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The Last Airbender [Soundtrack]

Album Summary

>Howard, James Newton : The Last Airbender, film score
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Stuart Michael Thomas (programming).

Recording information: Streisand Scoring Stage, Sony Pictures Studios.

Director M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender is based on the cartoon TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, with the first word of the title presumably lopped off to avoid confusion with the 2009 blockbuster of that name. Shyamalan is known for his unsettling mystery films, which would seem to make this children's fantasy something of a change of pace for him. But James Newton Howard's extensive orchestral score suggests that it may not be as far in tone from the usual Shyamalan thriller than might be expected. Howard has been given full rein, employing a 119-member ensemble spread across a Hollywood scoring stage to play his full-bodied music. There's nothing particularly innovative about it, but the early cues (which, on the soundtrack album are unusually long, starting with the 11-minute "Airbender Suite") have a slow, ominous feel that wouldn't have been inappropriate to one of Shyamalan's creepy earlier movies. Martial action music, with lots of pummeling percussion, follows, and "The Blue Spirit" owes something to John Williams' theme for Darth Vader from Star Wars. Things come to a head with "The Spirit World," which seems to mark the dramatic climax of the picture, and the later music is calmer and sweeter, notably "We Are Now the Gods." Howard revs up a bit for the final track, "Flow Like Water," but the music never enters a really triumphant mood. The Last Airbender may have employed Star Wars creator George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic special effects company, but Howard takes a more downcast tone with the music than Williams did with Star Wars, no doubt in keeping with Shyamalan's darker vision. ~ William Ruhlmann


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>Howard, James Newton : The Last Airbender, film score
  • Performers: Katia Popov (Violin); Serena McKinney (Violin); Daniel Kelley (Horn); Irina Voloshina (Violin); Nina Eutuhov (Violin); Shawn Mann (Viola); Timothy Landauer (Cello); Aimee Kreston (Violin); Searmi Park (Violin); Alan Grunfeld (Violin); Neil Samples (Violin); Trevor Handy (Cello); Jim Walker (Flute); Kevin Connolly (Violin); Armen Anassan (Violin); Allen Savedoff (Bassoon); Jay Rosen (Violin); Andrew Malloy (Trombone); Ralph Williams (Clarinet); Cassandra Richburg (Viola); Kim Scholes (Cello); Cecelia Tsan (Cello); Richard Todd (Horn); Michael Fisher (Percussion); William Booth (Trombone); Gina Coletti (Viola); Stuart Clark (Clarinet); Tom Boyd (Oboe); Bob Zimmitti (Percussion); Armen Ksajikian (Cello); Tamara Hatwan (Violin); Dave Everson (Horn); Matthew Funes (Viola); David Speltz (Cello); Jon Lewis (Trumpet); Marc Sazer (Violin); Luke Maurer (Viola); Steven Becknell (Horn); Heather Clark (Flute); Rafael Rishik (Violin); Endre Granat (Violin); Alma Fernandez (Viola); Darrin McCann (Viola); William Reichenbach (Trombone); Thomas Diener (Viola); Lisa Sutton (Violin); Miwako Watanabe (Violin); Dimitrie Leivici (Violin); Christine Ermacoff (Cello); Josefina Vergara (Violin); Andrew Shulman (Cello); Leslie Reed (Oboe); Geri Rotella (Flute); Sara Parkins (Violin); Jim Self (Tuba); George Thatcher (Trombone); Jacqueline Brand (Violin); Antony Cooke (Cello); Rose Corrigan (Bassoon); Robert Brophy (Viola); Stephen Erdody (Cello); Roberto Cani (Violin); Keith Greene (Viola); Marcia Dickstein (Harp); Natalie Leggett (Violin); Brian Dembow (Viola); Roland Kato (Viola); Jennie Hansen (Viola); Bruce Dukov (Violin); Darius Campo (Violin); Peter Limonick (Percussion); Gayle Levant (Harp); Dennis Karmazyn (Cello); Alan Estes (Percussion); Barbara Northcutt (Oboe); Robert Berg (Viola); Tereza Stanislav (Violin); Andrew Duckles (Viola); Denyse Buffum (Viola); Haim Shtrum (Violin); Paula Hochhalter (Cello); Doug Tornquist (Tuba); Donald Foster (Clarinet); Paul Cohen (Cello); Marlow Fisher (Viola); Julia Gigante (Violin); Jeanne Skrocki (Violin); Brian O'Connor (Horn); Steven Gordon (Viola); Timothy Morrison (Trumpet); Malcolm McNabb (Trumpet); Michael O'Donovan (Bassoon); Dave Walther (Viola); Roger Wilkie (Violin); Sarah Thornblade (Violin); Phillip Levy (Violin); James Thatcher (Horn); Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick (Cello); David Duke (Horn); Kenneth Munday (Bassoon); Kenneth Yerke (Violin); Michael Nowak (Viola); Victoria Miskolczy (Viola)
  • Conductor: Pete Anthony
  • Running Time: 64 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary