August 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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Cherry 2000 / No Man's Land  
Music composed and conducted by Basil Poledouris
  Cherry 2000 performed by The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra
All music orchestrated by Steven Scott Smalley
  Available on Prometheus PCD 155
Total running time: 77.21
Cherry 2000: 58.58
No Man's Land: - 28.23

cherry 2000

See also:
Big Wednesday

Here are two Basil Poledouris scores from 1987, the same year he penned his celebrated score for SF actioner Robocop. Cherry 2000 is another SF action flick involving a robot and having something of a satirical bent, though it is nowhere near as popular or satisfactory a film.

The soundtrack opens in a way which might more lead one to expect a languorous, sensual, Merchant Ivory film set in the south of France rather than a somewhat brash SF B picture, the 'Main Title' having something of the sunny, lush quality of Delius. 'Photograb – Alternate Mix' soon introduces more anthemic material clearly from the composer of Conan The Barbarian (1982), while the tender nostalgia of 'Cherry Shorts Out' looks back to the lyrical beauty of Poledouris' own Big Wednesday (1978) (coincidentally reviewed this month on FMOTW). From here in the composer balances emotive melody, finely blending orchestra and electronics with pulsating action – for instance, 'The Barricades' - offering a work which might be considered the feminine counterweight to Robocop's untrammelled machismo. Just one example – the set piece 'The Thrashing of Sky Ranch' begins in gorgeously lyrical style, eventually climaxing as a bold fanfare rich march. The result is overall one of the most melodic and sensitive action scores imaginable, and a most unusual fusion of then state-or-the-art electronics and orchestral writing. All that and seven brief previously unreleased cues make this a must for fans of the composer.

The second feature is the largely electronic score for No Man's Land – an urban crime thriller starring Charlie Sheen. While the melodic writing is clearly the work of Poledouris the sensibility is very typical of 1980's electronic scores. All agitated rhythms, driving pulses and tick tock beats – the intro to 'First Score' actually looks back to the nervous arpeggio's of John Carpenter's seminal electronic score of a decade previous, Halloween (1978), though is bolstered with some very muscular and dynamic acoustic drum writing. The love theme is an attractive piano melody – real, not electric – and all the more appealing for it, but action and suspense is the name of the game and the highlight of the 28 minute score is the 5.27 long 'Chase' cue. This is essentially the template for any number of later Hans Zimmer / Media Ventures action scores from Black Rain (1989) onwards and a really thrilling piece of instrumental rock in its own right. Otherwise the music is polished if routine '80's electronic thriller scoring, and one has to wonder why someone didn't feel an orchestra might have lent some gravitas to the film.

The CD cover for some unknown reason presents the original Cherry 2000 artwork off centre like some cheap budget pop album reissue, though at least the booklet contains a very useful set of notes by former Film Music on the Web contributor Paul Tonks. The notes do tell us someone once paid $2500 for one of the original Varèse Sarabande Club copies (limited to 1500) of Cherry 2000 – if they'd like to come and buy some of my CD collection they are most welcome. As long as they bring an industrial strength cheque book…

Gary Dalkin

Cherry 2000 **** 4
No Man's Land **(*) 21/2

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