James Newton Howard

" Finally, people are taking James Newton Howard seriously "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

It is bound to happen that even before the summer starts, people have discovered that special score that they will enjoy to hear all summer long. Try to hit your head against a brick wall, then you will feel what kind of an impact Dinosaur created. James Newton Howard has finally discovered which magic lies beyond the frontiers of Hollywood when you break through with one massive soundtrack. In a way Disney is partly responsible for this success, for allowing James Newton Howard to score a computer animated tale, with no word of songs through the entire movie.

Because when a composer is unleashed on a particular interesting story, you witness first hand a composer's magical stroke of genius. In this particular case it is James Newton Howard's 50 minutes of immense orchestral and choral music that will do it for you here.

There's a hint of that greatness already in the first track, namely when we hear hints of Waterworld in "Inner Sanctum / The Nesting Grounds". Of course greatness soars soon after that when we receive why Dinosaur created all the fuzz in the first place. You see, once the Dinosaur trailer surfaced on the internet with its soaring score mixed behind it, people witnessed first hand that this was going to be an orchestral thumper all right. And that thumper is "The Egg Travels", a crowd pleaser where orchestra and choir align in one amazing main theme's performance.

After that amazing opening, we listeners are treated to the diverse voice of Newton Howard. Because whether it is Celtic or African inspired music, he's at home in them both. In "Aladar & Neera" it is love that spells out Newton Howard's lovelier voice, in "The Courtship" it is African rhythms and singing choir that enlightens the experience.

Okay enlightening is one thing, emerging chaos and anarchy is another. And in "The End of our Island" everything turns bombastic and energetic. And that's the least you can say about the rousing "Raptors / Stand Together", but here thematic meets the outstanding adventure theme, thereby creating this amazing action piece. The same could be said about "Across the Desert", which uses this adventure theme to make another bold statement.

"Finding Water" turns from desolate feelings to hopeful main theme bliss, the lovely soft "The Cave" tries to calm things down before "The Carnotaur Attack" counter attacks that feeling with a pulsating action bombardment. This all aligns the emotional stirring "Breakout", reprising the main theme in brief stirring fashion. And we're talking about reprisals for a reason, because the dancing choir does the same thing in "It comes with a Pool".

The "Kron & Aladar Fight" track might mean big business but turns out to be nothing more than an appetizer for "Epilogue" which reprises the most wonderful moment of the disc, namely the stirring main theme opening of this score.

Looking back at Dinosaur it is important to realize that this score remains one of the milestones in James Newton Howard's career. It is beautiful, potent, magical and lovely, delivering you one thundering summer blockbuster to be exact. And it was this score that finally opened everyone's eyes, something that happened to me years ago before that with Waterworld. It lacks however various things that for instance a Waterworld possessed, namely that something extra. Perhaps the non excellent tracks are a bit responsible for that. Either way, I hope that this doesn't fool you, because Dinosaur still remains one amazing adventure score all the same.


1. Inner Sanctum / The Nesting Grounds (2.57)
2. The Egg Travels (2.43) Excellent track
3. Aladar & Neera (3.29)
4. The Courtship (4.12) Excellent track
5. The End of our Island (4.01)
6. They're All Gone (2.08)
7. Raptors / Stand Together (5.37) Excellent track
8. Across the Desert (2.25) Excellent track
9. Finding Water (4.13)
10. The Cave (3.41)
11. The Carnotaur Attack (3.52)
12. Neera Rescues the Orphans (1.12)
13. Breakout (2.44) Excellent track
14. It Comes With a Pool (3.01)
15. Kron & Aladar Fight (2.58)
16. Epilogue (2.32) Excellent track

Total Length: 51.47
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 23 votes - average 4.33/5)

Released by

Walt Disney Records 60672-7 (regular release 2000)

Conducted by

Pete Anthony

Orchestrations by

Brad Dechter, Jeff Atmajian & James Newton Howard