Saturday, August 13, 2011
A Cold Serving
Review by Richard Buxton
2007 saw the release of TRANSFORMERS but to the dismay of many a film score fan, its arrival did not bring with it an original score, but instead merely a soundtrack release of barely relevant material. Yet, thanks to persistent clamour from fans, STEVE JABLONSKY’S score was eventually let loose to a fanfare of excitement, at least from those who had asked for it. 2009’s sequel, REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, was not to suffer the months of suspended animation between film and score and fan fervour was subsequently significantly subdued. Was this purely a case of skipping the period of anticipation towards the release, or did it stem purely from a sense of disappointment in how the music sounded alongside the film? Critical and fan reception would suggest a sentiment resembling the latter. Sales-wise the score outperformed the original, but it was met with significantly less excitement post-listen.
With the third TRANSFORMERS film’s release in June 2011 came the apparent end of MICHAEL BAY’S involvement in the franchise, rounding out his trilogy of contributions to the war between Autobots and Decepticons. While the first film in the series failed to set any particularly noteworthy benchmarks in areas other than visual FX, it is undoubtedly the most critically favored of the three. REVENGE OF THE FALLEN however was met with almost universal derision for being “a horrible experience of unbearable length” (Ebert, 2009), an understandable criticism for a summer blockbuster that runs for a total of 150 minutes. Regardless of the film itself, surely such a long running time would allow JABLONSKY the time to craft a deep, enriched and fleshed out listening experience that would surpass the original? Sadly, not.
JABLONSKY’S work for the first film was never more than a simple and entertaining listening experience, and it never pretended otherwise. His themes for the Autobots, their arrival, and the Decepticons were memorable in that they were simply pleasing to the ear and refreshed the memory of the various key moments in the film. Unfortunately, his score for the sequel bizarrely discards almost all relation to the stronger moments of the first score, leaving the listener to navigate their way through a largely forgettable array of action music in order to find anything repeatedly listenable.
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