As I am writing this review, the world is in a major crisis, and because of it many things have come to a sudden halt, including film music concerts and festivals, but also movie theaters are closed and movie releases have been postponed as a result of it. For a film music critic like me, this results in less material to review. I would like to take this forced break in the regular flow of things as a chance to take a look at some of the gems I have obtained for my personal collection. The first album that popped into my mind was the soundtrack from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life, written by Alan Silvestri. In case you do not know the movie from 2003, it is the sequel to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in which Angelina Jolie reprises her role as the gun-wielding archaeologist Lara Croft. The music for the first movie was written by Graeme Revell, but for the second movie, the assignment was given to Alan Silvestri.
One of the things I love about Alan Silvestri is his ability to write magnificent short themes, preferably with a strong focus on the brass instruments. This movie has one of these, and it can be heard throughout the entire score. Its first appearance is in “The Opening,” in which it is performed by an electric guitar before the melody is taken over by the French horns. It is a theme that clicks with me. One of my criteria for a theme to be good, is that it needs to keep playing in my head over and over, and this theme manages to do just that. Other versions of it can be heard in “Journey to the Cradle of Life,” “Not Meant to Be Found,” and in “Lara Croft – Tomb Raider,” for example.
Being an action and adventure movie, Silvestri had to write quite some music for the action scenes. Some of the music sounds a bit repetitive with electronics and rhythmic patterns, which can be heard at the start of “Skydive Getaway,” for example. The same track is also a fantastic showcase of Silvestri’s ability to write melodic and interesting music to support the visuals as can be heard in the second part of this piece. There are two other tracks that stand out as superb examples, and both are played during a battle scene. “Flower Pagoda Battle” begins with wonderful music based on the main theme, before it transitions into the electronic middle part until you can hear the theme again at the end. The other track is “The Luna Temple” with wondrous melodies at the start until halfway through the track the battle music begins, with powerful brass melodies and a choir, on a foundation of electronics. I would also like to mention that in the movie some synth music is playing during a battle in a laboratory, which is nothing like the rest of the music. Fittingly, it is “Lab Scene” and was written by none other than Craig Armstrong, who was apparently working on the movie before Silvestri came on board. The track is mentioned in the end credits of the movie, while terrible songs are playing in the background, but it is not included on this album.
There are two more tracks worth mentioning. The first is “Orb Transmission,” with beautiful melodies by the strings, together with a female choir, but for me the highlight of the whole album is “Pandora’s Box.” This track is a big contrast to the rest of the music on the album. Instead of electronics and brass, we hear gorgeous emotional melodies by the strings. Halfway through, there is a moment where the music explodes, with the inclusion of a fantastic melody played by the French horns, until they disappear again for a short while, to return again for another gorgeous short climax at the end. To this day, I consider “Pandora’s Box” one of the best emotional pieces Silvestri has ever written.
There you have it: a full review of one of the gems in my collection. I love Silvestri’s soundtracks from around the late nineties to the early 2000s. Alan Silvestri is able to come up with a short and extremely powerful theme, and then integrates it into the rest of the music, giving the whole musical package its identity, but he also keeps the music fresh and interesting during all kinds of scenes. The music provides emotion where needed or just support for the action sequences with musical patterns and melodies. I am probably preaching to the choir when I say that Alan Silvestri is an amazing composer. His music for the Back to the Future series, Forrest Gump, Contact, and his work for most Avengers movies is regarded as brilliant, but I wanted to give the spotlight to this fantastic and lesser-known score, and I hope you will check it out in case you are not familiar with it.
Listen or buy
- Buy this soundtrack from Amazon.com or Apple Music
- Listen to this soundtrack on Spotify
- Request a track of this soundtrack on StreamingSoundtracks.com
The highlights are in bold.
- Opening (1:39)
- The Luna Temple (7:43)
- Shark Attack (3:18)
- “I Need Terry Sheridan” (5:40)
- Arrival in China (1:46)
- Captured by the Shay Ling (5:59)
- Escape from Chen (4:19)
- Flower Pagoda Battle (5:41)
- Skydive Getaway (2:11)
- Orb Transmission (1:42)
- Journey to the Cradle of Life (6:22)
- The Cradle of Life (6:33)
- Pandora’s Box (5:24)
- “Not Meant to be Found” (0:44)
- Lara Croft – Tomb Raider (0:51)
Total length: 60 minutes
Varese Sarabande (2003)