Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Albums

I blew a few bucks on and bought several movie scores (mp3s; I almost never buy CDs anymore). Three of the scores (Alice In Wonderland, The Wolfman, Sherlock Holmes) are from movies I haven't seen but are by composers I like. The other two are from movies I really enjoy (Coraline, King Kong).

Alice In Wonderland:
A movie I haven't seen yet, but want to. The score is by Danny Elfman, so I had to have it. The score reminds me of Elfman's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, although a bit more serious. The first track ("Alice's Theme", which is free for download at is extremely catchy. The rest of the music, although good, is not particularly memorable.

I love this movie and much of the reason for that is the score. Heck, it even has a song from They Might Be Giants. The music is dreamlike and low-key, even when the scene it's attached to is pretty menacing. Like the movie, the score is downright odd (especially the wonderfully bizarre "Mice Circus"), so it's not one I'd recommend to everyone. At least not to the normal people I know.

King Kong:
This is a recreation of the score to the original King Kong (1933), one of my favorite classic movies (although I think The Most Dangerous Game (1932) may have surpassed it recently). This is a perfect example of a 1930s adventure score and is definitely a product of its time. After listening to the album a couple times through, it seems apparent that it inspired portions of John William's score for The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The track "Jungle Dance" is a classic, with the primitive natives dancing to music that's obviously being played by a full orchestra. Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005) makes fun of this, with the stage show that's performed in front of the captive Kong recreating the native dance from the original movie while using the original's music.

Sherlock Holmes:
Another movie I haven't seen yet but will see once it's out on DVD/BD. I'm a big Hans Zimmer fan so I bought the score anyway (just like I bought his score for Angels & Demons but still haven't seen it). Although much of Sherlock Holmes sounds very similar to other Zimmer scores (he has a tendency to repeat himself, as does Elfman and Williams), his use of unusual instruments, which gives the music a "gypsy-like" feel, makes this one unique. Now that I've heard the score, I'd really like to see the movie.

The Wolfman:
I haven't seen this movie, and since it's R-rated for gore and violence, I never will. That's a shame, since I really enjoy the original Wolfman (1941) (Lon Chaney Jr.'s Larry Talbot is so innocuous that it makes his unfortunate transformation all the more dramatic). However, it's yet another Danny Elfman score, so I bought it. Portions of the score remind me of Elfman's Sleepy Hollow, but a lot more low-key. It also seems like Elfman was trying to emulate Kilar's score for Bram Stoker's Dracula. "Wolf Suite Pt. 1" and "Wolf Wild #2" are definitely the highlights of this album. Unfortunately, although a good score, it wasn't quite as exciting as I had expected it to be. I was actually hoping for a little bit more of Sleepy Hollow's bombast.

Speaking of The Wolfman, for your amusement here are some other scores I own that that are from R-rated movies I've never seen:
Aliens (James Horner), Bram Stoker's Dracula (Wojciech Kilar), Braveheart (James Horner), Crimson Tide (Hans Zimmer), Gladiator (Hans Zimmer), Saving Private Ryan (John Williams), Sleepy Hollow (Danny Elfman).

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