The Mars Underground (soundtrack) by Kyle Eastwood & Michael Stevens



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The Mars Underground
by James Michael Dooley

To Boldly Go - Soundtracks for Our Quest for Space







The Mars Underground (Soundtrack) by James Michael Dooley

The Mars Underground
Composed by James Michael Dooley
Pelagic Music (2005)

Rating: 8/10

Buy The Mars Underground by James Michael Dooley  from


Listen to this soundclip of The Mars UndergroundArrival on Mars (340 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of The Mars UndergroundDr. Zubrin (271 kb)

More clips from The Mars Underground at


“James Michael Dooley takes the score in a minimalist direction. Ironically, for a minimalist score, there's quite a bit to appreciate.”

The Mars Underground...Surfaces!
Review by Christopher Coleman

Mars is certainly no newcomer to Hollywood feature films. We've seen it depicted countless times in the not-so-distant-past: RED PLANET, MISSION TO MARS, and TOTAL RECALL, to name just a few headliners. It certainly hasn't been skipped as a subject for documentary features either. Our fascination with the red planet is no surprise. It being a our closest, potentially-inhabitable, planet, how could we not be intrigued? How could we not speculate about first getting there...and now living there? Dr. Robert Zubrin's ideas about us setting foot on the planet in just a matter of years is the topic for one of the more recent Mars-documentaries, THE MARS UNDERGROUND.

Composer James Michael Dooley was asked if he would provide the musical backdrop for the documentary and embarked along with the director and producers in this labor of love. Musically, the end result certainly communicates at least a portion of the love poured into the project. James Michael Dooley takes the score in a minimalist direction. Ironically, for a minimalist score, there's quite a bit to appreciate. It would be easy to think that Dooley, a professed "follower" of composer Phillip Glass, might have been influenced by Glass' recent effort for ROVING MARS, but the fact is Dooley had long written THE MARS UNDERGROUND before Glass' score for the Disney/Imax production likely came to be. Once you've listened to both, you'll see that there isn't a lot in common between the two. In fact, one would find more commonalities between THE MARS UNDERGROUND and Glass scores such as THE HOURS.

Relegating Dooley's effort to just a comparison to the 2002 Glass score is not to describe the score in full. The soundtrack opens with "Arrival on Mars" which begins quite innocuously, but slowly builds to a rousing crescendo and finally the piece settles back down to the swells of strings and synths, you, the listener, are already hooked in. This score is dominated by Dooley's pensive, circular patterns - sometimes on strings and sometimes on some close approximation of a vibraphone or glokenspiel. Seeming to signify the long, monotonous journey from Earth to Mars or, with a quicker tempo, the diligence and detail of a well conceived plan, or the undiscovered potential for humans on the red planet, the use of this circularity pulses with its own energy and eventually becomes a mesmerizing characteristic of the score.

While this soundtrack is front-loaded with the most energy, as we wind down to the last third of the soundtrack, the music truly becomes "minimalized" and somewhat darker. Tracks such as "Confrontations," "Experiencing Mars" and "Planetary Civilization" are expansive meanderings and swells that strongly evoke thoughts of the mysteries of the red planet or the vast darkness of space itself. Such pieces provide a solid contrast to the more lively pieces proceeding them. THE MARS UNDERGROUND concludes with "Building a Civilization" (21), which raises the music's level of energy again, not quite to the same place of the opening half of the soundtrack, but enough to convey a sense of purpose and a sense of opportunity.

James Michael Dooley's work for THE MARS UNDERGROUND remains engaging through its 67 minute running time. When it does simmer down into wave after synthesized wave, it does so with such subtlty that you'll likely not even be aware of transition that has taken place. This title might be familiar to you as THE MARS UNDERGROUND has been out for years...everywhere but in the good, old, US of A.  This soundtrack was produced and released by James Michael Dooley himself back in 2005.  Finally, in May 2007, the film will finally begin hitting big screens in the US. Dooley has recently arranged his work for this project to be performed by live orchestra at the Southwood Secondary School in Cambridge, Ontario.  Even if you are not able to attend a live performance or even see the film, THE MARS UNDERGROUND is worth a thorough listen. 

Rating: 8/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Arrival on Mars 6:29  *****
2 Prospects and Plans 2:56  ****
3 Dr. Zubrin 3:36  ****
4 History Has Taught Us 4:00  ****
5 The 90 Day Plan 5:09  ****
6 Zubrin's Plan 3:37  ****
7 The Journey 6:49  ****
8 Mars Direct 0:50  ****
9 Spreading the Word 1:08  ****
10 First Experiments 1:09  ***
11 Corrections 2:01  ****
12 A New Direction 3:52  ****
13 The Case for Mars 0:34  ***
14 The Mars Underground 1:24  ****
15 The Mars Society 1:04  ****
16 Desert Research 0:28  ***
17 Confrontations 5:52  ***
18 Experiencing Mars 3:29  ***
19 Planetary Civilization 3:43  ***
20 On the Surface 2:36  ***
21 Our Future with Mars 6:16  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 67 minutes  




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