It’s hard to review a film’s score when the film itself is yet to be released. With only still images and leaked footage to be used as reference, the lack of context is a tough bit to chew. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is still about three weeks away, but the anticipation for this thing is close to making the kettle burst. It’s THE film of the summer for me. After finally seeing the full trailer in 3D when I caught The Avengers last week, I’m convinced the movie is going to be visually spectacular, and I’m holding out hope that the story will be equally impressive.
So setting aside all analytical talk of trailers, TV spots, cast interviews and promotional pieces (such as the Peter Weyland speech and the creepy as hell ”David” commercial), it’s time to focus on the film’s score, released just this week on iTunes and composed by frequent Scott collaborator Mark Streitenfeld. The Prometheus soundtrack has no discernible replaying theme to speak of, but I still found quite a bit to appreciate in it. The score often feels like an homage to the music from the other four films in the series, and at various points while listening, I would find myself remembering cues from the other films. There’s one obvious cue in the track “Friend from the Past” that Jerry Goldsmith fans will gladly eat up. It pretty much torpedoes Scott’s claims that Prometheus relates to Alien only in passing.
Some of the busier, frantic-sounding tracks remind me quite a bit of John Frizzell’s work on Alien Resurrection, but, strangely enough, I feel that Streitenfeld’s score has the most in common with Elliot Goldenthal’s fantastic Alien 3 score — just without the boy sopranos and the uncontrolled, industrial wildness it reaches at certain points. Goldenthal’s score is my favorite of the bunch, and I think Streitenfeld was affected by that score somewhat as well. The similarities are there. They’re just sometimes very subtle.
From what we think we know of Prometheus‘s story at this point, the score seems to follow all of those beats. There’s that sense of wonder at the beginning — music that sounds like something you’d hear on one of those BBC miniseries like Planet Earth or Life. Very fitting stuff for the promise of discovery of sentient life on other worlds. As the tracks progress, it starts blending into moody, exploration-type music, getting to the spooky stuff fairly soon. It’s not a spoiler to say that things will go to shit for the characters in Prometheus when whatever horrors Scott has concocted finally emerge, and the score reflects that in tracks like “Hammerpede” (that name alone gives me the creeps) and “Infected.”
My only complaint with this work isn’t even with the music itself; it’s that the track titles assigned could be considered a bit spoilery. Still, with all that’s been shown so far, I think the film’s course of events have been mostly telegraphed already. If you’ve been following the pre-release coverage of the film closely, it’s probably not that big a deal.
I’ve listened to this soundtrack three times already, and it’s clear that it stands very well on its own while at the same time complementing the images of the film that I’ve seen thus far. There’s an obvious respect here for the other scores of the Alien series, and that level of acknowledgment helps to reserve the Prometheus score a well deserved spot among those other established works.