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  • Composed by John Frizzell
  • Varese Sarabande 302 066 986/ 2009 / 47:48

It’s been a while since John Frizzell scored something as high-profile as Whiteout.  The film hasn’t been terribly well-received, but still, it stars Kate Beckinsale, which is all I need to know.  She’s trying to hunt down a murderer in Alaska. One reason I like this film (well, apart from Beckinsale) despite having never seen it is that it’s the first time I can ever remember a score produced by Hans Zimmer and composed by one of his underlings (in this case Atli Orvarsson) being rejected and replaced by a score by someone who doesn’t fall into that category.  I don’t know who it was that saw the light – but whoever you are, have a drink on me.  Frizzell’s score might be no masterpiece, but there’s a level of craft and attention to detail in it which makes it more than worth a listen.  For instance, his use of an electric cello to accompany the cold, white landscape is inspired.

But the score’s most notable feature is its action music, of which there is a surprising amount.  It’s nothing groundbreaking – it’s just well-written, exciting music.  It’s not high art or anything – of course not – but it is most entertaining.  Best of all, Frizzell knows when to dial things back – so we don’t get hit by an unlistenable onslaught, he doesn’t over-orchestrate everything, instead he keeps things in check and goes just as far as he needs to and no further.  It’s a shame that doing something is now considered praiseworthy (one might hope it should be a pretty basic skill of any film composer) – but we are where we are.  As I said, it’s not going to pull up any trees, but it’s a professional and entertaining release and I thoroughly enjoy listening to it.   ***

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  1. Ben (Reply) on Monday 28 September, 2009 at 12:22

    Yawn…. with grinding predictability, Southall takes yet another swipe at Hans Zimmer and bemoans how the sacred art of film music has gone downhill. It seems Southall never misses an opportunity to make some cheap potshot at Zimmer, even if it’s relevance to the work under discussion is extremely tenuous.

    I agree that Zimmer has become somewhat overexposed of late and I certainly don’t like all the stuff to come out of Media Ventures either – but come on, James, the sheer frequency of cheap pot shots and elitist insults is getting boring. WE ALL GET THE POINT ALREADY. Zimmer sucks and film music isn’t the glorious wonderland it used to be.

    Does every second review have to have some tired variation on that one theme shot through it?

    If you really must keep saying again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again that Zimmer sucks and film music has gone downhill then please be more inventive in your vitriol than this and ensure that it’s more relevant to the work under discussion…. or better yet, just stick to talking about the work at hand.

    I learnt very little about this actual score from your review other than it’s not overorchestrated, features electric cellos and that your guess is it’s better than a rejected score by one of Zimmer’s proteges, that most likely you’ve never even heard (am I right? or have you actually heard it?)…. most of the review was just a stale regurgitation of stuff you’ve said in other reviews about how the world of modern film music isn’t anything like the glory days of the great film composers
    (and really, how much longer are you going to keep flogging that dead horse?)

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Monday 28 September, 2009 at 20:05

    To be honest it was only meant as a throwaway comment (and it’s only two sentences out of two paragraphs), but they do still keep scoring films, so that’s why I keep making them. I don’t think I said anything about “things ain’t what they used to be”, did I? I don’t really remember the last time I did say anything like that – there doesn’t seem much point just flogging a dead horse, you’re right.

  3. Schnurpsel (Reply) on Tuesday 29 September, 2009 at 09:34

    I agree with your review (even with that dead horse thing 😉 ) but NOT with the location of the movie you´ve mentioned. It´s not Alaska… it´s Antarctica! 🙂

  4. Alex Cope (Reply) on Tuesday 29 September, 2009 at 15:10

    Apparently Ben hasn’t read your review of Gamer… of all the reviews to get worked up over… sheesh.