Latest reviews of new albums:

These Disney “live action” remakes continue apace, with Pinocchio getting reviews that are – even by the standards of these things – truly dire. I have to say, I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. Is Pinocchio supposed to look like a “live action” object? Or is he supposed to be an animated character somehow interacting with the real world? What’s Albert Einstein got to do with it? What in the name of all things happened to Robert Zemeckis in the 21st century? Etc.

We do get a new Alan Silvestri score, of course – this composer/director relationship being one of the most enduring there has ever been. And even if the films haven’t been much to write home about for quite a long time now, you can usually trust Silvestri. His music for this is absolutely vintage Alan Silvestri – he could essentially have written this score at any point in his career. (It’s interesting how some of the top composers continually reinvent themselves – and others don’t. Give or take the early Synclavier stuff, and the later arrival of the drum loops and synth pads, this composer has remained really steadfast.)

This is the composer in typical family movie mode. Sweet winds, warm horns – the lovely main theme which emerges in “Am I Real?” is a winner, as is a secondary theme introduced in the very next track “I Can Talk and So Can You”. They rarely get much room to breathe, though: this is Mickey Moused up to the rafters, constantly flitting from one idea to another even within the generally rather short cues. It’s quite exhausting, really.

It’s also at times quite sickly sweet and, as Chris Eubank would say when observing an arboretum, twee. This is especially true of the songs – some carried over from the original Disney Pinocchio (including “When You Wish Upon a Star”, of course), plus some originals by Silvestri and his usual lyricist Glen Ballard. Honestly, I’m not sure I’m ever going to recover from hearing Tom Hanks singing “Pinocchio, Pinocchio” – pre-diabetics will very quickly be able to dump the “pre” if they come into contact with it.

As big a fan of Silvestri that I am, I have to say I struggle with this one. For the bulk of the score there are ingredients there that feel like they should work – magical little twinkles, an undoubted natural warmth, and some really big and boisterous action material – but it just doesn’t hang together, for me. Dare I say it feels a little hollow? – perhaps one might even say, a little wooden.

What does work very well is the final part where the action suddenly becomes much grander and feels more coherent: here Silvestri is able to inject his magic in a more interesting way, sustaining ideas in a way that the bulk of the film seemingly did not allow him. This starts in the second half of the somewhat curious “Pleasure Island” with some really striking blasts of brass and continues in patches for the rest of the album. The dramatic swell in “Somebody Help Me” is very satisfying; perhaps best of all is “Monstro Attack”, full of grand gestures and ebb-and-flow.

The main title track that closes the album will get a place on most people’s Silvestri playlists for sure, but I’m not sure the rest of the score will stick long in the memory. As good as some of the late action is, it doesn’t really make up for the bulk of the album, which might feature a lot of the composer’s trademarks but just doesn’t gel the way his best work does.

Tags: ,

  1. Marco Ludema (Reply) on Tuesday 27 September, 2022 at 17:18

    A part of me is hoping Silvestri is gonna be announced as the composer of the upcoming animated Mario movie. Not only because he’d do really well with the material, but it would be hilarious given that he scored the original Mario movie in the ’90s.

    • jjstarA113 (Reply) on Friday 30 September, 2022 at 04:05

      That would indeed be very hilarious and awesome