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VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 01, 2010 4:35 pm
by Griffle
You should bare in mind that I am not, and do not pretend to be, a professional music critic. I’ve never, ever, attempted to write a review for a soundtrack before. Also; I know there are a number of people on this forum who have had the privilege of watching the film not once, but twice already. I’m not one of those people. (and I’m not envious, envy is a deadly sin) I will have to wait till Christmas day if I want to see the film legally, which I want to, of course. This review is for the soundtrack as a standalone piece of music. Does it work on its own or not? Read on for my verdict.

1. Opening Titles (1:09)
The beginning and middle section of this track sounds a lot like some of the more magical cues from Arnold’s Stargate score. There’s a bit of Danny Elfman’s Edward Scissorhands to the very beginning of the track. The end part of it reminds me of music from the X-Men: The Last Stand score composed by John Powell. Overall brilliant track that sets the tone for the first half of the VDT score. 5/5

2. The Painting (2:30)
There’s a hint of Stargate to the beginning of the track that has been changed in a way that it makes me think of the score for the BBC version of LWW. This gives way to what sounds like typical chase music to me. After that it shifts into a more oriental influenced drums and brass portion of the track. It ends with the brass section of the orchestra playing the Stargate/X3 combo theme. I love this! They really give it all they have. 5/5

3. High King & Queen Of Narnia (1:35)
Arnold composes his take on Gregson-Williams Kings & Queens of Narnia theme from the first two films. A quite delicate track that really succeeds in recreating the magic of the original theme. Ends with a bizarre flute crescendo that probably works better in the film. 4/5

4. Reepicheep (1:00)
This is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes every time I play it. The combination of flute and strings in this track is perfect. I love the flute portion at the beginning of the track as much as I love the strings portion that comes after it. The only bad thing about it is that it’s so short. Magical. 5/5

5. Land Ahoy (1:45)
Stargate/X3 influenced beginning. Subtle string play. More Stargate, Arnold even throws in a bit of army flavoured drumming that reminds me of ID4. There’s a great portion of this track that I can’t really place where I’ve heard before but that really works in this track. 4/5

6. The Lone Island (1:53)
I like this! It’s really powerful sounding at the beginning. I’m sure it’s for a chase scene or an attack of some kind in the film. It gets quieter quite quickly (three words that begin with a q in a row, repeat that!) after that though and it doesn’t really go anywhere. 3/5

7. Lord Bern (1:03)
A single harp player is the star of this track. Quite beautiful. 4/5

8. The Green Mist (1:18)
Weird noises and chanting open this track, brass follows. I like it. Can’t quite describe the weird noises at the beginning, but I’m sure they make the scene in the film feel even cooler than it would have without the music. 4/5

9. Market Forces (1:55)
Horns and classical Matinee adventure fanfares. A few seconds towards the end of this sound like Danny Elfman’s Spider-Man score. Love it! Feels fresh! 5/5

10. 1st Sword (1:20)
Sounds like Arnold’s borrowed a few notes from Gregson-Williams for the beginning of this. 5/5

11. Eustace On Deck (1:13)
The Stargate/X3 theme returns once again, here mixed with medieval chamber music. Great stuff! 4/5

12. Duel (1:47)
Pirates of the Caribbean! Yay! Don’t know if it’s a deliberate jab at Disney or not but it’s quite funny if you start to think about it. This is what you get for jumping ship Disney! This is a great track, one of the best on the CD. 5/5

13. The Magician's Island (4:32)
This has kind of a unique sound to it’s first two minutes, utilizing both harp, flute and percussion to create a combination that evokes a sense of magic. The rest of the track falls kind of flat as nothing appear to be happening on screen for stretches of at least half a minute at a time with some magical sounding portions interspersed in-between. 3/5

14. Lucy & The Invisible Mansion (5:26)
Beautiful… magical… quiet… quiet….boring…..jump scare….beautiful…boring...90 seconds left…magical… 3/5

15. Coriakin And The Map (3:00)
This is a great track. A mix between powerful sounding brass and more gentle sounding strings. 4/5

16. Temptation of Lucy (3:00)
I’m not sure, but I think this might actually be the exact same track as Coriakin And The Map. They sound identical and they’re exactly the same length. I’ve compared them back to back and the only difference appears to be that Temptation of Lucy is about a second or so ahead of Coriakin And The Map. Weird. Might be something that's only on my Promo copy, but then again; there are 30 tracks on my copy. 4/5

17. Aslan Appears (1:18)
Does he really? That’s my question. The track sure doesn’t make it sound like it. It’s too quiet and never swells into the kind of powerful crescendo we expect to hear as He appears on screen for the first time. I think it would have been OK to borrow from Gregson-Williams here. 3/5

18. The Golden Cavern (0:51)
Kings and Queens of Narnia return here. Yet another beautiful take on Gregson-Williams score. 4/5

19. Temptation of Edmund (2:06)
This is basically a darker and slightly different version of the Coriakin And The Map & Temptation of Lucy tracks. Far from as good though. Boring. 2/5

20. Dragon's Treasure (2:00)
Starts off with some chimes and xylophone play before strings start to build tension that result in a volume pike about halfway through this track followed by flute and harp. This doesn’t work on its own I’m afraid. 2/5

21. Dragon Attack (2:56)
Starts with a playful flute and strings section that leads to a rather flat second half of the track. It’s a real shame, with such fun opening. 2/5

22. Under The Stars (2:32)
We’re treated to about a minute and ten seconds of really great march music at the beginning of this track before it changes into chase music and ends with a hint of Stargate. Come to think of it, the march music sounds a lot like Stargate too, which is NEVER a bad thing IMO. The Stargate score is among the best scores ever composed. 3/5

23. Blue Star (2:58)
Don’t know what to say about this to be honest. It’s beautiful sure…kind of reminds me of John Williams score for that scene with the flea circus towards the end of Jurassic Park somehow. At least in tone. It’s a calm and comforting track feels just right after a couple of rather boring tracks. 3/5

24. Aslan's Table (1:06)
Chimes = Magic? You bet! Lots of it here, interspersed with vivid flute play and strings. Way too short though. 3/5

25. Liliandill And Dark Island (2:34)
*Sigh* This again? There are moments of brilliance here, but those moments are far between and for the most part it’s just not that interesting to listen to on it’s own. When they come, they’re quickly interrupted by something else. Best part is the X3 theme ending. 2/5

26. The Calm Before The Storm (1:32)
Chimes…. *hopeful*…bored. Nah, this doesn’t….wait….is that a choir I hear? I believe it is. I’ll give it an extra point for that. 3/5

27. Into Battle (11:05)
This is one of the tracks that I was looking forward to hearing the most when I was waiting for the soundtrack to get to me. As such, it’s a huge disappointment. This track is not only LOOOONG, it’s…well, I’ll just go ahead and say it: boring. One would think that this is the kind of music that Arnold would be most at home with writing and that it therefore would be the kind of track that would have the best chance of being good. I’m not saying that it’s bad, that’s not it. It’s just that it doesn’t really work that well on it’s own. Cues from Danny Elfman’s Batman score make several cameo appearances during this track, so does cues from Arnold’s Casino Royal score. 3/5

28. Sweet Water (2:08)
There are parts of the swelling fanfare towards the beginning of this that sound like something out of the first two films. The section that follows this sound really melancholic but it ends with a ”Reepicheep does/say something funny” moment, so I guess all is well. This is quite powerful and really catchy. 4/5

29. Ship To Shore (3:55)
I get a feeling that I’ll cry a lot at the end of this film when I finally see it. This is so sad sounding, yet, it’s extremely beautiful. Arnold really pull at our heartstrings here. The very end of this is so good it gave me goosebumps. 5/5

30. Time To Go Home (2:47)
Perhaps the most beautiful piece of music on the soundtrack. Arnold even throws in a couple of church bells here. Oh yeah, this gave me goosebumps as well. Genius piece magic that together with Opening Titles makes for perfect bookends to this soundtrack. 5/5

Overall score: 3.7/5
Not on par with the greatness that is the LWW score and not as solid as the PC score, but it's definitely a worthy part of Narnian music history. I do feel that it could have been a lot better with a bit of editing here and there. There are too many tracks that fall flat without the accompanying film and that should have been cut from the CD.

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 02, 2010 6:28 am
by wisewoman
I think I need to find the Stargate soundtrack ;)). Thanks for the detailed thoughts, Griffle!

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 02, 2010 4:50 pm
by Griffle
Well, it's only natural that composers use bits and pieces of their earlier work as starting ground for something new.

Did you catch the Willow parts of James Horner's Avatar score for instance?

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 03, 2010 6:39 am
by wisewoman
I haven't listened to either the Willow or Avatar score that closely, but James Horner is notorious for borrowing whole themes from among his films. There are parts of Bicentennial Man that were lifted whole from Braveheart, for example. I understand that a composer's work will usually be recognizable as his or her own, but to reuse entire melody lines seems a bit much!

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 03, 2010 9:20 am
by fantasia
Thanks for this Griffle! I can't wait to get my own copy and see what I think.

Did you catch the Willow parts of James Horner's Avatar score for instance?
So much so that when the Avatar soundtrack popped up on my Pandora account the other day, I thought it WAS Willow. ;))

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 03, 2010 10:49 am
by Griffle
What I'm wondering about now is if they've actually managed to put the same track on the CD twice. It certainly appears to be the case; "Coriakin And The Map" and "Temptation of Lucy" are pretty much identical. It's gonna be interesting to see if this is the case with the officially released soundtracks as well or if it's just on my promo CD. The titles are different, but the runtime is the same: 3:00 for both.

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 12, 2010 8:43 pm
by Josh
Is "There's a Place for Us" in the soundtrack?

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 12, 2010 9:23 pm
by PrinceCor004
First off, good solid review there, Griffle! :-bd It's always nice to read a review of a score from someone who actually knows what they are talking about. :)

*wholeheartedly recommends Stargate to any and all*

BTW, Reep's theme is a slight variation on a theme from 1998's Godzilla.... also by Arnold. ;))

About Horner: Avatar is nothing more than a compilation of his various motifs and themes from over the years (and not a very good one at that....) Stick with Horner's scores from the 80's and early 90's. He doesn't re-use as much of his earlier stuff until post 1995. ;) :)

@ Josh. Nope. The soundtrack album is score only, which was a major relief for me. The song can be purchased on iTunes as a single, though. :)

Finally, I have a review of the VDT score up on my blog if anyone is interested in reading it. The link is in my sig. :D (yes, shameless self promotion on my part.... :p )

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 13, 2010 1:14 am
by Griffle
Have to admit; It's been a LOOONG time since I saw Godzilla the last time. I'll have the check it out again. (or at least listen to the soundtrack) ;)

I personally think Horner did quite well with the Avatar score. I love that score. But then again; I'm a huge Horner fan, so I guess that's why. hehe.

EDIT: Are "Coriakin and the Map" and "Temptation of Lucy" the same track on your copy?

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 13, 2010 9:04 am
by PrinceCor004
I try to stay as far away as possible from that particular Godzilla film. :p Just listen to the soundtrack, you'll save some valuable brain cells not watching the movie. ;)

As always, Horner delivered a score that perfectly fit the film but I just feel it was no where near the quality of his earlier work. Just my opinion. :) *is also a Horner fan*

No, on the US album they are two completely different tracks. "Coriakin and the Map" has some of the more brooding string work of the previous two Magicians Island cues before ending with a brass statement of what I guess is the Dark Island theme/motif. "Temptation of Lucy" is rather short with a music box-esque melody at the beginning before ending with a brief woodwind statement of the main theme.

Re: VDT Original Soundtrack REVIEW

PostPosted: Dec 13, 2010 3:17 pm
by Farsight1