One my favorite things to do is stumble across scores that, at first glance based on the movie/show that it provides background for, you’d automatically dismiss as most likely a low budget score with a synthesized sound at best. But after watching the movie or listening to the score, you discover that the soundtrack leaps beyond your expectations. Sometimes, the soundtrack can even overshadow the movie and stand apart! I’m going to share some of those ‘Surprise Soundtracks’ (as I call them) when I stumble across them and even some sample tracks!
Surprising Soundtrack #2 – ‘Evan Almighty’ by John Debney
Movie Synopsis: After being elected to Congress with his slogan ‘Change the World,’ former newsman Evan Baxter (Steve Carrel) moves his family to a brand new Virginia neighborhood and takes office. While the perks of his position are nice, he soon finds out the price is being forced to co-sponsor a bill that will allow development in national parks headed by Congressman Long (John Goodman). It’s here that God (Morgan Freeman) appears to Evan, giving him a chance to really ‘Change the World.’ God asks Evan to build an ark to house two of every animal for a ‘coming flood.’ Evan, of course, disbelieves him and does everything in his power to avoid and ignore God. After God continually sends things into Evan’s life to remind him of what he needs to do, he reluctantly agrees and starts on his quest to build an ark much to the panic of Evan’s family and coworkers who think he’s losing his mind. Sending truckloads of wood and building supplies, Evan sets to work much to the attention of the locals. It soon grows into a public interest and Evan finds himself under heavy ridicule when he reveals to the world his intentions. With the biggest drought in history, no one believes it will flood, and Congressman Long’s patience for the lack of promised support on his bill by Evan grows thin. Congressman Long orders the ark to be destroyed on various building laws that Evan has ignored, even as two of every animal mysteriously gather in the ark as it’s being finished. Once completed, Evan finds himself in a struggle of faith in God’s word about the so called flood and a struggle for time as Congressman Long sends demolition crews to tear apart the ark. When everything seems lost, rain clouds start to appear, but the rain only lasts a few seconds, much to the laughing delight of crowds gathered to see the ark. His faith reaching an all time low, Evan finds himself ready to give up when the last thing anyone thought possible happens, resulting in a wild ride.
For anyone familiar with the Soundtrack world, you’ll instantly recognize the name John Debney. He’s scored many big name movies such as the Passion of Christ to the Emperor’s New Groove. More recently, he scored the music for the new Predators movie along with the box office hit Iron Man 2. His range of movie types he’s scored is more than I can count, from kid movies to serious thrillers. He’s always had a grand orchestral sound to his music, but at the same time he can have a fun playful score using unusual instruments. I’ve been a fan of his work for a while, especially the Passion of the Christ score which has some very powerful orchestral cues in it. Being a big fan and always on the search for ‘epic’ scores that really have climatic themes that culminate into massive uprising moments where the final showdown occurs, I find that one of the places you most find them is in the movies you least expect.
With Evan Almighty being a comedy and the sequel to the Jim Carrey movie Bruce Almighty, I wouldn’t have expected to find such a grand sweeping score, even if done by Debney. The original Bruce Almighty score (which was also done by Debney) was very well done, but didn’t have that epic sound to it, mostly because there weren’t really any major epic moments in the story. Expecting the usual motif of a comedy movie this appeared to be, I expected to hear the modernistic style of acoustic guitars with background filling orchestra strings and the occasional piano. For the majority of the start of the soundtrack, it’s just what I thought, that down to earth guitar and orchestra softer themes that have become the musical theme of suburban life for a family in movies. Acoustic guitars with a fast base string section and piano, I think anyone in this day and age will recognize. As the movie goes on, there’s a lot of fun upbeat music, including a bit of a fun march that accompanies many of the different situations that God puts Evan in when he doesn’t believe what he needs to do and tries to ignore God.
SPOILER ALERT: The next part of the review is going to spoil the end of the movie,
Click the PLAY button below to listen to John Debney’s Evan Almighty track “The Flood“
Debney’s use of choral singers with the orchestra’s grand theme is very brilliant, taking the fullness and making it even louder. If you’re like me, every time you hear many of the tracks from this movie you want to really crank up the volume to hear that massive powerful sound wrap around you. I highly recommend checking out this soundtrack if you get the chance, especially if you want a really good epic score. While it’s got it’s slower moments along with the goofy and fun themes, it’s the epics that really make this score a must have.