Original Album content review.
Only a year after the blockbuster
success of Gremlins, Jerry Goldsmith and director Joe
Dante would work together again on Explorers, their third
feature film collaboration. Explorers did not enjoy the
same success as Gremlins but it still provided Goldsmith
a chance to compose another score filled with excitement and
comic edge adding to Dante's unique directing style. Here we
see Dante helming a story about three teenagers who build a spaceship
in their backyard, again blending comedy, drama, and science
fiction into a fun filled adventure. Goldsmith's score compliments
this genre with a somewhat experimental approach using plenty
of electronics but not without his orchestral voice and memorable
The score contains a heroic
main theme for string and horn chords over a heavy low string
and brass ground bass. This is complimented by a beautifully
lyrical five note theme often played in the violins and trumpets.
Goldsmith lends this ground bass phrase for plenty of the action
material which modulates throughout the score. Two other themes
are provided for a couple of quirky characters, a comical descending
flute melody for the nerdy scientist friend Wolfgang (getting
full treatment in Free Ride) and a zany fifties style
trot for the television obsessed alien Wak, who the teenagers
finally meet when they blast off into space (Fast Getaway).
The short album contains some
excellent action cues; No Air and First Flight but
its the opening cue, The Construction, which remains
the highlight, written for a montage where the three teenagers
build their spaceship from old junkyard items with the help of
Wolfgang's computer. The cue is classic Goldsmith with propulsive
piano, swirling string figures, muted trombone and punctuation
from the percussion. The finale curtain call and end credits,
Have A Nice Trip, rounds out the score with one of the
most lyrical endings to a Dante film, recapitulating the soaring
five note main theme.
Unfortunately the album (originally
released by MCA, then finally re-issued on CD by Varese Sarabande
in 1990) was a little too commercial for the time, tacking on
three source songs and in the process omitting some wonderful
cues. In particular the haunting and mysterious music that underscores
the Dick Miller character's discovery of the teenager's ship.
The nice harmonica cues on the lyrical theme and the melancholy
oboe music for the teenager Darren, near the beginning of the
film, are also were not present. Thankfully this has now been
rectified with a complete score release from Intrada.
Overall Explorers is
an exciting and often lush score that defines the imagination
and lyricism that has made the relationship between Dante and
Goldsmith so successful.