Review: Around The World In 80 Days (2004)

Composer: Trevor Jones

Label: Walt Disney Records

Catalogue Nr.: 61103-7

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To make things short, this film pretty much marks the low point in Jackie Chan's career. Really... it can't possibly become worse than Around The World In 80 Days which is really an accomplishment of the film makers to produce such a crap from a classic Jule Verne novel that is actually full of potential. They decided to make this movie as a seriously unfunny slapstick comedy rather than an adventure film while the plot's only purpose is to generate fight scenes for Chan that are simply getting old after you have seen them in so many of his movies. Kind of telling that this film was the last to feature California's Governator in a cameo as Turkish prince Hapi which was basically the climax of stupidity (come on, it is a scientific fact that Turkey was full of princes with Austrian accent at the time). The rest of this flick was just damn boring and quickly forgotten. Maybe someone should tell the filmmakers that there is a difference between fun and stupidity: Fun makes these movies worth watching while stupidity turns the audience off - the film became one of the biggest flops in box office history. Let's move on to the music!

The score:

I really feel sorry for composer Trevor Jones more than for any other composer. He stumbled from one box office catastrophe that was The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) into another, even worse one and just does not get the projects that would benefit from his extraordinary skills. Instead, he was stuck in this mess that is Around The World In 80 Days and was pretty much forced to re-create the director's temp track with John Williams' Hook (1991) being just the most prominent and recognizable 'inclusion'. It is devastating to hear a gifted composer like Jones being trapped in a situation where he has to ape the work of others so terribly. Of course he managed to walk the thin red line between quoting and serious legal consequences very well but that's hardly an accomplishment to be proud of at the end of a day even though the score is still a well-crafted piece of music.

After three forgettable songs, the score and its issues begin with the "Overture" which introduces the rousing and brassy main theme of the score. The tune is actually very catchy and immediately creates an adventurous mood very well but the arrangement and the way it takes off have The Mummy Returns (2001) written all over it. The rest is basically a clever re-interpretation of "Hook-Napped" from John Williams' score for Hook (1991) followed by a beautifully light-hearted arrangement for strings and solo trumpet which goes into a subtle romantic moment and an outburst of the main theme at the end. "Jetpack Journey" starts with a promising triumphant fanfare but quickly descents into overblown orchestral mickey-mousing very quickly. The same can be said about "The Wager" which starts very promising with a nice variation of the main theme but goes on with dull underscore for the discussion at the Royal Academy Of Science.

"Rendezvous In Paris" is finally a break from the eventless underscore and the bouncy cue offers a lively accordion performance to describe the setting musically which is interrupted by some occasional orchestral chaos. Another temp track heavy moment is "The Balloon Chase" which starts quite innocent but quickly reveals itself as a re-arrangement of another John Williams cue from Hook (1991), namely "The Ultimate War". An elegant "1st Class Waltz" follows with lush strings and playful woodwind dancing before "Prince Hapi Escape" continues with a female voice moaning Arabian chords and more frenetic orchestral mickey-mousing including a quote of Klaus Badelt's score for Pirates Of The Caribbean (2003) which is actually the only temp-track moment of the score that easily tops the original composition. "Agra To China" is a lengthy cue which first quotes "Scherzo for Motorcycle And Orchestra" from John Williams' score for Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989) before continuing with romantic Asian flute and violin solos.

The score basically continues that way with "Return Of The Jade Buddha" and more romantic Asian influenced music creating a necessary relaxing and almost meditative contrast to all the frenetic action. Honky-tonk, jazz, clichéd big sky western music and yet another quote of John Williams music, this time the main theme from Far And Away (1992), make "Lost In America" one the most entertaining cues of the score. "Dismantling Carmen" goes from a subtle flute moment into busy action music backed up by choir ala John Debney's action music for Cutthroat Island (1992) which continues right into the finale piece "Exactly Like My Dream". An ethereal choir breaks up the action half way into the cue and Jones ends the score with an outburst of the main theme backed up with a mighty choir.

 

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 58%

Score as heard on CD: 62%

TOTAL: 60%

 

The presentation:

It is actually a wonder that these 49 minutes of score from Around The World In 80 Days were released at all given the total box office crash of the film. The fact that the music was recorded in London and therefore being relatively cheap to release certainly plays a huge part in that. These 49 minutes are a more than sufficient presentation of the music (at least I don't remember a crucial moment from the film that could be missing). The booklet contains no liner notes of any kind but extensive album credits and several pictures from the forgettable flick.

Presentation by the Label: 50%

 

Summary:

I suppose if you have never heard scores like The Mummy Returns (2001), Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989), Hook (1991) or Far And Away (1992) you might find Trevor Jones work for Around The World In 80 Days much more enjoyable. If you heard these other scores before this one, however, you might need a huge portion of irony, humour and patience to sit through due to all the quotes and re-interpretations that the film's temp track brought into Jones' music. I can only advise you to take that with the necessary humour because Trevor Jones is certainly the last person to blame for that and you will only have a hard time to enjoy the score if you take it too serious anyways. Apart from the obvious temp track problems, the score suffers from a general lack of identity with lots of busy orchestral action music and mickey-mousing that basically goes nowhere. There are a few moments when the score shines, mainly the finale cue and some interesting ethnic stuff representing the different countries in the film and it is certainly well crafted as a whole but sadly, there is not much more to it.

Review by Andreas Creutzburg

 

                             Tracklisting:

01. All Over The World (Join The Celebration) (03:12)
02. River Of Dreams (03:31)
03. It's A Small World (02:44)
04. Arount The World Overture (05:20)
05. Jetback Journey (02:19)
06. The Wager (05:03)
07. Rendezvous In Paris (03:51)
08. The Balloon Chase (04:49)
09. 1st Class Waltz (02:07)
10. Prince Hapi Escape (03:11)
11. Agra To China (06:42)
12. Return Of The Jade Buddha (03:38)
13. Lost In America (05:09)
14. Dismantling Carmen (01:45)
15. 'Exactly Like My Dream' (04:45)

 

 

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