Score Produced by
David Arnold and Kevin Kiner
Album Produced by
Kevin Kiner and Mark Evans
Executive Album Producers:
Todd Moyer and Chris Roberts
Executive Album Producers for Sonic Images:
Ford A. Thaxton, Brad Pressman and Rudy Panke
Barklie K. Griggs
Orchestrated and Conducted by
Score Recorded and Mixed by
Geoff Foster and Mark Evans
Air Lyndhurst, London
Album Mastered by
James Nelson at Digital Outland (Tacoma, Washington)
All Tracks BMI
Computer Images by
"Wing Commander" Logo courtesy of 20th Century-Fox
Wing Commander is, simply, a score which is likely to go on long after the movie itself has faded into oblivion. It's
not a tremendous score, but it is huge, energized and propulsive - drawing on many of the sensibilities which
make its two composers so good to begin with.
The Wing Commander score is richly textured and incredibly layered, various melody lines dodging in and out of
(and running beneath) action motifs create a sense of both consistent style within the score, and an ever
changing tapestry in it's presentation. It's got a specific sound, but it's varied enough so it doesn't become
Wing Commander's theme was composed by David Arnold (who, I am told, also served as something of a
"supervisor" for the rest of the score). One may remember Arnold's work from Stargate, Independence Day, and
the amazingly suave and cool score for Tomorrow Never Dies. In fact, Wing Commander's score manifests many
of Tomorrow Never Dies' better sensibilities - if you dug Arnold's work in TND, you'll probably get a kick out of
Arnold associate Kevin Kiner is credited with composing the WC score itself. Kiner has scored the Emmerich
and Devlin series The Visitor (for which Arnold wrote the theme show's music and score for the first episode) and
Stargate SG-1 (Arnold's theme is cannibalized and used throughout the series). In other words, Kiner knows how
to work with Arnold as a guideline, and how to integrate his own "sound" with Arnolds' unique style. The result is
a nice mix between the two composers, as Kiner's work is not entirely imitative, but recognizable enough as not
to clash with with the efforts of the composer he is trying to complement.
Richly textured and densely layered, Arnold and Kiner's Wing Commander score should hit stores on March 9.
Having not seen the film, I can not vouch for how well this score will work with the imagery it's meant to
accompany. But on its own, this is a fun and exhilarating listen which may well become a cult favorite in the not
too distant future.
February 24, 1999
Wing Commander: (Kevin Kiner/David Arnold) As action-packed as they come, the combined efforts of Kevin
Kiner and David Arnold have given Wing Commander a dose of high-powered orchestral music in a size that I
haven't frankly heard since Independence Day. From the opening brass salute in Arnold's overture to the
"Big Damn Ending" (as they put it), complete with all the bells, whistles, and synth chorals, this score will keep
you on your toes. The music isn't spectacularly original. It is, though, pure fun. Its magnificent bombast is
predictable and simplistic in parts, but it sure as hell is fun to listen to at amplified volumes.
On the whole, the score for Wing Commander surprised me. I am usually very skeptical about scores that
result from films with roots in video games (take Mortal Kombat, for instance). But Kiner and Arnold seem
to work together as a very effective team, and I look forward to their future collaborations.
Wing Commander isn't a score that will be remembered in the history of film music as anything significant,
but it makes for some great fun when you're in the right mood for exhilarating space adventure music. ***
The film's live action was filmed on soundstages in Luxembourg, and the quality on view suggests that the
grand duchy's production capabilities are noteworthy. Tech credits are wide-ranging and generally above par,
with special commendation going to Thierry Arbogast's smart camerawork and Kevin Kiner's rousing score.
The two rules when it comes to computer games and films seem to be: 1. If a film becomes a big success it should
be made into a game. 2. If a game becomes a big success it should be made into a film. Wing Commander: The
Movie is the latest consequence of the latter rule. The original Wing Commander game has sold over 1.5 million
copies, and has been followed by several sequels, all very technically advanced and with actors like Marc Hamill
and Thomas F. Wilson doing the acting in the video sequences. So of course Hollywood had to make a film
The scores for the video games were composed by George Oldziey, but when the games were to be turned into
film, the job went to composer Kevin Kiner, probably most famous for his collaboration with David Arnold on the
score for the television series Stargate SG-1, for which Arnold provided the themes and Kiner wrote the actual
score. And for Wing Commander they continue their collaboration in the same manner. David Arnold has written a
very grand theme, which serves as the basis for Kiner's score.
Sonic Images' press release states that the music is "composed in the epic tradition of John Williams' Star Wars
films." Let us say that the score is composed in the epic tradition of David Arnold's Independence Day instead.
Because like Independence Day the score for Wing Commander is incredibly bombastic, grand and totally over
the top. With orchestrations, by Nicholas Dodd, favouring the brass and percussion sections of the orchestra big
time this is a score that will rock your house. Dodd also orchestrated Arnold's massive score for Independence
Day, and as these two scores, by two different composers, are so similiar in its sound and style (cues like "The
Gift/Skipper Missile" could very well be used in ID 4) one wonders how much of the bombastic sound we owe to
And it is the immense testosterone driven action music that dominates the music throughout the album from the
swell "Overture" to the last cue "Big Damn Ending" - a very suitable title - although a couple of cues, like "Angel's
Story", gives you a chance to relax and prepare for the next battle. All in all Wing Commander is an enjoyable
score, and should appeal to you if Arnold's huge orchestral sound is what makes you drivel.
SCORE! Soundtrack Reviews
(reprinted in FILM SCORE MONTHLY, June 1999)
This film received quite a score! Not from critics or the box office or from me (I fell asleep in a movie theatre for
the first time!), but from co-composers David Arnold and Kevin Kiner. The main theme is memorable but not quite
reaching the "corny" level that Arnold's main theme for ID4 did. The score is not all bombast either, but is set off
by some nice softer melodies and ethereal motifs. This score certainly pays homage to the likes of Horner's
Star Trek II score on occasion, but not to the degree of earning the dreaded "rip off" designation. While not as
memorable as the previously mentioned Wrath of Kahn score, it is a decent effort by the score-duo and a good
17 track release from Sonic Images. Rating: 7/10.
May 9, 1999
Wing Commander opens with a barnstorming brassy "Overture" by David Arnold, easily as expressive as his work
on Independence Day and Stargate. It's military flavour is carried over into the rest of the CD by Kevin Kiner,
who recreates a creditable facsimile of Arnold's epic style. Bold and stirring themes abound, with occasional
synth embellishment. The film made little impression when it was released in the US, but it would be a shame if
the soundtrack was similarly neglected.
SHIVERS! Magazine, Issue 66
May 11, 1999
The latest release from Sonic Images is Wing Commander... a new sci-fi/adventure film based on the best-selling
computer game and stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Matthew Lillard and Saffron Burrows, with dependable support from
David Warner and Jurgen Prochnow. According to director Chris Roberts' liner notes, although the film has a
futuristic setting, he wanted the music to "evoke some of the glorious odl war film scores," such as 633 Squadron
and The Dam Busters. Well, I don't know if that's quite what composers David Arnold and Kevin Kiner came up
with (I would liken it more to Basil Poledouris' Starship Troopers), but they did realise Roberts' aesthetic of music
"full of heart, melody and heroic acts." Arnold and Kiner of course collaborated previously on TV shows The
Visitor and Stargate SG-1. Here Arnold has come up with a splendid matrial main theme, heard to best effect in
"Overture," and Kiner integrates it to good effect throughout the best action moments of the score, particularly in
"Diligent Arrives," "Kilrathi Battle" and "Kilrathi Into Scylla," but there is still plenty of exciting action in "Torpedo
Kilrathi," "Into The Quasar," "The Fleet," "Skipper Missile" and "The Big Battle." And there are gentler moments
too, particularly fine in "Pod Scene," "Pilgrims," with its sampled otherworldly male choir, and "Big Damn Ending."
Interestingly, "Hot Dogs" follows Joel Goldsmith's approach to Kull The Conqueror in its use of electric guitar and
drumkit alongside the orchestra, but aside from an electronic pulse on one or two of the tracks, the score is very
much orchestral, with David Arnold's regular sidekick Nicholas Dodd at the helm, and at 37 minutes this
soundtrack doesn't outstay its welcome.
NEW ZEALAND FILM MUSIC BULLETIN, Issue 106
Guilty pleasure time, guys. This is a score with almost no redeeming qualities as far as art - it's just loud,
bombastic, brassy... and a hell of a lot of fun. Further, for all of us who haven't had a new Dave Arnold score since
Tomorrow Never Dies, this will go a long way towards satisfying us. Either Kiner really, REALLY worked to sound
like Arnold, or there was more of a collaboration here than one might first think.
Basically, this CD has 30 minutes of bombastic, militaristic tonal testosterone, and about 7 minutes of assorted
"quiet" music. The main theme is everything you might expect, basically a huge brassy fanfare which is
emminently hummable. The overture is perhaps the highlight, running the theme through various musical wringers
like Arnold tends to do, like in Stargate. The main theme, however, is basically the only theme to speak of. The
rest is huge action music in a style almost exactly like the loudest parts of ID4 - in fact, Kiner borrows a few
arpeggios and instrument runs here and there in the climactic battles. The big problem there is that Kiner isn't
quite as good as Arnold. ID4 always blows me away when I listen to those battles because of how staggeringly
complex they are - I can pick out at least four seperate melodic lines going in opposite directions, yet somehow it
always stays together and doesn't turn into cacophany. Kiner can't do it that well, but luckily he errs on the side
of caution. The battles don't sound quite as big, but that's better than if they degenerated into a huge musical
It occasionally has breaks in the action for quieter moments - "Pilgrims," "Pod Scene," "The Gift." These, for the
most part, don't really work. They're mostly low underscore, although the "Pilgrim" track is pretty nice. It's good
to have a breather, but the CD really comes to a halt along with the action.
For the most part, it's big orchestral stuff. In a couple cues, like "Briefing / Tricked" he brings in some odd
synth\electronic noises. I'm not entirely sure why they're there, but they don't entirely fail. They do give it a nice
beat. More interesting, "Hot Dogs" has a screaming guitar in there, and while it might annoy purists, it does work
fairly well. After all, the track is for a couple hotshots showing off and doing stupid stunts. (and the track rather
reminds me of "Backseat Driver" in Tomorrow Never Dies)
Finally, on a more personal note, this really DOES sound like Wing Commander music. I've been a fan of the
series since the week the first game came out, way back in '90, and I've dutifully bought every game since. I
don't know if the composers listened to the game scores by The Fatman and George Oldziey (the latter is good
enough to warrant a CD of his own), but it terms of sound and mood, this is VERY believable as a WC score.
Maybe it's just Chris Robert's constant desire for a retro-WWII sound. I was rather hoping against hope that
somewhere in there, they might work in the original theme, but it didn't happen. Oh well.
And that's really all there is to say about this one, except maybe to mention this is another case where the score
is far better than the movie. It's a lot like Starship Troopers last year in terms of content and quality. If you want
your scores to have some substance, go buy a Thomas Newman CD. If you want something really brassy and
really loud to crank up on nights you want to make the windows rattle, this will fit the bill quite well, probably better
than any score since StarTroops. And Arnold fans simply have to pick it up. But then, you probably have already.
Music from the pen David Arnold has been less than profuse recently. The ginormous flop of Godzilla resulted in
his cracking score never being officially released, meaning that the last proper Arnold album to hit the streets was
the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies way back in December 1997 (although he did contribute some
thematic material to the TV shows Stargate SG1 and The Visitor). Fortunately, he's back with a vengeance in
1999, collaborating with composer Kevin Kiner on Wing Commander, the live-action science fiction epic based on
the hit interactive video game. Directed by Chris Roberts, with a gaggle of hot teen actors including Freddie
Prinze Jr. (from I Know What You Did Last Summer) and Matthew Lillard (from Scream) starring alongside such
stalwarts as David Warner, Jürgen Prochnow and David Suchet, the filmmakers have announced that it will be a
gung-ho action-fest in the Star Wars mould, with state of the art computer effect and alien invaders aplenty. We
shall see. One of the benefits of having movies such as Wing Commander, though, is that they more often than
not come with scores like this one. Officially, David Arnold wrote the Wing Commander Theme, and Kiner the
underscore, but in truth the Arnold hallmarks are stamped all over the place. Upon first impressions, there's not a
lot more you can say about Wing Commander except "wow". It's a score set firmly in the grandest of grand
traditions, and from the first bar of the 'Overture', you know what kind of experience you're in for. The orchestral
bombast of the music hits you smack between the eyes and never lets up for the entire 37 minute running time.
As good as the main theme sounds, it nevertheless plays like "David Arnold's Greatest Hits", and this is the only
drawback to the album as a whole. It's almost as though he took all the best bits from Independence Day,
Stargate and Last of the Dogmen, jiggled them around a bit and distilled them down into a single, generic patriotic
theme. Don't get me wrong - I like the theme immensely - but I just feel that Arnold could have taken the
opportunity to do something a little differently this time. Having said that, the action sequences are quite
stunning, especially 'Torpedo Kilrathi', 'The Fleet', 'Diligent Arrives', 'Skipper Missile' and the four conclusive
cues - 'Kilrathi Battle', 'The Big Battle', 'Kilrathi Into Scylla' and the appropriately-titled 'Big Damn Ending'. All of
these feature the familiar throbbing brasses, heavy percussion and wild string work which have dominated
Arnold's previous works. Undoubtedly, these half-dozen or so cues make the score an essential purchase, and
score fans with a soft spot for any of David Arnold's earlier works will certainly not be disappointed. The one
thing that initially worried me about Wing Commander, though, was whether Kevin Kiner's work would stick out like
a sore thumb. Without wanting to be unkind, Kiner is hardly a major league composer (his most high profile
assignment to date being the hideous John Leguizamo comedy vehicle The Pest), but I'm delighted to say that
he acquits himself marvellously here. His work sits seamlessly alongside Arnold's, so much so that it's really
quite difficult to judge exactly who composed what. Although certain moments of the underscore do have an
unmistakable Arnold-esque quality (like 'Into The Quasar', which is a virtual ID4 clone), other parts are
completely new and original, proving that Kiner is a name to watch in the future. Kiner's most memorable
contribution is the lovely secondary theme, a slow moving synth-and-string affair which makes good use of a
sampled male choir, and can be heard prominently in cues such as 'Pod Scene', 'Pilgrims', 'Angel's Story' and
'The Gift'. In addition, 'Hot Dogs' includes an electric guitar solo over a pepped-up rock version of Arnold's theme
which makes for an unexpected but interesting little diversion. As ever, the quality of Sonic Images' packaging
and inserts is good - kudos again to Messrs. Thaxton and Pressman - and it is only the slight over-familiarity of
the music which stops it from getting top marks. I always knew I liked David Arnold's music. I want to hear more
of Kevin Kiner's now.
MOVIE MUSIC UK
So another game becomes reality in a film environment, and from what the opening track contains it's exciting,
bombastic, melodic and decidedly fun. For those who don't know Wing Commander dates back to the mid 80s and
Origin Systems who created the first game and the rather nasty Kilrathi race out to kill all sundry who get in their
Whilst David Arnold provides the themes it's Stargate SG-1 contributor Kevin Kiner that employs the orchestra to
full effect and weaves the score so expertly. The first track 1: ‘Overture' unveils Arnold's primary theme and no
more than the main theme itself which is a glorious brassy proud motif and very, very good indeed. Tracks 2, 3
continue the trend of bombast with no let up, however 4: ‘Pilgrims' lessens the intensity on a delightfully sad
arrangement on strings describing the race of pioneers and navigators, sadly discriminated against within the
One particular highlight is 12: ‘Diligent Arrives,' as we get a restatement of the main theme and a lovely
descending motif on the brass as the merchant ship Diligent arrives into the action.
The fast action cues soon return though with 10: ‘Briefing/Tricked' with a synth beat bouncing the score along at
a heady pace though it's 11: ‘Hot Dogs,' with its fast synth echoes, 13: ‘The Gift/Skipper Missle' (very loud), 14:
‘Kilrathi Battle' and 15: ‘The Big Battle' that really let rip with the orchestra on quite a grand fashion as the war
rages in full intensity. For those that like action cues this is seventh heaven, for those that don't you're really not
going to like this at all.
The final two cues 16: ‘Kilrathi Into Scylla' with its frenetic brass and triumphant ending on the main theme and
rolling brass statements, and the 17: ‘Big Damn Ending' where a stately build up on the strings leads to a lovely
brassy conclusion, end the disc off in major fashion.
The booklet is quite acceptable, and though the disc does suffer from a few short cues which just get you going
and stop its quite a highlight in the collection more so from the excellent themes that are utilised within it!
Russell C. Thewlis
LEGEND Magazine, Issue 28
Fans of David Arnold will find much to enjoy in this new score by Kevin Kiner. Although Arnold is credited as
writing the theme, his influence and that of his orchestrator Nicholas Dodd, is very much present throughout the
Arnold's theme is similar to that for Independence Day; it's big, ballsy and impossibly patriotic. It would be quite
at home in any World War II film you care to mention. The theme is unleashed in the ‘Overture,' which is one of the
finest pieces of music you'll hear this year. The rest of the score is pretty much what you would expect. Wing
Commander is a huge in-your-face, brass ripping action score in the Arnold style, and as such makes for a
rolicking listen. Rating: ***.
MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES
An identity crisis afflicts Kevin Kiner's score to Wing Commander (Sonic Images). David Arnold is credited with
the main theme here, but the rousing style of Independence Day is all over this CD. Kiner does the best job at
hiding his musical voice since Joel McNeely's spot-on impersonation of Jerry Goldsmith for Air Force One. The
difference here is that Arnold isn't listed as a co-composer. But that doesn't stop Wing Commander from being
good, rousing fun, its musical space battles fashioned in the gritty style of World War II actioners.
While the Wing Commander movie may have turned out to be nothing less then bad filmmaking at its best (or worst
depending on how you look at it), the score turned out to be pretty good. Not that it is a masterpiece of music, but
more in that it is one of the most fun scores to listen to that I've heard in a long time.
It helps in that my favorite "young buck" composer, David Arnold, wrote the main theme that keeps in the same
style as Independence Day. Arnold scored the first track, which introduces the main theme and spins in through
a couple of different renditions. Kevin Kiner, who has worked with Arnold before and generated Arnold-type music
for Stargate SG-1, composed the rest of the score. Fortunately for us, Kiner continually uses the main theme and
expands on it throughout the rest of the score. Action music is what this album has going for it. Yes, there are
breaks from it here and there, but even though Kiner's quieter cues aren't too bad, they're nothing special. Some
people have expressed annoyance at the guitar featured in track 11, but I found it to be acceptable and in
keeping with the onscreen action.
If you're an Arnold fan, or like the loud, brassy sci-fi music of types like ID4 or Stargate, then this album is for
you. It may not be groundbreaking, emotionally moving, or cutting-edge, but it is sure a lot of fun to listen to.
SOUNDTRACK REVIEW CENTRAL
Wing Commander can be considered a revalation! This is a highlight in sci-fi film scores this year. This title gets
alot of airplay on my program, and listeners are calling in. They love it!
RADIO SON REGHIN (Romania)
David Arnold is not a man who is easily swayed into doing many scores in a year and so only his talents as a
tunesmith were called into action for this score to the movie of the computer game. Wing Commander makes a
better concept for a movie than most computer games, it has to be said. The original game had long opening and
cut sequences with real actors and even had a perfectly servicable score. In fact, I'd have been more than
happy to hear orchestral versions of the in game music. However, David Arnold was asked and if they either
couldn't pay his fee or Arnold didn't want to write the entire score, he got to write the tune and Kiner wrote the
rest. It has to be said that the Overture composed entirely by Arnold isn't one of his more memorable efforts.
There is plenty in common with Independence Day but just isn't nearly so likely to stick in the mind.
The rest of the score alternates between slightly non-descript, but carried along by the sheer scale and momentum
of the thing action cues and the odd more lush romantic moment. Tracks such as Angel's Story feature sections
with synth choir and quiet orchestral interludes that serve to succesfully break up the action, but don't really have
strong enough themes to keep them alive. The lack of anything memorable is the bane of most of the score to be
honest. I really thought that Arnold would come up with something like his ID4 march tunes or his epic
Stargate effort, but it this is not to be. Kiner's music sounds a bit like Arnold's music, with sections of The Fleet
being especially close to Independence Day, but there are no set pieces that stick in the mind. If Kiner was a
decent tunesmith, he'd certainly have no trouble getting work since films these days are looking out for exciting
orchestral efforts with the occasional synth bit (such as those in Briefing/Tricked).
I can't complain too much since it is a very enjoyable score, but if I want some Arnold, I'll stick to his original
efforts. Hopefully Kiner will get a few more decent films to have a stab at and with some sharpening of his
composing abilites could go far indeed. Thanks to Sonic Images for releasing the score since it is worth a listen
and if you like big orchestral overkill then it's very well performed and arranged, just not ground breaking and
doesn't really showcase a new talent very well since Kiner's own style (if he has one) is mainly buried in Arnold-
isms or more non-descript stuff.
July 6, 1999
Composer Kevin Kiner, with David Arnold's theme, pulls back the throttle and let's the space war music rip! Over-
powering brass work with military drums attacking, equals up to some of the best space battle music in a long time.
You can hear David Arnold's influence throughout the disk's running time (echoes of ID4 and GODZILLA), but
that's not knocking Kevin Kiner's contribution. He makes the horns shout and scream, the drums and cymbals
clash with unbridled enthusiasm. I don't know if the film is any good, but the music from WING COMMANDER is a