Howard’s ‘Airbender’ score hits iTunes

Posted by · 10:07 am · June 5th, 2010

When I took my initial stab at the 2010 Oscar forecast a few weeks back, I went out on a limb in a few places for M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender,” which I’ve frequently said could be a disaster or something really special.  One of those limbs was Best Original Score, as James Newton Howard could potentially land his sixth nomination in the category.

Howard has lately become a perennial favorite with the Oscars. His most recent nominations came for “Defiance” (a film that didn’t do well in other categories) and “Michael Clayton” (for a score few could remember when his name popped up on nomination morning). And let’s not forget his saving grace work in “The Village,” which was also recognized.

His score for “The Last Airbender” has already been released via iTunes for a $9.99 download, and it’s packed with all of Howard’s usual percussive intensity and has just the right touch of epic strokes to perhaps be recognized come year’s end. Additionally, a rave review of the work has already popped up online.

Here’s a sample of the work, the first track, “Airbender Suite,” which is a broad blend of all the score’s elements (no pun intended):

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At Soundtrack Geek, Jorn Tillness has this to say of the track:

Let’s get back to the ‘Airbender Suite’ which is 11 minutes and 17 seconds of pure delight. It contains all the themes, all the action, all the adventure, all the love and all the emotion. Every second of this is wonderful. The first part from 0:00 until 1:13 is just the intro. From there you will truly be amazed by the bold and wonderful music James Newton Howard has made. It’s an epic piece that just rolls off your eardrums and it’s so effortless. You know those 3-hour movies that seem to end so quickly? If this was a 3 hour movie, it would seem like a minute really. It’s so fantastically fun and frantic. It contains an amazing action piece from 7:59 until 9:12 with massive orchestral sound, choirs, percussion… the works.

He goes on to praise just about every ounce of Howard’s work. Now we’ll have to just wait and see how the film turned out. It releases Stateside July 2 for the holiday weekend and, according to a recent Tweet from producer Frank Marshall, will have a considerable presence at tomorrow’s MTV Movie Awards.

(Thanks to Hardy for the heads up.)

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27 responses so far

  • 1 6-05-2010 at 10:24 am

    Kevin K. said...

    The film is shaping up to be, as you said, something terrific or awful. The trailers and commercials look really promising and the score, as expected, is grand and beautiful. I have been wary of this project for some time now, considering that I am a fan of the show, but outside of the M. Night Shyamalamadingdong factor, all signs point to a faithful and powerful translation of the material. This year’s Star Trek? Maybe. As much as I loved Iron Man 2, I have a feeling The Last Airbender is Paramount’s surprise hit of the summer, and between this and Inception, July looks pretty great.

  • 2 6-05-2010 at 12:44 pm

    Will said...

    theres been few films i’ve really looked forward to this one has the biggest chance to do something since most summer movies have really sucked

  • 3 6-05-2010 at 12:58 pm

    Hardy said...

    5 star review from Film Tracks:

  • 4 6-05-2010 at 1:04 pm

    Filmoholic said...

    I’m fan of Howard’s work but I don’t see anything special about this one. Kind of generic and derivative.

  • 5 6-05-2010 at 1:20 pm

    Lucas said...

    Yeah, Filmtracks gave it 5 stars…. so definitely will be checking it out.

  • 6 6-05-2010 at 1:32 pm

    Hans said...

    I have to give you credit, Kris, for gradually getting me more excited about this film. Shyamalan didn’t write this screenplay, right? He is a brilliant director who got too ambitious for his own good, so I look forward to this chance to get back into our good graces.

    This year’s Star Trek? I hope so. A month before Star Trek premiered I was less excited for it than Airbender right now, and ST ended up as my #2 last year.

    And that clip was fantastic. A perfect blend of sweeping grandeur with a hint of some Asian mysticism.

  • 7 6-05-2010 at 3:26 pm

    josephchilders said...

    Just what the world needed – another f*#@$ing orange and blue movie poster.

  • 8 6-05-2010 at 5:04 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    “Howard has lately become a perennial favorite with the Oscars.”

    However, he has yet to actually win one, so a victory might be just around the corner for him or he could be the next Kevin O’Connell — Always a bridesmaid.

  • 9 6-05-2010 at 5:53 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    I downloaded the score and I have to say, it’s every bit as phenomenal as the reviews say. One of Howard’s finest works, easily. I could definitely see this winning Howard a long overdue oscar.

  • 10 6-05-2010 at 10:08 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***Just what the world needed – another f*#@$ing orange and blue movie poster.****

    Well, they ARE the most awesome color combination…

  • 11 6-05-2010 at 11:58 pm

    Maxim said...

    Just because “Defiance” didn’t sweep Oscars doesn’t mean it was either bad or poorly received. That’s just an example of stupid Oscarcentric logic.

    And as for, Avatar, to me the trailers looked poor (I did however like the original teaser). I also thought “The Village” was perfectly decent and have nothing against Mr. Shyamalan.

  • 12 6-06-2010 at 1:26 am

    PJ said...

    I’ve been getting the ‘terrible or terrific’ vibe for a while as well. The source material is very, very strong; it broaches some adult issues that the children’s cartoon factor doesn’t imply, and doesn’t pander to either audience. I’ve been a bit worried given Shyamalan’s track record, and some glaring casting decisions, but Paramount seems to have invested heavily in it, with the sets, special effects etc., and also evidently with the scoring, so be interesting to see the end product.

  • 13 6-06-2010 at 4:14 am

    David Vega said...

    For those of you who read spanish here’s a review of the score. It’s close to a masterpiece:

  • 14 6-06-2010 at 4:56 am

    Glenn said...

    I’m one of the few that loved the “Michael Clayton” score. I felt much the same about its nomination as many did about the “Hurt Locker” score nomination. Surprised, but pleasantly so.

    This piece of score from “Airbender” is fantastic though. Magical, mysterious and with the right amount of rah-rahism.

  • 15 6-06-2010 at 7:02 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Maxim: I liked Defiance quite a bit. You’re extrapolating. It’s clear the Academy didn’t respond so what is this, just another of your needlessly argumentative moments?

    But wait…nothing against The Village? Wowsers.

  • 16 6-06-2010 at 9:36 am

    Duncan Houst said...

    I’m going to say right now, that I love the score for this film. That said, I also want to make it clear that the film itself will not likely live up to the expectations this music will raise.

  • 17 6-06-2010 at 10:55 am

    Kevin K. said...

    Duncan: That’s a pretty bold statement considering no one has seen the film yet and it’s still a month out.

  • 18 6-06-2010 at 11:38 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Who sets expectations for a film by the score, anyway? That Alexandre Desplat did some wonderful work for “New Moon” last year didn’t make me think the film would be any less negligible.

  • 19 6-06-2010 at 12:18 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Actually, Clint Mansell did the score for “Moon” and the film was very well-recieved. :)

  • 20 6-06-2010 at 12:21 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Whoops misread that comment. Yes. Desplat’s score for “New Moon” was great but somewhat tarnished by how awful the film itself was.

  • 21 6-06-2010 at 1:59 pm

    MovieMan said...

    Here’s one for you, Kris: “The Village” just didn’t work. M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t been good since the masterpiece that was “Signs.”

  • 22 6-06-2010 at 2:40 pm

    red_wine said...

    The best reviewed score of the year is How To Train Your Dragon which has received a plethora of 5 star reviews, though its a bit too loudly and thickly orchestrated for my tastes. Followed closely by Alice In Wonderland and Agora.

    But I think How To Train Your Dragon stands a better chance because Alice In Wonderland is so widely despised, billion dollar box office notwithstanding.

  • 23 6-07-2010 at 8:47 am

    JJ said...

    My gave scores of the year are HTTYD, Ghost Writer, & Alice.

    But then, I also loved Alice. Don’t know if any of those 3 will hold up by the end of the year; for me, or Oscar-wise.

  • 24 6-09-2010 at 1:42 pm

    grover said...

    good summation of the reasons why I too won’t be seeing Last Airbender:

    *sigh, at least I still have Inception to look forward to.

  • 25 6-09-2010 at 2:51 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Wow, talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill. Sheesh.

  • 26 6-09-2010 at 3:25 pm

    grover said...

    Kris, that’s a matter of perspective. And I by no means believe people that see the film are racist or the creators of the film are racist. But whitewashing characters that were originally Asian or Inuit descent is nonetheless hurtful. The same with the recent Prince of Persia movie:

    It’s disappointing to fans that identified with the characters of the show because they were Asian. When roles based on real life minorities like in the film adaptation of 21 are whitewashed, what are minorities led to believe about their body types?

    Roger Ebert has given a thoughtful reply to the casting in his answer man column []:

    Q. Regarding the upcoming M. Night Shyamalan vehicle “The Last Airbender,” what do you think about the whitewashing of the production so that all of the original Asian cultural landmarks, architecture, philosophy, and costume design are being retained while they cast white kids to play the main characters?
    Arlene C. Harris

    A. Wrong. The original series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was highly regarded and popular for three seasons on Nickelodeon. Its fans take it for granted that its heroes are Asian. Why would Paramount and Shyamalan go out of their way to offend these fans? There are many young Asian actors capable of playing the parts.

  • 27 6-09-2010 at 8:16 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    No kidding.