Review: Eraser (1996)

Composer: Alan Silvestri

Label: Atlantic Classics

Catalogue Nr.: 82957-2

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It is always a special issue to deal with a Schwarzenegger movie because the main reason why they exist is to please the enormous crowd of Arnie-fans around the globe. The movie's script was originally written as an action vehicle for Robert DeNiro but in the end it somehow became a Schwarzenegger film. Admittedly, Eraser belongs to Arnie's better flicks that are not just comedy and don't have anything to do with 'cibaneddic urganisms'. Here, he plays U.S. Marshall John Kruger who is erasing the past of important witnesses and provides them with new identities in order to guarantee their safety. When several witnesses are killed it becomes clear that there is a mole in the witness protection program and Kruger soon has to face a conspiracy. Still, the film with its predictable plot offers exactly what you would expect from it: exciting action set pieces and surprisingly solid performances of the supporting cast (mainly by the late James Coburn). It was not really a super smash hit like True Lies (1994) or Terminator 2 (1991) but still a successful and entertaining little action film for a non-Cameron Schwarzenegger vehicle. Pretty good for a film with a troubled production.

The score:

Composer Alan Silvestri was already very familiar with action scoring by the time he did Eraser. He had previously worked on another well-known Schwarzenegger-film named Predator (1987) which carries one of his most effective action/suspense scores to date and only one year before Eraser he provided the Sylvester Stallone film Judge Dredd (1995) with his best full-blown orchestral action score of epic proportions. For his second Arnie-score, Alan Silvestri composed yet another mixture of extremely subtle suspense and highly entertaining action music. The score is bearing a lot of resemblance of musical elements from Judge Dredd (1995) with muscular marches and an heroic main theme with big fanfares. The approach is naturally feeding many clichés of action scoring and is actually a work by the numbers but Silvestri's strong musical voice can still make it a wonderful experience.

The "Original Main Title" which opens the album was replaced by a different piece in the film. It offers subtle suspense music and is introducing the motif for the conspirators in the film which consists of calm and slightly eerie music for strings. "She's In" begins with a motif for the evil Cyrez corporation performed by horns and strings as Lee is entering the Cyrez building to steal information for the FBI. After a passage of suspense music we get the first hints of the main theme in the form of a march which rises up to dramatic string performances and a thrilling brass outburst at the end. "Kruger's Story" gives the material from the previous tracks an emotional touch with warm strings and a solo flute. The cue ends with a short e-guitar outburst which seems to underline the urban environment. It can also be seen as a travelling-motif because it is used throughout the film whenever the characters travel to a different location.

"Cabin Raid" opens with an exciting horn statement of the main theme accompanied by muscular military drums as John Kruger is preparing for combat. More suspense music and sneaky-Silvestri follows with sudden interruptions of orchestral outbursts. "Kruger Escapes" represents the first true highlight of this CD. The cue is a striking and full-blown action piece of a speed, size and craziness that beats everything Silvestri has composed before. It can be compared in speed and size with Silvestri's score for Ricochet (1991) but it clearly offers much more complexity. The rest of the orchestral action music from Eraser seems to be based on this particular powerhouse cue. No time to gasp because the action continues with "You're Luggage!" which brings back the famous Silvestri jungle percussion and moaning trumpets from Predator 2 (1990). More thrilling action music in the same vein like "Kruger's Escape" is closing the cue.

The first third of "Cyrez Break-In" can be seen as a suspenseful and consistent compilation of variations on the musical ideas from the previous tracks. The last part of the cue again brings back the orchestral action from "Kruger's Escape". "Union Trouble" is mainly a suspense cue with only one short outburst of action music at the end. The next cue "Dock Fight" is the second highlight of this score with its full-blown orchestral statement of the main theme. This piece of score is the first hint to the thrilling music which Alan Silvestri would compose for The Mummy Returns (2001). A dramatically warm variation of the main theme performed by strings and horn can be heard at the end of "Reunion" before the rejected end credits music in "The Eraser" end the score with more muscular drums and fanfares.

It is a good action/suspense score but hardly a match for Silvestri's earlier work for Judge Dredd (1995). However, the album is missing some nice cues which could have added to the experience of this score. Fans of the composer and everyone who liked this score might want to check my review of the complete score.

Review by Andreas Creutzburg

 

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 67%

Score as heard on CD: 75%

TOTAL: 71%

 

The presentation:

The album from Atlantic Classics is out of print for some time now but it seems to be still available for low prices here or there. It contains roughly 43 minutes of score and covers the most important cues but lacks of some interesting material that could have been added. The album as a listening experience is okay but that will hardly be enough for die-hard Silvestri fans like myself.

Presentation by the Label: 60%

 

Summary:

Silvestri's Eraser is a score of extreme contrasts: Powerhouse action music is playing against subtle suspense music. The composer is pushing all action-buttons in the book and the result is a good but clichéd action score that appears to be the younger brother of Judge Dredd. If you are looking for a bold and fun Silvestri action score with a solid heroic theme then Eraser will be perfect for you. An overlooked gem and a fan's favorite.

 

                                     Tracklisting:

01.  Eraser Original Main Title (02:37)
02.  "She's In" (06:12)
03.  Kruger's Story (01:57)
04.  Cabin Raid (04:42)
05.  Kruger Escapes (04:24)
06.  "Your Luggage" (03:19)
07.  "When I Have Proof" (03:15)
08.  Cyrez Breaks In (06:53)
09.  Union Trouble (03:22)
10.  Dock Fight (03:14)
11.  Reunion (01:41)
12.  "The Eraser" (01:44)