2012 Supernova: The Sci-Fi Film Music of Chris Ridenhour

Composed By: Chris Ridenhour

Distributed by: Moviescore Media

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Recently, Moviescore Media released three CD compilations dedicated to the musical compositions of American film score composer Chris Ridenhour.  Each release contains a specific theme: science fiction, monster films and fantasy films.  This time around, I decided to check out 2012 Supernova: The Sci-Fi Film Music of Chris Ridenhour.

            Composer Chris Ridenhour studied musical composition under William Averitt at Shenandoah University and learned the art of musical scoring while working for Todd and Janice Hayden in Los Angeles.  While under their tenure, he worked on musical scores created by such greats as Lalo Schifrin, John Debney and Mark Isham.  By 1999, he was composing a ballet, Chaya’s Letter, for the Carol Solomon Dance Company and Stephen Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation.  By the year 2000, he was creating his own musical scores for film, and in the year 2007 began working with the film production company known as The Asylum.  The Asylum is known for recreating or building upon cult classic science fiction, fantasy and monster films.  Chris Ridenhour and The Asylum proved to be a lucrative match-up with Ridenhour producing scores for such notable films as The Land That Time Forgot, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Megashark vs. Giant Octopus, Mega Piranha, The Hitchhiker, Transmorphers and more.

            2012 Supernova: The Sci-Fi Film Music of Chris Ridenhour features musical score from five science fiction films including 2012 Supernova, Princess of Mars, Transmorphers, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Terminators.  The tracks run from at least eight minutes to over seventeen.

            The album opens with the musical score for 2012 Supernova, a disaster movie in which an astrophysicist must find a way to save the world from a star going supernova.  The soundtrack is ominous, featuring guitars and orchestral music mixed with electronic noises.  Choral voices add to the intensity of the music.  A segment of the musical score featuring particularly dramatic moment in the film - possibly a romantic moment or a death - features strings which are quickly overshadowed by horns and electronic sounds that offer up a sense of foreboding.  The final moments of the score are somewhat sad or sedate, making me wonder whether the world was actually saved.

            Next up is the score for Princess of Mars, filled with heavy percussion, electronic sound and fast-paced violins.  Chanting and exotic sounds (possibly tubular bells) are added to the mix.  Percussions pervade the score in the form of a military cadence.  This fits with the subject of the film - a military man somehow transported to another world who finds himself smack dab between two warring armies. 

            The musical score for Transmorphers, a movie about an invasion of giant alien robots…hmm, sound familiar?…features music of an otherworldly quality when not being characterized by a militaristic sound.  This is followed by the lackluster Journey to the Center of the Earth score and the extremely ominous score created by Ridenhour for The Terminators.

            The problem with compiling a number of large musical scores into one CD to celebrate a composer is that, often times, that composer really doesn’t vary his style from film to film.  The musical scores he has created for the science fiction films he has worked on aren’t all that much different from the fantasy film scores he has created.  All of these scores are heavy on percussion, horns and strings and use vocal choirs to add intensity to the music.  Although slightly varying in style, one begins to see a pattern very quickly from score to score on this album.  Once you compare it with the fantasy film score compilation released by Moviescore Media, you begin to find Chris Ridenhour’s work to be somewhat tedious.

            I recommend downloading one or two tracks of 2012 Supernova: The Sci-Fi Film Music of Chris Ridenhour rather than buying the whole album.  The first track will be enough to give you an idea of Chris Ridenhour’s style.  The second track will give you a variation of that style.  The rest will just leave you bored, drumming your fingers on the table waiting for it all to end.


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