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Latest reviews of new albums:
Solar Crisis
  • Composed by Maurice Jarre
  • Intrada / 2014 / 63m

A team is sent from our planet to drop an antimatter bomb into the sun in order to prevent a solar flare that might destroy Earth entirely.  That’s the story of Solar Crisis, an absolutely disastrous Japanese-financed movie from 1990 starring Charlton Heston, Tim Matheson, Peter Boyle and Jack Palance.  It was directed by Richard C. Sarafian but audiences watching the credits will have noted the absence of his name and instead the presence of Alan Smithee… rarely a good sign.  Something that surely couldn’t go wrong was the score – at least on album (it was seriously garbled in the film and partially replaced by Michael Boddicker) – since it was composed by the great Maurice Jarre, who conjured up some of the grandest and most wonderful symphonic works ever heard in film, including a legitimate contender to be the grandest and greatest film score of them all, Lawrence of Arabia.  True, in the years leading up to this he had been alternating that kind of grandeur with terrible synth scores – but surely not on a film like this.

Well… oh dear.  Oh dear oh dear oh dear.  The album opens with a “Prologue” which is filled with every “impending doom” cliché from the film music cupboard, rumbling brass and percussion, and it sounds like a kind of comedic parody of 1970s disaster movies that might have felt more at home in a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker production.  Then comes “Hear That Note?” and Jarre dumps the orchestra and pulls out his synthetic bag of tricks; if you like prancing around the garden wearing nothing but your pony tail and your beard, listening to your elaborate collection of wind chimes, then you’ll absolutely love it.  And the album then plays out as a combination of the two – truly, frighteningly awful new agey electronics mix with generic, forgettable orchestral bluster.  Things do pick up a bit towards the end with a gorgeous cello solo in “Meeks’ Demise” which is completely ruined by the pounding electronics cheapening it to nothing; and then for the lengthy last two tracks, “Alex Sees the Light” and the end credits running 15 minutes between them – but those two focus on a shamelessly blatant “Carmina Burana” knockoff which appears from absolutely nowhere.  Despite those few positives, I’m left at the end of it all wondering if this amateurish rubbish could really have been composed by any professional film composer, let alone one as gifted as Maurice Jarre.  It’s staggeringly bad.

Rating: *

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