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Dungeons and Dragons

Track List:
  1. Opening to Profion's Dungeon 5:37
  2. Council of Mages 3:19
  3. Breaking into the Magic School 3:07
  4. On the Run 2:07
  5. Damodar's Curse 2:19
  6. Antius City 2:39
  7. The Maze 5:31
  8. Thieve's Guild 2:46
  9. Capture by Norda 5:25
  10. Death of Snails 9:35
  11. Dungeon of the Rod 6:30
  12. Battle on the Rooftop 9:07
  13. Fighting Profion 5:59
  14. Resurrection and End Titles 8:55
  15. This is Not a Game 3:42

Total Time: (76:38)

Composed by:
Justin Caine Burnett

Orchestrated by:
Jack Smalley,
Wataru Hokoyama,
Paul Henning

Performed by:
The Western Australian Philharmonic Orchestra

Conducted by:
Ashley Arbuckle

Performed by:
The Northwest Sinfonia

Conducted by:
Adam Stern

The new kid on the block, Justin Caine Burnett, rolls a strike with his first (major) film score (well... maybe not *that* major). It's always nice to see new guys, especially new guys that prominently display the fact that they are immensely talented as soon as they have the chance, putting their skills to work. Mr. Burnett puts his Media Ventures training to use though, oddly enough, this sounds extremely traditional for the most part, and the almost constant action music rarely degrades into typical Media Ventures gunk. Supported by a rather up-lifting main theme, Dungeons & Dragons is quite the entry into the roster of the fantasy/adventure genre of film scores.

Though the aforementioned theme is indeed up-lifting, it may interest you to know that despite that fact, the score as a whole has an extremely malicious edge. This dark side is spearheaded by the theme for Jeremy Irons' character, the villain Profion, whose theme could give any average listener the chills. The truly unique aspect to this theme is the fact that it is in fact a minor-key varitation of the once rousing main theme.

If dark-flavored action music is not your style then you may do well to avoid this score since every single track contains facets of the gritty medieval setting of the film. Though this says much for the composer, it doesn't nessesarily say much for the movie.

The liner notes reveal the fact that this was recorded by two separate orchestras, one of which is the Northwest Sinfonia, which has been gaining notoriety and popularity at an astounding rate due to their excellent enterpretations of Michael Giacchino's Medal of Honor video game scores. Though the performance is handled by two separate orchestras and even two separate conductors, I cannot even tell a difference between the two. The performances are so remarkably close to each other in spirit that I'm not sure which ones are which, as the liner notes do not indicate which is performing on particular tracks.

Though much of the score is synth-driven it is almost hard to tell, much like Randy Edelman's score to the film Dragonheart. While this lacks the ingenious themes of Edelman's masterpiece, it is propelled by much stronger orchestrations. I simply love the rich textures, especially in the climactic performance of the main theme in the "Resurrection and End Credits" cue, which contains not only strong, brassy playing, but is backed up by wild, unrestrained string arpeggios.

Since modern promotional techniques dictate that just about any score album must contain at least *one* unrelated pop song, this includes a special "bonus track," which is a techno piece called "This is Not a Game." Personally, though I don't usually like the songs included on score albums, I have kind of developed a taste for techno music, so this song's inclusion on the disc does not bother me much, and since it plays after the score has concluded, it does not interfere with the listening experience.

Dungeons & Dragons marks the beginning of what could be a promising career. From what I've heard of this guy's music so far, I believe he may eventually eclipse the rather tepid compositional skills of his mentor, Hans Zimmer. This score is a must for fans of the action/adventure genre, and anyone who would like to hear something from a newbie to the scene should certainly not be dissapointed.


Dungeons and Dragons is Copyright 2000 New Line Records. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.