Film scores

Soundtrack review: Robot overlords (Christian Henson – 2015)

robotoverlords

“Robot overlords” is a self explanatory title. The movie is about a dystopian future where powerful robots have conquered the earth and are keeping humans prisoners. Humans barely remember how it was to be free and many of them have only known this regime. The main heroes of the story are children. I was not familiar with composer Christian Henson but I see that he has quite a rich resume. It’s time to discover a new composer…

The beginning of the musical story makes me thing of the music of “Game of thrones”. “A sorry state of affairs” has that moody and cunning string sound that made those scores famous. The electronic pulses remind me that this is a robot ruled world and the echoes of the choirs rise like mighty sentinels put there to keep me in prison. Now that the setting is defined I expect the music to take off. I want to be inside the minds of the main characters and feel what they feel; I want the music to take me there. So far the composer does a great job of describing the outside conditions.

I do enjoy the melodies so far because they make me think of a rainy day spend inside looking out the window. “Escape!”, though much quieter than I would have expected, evokes that image and is a very pleasant listen. I am hearing this score out of context and I can create my own imagines for it.            The composer said that the score is “bombastic and overpowering” so I’m expecting fireworks down the line. I am halfway through “Robot overlords” and from dystopian future the score now makes me think of a melancholic summer sunset when I listen to “The watchmaker” and its piano strokes that feel like the sun’s reflection sparkling over the sea.

I start to hear traces of heroism in “More stealth activity”. They are mere moments but a guy can hope… The score stays electric and experimental. “To the edge of town” is the most interesting cue of the score so far but I am still puzzled by how quiet the score is. I expected something else when I read the presentation. “Sean takes control” gets creepy and with a storm of strings coming towards me like arrows. “Smythe’s grand plan” comes alive and changes the pace of the score. Finally a cue that’s sharp and bold. “A close shave!” is even more exciting. It took Christian Henson a while to get going but after that long and quieter into “Robot overlords” is finally screaming. “A close shave!” brings the scares and the heroism all in one cue and shows the potential this score has. The wait was worthwhile and we get proper and exciting themes to tell our friends about. The score never looks back after this point.

“Robot overlords” was definitely saved by its explosive finish. I enjoyed the quiet electronic parts as well but they worked in the moment and I wouldn’t necessarily return to them in the future. The final string of cues made me forget about the beginning and count this score as one I really liked.

Cue rating: 78 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 62

Album excellence: 32%

Highlights:

Escape!

Smythe’s Grand Plan

A Close Shave!

Sean Takes to the Skies

On a Hero’s Collision Course

Sean Accesses the Mainframe

Finale

 

 

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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