- Composed by Steve Jablonsky
- Varèse Sarabande / 2013 / 71m
Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game has come to be regarded as one of the finest science fiction novels of recent times, spawning a universe of sequels and a devoted fan base. It follows the story of the military training of a young boy considered to be mankind’s last real hope against an alien menace. There was some considerable controversy stirred up once this film adaptation (starring amongst others Harrison Ford and Ben “You can call me Sir Ben” Kingsley) was announced because of Card’s apparently deplorable personal views on a highly-charged topic; I don’t really understand why nobody cared about these when his most famous novel wasn’t being made into a film and, having actually read the novel (presumably unlike most of the people complaining), none of the controversial opinions have any bearing on it in any case.
They weren’t the only troubles plaguing the film and, after post-production had just begun, the entire post-production crew (including the original composer) were fired and replaced by cheaper alternatives. Eventually Steve Jablonsky was announced as the composer; I don’t want to be too cruel but this could hardly be considered a promising sign as to the quality of the film. If the filmmakers had made an attempt to incorporate its grown-up, complex social subtext then surely they would have trodden an alternative musical route. Presumably what they actually wanted was music to appeal to the audience of Transformers.
And that’s pretty much what’s been delivered. This lengthy album features non-stop surface-level, in-the-moment music which sadly makes no dramatic or emotional impression or seems to have any purpose other than provide the desired sonic wallpaper. I’m sure that’s exactly what was requested, though I’ll never understand why that seems to be for many filmmakers film music’s raison d’être right now. I won’t bother with another diatribe against modern film scoring techniques led by the Remote Control group (my Man of Steel review says all I need to say on that topic) – this is just another entry to add to the long list of entirely interchangeable, generic, personality-free scores that have been so prevalent in recent years.
The HORN OF DOOM is here – of course it is – the action ostinato you’ve heard a million times before is here – of course it is – whatever orchestra there may be is drowned out by the orchestral parts being doubled or replaced by synths – of course it is. There are times when even scores that fit all those descriptions can still be very enjoyable if they contain a decent tune or two – sorry, none here. Is the undulating electric cello solo perhaps intended to add a touch of class? But it can’t – the composition isn’t distinguished enough for it to. The choir, the grand swirling string phrases – every moment here is scored as if it’s the most important moment in the film. So, of course, none of it has any impact. It’s a great mush of sound, indistinctive and unmemorable. 21 tracks are indexed but it’s hard to know whether any of them is different from any of the rest. Actually, I’m exaggerating – some of the muscular anthemic scoring which becomes more prevalent towards the album’s conclusion is more attractive – even then though, it’s all been heard so many times before, and done with considerably more aplomb in a lot of Remote Control scores even of the more generic variety.
It goes without saying that I’m a miserable old fart and I shouldn’t be so cruel, Jablonsky’s only doing what he was asked to, he works so hard; and in any case what do I know about anything? Lots of people enjoyed the music in Transformers and Battleship and whatever and the same people will no doubt enjoy this. (Those people probably stopped coming to Movie Wave a while back.) I think it’s a crying shame that such a big-budget adaptation of such a major science fiction novel – this is the genre that has inspired so many brilliant film scores – should end up with music like this, even if the film does turn out to be atrocious (as the trailer suggests it probably is). About the best thing I can think of to say is that it isn’t as bad as Battleship. But, sorry, it’s still terrible.