Album: King Kong: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

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Album:

King Kong: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Artist: James Newton Howard
Honors:
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Label: Decca

James Newton Howard reportedly got the King Kong gig as a last-minute replacement for Howard Shore (who of course had worked on King Kong director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series). The good news is that Howard still managed to write an honorable score; the bad news is that it’s no more than honorable. For some, the biggest disappointment may be that Howard didn’t find more inspiration in the film’s 1930s setting. Once in a while he inserts a vaguely jazzy flourish (the brief clarinet passages in “Defeat Is Always Momentary” for…

Reviews

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James Newton Howard reportedly got the King Kong gig as a last-minute replacement for Howard Shore (who of course had worked on King Kong director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series). The good news is that Howard still managed to write an honorable score; the bad news is that it’s no more than honorable. For some, the biggest disappointment may be that Howard didn’t find more inspiration in the film’s 1930s setting. Once in a while he inserts a vaguely jazzy flourish (the brief clarinet passages in “Defeat Is Always Momentary” for instance) but the period detail is kept to a minimum. Having more may have helped give the score a shot of much-needed individuality. Action scenes, for instance, are set to the opulently orchestrated, frantic percussive rumble that is Hollywood short-hand for, well, action scenes. “Head Towards the Animals” and “Beauty Killed the Beast III” are just the most typical examples of that style: Howard gives these bravura numbers the requisite pounding intensity, but can we be blamed for feeling that we’ve heard them dozens of times before? Similarly, the composer sticks to the expected when he needs to get more contemplative, as on “A Fateful Meeting” (soothing strings, soothing clarinet) or “Beautiful” (flutes to suggest the exotic locale). In short, this album is everything you expect it to be. Which sometimes isn’t quite enough. —Elisabeth Vincentelli

Related Works

Film:King Kong (2005)

King Kong

Peter Jackson

Movies don’t come any bigger than Peter Jackson’s King Kong, a three-hour remake of the 1933 classic that marries breathtaking visual prowess with a surprising emotional depth. Expanding on the original story of the blonde beauty and the beast who falls for her, Jackson creates a movie spectacle that matches his Lord of the Rings films and even at times evokes their fantasy world while celebrating the glory of ‘30s Hollywood. Naomi Watts stars as Ann Darrow, a vaudeville actress down on her luck in Depression-era New York until manic filmmaker Carl…

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