February 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Zathura  
Music composed by John Debney
Performed by Hollywood Symphony and Page La Studio Voices
  Available on Varèse Sarabande (302 066 705 2)
Running Time: 44:26
Amazon UK   Amazon US

The immediate impression from the Main Titles is we have heard it all before for this is music is derivative so many sci-fi blockbuster scores by John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith et al. But there is such an exuberant sweep about the performance by the large orchestra and choir it is difficult not to resist this new John Debney opus for what appears to be a children’s sci-fi adventure.

Alas after the Main Title music there is little to hold the ear.

‘Finding the Game’ takes us further into John Williams’s territory recalling Star Wars, Superman and Close Encounters… ‘Meteor Shower’ has some interest; there is a robotic mechanistic feel about it as well as an on-rushing menace. ‘Aftermath’ moves ponderously through celestial wonders, some interesting effects and I thought I could detect some pianissimo choral whispering. ‘Robot Grows/Chase/Standoff’ add clangs and crashes and scurryings, with baying horns aplenty - but with ever-decreasing originality. ‘Too Close to the Sun’ has orchestra and chorus in a state of increasing high anxiety over cold mechanical ostinati. ‘Zorgon’s’ music has, initially, some synth stuff and very heavy, even thunderous plodding in ‘Zorgon’s Appearance’. Elsewhere, Zorgon’s music brings Holst (Mars of course) and Shostakovich (plus snatches of Waxman in Bride of Frankenstein mode) to mind.

‘Couch Decoy’ introduces some calm and, seemingly, comedy. The calm spills over into ‘Astronauts Story’ one of the better tracks, celestial peace and tranquillity beautiful in celesta and harp with long held string phrases and nary a tremor except for a final awakening horn call that oddly recalls ‘The Fortress of Solitude’ from John Williams’s Superman score.  ‘Brother to Brother’ is another oasis of heavenly calm and before a sudden peroration that reminded of a highlight of Alan Silvestri’s score, The Abyss

Much of the remainder of the score follows the patterns of tracks already mentioned with derivative following derivative – you can join in the game of spot the reference.

In short, a very derivative score but clearly very well suited for the film and it is performed with verve and enthusiasm so-

Ian Lace

3.5

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