Movie Wave Home
Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer

Composed by

* * * *

Album running time

Performed by
led by
conducted by


Engineered by
Music Editor
Produced by

Released by
Serial number

Artwork copyright (c) 2003 Paramount Pictures; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Out with the old, in with the new


Towards the beginning of 2003, I reviewed a terrific CD by a composer whose work I had heard precious little of beforehand.  The CD was The Hunted and the composer was Brian Tyler.  Amongst my usual inane ramblings I said "time and again, [Jerry] Goldsmith has proved to be the only film composer capable of writing really good music for [action thrillers] - and frankly it was about time someone turned up and showed the talent to follow in his footsteps. Step forward, Brian Tyler."  At that time, I didn't realise exactly how closely Tyler would be following in Goldsmith's footsteps so soon afterwards.  Based on Michael Crichton's novel, Timeline tells the story of a group of young historians who get thrust back in time into the middle of the Hundred Years War between England and France; it's a bit daft, but just as exciting as Crichton's novels almost always are, and a real page-turner - and so inherently filmic that it is difficult to see how a bad film could be made of it.  Still, it would appear that Richard Donner did his best (one amusing review I read suggested that Donner and his team had repeatedly viewed Monty Python and the Holy Grail for inspiration without realising it was a comedy) and the film was plagued with problems resulting in reshoots and, apparently, there was a change of composer during post-production.

Tyler's music is the epitome of the modern action score (in a good way!) - based around solid themes, with cast-iron orchestration, very thrilling stuff.  It is pretty bombastic and loud from start to end, which may instantly put a few people off, but will probably attract just as many at the same time.  It is, without question, the sign of a young composer absolutely giving it his all in an attempt to show the world what he can do.  It's the themes that make or break a score like Timeline, and they are good ones here - one heard most prominently in the terrific "1357 France", the score's highlight, in a way a musical representation of the brutality and bloodiness of the times - a more heroic theme, heard in another great piece, "Battle of La Roque" - and a love theme, "Lady Claire and Marek", which is (oh irony of ironies) extremely evocative of Goldsmith's latter-day romantic music in scores like First Knight or Star Trek: Insurrection.

A slightly enigmatic feature of the score is that, in a way, it's quite old-fashioned with its big themes and larger-than-life stylings, but in another it takes a rather modern approach.  Just like Klaus Badelt's Pirates of the Caribbean, there is nothing here that really evokes the period or place in which the film was set (slightly gimmicky percussion aside).  I'm not saying that that's necessarily a harmful thing to the picture (and it certainly doesn't destroy any evocation of the period or place created by the film, which is what Badelt's effort did) - many of the best film composers have often stated that the most important thing to emphasise is the drama and emotion, with the more blatant atmospheric concerns of time and place being less important.  (I am always amused when I read about how Miklos Rozsa used to go and do tireless research for months or even years when he was going to score an historical picture, immersing himself in his research, only to emerge and write a score that sounded just like all his other ones!)

Some of the film is set in the modern day, and here Tyler brings a different approach, with the orchestra scaled down somewhat and drum loops laid over the top.  A cue like "Transcription Errors" is a perfect example; these work less well, simply being far less interesting on an album than the powerhouse orchestral music all around them ("Storming the Castle" immediately follows "Transcription Errors" and takes you straight back into the action in some style - it's a brilliant piece).  They're obviously necessary in the film, but maybe the album would have been a bit better off without them - perhaps with more of the furious action music from the middle ages inserted in their place!

Now that he has scored a few films, Tyler's own style has become very clear and very impressive.  He seems able to score films in completely appropriate fashion while not leaning heavily on the work of others, and having a very clear and distinctive musical personality and voice of his own.  Sadly Timeline probably didn't do well enough to be the big break some expected it to be, but the music is so good that it can only be a matter of time.  Timeline is a terrific album, full of great action writing that previously only Goldsmith seemed able to deliver; it's kind of half-Goldsmith, half-Goldenthal I suppose, but having now heard several of his scores, it's clearly 100% Tyler.

Buy this CD from by clicking here!


  1. Main Title (2:15)
  2. Galvanise the Troops (:45)
  3. Battle of La Roqe (4:13)
  4. Troops in the Fog (1:38)
  5. Battalion (:48)
  6. 1357 France (2:53)
  7. Enter the Wormhole (2:48)
  8. Timeline (1:29)
  9. Lady Claire and Marek (1:38)
  10. Night Arrows (2:51)
  11. Transcription Errors (2:04)
  12. Storming the Castle (4:11)
  13. Battlefield Revealed (1:06)
  14. Interruptus (2:51)
  15. Mysterioso (2:43)
  16. Eternal (2:24)
  17. Village Burned (1:18)
  18. Descent (2:43)
  19. History Will Change (2:11)
  20. Past and Present (2:23)