- Composed by Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams
- WaterTower Music / 2014 / 64m
Batman and Robin screenwriter Akiva Goldsman has finally realised his lifelong dream of directing William Shakespeare with this classical adaptation of the Bard’s comedy. With a digitally-recreated John Gielgud starring as the King of Sicily, Emma Watson as Hermione and able support provided by Derek Jacobi and Brian Blessed, both in multiple roles, it seems almost certain to dominate the movie awards season in a year’s time, and in fact I would be amazed if it isn’t still packing out the multiplexes long beyond even that. The score is credited to Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams and manages to be largely inoffensive without much ever actually happening in it. The twinkly opening track “Look Closely” is the kind of morosely beautiful but deliberately anonymous music you might hear in a Cancer Research advert, aiming for something like James Newton Howard’s Lady in the Water but never being close to getting there. That’s really the whole thing in a nutshell – it feels churlish to throw out insults because it’s clearly well-intentioned, but it’s always a bit like Tesco baked beans – there’s beans, there’s tomato sauce, it’s hard to see how it could go wrong, but you’d never taste them and not wish you were having Heinz instead.
Things gently plod along for the next hour or so – some twinkly bits, some spooky supernatural bits, lots of gentle oohing and aahing. You can almost hear the boxes being ticked off at the same time you can sense the onset of diabetes from all the sugar. But even if you like the sugary bits – I don’t, but some people will – you will surely find the other parts hard to digest, because so little happens. The lengthy “I Love Blood on the Snow” briefly rouses itself from the slumber, but that’s only when it adds a sugary chorus. It’s only late on – a couple of minutes in the second half of “The Girl With Red Hair” (in the Cancer Research advert, it would be over the bit where they go through the great progress that has been made) and the more dynamic parts of the final score track “Becoming Stars” (the only time the music sounds remotely like Hans Zimmer, to be honest) – that finally anything happens that feels really worth listening to. The rest is not awful, honestly it isn’t, but I’m struggling to think of anything particularly nice to say – it’s just so bland, so innocuous, there are literally thousands of film scores in a similar style which are better and which you’d reach from the shelf before this one. Rachel Portman might not write the most substantial music for this kind of film, but her twinkly piano scores seem to be as weighty as a group of sumo wrestlers after a Pizza Hut buffet compared with this. Anyone listening to audio clips, or maybe a track in isolation, will probably think I’m mad. The beans are there, so is the tomato sauce. But listen to the whole thing – and you want Heinz. I know I’ll get hate mail, probably death threats, and the people who write those will as ever admire how wonderful the emperor’s new clothes are looking, particularly in that delightful beige colour. Sorry, I like a bit of meat on the bone.