GNP Crescendo GNPD 8065
Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin have given up on the Godzilla franchise
after their one, badly received attempt to Americanise the saga, and are
instead currently bidding to become respectable, Oscar-worth film-makers
with The Patriot (see my review of the John Williams soundtrack album).
Happily Godzilla, having got lost between the moon and New York city, is
now back in his old stomping ground: the full colour centre of this CD booklet
showing Mr. G squaring-up for three falls, a knockout or a submission with
another even more ferocious looking man-in-a-rubber-suit monster amid a
traditional cardboard cut-out model of a Japanese city. Of course the title
Godzilla 2000: Millennium is both tautological and oxymornical, Toho
apparently having rather less idea when the third millennium begins than
did Clarke and Kubrick over 30 years ago. Still, nit-picking aside, it's
nice to have Godzilla back where he belongs, especially when his musical
accompaniment is as accomplished as this.
The score is by Takayuki Hattori, a relatively new film composer, having
just five credits on the Internet Movie Database, including one for the 1994
film, Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, which if the IMB is correct was
Mr Hattori's feature debut score. The album contains 36 tracks, and flows
so well that it is nowhere near as fragmented as that number might suggest.
However, there are two short tracks of sound effects included in the body
of the score which might have been better placed at the end of the disc.
Meanwhile a third track of sound effects is placed between the end title
and a bonus track, a fine new recording of Akira Ifukube's original Godzilla
Theme. It's the inclusion of bonuses like these, together with the colour
booklet and informative notes by David Hirsch, which mark GNP Crescendo out
as a company which actually cares about its CD releases. So, top marks for
presentation, and likewise top marks for superb sound and a generous playing
And the music? It's a complex, terrifically well constructed mix of traditional
monster movie music, both Western and Japanese. There is an underpinning
of electronics, but these are sensitively used and at least until the end,
kept to a minimum. The whole package is bound together by an epic, portentous
new theme for our monstrous anti-hero, while around this there is considerable
variety. The main title is perhaps surprisingly subtle and atmospheric, lending
a real weight of orchestral seriousness to the project, while much of the
action and suspense writing which follows has a Barry (Thunderbirds, Space
1999) Grey meets Hammer Horror sensibility. One standout is 'The Encounter
With the Mysterious Object', which develops the main theme into a stirring
march. Elsewhere, 'Giant UFO Approaching' imaginatively sets brass and strings
against a complex pattern of sampled drums. The final tracks command a real
sense of pulp comic-book tragedy, with 'The Millennium Kingdom' playing the
drama for everything it's worth, the electronic choirs finally going OTT,
even hinting at Miklós Rózsa's Ben-Hur in passing!
(Ben-Hur is subtitled A Tale of The Christ, and easy though
it is to forget, the 'Millennium' only has significance in terms of Christ.)
The pseudo-religious theme continues through track titles such as 'Astonishing
Resurrection', with the end title being dubbed 'Godzilla - Dread God'. This
begins with what sound like real, rather than sampled voices, and music akin
to Renaissance Church polyphony, surrendering to a final stirring yet doom-laden
rendition of the new Godzilla theme.
Takayuki Hattori has crafted a big, emotional, deliberately old-fashioned
and sometimes kitsch score which is immensely entertaining. It won't be to
every taste, but if you like your monster movie music bold and brash yet
packed with melody this is the album for you. It would be most interesting
to hear what Takayuki Hattori could do with a real epic. Something rather
special, I imagine.
Gary S. Dalkin
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