Where has James Horner been hiding? It has been quite some time since I've acquired a new score from Horner. I think the last one that I got from him was "The Amazing Spider-Man". In my early days of getting into soundtracks, James Horner was always one composer that I was forever seeking. Today, his Star Trek scores (II & III) remain some of my favorites of all time. So, it has been a while since I've heard anything new from him. Today, Hans Zimmer, Brian Tyler, and Michael Giacchino seem to some of the most sought after composers. James Horner, with this particular score, proves that he still has it in him however. Simply put, this is one of the most amazing scores I've heard from him.
I personally have never heard of this movie until recently. I found out about this score from Amazon's recommendations and decided to check it out. From the album cover, it looked like a cartoon. After digging around a bit, I found out that this movie is based off a best selling Chinese story concerning real events. I don't think I'll ever watch the movie because I'm just not into films that have animal characters in it (bad experiences as a kid with Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows...etc.). Anyway, after sampling some of the score's cues...I was just blown away at how great this particular soundtrack is. Horner's use of traditional Chinese instrumentation and the way he supports everything with an orchestra is just beautiful. The main theme here will drill itself in your mind and live there for quite sometime. It is a haunting yet elegant theme that just really resonates with you. Horner demonstrates great skill in using the instruments to paint the backdrop and setting of the story and it transports will you to the far east. At times the score is playful, such as cue 8 (Little Wolf). There is a majestic tone in the reoccurring theme and then darker elements like that found in cue 4 (Wolves attack the Horses). The real standout moments are the more softer cues such as cue 3 (An Offering to Tengger...).
Thank goodness that this score was recommended to me because otherwise I don't think I would of ever heard about it. It's one of my favorites of the summer thus far. I purchased the CD version of the score because I like to physically own my music. The CD version is mostly written in French but it does contain a four paneled insert that has pictures from the film and one of the director and James Horner. There are 13 tracks on the disc and the total running time is 59 minutes. It's produced by Milan records.
This is one James Horner score that certainly needs recognition so I hope others will stumble upon it like I did. I highly recommend.