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