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  • Composed by John Debney
  • La-La Land Records LLLCD 1141 / 2010 / 68:25

Making follow-ups to beloved movies has challenged filmmakers since the earliest days of film (and has left a great number wanting).  The makers of Predators faced the virtual impossible: how on earth could they possibly satisfy the legions of devoted followers of one of the finest action pictures in a couple of generations?  Yes, it was truly no easy feat to try to follow in the footsteps of Alien vs Predator: Requiem, but an intrepid cast led by Adrien Brody (looking disturbingly similar to Bear Grylls) and featuring Laurence Fishburne (in terms of stature resembling a mid-sized planet) tried their best.  Musically, the challenge for composer John Debney was (being serious now) following in the footsteps of Alan Silvestri’s genuinely beloved music for John McTiernen’s revered 1987 film; he has (and I’m not sure whether this is a compliment or not, really) proved on numerous occasions that he is able to do very good impressions of other film composers, so he was an ideal choice here – and there are times when it’s hard to believe this music wasn’t written by Silvestri himself, even when not directly quoting the original themes.

There is quite a lot of music from the original film in here; Debney adapts it very well and gets a rollicking performance of it from the massed Hollywood musicians.  The addition of electric guitar is a little disconcerting (and I’m not sure it works all that well), but that’s the only black mark there.  The original material is some of the darkest that this composer has written – growling and snarling, there aren’t any particularly memorable new themes but there’s highly-effective and really enjoyable music here.  It’s pretty creative at times, too – I especially like the use of the Tibetan long horns, creating a very appropriate sound.  Alas, I must resort to my most frequent refrain – this album simply doesn’t show off the music at its best.  68 minutes is at least 30 too many.  A decade or so ago, long releases like this weren’t possible – loads of people moaned, but it meant album producers were forced into taking great care over the listening experience of the album, being sure to select something which truly worked.  Now, they can just indiscriminately chuck every note on the album without even thinking about it – and it’s done so much harm to soundtrack albums.  For all the good music here, making the album 68 minutes long means the chances of me ever returning to it after typing the last word of this paragraph are very slim indeed.  I may still be in a minority with thoughts like that, but I suspect a growing band of people are going to reach the same conclusion before long – it’s time to bring thoughtfully-sequenced albums back, ones designed to maximise the listening experience.  By all means present the rest of the music as bonus tracks, even give instructions on how to sequence it into film order for those listeners who don’t care about the listening experience – but let’s get this major blight on the face of soundtrack releases of the last decade (from just about all labels) sorted out.  So ends my thought for the day (one I’m fully aware is unlikely to be resolved any time soon).  ***

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  1. Mastadge (Reply) on Thursday 21 October, 2010 at 22:18

    I absolutely agree re: the length. Especially when there’s a huge amount of material on here that’s basically a note-for-note reprise of Silvestri’s original work. I’d much rather have had a few interesting iterations of Silvestri’s themes punctuating a greater focus on Debney’s original material, all with a runtime of, yes, ~40 minutes sounds about right for this sort of music.

  2. Kalman (Reply) on Friday 22 October, 2010 at 09:51

    I agree too. It’s very rare when an album justifies its 70-80 minute lenght. For me the aim of a soundtrack album is to collect all the significant musical pieces from the film and thus give back the memory, the mood of the movie and an enjoyable listening experience. I don’t like when every 15 second long insignificant musical piece is on the album.
    I think score releases were much better some years ago when 45-50 minute long albums were the standard.