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COLLATERAL DAMAGE: SOUNDTRACK

Review by Brad Green:
I met Graeme Revell briefly back in 1989. At that time, I was setting up my own humble home studio, and I was looking to beg, steal, borrow or buy a few of his custom designed samples.†

Revell had a reputation as a trailblazer in the use of music technology. One of the first composers to make extensive use of the Fairlight (an Australian-designed sampler that was a pioneering achievement for its day) he brought a classical background to a penchant for electronic experimentation. It was an interesting approach, but not overly successful at rising his industrial-techno band SPK above an underground cult following.†

So he was earning a buck by farming out his talents for services such as film sound editor. I recall that on the occasion I went across to his studio, he was waiting on the outcome of a parting of the minds between the original composer for Dead Calm and the director. Revell suspected he might be about to get a leg up to the main gig. He did. And it bought him a ticket to Hollywood. Using a theme based around a song he had written for SPK, his Dead Calm score won an AFI award, and within a couple of years he was based in California and scoring such major league movies as The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.†

Revell had the advantage of a distinctive voice. A hard-edged, sequenced sound replete with contoured tones and powerful dynamics. Action movies were naturally enough his niche. And he has continued to compose with a creative fire that sometimes rages with energy, and at others fails to burn as intensely as it might, held back by the sterility of computerized rhythms.

Unfortunately, this is one of those efforts that blaze less brightly. Even with a real orchestra enlisted, the live performers play second fiddle to the machines, with trademark short riffs and percussive bursts the order of the score. Itís a serviceable soundscape for an action plot, interesting at moments, but lacking an outstanding melody, rhythmic nuance or twist of arrangement to grip the ears and set the pulse racing. Thereís always an interesting idea or two in Revellís scores, but it would be terrific to hear them realised, at least occasionally, with a more organic feel Ė and Iím not just saying that because I never did get my hands on any of those samples!

Published July 4, 2002

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TITLE: Collateral Damage
ID: 30206 62922
Varese Sarabande
COMPOSER: Graeme Revell
PRODUCER: Graeme Revell
TRACKS: 14







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