Home > Reviews > LAND OF THE LOST – Michael Giacchino

LAND OF THE LOST – Michael Giacchino

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A big-budget remake of the classic 1970s TV series, Land of the Lost is directed by Brad Silberling and stars Will Ferrell as Dr. Rick Marshall, a world renowned scientist and paleontologist who, along with his beautiful research assistant Holly (Anna Friel) and a redneck survivalist called Will (Danny McBride), is sucked into an intergalactic wormhole and is transported to an alternate universe where dinosaurs still rule the world. Played as much for laughs as it is its action/adventure element, Land of the Lost was critically mauled and, as a result, became a spectacular box-office flop; this unexpected lack of quality also transferred itself to Michael Giacchino’s score, which marks one of the few instances where his music doesn’t quite hit the spot.

Much of the music is percussive and rhythm-based, with unusual instrumental textures flittering amongst the generally quite low-key orchestral performances. Parts of it reminded me of Jerry Goldsmith’s Planet of the Apes, especially through the use of non-traditional percussive items, and in the way the woodwinds and pianos are used for rhythm and texture rather than melody. Every now and again there’s an interesting instrumental touch or rhythmic device that raises the stakes, like the banjos and guitars in “A Routine Expedition” and “The Cosmic Lost and Found” for example. Similarly, a couple of action cues (“The Greatest Earthquake Ever Known”, “The Ones That Got Away”, “Undercover Sleestak”, the thrilling “Stakbusters”) and a couple of fanfare-type pieces (“Matt Lauer Can Suck It”, “If You Don’t Make It, It’s Your Own Damn Vault”, the angelic “Crystal Clear”) have a sense of life and energy, and contain some large-scale brass performances that are again quite Goldsmithian in their construct, and are especially redolent of some of the maestro’s more unconventional 60s and 70s scores.

Later, the evil Sleestaks have their own musical identity with a wailing theremin and gruff, menacing vocals which come to the forefront of cues such as “Sleestak Attack”, which are quite effective in creating an atmosphere of otherworldly danger. The problem, really, is the complete lack of a cohesive style from one cue to another. Land of the Lost is an ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ score which changes style constantly, leaving the listener uncertain of where the score is heading. Worst of all, though, is the fact that for long periods of time the score is actually rather dull, which is something I never thought I would write in relation to a Giacchino score.

It’s difficult to pin down the actual reasons why this score failed to engage me, because some of the 60s action licks are great, and the ensemble performing the score would in other circumstances have made for interesting listening, especially in the hands of a composer like Giacchino. Mainly, I think its scattershot attitude and somewhat muddled structure made it seems less than the sum of its parts, despite some of those parts being enjoyable on their own terms.

Rating: **½

Track Listing:

  • Swamp and Circumstance (1:25)
  • The Lighter Side of Archaeology (1:03)
  • Food Coma for Thought (1:01)
  • A Routine Expedition (0:48)
  • The Greatest Earthquake Ever Known (3:12)
  • Matt Lauer Can Suck It (1:22)
  • Chaka Chasedown (0:43)
  • The Ones That Got Away (4:17)
  • Enik Calls for Marshall (1:16)
  • Sleestak Attack (2:01)
  • Enik the Altrusian (3:20)
  • The Cosmic Lost and Found (1:34)
  • When Piss on Your Head Is a Bad Idea (3:54)
  • A New Marshall in Town (1:37)
  • Pterodactyl Ptemper Ptantrum (0:42)
  • The Crystal Cave (1:43)
  • In Search of… Holly (1:34)
  • Undercover Sleestak (2:18)
  • Never Trust a Dude in a Tunic (4:17)
  • If You Don’t Make It, It’s Your Own Damn Vault (2:40)
  • Holly Mad As Sin (0:50)
  • Sleestak Showdown (0:53)
  • Stakbusters (2:33)
  • Fight Fight Fight (1:27)
  • Crystal Clear (2:31)
  • Mystery Cave Reunion (1:22)
  • Ready and Will (1:36)
  • End Credits Can Suck It! (3:26)
  • Pop Goes the Sleestak (0:16)
  • A Routine Expedition (Version 1) [BONUS] (0:50)
  • The Devil’s Canyon Mystery Cave (Version 1) [BONUS] (2:04)
  • Crystal Clear (Film Version) [BONUS] (2:19)

Running Time: 60 minutes 54 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6975 (2009)

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