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  • Composed by Trevor Rabin
  • Sony Classical / 2015 / 38m

An old-fashioned family adventure movie, Boaz Yakin’s Max follows the story of a former service dog and his adventures with a little oik called Justin.  It didn’t get good reviews but has been reasonably successful considering its relatively low budget.  Fifteen years earlier, director Yakin worked with composer Trevor Rabin on Remember the Titans, a sports movie for which Rabin wrote a typically feel-good, easy-going score which is one of the best he’s ever done.  Even back then his style felt a bit like a throwback, though admittedly not thrown back all that far (specifically to the Media Ventures rather than Remote Control cheesy action sound of the mid-1990s) and, after a few years in which he hasn’t written much new film music, it turns out that his style is still basically precisely the same as it was back then.  The anthems, electric guitars, samples doubling orchestra (which sounded pretty awful in 1995 and sounds considerably worse in 2015), synthy drum loops – they’re all here.  There’s a sweet little main theme, some very familiar Rabin action music, mostly in little bursts (there are 17 tracks on the 38-minute album so nothing has any time to be developed).

The score’s main strength is its warmth, which feels very sincere and is hard to dislike; but the cheap-sounding symph-and-synths mixture which you could get away with back in 2000 because it seemed like everyone was doing it now sounds really rather archaic.  There are some nice ideas in it, including some really decent tunes, but the arrangement lets it down so badly – it sounds like it’s a low-budget tv movie score, or even the cheesy musical accompaniment someone’s done for a family game show or something.  Take the noble, lovely horn solo of “Fireworks Display” – it would be superb if it were just allowed to breathe but instead it’s got these samples and synths all over it, a hideous electric piano just before it, and it just spoils it.  It’s a shame because it wouldn’t have taken that much to turn these musical ideas into something that held together much better in 2015.  If you’re still listening to and enjoying Rabin’s scores of 15-20 years ago then you’ll certainly enjoy this one too but I’m not sure how big that demographic might be.  It feels like the product of a very different time.

Rating: ** | |

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  1. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Thursday 23 July, 2015 at 08:14

    Good ol’ Trevor Rabin…there’s something oddly comforting about his absolute refusal to evolve. 😀