Sci-Fi Soundtracks

(Abominal, Superman Returns, Battlestar Galactica II)

Reviewed by Jon Minners



Score by Lalo Schifrin

Distributed by Aleph Records

Are you kidding me?  In the midst of such great movie soundtracks, I am given the task of reviewing this; a film directed by a newbie, Ryan Schifrin, who had to go to his daddy to have a score composed.  Seriously, that is kind of whack.  And so is this review.  But follow me; the good stuff comes later. 

Lalo Schifrin is an Academy Award winning composer.  He has been nominated for a horror movie before, Amityville Horror.  He has also composed Mission Impossible, Cool Hand Luke, Dirty Harry and Rush Hour, among 100ís of others.  Yet, listening to this soundtrack bored me to tears.  The most exciting part came when this unfamiliar sound crept into the score and I realized it was the sound of me saving a document while I trudged along listening to what I felt was an uninspired and unoriginal piece that didnít give me the creeps and didnít leave me anticipating the film. 

I never heard of Abominable before until I got this soundtrack.  When I got it, I laughed.  What is this nonsense?  It has the guy from the Aliens movies and it looks like he is the main reason to see this film, despite not appearing to be the star.  Oh no!  I think he is cool and all, but he is past his days as being a draw.  He never was to begin with. 

And the film is about a creature of ďmyth and legend that we have been hunting for years.Ē  The tagline is ďbut what happens when it decides to hunt us?Ē  Cue old school soap opera climax music.  Just as uninspired as the score. 

But I will give you the synopsis and you decide for yourself.  A wheelchair bound man recovering from a mountain climbing accident in his remote cabin in the woods sees the legendary beast and must convince someone to believe him before the monster goes on a bloody rampage.  Think Harry Kills the Hendersons

Anyways, a good soundtrack excites you and either makes you relive the movie or has you anticipating it.  This does neither.  Add to the fact that Ryan Schifrin thanks his dad for making an ok movie great and there is really no reason to even rent the movie.  I mean; the director sort of disses his own movie in a roundabout way, so why should I want to see it?  I donít.  I wonít.   And I suggest people just let this film vanish with the legend that inspired it. 


Superman Returns

Score composed by John Ottman

Released by Rhino Records

Much better.  After listening to Abominable, it was such a pleasure to pop in Superman Returns.  I havenít seen the movie yet, but damn, this soundtrack pumped me up and got me excited to buy some pretzel nuggets, a soda and my ticket to the IMAX version of what is sure to be the hottest film of the summer. 

There is an hour worth of music here featuring John Ottmanís epic score, recorded with a 97-piece orchestra that includes some unique twists on the original theme from John Williams.  When that Superman theme from my childhood hits, unique twist aside, it just brought back so many memories and made me anticipate the film even more.  The entire soundtrack is exciting, which is to be expected from a popcorn action film like Superman.  From beginning to end, this soundtrack, albeit slightly formulaic, was just a fun listen to what should accompany a fun film. 

There is not much else to say.  It is not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it does its job.  Itís the typical soundtrack that we come to expect from films like this.  Itís not groundbreaking, but it doesnít disappoint and it definitely prepared me for this weekendís cinematic enjoyment. 

The best parts of the soundtrack are the little extras like the liner notes by Ottman where he talked about his admiration for the 1978 original score.  The CD also includes trailers and an exclusive interview with director Bryan Singer.  This is definitely a buy for any fan of Superman


Battlestar Galactica: Season Two

Composed by Bear McCreary

Distributed by La-La Records

 There really isnít much to say about this soundtrack that I didnít already say about the first one.  I mean, Battlestar Galactica is probably the best-scripted show on television today.  It may be on the Sci-Fi Network, but the show is pointedly realistic in nature, in that it draws from historic and current world themes and plays them out in a futuristic environment involving androids and other alien creatures.  The music makes Battlestar Galactica feel more like a theatrical release than a television series; each episode playing out like a mini-film.  Yes, it takes an awesome series and makes it that much better.  Thatís how you word it. 

Season two was much darker than the first.  You had a lot going on with issues of mutiny, Civil War, espionage, politics, Cylon-ism (racism), death, love triangles, characters unraveling and an underground scene that seemed perfectly fit for the showís element.  This was when the crew was really tested and even when it looked like they were leading to some sort of salvation, nothing was as good as it seemed in the end.  You learned more about the Cylons and you learned more about the characters in one season than you ever would in the original series so long ago.  In fact, the best part of this season was the fact that they took storyline elements from the original show and made full blown plot lines out of them that spanned the entire season, highlighting the kind of drama that could have been created way back when and bringing it to an older audience. 

But back to the soundtrack.  Since the entire season rocked and was better than the first, it stands to reason that the same can be said for the soundtrack and that would be true.  Bear McCreary calls the first one a soundtrack and this latest release an album.  And he would be right.  There were even a couple of hard rocking tunes thrown in the mix in addition to the military-style score and a take on the colonial theme from the original series that just brought back so many memories. 

I love some of the cultural sounds that were evident in the first soundtrack, including the Celtic, Indian, Middle Eastern and African influences.  A great touch to the CD are the vocals by Raya Yarbrough and Bt4, who made Lords of Kobol and The Cylon Prisoner, respectively, memorable songs.  Other standout tracks include Scar, Something Dark is Coming and Prelude to War, among so many others. 

So, I saved the best for last. Battlestar Galactica is honestly the only soundtrack I listen to often.  The first one is part of my permanent collection and this second volume will join it.  Look for more great scores when Battlestar Galactica Season Three begins airing on the Sci-Fi Network this October.


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