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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Score Season #27
by Richard Jack Smith

Below are more soundtrack reviews of recent and archival releases.

RoboCop (Basil Poledouris, 1987) **** The meat and potatoes behind RoboCop must be those fleeting moments where spectacle and emotion mesh. Composer Basil Poledouris unleashes a battery of percussion, synthesizers, brass, woodwinds, strings and unusual atmospherics. Highlights such as “Van Chase,” “Drive Montage,” “Robo & Ed 209 Fight” and “Looking for Me” ignite from the speaker system into your collective unconscious. RoboCop lives!

The Black Hole (John Barry, 1979) * Only a poem this time:

The Black Hole destined to be reported.

My hopes were rather distorted.

With a reputation this high,

I can only sigh.


Known for his good taste

John Barry’s theme was a waste.

Although “The Door Opens” proved fair

Not much else from this affair.

The Eiger Sanction (John Williams, 1975) **** Just a poem:

The same year Jaws made a splash

Williams took the Eiger dash.

Unlike most in his repertoire

Unconcerned by the bourgeois.


Moody and romantic

Themes transcend the pedantic.

Pleasantly surprised by what I heard

Let loose this independent bird.

Jennifer 8 (Maurice Jarre, 1992) A rejected score can be many things: novelty, monstrosity or curiosity. Guess where this poem falls…

For such immaculate poise

Maurice Jarre made white noise.

A haunted house might contain

Jennifer 8, so mundane.

K20: Legend of the Mask (Naoki Sato, 2008) **** A poem:

A dashing hero shall strike.

This music you might like.

K20: Legend of the Mask

In heroic light, we bask.

The Legion of No Return (Michele Lacerenza, 1969) Another poem:

Aiming for a kill

This one doesn’t fit the bill.

Behold the stolen tap.

Clearly they needed a map.


Rubbish in all shapes and sizes

Whether the sun falls or rises.

Done out of spite?

The music remains trite.

THX 1138 (Lalo Schifrin, 1971) **** A sober and challenging work, Lalo Schifrin’s THX 1138 belongs to a particular mind-set: elegy. Light has escaped the narrative, while only shades of darkness operate without restraint. Elegantly composed, the woodwinds in “Be Happy/LUH/Society Montage” are coloured by oppression, even despondency. The degree to which listeners embrace this music might depend upon patience. There’s little release, except for the optimistic source cues. These include the more traditional jazz inflections found in Schifrin’s canon. Meanwhile, “Loneliness Sequence” packs the air with suspense, rarely allowing a breath to escape. Emotions are laid bare, subject to alien conditioning. For every sweet note, there’s a consequence; the harsh tone forever imprinting its lost cadences upon the audience. Like his later work for the Planet of the Apes television series, Schifrin applies creativity to every moment behind THX 1138. Admittedly, I haven’t discovered all of its secrets. Rest assured, many treasures await.

U-571 (Richard Marvin, 2000) **** Some flag-waving aside, Richard Marvin’s U-571 succeeds due to the rationale: make it big, make it emotional. Despite an album presentation which clashes with the running order of the film, only the suspenseful cues at the end (“Searching Below,” “Opening/U-571 Attacks,” “U-571 Surfaces” and “Tyler’s Torpedo Plan” put a stopper in the flow.


For one so true

A poem feels due.

Lacking a five-star cluster

Much feels good about this blockbuster.


If I ever felt starving

Put trust in Richard Marvin.

He follows such toil

Rarely going off the boil.

Viking (Dean Valentine, 2016) *** Hostility toward Dean Valentine’s Viking has gradually morphed into genuine appreciation. Although this music has Media Ventures taped into its blood stream, that’s not necessarily a prideful boast. Yes, Valentine’s score has issues. However, getting past the Transformers like “Prologue,” we arrive at “Ambush.” Again, he seems to embrace ideas which seem familiar, while others reach outside the box. Even “Rain” follows a similar code.

Now for a poem:

Rhythm of the dust

Of war, men have lust.

Barbarian heart I seek

Prodding with sharpened beak.


Music struck so fierce

Like a wound we pierce.

Much set on chance

Falling under the lance.


On notes, Valentine did labour

A few mistakes, ever present sabre.

His baton was hatchet

Seriousness prone to ratchet.


Blades of woodwind ghosts

Echoing from nearby coasts.

Voices the ancients are netting

There was much bloodletting.



Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (Angela Morley, 1969) ***** Breaking the waves with a poem:

The melody is haunting

From a figure so enchanting.

“To Sea/Fish Farm/Shark Fight” was a cracker.

Consider me a new backer.


From the sea, living elements culled.

Our senses rarely dulled.

There’s mystery to the aquatic

Little danger adopting the geriatric.


One as thrill-seeking as Nemo

Probably inspired men like Remo.

Such a positive search

Cannot leave us in the lurch.


Harp glissandi glistening like bubbles

We are free from troubles.

A view near the beach

Bright blue and peach.

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