January 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Below  
Music composed by Graeme Revell
  Available on Varèse Sarabande Records (VSD-6416)  
Running Time: 35:24
Crotchet   Amazon US

below

The inconsistent Mr. Revell continues to frustrate his admirers and detractors alike, being just as capable of stylish, exciting music (The Negotiator (1998)) and routine, uninspired work alike (Tomb Raider).  Sadly in recent years he seems to have slipped into becoming a workmanlike composer whose work does a job but offers only minor artistic rewards. And yet I have no doubt he is capable of so much more. His rejected score for The 13th Warrior for example was bold and innovative and perhaps his music has suffered because he has found it necessary to tow the executive line and stick more closely to tried and tested formulas. It would be very interesting to hear from the man himself, although politics and good business sense would almost certainly preclude him from speaking out too strongly.

With this new soundtrack for the aquatic horror movie Below there are vague signs of the stylish, inventive Graeme Revell attempting to throw off the shackles of convention, as with the atmospheric, rhythmic 'Main Title', but all too often he falls back on stock suspense stings and drones, where melody would have created something more thoughtful and stirring. In saying this the final track 'Safe Harbor', which presumably plays over the end titles, does have some rewarding moments, but it's a case of too little, too late. Of course the high likelihood is that the producers of the film wanted exactly what they got. The few times where something a little more expressive appears only leave the listener wishing there was more and with a running time of only just over half an hour there is a definite sense of dissatisfaction.

A serviceable, but less than buoyant affair, all presented with professionalism but lacking any real distinction or originality.

Mark Hockley

**(*)

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