Release Date: 2005
|3.||At The Ritz||1:49|
|4.||Big Bad Bud||2:12|
|6.||Dr Moores Evil Lab||1:20|
|11.||Hows About That||2:20|
|12.||In The Saddle||1:48|
|13.||Magic Of The Movies||1:39|
|16.||Relaxing By The Sea||3:09|
|18.||The Big Adventure||1:46|
|Total Album Time:||38:19|
|by Dan Goldwasser
December 20, 2005
It's not uncommon to review soundtracks for video game scores these days - there's a market for these releases, and many composers cut their teeth in computer games, and some even helped define the industry. Depending on the games, the scores tend to be action based, epic adventure based, quirky, and more. Composers generally end up locked into a niche, such as Bill Brown - who you would call upon to score an action game - or Jeremy Soule - who would be best suited for a fantasy adventure project. Some game soundtracks even exceed the quality of many feature film scores, and now along comes a game that is, quite literally, a film score.
The Movies is a fascinating game from Lionhead Studios, in which you get to build and run your very own movie studio. It has three games in one: you can design and build your own studio; you can design and maintain actors and directors; you can actually write and shoot your own movies. The game starts out in 1920, and you have limited funds and technology available, so your movies will be short and sweet. The built-in tutorial teaches you how to build and run your studio, placing down a script office, production office, casting office, etc., and soon you have to hire people to work on your films! Actors, directors, extras, crew members, screenwriters, set builders, and janitors are the types of people you'll be directly working with. But you need to keep an eye on them, and make sure they're not stressing out to the point of quitting. It's a human-management system similar to The Sims.
This is Hollywood, so it's all about appearances. If your actors are miserable and don't look good, that quality will reflect in your movies. And the thing about the movies is that they are, at least initially, randomly generated by the computer, based on a genre. As the game progresses, you get to be more involved and have more control over the stories and films themselves. What is really neat about The Movies is that you get to decide how involved you can be. You can be super-picky and work through every shot of the films that you make, or you can simply let the computer handle it all.
Of course, the fun part is watching the movies that you come up with - and the music in the movies in the game is all provided by composer Daniel Pemberton. Appropriately, the era in which you work will determine the kind of music used in your films. For the silent films of the 1920s, a piano-based score will be used ("Wonky Tonky"). As the genres grow, and time passes, your choices will improve, allowing you to chose from a big symphonic adventure score ("The Big Adventure"), to a funky 60s groove ("Big Bad Bud"), and even a techno action score ("Acid Bass").
The soundtrack to The Movies is heard within the game and the films, but if you get the Premier Edition DVD release of the game, then you get a bonus soundtrack. This 20-track album contains almost 40-minutes of Pemberton's music. In film, people tend to complain when a score is "ripping off the temp score" - but in this case, that's the point! It's fun to hear Pemberton's take on Basic Instinct ("Femme Fatale"), Raiders of the Lost Ark ("The Big Adventure"), "Miami Vice" ("Ferrari Lightning"), and more. While the "modern" cues work well for their intended purpose, I found myself more interested in the orchestral and jazzy cues. "Clever Clogs" and "At the Ritz" have a nice upbeat edge to them, and "Melodramatic Love" will please most John Barry fans. The album (which arrived in alphabetical track order) ends with "Yee Ha", a delightful tribute to the Morricone Spaghetti Western score. All of this shows that Pemberton knows his film music history, and was able to pay homage to them in his own way.
I'm not able to figure out, from this album, what Pemberton's actual film scoring style is like - but that's not the point of the soundtrack, either. As it works in the game, these twenty tracks give the player enough variety that they can create numerous films, and attach different types of music to them. It's also fun to mix them up, and put a James Bond-esque brassy spy score ("Secret Agent") on top of a western movie. It all adds up to hours of entertainment, and the music keeps us grounded firmly in Tinseltown.
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