Review of Avatar OST Album by James Horner

Review of the original soundtrack to Avatar composed by James Horner released through Atlantic.

James Cameron's eagerly awaited, and hotly anticipated, epic follow up to his last 'great' blockbuster Titanic has now been at the top of our cinema listings for three weeks. Avatar, derived from Sanskrit, can be an 'incarnation or embodiment of a person'. In this case they are to become the embodiment of the Na'vi, a tall blue skinned, yellow eyed alien from Pandora! (Not as some critics may have you believe, updated Smurfs with tails). The project has been ten years in the creation and making, and is so clearly a work of true devotion and dogged self believe, plus one gigantic shed load of money! Whilst Mr Cameron has been waiting for the film and computer industry to catch up with his vision of the future in 2154, his collaborator of choice, from Aliens and Titanic, James Horner has had plenty of time to hum a view bars and conjure up some musical magic.

James Horner Avatar OST Album

As a film it's had mixed reviews but generally been favourably received. An 'Out of this world', 'Stunning' '3D space opera' that puts Cameron 'back on top' with only one question, 'How can he possibly top this?' As a soundtrack it has all the crucial ingredients and necessary trickery to make it work. This is no Tarantino style trawl through some fifties or sixties back catalogue, or a Top Gun soft rock opus built on mature cheddar. James Horner has a fully blown orchestral ensemble at his disposal and they're set at full tilt, intent on delivering the goods.

The soundtrack builds beautifully as it goes on, until it's ultimate, and very dramatic, closing climax. Throughout the musical journey on which you are transported there are South American tribal drum beats, Chinese chimes, big brassy movements and superb string sections as well as Enya-ish warbles and apparently a Chorus singing in the alien language of Na'vi. (At times it does wonder into Lion King meets Jurassic Park territory, and throughout the first half you could be forgiven for wondering when the next wolf will come around the corner, or the next bat will drop from the ceiling, as you could so easily be inside Tomb Raider). There are though finely crafted moments of tension and drama, anticipation, emotion and wonderment. The soundtrack does what it is supposed to, it compliments and enhances the film to which it accompanies. It heightens your senses and helps to give you those edge of seat, nail biting crescendos. As a piece of stand alone music it still works, unfortunately not quite as well. There are no Chariots Of Fire or E.T. moments here, but still expect nominations aplenty when the award season starts.

The closing credits are reserved for our very own Leona Lewis. Here she puts in a somewhat workaday, although ever the consummate professional, performance to do a half decent rehash of Celine Dions 'My Heart Will Go On'. No surprises here as James Cameron had input on that one too. (Formulaic, you say!) I cannot say I'm with her lyrically mind...."I pray through my heart that this dream never ends."

At seventy nine minutes long it does drag in isolation, but when coupled together with its masters creation it achieves its purposes wonderfully.

Andrew Lockwood

(Incidentally, as a small foot note, I would like to suggest that Avatar be pronounced a'la Smithy from Gavin & Stacey when he is addressing said Gavin, so the film is ........Avataaaarrrrrrrrr! Just a thought).