Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Music composed by John Williams
Label: Concord Records
Catalog: CRE-30825-02

Year: 2008
Tracks:

1. Raiders March
2. Call Of The Crystal
3. The Adventures Of Mutt
4. Irina's Theme
5. The Snake Pit
6. The Spell Of The Skull
7. The Journey To Akator
8. A Whirl Through Academe
9. "Return"
10. The Jungle Chase
11. Orellana's Cradle
12. Grave Robbers
13. Hidden Treasure / The City Of Gold
14. Secret Doors / Scorpions
15. Oxley's Dilemma
16. Ants!
17. Temple Ruins / The Secret Revealed
18. The Departure
19. Finale


Total Time: 77:22
Rating:


Reviewed by
Tom Hoover

 

John Williams returns to a journey he last left off in 1989 but he never misses a beat in resuming his work for the Indiana Jones series -- he's that good. Fans will be happy to know that the soundtrack for "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" doesn't skimp on the music and delivers a generous amount of score material from the eagerly anticipated film. Many times we're asked to wait for 'Special Edition' releases to quench our thirst for additional music as it relates to unique projects, but I don't feel that will be necessary here. There's enough music on this disc to satisfy even the most die-hard John Williams fans.

When John Williams is absent from the scoring for an extended period of time, he is missed more than any other composer. His work truly bears the mark of excellence and I feel that in my lifetime, he is the very best in the business. Needless to say, I was looking forward to "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" with plenty of pep. After all, not only is it a new Williams score but its a soundtrack from one of the most beloved franchises in cinematic history, the Indiana Jones series. I'll take that any time!

The score begins with the classic march from the Indiana Jones saga, the one we've all come to know and love. It was nice getting reacquainted with the series in this manner, especially when the love theme from "Raider of the Lost Ark" also makes its appearance in the opening track as well. After the opening cue, we're off on a brand new musical journey that features 2 somewhat prominent motifs. One, the dark and mysterious theme for the Crystal Skull and second, a more playful and fun brand of music that represents new adventures and characters, the most notable of the latter being Mutt Williams, a rebel without a cause type who joins Indy on this latest outing. While the fun factor is genuinely associated with this, it didn't seemed to be as cohesive a theme as we're used to from Williams, but it's loosely effective.

The ominous theme for the Crystal Skull is very well written, offering darkened chords that provoke mystery and danger through its notes. Perhaps such a slower, dramatic style of score might not work for the lot of you, as it pertains to this series, but I felt that it was a nice departure from what I expected. When looking at the films in the franchise, there are always new themes that define each adventure and I would venture to say the 'Skull' theme is it for this 4th entry. Not rousing, but certainly entertaining in a foreboding way! The other noteworthy piece of new material is the elegant, imposing motif for Cate Blanchett's character, Irina Spalko, which is actually represented better in the film than on the disc (as it should be!)

As with all Indiana Jones films, you can expect a great deal of action and Williams is happy to pace the way again with this effort. Perhaps the finest action cue from the album is from Track 10, where Williams flexes some muscle with brass and percussion in a march-type style. I particularly enjoy it when the maestro has opportunities to open up in this manner since his action music is so cohesive and exciting That, and it tends to pump me up!

Reference to vintage material are also present on "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Besides the romance theme we first heard in 'Raiders,' the 'Ark of the Covenant' theme also makes a nice cameo on Track 6, thus linking us back both in story and music to the first film. The Indiana Jones march itself is used more in the opening and end titles but makes plenty of appearances throughout in abbreviated forms. Williams uses it just enough to remind us that this is an Indiana Jones journey we're on which makes it feel like you can go home again.

My disappointment with the album is not with what's on it, rather, that what I feel is a void. Since the chief enemies in the movie are Soviets, I for sure thought that this might be Williams' first chance at writing some vintage Russian music with military flare. Alas, there wasn't any such material on this score and that selfishly left me a bit disappointed. Had such a theme been included, it would have balanced the slower 'Skull' theme quite nicely.

The key thing with "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", score-wise, is that John Williams delivered a respectable and entertaining installment of music with this fourth film. While it may be the weakest of the four soundtracks from the series, it certainly is a better brand of music than most other scores that are currently in play. Seek this one out and enjoy the maestro in action!

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