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Deep Rising
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Intrada / 2014 / 68m

A very entertaining trashy tongue-in-cheek monster movie, Deep Rising (hilariously marketed as a cross between Alien and Titanic) sees Treat Williams board a cruise ship with the intention of looting its valuables, only to find that the passengers have all been killed by an undersea monster and he and his mates have a real fight on their hands to escape with their own lives.  It was widely derided at the time, though I’m not sure why because it’s gleefully unwilling to take itself seriously and is likeable throughout.

Director Stephen Sommers had worked with Bill Conti and Basil Poledouris on his previous two films, demonstrating excellent taste, and got a film music legend on board Deep Rising in the shape of Jerry Goldsmith.  According to Jeff Bond’s liner notes for this album, Goldsmith “walked away from the film with great notices” – which is rather surprising to me because I remember the absolute slaughtering this score received from the film music community.  At the risk of throwing stones from within my glass house, I note for instance that Bond himself wrote in the pages of Film Score Monthly at the time that the score was “a limp adventure retread” which hearkened “depressingly back to the one-note, galumphing horror marches of Leviathan.”  And he was far from alone.  I never really understood why virtually everything Goldsmith did in the 1990s was so gleefully trashed by most film music writers – and now the expanded releases of the very same scores are treated with much rejoicing by the very same people.  Perhaps it was just a case of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Jerry Goldsmith

Jerry Goldsmith

I’ve always enjoyed the score – I did not imagine that for a 1998 B-movie featuring a woman being sucked to her death through a toilet cistern by a giant monster Jerry Goldsmith was likely to concoct some combination of The Sand Pebbles and Alien – it’s lowbrow fun of the highest order.  The album opens with “Underwater Grave / The Saipan”, as from the film (the opening cue on the old Hollywood Records album was not used in the film) – which is where the entertaining main theme is heard for the first time, a rousing piece of adventure music.  But for the most part the score is much darker than that (and is indeed rather similar at times to the even more underrated Leviathan, another film about a creature from the depths of the ocean) – murky brass and winds with the colour, strings the atmosphere.

As with his other 1990s action thriller scores, electronic percussion is used to augment the orchestra for the action scenes and it’s all done with the usual Goldsmith panache (it’s interesting that his 90s electronic percussion has on the whole not really dated much at all).  There’s no doubt that it’s in the action music that the score’s highlights are to be found.  The brief but frantic “Collision Course” is so typical of the composer during this era.  “On the Road / Dragged Under” is undoubtedly the best of the previously-unreleased music, driving and propulsive and exhilarating.

“Let’s Make a Deal” is terrific , marching ominously forward in grand style.  “Lurking Monster” has a great little action passage to start and leads into the explosive “Wall of Water”, a battery of percussion (live, this time) raising the thrills to a higher level still – it’s classy, pulse-pounding action music.  “The Flare Gun”, now a kind of calypso beat underlying the action, is a great little piece.  Best of the lot is the fantastic “E Ride”, a barnstorming action spectacular like only Jerry Goldsmith could do.

There’s some top suspense music here too – “Boarding the Ship” creates masses of tension before the composer unveils an expansive, militaristic theme.  “Loose Arm” builds gradually, deliberately towards its explosive climax.  Not heard so much but offering a nice contrast to the rest of the score is a gentler tone from time to time – the lovely “No Gentleman” early on, later the genuinely emotional “Leila’s Gone”, surprisingly touching in its opening moments.  It all ends with a brilliant end title piece, “Hang On”, the calypso beat now in full force under the terrific main theme before a new theme is heard in the second half of the cue, an heroic piece which would also have been heard over the opening titles had the sequence not been cut from the film.

Deep Rising ticks all the right boxes for a score like this.  It’s exciting, energetic and great fun.  The Intrada album is about double the length of the old one and, while the majority of the highlights had already been released, there’s some excellent new material here.  The cost of that is that the score no longer plays like one long action spectacular – and some of the shorter cues that now punctuate the action don’t really help the flow of things.  The word of the day is entertainment and there’s no shortage of that; it’s not high art (presumably why it met with such a frosty reception originally) but not everything in life needs to be.  Intrada’s package is very good – the music sounds spectacular and Jeff Bond’s enthusiastic liner notes show he reached the right conclusion in the end.

Rating: *** 1/2

See also:
Leviathan Jerry Goldsmith | |

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