Film Music Review
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Skyfall (2012)


30 tracks (Playing Time = 77:33)

Music composed and conducted by Thomas Newman.

Album produced by Thomas Newman and Bill Bernstein.
Orchestrations by J.A.C. Redford. Additional orchestrations by Steven bernstein, Peter Boyer, Carl Johnson. Additional arrangements, porogramming by Simon Franglen.
Recorded and Mixed by Simon Rhodes at Abbey Road Studios, London.

"This album does not contain a recording by the artist Adele."

Sony Classical 887610402


Rating: *


This may be the longest-running film franchise in terms of years but not in number of films in the franchise. A longer series is Hopalong Cassidy (a fictional cowboy hero from novels by Clarence Mulford) with 66 films made during the 1930s and 1940s, starring the same actor (William Boyd) throughout the entire series from 1935 to 1948.

According to Jon Burlingame's excellent new book, The Music of James Bond, this is really the 25th film about the James Bond character, though officially SKYFALL is listed as the 23rd one. Two that are left out of the "official" Bond series are CASINO ROYALE (1967) and NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1982).

On the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise I'm sorry to say this score to the latest James Bond film is a real snoozer. Nothing much going on in the score that is of tuneful interest. Sure there's lot of rapid repetitive passages but none of them are particularly memorable. How about a nice long slow theme with some emotional involvement somewhere? Instead we get the electronics and drum beats and it goes on and on!

The James Bond series is not known for deep and highly dramatic stories. They should be fun. But is toughness and violence the only kind of fun that is left today? It seems that action scenes have taken over for a real story, which in the earlier Bond films may be somewhat far-fetched but at least they were better scripted and yes better acted too. I'm not a fan of the surly Daniel Craig. He's like so many of the sour-faced actors in films today. How about showing a little more sensitivity and maybe more smiles too?

I also believe that both Sean Connery and Roger Moore made more of the James Bond character, especially with their lighter touch of humor. But if rough tough guys are all audiences want these days, that's what they'll continue to get. It's very sad that so many young filmgoers prefer lightweight action scenes to dramatic scenes where actors actually get to do some heavier lifting in their acting.

Composer Thomas Newman has had some good scores since his first one, RECKLESS, in 1984. Other scores include: FINDING NEMO, THE HELP, THE PLAYER, THE IRON LADY, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, and WALL-E. He also won a Grammy for his arrangement of the television theme for SIX FEET UNDER.

But this score sounds like a lot of huffing and puffing to propel the action along.
Starting with only two notes presumably from the James Bond Theme. Why the tease? What follows is a pseudo-Turkish theme for the first track, "Grand Bazaar, Istanbul." It sounds more disjointed than appropriate to the locale.

The same applies to rest of the score. Is there a memorable theme anywhere? I didn't hear one. It's sort of like having Chinese food. It may taste good while you eat it but later on you may still be hungry for something more substantial. That's what I felt after listening to this soundtrack. Lots of loud rhythmic passages -- Da-dah/da-dah/da-dah etc. What does all this amount to? Nothing but a bunch of rhythmic nothingness.

To top if off we get only snippets of Monty Norman's ever-popular "James Bond Theme." Then finally, at track 22 ("Breadcrumbs"!), we finally get the Bond theme in a very tame and greatly shortened arrangement. I'd much rather have John Barry's classic arrangement of this memorable theme played complete.

The SKYFALL soundtrack goes on well over an hour and I found myself drifting off after only the first few tracks because nothing much changes throughout this soundtrack.

And there's no vocal on this soundtrack either. On track 13, we get an instrumental"interpolation" of the SKYFALL theme. It was sung by Adele for the film but it's not on this soundtrack and I haven't heard her recording so I won't comment on it. The theme as heard on this soundtrack has no lasting value at all.

The 16 page color CD booklet designed by WLP Ltd. consists almost entirely of film scenes without a single word about the score or the composer. Do they think that Bond fans don't want to read anything about it? Maybe they don't.

Like so many action films these days, SKYFALL will probably bring in hundreds of millions in cash for the studio and the actors will no doubt share in the profits. But lots of money at the box office doesn't mean it's a great film or a great score.

All in all, this endlessly repetitive poorly conceived film score by Thomas Newman for SKYFALL is a major disappointment and sorry to say one the weakest efforts in the entire Bond franchise.

-- Roger Hall, 14 November 2012








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