Latest reviews of new albums:
  • Composed by David Newman
  • Milan Records / 2014 / 69m

A new 3-D animated version of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs tale (it doesn’t seem that long since Disney did one), Reinhard Klooss’s Tarzan has been pretty well mauled by critics in the territories it has been released, which doesn’t include America where it appears to be going direct to video.  Great news for film music fans though because it sees the return of David Newman.  He hasn’t really been away, but this is only the second score of his (of ten written) since 2008’s The Spirit to see an album release.  (The other one, Animals United, was a film from the same director.)  His music is firmly in the vein of the great 80s and 90s action/adventure scores that remain so popular today, with the notable addition of a bit of modern percussion (I have to mention Hans Zimmer, as it seems I do in most reviews – the influence is clearly from there, but apart from the most anthemic of the themes, the orchestral sound which dominates is vintage Newman).  There are numerous themes developed through the score, and the emphasis is always on adventure and excitement.

There’s often a hint of magic in the air, particularly through the use of heavenly choir, that adds a lovely delicate touch.  Magic too from the more playful sections, especially the delightful “Tarzan Wakes Up”, which has a delicious hint of Elmer Bernstein about it; then the following cue, “Growing Up”, is still playful, but this time boisterously so, and again it’s lovely.  There are numerous action cues, many of them with a thunderous sweep running through them, beefed up bass and all.  There’s a positively epic feel to the last 20-30 minutes of the album, which is virtually non-stop action. It’s so enjoyable – a great sense of fun running through everything.  The album’s probably a little too long and there’s no truly memorable theme, but this is the kind of music I love and doesn’t seem to be heard that often in films any more (other than animations) – bright, spirited, well-composed and orchestrated.  I don’t know why David Newman’s output has dropped off so much, nor why many of the films he has done have seemed, there’s no polite way of saying it, rather beneath him – a direct-to-video Scooby Doo sequel!? – it may be his choice, of course, or it may be that he just became typecast there, which would be a great shame.  In any case, Tarzan is most entertaining and a great reminder of the the man’s talent.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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  1. Matt (Reply) on Tuesday 1 April, 2014 at 20:59

    I totally agree with you on this score. I was surprised how much I really enjoyed it! Even without a central theme, it has such a fun, magical quality to it that had me hooked.