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  • Composed by Pedro Bromfman
  • Sony Classical (!) / 2014 / 54m

The world has finally got what it’s been waiting over a quarter of a century for, a remake of RoboCop.  Somehow my life now feels complete.  Some of us not only remember the original RoboCop, we also remember its score.  It was a Basil Poledouris score – it sounded like Basil Poledouris.  It didn’t sound like anyone else.  It sounded like it had been uniquely crafted for the movie RoboCop.  It didn’t sound like it could have been written for any action thriller released in 1987 or the few years either side of it.  It had a kick-ass main theme – people even remembered it after they had finished watching the movie.  But that’s so 1987.  It’s 2014 now, kids.  But wait… Pedro Bromfman?  He’s not a Remote Control clone.  He’s scored the director’s previous movies – this is the potential big break for the composer as well as the director.  Phew!

No, sorry, no phew.  There is one – and only one – moment of sheer class in this new RoboCop score.  That comes in track three.  It only lasts for 50 seconds, but it’s everything film music should be – distinctive, memorable, creative, honed to the film and the character.  It’s Basil Poledouris’s original RoboCop theme.  The rest of the 55-minute album is the polar opposite – uncreative, almost obscenely generic, the standard John Powell action ostinato everywhere you look, the HORN OF DOOM, it’s all here in this dull-beyond-belief example of the Remote Control poison.  What a shame.  The parts that aren’t dull-beyond-belief – and I must be fair, because there are some – are just yet more Powell/Bourne soundalikes.  Is this RoboCop?  Is it Captain Phillips?  Is it Ender’s Game?  Who knows?  Who cares?  I do, but evidently nobody who actually matters does.

Rating: * | |

Tags: ,

  1. Críticas Cine (Reply) on Wednesday 5 February, 2014 at 22:10

    Mediocrity, mediocrity everywhere… this sound like Jablonsky’s worst efforts.

  2. Jens (Reply) on Thursday 6 February, 2014 at 12:47

    If Bromfman’s score is any indication, this remake is going to be exactly what we all feared. Modern blockbuster scores make me sad.

  3. Manilaman (Reply) on Thursday 6 February, 2014 at 13:32

    I have to agree with the previous post. So much so, that in 2013 I have bought only a small handful of new soundtracks and find myself increasingly listening to old soundtracks.

  4. Nick (Reply) on Thursday 6 February, 2014 at 20:40

    Hip-Hop RoboCop for 50 seconds.

    The rest….I’ll just play the Intrada complete 1987 score instead and enjoy the new remastered 1987 Blu-ray.

  5. orion_mk3 (Reply) on Thursday 6 February, 2014 at 21:32

    I’d feared this based on samples. It seems that the powers-that-be were very clear what kind of score they wanted from Bromfman, which is too bad; I was hoping to hear a distinctive newcomer’s voice on a high-profile project, not the latest thrice-chewed musical cud du jour.

  6. Jens (Reply) on Thursday 6 February, 2014 at 22:06

    Only just noticed the exclamation mark after “Sony Classical.” That’s a nice touch.

  7. Duder NME (Reply) on Friday 7 February, 2014 at 01:45

    Not sure why Powell’s name had to be dragged into this, but I guess I won’t find out until years later when I see RebootCop on Starz.

  8. Clemery (Reply) on Friday 7 February, 2014 at 08:10

    That first paragraph seems true for most filmmusic these days.

    It seems like so long ago when signature themes and motifs were the building blocks of a movie score, but now it is all about the repetitive drone of sampled percussion.

    It almost makes me cry when I think about what has become of this once great and underappreciated genre.

    Saw the film last night, and it was also fairly mediocre, but at least delivers a few (barely) memorable moments… more than I can say for this horrid piece of sonic trash!

  9. Elfenthalsmith (Reply) on Friday 7 February, 2014 at 18:01

    I just saw the film, the score fits its dull, generic but efficient nature perfectly. The theme is heard (well, only half of it) over the title card, just as in the album, then in full as a triumphant jingle during a TV show.

  10. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Sunday 9 February, 2014 at 10:20

    Great review James of BROMFMAN’s “obscenely generic” score…and I agree with the postings of Clemery, Jens & Manilaman as we vent about an unhealthy virus of laziness & unoriginality that has consumed so many composers. You refer, James, to 0’50” of memorable & creative scoring on this otherwise forgetful album…those precious seconds refer to BASIL POLEDOURIS’ heroic RoboCop theme being reprised…BUT there’s a Hollywood composer who made rather unkind & nasty comments about POLEDOURIS’ score. In a Jan 30th 2014 reprinting of a 1994 interview with JOEL GOLDSMITH by David Hirsch, reference is made to STARLOG MAGAZINE #172 Nov 1991 > Hirsch, interviewing LEONARD ROSENMANN [he had scored RoboCop 2] comments “although I found him to be a very nice person, he had the most amazing aura of bitterness when it came to the people he had worked with AND his fellow composers. I was particularly taken aback by ROSENMAN’s lack of respect for the work of fellow RoboCop composer BASIL POLEDOURIS.” Hirsch goes on to say that POLEDOURIS [being interviewed for RoboCop 3] refused to comment on ROSENMAN’s score or his critical jabs.// I’m thrilled, James, that your hómagé to POLEDOURIS’ music in this review, is so accurate & heartfelt.

  11. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Sunday 9 February, 2014 at 12:11

    Rosenman is kind of legendary for his enormous ego, Andre, hence those comments from him come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever.

  12. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Monday 10 February, 2014 at 08:33

    I totally agree Edmund…however, the remarks [re POLEDOURIS’ RoboCop score] by ROSENMAN were so vicious that JOEL GOLDSMITH sent copies of the interview to members of the Hollywood community (including JERRY GOLDSMITH). As Hirsch says “JOEL may have felt that I allowed ROSENMAN to put his foot in his mouth – but I did all I could to keep it from coming out of his arse.” And the moment the recording device starte rolling, JOEL added “BASIL POLEDOURIS is a fucking genius! Now we’ve got that down in print!”

  13. Jens (Reply) on Monday 10 February, 2014 at 10:16

    Rosenmann thought having the chorus sing the word “Robocop” was a good idea, so don’t much value his opinion on the matter. Granted, his score for Robocop 2 isn’t awful, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Poledouris’.

  14. Jens (Reply) on Monday 10 February, 2014 at 14:55

    Found the complete text of Starlog #172 on the Internet Archive:

    Here’s some choice quotes from Leonard Rosenman.

    On style:

    “Well, that’s my style. First of all, you have to understand that — not as far as Goldsmith is concerned — but most of these other people don’t have their own style. Horner certainly doesn’t. They’re very good, but my style existed before I went into films. I came in as a concert composer, and you need to be a trained concert composer to wind up with a style. You can’t get it in film; it’s not possible.”

    On being accused of not being a modern composer:

    “I’ve gotten that criticism from rather stupid critics. It seems to me that The Voyage Home is more modern than any of the other Star Trek films, as far as music is concerned. The other films are basically interchangeable with most other science-fiction films — big themes with electronics that aren’t that extraordinary. If they got someone like Mark Isham instead of Goldsmith or Horner, he would have done something interesting. He’s really a composer for electronic instruments. Someday, I would like to do a score wherein I use electronic music in a way that has never been done before.”

    On RoboCop:

    “I thought the score for the first film was so absolutely dreadful. There was no sense of the orchestra, no sense of drama. It was just a dopey, lousy score, and it just didn’t work. I’m not a fan of Poledouris. The end credits, which is the best opportunity for any composer, was just pasted together. My end title is a real piece of music, and the middle part is something very different from most film scores.”

    • James Southall (Reply) on Monday 10 February, 2014 at 15:11

      I remember reading that before. Extraordinary!

  15. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Monday 10 February, 2014 at 21:27

    Thanks for filling in those toxic ROSENMAN quotes Jens > and, naturally, it now makes sense why JOEL GOLDSMITH was so determined that JERRY should be aware of those nasty comments about his musical stylization in the interview. I’m surprised POLEDOURIS didn’t lash out at ROSENMAN for those devastating and confrontational rantings. As Edmund indicated, ROSENMAN’S “ego was legendary” and I recall reading some of his self-opinionated ravings in Luc Van de Ven’s sadly missed SOUNDTRACK magazine. I can just imagine ROSENMAN’S scathing & vitriolic attacks on the musos at Remote Control.

  16. Jason Farcone (Reply) on Monday 24 February, 2014 at 21:41

    lol.. the only 50 seconds of glory coming from a repeat of Poledouris’ theme. Honestly, though I love Verhoeven’s original Robocop, Poledouris’ score never stood out to me that much.. and even though the FILM is dated and feels 1987ish, the score feels even more so.. unlike well…… CONAN, or Starship, Hunt for Red oKtober, etc.The only two tracks I ripped/encoded/downloaded/forget from Poledouris’ original score were ‘The Dream’ and ‘Home’, from some of the best scenes in the movie*#)@THJNIFQJFII. and of course ‘Rock Shop’… can’t believe they remade it the film; oh wait I can, just like ‘The Thing’ and presumably ‘The Fly’ etc etc etc etc etc etc etca38080380

  17. Jason Farcone (Reply) on Monday 24 February, 2014 at 21:51

    Interesting about Rosenman’s ‘ego’; I haven’t heard a score from him, I don’t think… except, if I RECALLZ (recall recall RECALL), Robocop 2. One of the worst, strangest films, ahem pieces of cinema, ahem, movies eva made. And one must remember, directed by the guy who made The Empire Strikes Back!#!% Still was better than Robocop 3 though, good lord… why Poledouris returned for that one God only knows (must have been around the time he wrote Free Willy and Red October, too.

  18. Jason Farcone (Reply) on Tuesday 25 February, 2014 at 08:20
  19. Rolf Brittinger (Reply) on Friday 15 August, 2014 at 20:42

    Dear James,
    I know I’m rather late with this remark. Just the other day I scanned through the score tracks of this “Robocop” recycling. It just made me cry over the loss of Basil Poledouris and the magical music he used to create.
    I looked up you’re Movie-Wave review and went “Yes, YES, YEEESSS !”
    You found the right words to express my very feelings of this dreadful score and the degeneration of the art of film scoring in general!

    One Poledouris CD reissue is worth more than a few dozen “modern” scores.


  20. tiago (Reply) on Saturday 14 March, 2015 at 15:24

    On the film credits, it says that Pedro Bromfman used Bruce Fowler and Kevin Kaska as orchestrators and Gavin Greenaway as a conductor. Those guys are famous for being worked on a lot of Zimmer’s scores,including the Batman ones. Along with the german himself, they’re probably responsable for creating the “Zimmer sound”, that is spread along Hollywood these days.

    So, here’s what I think it happened: José Padilha, the director, wanted to work with the same guy from his “Tropa de Elite” (Elite Squad) films, but the studio was afraid to give the score of his 100 million dolar blockbuster to a newcomer and, to attract a younger audience, they decided to call the same Zimmer guys to give the music a “modern” sound. Then, this ultra-generic and passionless score might very well be work of a lot of orchestrators and ghost writers, who are just repeating themselves.

    It’s like a Nicholas Dodd situation, but with Zimmer’s people instead. But, in this case, I would really prefer Dodd himself. At least, it would be a funny score, with a lot of David Arnold-like action music.