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