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The Last Airbender [Soundtrack]

Audio Samples

>Howard, James Newton : The Last Airbender, film score

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