Home > Reviews > ALIEN VS. PREDATOR – Harald Kloser

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR – Harald Kloser

alienvspredatorOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In an attempt to breathe life into the franchises, Twentieth Century Fox have done what Universal did over half a century ago by pitching two of their greatest monster creations against each other in a single motion picture. But this is not Frankenstein, Dracula or The Wolfman: the monsters here are Predators and Aliens. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, Alien vs. Predator stars Lance Henriksen as Charles Weyland, a billionaire industrialist leading an archaeological expedition in Antarctica in the not-so-distant future. When the team unearths the ruins of an ancient pyramid buried beneath the ice, it is hoped that a great breakthrough in human history has been reached. However, the team soon find themselves unwittingly caught in the middle of an intergalactic war in which the fearsome Predators come to earth to take part in a coming-of-age ritual that involves them hunting and killing a group of fully-grown Aliens, who have also been buried under the ice for the past few millennia…

Austrian composer Harald Kloser’s score is, as one might imagine, a pseudo-hybrid of the Alien and Predator musical styles, combining low, moody orchestral creepiness with a significant amount of balls-to-the-wall action. This latter element is updated significantly through the introduction of a fast-paced electronic undercurrent which presumably seeks to make the traditional symphonic sound more palatable to the movie’s core audience of teenage boys. Somewhat disappointingly, he makes no direct thematic references to either of Alan Silvestri’s Predator scores, or the Alien efforts of Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Elliot Goldenthal or John Frizzell, remaining content instead to merely mimic them, or at least provide the merest hints of their styles.

The “Alien vs. Predator Main Theme” is an interesting variation on the theme Kloser wrote for The Day After Tomorrow earlier in the year: a stately, noble, subtly heroic anthem for brass and strings which, again, gives the score a certain stature the subject matter does not really warrant. Nevertheless, it works superbly well on album, and is a definite thematic high point. Other, more subdued moments include “Southern Lights” and “History of the World”, but these are mere oases of calm in what, for the rest of the time, is all-out musical war.

Cues such as “Antarctica”, “Down the Tunnel”, “Weyland’s End”, “Alien Queen” and the conclusive “The End…Or Maybe Not” throb to immense orchestral, percussive and choral forces which at times are very impressive. “Showdown” includes an unusual flute effect while alluding to Horner’s Aliens, but the score’s most interesting cue is probably “Alien Fight”, concluding as it does with a sort of ‘sound design duel’, where the ragged breathing and whip-like attacks of the Aliens combat with the metallic technology of the aggressive Predators.

But, as is so often the case with modern action/horror scores these days, the music is virtually indistinguishable from other recent scores in the genre. This is not to say the music is bad in any way, because it certainly has several great moments: it just never develops any kind of individual identity, and with the exception of the aforementioned “Alien Fight”, never shows any kind of clever thinking or real originality. Kloser is a relative newcomer to scores of this high a profile, so he has not yet had time develop a recognizable sound in the minds of people who take note of these things. Having said that, with the combined talents of himself and three additional composers (regular collaborator Thomas Wanker, Thomas Schobel and Michael Kamen’s former synthesizer programmer James Brett), one would still have hoped for more than a few glimpses of innovation in an otherwise fairly standard genre score.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • 1904 (1:15)
  • Alien Vs. Predator Main Theme (3:28)
  • Antarctica (2:43)
  • Bouvetoya Island (2:08)
  • Down the Tunnel (1:08)
  • Hanging Bodies (1:45)
  • Southern Lights (1:40)
  • Predator Space Ship (1:11)
  • The Pyramid (1:11)
  • Temple (1:10)
  • Dark World (2:56)
  • History of the World (3:20)
  • Alien Fight (3:14)
  • I Need This (1:45)
  • Weyland’s End (0:56)
  • Alien Queen (1:37)
  • Showdown (3:23)
  • The End…Or Maybe Not (3:30)

Running Time: 38 minutes 42 seconds

Varèse Sarabande 302-066-605-2 (2004)

Music composed by Harald Kloser. Conducted by James Brett. Orchestrations by James Brett, Matt Dunkley and Marcus Trump. Additional music by Thomas Wanker, Thomas Schobel and James Brett. Recorded and mixed by Geoff Foster. Edited by Andy Glen. Mastered by Patricia Sullivan-Fourstar. Album produced by Harald Kloser.

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