July 17, 2009

CD Review: Mutant Chronicles - Music Composed by Richard Wells

I remember when I first heard about this film, well not exactly, but it was probably about a year ago. The title struck me as something I wanted to see, I mean its called Mutant Chronicles, how can any science fiction fan say that doesn't pique their interest? If they do, they are probably lying. Anyway, I was hoping to get a chance to see this on the big screen, I wasn't expecting a terribly wide release, but thought it would come somewhere near my area. I was wrong. The movie played in exactly two theaters for exactly seven days. What? Seriously, that is absolutely ridiculous. The cast has Thomas Jane (Punisher), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), and John Malokovich (Burn After Reading), plus the trailer gives the vibe of being a decent enough movie to pull in some money either early in the year, or possibly during the September slow down. I am not saying it would be a blockbuster, but it looks like no one had any faith in it. Perhaps it is just a bad movie.

The DVD does not arrive until August, so until then I will have to make do with the score. Composed by Richard Wells, the Mutant Chronicles music is big, bombastic, heroic, and militaristic. In short, it is a solid score that will get in your head with its strong thematic and melodic cues that will allow your mind to create its own science fiction war on the giant movie screen of the mind. Of course, it helps only having the title to go on. Not having seen the film, it is hard to judge how well it works within context. Fortunately, a good score will not be limited to being seen in conjunction with the film it was written for, but will transcend it and enable a listener to create their own visuals for the music. Not that a good score cannot merely play well with the film, but I think you know what I mean.

Richard Wells is a name I cannot say I have encountered before. I have come to discover that he is a relative newcomer with only a few credits to his name. Wells most notable works include a pair of videogames (Gangsters and its sequel), the score for the UK release of Ong Bak, and the horror/sci-fi/comedy Evil Aliens. I have not heard any of these scores, although I am aware of Evil Aliens, it is one of those movies I have wanted to get around to checking out.

The score for Mutant Chronicles does not break any new ground, nor does it try to. What it does do is create a solid listening experience that is alternately heroic and powerful, and dark and foreboding. It is a score that is easy to press play on and proceed to get utterly lost in it. It is not going to blow you away with ingenuity and creativity, but there is something about that is rather engrossing.

As I listen to this score, I imagine picking up a plasma rifle and heading out to wage war with evil creatures led by dark forces intent on my destruction. Of course, the music leads me to victory as I navigate the darkened, debris strewn streets and alleys, making my way deep into enemy territory and achieving ultimate victory. Conversely, I can also just sit there and enjoy what Wells has created.

The score begins with "Take Off," which does exactly that. This cue is upbeat and draws you right away with the military march percussion and strings with a triumphant horn line playing over it. I love this track, it is the kind of music that is inspiring in the face of certain danger.

Next is "The Night Before," which brings everything down a notch and offers a more contemplative tone as our soldiers prepare for what is to come, their final moments calm. It is short-lived as it gives way the dread and tension of "Mutant Attack." This breaks the calm and puts a hold on the heroics as there is a battle to be had.

Richard Wells does a good job of keeping the music varied and interesting, while also mixing in recurring themes, most notably the heroic theme introduced in the opening track. Considering I have not seen the movie, this is a very effective score that brings a grandiose, epic feel to what I hope is an entertaining film. It also makes me interested in seeing, er, hearing what else Wells will bring to the table in future work.



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