First of all, with me, the music makes the movie. A movie with uninteresting music is uninteresting to me.
Likewise, a movie with good music, even if the movie itself isn't all that well made, is a good movie.
That's why I love Treasure Planet.
And. I. Mean. Love!
The soundtrack was composed by James Newton Howard in 2002. I really hadn't heard a whole lot of his music until I heard this, and now he is one of my top favorite composers along with Hans Zimmer, James Horner and John Powell. What a coincidence; The first music I heard from each of these composers had a Celtic flare. Hmm...
Among his many accomplishments are Dinosaur, Peter Pan (the 2003 one), The Waterhorse, and The Great Debaters (which I hope to review as well). He worked with Hans Zimmer on the Batman movies. Each has its own feel that is unique to the movie, but I've noticed many similarities between them. For example, Howard uses drums in his own special way (that I just love!) and he often uses the same patterns in his music.
I'll start with what I liked about the score. I really liked the way he captured the characters' feelings by altering the various themes used throughout the movie. For example, in one of the tracks where the main characters Jim and Silver aren't "getting along", Howard used their theme but put it in a minor key. I also thought it was neat when just the first few notes of their theme were used when they met. I think I was the only one who caught that, though.
Another thing I found neat was Howard's ability to use orchestral instruments, a Celtic style, and electric guitar in the same score. It was by far one of the coolest sounds I'd ever heard.
Finally, he didn't overuse the themes too much like James Horner tends to do. Howard used them only where they really wanted to be, and he altered them ever so slightly each time (with the exception of just 2 tracks, but it needed to be repeated there in order to get the right emotion). Sometimes he'd change the key it was in, sometimes the instruments used.
What I didn't like? I really don't have much to say here except that it isn't the greatest for listening through headphones because Howard used a lot of dynamics. But that isn't a problem, because without dynamics it would be boring. Sometimes, though, I think he went overboard with his crescendos.
If you like exciting Celtic, sailor-sounding music, this is a great soundtrack and is worth every penny.
Funny. I'm listening to the iTunes samples of Peter Pan and am noticing that it sounds almost just like Treasure Planet! Actually, for a moment there, I was convinced that I was still listening to Treasure Planet and was confused when I couldn't figure out what song it was. I'll have to add this to my wish list. I love it!
(This is entirely my own opinion, and I know plenty of people who may completely disagree with me.)