Marc Straitenfeld – Prometheus *Review In English*

“PROMETHEUS doesn’t bring me a faith in composer’s ability to manage a big score fully but it does show a bit harder effort as he tries to pull everything together.”

Soundtrack Label: Sony Masterworks

PROMETHEUS is the latest sci-fi motion picture directed by Ridley Scott. The story is set on the distant moon LV-223 where the team of explorers under Weyland Corporation goes on a mission to find a clue to the origins of mankind. The film is set to be the prequel of his 1979 ALIEN and potentially the first chapter of the new spin-off.

Ridley Scott’s regular collaborator Marc Straitenfeld is called on board to compose the music. This former Remote Control Productions’ composer has really come a long way to get the director’s trust. However, if you know Straitenfeld enough, you will probably realize that his varied ability through many Scott’s productions hardly contains the sense of greatness. His early minimal yet sufficient score like A GOOD YEAR are the only welcome result I can think of because his works thenceforth seem to go wrong somehow. From solid AMERICAN GANGSTER to the disappointment of the very forgettable BODY OF LIES and WELCOME TO THE RILEYS plus the specially spiritless ROBIN HOOD, which can’t be compared to the superior scores of Hans Zimmer’s GLADIATOR and Harry Gregson-Williams’ KINGDOM OF HEAVEN at all, I start to question whether he is in maturity stage of Production Life Cycle too early or Scott doesn’t know how to bring the best out of him. Accordingly, this long collaboration continues to affect his latest THE GREY whose score is somewhat teasing but poorly executed in result.

Now on PROMETHEUS, it is just impossible for me talking about it without mentioning four previous ALIEN scores in the franchise (even though the film focuses only at the first film). However, I know that comparing PROMETHEUS to them is not a fair thing to do, especially for Straitenfeld who is new to this universe. Therefore, even if I have to mention them, I am not going to be harsh since the soundscape he has created still suits the franchise. How? Let’s take a look.

For PROMETHEUS, Straitenfeld utilizes the large scale orchestra along with his synthetic element which is part newly designed and part derived from THE GREY. In addition to the large scale orchestra, Straitenfeld has also rewarded the fans of the previous ALIEN scores by giving some respectful performance to Jerry Goldsmith’s wondering string technique as well as Elliot Goldenthal’s aggressive brass technique. The John Frizzell’s technique is also found as the use of synthetic element but this approach is now as generic as many modern film music composers including Straitenfeld have already done. The exclusion is the Hornerism with military percussions but it is admittedly understandable as there is no marine or Wayland’s mercenary in the film.

Thematically, there are mainly three motifs for PROMETHUES. Two of them are scored by Straitenfeld himself while Harry Gregson-Williams, who stepped in to help providing additional music in the last few weeks, is responsible for the other.
Straitenfeld’s materials firstly take off in the opening theme track titled A Planet where two motifs are packed together and respectively presented through brass and string sessions. Though it is not the finest piece from the composer, it contains enough sense of vastly ancient civilization, mystery, and discovery to enjoy.

This theme with two motifs follows through the rest of the score as it moves onward to the terrifying territory. Nonetheless, the problem I have while listening to the score is the cheap development on the theme. It is so stiffed that I find the average 2-minute run on each track is rather short and lacking. By taking somewhat potential tracks here, Small Beginnings could have been more moving and Invitation could have been more of epic finale. The sound design that serves the concept is also at times empty and tiresome. It is not really bad but it just not good enough to be worth noticing. Engineers will give you a hard time on its own unless you can wait for the less-than-minute beautiful moment at the end. The fidgety Going In, Too Close, and David could have sounded like forever and not in a good way. Fortunately, the theme, even though it is stiffed, has navigated them to the satisfaction point at some level. Also, other tracks which I find them worthy at some level too are Friend From The Past which pays homage to Jerry Goldsmith’s original score and the supposing mediocre thrilling cues which are instead integrated by Elliot Goldenthal’s influence in Not Human, Hammerpede, Hello Mommy, and Planting the Seed.

Next, for more fresh cues, Streitenfeld has also created two haunting cues with effectively ethereal chorus such as Weyland and Debris. Then, during the score’s last 10 minutes, there are Space Jockey and Collision which contain some fairly moving action cues as well as some epic build-up moments based on the theme, specifically the climax at the end of Collision.

Lastly for Harry Gregson-Williams’ materials, he has come up with two tracks titled Life and We Were Right whose orchestration and choral use are in the line with Straitenfeld’s major materials. Seemingly, the William’s contribution are rather supportive than distinguishing from the Straitenfeld’s one. Life is the track that introduces us to the score’s third motifs. It is uplifting and magnificently presented through the potent crescendo. Certainly, Gregson-Williams continues his motif in We Were Right but in a soft and subtle way. However, the best part of this beautiful motif is delivered by Straitenfeld in Earth where the theme returns in crescendo form again but even more stunning.

In summary, PROMETHEUS doesn’t bring me a faith in composer’s ability to manage a big score fully but it does show a bit harder effort as he tries to pull everything together. It fits the ALIEN universe even though it has to be ranked at the bottom of the list. So I guess this has be a small beginning to something big in the sequel, doesn’t it?

Tracklist

01. A Planet (****)

02. Going In (***)

03. Engineers (***)

04. Life (****) # 

05. Weyland (****)

06. Discovery (***)

07. Not Human (****)

08. Too Close (****)

09. Try Harder (***)

10. David (***)

11. Hammerpede (****)

12. We Were Right (****) #

13. Earth (*****)

14. Infected (****)

15. Hyper Sleep (***)

16. Small Beginnings (****)

17. Hello Mommy (****)

18. Friend From The Past (****)

19. Dazed (***)

20. Space Jockey (****)

21. Collision (*****)

22. Debris (****)

23. Planting the Seed (****)

24. Invitation (****)

25. Birth (***)

# Composed By Harry Gregson-Williams

Grade: C+

Buy It @Boomerang 

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