- Monday May 20th We have 16 guests online
Type Jewel Case
Added on Sunday, 21 March 2010
N of discs 1
Edition date 1990
Label Varese Sarabande
Catalog Number VSD-5271
I regret to inform that many high expectations will be foiled with this one, because after perusing the rather nifty pic of Robo on the cover artwork, it’s downhill all the way thereafter for the unfortunate listener. Despite much unintentional hilarity along the way, I have to report that the highlight of this score occurs at approximately time index 45:31, at which point it ends.
So what went wrong? The score for the first ROBOCOP by Basil Poledouris was a splendid effort - a brassily told heroic and sometimes touchingly poignant orchestral-electronic fusion the very structure of which was in perfect harmony with its film. The maim theme was strong enough to become a memorable signature for the character of Robo, and one naturally assumed that it would herald his return in the sequel, even if the same composer was not reassigned.
The first major disappointment then is that Poledouris’ Robo theme is dumped - the second is that it is dumped in favor of (and I quote trade paper Variety) a “weak and inappropriate” score. This must rate as the understatement of the year because, with due respect to Mr. Rosenman, I think ED-209 would have been better suited to the project.
What Poledouris understood about this type of film is that to talk down to the subject matter or the audience is to ridicule the entire concept. Poledouris’s score played it absolutely straight, and took us right into the emotional core of the film by scoring thematically the poignancy of Robo’s lost humanity and his heroism in reasserting his identity. It was in fact a copybook exercise on how to successfully score the kind of film which ROBOCOP 2 unashamedly is.
What a pity then that Leonard Rosenman did not take advantage of the success evident in Poledouris’ approach, because he falls prey to every possible misstep in scoring this sequel. To be fair to Rosenman, the most interesting and adult aspect of the story, Murphy’s search for his identity, was excised during pre-production. Judging by Rosenman’s earnest sleeve notes, it was clearly this theme that interested him most, and the final cut of the film left little for him to work with. The unfortunate consequence of this is that Rosenman has attempted to impose his concerns on a narrative that really doesn’t support them, and in doing so, becomes ludicrously pompous. The main title (actually the end title in the film) tries to combine the mechanical and robotic with the emotive, but it just doesn’t work; the three note syllabic theme is too passive and static, and the use of a chorus (sounding for all the world like they were recorded in a shoe-box), is immediately compromised by having then stutter the name “Rob-o-cop” in decidedly anaemic fashion. Had Rosenman invested the choral element with any real power, he might have brought it off, but he condescends instead to comic book simplicity and apes Neal Hefti’s BATMAN approach, albeit with a good deal less vigor.
It would be nice to be able to claim that the score recovers from such a shaky opening; unfortunately, it transpires that the main title is in fact the highlight, as the remainder of the score plays like an unimaginative pastiche of sixties cop shows. The Robo theme is redeployed on several occasions, never to any great effect, and the theme used to express Robo’s lost humanity is so ethereal it just floats past without registering. The best that can be said is that the final showdown between Robocops 1 and 2 is scored in thumpingly efficient fashion, though one can imagine it having been a particularly dull day at the office for the orchestra.
Perhaps next time, Rosenman will find himself in greater sympathy with his subject and produce work more in keeping with his reputation.
Rob Allison - Originally published in Soundtrack Magazine Vol.9/No. 36, 1990
|1||Overture: Robo Cop||6:05|
|6||Robo and Nuke||2:24|
|8||Robo and Cain Chase||2:43|
|9||Creating the Monster||2:50|
|10||Robo i vs. Robo||3:41|
|Leonard Rosenman CD Chronology||Battle for the Planet of the Apes »|