Latest reviews of new albums:
Big Miracle
  • Composed by Cliff Eidelman
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2012 / 51:23

Big Miracle follows the true story of the attempted rescue of whales that got trapped in the freezing ocean off Alaska in 1988, repackaged as a children’s film starring Drew Barrymore.  The biggest miracle as far as film score fans are concerned is that it features an original score by the talented Cliff Eidelman, his first for three years and only his ninth since the turn of the century.  The film is directed by Ken Kwapis, hiring Eidelman for the fifth time.  But those hoping that the film might have inspired some grand, sweeping music should temper their expectations somewhat – the composer has provided a score which is certainly “nice” – everything about it is “nice” – but grand or sweeping, it certainly is not.

The subdued opening title cue sets the tone, with its somewhat subdued feel as percussion is highlighted over a smallish orchestra.  It sounds very much like the type of music Mark Isham writes for his more serious dramatic projects, and that feeling permeates much of the score – a feeling of restraint, a reluctance to truly take the shackles off.  There are exceptions to this, and these are the most memorable and most impressive of the score.  Early on, “National News” sees the lovely main theme given some space to breathe; later, the moments of high drama provide the best chances for good music, with some terrific action material in “Pressure Ridge” and “The Russians Make a Bet”.  Only during the final four cues, as the story nears its conclusion, does the composer finally let loose and allow the music to soar with the kind of passion one might have expected.  One key problem is that the album is made up of a lot of brief, very similar cues through much of its middle section – had twenty minutes of that been cut, the resulting product could have been far stronger.  As it is, it’s all inoffensive and perfectly pleasant, but just a little too bland.  *** |

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  1. Luc Van der Eeken (Reply) on Sunday 19 February, 2012 at 10:47

    You’re absolutely right. The fact that Varese advertised this as a lush and sweeping symphonic score got me salivating because Eidelman made his name with rousing music but this is not it. It’s very low-key and even a bit dull.