Visit the Movie Wave Store | Movie Wave Home | Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer | Contact me
Impressive, creepy music from Ottman
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 The Weinstein Company; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
It's a bit surprising that Oliver Hirschbiegel - acclaimed German director of Downfall and many others - would choose another remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers as his first American film, but his presence, along with that of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in the lead roles, led some people to believe the film might not actually be completely awful. But then the studio panicked, thought the film was too arty, and so brought in Andy and Larry Wachowski of The Matrix to make it better by reshooting chunks of it. I'm sure I'm not the only person whose passing interest in seeing the film was removed at that point.
With the troubled post-production, it's not clear who hired John Ottman to provide the score, but whoever it was made a pretty good decision since it's his most complex and one of his most satisfying scores to date. He adeptly combines orchestra and electronics for a generally unsettling score, with an appropriately-otherworldly feel. The opening cue - "Life Goes On / Dance of the Cells" encapsulates all of this - it's nothing earthshattering or even particularly new, but the fluttering electronic effects are clever, and the slightly off-kilter theme is creepy enough. The first action music appears shortly afterwards, with a hint of Marco Beltrami about "Escape with Ollie / Basement" - the composer keeps up the tense air even while letting the orchestral loose, and once the cue turns into a suspense-laden piece with a far more dissonant feel, it has a kind of organic air to it which is entirely appropriate.
Much of the score is an extension of the ideas developed during those first two cues, and the sense of everything growing from initial seeds is an intelligent one. One criticism of Ottman I have made over the years is that his music just isn't that interesting sometimes, it sits on the surface and doesn't delve any deeper, but that is certainly not the case here - both dramatically and musically, it retains interest throughout. It's one of those modern scores where the electronics are used to provide a unique sound rather than because the composer is too lazy to do anything else, and some of the most unsettling sections are extremely well-done, with the orchestration remaining interesting even when electronic sounds are diving all around the orchestra.
There is a level of depth and intensity here which makes the 49-minute album consistently impressive. While by its very nature, the music is not the easiest to listen to, it goes far beyond anything Ottman has done before. I hope he can maintain these standards in his future projects, because if so he will be a real force to be reckoned with. Highly recommended.