music – suites  between around 10 and 20 minutes from each film.  If I were to compare it with music by another film composer, it would be Brian Tyler – with all the boring bits cut out.  Unfortunately, the great drawback (which isn’t one affecting Tyler) is the budget.  The music just cries out to be played by a big orchestra, and isn’t.  If you can get over that, there’s a huge amount of fun to be had.  ***

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  1. orion_mk3 (Reply) on Monday 4 April, 2011 at 02:28

    Having heard the sound samples, I was intrigued. It’s great that someone finally got around to reviewing it so I know that it’s a plunge that should be taken.

    Out of curiosity, will you be reviewing the other two MSM Ridenhour releases?

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Monday 4 April, 2011 at 07:31

    I certainly will!