Immortals (Trevor Morris)

Final Musings: A disappointment to both film music fans and hardcore MV/RC enthusiasts. Purchase it for the adagio material in the end, but even that won’t be worth the decent hour that will have to be wasted to get there.

I was actually looking forward to this release so you can imagine the disappointment that settled in me after hearing the score. I have extremely low expectations for the film (never was a fan of 300, and I do not intend to see this one either….), I did expect however a score that excelled the film in quality. Unfortunately, let me bluntly say that Trevor Morris does not deliver on the account of several reasons as follows. The action is meagre in the first half with many booming brass chords that oddly takes the listeners back to Inception (haha….sci-fi dream fiction and Greek Gods….it really is one size fits all with MV/RC). The action does get more interesting in the second half but never really soars. On that note, the last few cues are direct rips off of 160 BPM. Just take a listen to the last cue Sky Fight/End Credits. God, the choral work and overbearing electronic bass rhythm directly rips a page off the Angels and Demons book. This cue may be entertaining, but clearly not very original. In fact, oddly enough, due to the synthetic nature of the samples, this sounds like trailer music! Perhaps 160BPM was used for temp tracking the last few scenes…seriously for a Greek movie?! Bah!

To add on, the marching rhythms in cues like Battle in the Tunnel and The Gods Chose Well are largely uninteresting. The synthetic nature of the samples and the massive amounts of stupid ruckus and noise really plays to the downfall of the score. Even in cues like This is Your Calling, which initially teases you with some sense of beauty, before it plays out cheap strings in the typical Zimmer-esque melodrama. Moreover, there is an extensive amount of poorly executed dissonance for the first half of the score. This factor will seriously destroy the score for most listeners. This dissonance is quite simplistic in its synthetic incarnations but it is quite apparent throughout the whole score. In fact, one could argue it really destroys the few redeeming action material.

But there are some redeeming features of this score. For instance, I appreciate the authentic chorus. One thing that I’ve noticed in Morris’ previous scores for the Tudors, Pillars of the Earth and even the Borgias is that Morris can write some excellent choral material. While his is not always known for the intelligent use of choirs, Morris has portrayed some truly fantastic awe-inspiring choral music in moments in the Tudors. While this score is both disappointing on usual MV/RC standards and the composer’s standards, at least some of his choral talent does cross over to this score. The chorus truly does portray a sense of genuine, almost religious-like awe in certain cues like To Mt. Olympus and Apotheosis. The chorus also benefits the action music in the second half by heightening the intensity in cues like Immortal Combat and The Gods Chose Well are rather enjoyable. And while Do Not Forsake Mankind acts as the elegy and a poor attempt at reiterating the glory of Journey to the Line, this cue is entertaining.

In the end, the score will likely turn out to be a huge disappointment to most listeners (including the more ardent MV/RC enthusiasts out there). Some people may find some merit for the choral work (which is rather weak, but authentic at the very least). But really, Morris delivers a score thats below even the regular MV/RC standards. There is no great power anthem for Theseus (the theme is rather inadequate), the action for a film of this scale is rather poor and stale and the album gets rather dreary.

For those looking to salvage anything in the album, look to the following cues.

Muse on these:

To Mt. Olympus
This cue may rip direct passages off his score for The Borgias. There is a genuine sense of awe portrayed by the chorus that might seem interesting to listeners. Just a fair warning though, just watch out for the unpleasant action clashing at the end of the track (material that tries to evoke the sensations that The Might of Rome from Gladiator successfully did).

The Gods Chose Well
If you are looking to salvage at least some good action out of this score, I suggest you take a look at this cue. Its marching rhythms maybe dreary, but the chorus is really put to the test in its epic and dissonant passages. It may not be action of great standards, but enjoyable

Immortal Combat
Basically, if you liked 160 BPM (which I’m pretty sure everyone did), and you wish to hear a much more inferior incarnation of it, listen to this track. The 160BPM rhythm crosses right over to this score with a weak attempt at impersonating the powerful choral work as well. Then again, if you want to hear more of the 160BPM rather than the dissonant passages in this track, just head over to Sky Fight/End Credits. Overall, a weak cue, but some might find enjoyable in terms of action.

Arguably the best cue in the entire score. The chorus opens up with a powerful sense of awe at religious proportions. The horns then take the main theme (which in itself is rather weak). This cue is a strong **** track. While its not so great that it will redeem the hour you wasted to get to this track, its still a cue you’ve got to take a look at.

Do Not Forsake Mankind
Trevor Morris’ attempt at creating a Journey To the Line, Chevaliers de Sangreal like finale. It even has the high pitch strings after 2:10. It does not even go near such power, but there is beauty to this elegy. It sums up the sadly inadequate main theme with as much glory as possible and some will find entertainment in this, the use of the authentic chorus is a strong point. People might especially enjoy the lovely choral parts of beauty from 2:50. Some great stuff here!

Sky Fight/End Credits
This is for 160BPM fans over here. The pulsating electronic bass, the sound effects, the dynamic choral work (with notes passing from sopranos to bass and so on) all show evident signs of temp tracking. This is clearly a much more inferior form of the fantastic 160BPM from Zimmer’s Angels and Demons. There is also the more heroic statements of the main theme starting from 0:43. The synthetic nature of this track makes it play out like cheap trailer music, but hardcore fans might like this.

But the above cues are just listed with me trying to be open minded about the positive sides of the score. In the end, personally I would only take Do Not Forsake Mankind and Apotheosis from that list (and maybe The Gods Chose Well for those looking for action). The rest of the score is rather mediocre stuff. Apotheosis can genuinely blow you away with its choral beauty and Do Not Forsake Mankind is a good elegy for fans….unfortunately they don’t make up for the score’s multitude of inherent flaws. If you have a choice, Get those 2 or 3 cues and leave the rest.

Once again I must point out on my disappointment on Morris’ work because having heard his work for the Tudors and Pillars of the Earth, I did expect more than the average MV/RC stuff…instead he delivers below average material. Before starting the album, the little note he added made me hopeful, but it seems like what he claims is his “notion of immortality” musically isn’t what one would assume it is. This score really does prove the “one size fits all argument” that constant belittles the MV/RC style of music. I mean come on, this supposed to be a film about epic Greek heroes of massive scope, I want to hear music like Yared’s Troy (although those expectations would be ridiculously high…obviously I didn’t expect that while approaching this score!). Instead, what do I hear? I’m hearing the synthy droning and the booming brass chords from Inception, action music from Angels and Demons, and war adagios from The Thin Red Line! Dream-extractors, popes, malevolent music for the Catholic Church and war anthems….I’m hearing everything I’d least expect for a film like this. Then again, as I’ve said before, even while viewing with MV/RC standards, the music disappoints. There is no strong power anthem and the action music is really dull and unenthusiastic. This score once again proves the sad downwards direction that modern film music for blockbusters seems to be heading for…..

Rating: * * 1/2

2 Comments on “Immortals (Trevor Morris)”

  1. I must say, this is the first time I’ve disagreed with one of your reviews… although to be honest, I’m still very mixed about this score. I have seen the film, and heard album through once, so perhaps I need to give it a few more listens to have more cohesive thoughts. I definitely agree it is a frustrating listen and in many ways a disappointment. Mostly I feel this comes from the film itself, which though a treat for the eyes (as usual with Tarsem) was simply a mess of a film, with no heart at all, bad writing, emotionally-distancing, wildly excessive and just all around non-sensical. All that can only make writing a film score a bit of a challenge… although that said, I guess Morris Could have written a better score than the film deserved if he had chosen to (although I don’t really know what freedom or input he had from the studio/Tarsem to pursue other avenues, maybe little).
    I did read some interesting interviews with Morris where he talks about some of the little creative flairs he added to the score, and I think sonically it Does stand better than most of the recent RC-style scores. However, definitely the lack of thematic cohesion/development or flat out presence definitely detracts from the overall experience.

    Haha, all that to say, maybe I’m not really disagreeing with you, just seems maybe you tossed it out a little too soon, maybe there’s a little bit more there, but still, overall a major disappointment. God how I miss the good ol’ days when composers like James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith and others could take the absolute worst movies but still compose absolutely magical masterpieces…

    • kalaisan says:

      I get what you mean. I’ll give you this, this score is definitely above the usual MV/RC crap and its definitely better than its stupid film cousins, “Clash of the Titans” and “300”, but I think I expected more from Morris (considering his other works).

      His main theme for this film is largely noticeable, which is a shame really. But the choral work is quite beautfiul and breathtaking at times along with some interesting ethnic elements to appreciate. What really brought down the score though, was the outrageous stand-out moments of downright plagiarism and the lack of a major theme (no power anthem! :(). I guess thats why I was as harsh as I was. 😛

      Thanks Joel for all your comments recently, appreciate your support!

      – KK

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