Movie Wave Home
Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer

Composed by

* *

Album running time

Performed by
conducted by


Engineered by
Music Editor
Produced by

Released by
Serial number
302 066 707 2

Artwork copyright (c) 2005 Paramount Pictures; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall



Bland accompaniment is exactly what the director wanted


Back in and around the 1970s, science fiction was the most interesting genre for film composers to work in.  For sure, there were some terrible films, but it was an era of directors allowing composers to explore worlds in a challenging and interesting way.  Logan's Run won't go down as a great, or even a good, film but it allowed Jerry Goldsmith to produce a music score of the most extraordinary complexity and intelligence.  Just one year later, John Williams followed George Lucas's suggestions and wrote Star Wars, responsible in no small part for reinvigorating orchestral film scores as a whole; and the very same year, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he explored a far more personal side of the genre.  Before the decade was out, Goldsmith again was on hand to provide music for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  If ever there is an argument for a film appearing to be a set of visuals which appear for all the world to have been designed merely to accompany breathtaking music, then that's it.

Sadly, there aren't too many directors around today with the confidence of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Robert Wise, who are happy with the films they have put together and are willing to allow a composer to add his or her own voice to them.  Filmmaking is of course a collaborative process, but it is a director's medium, and the composer has to act on the wishes of the director; but even so, it is impossible not to get depressed when one reads a comment as stupefyingly idiotic as that made by Karyn Kusama, director of Aeon Flux, in her brief notes for this album: "for me, the score always felt like it should be both epic and supple, projecting itself into a future world, but simultaneously tied to a world of older, more nostalgic sounds."  She wanted this to be accomplished by using drum loops, washes of synths and samples, and the occasional string phrase thrown in.  Star Trek: The Motion Picture is not a great movie.  But people will be watching it one hundred years from now.  I suspect that the shelf-life of Aeon Flux will be about ninety-nine years and eleven months shorter than that.  I don't want to suggest that the music is the only reason for this, but it's certainly a big reason.  Scores don't have to sound like pieces of 19th century romantic music in order to become "timeless" (Logan's Run is firmly rooted in 20th century styles, for one).  But it is so sad that modern directors so misunderstand and underestimate the importance of music in their films.  It isn't there to provide wall-to-wall background noise, it's there to shape the audience's response to what's happening on screen.  It includes the use of silence, heightening the impact of the music when it does appear, allowing the composer time to work on the parts of the film that really do require it, rather than just providing anonymous support to fill in the gaps between the 30-second extracts from whatever tunes are considered most likely to sell "soundtrack" albums.  It's sad.

You have to pity poor old Graeme Revell for his part in all this.  I don't know how I've ended up having a rant to quite that extent in this particular review, but I suspect that it's because it almost feels like the release of the final Star Wars movie is just about closing the circle on that whole style of film scoring.  If Aeon Flux is a sign of things to come, then we're in trouble.  In fairness, Revell has done the best job anyone could under the circumstances.  (By the time he had been hired, the unlikely Theodore Shapiro had already left the movie, to be replaced by the team of Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, who themselves then left.)  He was left to provide the requisite wallpaper, never allowed to be too intrusive (a film score that is actually distinctive to people watching the film!?  How very old-fashioned!)

His music is based around mainly textural strings augmented by dreamlike piano solos and lots and lots of electronics.  For a while, it works well enough, and the opening couple of cues are strangely compelling, and the composer does his best to inject some human interest in cues like "The Relical and Keeper", but it all runs out of steam before the end.  It's the perfect example of a modern science fiction score, making reasonable background music, but never being distinctive enough to be truly satisfying.  I don't expect every new score to be as good as Logan's Run or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but it would be nice to have even the vaguest suspicion that the director would consider a score as good as those to actually be relevant in a modern film.  Still - on the plus side, the album booklet does feature several nice pictures of Charlize Theron.

Buy this CD from by clicking here!


  1. Bregna 2415 (4:45)
  2. The Panopticon (2:31)
  3. Una Flux (1:12)
  4. Torture Garden (2:37)
  5. Monican Mission (1:12)
  6. Good Boys (2:39)
  7. The Kiss (3:17)
  8. The Relical and Keeper (4:19)
  9. Cloning Discovery (5:14)
  10. Grenade / Monorail Chase (3:49)
  11. I Remember (1:37)
  12. The Cherry Orchard (3:50)
  13. Oren Goodchild Dies (3:39)
  14. Destroying the Memories (4:01)
  15. Aeon Flux (3:32)