Columbia Records, 1998
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/20/1999
What better way to greet in the new summer movie season than by looking back at the biggest movie of last season? Granted, Saving Private Ryan did go on to make more money overall, but in the hot summer months, it was this low-budget, indie flick (sarcasm there) that placed the most butts on the seats and exemplified what a summer movie is about.
Now, note: this isn't a review of Armageddon - The Album. That review was already done almost a year ago, by me. Instead, here's the music for the movie. The score was composed by former Yes member, Trevor Rabin.
If you remember the movie, you'll recall the themes that the movie uses. Here, they are all in full view. The album starts with the bonus Armageddon suite - which is alright. However, Rabin has taken a liking to doing these suites that compile all the main themes of a movie he's done. Not bad, but I'd prefered some more of the album's music.
The album is a study of contrasts, if you will. On one hand, you have the soft, melodic, quiet pieces. Stuff like "Harry And Grace Make Peace" and "Armageddon Piano." On the other, there's the bombastic stuff like "Launch" and "Long Distance Goodbye." In the middle, you have some material to remind you of what the characters are - rednecks. (Sorry, couldn't help it). "Oil Rig" and "Armadillo" sound somewhat similar at the beginning, but play them through to the end and you'll see the differences. However, their point is to fit the scenes with the movie and they do that.
So, what are this album's problems? Well, let's take it from the top. First, all the tracks are out of order. "A.J.'s Return" doesn't take place before "Oil Rig" and "The Death Of Mir" and "Evacuation" happen one after the other, but here, they're separated by other tracks. I don't know why they did this, but this can be annoying. After all, you buy a film score and expect it to follow the movie's pace - not set its own. That is what I'm guessing took place - they switched them around, so it would sound more even.
Second, the majority of this album is rearrangement of the same four themes. Sometimes soft, sometimes loud, but they're the same themes that we know. Now granted, that works in the movie and does so well. The repeating themes help establish a feel for the movie. However, when separated, they tend to get somewhat repetitive. That isn't good on an album.
Third, well, watching the movie there were certain points were the music becomes an integral part. However, those cues are nowhere to be found in the album. What am I talking about? Remember the movie? There's a scene where the astronauts are all getting ready - it's right before the President's speech. The cue there is heroic - though repeating the main theme again. Yet, it doesn't lose any of its flavor. The cue is nowhere to be found on the CD.
Or how about the climax of the movie - Bruce Willis' death. As he presses the button, the life of his daughter - not his own - flashes before his eyes. It's the heart of the movie - that he would make the ultimate sacrifice for one he loves. The music becomes both triumphant and tragic at the same time - even though, once again, it's just the main theme reworked. Now, how can that NOT be on this CD? The final track somehow manages to cut that out and gives you the moments before and after the explosion. That's wrong.
So, overall, how do I feel about the score? The movie is a guilty pleasure of mine - along with wrestling and AC/DC. So I knew what the score was about when I bought it. The main themes are all nice and fun - and, when reworked, manage to bring out a certain amount of emotion. But the way this CD has been wrangled cannot help people appreciate it. Hopefully, one day, it'll get corrected.