FILMS SAVED BY THEIR SCORES
Some people believe that a film can be saved by its soundtrack, whilst others can take te music or leave it. whilst I would agree that a rubbish film cannot be salvaged by a great score, it can at least make it watchable, so below is a my list of the my Top 5 films where the soundtracks saved what may have otherwise been an unwatchable mess.
- STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER 1989 (Jerry Goldsmith) The late Jerry Goldsmith was a prolific composer who may best be remembered for his work on Star Trek. He started with the franchise in 1979, by composing the new and now iconic score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the theme of which was recycled eight years later for the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series. He went on to compose the theme for Star Trek: Voyager in 1995, as well as the final three Next Generation movies, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis. But in the middle of all this, two years after his Next Generation theme had taken hold, he returned to composing for Star Trek with the fifth film and even in spite of my trek fanaticism, I am after all still a devout Trekie, it would have to said that this was not only the worst Trek film, but vying for one of the most disappointing movies ever made! But the music is a different kettle if fish. It’s bombastic, crisp and sharp, with strong themes, many of which are straight from The Motion Picture and it not only stands alone as a suite of music, it keeps the otherwise abysmal film a float, but only just, as Shatner’s ego is at work to sink the entire project!
- KING OF KINGS 1961 (Miklós Rózsa) One of Samuel Bronson’s independent epics from the 1960’s, charting the life and death of Jesus Christ, who, in another Star Trek connection, is played by Jeffrey Hunter, the original Captain Pike. But this three-hour epic suffers from padding, not enough Jesus and too much of the fictionalised Barabas plotline, were instead of simply being the murderer/thief or general criminal which he was in the Bible, he is now a revolutionary and action hero! Jesus himself, is relegated to his most famous bits and little else. Again the music saves the day! Not entirely but the film certainly benefits from Rózsa’s bombastic and yet emotional score. Possibly one of Rózsa’s best.
- LAND OF THE PHARAOHS 1955 (Dimitri Tiomkin) Known more for the terrible plot and hammy performance by Joan Collins, but this film could have been so much better. Writing problems, internal politics and poor creative decisions sunk this wannabe Warner Bros. epic, following the building of the Great Pyramid Of Giza but after a reasonable start, the film is sunk by the soap opera plotting of Collin’s wife to Jack Hawking’s Pharaoh. The effects a very good, the acting and almost everything aren’t, but Tiomkin’s score is grandiose, bombastic and much more effective than the narrative.
- BATMAN FOREVER/BATMAN & ROBIN 1995/1997 (Elliot Goldenthal) Two films for the price of one, but there’s not much between them. Goldenthal’s score isn’t the best thing that I’ve heard by a long shot, but the opening march as the credit fly across the screen is bold and dominant, clearly announcing the change in management of the Batman franchise, and that it was now bombastic rather than gothic. Good music, shame about everything else. Batman & Robin is now the benchmark for killing a franchise. Not where you want to be really…
- STAR WARS: EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE 1999 (John Williams) The legendary John Williams should not be associated with one of cinemas greatest disappointments, but here he is, trying to prop this disaster up. The score is classy and at times, fantastic, with the Duel Of The Fates suite standing head and shoulders above the rest. The film was poor, toned down for the action figure buying demographic but it’s almost as if William’s didn’t get the memo. He put together an epic sweeping score, leagues above the film of which it accompanies, but there’s no doubt that without him, this would have been even worse!
This list is by in no way concise, but these are the films which come to mind as movies which have been saved by cracking scores, rather than well-considered screenplays…