Sunday, July 02, 2006

"Pirates 2" soundtrack REVIEW

After listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest soundtrack I have experienced perhaps this year's biggest letdown. If filmtracks.com gave Badelt's attempt at #1 a horrible review, I can't imagine how much they'll slam Zimmer's latest. I am shocked, horrified....saddened....disgusted; all of the above, but it's true. Hans Zimmer's soundtrack to one of the year's most-anticipated films (and soundtracks) is WITHOUT-a-doubt the biggest film music letdown of the year. Zim offers 48 minutes on eleven tracks and Tiesto remixed the famous "He's a Pirate" cue for the twelfth track (which runs seven minutes long).

(Ah!!! Zimmer!! How could you do this to us?!?)

Anyways, here's my review of the.....mess.

If you were expecting to read a bunch of over-the-top compliments of the German composer's latest, greatest musical masterpiece........read THIS review instead. Otherwise, if you want to be tortured and maligned by cruel and harsh ravings, read on.....

For starters, we were expecting this latest installment to the musical Pirates of the Caribbean to be more genuine. Whereas the last soundtrack was criticized for its over-the-top usage of synths and canned percussion pieces, people were expecting Hans Zimmer's refined ear to come up with a TRULY swashbuckling work.

At the very least, Hans Zimmer's name on a project like this equals some pretty awesome action music. For such cuts, the main piece was supposed to be "The Kraken" (which is the mysterious, octopussy sea monster we've been wowed by in the trailers). Not only is this track completely polluted by synthesizers, they are every-bit as "greasy" and unoriginal as Zimmer playfully warned us. (I'm beginning to realize it wasn't all tongue in cheek.) The only decent "fight" music to be found here is in the 6 1/2 minute "Wheel of Fortune," but I hesitate to give even this cue so 'great' a compliment. It's a ridiculous collision of sound, really, smattered with a couple ideas that show some promise, but are quickly driven into the sand by crazed synths. Zimmer resurrects a couple of the original Pirates motifs we've come to know and love, but they far from rescue the cue.

"You look good Jack" is fairly intense........once you slog through the first (almost noiseless) 3 minutes and twenty seconds. The next minute gets up a pretty rousing bit of percussion--oh, and there are some nasty electric guitars thrown in, too....just for kicks, apparently (fortunately they leave after only a few 'flourishes'). Even so, they sound better than the last 30 seconds...which...don't sound like anything at all.

"Hello Beastie" sounds a bit like "Beneath Alrischa" from The Da Vinci Code score, but it never really rises up into anything like the sweeping, chorale arrangements of Code's "Chevaliers de Sangreal," which is nothing short of gorgeous! It does offer a sweet rendition of another classic Pirates motif (a bit from the "Will and Elizabeth" cue) and then functions like a series of rises and valleys, as if the cue is trying desperately to get somewhere. Now...I don't know what's happening on the screen, but to the ear, this sounds like a lot of useless SOUND. And darned minutes of it! It ends out the last minute with a cross between Da Vinci Code and Into the Fog, complete with a familiar motif at the very end. Despite the final hurrah! however, it is an awful track to end out a despicable soundtrack!

Outside of the dismal action cues, I was also annoyed with the themes presented here. I was excited at the prospects of a theme for Jack Sparrow and his nemesis Davy Jones. Unfortunately, Jack's theme is far less than befitting of his eccentric, conniving, yet desperately-loveable character! Opening the soundtrack, it is a series of simple brass motifs: a 'doo-dum' (2 note) followed by a de-doo-dum' (3 note), with violin overlays. For pretty much the first two minutes, thats all there is--with some little variation. Familiar sounds from "Will and Elizabeth" pepper the second-half of the cue (especially with violin variations played in a minor key), but it became apparent that this was no longer Jack's theme but just another background piece to whatever was happening on the screen. It does end quite grandly (if loud can be considered grand) with considerable string-build-up beneath heavy brass. Overall, though: Dissapointing.

Davy Jones' theme is likewise disjointed. The touch of playing pieces of "The Medallion Calls" (what I would have called a cue from Jack Sparrow's original soundtrack) from the last soundtrack works well here, especially as it sounds like it is coming out of a music box. The real letdown though, was that we never really hear the massive organ theme hinted at in the trailer. Davy Jones' theme gets pretty big and nasty, alright (before ending with the music box, again), full of roucous bass and percussion, but no real direction (which is what this soundtrack really lacked, overall).

"I've got my eye on you" is nothing but a long dirge leading up to the "Medallion Calls" theme.

"Dinner is Served" would be my pick for the best cue on this soundtrack. Unfortunately, it's the second-shortest (cruel irony, eh?), and the shortest (by 15 seconds) "Two hornpipes" cut sounds like a piece of classical dance music copied from somewhere else. But what makes "Dinner" cool is that you have three musical layers: the brass (providing the driving force), an underlying melody (mostly provided by string instruments), and a female voice; which is one of the few places I heard the female instrument (howbeit in a wired chant accompaniment). Anyway, these layers combine for a short--but sweet--piece that I actually enjoyed.

"Tia Dalma" tries to be scary, but its more loud and wacky than anything else. I found myself wondering (as I listened to this and the other tracks) about the pacing of the movie: is it as disjointed as the soundtrack? One minute the music is all brash and blunt, and the next--you can hardly hear anything but dismal droning. Same thing with the following track "Family Affair," which shows the same promise as "Hello Beastie," but ends up failing to deliver the goods. It is probably the second best piece on the soundtrack, though; with a decent strings build-up to a solid rendition of the 'bad guy' theme from last movie (complete with the spooky male chorus we associate with Captain Barbossa's skeletal crew).

"You look good Jack" is soooooo slow.......until it decides it wants to build up a wicked fast momentum of brass and strings. Cool!! --until...they fizzle out after a dozen seconds or so. But!! Aha! They come back soon after. Pound-pound-pound! The drums are relentless and the string accompaniment is fevered...... It's really getting good now....... Until--electric guitars take over, playing out a section of "Swords Crossed." Unlike Trevor Rabin's excellent usage of the electric guitars in Armaggedon, this sounds more like the craziness of National Treasure. In other words: garbage.

And that's it. The "He's a Pirate" remix is pretty stale; it sounds like a torturously-long intro to some Japanese anime show. Blech! Why do we want 7 WHOLE minutes of this nonsense? Through headphones the individualized motif's of Badelt's famous theme sounds like pinballs ricocheting wildly--out of control--inside my head.

In conclusion, Hans Zimmer's famous musical talents are in no way exemplified here . Apparently he expended all his creative genius on his last effort The Da Vinci Code, which was certainly FAR superior in musical creativity and composition.

Try again, Mr. Zimmer!

My Rating: * 1/2 stars (out of 5)

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