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Wonderful action/adventure score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Walden Media, LLC; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
For several years, Patrick Doyle was (rather unfairly) considered to be a film composer limited to Shakespeare and other period dramas, despite a reasonably wide range of films to his name. These days he seems to have found a niche for himself in a very different field - fantasy adventure. Nim's Island - about an exciting world dreamed up by a young girl, and the adventures she has in it - is fifth such film in a short space of time. While Eragon and The Last Legion might not have quite come up to the standard of Doyle's Harry Potter score (itself destined to always suffer in comparison with the John Williams scores it followed), they certainly had their share of fine moments - particularly the latter - but he has now trumped himself with this latest effort.
It begins innocuously enough, with a light theme accompanied by a gentle pop beat ushering the album in - and this laid back charm continues in the beautiful "Baby Turtles", full of childlike innocence and playful delight. A more representative sample of what lies ahead comes towards the end of that piece, with brass being introduced (in a big way) for the first adventure music - it's only a short burst, but a great way to build anticipation of what's to come. The heroic main theme is given a relatively low-key workout at first in "Galileo Helps Jack" - but Doyle cleverly builds the orchestration to more and more dense levels, building up to a fervour.
It's in the action music that this score really shines. Unlike Eragon or The Last Legion, Doyle isn't dealing with a single theme here and just repeating it - he's actually allowing his music to develop, giving it far more breadth, and that's what makes this the more satisfying listen - enjoyable though those two previous efforts both were. There's a range to the music and a depth which makes this album so enjoyable - an almost epic sweep runs through "Become the Hero", for instance. Another thing that makes it so enjoyable is the lightness-of-touch - for sure, there is serious music here, but there is not a hint of the earnestness which sometimes sees this type of score fall over. Take "Lizard Attack" - the orchestration is elaborate, there's a choir added to the already-considerable group of musicians, but there's an air of a scherzo to the action music which sets it apart. And the finishing touch - the grand finale, which is a real finale, brings the music to a glorious close.
This is an album full of rich, exciting, beautifully-crafted music. Nim's Island is undoubtedly one of Patrick Doyle's most entertaining scores - sure, it might not be to the like of those who like this composer for his more "serious" efforts, but he seems to be unleashing something that's been inside himself for a while with this score, and it's great to hear. Fans of Doyle ought to be in heaven, and even those who are usually slightly more reticent about his scores for this sort of film might be surprised.