Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Mars Attacks!
Music by Danny Elfman
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1096 (US)
32 Tracks 74:48 mins

If it has only one thing going for it, 1996's Mars Attacks! is the film that brought director Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman back together after their falling out over The Nightmare Before Christmas. And, by the composer's own admission, it also turned out to be one of his own personal favourite assignments. It's a fun score, for a fun movie; a mix of retro and modern and perfect for this surprisingly starry little film, which sees Jack Nicholson playing two roles, ably supported by the likes of Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Jim Brown, Sylvia Sidney, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman - and even Tom Jones. But the stars are really the CGI Martians, who are so devilishly evil.
The film is based on the controversial 1962 Topps trading card series and basically concerns the Martian invasion of Earth. It's an affectionate nod towards the alien invasion films of the '50s and composer Elfman draws upon the sounds of those films, particularly in the use of the Theremin (as it happens a combination of Theremin, synths and Ondes Martenot, the latter played of course by the incomparable Cynthia Millar), used of course so memorably by Elfman's idol Bernard Herrmann in the original The Day The Earth Stood Still. Elfman also utilises a '60s lounge style in his score for the film, particularly effective in the scenes depicting the "Martian Madame's" infiltration of the White House. The combination of Burton's ex, Lisa Marie's performance and Elfman's music provide a surreal quality that remains memorable to me even after all these years. But, at the heart of the score, is a fabulous march theme for the relentless progress of the Martian's as they arrive in a huge armada of ships and systematically begin destroying everyone and everything.
A soundtrack album was forthcoming at the time of the film's release and, very good though it was, it did leave me with a feeling of wanting more. Finally, here we have it, with La-La Land's "Expanded Archival Collection" release of the score, which adds a further 20 minutes of previously unreleased music, including alternate cues, and a demo of the "Main Title," recorded at Skywalker Sound, where Elfman originally went to put together his music for the original theatrical trailers for the film (an unusual step, then and now, to use music from the actual score). This trailer music is also included on the disc.
Accompanying this limited edition of just 3000 units, is a splendid booklet, featuring colour stills from the film, together with Dan Goldwasser's detailed notes on both film and score, with valuable contributions from the composer himself.
Hurry along to for samples and to order your copy.


Post a Comment

<< Home