Various Artists Treasure Planet Review

Soundtrack. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

A sci-fi version of 'Treasure Island', you'll want to read about the soundtrack to that!

Jack Smith 2003

It must be one of the more bizarre film concepts to have made it from the storyboard in recent years. A sci-fi version of Treasure Island, with a fully-rigged 18th-century galleon ploughing through the high seas of space; it smacks at best of a paucity of original ideas, at worst of the desperate imperatives of the Disney dream machine.

The film may be an awkward mix of sci-fi and traditional adventure, but James Newton Howard's score is firmly in the old-fashioned escapade mould, more swash and buckle than Space Odyssey (apart from the odd hint of an electric guitar).

It is, perhaps, less of a tribute to the music's descriptive powers than a result of the familiarity of Disney's musical conventions that the listener feels they would be able to guess the plot without ever having seen the film. There is the fanfare-heavy "Quest Sequence (The Map);" the swirling "Wonderment Passage (12 Years Later);" the heart-pounding "Adventure Anthem in Jim Saves the Crew;" and an embarrassing comedy routine in "Ben", with its unsophisticated kazoos and boings.

Characters are efficiently established with distinctive themes. John Silver (part roguish ships cook, part cyborg-with-a-heart-of-gold) is identified by plaintive Celtic pipes and drums which give the soundtrack an additional musical dimension. The final theme, "Silver Leaves", the film's closing track, ends in an irresistibly jovial Irish jig.

Kicking off the recording and strangely detached from it are two pop tracks; an attempt to extend the soundtrack's appeal to an older, rockier audience. Both are written by John Rzeznik, singer with the Goo Goo Dolls. "I'm Still Here", sung by the sandpaper-voiced Rzeznik himself, is a heavy-rock, angsty teen anthem for the 15-year-old Jim Hawkins, updating the traditional pre-pubescent Disney hero. "Always Know Where You Are", performed by BBMak, is basically the same, except a bit more upbeat. The two framesets of the teenage boy's mind, eh?

This soundtrack is certainly workmanlike and inoffensive, but there'slittle buried treasure awaiting anyone digging beneath the surface.

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