“Solar Crisis (1990)”
Soundtrack Album Review
Music By Maurice Jarre
Intrada Special Collection Vol. 281
16 Tracks/Disc Time: 68:19
Most people wouldn’t even remember or never even heard of the film “Solar Crisis”, which was filmed in early 1990 and hastily released through a totally rushed post-production in the middle of that summer without any real advertising. The film also suffered a major set back when the films’ director the late Richard C. Sarafian took his name off the film after disputes on how the film would fare through such rushed release in which the producers took the film away from him which was a longer two hour plus cut and re-edited it themselves down to a 111 minute version for release. The film’s story revolves around a huge solar flare that is predicted to fry the Earth and a crew of Astronauts must go to the Sun to drop a talking bomb (Freddy) at the right time so the flare will point somewhere else. Giant IXL Corp CEO Teague (Peter Boyle, “Young Frankenstein”) thinks the flare won’t happen and wants the mission to fail so he can buy the planet cheaply while the scare lasts. Employee Haas (Paul Koslo, “The Omega Man”) prepares a surprise for the astronauts. Commander Steve Kelso (Tim Matheson, “National Lampoon’s Animal House) commands the space ship while temperatures rise, granddaddy Admiral Skeet Kelso (the late Charlton Heston, “Planet Of The Apes”) is searching the desert for grandson Mike (Corin Nemic, “Parker Lewis, Can’t Lose”) who’s gone AWOL to say goodbye to his dad but who inadvertently crossed the path of the guys from IXL after meeting desert-dweller Travis (the late Jack Palance, Oscar Winner for “City Slickers”). The film failed miserably due to the overloaded summer releases that included blockbuster films such as “Total Recall”, “Dick Tracy”, “Gremlins 2: The New Batch”, “Back To The Future Part 3” and “Ghost” that really killed this films chances of making a profit and has turned it into a curiosity more than anything else.
One of the more interesting elements of the film despite a pretty solid cast is the fact that Oscar winning composer Maurice Jarre was even involved with this film. This is the very same Maurice Jarre, who won Oscars for “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Doctor Zhivago” and “A Passage To India” while contributing memorable scores to “Witness”, “Dead Poets Society”, “Enemy Mine”, “TAPS”, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” and “The Year Of Living Dangeriously” throughout the 80’s and would score a major hit with “Ghost”. So why “Solar Crisis”? Well, this would probably be attributed to money or the fact that this was intended by the film’s director to be a better film than what was finally released. As for the score itself which was just as rushed as the film was editorially, was something that wasn’t all that much different than Jarre had been doing throughout the decade of the 1980’s: a score with primary orchestrial elements and a heavy dose of percussion and electronics. The final result of this score is one that purposely over the top and with good reason due to the film’s rather lackluster execution.
The score opens with a pure orchestrial treat in the “Prologue” that sets up the tone and theme of the score featuring hammering piano, strings, electronics, choir and brass which in parts sounds like the music from the brilliant “Enemy Mine”. “Hear That Note?” is a nice and tranquil piece of electronic nirvana that would continue on in tracks such as “Concentrate On Living” which adds a cello solo, and “Meeks’ Demise”. It also continues in the neat “Skytown” that isn’t all that dissimilar to “Bartletown” from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” with the percussion opening and then flowing into a more electronic atmosphere. “Helios Docking” is a great track that features some excellent percussion, piano and brass that would set up the memorable tracks “Pursuit”, and “Alex Sees The Light”. which really are the real highlights of this score with some excellent suspense and rhythmic action writing that is amongst Jarre’s finest. “End Credits” ends the score with a reprise of the score’s best material including the great choral passages featured in the “Prologue” and “Alex Sees The Light”
Intrada’s Special Collection release of this intriguing score is a very lengthy and at times, very entertaining listen that really shows Jarre at the top of his game trying to break out of his totally electronic phase with more emphasis (at times) on the orchestra and choir which really do work. The more atmosphere material doesn’t quite work so well, but there is some really good stand out material featured here and fans of Jarre’s during this phase will definitely like this without a doubt. After a while however, this clanging percussion does grate on you a bit with the exception of a few tracks that really are fun that really reminded me alot of what I loved so much about his “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” which was so brilliant. “Solar Crisis” is one of Maurice Jarre’s curious entries in an unforgettable career filled with epics, romances and adventures. This one is a little too uneven to recommend it entirely, but what is there to like most really does work. A marginal thumbs up (for the best 30 minutes of this score).