As four generations of directors have helmed the Alien films made to date, so has each film had music written by a new generation of film composer. Goldsmith at a high point in his career, James Horner at the beginning of his success, likewise Elliot Goldenthal and now John Frizzell with one of his breakthrough scores. With Ripley resurrected as a human with some alien characteristics, this latest chapter in the saga, at least for me, worked well indeed. Stylish, albeit not to the same levels as either the original or Fincher's second sequel, but with more scares than Alien 3 and fairly reasonable evolution of the plot. Of course, it will always be compared unfavourable to the classic first and second outings, but such is the nature of the beast. As it were.

I can't say I've ever been particularly bowled over by much of John Frizzell's work and while this probably represents his best score to date, it still falls somewhat short of the mark. Then again, there's always an inherent problem with horror scores and the attempts to frighten the audience musically these days seem to involve an over abundance of synthesised effects and a general lack of melodic clarity. The most prominent melody is Ripley's theme, which is thoughtfully presented in the final cue, making it easier to spot in the rest of the score. It starts off promisingly, but it tends to meander a bit and leaves it difficult to recall afterward. The central section is curiously similar to Goldsmith's main theme from the original, intentional or not, it's a nice touch.

Much like Horner's effort, the first half of the score is mainly suspense and horror moments, with the latter section including a greater abundance of action. Frizzell has evidently put a good deal of effort into trying to be inventive. Good suspense music is notoriously difficult to do, at least from a point of view of making it interesting on its own. Fortunately, the cues don't last too long and Frizzell moves onto something new before anything outstays its welcome, even if the ideas themselves aren't particularly interesting on their own. The action is nightmarishly frenetic with ideas that often, curiously enough, sound like an amalgam of styles from the previous three composers. The wailing horn motifs being a particularly popular Goldenthal device and appear during the latter sections of They Swim. Unfortunately, it all becomes a bit unrelenting and unfocused, almost as though Carl Stalling was scoring a horror film, flitting from idea to idea with little feeling of it progressing towards a final point.

The music is certainly extremely effective within the film and stylish enough to fit alongside the rather grim, but impressive production. On CD it does flag a little; the suspense not always interesting enough to hold the listener's attention and the action just a little wayward. The inclusion of the Handel aria actually works modestly well. The old trick of using a serene soprano aria in the middle of a horror film always strikes me as quite creepy in itself and similarly effective on the score album. Unfortunately some way below its predecessors, but with enough effective moments to make it a fairly worthy addition.

Rating ~

  1. Main Title (2:06)
  2. Post-Op (1:20)
  3. Docking the Betty (1:13)
  4. Priva Son D'ogni Conforto (5:27)
    From Handel's Julius Caesar and performed by Maureen Forrester
  5. Face Huggers (2:10)
  6. Call Finds Ripley (3:02)
  7. The Aliens Escape (4:12)
  8. Ripley Meets Her Clones (2:19)
  9. What's Inside Purvis? (2:28)
  10. The Swim... (6:28)
  11. The Chapel (2:35)
  12. The Abduction (3:33)
  13. The Battle with the Newborn (6:03)
  14. Ripley's Theme (2:14)

Total Time ~ 45:30