Cons: Sticks very closely to movie action and doesn't leave much to the imagination
The Bottom Line: Fun to listen to, but not on a daily basis. Oh, and I hope you're not looking for much in the booklet - because there isn't much there.
I was watching Hook a few weeks ago and had a powerful urge to get my hands on the soundtrack. Since I dont exactly have the funds to go out and buy it myself, thanks be to inter-library loans. Whoo hoo!
As usual I was making attempts to guess the music before the credits, but sort of forgot because I got lost in the movie. When the credits did roll and I saw Steven Spielbergs name, soon followed by John Williams, I wasnt surprised. Not so much that the music resembled Williams, but that Spielberg almost always hires Williams. Ok, so I dont know that Spielberg personally calls up Williams and asks him to do the music, but I do know that certain directors always end up with certain composers (like James Cameron and James Horner). I mean, come on. Jurassic Park? Indiana Jones?
John Williams is most famous for his work on Star Wars - all six of them. Hes done countless other pieces not meant for movies, and has a significant style that weirdos like me have come to identify compared to other composers. A recent bit of work for you is Harry Potter, and Im betting hell do all seven of them as well. In fact, you can hear the Harry Potter in this soundtrack; Williams is no stranger to kids, magic, and evil powers.
1.) Prologue 1:30 Oh yeah. You can so hear the Harry Potter. Haha. Dont worry though, it gets a unique pirate-sound in the start and soon launches into the Peter Pan theme think zooming through the air and swinging a sword. This brief piece, full out horns, triangles, and flying string section, is what Williams is all about.
2.) We Dont Wanna Grow Up 1:50 (Lyrics by Leslie Briscusse) A little piano here I love it. Its sad, yet childish at the same time. Its a bit of a theme that I cant put a label to. In fact, its for a school play about Peter Pan so dont be startled when you hear a chorus of kids singing. We all outta be like Peter Pan we dont wanna grow up! Yuck!
3.) Banning Back Home 2:22 Probably the weirdest piece of music Ive heard out of Williams. The use of bass and piano and electric instruments make me think of background music for the 80s or something. Its meant for Peters fast-paced work environment and works out rather well, though its still got a random feeling.
4.) Granny Wendy 2:57 Granny Wendys theme, all the way. Soft with sparkling dings, a happy yet not over-excitable song. Flutes give us the memories and harps breathe steadily in the background. Maybe not Wendys theme so much as an extremely toned down version of Peters theme.
5.) Hook-napped 3:56 Ready for some scares? *cue evil grin* If Hans Zimmer hadnt done Pirates of the Caribbean, Im sure Williams would have done a nice job himself. Blaring trumpets announce pirates even though theyre long gone and with something precious. Peters theme gets a little loopy and unhinged here, and for good reason. Squealing, slightly off-key strings just make you shiver, dont they?
6.) The Arrival of Tink and the Flight to Neverland 5:55 For the most part of this track, flutes, piccolos, clarinets, strings, triangles, and xylophones tiptoe around the room, well, when theyre not in a flurry of notes to keep pace with Tinkerbells flying. Remember that little childish memory piece from track 2? It comes back again, this time playing out on the xylophones and stretching on strings. Mind you, it may get a little drunk and crazy in there, finally twirling up into Peters full theme as hes off to Neverland (never mind that he doesnt know it).
7.) Presenting the Hook 2:58 My favorite track on the CD. Once were done with Tinkerbells sugar-induced woodwinds, we get a little bit of pirating, high flutes (not your usual flutes, more like pipes), dancing their way through the square, along with a few tipsy fiddles. The best part is to come when the silver hook is making its way to its owner on the melody of oboes, pipes, rocking fiddles, and finally we hear Captain Hooks theme, brought to full life by trumpets with flair and I love every second of it.
8.) From Mermaids to Lost Boys 4:24 Ah, some chorus for our mermaids. Harps lazily roll up and down with them until Peter is unceremoniously dumped into Lost Boy territory. Thats when things get reckless and unkempt. You do get to hear the birds of Neverland (no joke birdies twittering!). Everything becomes a maze of winding violins, sharp strokes of the harp, jangling tambourines, tribal-style drums and a fade off.
9.) The Lost Boy Chase 3:31 Of course, this is where the Lost Boys emerge and begin harassing Peter. Tubas trounce through camp, flutes run helter-skelter, violins occasionally dont know where to go its an organized mess. Sort of like the Lost Boys.
10.) Smees Plan 1:44 A little bit of Hooks theme, only for Smee. "I've just had an apostrophe." Of course, Smee only gets some flutes; no trumpets. Not like Hook. "I think you mean an epiphany, Smee."
11.) The Banquet 3:07 Again, you can hear some of the fanfare like in Harry Potter, but this time its not a Quidditch match were going to just a really large dinner. Violins pluck around and let the horns do all the work, each Lost Boy getting a bit of an instrument as he eats in his own particular way.
12.) The Never-feast 4:39 Its time Peter and Rufio had words. And its those words and Peters sudden use of his imagination that create an actual banquet. I swear that sounds like sleigh bells. The music builds until finally its an all out food fight but a great one at that. Williams has this song in sort of a march format, trumpets always in front, as usual. It almost comes to a complete stop at three minutes with Peters swordplay, leaving the amazed feelings to the clarinets and strings. It soon turns into a little of what well hear in track 15
13.) Remembering Childhood 11:02 We get more instrumental pieces of track 15, rising and blossoming into a grand finale thats rather beautiful and fantastic. But not all is good. Flutes and harps take over as Tinkerbell explains her big thoughts. Different themes run rampant in this track, much is slow, the trumpets silenced to let strings, flutes, and a piano bring back some memories. Things are cut off abruptly when suddenly looks like Peter knows how to fly. Trumpets are definitely back, haha.
14.) You are the Pan 3:59 Williams brings back some fantastic chorus here, as Peter is acknowledged as the Pan and given his golden sword back. All the sharp violins make this a beautiful piece, very triumphant and humbling at the same time. It takes on a sad little Lost Boy theme, a flute doing the honors, before flowing out with the strings. Another one of my favorite tracks.
15.) When Youre Alone 3:13 (Lyrics by Leslie Briscusse) Sung by Amber Scott, the little girl who played Maggie, its very cute. Shes very young and though far from being a perfect singer, she does a fine job. Besides, her little voice gives the song some character. Its sort of like her theme in the movie all with sparkling sounds and helped by violins and harps. Starry night singing.
16.) The Ultimate War 7:53 Lets think: Williams + war between pirates and Lost Boys. How do you think this is going to sound? Omigod I swear I just hear some Empire music in there. *lol* No joke. Blame it on the style. Dont worry, hes got plenty of Pan theme, Hook theme, and Lost Boy craziness to let the entire orchestra go bonkers in a steady, measured way of course. Haha a bit of Indiana Jones anyone? Wow, were getting everything but the kitchen sink in this battle.
17.) Farewell to Neverland 10:16 Time to go home, a little of themes that have come before, harps and flutes and other gentle instruments in charge. The chorus comes back into play in the spot where mother and children are reunited the place in the movie that always tends to make me cry. Williams has power, I tell you. Then the chorus goes away, making room for sounds that come when awakening from a dream. Various woodwinds and again, that very beginning childish memory piece from way back in track 2, but just for a moment. Now things begin wrapping up, in a happy, Christmas-like sleigh bell cheer, leaving the final say to the entire orchestra.
I went to Amazon.com a while ago out of sheer curiosity on what others had to say about the soundtrack. Some said this was Williamss best work. Others said it was his worst. Bah! Dont listen to those ninnies. While this is not Williamss most fabulous piece of composing, it most certainly is not his worst. I even wonder if Williams has a worst.
Its really weird sometimes, hearing other movie pieces within a soundtrack. Its his style, not that hes simply cutting and pasting. In track 16 I swear I heard very brief, yet distinctive pieces reminiscent of Star Wars and then later Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This isnt isolated to just Williams anyway, so no worries. Ive heard pieces of James Horners work on Willow in Troy, so no big deal. In fact, I think its fun.
The only problem I have with the CD is more of a personal preference. When I listen to a soundtrack, I like to zone out, let my imagination run wild. I dont get soundtracks just because I like the movie music I get them because the music makes me think of other things, good to listen to in certain situations, etc. For me, music acts as a muse. To get to my point, this soundtrack sticks very closely to the movie and the actions characters make. For example, when Tinkerbell shows up on the scene. The whole of track 6 is tuned in to Tink and Peters every movement. Every swipe of the violin string, every note nipping from the flute, is for someone and something theyre doing. It doesnt leave much for the imagination. Its more integrated into the movie than for just extra background ambiance, and while I can appreciate that, it grows boring to me, which makes for low replay value after the novelty has worn off.
Other than that, its a great CD and worth giving a listen to. You just cannot deny the skill Williams commands. You cant. Why else do you think hes done so many soundtracks and even a few pieces for the Olympics? What? Dont tell me you didnt know that. Heheh. Give the world of Neverland a try and see if you think Williams didnt know what he was doing.
Recommended tracks for listening if all else fails: #7, 14, 17, and 12.