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Album cover copyright (c) 1999 Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. and Disney; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall



Enjoyable high-budget music for Disney animation


One of the last really ambitious traditionally-animated films to come from Disney, Tarzan leapt onto screens in 1999.  Of course, there have been a great number of Tarzan movies from the earliest days of cinema onwards, but Edgar Rice Burroughs's classic story remains very popular with children today and it certainly seemed like a wise choice for Disney to turn into a full-length animation.  Despite some stunning animation and a few moments of reasonable character interaction, sadly the film doesn't really work all that well, primarily because the screenplay just isn't good enough, with the obligatory humour seeming too forced and the plot being not nearly complex enough it is simplified to such a degree that it is impossible to care about anything that happens in it, and ultimately it seems a rather hollow and pointless experience.  This is a pity because the animation really is superb.

Musically, Disney were fully into their "famous singer/songwriter does the songs" phase, having taken a break from Alan Menken for a few years after 1997's Hercules.  Obviously trying to recreate the success Elton John had with The Lion King, they turned to another successful British singer, Phil Collins this time round.  An extremely talented balladeer, Collins was never going to have a problem coming up with the obligatory love song or two (and he certainly delivers in the superb "Two Worlds" and Oscar-winning "You'll Be In My Heart", both of which are very good) but unlike John, he had never really written anything particularly dramatic or personal, and for that reason he seems a very unusual choice to provide what in essence have to be dramatic songs.  The attempts at that - "Son of Man" and "Strangers Like Me" - just come off as standard light rock songs, both very enjoyable, but both wildly out of place in the film, and failing to move it along in the way that the songs in The Lion King did.  This is perhaps a little unfair, since Collins sings the songs himself in the film, taking a leaf out of the Randy Newman / Toy Story book, but the result is that the film seems to end up just stopping every now and again for a short pop video; there's no dramatic flow at all.

For the score, once again there are echoes of The Lion King, with Hans Zimmer's one-time Media Ventures colleague Mark Mancina brought on board.  Mancina's contribution is highly-impressive.  The heavy use of percussion (we're in the jungle, don't you know) is predictable but very effective; but the composer goes beyond the standard stuff, with some lovely melodies and imaginative orchestrations.  Sadly there are barely 15 minutes of his score on the album (the four versions of the "Two Worlds" song take up virtually as much time!) - so much more could have fitted, and would have been very welcome indeed.  The opening "A Wondrous Place" is probably the pick of the score tracks, with some emotional and tender music dominating, including a particularly nice passage with choir.  "Moves Like an Ape, Looks Like a Man" has a more sweeping nature, and ends with a brief burst of jungle-ish vocals (a pathetic description, I know, but no worse than you've come to expect from me).  "The Gorillas" is the one piece of action music here, and it's great to hear from a composer who at one time was so synonymous with the action genre, having written Speed and Twister amongst others.

It's a very enjoyable album, featuring two great ballads and 15 minutes of impressive original score; you just end up with the wish that there was just a bit more to it, in more ways than one.

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  1. Two Worlds Phil Collins (3:18)
  2. You'll Be In My Heart Glenn Close and Phil Collins (1:36)
  3. Son of Man Phil Collins (2:44)
  4. Trashin' the Camp Rosie O'Donnell et al (2:16)
  5. Strangers Like Me Phil Collins (3:00)
  6. Two Worlds (reprise) Phil Collins (:51)
  7. Trashin' the Camp N'Sync and Phil Collins (2:23)
  8. You'll Be In My Heart Phil Collins (4:18)
  9. Two Worlds Phil Collins (2:42)
  10. A Wondrous Place (5:18)
  11. Moves Like an Ape, Looks Like a Man (2:57)
  12. The Gorillas (4:28)
  13. One Family (3:48)
  14. Two Worlds Finale Phil Collins (1:16)