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Decent but pretty standard thriller score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 TriStar Pictures Inc.; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
Anne Hathaway plays a therapist in Passengers who tries to help the only five survivors of a plane crash. Until, that is, they start disappearing, one-by-one. Can the man she has fallen in love with really hold the answers to the unfolding mysteries? (I should write trailer voice-overs!) Rodrigo Garcia's film doesn't sound likely to cause much of a stir, but it's the most high-profile film scored by talented composer Edward Shearmur in three years. It's extraordinary that the composer responsible for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow has gone on to Epic Movie and College Road Trip, but it's always hard to predict how composers' careers will pan out given that they are oddly based on box office receipts and not talent.
Having said that, it is not a great score, remaining pretty firmly entrenched within standard thriller territory, though it's very slick and professional. The main theme, for piano, is effective at creating a sense of mystery accompanied by a hint of romance, though it would be a bit of a stretch to say it's especially original or indeed memorable. Perhaps where the score succeeds most (on album at least) is when Shearmur cranks up the suspense, cleverly using electronics to capture a vague sense of unease while keeping forward motion. Outright romantic music doesn't appear until "Motorcycle Fix", which is completely lovely, though it does seem to belong to a different score. The later "At Peace" is just as lovely.
Elsewhere, there's some quirky music which owes a clear debt to Thomas Newman, in the use of percussion, strings and what sounds to me like a sitar (though regular readers will know that my ability to identify non-standard instruments is not one that could rightly be regarded as being amongst my more impressive). Shearmur has created a careful atmosphere here which is pretty impressive, but there is nothing especially distinguished about the album when compared with those from many other thriller scores. The nature of the film doesn't allow him to ever really let fly with anything explosive, and he doesn't pull off the spooky unease with quite the aplomb that people like James Horner and Christopher Young have done in recent times for similar films. Still, it's nice to have any new album from this composer, and let's hope he can recapture some of the form that led him to becoming one of the most impressive young composers around, not that long ago.