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Decent, gritty action score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
Video games are becoming more and more cinematic; action films are become more and more like video games; but there is one constant in the world, and that is that film adaptations of video games are absolutely terrible. No ifs, no buts - they're terrible. But teenage boys all over the world somehow break themselves away from masturbating for a couple of hours to flock to cinemas to see them, so they keep getting made. After a couple of interesting (if not especially good) remakes, Flight of the Phoenix and The Omen, director John Moore turned his hand to this film; and brought his usual composer, Marco Beltrami, along for the ride. The score is co-credited to Beltrami and Buck Sanders; I'm not sure what the division of labour was, and all the liner-notes explain is that Sanders was brought in to use his "now-infamous boxes" which doesn't particularly help very much, but Sanders's name has appeared as additional composer / arranger / etc on a number of Beltrami scores going back over the last decade or so.
After four minutes, when the first track offers mercy to the listener by ending, one would be forgiven for racing for the eject button before more misery can be inflicted through the speakers, but fortunately it turns out to be something of an aberration - the electronic pulse does return later on, but the orchestra is dialled up considerably. It's not a large orchestra by Hollywood standards, but the composers use it well to create a really murky sound world but one in which melody still has a part to play. It's very cold music - high-end strings and a detuned piano dominate the acoustic portions - but very effective.
Surprisingly, it's the action music which isn't quite so impressive. On paper it should be OK - the electroncs are well-incorporated, the brass is clear and sharp - but there's such a sense of familiarity, it's hard to get too drawn in by it. Far more interesting is the more creative music elsewhere. I particularly love the unusual instrumentation in evidence again (something of a Beltrami trait) and am astounded at the raw emotion the composers generate in "Heaven to the Max", a piece which soars with feeling. Kudos too for the pun-laden track titles. It's not A-grade Beltrami by any means, but it's a nice album which survives one of the least-promising openings I can think of.