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Alien Resurrection by John Frizzell

"Noise Resurrected"
Review by
Matt Peterson

 

Alien Resurrection by John Frizzell

Alien Resurrection
4/10

Buy A.I. Articificial Intelligence (Soundtrack) by John Williams from Amazon.com

 

Category  |   Score

Originality 2
Music Selection 3
Composition 3
CD Length 4
Track Order 4
Performance 6
Final Score 4/10
 


 

Composer John Frizzell
Composer 
John Frizzell

 

Quick Quotes


"The music is certainly extremely effective within the film and stylish enough to fit alongside the rather grim, but impressive production. On CD it does flag a little; the suspense not always interesting enough to hold the listener's attention and the action just a little wayward."
***

Tom Daish - Soundtrack Express Reviews Alien Resurrection
 

 

 

 

 

 

Composed by John Frizzell
Orchestrations by Brad Dechter, Pete Anthony, Jeff Atmajian, Frank Bennett,
Robert Elhai & Don Nemitz
Produced by John Frizzell
Co-producer Mark Cross
Released by BMG/RCA Victor Records - November 11, 1997

The success of Ridley Scott’s Alien, a ground-breaking leap in science fiction filmmaking, and James Cameron’s Aliens, opened the door to a series of lackluster sequels which are barely worth the film they are printed on. David Fincher’s early, unseasoned days were captured to little acclaim in Alien 3 (too bad Fincher couldn’t use one of his overused trademark CGI hyper-zoom tracking shots to show us the digestive tract of an Alien, or some other inaccessible area). Then, in 1997, French film director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (director of the excellent Amelie) resurrected the series once again with the less than fulfilling Alien Resurrection. Once again, a new loophole was found to bring back Ripley, to isolate a bunch of arrogant space pirates, and to slowly kill them off one by one. Yawn. Sometimes a cinematic formula works on several occasions. Sometimes, it simply becomes old pat. The Alien series surely suffers from the latter.

The music of the Alien films seems to mirror the quality of the films themselves. Jerry Goldsmith’s visceral Alien (which can be heard in its complete form on the recent 20th anniversary DVD from Fox) and James Horner’s Khan-esque Aliens were both solid scores which strengthened the films they accompanied. By now, I’m sure you can see where I’m going. John Frizzell’s score to the less than stellar Alien Resurrection is, in a word, a mess. It seems Frizzell just became acquainted with the elements of an orchestra, and is just not sure how to use them. The orchestra sounds thin, lacking any kind of texture and layering afforded by such a diverse group of instruments. The performance is relatively solid, but the elements are just not there to begin with. Also, Frizzell’s love for electronica and synthesized textures is evident, and seems to clash with the untailored orchestral elements. Instruments whine, strings pulse, minor vocals intercede, electronic tricklings annoy, and crescendos reside around every corner. Thematic material is almost nonexistent. It seems that he didn’t even attempt to bring new musical textures and themes to the series. Instead, Frizzell relies on the old horror movie score cliches: Loud, unexpected crashes, dissonant whines, and the aforementioned crescendos.

The album, which clocks in at 45:30, begins with the “Main Title,” a whining, key shifting tune underscored by string crescendos and electronic trickling noises. One of the stronger tracks is “Post-Op,” which doubles as “Ripley’s Theme.” What puzzles me is that this supposed “Ripley’s Theme” is really the only recognizable theme in the score (aside from a couple other repeated phrases), and seems to score many events in the film, the least of which is Ripley. I’m confused. Wouldn’t it be more appropriately called “Theme for Anything?” This tune is simple, but not bad. Some minor vocals provide a welcome interlude. However, by the end of the score, this solitary tune grows old, and being the only real theme, is repeated often. The midsection of the album is a frenzy of strange electronic textures, some brass elements, and no organization whatsoever. Driving, pulsing sounds permeate the action cues, and have no direction, or natural resolution. No solid themes are present, only whining, cliched horror music. Not much here to savor, I’m afraid. The album attempts to reach a climax with “The Battle with the Newborn,” but it is composed of everything that has come before: More electronic squeals, strange percussive nonsense, and strings which drive toward an unknown direction. Once again, a mess, pure and simple. The album ends with a reprise of “Ripley’s Theme,” heard previously in many tracks. One source track, “Priva Son D’Ogni Conforto,” from Handel’s Julius Caesar , is a welcome opera track that takes us away from the jumbling textures of the rest of the score. Overall, this score has little direction, and even less solid, memorable material.

Music for horror films is a risky business. The key to providing an effective score for a film such as this is create a sense of orderly chaos. The ultimate example of how to do this very will is Bernard Hermann’s Psycho. It is extremely easy to fall into a pattern of random, driving textures which have no connections or relations to musical coherency. Frizzell’s score, unfortunately, excels in the latter. In the film, the score to Alien Resurrection does fit the mood at certain parts. Even in that setting, however, it is quite disarrayed and incoherent. The lack of any solid thematic material hurts the viability of this music for the film, and destroys its listening potential on CD. If you are a fan of frenzied, angry techno/orchestral elements, by all means, check out John Frizzell’s attempt. However, if you crave well tailored, thematic material that relies on craftsmanship rather than utter conglomeration of random textures, look elsewhere. Let’s hope that the score to Ridley Scott’s rumored Alien 5 does not fall into this all too familiar musical trap.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track

Title Time

Rating

1 Main Title 2:06  ***
2 APost-Op 1:20  ***
3 Docking the Betty 1:16  **
4 Priva Son D'Ogni Conforto 5:27  ***
5 Face Huggers 2:10  **
6  Call Finds Ripley 3:02  **
7 The Aliens Escape 4:12  *
8 Ripley Meets Her Clones 2:19  **
9 What's Inside Purvis? 2:28  **
10 They Swim... 6:28  *
11 The Chapel 2:35  **
12 The Abduction 3:33  **
13 The Battle with the Newborn 6:03  *
14 Ripley's Theme) 2:14  ***
 

Total Running Time

45:30  

Alien Resurrection by John Frizzell

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
 

 

 

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