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Artwork copyright (c) 2001 Morgan Creek Productions, Inc; review copyright (c) 2001 James Southall
It is less a reflection on Trevor Rabin and more on the state of film music today that he finds himself being one of the most in-demand film composers in Hollywood. His scores are exactly what modern-day directors and producers seem to want - a whitewash of sound, much of it synthetic, to essentially hit the audience over the head by over-emphasising every emotional turn of the movie. He writes tuneful themes and his scores are very popular with younger collectors, but I'm yet to catch their appeal.
The best film music - and this applies in 2001 just as much as it did in 1941 - does not emphasise what is already apparent, but rather stresses characters' feelings and emotions. Sometimes these emotions are not clear from the dialogue and setting alone and the music can play a key rôle in bringing them out. I have asked the question before, and have never received a response, but I simply don't see the point in the music communicating the bleeding obvious. The majority of directors (and possibly even composers) seem to feel the complete reverse of this, however.
It is not too much of a stretch to say that it would have been possible to write my review of American Outlaws without having seen the film or heard the score. All of Rabin's scores seem to follow the same pattern - a dominating main theme, a small orchestra, array of guitars and large synthesised percussion section, most cues being completely interchangeable and all having little or no dramatic impact. American Outlaws is no exception.
If you like Rabin's previous work on movies like Armageddon and Deep Blue Sea then you will also like American Outlaws, because it's the same score. The melodies may vary a little but essentially he could be using some sort of Microsoft FilmComposerWizard; I see little benefit in listening to such music and can only note that if this is where film music has ended up after a hundred years of evolution then something has gone very, very badly wrong. American Outlaws makes for dreadful listening with no redeeming features that I can detect. I'm sure Rabin's thousands of fans in both the record-buying public and Hollywood director circles would disagree.