- Composed by Joel McNeely
- Walt Disney Records / 2014 / 57m
The second Tinker Bell movie of 2014 and the seventh (and reportedly last) of the series overall , The Legend of the Neverbeast was released in UK cinemas in December and will go straight to video in the US in March. Joel McNeely has clearly enjoyed his time working on the franchise (after 2007’s I Know Who Killed Me, his next six scores were all in this series) and it’s no surprise, because he’s been given a broad canvas on which to work and Disney have given him the budget to do what he loves doing, working with an orchestra. This score is a little different from the others, much darker from the start, the composer combining that side of things with a pleasant kind of “world music” sound, and both those sides are in evidence in the brief opening cue “The 1,000 Year Comet”, a sprightly cooing vocal giving way to some darker sounds from the orchestra. After that the score goes through a sequence of mood-setting pieces, beautifully atmospheric with undulating strings over chimes and harps, some tense electronic sounds – it’s genuinely dark stuff, with a lovely tip of the hat to Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien theme at one point. “Observing Odd Behaviour” offers the first genuine taste of action, and I’m very pleased to discover that it hearkens back to McNeely’s 1990s action extravaganza Soldier, which is about the last thing you’d expect to find in a Tinker Bell score.
After that, lighter moments do more frequently appear, whether the seemingly African-inspired world music, celtic hints (carried over from earlier scores in the series) or lightly playful adventure music. Those parts are very competently handled but I have to say I’m always happy when the action returns. “The Scouts Hunt for Gruff” is let down a bit by the slightly hollow electronic percussion but otherwise it’s first rate, pounding brass and percussion providing genuine thrills. The melodic highlight of the score comes midway through the album in “Nyx and Queen Clarion”, a beautiful and rather moving piece. “Building the Towers” has a sense of high drama to it, the composer ratcheting up the tension which then gets pushed further in a strong sequence of action cues. An epic sweep comes to the fore in “He Saved Me / The Transformation”, then the fantastic “Collecting Lightning”. This all leads up to a satisfying, sweeping climax. There’s much to admire in The Legend of the Neverbeast, which is entertaining throughout, though the unusual mix of styles doesn’t always feel like the most natural thing. As well as McNeely’s 45-minute score there are a handful of songs on the album, which is only available digitally. It’s great to hear this composer given the opportunity to strut his stuff and let’s hope he finds a new place to do it now this series seems to be over.
Rating: *** 1/2