Soundtrack Review: AFTER EARTH (James Newton Howard)

Music composed by James Newton Howard
Label: Sony Masterworks
Catalog: 372547
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Rating: **½

The Los Angeles-born James Newton Howard has an incredible CV, he was involved in many big projects such as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Bourne Legacy.  He has also been collaborating with M. Night Shyamalan since 1999, kicking off on the director’s debut The Sixth Sense. Newton Howard has also toured with Elton John and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Either way, the soundtrack writers’ community seems to believe that lately Mr Howard has lost his grip, and he is not able to find what to write and how to write. After Earth is not necessarily a bad job, if one keeps listening the album for five times in a row will definitely find some interesting cues and will start humming them round whilst preparing supper. Nonetheless, it takes a considerable time to understand Howard’s point of view and his approach.

From where I am standing, the composer thought of giving more emphasis to the dramatic/visceral points instead of the scientific themes, which is fine if one thinks he is the one holding the pen whilst writing music script. Furthermore, the sense that Newton Howard could have gone far is flagrant and can somewhat overwhelm the good experience of the soundtrack itself.

“The Tail” brings the sophisticated old-fashioned sci-fi patches with contemporary percussions and the triumphant strings. Those that make you feel goose pimples. It is definitely one of the most emotional tracks on the album, but is sort of short though. “After Earth” has many features from Patrick Doyle: the action-thriller string, polyrhythm and the string-brass unison to transmit a sense of unit. The Scotsman Doyle would definitely be proud of that one.

“Baboons” insert a new palette with the small addition of the piano that creates a more classical environment than one would expect.  “Run To The Falls”, “Run To The Volcano” and “Safety in The Hog Hole” could be called the Visceral Suite that have the common theme of wild and jungle. The one that stands out is definitely “Run To The Volcano”.

There is something that strikes as completely odd on After Earth OST, which is the greatest tracks are extremely short. It is not possible to determine whether it stemmed from editing or a somewhat hasty production. Anyhow, my money would be on the latter since Newton Howard has the reputation of being a fast composer, even composing entire scores in just one month. Summing up, After Earth will eventually please the one that listens long enough but does not expect much.

Track Listing:

  1. The History Of Man
  2. I’m Not Advancing You
  3. Pack Your Bags
  4. Leaving Nova Prime
  5. Can You Ghost?
  6. Ship Tears Apart
  7. Kitai Finds Cypher
  8. Get Me Into The Cockpit
  9. The Mission
  10. Baboons
  11. Kitai On Earth (02:56)
  12. Four Vials Remain, Sir (01:11)
  13. Run To The Falls (02:42)
  14. Abort Mission (02:02)
  15. Bird Attack (01:02)
  16. Nest Battle (02:03)
  17. Safety In The Hog Hole
  18. Saved By The Bird
  19. The Tail
  20. Dad, Are You There?
  21. Leech
  22. See The Peak
  23. Run To The Volcano
  24. Somewhere To Hide
  25. Chase Through The Cave
  26. Ghosting
  27. I Wanna Work With Mom
  28. After Earth

Total Time: 57:23

Atila Almeida

One thought on “Soundtrack Review: AFTER EARTH (James Newton Howard)

  1. Pingback: LATEST SOUNDTRACK RELEASES – 06/20/2013 |

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