March 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

David NEWMAN Galaxy Quest   pre-release promo with no production credits * [49:52]

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The advance word from those critics who understand the film's targets is that Galaxy Quest is a decidedly superior and wittily informed spoof. A group of second-rate actors, living on the fan convention circuit glory of having once stared in the cult TV show Galaxy Quest, end-up on a starship having to save the galaxy for real. Star Trek is the obvious target, but so is the fanaticism of those fans that take their favourite TV show rather too seriously. By all accounts the film, although marketed as a children's movie, is a superior and intelligent piece of cinema. Any film which opens in TV ratio Academy, spends the next 20 minutes in 1.85-1 widescreen, then expands to full 2.35-1 Panavision, is clearly showing an awareness of the difference between TV origins of its source material and the epic visual scale of real film-making. Likewise, David Newman's score, not officially released, but available on this promo, is an extremely informed and self-aware piece of work.

This is a most unusual score, for while film composers are often given temp tracks to emulate, rarely can a brief have been so specific as to deliberately and noticeably ape for comic effect pre-existing film music. Yet this is precisely what David Newman was required to do, to spoof Star Trek music. Given that film music is itself of limited interest to the general album buying public, it is therefore not surprising that this score has not been officially issued. The market for a film music spoof must be vanishingly small.

What Newman has delivered will, I can only assume, work very well with what I know of the film. We have the classic Galaxy Quest theme, the more muscular new theme, and in between we have a lot that sounds rather familiar! The main theme itself is suitably heroic, though played just that bit too fast, taking it from the realms of the uplifting to the amusing. Likewise, the score alternates between being straight-faced, and heading into that territory best marked as 'a bit over the top', recognisable devices pushed until the reaction becomes laughter rather than excitement or wonder. For it is all here, much of it ingeniously woven around the sound of one score in particular, and that one of the very finest film scores ever penned: Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek - The Motion Picture. Thus we have the majestic theme, the leaving spacedock music, the atmospheric/dramatic fusions of electronics and orchestra, the big choirs going 'OOOH' and 'AAAH' for the sense-of -wonder moments, and the frantic battle writing. It is all most accomplished, and I have no doubt at all that it will work superbly with the film. However, inherent in being a spoof, is that the pleasures derived from the music depend largely upon familiarity with what is being spoofed. The music has little life of its own. Further, having 49 minutes of music split of 30 tracks does mean that this is a rather bitty release.

The result is, like many comedy albums, an entertaining and enjoyable release which probably won't sustain repeated listening, thus making it one for die-hard Trekies and David Newman fans who must have everything. It does though prove that the composer would be an excellent choice to score a future Star Trek movie, or indeed, virtually any big and heroic adventure film.


Gary S. Dalkin

Rating: as a film score   as an album


Gary S. Dalkin

Rating: as a film score
as an album

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