Latest reviews of new albums:
Tinker Bell
  • Composed by Joel McNeely
  • Walt Disney Records / 2013 / 61m

Disney decided it wanted to launch a series of direct-to-DVD films aimed at young girls and settled upon Tinker Bell, the popular fairy from Peter Pan, to be the central character.  The first film had a very troubled production, only settling down once John Lasseter was installed as head of Disney Feature Animation and took a keen interest in the project; it ended up being a great success and four sequels have since been released (with two further ones currently in production).  All of them so far have been scored by Joel McNeely (who also worked on the Peter Pan sequel Return to Neverland in 2003).  It has taken until 2013 for any of his scores from the series to be released; Intrada’s partnership with Walt Disney Records has finally seen the first score get an album release.  Many people – like me – lament McNeely’s absence from mainstream feature scoring, but he evidently enjoys these Disney projects, which give him a chance to work with a sizeable music budget and the kind of big orchestra he so loves writing for.

Tinker Bell begins as if it’s going to blossom into something as good as those great orchestral adventure scores the composer wrote in the 1990s.  A delightful long-lined theme, some Elfmanesque choir providing the requisite Disney magic, it’s lovely music; a secondary theme, introduced in “Choosing a Talent”, has a more heroic feel to it, plus a playful adventurous spirit.  “The Lost Things Theme” is more wistful, with a distinctly Gaelic feel; another lovely piece.  Yet somehow the album doesn’t quite gel together in the way McNeely’s best do – there’s (understandably) a lot of Mickey Mousing here, and it’s done very well of course, but the style can grate after a while; and there’s a lot of Irish music which goes well beyond the usual sanitised”Celtic music” into more authentic territory, and that’s certainly an acquired taste (one I can’t say I’ve ever acquired).  The occasional use of synthesised frogs’ chirps, birds’ tweets etc aren’t really for me either.  Still, there’s plenty of very good material here, primarily when the composer does what he does best, writing big orchestral cues – “Hawk!” is a thrilling action piece for instance – and more than enough to hope that McNeely’s subsequent scores for this film series also get to see the light of day on album.

Rating: *** | |

Tags: , ,

  1. chris (Reply) on Monday 26 August, 2013 at 09:01

    3 stars only ? I’ve been collecting film music for more than 30 years now and it seemed to me that TINKERBELL is one the most satisfying film music album I ever bought ! Incredible sounds and orchestrations, wonderful melodies. This music has it all ! Moreover what a great musicians’ performance ! Well I’m fond of celtic music, maybe this is the reason why I love this score so much.

  2. Jason Farcone (Reply) on Monday 26 August, 2013 at 23:38

    McNeely (I’m pretty sure) has done a pretty decent job with Seth Macfarlane’s ‘Family Guy’ half-breed ‘American Dad’ for a few years now. Not that I ever notice any particular musical goodness oozing from it (or notice the music at all, for that matter), but ANY FRIEND OF MACFARLANE’S IS A FRIEND OF MINE.

    Forget if he ever wrote any music for ‘Family Guy’.

  3. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Tuesday 3 September, 2013 at 10:25

    It’s because of the CELTIC INFLUENCE that I will be ordering TINKERBELL. Hopefully The Chieftains are performing on the score. There’s always a touch of Irish magic in film music whenever their talents are utilised. Both John Williams (for FAR AND AWAY) & James Newton Howard (for THE WATER HORSE-LEGEND OF THE DEEP) embellished their scores with the exuberant & dynamic influences of The Chieftains. Their CD “THE CHIEFTAINS – FILM CUTS” is a must for devotees of Uillean pipes…tin whistles… Irish harps…bones & Bodhráns[??] and fiddles.

  4. Matt (Reply) on Friday 6 September, 2013 at 20:58

    This is easily a 4 star score, but you have to like a lot of Celtic. I’ve waited years for this to get an official release and it’s been on repeat for a few weeks now. I think McNeely is highly underated and I’m hoping that Intrada can get the rest of the Tinker Bell scores available sooner than later as each score gets better and better with each film. Highly reommended!