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Michiel de Ruyter by Trevor Morris (Review)

posted Mar 6, 2015, 9:24 AM by Kaya Savas

Trevor Morris has consistently delivered robust, thematic and resonating scores throughout his career. I’ve always anticipated every new Morris score, and Michiel de Ruyter is no different. We know Trevor can handle big action as that’s how he got his start, and proved it recently with Olympus Has Fallen and Immortals. His work on The Tudors, The Borgias and Vikings has also proven his abilities to handle historical dramas with a touch of stylistic flair. The last time I interviewed Trevor, he was planning a trip to the Netherlands to visit the set of his next project. That project was Michiel de Ruyter, and here we have the finished project of Trevor’s first foreign film score. Michiel de Ruyter was a famous Dutch admiral who is remembered for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He is a highly respected historical figure and is remembered for being bold, risky, yet humble. He has a statue erected in his honor overlooking the sea in Vlissingen. So, for this film if you were expecting some fancy cellos, violins and flutes to take us back to 17th century Europe then expect to be surprised. Morris instead delivers a gorgeously bold, tremendous, thematic, thundering, sweeping and swashbuckling historical adventure that swallows you up.

Michiel de Ruyter immediately hooks you with its bold thematic groundwork and that classic 90’s sound that made me fall in love with film music when I was growing up. I was taken aback at first by how bold this score was as I wasn’t expecting it. The film is garnering criticism in the same way as American Sniper is. Lots of people say that Michiel de Ruyter is glorifying the Dutch admiral, but here it’s not hiding that fact. The film is epic in scope and is the second most expensive film from the Netherlands. Production value is high here, and the score needed to match that scope. Morris brings the bombast that may draw comparisons to Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers or Hans Zimmer’s Pirates Of The Caribbean, but the score here is tamed by Morris’ ability to add nuance and a great character-focused structure. It's also more grounded in reality than a fanciful action-adventure. There truly isn’t a dull moment in the score’s action-driven narrative. As a purely adrenaline pounding adventure score, this one knocks it out of the park. I can see where as a biopic about a historic Dutch admiral, that it may seem a bit too bold in places. Trevor matches the intensity and grandiose scope of the visuals as perfectly as he can. It’s when you start to assess the the context of the film that it begins to bring up the debate of the dramatization of non-fiction. Overall though, this is one of the highlights of Trevor Morris’ career thus far that spotlights his astonishing melodic abilities that can balance both something boldly epic yet emotionally strong.

When director Roel Reiné came to Hollywood, he found a collaborator in Trevor Morris on direct to video efforts like The Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption and Death Race: Inferno. When Roel Reiné got a big break directing this huge epic for his native country, he brought Trevor Morris onboard immediately. No one can deny that Michiel de Ruyter is a bombastic action epic on all fronts. It has huge set pieces, bold characters, and an amazing production design. The Netherlands are merely celebrating one of their national heroes. I personally feel that as a historical epic and a biopic, that the gravitas and heroism comes across as heavy-handed and over the top. But as a sea-faring wartime epic, the score delivers on all fronts and should not be missed. From elegant vocal arrangements to emotionally fueled action, it’s some of Trevor’s best work and will be revisited time and time again.