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Gigantic score from Arnold full of massive moments, great themes
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 TriStar Pictures; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
With the huge box office receipts of Independence Day still pouring in, Sony must have thought they were on to box office dynamite when they got Roland Emmerich in to direct Godzilla. Sadly for them, the mysterious factor which drove so many people to go and see Independence Day even though it was absolute rubbish was not in evidence with the new film, and so the (admittedly, even-worse) Godzilla was not much of a success either financially or critically. Much to the delight of film music fans, Emmerich teamed up with composer David Arnold for the third time; much to the same group's dismay, the original score album was cancelled after it became apparent the film wasn't going to do very well.
Now, nearly a decade later, fans of the score have finally seen their wish granted by La-La Land Records, who have released it in complete form, running not far off two hours. Musically it is very much an extension of Arnold's previous scores for Emmerich (Independence Day and Stargate), ie it is extremely big in every respect. The main Godzilla theme is an impressive creation, both grandiose and ominously imposing. It's rather familiar to anyone who has heard Bernard Herrmann's indelible Cape Fear, but it works very well in this context.
There are numerous other themes too - my favourite is a grand (well, everything in the score is grand) march for the military which is decidedly John Barry-ish in certain ways, but you can also throw in an over-the-top love theme, some suspense music which isn't far from what Arnold wrote for his first Bond score, Tomorrow Never Dies, and some action music which combines all the above (with added choir).
My problem (cue groans and "here he goes again!" from a segment of the population) with this type of music, which starts big, remains big, and ends big, is that because every single scene is scored as if it's the most epic and sweeping piece of cinema ever produced, the effect (even on disc) is diluted very quickly. Largely gone, I realise, are the days when film composers truly built up scores as musical journeys - and I also realise that "subtle" and "measured" are not words likely to have made their way into Roland Emmerich's vocabulary - and I also realise that with a film as risible as Godzilla, maybe there was nothing else Arnold could do - but these reasons don't invalidate the point.
Despite that, this is hugely enjoyable music, throughout. It's the kind of grand-scale film music based entirely around identifiable, catchy melodies which just doesn't get written much these days - it's a real shame that Arnold hasn't been able to write anything even vaguely like this in the years since (I appreciate that you could hardly provide this type of score to Four Brothers or Amazing Grace). It's a comprehensive release from La-La Land, not only including all the score, but also lengthy notes from Dan Goldwasser which provide an entertaining summary of the film's production history and a brief interview with Arnold discussing his approach to the score. With only 3,000 copies pressed, and it being such a popular and long-requested score, I wouldn't hang around too long before buying.