- Composed by Alberto Iglesias
- Sony Classical / 2014 / 78m
Ridley Scott is back in historical epic mode for Exodus: Gods and Kings, with Moses (Christian Bale) leading the Hebrews from Egypt. The film has courted controversy before release because apparently it does not strictly present the truth as reported in the Bible. Musically, you never quite know what you’re going to get from a Ridley Scott film. After the Marc Streitenfeld years, which will never be spoken of again, he has made a couple of very surprising choices, going with Daniel Pemberton for The Counselor and now the extremely talented Alberto Iglesias for this movie. But… he still “did a Ridley Scott” and we find the soundtrack album with three cues (twelve minutes) credited to Harry Gregson-Williams and eight (18 minutes) credited or co-credited to Federico Jusid. I don’t know the circumstances that led to that – I doubt it was by design, but you never know I guess; the good news is the resulting score isn’t particularly disjointed. The bad news is that it isn’t particularly distinctive either. It’s great to see some of the terrific film composers to have emerged in Spain being given their chance on big Hollywood blockbusters, but a shame that they seem to have to hide the qualities they showed to make them stand out in the first place and dumb down to appeal to the Hans Zimmer generation when they do get given that chance (see also Fernando Velazquez’s Hercules).
The score isn’t bad at all – it’s action-packed and modern, like a Remote Control take on The Mummy perhaps, but melodic and predominantly orchestral. Iglesias’s technique can’t be disguised completely and several of the score’s highlights come from hearing the beautifully clear instrumental lines – including ethnic touches – in the score’s more tender passages. There’s a heartmelting melody in “Goodbyes” which is just exquisite; a profound sadness in “Alone in the Desert” which is sheer class. “Into the Water” comes closest to a genuinely epic sound. Some of the action is thunderous and exciting (particularly in Jusid’s cues, actually – “The Chariots” is great). It’s just such a shame that an Alberto Iglesias score for a movie like this had to be done in this way – surely if left to his own devices this composer would have done something a little more special. It’s all done very professionally and sounds perfectly slick, but some of the melodies don’t really stick in the mind, the action could be from virtually anything and only occasionally do you get the sense of it actually being anything special. Everything’s just like you expect the score from a 2014 Biblical epic to be like; it just isn’t necessarily what you want it to be like. Ironically I imagine the score will find much more praise from those who would not usually count themselves fans of Iglesias than those who would. The album is an enjoyable enough way of passing 78 minutes – parts of it rise above the generic and have something to offer the more discerning listener – all of it has entertainment value – so read my words more as a lamentation that it isn’t what it could have been rather than it being bad.