For the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (2008), it seemed rather mandatory to bring back composer Andrew Lockington, since his score fed off the visual scope of the first film’s location cinematography, and the old fashioned escapism of the story in which characters travel to a forbidden land, and encounter all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures and misadventures.
Taking place in a tropical ‘lost’ island, the sequel allowed Lockington to revisit his rich Journey theme, but it’s quoted partly for continuity, since the new location and new characters (only the son from the first film returns) mandated new themes and a whole new big orchestral sound – delivered this time with Polynesian and Melanesian percussion.
Sometimes the ethnic percussion is used for dramatic hits – such as announcing the foreboding “Island Reveal” before a sweeping melodic theme recap, with full chorus and brass – whereas in more tense cues the percussion is seamlessly integrated into the score’s orchestral fabric.
There are many standout cues in Journey 2, but the real star is Lockington’s writing which just booms with old fashioned energy without being bombastic, and swerves into character-heavy themes deliberately evoking the heavy string writing of classic eighties adventure scores. Like Journey and City of Ember (2009), the depth of the orchestra’s instrumental DNA is huge, yet every element is used with precision, and some of the orchestrated nuances are remarkable, be it multiple flittering images of brass, or the gentle application of harp and flutes over an otherwise standard theme swelling on strings.
Cues such as “The Treehouse” bubble with a gentle verve and light humour, and more moody cues such as “The Swamp” still have a slight lightness due to the return of harp and strings, and flighty (and very Goldsmithian) woodwinds at cue’s very end. The action material is a great mix of modern and traditional rhythms, as in the pounding “Finding the Nautilus” which keeps building towards a heavy percussion finale, enhanced by brass and some light electrified bass. “The Nautilus Escapes” has more synthetic rhythm mobiles and steep dynamics between low pulses and heavy brass, but some of the most kinetic material is at the beginning of the album (as well as the “Main Titles,” repositioned at the CD’s end) which begs any listener to crank the volume of this exceptionally engineered album.
Also included as a bonus: the Rock’s film version of “What a Wonderful World,” with new lyrics and some lighthearted attitude; and a single version of the original song at the album’s end that’s a total throwback to seventies lounge orchestrations with an eighties big band finale.
Note: an interview [M] with composer Andrew Lockington is also available.
© 2011 Mark R. Hasan