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Comments about the soundtrack for Island of Lost Souls (Jane Antonia Cornish)
I'm probably in the minority on this...

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I'm probably in the minority on this...   Sunday, February 10, 2008 (9:43 p.m.) 

I was all hyped up for this score after reading Broxton's review and seeing the IFMCA nominations. What I was expecting was a massive Williams-Arnold style score. And the opening titles certainly got to me, with a big, rousing, epic theme to send us off into another fantastical realm. But after four listens, the majority of the score just didn't excel in my mind. Williams's Star Wars action music has been criticized in parts for being directionless, but the vast majority of Cornish's action fare does a better job of holding that banner. The flute-xylophone flutterings and brass hits are too similar and don't move the cue in any direction. Most of the music loses track of the main theme roars to life in Escape Through the Forest but then isn't used in any engaging way, or even used that frequently for that matter. There's also not enough sense of wonderment or awe; the Williams-on-autopilot trend towards the action cues doesn't thrill you, and the majority of the score doesn't capture you as a score of this score and grandeur should. Exceptions to that complaint are the choral parts in Shadows and The Cave.

Of the cues that have drawn the most praise, I am divided on them. Final Battle gets loud and apocalyptic, even thrilling in bits but doesn't engage you the whole way through. Given how much others have raved about it, it is a minor disappointment. But Soul Bridge and End Titles offers a window into how great this score could've been. It's a wonderous, gorgeous piece of music that takes its themes to their most beautiful heights and creates a real sense of awe and magic that most of the score is sorely lacking. It is an extension of styles heard in Hook, but here it is much more inspiration than repetition and also more intelligent in its application.

I think Cornish shows a lot of promise here, but Island isn't anywhere close to being as impressive a mainstream debut as Arnold's Stargate was. Releasing only half the score probably hurts our viewing of it, and a complete release probably mends some of the problems that a 38 minute album brings. Overall, moments of this make for a powerful fantasy score, but the inability to transcend the utilized styles into a score that stands on its own ultimately dooms Island to a passable homage. If I want a thrilling and intelligent interpretation of Williams material, I'll listen to Lair over and over, which I've been doing for the past two weeks anyways.

3.5 stars

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Re: I'm probably in the minority on this...   Tuesday, February 12, 2008 (2:39 p.m.) 

> Williams's Star Wars action music has been criticized in parts
> for being directionless

Island of Lost Souls is a good score, it's interesting, and it's original enough, but I can see how maybe the "fantasy" elements, like those apparent in Stargate, Chronicles of Narnia, Stardust, Golden Compass, and even Lord of the Rings might seem a bit cliched in comparison to anything Williams has done. There are lots of orchestral flourishes, lots of "feel good" harmonies that sound familiar in ways, lots of bells and chimes, choirs... everything you'd expect a fantasy score to be. It sounds like it was inspired by fantasy soundtracks, not classical composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, etc. so you aren't going to hear anything unpleasant or truly innovative, even though unpleasantness and innovation is sometimes essential (see Krull or Prisoner of Azkaban.) It often forgoes subtle motivic development in favour of the "wall of sound" approach, so I can't help but wonder if Cornish listened to more classical music than film soundtracks what might have been.

It's still a good score, just not as intelligent as those Horner and Williams were famous for. I hate that the director called it "Wagnerian" without really understanding what that implies.

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Re: I'm probably in the minority on this...   Sunday, February 17, 2008 (3:10 a.m.) 


Lot's of noise and sound wise it's very much like Arnold rather than Williams (tho parts reminded me of Debney's Cutthroat Island, but then again, that score reminded everyone of Arnold anyway). But it's just that: sound layers without direction, no real stand-out themes.

The art of writing memorizeble themes may be vanishing in these more recent times, compared to the older scores from Wiliams and a number of other composers. I think it'd be good for a site like this to start giving 2 star ratings, one for composition, one for orchestrating. Theme wise I doubt I'd give this one 3 stars, but sound wise I think 5 stars is justified. This would bring the average back to 4 stars, which is -I think- a good ranking for this one..

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