Although this latest offering from composer James Horner is in many ways pleasant and atmospheric, there is for me at least nothing new or original within this score. What we do hear is the standard Horner sound that he seems to employ or fall back on each and every time he writes for the cinema and at times its hard to remember what soundtrack of Horner’s we are actually listening to. I say this because there are so many similarities to this latest work and past Horner scores that it is somewhat difficult to separate any of them, whilst listening to BLACK GOLD I managed to get to track number two before thinking, is that An American Tail, or is that a passage from Cocoon or The Four Feathers or even the love theme from Krull. There is no doubt that James Horner is a success as far as being a composer of music for major box office triumphs, but whether his compositions are original, unique or even worthy of many of the movies he has worked upon is another matter and one that I am sure will be debated and talked about for some time. I hear you say wait is it not good for a composer to have a style or trademark sound ? Well I suppose it is but not to the extent of nearly every score sounding the same. When he started to gain a reputation and a following way back in the dim and distant past with assignments such as BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and the aforementioned powerhouse music for KRULL I thought how fresh and exhilarating his music was and even likened him to the great Jerry Goldsmith, but now years down the line there seems to be no variety or inventiveness in his music for the cinema. BLACK GOLD contains a score that is most definitely dramatic and comes across as being sweeping and lush for most of its duration, with touches of emotion and ethnic elements, but original it is not, in fact at one point I imagined the dear little mouse from AN AMERICAN TAIL in Arab attire crossing a desert on a camel, because the composer just seems to have recycled his principal theme from that particular movie into the score for this desert situated adventure. So it is for me disappointing because of this lack of inventiveness its deficiency in the originality department. It seems that Horner is content to sit on his laurels and just utilize themes from earlier scores with just a little tweak here and there. So although an adequate soundtrack for an adventure movie it is not one that I would recommend if you are looking for something fresh.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Erika
, Il Plenilunio delle Vergini
, Le Altre