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OUTLANDER – Geoff Zanelli

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A science fiction Viking epic, Outlander is a genre-bending action movie starring Jim Caviezel as Kainen, a soldier from a faraway planet who crashes his spaceship on Earth in Norway in the year 709, and is captured by the local Norsemen; however, when a deadly alien creature called the Moorwen – which had stowed away on Kainen’s ship – begins a vicious killing rampage through the Viking village, Kainen and the Vikings team up to stop the intruder.

The film is directed by Howard McCann, features an eclectic supporting cast that includes Sophia Myles, Ron Perlman and John Hurt, and has an original score by Geoff Zanelli. The score sounds pretty much like you would expect it to sound, and is built around a rousing brass main theme in the finest Zimmer power anthem tradition, which is first heard in the opening “Setting the Trap” and re-occurs liberally thereafter, notably in “Kainan’s Capture”, “Now You Look Like a Viking” and the rousing, conclusive “Kainan Becomes King”.

The plentiful action music is loud and driving, and contains an appropriately primal sound that sometimes seems to veer into symphonic rock territory; cues such as “Gunnar’s Raid”, “Tell Me About Your Dragon”, “Interrogating Kainan” and “Killing the Beast” are effective, albeit a little anachronistic, combining modern percussive synthesizers and dynamic rhythms with a growling male voice choir and wailing ethnic horns. The more horrific sequences – “That Was NOT a Bear”, “Into the Moorwen Lair” – tend to comprise mostly of a low, menacing motif for brass, surrounded by all manner of electronic and orchestral dissonances, while the quieter moments, notably during “Gods Be With You” and “Herot Town – 709 AD”, have a slightly more noble, romantic, traditional sound, with a cooing vocalist and warm, brass chords that often grow into something more heroic as the cues progress.

There’s not much in the way of location-specific music (not that I know what Viking music really sounds like…), and not much to distinguish it from other similar scores from the Remote Control historical action pantheon such as King Arthur, but it raises the adrenaline in all the right places, and on those terms is entirely successful. Zimmer’s thematic strength and, conversely, his low-key subtlety in the quieter moments is definitely missed, but all in all it’s a rather predictable, enjoyable, check-your-brain-at-the-door action which will undoubtedly appeal to others a lot more than it appealed to me.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Setting the Trap (3:11)
  • Gunnar’s Raid (6:04)
  • The Moorwen Genocide (4:40)
  • Tell Me About Your Dragon (5:17)
  • Gods Be With You (6:11)
  • Crash Landing (5:13)
  • Kainan’s Capture (2:32)
  • Interrogating Kainan (2:05)
  • Herot Town – 709 AD (4:16)
  • Now You Look Like a Viking (2:06)
  • It Was a BEAR (4:48)
  • That Was NOT a Bear (3:49)
  • Into the Moorwen Liar (3:18)
  • Killing the Beast (7:59)
  • Kainan Becomes King (2:37)

Running Time: 64 minutes 06 seconds

La-La Land Records LLCD-1088 (2009)

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