November 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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The Musketeer  
  DECCA 440-014-920-2   [49:41]

The Musketeer

Hopefully everyone knows the Alexandre Dumas story, though it returning to the screen in another extremely loose adaptation -- particularly as the waste of celluloid from which this soundtrack derives -- probably provides no wonders for its popularity. The latest reading of Dumas' tale ignores swashbuckling charm in favor of chopsocky pyrotechnics, but the music, freed of its chains on compact disc, entertains. Bumptious main theme aside, David Arnold's "The Musketeer" deserves a positive mention.

There is still a lack of charm. However...

Chances are that we will not hear a more swashbuckling score this year. Arnold appears to be at a disadvantage when sincerity is absolutely required, but when a film needs fluff or a pure musical rush... Well, here we go. The so-called romantic moments are adequate sweets -- soft strumming, his favored strings and woodwinds, and a yearning melody that fails to stick in the mind but is nice while it lasts. Testosterone and adrenaline are the building blocks of this soundtrack, and Arnold stacks them above the average. Big and unashamedly brassy (recording was undoubtedly interesting for the horn players), the action cues throw everything in the orchestral arsenal, and with good aim. As a specific example, 'Coach Chase' is a skilled musical roller coaster that rides on macho syncopations liable to make one's foot a touch heavy on the accelerator if heard while driving. The rest of the album battles to match its drive.

Mind you, the score's main theme is a groaner.

A couple of the track titles are diverting puns ('Jailhouse Ruck' was the first to catch my eye; I'll let the other be a surprise). The look of the album is otherwise commonplace: stills, thanks, etc. Black and shades of gold (echoes of "The Mummy") unattractively dominate the color scheme. Sound on the disc is roughly sharp as a dagger, with the action tracks doing appreciably well in Geoff Foster's mix.

Did I mention the main theme is like that of "Stargate" or "Independence Day" reduced to "Mickey Mouse Club" stature?

So "The Musketeer" is a recommendable album. The action music excites and exhilarates. Expect some suspense. Brazen points of interest help conceal the shortage of elegance. But guess how I feel about the main theme.

Jeffrey Wheeler


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