While Harry Gregson-Williams came back for the second Narnia movie and did what he could with it, he didn’t appear for the third. Instead, the handling of the music went to David Arnold, whose other works include five James Bond films, Stargate, and Independence Day. While Arnold isn’t exactly a household name the way other composers have done, he’s no slouch. He knows how to work an orchestra, and now that I’m thinking about it, it may very well be that he’s just not had the chance at a truly great film to showcase all his skill – or maybe just a film that allows the score to really shine through in a way that it completely enhances the film into something more in the way that others have. I suppose we’ll see.
I won’t do a play-by-play of this soundtrack because there are a whopping 30 tracks and only 13 of them break the 2-minute mark – some of them only just. The shortest is only 49 seconds while the longest is a surprising 11:02.
1. Opening Titles - 1:072. The Painting - 2:27
3. High King and Queen of Narnia - 1:33
4. Reepicheep - 0:58
5. Land Ahoy - 1:43
6. The Lone Island - 1:51
7. Lord Bern - 1:01
8. The Green Mist - 1:15
9. Market Forces - 1:53
10. 1st Sword - 1:17
11. Eustace on Deck - 1:10
12. Duel - 1:44
13. The Magician's Island - 4:03
14. Lucy and the Invisible Mansion - 5:24
15. Coriakin and the Map - 2:57
16. Temptation of Lucy - 1:16
17. Aslan Appears - 0:49
18. The Golden Cavern - 2:03
19. Temptation of Edmund - 1:57
20. Dragon's Treasure - 2:53
21. Dragon Attack - 2:29
22. Under the Stars - 2:55
23. Blue Star - 1:03
24. Aslan's Table - 2:32
25. Liliandil and the Dark Island - 1:30
26. The Calm Before the Storm - 1:49
27. Into Battle - 11:02
28. Sweet Water - 2:05
29. Ship to Shore - 3:52
30. Time to Go Home - 2:47
The overall score is very in-tune with the movie. That is to say, it doesn’t deviate much to be its own entity in the way a lot of Hans Zimmer’s work does, for example. When you’re watching the movie, it doesn’t jump out at you. It doesn’t do a lot of moving or heart-pounding work since it’s too busy being restrained by what’s happening on the screen. If I step back and look at it as a whole, it’s very good – well-put together, a variety of instrumentation for all sorts of different scenes, and it’s got power of its own. But like I said, never truly gets to fly.
I will say, however, if you’ve ever heard the Stargate soundtrack, you will absolutely recall it during “Into Battle.” Funny thing is, it’s not the orchestra or specific melodies at all – it’s the style of chorus. Arnold is more than happy to go into a fight with a group of people singing and chanting at his back – and I’m all for it. Though “Into Battle” is no “The Battle” from the first movie, it’s definitely its own beast.
That’s actually not the first time I’ve noticed the Stargate sneaking in there, though. Actually, at first I couldn’t pinpoint it, but a particular melody kept niggling at my brain as something I’d heard, but didn’t know what it was. It’s not until “Sweet Water” that I realized that’s what I was hearing. Not a bad thing since it’s really brief – just unexpected and makes me giggle.
It’s a good soundtrack, and Arnold gets points for the use of all sorts of instruments to reflect what’s happening on the screen, such as jangling, banging drum varieties for “The Lone Island” and “Market Forces,” threatening wood flutes in “The Green Mist,” and magical sparkly sounds via chimes for “Lucy and the Invisible Mansion.”
While it’s just right for what it is, personally for me it has a low replay value. Too constrained by the movie action, it has trouble standing on its own two legs and doesn’t really present anything super memorable to me.
Here’s hoping to something special in the next Narnia film (whenever it may come out), and to a movie that will finally let Mr. Arnold show the world what he’s made of.