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Exciting action score marks a real return to form for Tyler

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Album cover copyright (c) 2009 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.

Brian Tyler doesn't seem to work on too many films that many people regard as being particularly good, which is unfortunate, given his undoubted talent; but that's an affliction which has hit many excellent film composers over the years, so he is not alone.  Dragonball: Evolution's current rating at IMDB is 3.4 out of 10, which by anyone's standards couldn't be considered great, but Tyler seems content to work on this sort of thing when it allows him to flex his muscles and just have fun with the music.  I've been critical of some of his recent scores when he has stayed firmly within his comfort zone; and that's very much the case again here.  But this one is more consistently entertaining than some of the overlong albums of the recent past and hearkens back to his superior early action scores like Timeline (his finest effort).

Indeed, Dragonball: Evolution - the curiously-named film is an adaptation of a Manga comic - plays like an amalgamation of Timeline and two distinct Danny Elfman styles - that of Batman and that of Spiderman.  The results are every bit as enjoyable as that sounds!  Both of the separate Elfman influences (for they are indeed very different beasts, those two Elfman scores) are evident in the opening "The Legend".  The main theme is very much reminiscent of Elfman's classic from Batman - I can imagine it may just be subsonscious (I'm no composer myself, but I don't think it's much of a stretch to picture someone coming up with a theme like this and not realising quite how much he's been influenced by the past work), so let's give Tyler the benefit of the doubt.  It's distracting at first, the similarity - but after a few listens, you get used to it.  The theme is accompanied by the kind of swirling strings that Elfman brought to Spiderman (one of the most underrated scores of the recent past - it's seriously good) and it makes for a fine opening.

Then, in each of the next two tracks, Tyler introduces heroic Timeline-style anthems - not reusing any tunes, just the style, which isn't just not a bad thing, it's probably a good thing (no really good film composer could be accused of not having and frequently reusing signature devices).  There's a hint of what I call the "slow-mo" style of music Hans Zimmer brought to The Thin Red Line (and many scores since), which again has become quite a Tyler trademark.  It's cheesy, but in a good way.  The score continues in this way - terrific action moments, furiously exciting a lot of the time, pausing for breath a few times for some softer (perhaps intended to be more mystical) music, like in "Gohan's Special Gift" - those moments may really just be cursory, but they're important to break up the action a little bit - it may all get too much otherwise.

Usually, when reviewing a Brian Tyler album, I am forced to note that the album is far too long and it makes the score seem a lot worse than it otherwise would.  Indeed, I've programmed it into to an "AutoText" expansion in Windows.  For once, that's not really the case here.  While Dragonball: Evolution is too long, at just over an hour, it isn't that much of a problem here, since Tyler keeps the pace going throughout.  This time, it's not a case of getting off to a great start and then numbing us into submission with what follows - the score is consistently good (well, apart from a couple of ill-advised pieces of electronica in the middle, which are best left avoided).  The composer's best since Timeline, in fact; if you can get over the Elfman thing, you ought to have lots of fun.  A final word: this is a score that needs to be played loud - as loud as you can go without disturbing your neighbours.


  1. The Legend (1:13)
  2. Dragonball Evolution (3:26)
  3. Fulums (5:14)
  4. Kaiou Samma (2:34)
  5. Goku (3:09)
  6. Gohan's Special Gift (:57)
  7. Master Roshi (3:45)
  8. The Journey Begins (:58)
  9. Lighting the Torches (2:44)
  10. Vengeance (5:55)
  11. Chasing Dragonballs (2:41)
  12. Lord Piccolo (2:51)
  13. Mai vs Chi Chi (3:55)
  14. A Higher Calling (2:03)
  15. Body Work (1:26)
  16. I Dream of Chi Chi (:54)
  17. Grime Vinyl (1:52)
  18. Unwelcome Strangers (2:12)
  19. Bulma and Yancha (1:51)
  20. Things to Come (1:42)
  21. The Final Battle (6:20)
  22. End Game (1:32)
  23. Dragonball Evolution (1:32)