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The Ultimate Life by Mark McKenzie

The Ultimate Life

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The Ultimate Life (Soundtrack) by Mark McKenzie
The Ultimate Life (Soundtrack) by Mark McKenzie











The Ultimate Life (Soundtrack) by Mark McKenzie

The Ultimate Life
Composed by Mark McKenzie
Lakeshore Records (2012)

Rating: 8/10

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“THE ULTIMATE LIFE is still unquestionably a worthwhile experience that boasts moments you won’t possibly regret being a part of.”

Beyond Doubt
Review by Richard Buxton


Regardless of your stance on humanity’s origins as a race, and the existence of beings greater than our own, there can be no doubt that themes of religion and faith in film frequently result in music of outstanding beauty. Composer MARK MCKENZIE has hardly been the most prolific in recent years, but he is no stranger to matters of faith illustrated on screen. THE ULTIMATE LIFE, a sequel to 2006’s THE ULTIMATE GIFT, comes two years after MCKENZIE’S critically acclaimed score to THE GREATEST MIRACLE, and while THE ULTIMATE LIFE itself has suffered critical damage in the media, MCKENZIE has once again crafted an often spellbinding score that is underpinned by sumptuous themes.

There are two distinct halves to MCKENZIE’S score - the highlight being the lavishly illustrated orchestral pieces that leave the fitting but rather forgettable country cues firmly in the shade. The standout moments of THE ULTIMATE LIFE are constructed around two central themes. The most charming of the two, first heard in “Shared Dreams: The Gift of Friends” (7), is profoundly uplifting in its warmth and tremendously engaging whenever heard. Whether exquisitely drawn out as in “I Will Wait for You: The Gift of Love” (10), or accelerated in “Stinkin’ Rich: The Gift of Laughter” (14), it is a theme that demands to be heard countless times - allowing its gorgeous depth to be truly experienced and appreciated. From this theme alone, it becomes evident that much of THE ULTIMATE LIFE is a carefully constructed string-lovers paradise. This is only emphasized further by the score’s other standout theme.

This second theme differs from the aforementioned not in its instant captivation, but in its delicate restraint. The opening five-note descent, tentatively introduced in the eclectic “As Long as You are Alive, I Will Be too: The Gift of Family” (1), brings with it an embracing sense of familiarity that is developed further in “I Love You Mama” (2). It’s not until the score’s penultimate score cue, “I Want to be With You: The Gift of a Day” (19) that the theme is allowed to break free and flourish, vanquishing its inhibitions in spectacular style. Of the two main themes, this is the less likely to linger in the memory but is no less enthralling in the moment.

Aside from these themes, MCKENZIE’S score ranges from the expansively thrilling “Texas Gold: The Gift of Money” (15) to the less than spectacular but ultimately agreeable country cues, the best of which are combined with orchestral performances and themes, in “Stinkin’ Rich: The Gift of Laughter” for example. The orchestral score is wrapped up by the beautifully conclusive “Life’s Greatest Fortunes Are the Ones Closest to You” (20).

The final track “One Life” (21), performed by Tamela Mann, and its vocals tends to feel out of place when heard after such a strong orchestral score, and this disparity is only furthered by the song’s generic melodies and dated harmonies.

When exclusively considering MCKENZIE’S orchestral compositions, the brilliance of THE ULTIMATE LIFE is beyond doubt. If there had only been more time dedicated to this half of the score, it would be in verging on the highest rating possible. As it is, THE ULTIMATE LIFE is still unquestionably a worthwhile experience that boasts moments you won’t possibly regret being a part of.

Rating: 8/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 As Long as You are Alive, I Will Be Too: The Gift of Family 2:38  *****
2 I Love You Mama 2:09  *****
3 Being Laughed At: The Gift of Dreams 1:18  ***
4 Train Hopping 2:25  ***
5 The Golden List: The Gift of Gratitude 1:26  ***
6 Eager Beaver: The Gift of Work 2:51  ****
7 Shared Dreams: The Gift of Friends 2:05  *****
8 A Leader of Men:  The gift of Learning 1:13  ****
9 If You Want to Dance With Her 1:48  ***
10 I Will Wait for You:  The Gift of Love 1:58  *****
11 Facing Failure: The Gift of Problems 2:46  ***
12 Bright Idea 1:36  ****
13 The Expert 1:53  ***
14 Stinkin' Rich:  The Gift of Laughter 1:57  ****
15 Texas Gold:  The Gift of Money 1:23  *****
16 Pickin' A Lawyer 2:30  ****
17 A New Kidney: The Gift of Giving 2:23  ****
18 We Can Try 2:15  ***
19 I Want to Be with You:  The Gift of Day 3:07  *****
20 Life's Greatest Fortunes are the Ones Closest to You 2:12  *****
21 One Life (Written by Kelly Morrison, Arr. by Myron Bulter, Perf. Tamela Mann 3:39  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 46 minutes  


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