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Drop Zone
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Co-Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Co-Orchestrated and Additional Music by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Co-Orchestrated by:
Ryeland Allison

Vocal Solos by:
Rose Stone

Co-Produced by:
Jay Rifkin

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
December 20th, 1994

Also See:
The Rock
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Broken Arrow

Audio Clips:
1. Drop Zone (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

3. Hi Jack (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

7. Too Many Notes - Not Enough Rests (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

8. After the Dub (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.


Drop Zone

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Sales Rank: 357182

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Buy it... if you have always loved Hans Zimmer's hyperactive action style in its most relentlessly abrasive form, Drop Zone being among the pioneers in defining such barrages of synthetic force.

Avoid it... if the grating sound of Zimmer's earlier generation of synthetic samples and dry keyboarding in accelerated rhythms, with no really substantial breaks for harmonious thematic interludes of lesser volume, is nothing more than an invitation for a headache.

Drop Zone: (Hans Zimmer) There was a sudden rash of action movies combining skydiving and crime in the early 1990's, though 1994's Drop Zone has two characteristics by which it distinguishes itself. First, it was arguably the biggest mainstream offering of the topic by a major studio, much of its $45 million budget earmarked for Steven Seagal before he was replaced in the lead role by Wesley Snipes. Secondly, all three stars of Drop Zone (Snipes, Gary Busey, and Yancy Butler) were destined for the embarrassment of legal troubles, eventually arrested for a variety of accusations (including tax evasion, spousal abuse, and disorderly intoxication). The criminals on screen in the film are led by Busey's former DEA agent, who plots to skydive onto his former agency from far above Washington D.C. and bring with him a top flight computer hacker he breaks free from a transfer aboard a commercial airliner. It's up to Snipes' U.S. marshal and Butler's skydiving trainer to foil the plot and avenge the killing of the marshal's brother in the earlier jailbreak. With no interracial romance or spectacular technology on display, Drop Zone was really nothing more than a standard crime drama with an extra perk for skydiving fans. A few memorable elements did result from the film, however, including the inspiration for a drop tower ride at Paramount's amusement parks later in the decade and a popular score by emerging action score star Hans Zimmer. In the era before the Media Ventures organization's streamlining of rock and synthesizer-defined scores for this genre of movies, Zimmer was collaborating with a few of his earliest cohorts in this arena to shape the coming stereotypes of the "blockbuster sound." These techniques ranged from the use of synthetic sampling and manipulation of orchestral textures to the expansion of the bass region to inject the music into a realm previously reserved for only sound effects editors. Among the first scores specifically designed to rattle the floors was Drop Zone, an almost completely electronic work with only a few live elements thrown into a hyperactive mix of keyboarded samples and drum pads. Its personality is guided by the electric guitar solos that had existed in Zimmer scores like K2, but never with such ferocious zeal exhibited in their super-cool (and occasionally wild) performances. The resulting score is a favorite for many veteran Zimmer collectors, buoyed by its obvious placement in the trailers for several high profile films in the following ten years. In retrospect, it was in many ways a substantial preview of subsequent blockbuster scores from the composer and his associates.

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There are keyboarded techniques, rhythmic devices, and specific samples in Drop Zone that would be explored further in everything from The Rock to Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. There is no attempt made to mask the fact that Drop Zone is dominated by a harshly synthetic edge, the budding staccato movements accentuated by a particularly dry mix. The most interesting aspect of the score is its relatively forceful density compared to its successors; there is a phenomenal level of activity in the work, accelerating in both pace and volume as it reaches its final two, action-packed cues. There isn't as much broadly conceived harmony as in Crimson Tide or The Peacemaker, nor are the themes as well developed. The balance of live and synthetic elements is nowhere as satisfying as in Broken Arrow, either. Instead, Drop Zone dispenses with subtlety and knocks you over with brute force. Its title theme is somewhat swallowed up by the surrounding explosiveness. This theme is most often the domain of the electric guitar, conveyed clearly in "Drop Zone" and "Hi Jack" before dissolving into the aptly named "Too Many Notes - Not Enough Rests." The thematic performance at the end of "Hi Jack" is a highlight of the score, translating the idea into an overblown anthem that typifies the glory of Media Ventures' heyday. An impressive secondary theme is explored at the outset of "Too Many Notes - Not Enough Rests," but its rendering on ultra cheap-sounding keyboarding diminishes its impact. This problem plagues several cues in Drop Zone; when Zimmer's electronics reach their higher ranks, they typically sound extremely grating (as in the music just prior to that last minute of "Hi Jack" and much of the rambling in "Too Many Notes - Not Enough Rests"). The latter cue does feature the thirty-second passage at about 2:00 into the cue that not only proved to be the trailer favorite, but also a precursor of the Pirates of the Caribbean scores. The middle of the score offers some respite from the pounding action material, light electric and acoustic guitar performances split between Zimmer's "Terry's Dropped Out" and Nick Glennie-Smith's "Flashback & Fries." A slight rap piece by Ryeland Allison ("Hyphopera") is a detraction. The score's commercial album runs only 37 minutes, though a much-traded expanded release adds inconsequential filler cues to pad the length out to 42 minutes. Ultimately, Drop Zone represents an important step towards defining the blockbuster sound that gripped the rest of the decade (and well into the 2000's), and Zimmer enthusiasts will especially love the relentless barrage of muscular punches. Anyone looking for either thematic majesty of consistent harmony or subtle accents in terms of live instrumentation, though, will be left with a headache. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.98 (in 89 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3 (in 266,350 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.9 Stars
Smart Average: 2.99 Stars*
***** 18 
**** 25 
*** 23 
** 18 
* 27 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   'Too many notes...
  Hasta -- 6/16/11 (6:09 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 37:18

• 1. Drop Zone (1:45)
• 2. Hyphopera* (1:41)
• 3. Hi Jack (4:35)
• 4. Terry's Dropped Out (1:01)
• 5. Flashback & Fries** (4:21)
• 6. Miami Jump (5:14)
• 7. Too Many Notes - Not Enough Rests (10:39)
• 8. After the Dub (8:07)

* composed by Ryeland Allison and performed by Randelle K. Stainback
** composed by Nick Glennie-Smith

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a note from the director about working with Zimmer.

  All artwork and sound clips from Drop Zone are Copyright © 1994, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/16/10 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2010-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.