With this prequel to the legend of ROBIN HOOD, director Ridley Scott brings along Marc Streitenfeld to clash musical swords among the leaves (and what appears to be a lot of mud) of Sherwood Forest. Streitenfeld’s music steals the sound of his mentor, Hans Zimmer, making film music fans none the richer.
I wasn’t enamored of Streitenfeld’s earlier scores for Ridley Scott. But I thought the period locale and mythic quality of the Robin Hood tale would inspire something more epic in tone, at the very least something listenable.
Instead, the score, at least as it comes across on CD, contains track after track of “Zimmer lite.” Yes, Streitenfeld came up through the Zimmer ranks and that influence shows in every bar of music. Thankfully, Streitenfeld keeps the expected Celtic harmonies and rhythms to a minimum. But oddly enough, those are some of the best cues, though they too represent a wasted opportunity to create something more original.
Anchoring the score is the heavy “Destiny” theme. The melody, with its mystic feel and wordless female chorus, rambles on with no shape or direction, as do most of the themes in the score.
Tracks like “Godfrey” and “John Is King” contain monotonous pulsating rhythms that start at one level and stay that way with little deviation. Streitenfeld seems to be afraid of crescendos, instead keeping the decibel level of the music in one place for minutes at a time. Cues are quiet, loud, or merely “there,” occupying listening space and not much more.
The music becomes slightly more exciting towards the end of the film during the final battle scene, with the percussive sounds of clashing swords slashing through the air. It’s still not particularly original or memorable, but finally the score begins to show some signs of life. In “The Legend Begins,” we finally get some sense of the mythological element that has been missing from the score.
The score lacks complexity, while the themes are bloodless and unmemorable. The action cues are more noticeable for their monotonous rhythmic landscape than for any sense of excitement generated. Perhaps the score works better in the context of the film. I don’t plan to find out.
Until Streitenfeld finds a compositional voice of his own, his music will continue to sound like a Zimmer clone. And aren’t there enough of those pockmarking the face of film music already?