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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
  • Composed by Andrew Lockington
  • WaterTower Music / 2012 / 65:44

Despite being rubbish, the 2008 version of Journey to the Centre of the Earth made a load of money, so here is the sequel, with its cringeworthy punny title.  By all accounts it is also rubbish, but it has also made a load of money.  The previous film was by far the most successful to that point scored by Andrew Lockington and he returns for the sequel – “Orchestrated and conducted by Nicholas Dodd” is all the clue you need about how it sounds.  It sounds big.  It’s orchestrated to the hilt, masses of musicians playing or singing away till the cows come home.  What separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to these Dodd-orchestrated scores is the underlying dramatic sense; and the quality of the melodies.  David Arnold has good instincts as a film composer and can certainly write a tune, but take away those two elements and it can end up sounding a bit soulless.  Lockington seems to be somewhere in the middle of the two extremes – the themes here do just enough to leave a bit of pleasure while they’re on, but I’d challenge anyone to remember any of them after they finish.

The action music is what rescues the score, and fortunately there’s plenty of it – while it too is somewhat generic, it certainly has enough dramatic movement in it to leave a bit of a mark, and I know that cues like “Helicopter Crash” and “Lizard Chase” are just the kind of thing which will press a lot of people’s buttons, with the fast pace and undoubted enthusiasm on show.  Then you take a cue like “Who’s Up for an Adventure?” which is centred around a classic adventure film melody, seems to have some real energy and buzz about it – and it isn’t alone by any means on the album by being like that – and then I’m left wondering just what exactly it is that means I honestly can’t imagine ever listening to this album again after finishing this write-up.  I don’t know – it just somehow feels a bit empty.  It pushes the buttons it wants to push, but ends up just seeming like a fairly hollow experience to me.  Even the best parts have been done better in so many other, very similar scores that I just can’t think what it is about Journey 2 that might make someone take it off the shelf ahead of Stargate or The Mummy or whatever.  I’m sure that plenty of people will enjoy it – and it undoubtedly contains some music of quality – it just doesn’t quite connect with me as much as I keep thinking it should.  *** |

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  1. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Saturday 10 March, 2012 at 20:21

    I love how you gave this the same rating as Tyler Bates’ Conan the Barbarian score. Because clearly those two are identical in quality.

    Then again, maybe I should just tell myself that it’s only half a star less than HTTYD. Because that’s the only way I could possibly ever come close to understanding this review.

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 11 March, 2012 at 12:52

    You’re right, I was probably a bit generous to this, but star ratings are not far from arbitrary. There is no science.

  3. Michael (Reply) on Tuesday 13 March, 2012 at 00:33

    Edmund just because a score gets a positive reaction at filmtracks doesn’t mean that opinion has to be shared by everyone. If James thinks it is a fairly enjoyable but rather brainless/forgettable score then 3 stars is fair enough. The filmtracks community isn’t always reflective of the overall film score community.

    And stop trying to compare ratings given across different scores, it’s a pointless exercise. As I recall you awarded 5 stars to Brian Tyler’s Eagle Eye, correct? That puts that very derivative, overlong and fairly generic score (albeit an energetic and occasionally very entertaining one) ‘on par’ with some absolute classics. Just one example…

  4. Kalaisan. K (Reply) on Tuesday 13 March, 2012 at 22:45

    I totally understand what you’re getting at James. There is an element of appeal that seems to be missing from Lockington’s writing. Regardless, this score gave me a much stronger impression though. A little generic at times, but still a very enjoyable score. While you and Christian differ in the ratings you assigned, I believe he was spot on when he said this isn’t high art, but its enjoyable (or something along those lines).

    And star ratings are a bit complicated, just because two scores have the same rating, doesn’t mean their equal in quality. That means any five star score would be on par with classics with Star Wars, which I doubt is the case.

    For those interested, here is my own review of the score:

    – KK

  5. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Wednesday 14 March, 2012 at 00:42

    @Michael, Eagle Eye gets a five-star rating from me, perhaps not because it’s a classic score, but because it’s the best that Brian Tyler’s action style has ever been. To me, it kind of feels as though his previous scores build up to that point, and his scores afterwards have dropped off into stock imitations. In and of itself, it isn’t mindblowing, but it’s the first score I’d point somebody to if they wanted to get a scope of Tyler’s style.

    But yes, I suppose there are unavoidable pitfalls when directly comparing star ratings. Do I think Eagle Eye is as good as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings? No way. But I do think I enjoy myself roughly the same amount (which is a great deal) when listening to all three of those scores (albeit in different ways).

    I’m just not really a fan of James’ capsule reviews when he writes off a score without providing an explanation that I find satisfactory. “It didn’t work for me” isn’t exactly a journalistic analysis…which I know isn’t what James is trying to do, or anything, etc. etc. I just find it a bit frustrating that he spends every other review bemoaning the lack of big adventuresome themes in today’s film music, and then along comes a score with exactly those big adventuresome themes, and he writes that off too. (While giving Cliff Martinez four-star ratings, but that’s a whole ‘nuther fish barrel entirely.)

    Also, I’d have loved Journey 2 whether Filmtracks approves or not. They gave Eagle Eye three stars and At World’s End two, and I’d give both five. So hah. I’m not a sheep. :p

  6. Joel G (Reply) on Monday 26 March, 2012 at 04:48

    Hey James, thanks for the review, always curious to hear your thoughts. I must say though, I was also shocked by the low score on this one. I do agree that many of the elements of this score can be “generic” in certain ways, there’s certainly nothing groundbreaking here at all, or anything that will make it memorable beyond this year. But at least its different than most blockbuster comes out these days, if its ripping from other composers, then its ripping from the very best. I’ll take me a “generic” orchestral adventure/fantasy with big rousing themes any day.

    Also as to the themes, I had to comment on your line “the themes here do just enough to leave a bit of pleasure while they’re on, but I’d challenge anyone to remember any of them after they finish.”… I frankly disagree. I listened to this score once, and had the two main themes stuck in my head for weeks. Now sure, will I remember these themes months or years from now? probably not, but they’re still clear and fun thematic ideas used intelligently in the score.
    Personally I’d give it a ****, not a masterpiece by any means, but just good old-fashioned scoring at its most fun.

  7. Rick (Reply) on Wednesday 9 January, 2013 at 14:29

    Ha ha, young Edmund was on fire when he wrote that! Although I really respect his opinions (he singlehandedly turned me on to John Powell, who is now one of my favorites), here is my response to this review that I posted over at Filmtracks:

    Well… I feel much better now.
    I don’t waste my time or money on these types (rubbish! ) of films anymore,
    simply because I have little enough of both, and I’m not 12 years old.
    However- I still love a swashbuckling good time when it comes to music, so I picked this up based on all the 5-star reviews.
    I must say, James, that your review has won me over.
    I always use reviews by Christian Clemmensen and Erik Woods to make my purchases of soundtracks from films I haven’t seen- and they each have their own sensibilities and genre favorites, but by and large I understand where they’re coming from. Just not this time. The only time I really “connected” with this score (after several listens) was after a large dram of Scotch and judicious abuse of the volume dial on my hi-fi! It really is a pleasure in that setting, and thinking of the type of film it was written for, it is a serious over-achievement on the composer’s part.
    What I’m trying to say is, as I get older, I don’t have the urge to “crank it up with reckless abandon” as often as I used to. In a more sedate setting, this score loses its charms; and CC even warned of that when saying “you have to turn your brain off”.

    The point of this horrifically long post?
    Just to say that “Movie-Wave” is now in my “bookmarks”, as you’ve proven to be a valuable counter-point, and I’ll visit your site often (But Fimtracks will always be my home ).
    I also went “wordy” (instead of just a quick note) to let anyone reading this know that you have valid and intelligent counterpoints to offer in your reviews.
    For example: my perfect review for this score would’ve been to read yours and C.C.’s side-by-side.

    Sorry I’ve overlooked your reviews for so long.
    Have a great day!

  8. mastadge (Reply) on Wednesday 9 January, 2013 at 22:34

    I guess it’s just a matter of taste. James asks why someone would take this off the shelf ahead of StarGate or The Mummy . . . and at this point, having had the score for only a year, I’ve probably listened to it as much as both of them combined — and I love StarGate! (Even if the presentation of numerous short cues is tiring to my ears.) Contrary to the review above, I find this fun and engaging from start to finish — even, yes, in a “sedate setting”. While this score doesn’t reinvent the wheel, as far as wheels go it’s a very well-constructed one and, to my ears, is distinct enough from others in its genre that, while immediately accessible, it doesn’t come across as familiar or derivative to any distracting extent. And I find the whole trio of cues from the Nautilus sequence as energizing as anything from any score in the last couple years. But then, I’ve never warmed up to John Barry, Thomas Newman or Alan Silvestri (with a very few individual exceptions from each), so obviously my tastes and what works for me aren’t always in line with what works for others.

  9. Rick (Reply) on Thursday 10 January, 2013 at 00:10

    Don’t get me wrong- I really like it!
    My point was that I ‘d heard so many raves about it.
    If I had read a few dissenting comments, I would’ve known what I was in for (since I didn’t see either movie).
    In essence, I’m not slamming it at all- I really was just trying to compliment Southall on his different take- that was my only real point.
    However- I am kind of a bone head, so sometimes I don’t say what I’m actually trying to say.
    Great swashbuckling score- just a 4 instead of 5 star for me.
    Have a great day!

  10. Rick (Reply) on Thursday 10 January, 2013 at 12:00

    Also- just to further illustrate the nature of my comments- I think James’ use of “Stargate” and especially Silvestri’s “The Mummy Returns” really brought it home for me. Whereas “Journey 2” is a jumpy, action-packed good time, Stargate and Returns just seem to have a bit more of a lush quality, and a bit more depth… (terrible adjectives, I know)

    But honestly, I’m going to have Journey 2 on the hi-fi all morning long just to re-assess it!
    (and listening to quality uptempo music in the morning is NEVER a bad thing…)

  11. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Friday 11 January, 2013 at 00:08

    I do somewhat agree with you regarding the fact that Stargate and The Mummy Returns both seem a bit lusher, a bit “bigger”. Then again, both those movies are staged as, or have certain scenes that emulate, Golden Age epics, whereas Journey 2 (the film) is too fast-paced and modern to engage in such frivolities. On the other hand, the sheer pace of Journey 2 leaves Stargate and TMR in the dust, and as such I’d give it the edge for sheer entertainment value (if not necessarily striking originality).

    By the way, I think James was referring to Goldsmith’s original Mummy in that comment – he hasn’t reviewed Silvestri’s The Mummy Returns, but from the offhand comments in some of his other reviews, I don’t actually get the impression he likes it all that much!