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Comments about the soundtrack for Dungeons and Dragons (Justin Caine Burnett)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Jon Turner   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Saturday, October 4, 2008, at 1:34 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by Jon Turner was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in October, 2008)

Dungeons and Dragons: (Justin Caine Burnett) Whether or not you are a fan of the fantasy genre, one thing can really help bring a picture - troubled or not - to life. That thing is a grand immense musical score that defines the action and gives the film the spirit it needs. Many fantasy films have been supported by such scores, whether the movies were truly magical or a far cry from it. Given this statement, it shouldn't come across as surprising that the soundtrack to the recently released (and critically panned) Dungeons and Dragons film qualifies as such a score.

Composed by newcomer Justin Caine Burnett (who, as an intern at Media Ventures, seems to have taken a strong influence from Hans Zimmer), the score to Dungeons and Dragons contains a very stirring, dramatic, and appropriately heroic theme that is present throughout the entire album. Themes define a great soundtrack, and apparently, Burnett understands it (this theme comes in rather impressively on the first track, "Opening to Profion's Dungeon"; it begins every bit as quiet and mysterious as the opening to The Land Before Time, then the theme is performed -magnificently- by brass.) Aside from the triumphant main theme, Burnett creates several other ones -the dark, malevolent themes for the villians, lighthearted bits of comedy for the funny characters, the benevolent fanfares for the heroes, and the mysterious, moody ambiences for the scenes when our heroes go into the dungeons. The themes are so dominant in the entire soundtrack that it is easy for one to pick them out, and that is what makes this score so much fun. The final score track mixes these themes into a very enjoyable six-and-a-half-minute concert suite, bringing the score to a satisfying close. Some may complain that such a formula for a score is no longer an original idea, but if it is done right, it is always fresh.

As can be expected, the score has an unpredictable personality. At times, it is majestic and heroic, at other times it's eerie and suspenseful, at other times, it's lovely. And at other times, it is extremely exciting, particularly when the action cues come up. There are moments when the strings begin to get dissonant and high-pitched (accompanying some of the scarier scenes in the movie, particularly "Damodar's Curse"), but it is done quite effectively. The action cues, as can be expected, are performed with loud bombast and intensity -so intense, in fact, that you may feel obligated to turn down the level of your stereo. All of this, along with truly incredible performances from the Western Australian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Northwest Sinfonia -as well as an occasional chorus (although they come up briefly, the choral tracks are a delight, whether they feature a deep, menacing male's chorus or a lighthearted, perhaps heavenly, women's chorus)- make this soundtrack an enjoyable experience. One can feel tempted to say that the performances are a little bit overblown, but on the other hand, a score like this is very suitable to a fantasy film jam-packed with plenty of action scenes.

Regardless of what you think about the movie (I thought it was just OK -a far cry from the better fantasy movies around- Willow, anyone?) but not half as bad as the critics found it to be), chances are good that you will enjoy this soundtrack. Just ignore the final track, an extremely monotonous techno club mix song (complete with blaring rock guitars, repetitive drum beats, and occasional voice samples) that gets annoying fast. Aside from that, Dungeons and Dragons contains 73 minutes of purely enjoyable orchestral burst and fury, and more than does justice to the title. ****

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