While Steven Spielberg's sci-fi detective thriller Minority Report
revolves around the intriguing premise of future cops arresting criminals before
their crimes, beneath its hi-tech veneer it begs a simple but infinitely powerful question: do we have the power to alter our own destiny? Coming on the heels of the director's posthumous collaboration with Stanley Kubrick, A.I.
, it also affords long-time Spielberg musical collaborator John Williams a rare back-to-back opportunity to construct a musical future-world. The composer's efforts here are largely a forceful departure from A.I.
's sparkling minimalist influences, employing an enduring cinematic cliché--that film future's often sound much like the works of early-20th-century modernist classical composers--that puts a compelling new spin on the ever slippery concept of post-modernism. If the cues here occasionally recall the jagged edges, dark corners and rhythmic fury of some of Jerry Goldsmith's best sci-fi scores, it's only a tribute to both legends' deep musical roots and preternatural scoring instincts. But make no mistake, this is pure Williams at his most compelling, employing his full arsenal of technique and always masterful use of colour to construct a new genre--call it "future noir"--from inspirations as diverse as Bartók, Ligeti, Penderecki, Webern and Schoenberg. Like Herrmann's suspenseful scores for Hitchcock (one of the film's intentional musical touchstones) there may be nary a memorable melody in it, but it's a riveting--and occasionally harrowing--listen from opening bars to its final, minimalist-tinged string flourishes.--Jerry McCulley
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