"Talk about setting yourself a challenge. I can only
assume James Horner empathised so strongly with the plight of the
fishermen battling the Perfect Storm, that he decided to stack
the odds against himself and see if he could still make it home
with a rousing score. What other explanation could there be for
the inanity of his soundtrack’s incessantly repeated motif,
and its sheer brilliance in every other respect?
Comprising the first four notes of the major scale in a
six-note circular pattern that rolls around and around . . . and
around and around . . . until seasickness seems like the
apotheosis of stability in comparison, Horner underpins the score
with a theme that has less emotional impact than your average
Spice Girls chorus.
Not that there is a dearth of powerful melodies; its just that
they’re constantly followed by wave after wave of the sickly
six-noter. Yet Horner is defiant in the face of his self-imposed
handicap. He may have a built a palace on the flimsiest of
foundations; it may be a trifle shaky; but there’s no
overlooking the gems inside.
In fact, they even sparkle at the front gates. The opening
guitars of Coming Home From The Sea glitter invitingly as they
beckon in lush, romantic strings of the noble, heroic style that
Horner does so well. The violins veer for a moment to an ominous
edge, with underlying piano rumble foreshadowing the drama to
come, and then the big surprise, thundering drums, a flourish of
brass and yes, lightning flashes of wailing electric guitar.
No-one coaxes a richer sound from an orchestra than Horner,
and as the tension mounts and the action cues unfold, he combines
these elements brilliantly with his typically dense and engaging
string and woodwind arrangements.
John Mellencamp wraps things up with a simple song, based
around our old six-note friend in the guise of a pop riff. He
does OK with what he’s given, but it’s uninspiring to
say the least.
Nevertheless, mediocre pop song, incredibly annoying motif and
all, I’m recommending this soundtrack. It almost sunk under
its six-note rolling wave, but there’s enough buoyancy in
the diverse instrumental colours, and those noble, heroic phrases
to keep us swimming in emotion."