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NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS
Brief sampling of sequel score is very entertaining
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 The Walt Disney Company; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
After the first film was a box office success, a sequel to National Treasure was somewhat inevitable. In fact the second film, Book of Secrets, sticks so close to the formula of the first film that it's barely a sequel at all, almost a remake. This time the intrepid treasure-seekers, led by Nicolas Cage, go all around the world - the highlight is a fantastic car chase in London, which must have been monumentally difficult to stage. It's just as silly, but just as enjoyable, as the first film (with the added bonus of very enjoyable banter between Jon Voight and Helen Mirren as Cage's divorced parents) and I for one wouldn't object to another one being made.
Composer Trevor Rabin was back on board. His music for the first film was amongst his most enjoyable, and for Book of Secrets he delivered essentially more of the same. Unusually for a $200m-grossing summer blockbuster, there was no soundtrack album at all - but several weeks later, a small sampling of it was put up on iTunes by Disney. For a two-hour film with almost constant score, releasing just 22 minutes of it seems extremely tight (I don't suppose it would actually have cost them much more to put more music there, considering it's download-only) but still, it's all there is. I can understand download-only releases for very risky undertakings (obscure scores by obscure composers) but for something like this I don't think we're at the time yet when it's acceptable.
The music begins with "Page 47", reprising the first score's main theme - but in a more vividly-orchestrated (and actually far better-orchestrated) arrangement. It's easily Rabin's most memorable and entertaining theme. "Cibola" is an enjoyable piece of action music - the synth percussion sounds a bit cheap, but the little orchestral flourishes (including a reprise of a violin solo surprisingly introduced in the first track) are solid. "Spirit of Paris" introduces a fun little accordion theme (it is compulsary that all Hollywood films which have a scene in Paris must feature accordion music).
"City of Gold" is a wonderful cue, full of wonder and excitement as the treasure is discovered. "So!" reprises the Thomas Newman-style music of the first score - and of all the American Beauty impersonations over the last decade, actually Rabin's is one of the most entertaining. "Bunnies" introduces some lighthearted action music dominated by pizzicato strings; "Gabby Shuffle" returns to the more heavy-going action music of earlier in the score; and then "Franklin's Tunnel" brings things to a rousing conclusion. This is all "leave your brain at home" stuff, but it's so enjoyable, who cares? Any fan of Rabin will want to download this (and hope a lengthier release happens some day, but that seems highly unlikely).