Total Time: (79:09)
The first thought that comes to mind (obviously) is: "Hmmmm, this is James Horner, so how original can it be?" Well, it's not as derivative as his recent score for "Bicentennial Man," but this is James Horner, and the score is not without it's fair share of unoriginal moments. Coast Guard Rescue, for example, employs the same, harsh, four-note motif that has been used in countless other scores by Horner including: Star Trek 2, Brainstorm, Willow, and the Mask of Zorro. As I understand it, the four notes are actually Wotan's motif from Wagner's "Ring Cycle" which I haven't heard (but if I find a CD of it, I'll be sure to pick it up). Also, many of the action moments sound as if they were derived from "Titanic" and/or "Apollo 13."
The most interesting thing about this soundtrack, which some may find objectionable, is Horner's employment of the electric guitar. As stated, some may not care for this, but like the GAGpipes in "Titanic," the unusual instrument (in this instance, anyway) only makes it's appearance at beginning and end of the score. To be honest, I would liked to have heard more use of it as it combines with and accents the score perfectly, and if I hadn't heard the sample released over the internet just prior to the soundtrack's commercial release, it would have taken me by complete surprise. In the end, I'd say that the use of such an unusual insrument for film should balance out the re-hashed material. Now let's just hope that Horner doesn't use his newfound guitar constantly in his future scores as he's just bound to do (a la shakuachi).
One thing that I find rather irritating is Horner's recent tendency to finish the soundtrack off with a pop ballad. End credits are almost always a chance for composers to display their arrangement talents with the major themes of the score. Although the John Mellencamp tune (based on the main theme) is enjoyable, most will recognize it as a shameless ploy for two Oscar nominations as opposed to one (best song as well as best score).
All said, though, this is a must for Horner fans. Others may find plenty to like as well, and I'd definitely recommend it to all film score enthusiasts. Those not generally acquainted with film music may want to pass it up for something else like James Newton Howard's recent "Dinosaur," though.