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Simplistic war score is enjoyable enough
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Electric Holdings (Flyboys) Inc.; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
Tony Bill's Flyboys tells the true story of a group of American airmen who volunteered to join the French in the First World War, before their own country had officially entered it. Starring James Franco, it did disastrously at the box office despite OK reviews, but is the sort of thing that might do better on DVD. After being a surprising choice, but writing a fine score, for The Great Raid last year, composer Trevor Rabin now doesn't seem so strange a choice for this type of project and he duly delivers another of his feel-good scores.
The opening title begins with a celtic lilt, which is enough to strike fear into the heart of any film music fan, but this quickly gives way to more serious music, based - as is usual for Rabin - around strong melodies, but including appropriately-militaristic orchestration. The generally cheerful mood successfully underlines the enthusiasm of the men the film's about, but more than this, it's a sense of pride and inspiration which drives the piece on, extended further in the "Training Montage" which follows. There's surely little doubt about what the temp-track was (John Williams's theme from The Patriot) but for its obvious roots, the piece is still nice.
The score generally continues in this entertaining-but-insubstantial mode. Even in the more serious pieces ("Cassidy Funeral", "Dogfight") the music remains so simplistic it is difficult to detect anything lying beneath the surface of the music. So, while I can understand why a composer like Rabin would be employed on projects like this (his ability to write "inspirational" music which has been in such evidence on a slew of sports movies), the listener does end up pining for something just a little more substantial at times. This is clearly more Pearl Harbour than Band of Brothers. One exception is the lovely, tender "Rawlings and Luciane", a rare moment of calm in the score; the other is the excellent action piece "Heroes", the score's best track, where (dare I say) the Media Ventures air about everything is dumped and it actually sounds like a real orchestra playing properly-orchestrated music. Finally, "Battle Hymn" is a surprisingly touching choral elegy.
All of this leads to a really-entertaining album of light, easy listening music: it is hard to sit and really listen to it, by itself, but easy to appreciate it as accompaniment while you're doing something else. Anyone who liked The Great Raid or Rabin's sports scores will doubtless love it, though it's probably not quite as impressive as the former.