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GAMER – Geoff Zanelli and Robb Williamson

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The official website for Gamer calls it a “high-concept action thriller set in a near future when gaming and entertainment have evolved into a terrifying new hybrid where humans can control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online gaming environments”. Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, it’s basically an excuse for lead actors Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall and Terry Crews to run around shooting things, making things explode, and generally behaving in an unseemly manner ill-befitting a gentleman.

I was going to write a long and vociferous diatribe on everything that is wrong with the score for Gamer, which was written by Geoff Zanelli and Robb Williamson. I was going to go into great detail about how this is possibly the most dispiriting and soul-crushing score for a mainstream film that I can remember in a long time, but to be frank I couldn’t muster the energy. After sitting through this god-awful piece of music three times, trying to come up with some sensible way of framing my thoughts, I eventually decided that a visual reference would be better. So, here is a picture of a cute polar bear conveying how this score made me feel:

There are no themes, there is no musical depth or nuance, no development, absolutely nothing of worth beyond loud, crass, repetitive, unbearable noise. It’s basically an hour of electronic rhythms, obnoxious rock interludes with snarling electric guitars, phat drum beats, bleeps and bloops, and various industrial sound design elements, all produced with the express purpose of inciting the audience into a state of mindless hyperventilation with an ear-splitting frenzy of forced stimulation. By the end of the third listen, I was ready to rip my speakers from the wall and throw them into the swimming pool, lest I be forced to hear it one more time. CIA interrogators could use this stuff to make Al Qaeda terrorists confess.

I realize that this review is flippant and, in some ways, a probably pointless rant, but this score represents in its entirety everything I despise about certain elements of modern film music. Gamer has no soul. It’s just there, sitting on top of everything, incessantly blaring away, creating an artificial sense of excitement, whipping up a storm with no indication that there is a film underneath it all which might actually benefit from music that amounts to more than industrial groans, bad rock music and bad video game sound effects.

It’s not Geoff Zanelli’s fault; he is a talented composer in his own right, as his scores for things like Into the West attest, and was clearly providing exactly what the directors wanted for their film. As for Robb Williamson, the fact that his previous credits include scores like Midnight Meat Train is probably all you need to know. I really don’t know what else to say.

The only reason this album avoids the frisbee rating is because it has a cool Marilyn Manson cover version of the Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This”, and concludes with a Sammy Davis Jr. medley. And, really, if I’m praising Marilyn Manson and Sammy Davis Jr. over the score, then you know that something is very, very wrong.

Rating: ½

Please don’t buy the Gamer soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (written by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart, performed by Marilyn Manson) (4:53)
  • The Bad Touch (written by James M. Franks, performed by Bloodhound Gang) (4:20)
  • Deathmatch (3:14)
  • Society (0:42)
  • Slayers (0:39)
  • Kable’s New Ride (2:19)
  • The Prison Yard (1:39)
  • Upgrades (3:14)
  • Target Practice (4:22)
  • Gina Parker Smith (0:27)
  • Simon’s House (2:56)
  • Turn Me Loose (1:50)
  • You Have to Escape (2:17)
  • Kable is Gone (0:56)
  • Dress Up Doll (0:41)
  • Humanz (1:55)
  • The Thorax Bar (1:53)
  • Kable Rescues Angie (1:19)
  • Blood Ball (2:05)
  • Interrogating Simon (2:42)
  • Kable vs. Castle (2:53)
  • I Think It, You Do It (4:38)
  • Medley: I’ve Got You Under My Skin/Big Bad John/Night and Day (written by Cole Porter, Jimmy Dean and Stephen L. Lawrence, performed by Sammy Davis Jr.) (6:32)

Running Time: 58 minutes 26 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS 34075 (2009)

Music composed by Geoff Zanelli and Robb Williamson. Guitar performances by Aaron Robinson, Brian Taylor and Geoff Zanelli. Recorded and mixed by Jeff Biggers. Edited by Shie Rozow. Album produced by Geoff Zanelli and Robb Williamson.

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