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Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
David Newman

Orchestrated by:
Greg Jamrok

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
September 27th, 2005

Also See:
Galaxy Quest

Audio Clips:
14. Space Battle (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

19. Jane & Zoe/Final Battle (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

22. Love (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

23. End Credits (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Regular U.S. release.


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Buy it... only if you are fan of either this film or the television series that preceded it, or if you enjoy experimental sci-fi music.

Avoid it... even if you've been waiting for the rare opportunities for David Newman to display his considerable talents in something other than ridiculous comedies.

Serenity: (David Newman) When at first you don't succeed, try, try again, and hopefully the big screen will afford you the success that witless television studio executives failed to allow you in their own venue. Such is the story with writer and director Joss Whedon, who was buoyed by his success of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer on television after it was thrashed in its initial big screen debut. This time, the equation is thrown the other way around, with Whedon having created the science fiction action series Firefly for television only to see it cancelled before the end of its first season (and, to make matters even worse, having the few episodes made shown out of sequence by the network). Luckily for Whedon, his success on Buffy (and the subsequent Angel) would give him the opportunity for Universal Studios to finance a big-screen film based on Firefly. Renamed Serenity, but retaining most of the cast and concepts from the television show, Whedon delves further in the mind-reading, space battle prone universe in which the government/citizen relations are strained much in the same way Orwell might have imagined. The film may not have made total sense for viewers who hadn't followed the series on television (and thus have failed in generating enough interest to extend the concept beyond this one film), but its eye candy made it a serviceable project. Composer David Newman came onto the project by the suggestion of Universal music executives because of Whedon's request for a composer who writes to several different eras and genres. Newman has composed for nearly every type of film imaginable, including the Galaxy Quest parody of Star Trek. But serious sci-fi is an area in which Newman doesn't have extensive credits, with most of his work seemingly revolving around completely pointless comedies. Given that he's been stuck in this dumb comedy rut for so long, a project like Serenity is exactly what many of his thin following have hoped for over the past ten years.

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One of the frustrating aspects about Serenity is whether its failure as a score is due to David Newman's own inability to capitalize on the opportunity or Whedon's insistence on an utterly bizarre soundscape for the film. The director encouraged Newman to be as varied and unusual as he could, avoiding the typical space opera music, and Newman responded in kind. Unfortunately, the score is a jumbled mess of otherwise fine ideas, never executed with any kind of sincere development. From the erhu to the electric guitar, Newman touches every culture and instrumental manipulation. With a decent ensemble of strings, brass, percussion, and soloists (the director made a point about the lack of woodwinds for some reason), blasts of rhythmic excitement are often completely chaotic in structure; in "Space Battle" in particular, Newman makes the cue so dense with conflicting sounds that this technique becomes distracting. A fine opening snare rhythm in "Jayne & Zoe" is prematurely cut short. Other cues suffer from Newman's choice to electronically alter the instrument after the recording, such as the unnatural reverb added to the strings in "Crash Landing." Backwards edits, distorted slashing guitars, and sudden orchestral hits with a metallic edge are mixed in between promising orchestral ideas that never take flight. Only in the final cues does Newman save Serenity; from "Funeral" to "Love" he offers acoustic guitar and string solos that are highly melodic and enjoyable. It's hard to say what Newman could have exactly done to pull Serenity together as a more cohesive score; perhaps a female voice out of his fine The Affair of the Necklace score would have provided the River character with an identity and the score with a direction. Better placement of the decent title theme may have helped as well. The softer cues will likely not be redeeming on behalf of the rest of this score, and as frustrating as it is to say it, Serenity is to David Newman what Earthsea was to Jeff Rona half a year earlier (and also on the Varèse Sarabande label)... an enormously wasted opportunity. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For David Newman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.17 (in 12 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 18,741 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.92 Stars
Smart Average: 2.94 Stars*
***** 64 
**** 62 
*** 87 
** 67 
* 75 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Brass Section (Hollywood Studio Symphony)
  N.R.Q. -- 7/9/07 (4:53 p.m.)
   Re: David Newman...Serenity Score
  Tim -- 9/29/06 (6:47 p.m.)
   DVD Menu
  Touchstone -- 9/28/06 (12:29 p.m.)
   Warm happy Earth That Was woodwinds.
  htebazytook -- 7/12/06 (2:51 p.m.)
   Re: David Newman...Serenity Score
  Wired000 -- 1/2/06 (8:03 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 49:53

• 1. Into the River (3:10)
• 2. Escape (1:30)
• 3. Serenity (0:50)
• 4. Going for a Ride (2:24)
• 5. Trading Station Robbery (3:07)
• 6. River Goes Wild (1:28)
• 7. River and Simon in Locker (0:55)
• 8. Population Dead (3:55)
• 9. Haven Destroyed (0:54)
• 10. Sheppard Books' Last Words (1:00)
• 11. You're Not a Reaver (0:56)
• 12. Mal Decides (3:09)
• 13. Truth/Mal's Speech (3:36)
• 14. Space Battle (3:21)
• 15. Crash Landing (1:59)
• 16. Run to Black (2:55)
• 17. Generator Room (3:06)
• 18. Mal & Op Fight (2:11)
• 19. Jane & Zoe/Final Battle (2:44)
• 20. Funeral/Rebuilding Serenity (2:19)
• 21. Prep for Flight (1:33)
• 22. Love (1:06)
• 23. End Credits (1:38)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a list of performers and a note from the director about the score and film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Serenity are Copyright © 2005, 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 11/12/05 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2005-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.