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Composed and Produced by:

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Pete Anthony

Co-Orchestrated by:
Jeff Atmajian
Jon Kull
John Ashton Thomas
Peter Bateman
Marcus Trumpp
Jane Antonia Cornish
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Walt Disney Records
(May 27th 2014)
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Regular U.S. release.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you desire a continuation of James Newton Howard's expressively outward fantasy music for Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender.

Avoid it... if you demand absolute and easy coherency in your fairy tale scores, this one intentionally fragmented and deceptive in ways that yield an album experience that isn't always intuitive upon casual listening.
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WRITTEN 8/15/14
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Maleficent: (James Newton Howard) So was Disney's 2014 cinematic re-envisioning of its own 1959 classic, Sleeping Beauty, a commentary about dangerous rape culture or American socio-economics? Could it have been both? A movie has to garner significant attention before the scholars and academically inclined journalists start asking such questions, and Maleficent managed to make it happen. The script throws a monkey wrench into the original plot by not only exploring that tale's villain as the central character to this adaptation, but making her the hero for good measure. Much was apparently to be misunderstood about Maleficent, and the 2014 movie details her efforts to save Aurora the princess in the absence of truly loving care from the faeries or her father. Of course, her father, King Stefan, represents humanity as a wretched rapist, having violated a young Maleficent by drugging her and taking her wings. And, from his kingdom, you encounter a battle between humanity's industrial capitalism and the socialistic utopia of the faeries' realm. Perhaps somewhere in all these analogies, the critics didn't buy into the premise of Maleficent, but with the vital selling point of actress Angelina Jolie in the title role, an attachment that stretched back to the days in 2011 when Tim Burton was slated to direct the picture, the film was a major success. Burton's Oscar-winning art director for Alice in Wonderland (among other hits like Avatar), Robert Stromberg, eventually took the helm and made Maleficent his initial effort as a director. As the brother of well-respected film music conductor William Stromberg, he may have received wise counsel about retaining Disney's veteran collaborator, James Newton Howard, to handle the scoring duties on Maleficent. Howard's collaboration with Disney was initially noticed during the three-picture contract he signed with the studio in 2000, including Dinosaur, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Treasure Planet. While his work in the fantasy genre has led to remarkable successes in the years since, notably for the box office duds Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender, his music for fairy tales is not heard as often as his collectors would like. Even fleeting moments of that intangible sense of "magic" in a score like Snow White & the Huntsman teases such fans without delivering the same goods.

With Maleficent, you receive pure and unadulterated orchestral and choral fairy tale music on a massive scale from Howard. Like Alexandre Desplat for the nearly concurrent remake of Godzilla, Howard employed an abnormally large number of brass players for this project. Orchestral purists will appreciate the minimal application of special instrumental accompaniment in Maleficent, a few enhanced percussive sequences and occasional electronic manipulation but the whole sounding quite organic. The choral ensemble is flexed in a number of ways, from cooing to staccato bursts and solo soprano boy. Prominent instrumental solos are offered to cello and tuba, and while there may be something of an emphasis on the bass region in this score's suspense and action sequences, expect a satisfying amount of treble concentration as well. The accessibility of the score ranges significantly, some long cues featuring consecutive minutes of easily digestible, tonal fantasy of a beautiful nature. Others unleash forceful ruckus that doesn't necessarily infuse dissonant irritation as often as it simply explodes with overwhelming, oppressive power of volume. Howard really hides nothing in the general emotional tone of his score, with one very notable exception of his intentional thematic misdirection involving the characters. The lovely portions overflow with gorgeously harmonic progressions and sonic colors. The brutal sections beat you into submission with brass equal to the number of players, sometimes to the point of over-saturation. On the lighter side of the score, you hear many connections to vintage James Horner animation scores, especially in the orchestration and progressions of the theme for Aurora and Maleficent's relationship. Contrasting that are a few moments of heavy-handed brick-tossing, highlighted by the electronic and percussion dominant rhythmic sequence in the middle of "The Christening." The action cues are more often organic, however, the remainder of that cue an example of excellent pulsing from bass strings and wickedly ambitious brass figures. To Howard's credit, he resists the urge to pound away with dissonance just for the sake of cheap scares, the most obnoxious such moments of the score coming as dull percussive thuds at the conclusion of his lengthy rhythmic crescendo of phrases in the curse's theme. Those listeners seeking the easy, light tonality of Lady in the Water will have plenty to enjoy, while those who prefer the action movements in The Last Airbender will be equally served.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.2 Stars
***** 674 5 Stars
**** 297 4 Stars
*** 165 3 Stars
** 83 2 Stars
* 30 1 Stars
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heidl - October 15, 2014, at 1:47 a.m.
1 comment  (1673 views)
Help fund an up and coming composer!!
Thomas Gaff - September 8, 2014, at 2:40 p.m.
1 comment  (1771 views)
Enemy at the Gates cues   Expand >>
Trial Lawyer - August 29, 2014, at 3:27 p.m.
2 comments  (2797 views)
Newest: August 29, 2014, at 4:40 p.m. by
Academy award for James   Expand >>
Steven Grove - August 21, 2014, at 10:24 a.m.
2 comments  (2441 views)
Newest: August 23, 2014, at 8:16 a.m. by
Alternative review at Movie Wave
Southall - August 19, 2014, at 4:57 p.m.
1 comment  (1506 views)
Entertainment Junkie Reviews "Maleficent"
Callum Hofler - August 17, 2014, at 4:14 p.m.
1 comment  (1406 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 71:46
• 1. Maleficent Suite (6:39)
• 2. Welcome to the Moors (1:05)
• 3. Maleficent Flies (4:40)
• 4. Battle of the Moors (4:59)
• 5. Three Peasant Women (1:05)
• 6. Go Away (2:26)
• 7. Aurora and the Fawn (2:29)
• 8. The Christening (5:31)
• 9. Prince Phillip (2:29)
• 10. The Spindle's Power (4:36)
• 11. You Could Live Here Now (2:27)
• 12. Path of Destruction (1:48)
• 13. Aurora in Faerieland (4:41)
• 14. The Wall Defends Itself (1:06)
• 15. The Curse Won't Reverse (1:21)
• 16. Are You Maleficent? (2:11)
• 17. The Army Dances (1:28)
• 18. Phillip's Kiss (2:21)
• 19. The Iron Gauntlet (1:35)
• 20. True Love's Kiss (2:33)
• 21. Maleficent is Captured (7:42)
• 22. The Queen of Faerieland (3:25)
• 23. Once Upon a Dream - performed by Lana Del Rey (3:20)

Notes Icon
The insert includes a list of performers, lyrics to the song, and photography from the recording sessions.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Maleficent are Copyright © 2014, Walt Disney Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/15/14 (and not updated significantly since).
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