Atlantis: The Lost Empire by James Newton Howard

 

 

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire by James Newton Howard

Paradise Lost
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

Atlantis: The Lost Empire by James Newton Howard

Atlantis: The Lost Empire
7/10

Atlantis: The Lost Empire by James Newton Howard

 

 

Category

Score

Originality 8
Music Selection 6
Composition 8
CD Length 7
Track Order 5
Performance 8
Final Score 7/10

 

Real Audio Clips

 

Track 14 - The Crystal Chamber

 

 

Composer James Newton Howard
Composer 
James Newton Howard

 

Quick Quotes

"There is a certain amount of overblown fantasy in the score that may cause it to sound too childish and heroic for some listeners, but given the genre of the film, the music is more than appropriate for Atlantis. Upon contemplating the score for Atlantis a while, it is easy to see why Disney has chosen James Newton Howard over Alan Menken for this revived kind of animated film. Menken's specialty remains in song-writing, whereas Howard has the expertise working with enormous performing groups to produce epic scores, which is what these new films need." ****

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks Reviews Atlantis:  The Lost Empire

 

 

Composed by James Newton Howard
Produced by James Newton Howard and Jim Weidman
Executive Album Producer:  Chris Montan
Orchestrations by Jeff Atmajian, Brad Dechter, Pete Anthony, Frank Bennet, 
Jon Kull, James Newton Howard
Conducted by Pete Anthony (score), Nick Ingman (Choir)
Performed by:  Metro Voices (Choir), Catherine Bott (Soprano), Liz Constantine, 
Dessislava Stefanova (Vocal soloists); Sarah Eyden (Additional Vocals)
Released by Disney Records December 1999

James Newton Howard returns as the composer for Disney's annual, animated feature film, Atlantis:  The Lost Empire.  Sporting the ever-popular combo of CG and traditional animation, Atlantis has become another highly anticipated adventure from the Disney machine.  Foregoing the Broadway-musical angle, featuring a half-dozen vocal performances, as was so common in the Nineties for the company, Disney chooses again to employ the talents of Howard and allow his talent for composition to help give the images further depth and personality.

The score is easily divided into two portions.  The first half of the CD features Howard's recognizable, bombastic, adventure music.  The second is considerably more subdued but mysteriously and exotically reflects the almost alien-like element of Atlantis and its inhabitants.  The soundtrack begins with an average-at- best  tune Where the Dream Takes You (1) performed by pop-vocalist Mya and co-written by Diane Warren.  After this little faux pas; however, the CD presents Howard's selected compositions in chronological order.

Tracks 1 through 8, once again, fully demonstrate James Newton Howard's ability to deliver high powered, adventurous music.  With only a few breathers, namely track 6, Bedding Down, the first nine tracks are filled with some very potent music - possibly a bit too potent for the onset of a soundtrack.  Within the barrage, the listener does get a couple full statements of the heroes' main theme as in: The Submarine (2) and The Leviathan (4).  There is only the briefest indications of the some of the wonderful motifs and themes to come.  While many appreciate and applaud a strict chronological presentation of a film's music, in this case, such an ordering does not provide the optimum listening experience.  It isn't until track 6 that one can take in the slightest breath and begin to digest the music being heard.  The overall effect makes this soundtrack heavy on the front-end and can simply wear the unsuspecting listener out...before the true character of the score is even presented.

The second half the this disc is where things become interesting.  As the lost city becomes the focus and setting for the continuing adventure, the music becomes much more colorful.  Howard takes a sharp turn towards the mysterious when track 9, Milo Meets Kida starts.  A dark and mysterious atmosphere permeates the music as haunting vocals, driving percussions, and wood wind accents become the dominant features.  The occasional string swell or blast of brass keeps the adventure going, but the score has already taken on a much different personality.  This is where Atlantis will win the listener over.   James Newton Howard brings together the ancient-feeling of Dinosaur and the ethereal components of Snow Falling on Cedars: harps, tubular bells, glass percussions.  The final effect is stunning and only interrupted a few times by the comic motifs common to most animated films.  The melody found in Where Your Dreams Take You is only heard twice and very briefly.  Both times the melody is softly played on guitar:  track 6 and later at the conclusion of track 17 .   It's sparse and subtle use are hardly enough to make a strong tie to Mya's performance and comes off as being forced into Howard's score.

In the final analysis, Atlantis:  The Lost Empire contains some of James Newton Howard's most creative music to date.  His musical description of the lost city and its inhabitants is, at times,  nothing short of breathtaking.  As demonstrated by the first half of the CD, Howard is likewise a master of the bombastic as evidenced in so many of his previous scores such as Vertical Limit.  The album's producers' choice to go with a chronological, track ordering is unfortunate.  In this case, it really is not the best way to enjoy Howard's score and the Tracksounds rating reflects this.  While the overall rating for the music is high, its presentation here brings it lower than one might expect - 7/10.  A reordering of the tracks, even the elimination of one or two early tracks, would have kept this paradise of a score from being partially lost.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track

Title Time

Rating

1 Where the Dream Takes You - Performed by Mya 4:00  **
2 The Submarine 3:20  ***
3 Milo's Turned Down 1:48  ***
4 Atlantis is Waiting 2:41  ***
5 The Leviathan 3:25  ***
6 Bedding Down 2:32  ***
7 The Journey 3:22  ***
8 Fireflies 2:11  ***
9 Milo Meets Kida 1:46  ****
10 The City of Atlantis 2:48  ****
11 Milo and Kida's Questions 2:59  *****
12 Touring the City 2:51  *****
13 The Secret Swim 2:46  ****
14 The Crystal Chamber 3:45  *****
15 The King Dies/ Going After Rourke 5:12  *****
16 Just Do It 3:18  ***
17 Kida Returns 3:10  ****
18 Atlantis 2:01  ****
 

Total Running Time

53:56  

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
Dinosaur | Snow Falling on Cedars 

 

 

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