Cliff Eidelman has been absent from the scoring scene for a while. In the past few years he's been working on some personal projects, but he returns to the big screen with director Ken Kwapis. For Big Miracle we get a score that you may not have been expecting. In a day and age where composers take the saccharine route it's very hard to find true emotion in a family film such as this. Many producers and directors find children to be at a lesser emotional capacity, but if Don Bluth's films taught me anything it's that you can't sugarcoat it. The films I grew up still stick with me today and their scores especially. I think every generation has a marine mammal film, and mine was Free Willy (oh and Andre too). However, if I were growing up in this decade I would have to say that Big Miracle's score would have left an impression on me.
Eidelman dives head first into it with the first track. The main title is big in sound and big with emotion. The score continues with that sound as we immediately feel the chill of Alaska in the music. The propulsive strings give the score weight and the percussion (something I was surprised to find) gives the score a raw natural intensity. However, the score doesn't stay at this level for too long. When the second track hits we already are introduced into a bit of lighter territory, but the music never goes overboard. The score takes a more inspirational sound as it continues. The bigness of it all is never lost, but the delicate emotions never fade into the background. The balance of everything is so fantastic that it carries you through the journey. Varese's release just tips over 50 minutes so we have a lot of score here. The story being told with the music is engaging and enthralling, and I found myself to be entertained just by the score. This is not your typical throwaway children's fare and it deserves a listen.
I think I was surprised by Big Miracle. I really wasn't expecting the emotional power the score had on me. A few months ago we had Mark Isham's Dolphin Tale, which was fantastic in its own right but laid the sugarcoating a tad thick. Big Miracle isn't afraid of being just a tad agressive with its sound while never being forceful. The music sways with power and the large sound of everything makes an impression on the listener. I doubt the music alone will shed any tears, but the heart and emotion in it finds a great balance. Don't dismiss this score based on your expectations, because there is some great stuff here from Cliff Eidelman.
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