- Composed by Tuomas Kantelinen
- Lionsgate Records / 2014 / 58m
Renny Harlin has directed more films since Cutthroat Island than he did before it, but I think it’s fair to say that his career never really recovered from its disastrous showing. His latest is The Legend of Hercules, billed as the “origin story” of the mythical Greek figure, and it’s been another disaster with both critics and audiences.
One bit of good news was that Harlin would team up again with composer Tuomas Kantelinen on the film. The outrageously talented Finnish composer has been on my radar since I heard his gorgeous Deleruvian Mother of Mine back in 2005; this film seemed to offer the chance to do something different, with a large-scale sword-and-sandals epic score surely called for. The album does indeed start off very well, with the muscular main theme introduced in “The Fall of Argos” (presumably not chronicling the demise of the conceptually-peculiar chain of British shops). There’s a lovely romantic theme heard in the following piece, “Hercules and Hebe”, which also includes some lovely James Horner-style “sounds of the forest” fluttering winds. But the piece briefly includes something I certainly didn’t expect to hear, with the now maddeningly familiar Remote Control percussion. True, Kantelinen doesn’t succumb to all the clichés, but I’d have thought this sort of scenario (established composer/director relationship, composer outside the Hollywood mainstream) would be one of the last remaining safe havens from all that.
Often in the action music there’s a kind of ridiculously pumped-up synthetic bass and I almost fell of my chair in horror as perhaps the worst of Hans Zimmer’s poisons on film music – making real brass sound sampled – first reared its ugly head in “Fight”. And from that moment on, much of the action-dominated album sounds like a higher-end Remote Control score, really – you can still hear Kantelinen’s own voice, just about, but it seems to be watered-down rather, and it’s such a shame that such a talented composer would feel the need to do that, presumably in order to write something considered palatable to the modern audience. Still, it would be churlish to overplay my hand – there’s a lot of enjoyable music here, and it’s on a far higher plane than some of the low-rent scores of which it is sometimes frustratingly reminiscent. The themes are powerful, several individual moments really do stand out… it just always feels like there was something more there and had that been unleashed, it would have been spectacular.