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Section Header
Meet the Spartans
(2008)
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Christopher Lennertz

Orchestrated by:
Andrew Kinney
Larry Rench
Brandon Roberts

Label:
Promotional

Release Date:
2008

Also See:
Gladiator
Dust to Glory
Titus

Audio Clips:
1. Land of Sparta (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

3. A King Returns/The Pit (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

23. Xerxes Transforms (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

24. A God King Falls (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Availability:
Promotional release only, not available in retail stores.

Awards:
  None.









Meet the Spartans

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Buy it... if you are willing and able to forget that this remarkably entertaining large-scale, historical epic exists in the parody genre.

Avoid it... if any score built upon cliches, no matter their magnificence, is as offensive to you as wailing female vocals that actually contain lyrics about penguin testicles in Greek.



Lennertz
Meet the Spartans: (Christopher Lennertz) Every time you think audiences will tire of ridiculously dumb parodies of pop culture and other films, yet another entry comes along and earns massive box office grosses at its debut. Such was the case with Meet the Spartans, scrambled to life by the directors and/or writers of Scary Movie and Epic Movie with the cult favorite 300 in its sights. In this version of the tale, Sparta is represented by 13 disco-dancing soldiers against the invasion by Xerxes, dispatching doubles for Britney Spears, George W. Bush, and others while pulling gags inspired by Transformers, Spider-Man, and Ghost Rider. Predictably, the film was uniformly crucified by the few critics who were forced by their publications to actually view this trash. But as long as Meet the Spartans turned a profit in the absence of legitimate laughs, who is to say that films like this will ever thankfully cease to exist? These kinds of throwaway productions are the last place most film score collectors typically look for decent underscores, but the task of writing convincing original music for this variety of venture is arguably more challenging than in its serious counterparts. Accomplished in such parody scores is Christopher Lennertz, who approached Meet the Spartans in a way that Elmer Bernstein had proven decades before is the best way to enhance the laughs related to the stupid behavior on screen. By treating Meet the Spartans as though it is a completely, deadly serious film, Lennertz avoids the pitfalls of open parody styles and heightens the sense of incongruity in the plot's intentional fallacies of logic. Picking up on his extensive experience working with the late Basil Poledouris, Lennertz tackled this project as if he were scoring a straight sequel to Gladiator, though pulling some general inspiration from Tyler Bates' 300 and others along the way. Because the budget for Meet the Spartans was obviously restricted, the composer recorded with the 94-piece Belgrade Film Orchestra and 80-voice choir in Serbia, but their performances, despite a few issues with the quality of the recording on album, are in no way lacking.

From wailing female vocals to the usual duduk, stereotypical elements representing the Middle East are employed to give the score a sense of antiquity. Not missing the opportunity for a touch of coolness, though, electric guitars aid the action rhythms in several places. The scope of the work is massive, and if you didn't know that this was written for Meet the Spartans, you could be fooled into thinking it was for one of Lennertz's video game assignments or even a feature drama. There is a certain sense of humor in the application of the grandiose tone throughout Meet the Spartans. The score is at times so overwhelmingly heroic or beautiful that you can get the feeling that something in the equation is awry. Perhaps that sense comes from the fact that some of the gorgeous female vocals are actually performing Lennertz's lyrics of "The great hero falls and is asphyxiated by Penguin testicles" translated into Greek (and yes, it does relate to the action in the film). The sometimes sudden shifting of style, a frequent requirement of parody films, can also betray the score's intent. But otherwise, Meet the Spartans competes favorably with 2008's most dramatic action scores. Where it fails in terms of the length of development in each idea, the score excels in its instrumental creativity, mostly tonal constructs, and occasionally triumphant fanfares like the choral and brass outburst in "He's Got a Huge Package." The large scale expressions of heroics are led by the monumentally rendered "Land of Sparta," "A King Returns," and "A God King Falls," each exploding with harmonic resonance that is actually easier to handle that Bates' 300 (and no, Lennertz doesn't quote Goldenthal's Titus, though that would have been highly amusing). Woven into many of these cues are the stereotypical Arabic chord progressions, lamenting female vocals, the duduk, and a few percussive effects that tingle and bang that ethnicity into the work. Not surprisingly, the ensemble and solo vocals provide the score's most attractive moments, with "Goodbye, My Queen" following two soft, but seemingly meaningful explorations of theme on woodwinds and solemn brass. The weighty string layers of "The Army Assembles" are about as close as Lennertz comes to Zimmer's brooding mood from Gladiator. The vocal sequences are very reminiscent of Nathan Furst's Dust to Glory from 2005.

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The uninhibited action sequences can be grating in their flashy personality, utilizing several metallic hits and abrupt changes in direction, but even in these cues there are entertaining passages. Lennertz's employment of synthetic elements as sound effects is perhaps the score's greatest detriment as a listening experience, though they add another dimension to the music that the electric guitars cannot alone accomplish. Those guitars are mixed as chugging rhythmic devices in several cues (including "Cliff Diving" and "Leonidas Steams") and don't interfere with the orchestral performances in the forefront. In sum, all of these elements come together with Lennertz's keen sense of style, forgiving the potentially unrealistic epic qualities by expressing them with intelligence. Unlike the composer's prior Comebacks, a sports-related parody, Meet the Spartans is a wild ride that may prove too obnoxious in its bloated character for some listeners. But if you take the circumstances that Lennertz faced with this production, from the obvious stupidity of the film's haphazard, shifty plot to the limited budget and the employment of song placements throughout the narrative, you can't help but admire the resulting score. Whether you can stomach them or not, there is a place for scores like Meet the Spartans in the industry, and you really can't ask for a better product in the genre than what Lennertz has provided. Understandably, the score was not released on album commercially, though a 34-minute score-only promotional pressing (which is quite lengthy given that the film shifts to credits and outtakes a little after an hour) was circulated on behalf of the composer. Despite less than perfect sound quality, it was to be expected that the promo has stirred speculation about why Lennertz's career is seemingly constrained to video games, television music (where he was nominated for an Emmy), and films like this and Alvin and the Chipmunks. This kind of material is obviously worthy of a better home, and even when taking into consideration the drawbacks of a lack of continuity inherent in the juvenile parody genre (including the short cue times), Lennertz's music for Meet the Spartans is among the most entertaining of 2008. While probably a score that will require a certain forgiving mood from the listener, it is refreshing enough to qualify as the year's most surprising guilty pleasure. ****   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download




 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 3 Stars
Smart Average: 3.06 Stars*
***** 30 
**** 40 
*** 35 
** 27 
* 36 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Decent score for an abysmal movie
  Richard Kleiner -- 10/16/10 (11:59 p.m.)
   Scary Movie NOT directed by these guys
  Devon -- 2/15/09 (7:08 p.m.)
   It's nothing personal. It's just objective
  JBlough (formerly TUBA... -- 2/13/09 (3:30 p.m.)
   Re: Read the review, dumbass. He kinda gave...
  IndianaSchwartz -- 2/13/09 (11:05 a.m.)
   Read the review, dumbass. He kinda gave his...
  JBlough (formerly TUBA... -- 2/12/09 (9:15 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  




 Track Listings: Total Time: 34:37


• 1. Land of Sparta (1:35)
• 2. Survival in the Wild (1:01)
• 3. A King Returns/The Pit (0:57)
• 4. A Beast is Defeated (1;17)
• 5. Courtship & Family (1:29)
• 6. The Pit of Death (2:43)
• 7. Dilio Likes Cliff (0:18)
• 8. Tattoos and Sentiments (1:26)
• 9. The Army Assembles (1:06)
• 10. Goodbye My Queen (1:53)
• 11. He's Got a Huge Package (0:24)
• 12. Persians Approach (1:14)
• 13. I Can't Read (0:41)
• 14. Cliff Diving (0:50)
• 15. Xerxes Approaches (0:38)
• 16. The Prophets/A Human Chill (1:08)
• 17. Do It Like Never Before (0:53)
• 18. Your King Needs Your Help/Leonidas Steams (1:03)
• 19. Spiderman Fight (2:02)
• 20. A Creature Awaits (0:50)
• 21. Ghost Rider/Rocky (2:59)
• 22. Final Battle (2:58)
• 23. Xerxes Transforms (2:09)
• 24. A God King Falls (2:53)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Meet the Spartans are Copyright © 2008, Promotional. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com 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 2/3/09 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.