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Dolphin Reef
  • Composed by Steven Price
  • Walt Disney / 68m

One of those peculiar anthropomorphic Disney Nature films that attempts to backfill a silly narrative on top of gorgeous wildlife shots (surely this stuff is interesting enough to kids that it doesn’t need to be made this way), Dolphin Reef was originally to be released in 2018 but then pulled so it could be included as a Disney+ exclusive at launch – which it then wasn’t, either. But it was launched on the platform finally in April 2020. Not long after his film music career really kicked off with Gravity, Steven Price scored the BBC nature series (The Hunt) and that started a prosperous relationship with producer Alastair Fothergill, previously a big champion of George Fenton. Last year’s Our Planet on Netflix was wonderful and this (though made second) is their third project together. It’s basically what you want it to be – lots of rousing orchestral music, drama and occasional comedy, sprinkled with a dose of Disney magic.

The opening “A Different Set of Rules” has a bit of Thomas Newman to it (a nod to Finding Nemo, I guess, though it doesn’t specifically sound like that) with the distinctive guitar sound and array of percussion. This crops up a few times – sometimes, somehow turned into a slight new age feel – that and the more comic sequences (there are more of them than usual for one of these scores) give the score its main feel that sets it apart from the crowd. A few tracks stand out: the early “Flook” is very beautiful; “The Coral Clean-Up Squad” moves from a magical sound to a much murkier one, cleverly evoking going into the depths; “When They Meet It Is Magical” lives up to its name, containing probably the score’s finest melody; the mock-spooky “Get Off My Lawn” is entertaining; the pair of tracks “Ambush” and “Lionfish in the Moonlight” sound like they could come from a pulsating action sequence in a big movie; “A Very Special Trick” is so lovely. It’s generally strong – there’s a bit of a drag in the middle of the album and there are 20 minutes or so that could easily be trimmed to make it a better listen – it isn’t as good as Our Planet but it’s generally a calm, soothing album and is certainly recommended.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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  1. Michael (Reply) on Friday 24 April, 2020 at 00:29

    Did you ever write a review for Our Planet?