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3CDs: Planet of the Apes (2001)
Review Rating:   Excellent
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La-La Land

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February 15, 2012

Tracks / Album Length:

CD1: 22 tracks / (75:57)
CD2: 18 tracks / (78:24)
CD3: 15 tracks / (58:21)



Danny Elfman


Special Notes:

28-page colour booklet with liner notes by Jeff Bond / Limited to 3500 copies.

Comments :    

Tim Burton’s attempt to remake Planet of the Apes still ranks as one of the director’s biggest creative misfires, largely because he was completely wrong for a tale with far-reaching moral conflicts between rival species and differing time periods, and while Danny Elfman fared much better in capturing the conflicts within his complex score, the music was still designed to support Burton’s unintentional, ill-made choices.

If there’s any missed elements within the score, it’s the lack of overt experimentalism as done by Jerry Goldsmith for the original film, but it’s obvious Elfman had to create a new work that distanced itself from the near-perfect 1968 musical vision of a genre master.

Elfman does get weird & wonderful using his beer-can instrument and fuzzed-up synth drones, but he tends to use them with great restraint in later cues. Most of what’s heard in the score contains the familiar rippling percussion, intersecting voices, and thick waves of frenetic brass and strings redolent of his scores for Burton, but there are expansive swathes of dissonance and raging, clattering percussion (“Thumbs Up / Trouble”), and after a few listens the score does reveal some splendid little touches where Elfman captures the civility and primal rage of the warring factions, as well as the surreal circumstances of being a human in a world of topsy-turvy evolution (nicely evoked in “The Escape,” with quasi-Middle Eastern indulgences at the centre of an otherwise sleek orchestral piece.)

Action cues sound massive, and the clattering of percussion comes in heavy, kinetic waves. Also memorable is the lack of an overt theme: Elfman sort of brings in bits and pieces to mirror the broken world of its central human character, and builds things as the warring species eventually clash in the desert before the film’s ludicrous finale, concocted by multiple screenwriters.

Elfman’s score originally appeared in a shorter (but still satisfying) album version, but there always seemed to be the odd missing cue needed to bridge material, and La-La Land’s monster set features both the 2001 CD (on Disc 3) and the full score (on CDs 1 and 2), with alternate mixes, percussion tracks & overlays, and a montage of source material. This is basically the final word in Elfman’s POTA score, and the music’s aged surprisingly well, working outside of the film as an epic symphony about simian and homo sapien discord.

Jeff Bond’s own epic liner notes covers the film production and score’s development, with detailed notes on each track. The set’s engineering and mastering is first-rate, offering beautiful clarity and warm bass.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan

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