I'm into movie scores for quite a long while, but it's only since a few months that I've discovered James Newton Howard. Ever since he's writing for Disney and Shyamalan he got my attention and I noticed Howard is one of the most talented score-writers out there, in my eyes standing right next to Hans Zimmer, above James Horner. Why did he manage to come that high in my book with only a few scores (I honestly never realy cared for his The Prince of Tides)? Simply because his style is classic, yet very original. He is able to write themes which go straight to your soul. With the big themes, he can lift you up with only a few simple notes. For the rest of the score, it's just very enjoyable to listen to. Naturaly, when DreamCatcher hit the stores I bought the CD right away without even hearing it, trusting on James (also because I've read King's book and desperately wanted to see the movie).
Right away when listening to the Main Titles, you notice the first problem of the music. It happens more often in the CD further on, but it's the clearest in the Main Titles; the music builds up to a climax which it never reaches. You are just longing, and expect to get, for the notes to get higher, louder and end up in a grand climax. Except for that, the music changes, and you get a whole different climax. This is the same with other tracks, mostly also because they are too short (probably Varese Sarabande's fault) the music stops before it gets REALY interesting. It's teasing you, but doesn't realy satisfy in the end.
Ok, now this sounds very negative, but believe me, this is one of only a few negative aspects. Besides, as soon as you're familiar with the music you know that you'll never get that climax and you can start to realy enjoy the music. As soon as you're accustomed to it, you realise that it's a realy good score.
The other point is that the music is not always very melodic. At some parts it's missing an original theme. But thankfully, just as it becomes irritating, you'll be surprised with music to prove the counterpart.
Ok, now let's talk about the good parts. James Newton Howard has before while working on Unbreakable, euhm, let's say experimented with an organic orchestral score combined with electronic stuff. This turned out very well, and he has developed the idea for DreamCatcher. This score contains way more electronic stuff, and it suits realy well! Especially the main theme is great, balancing between eerie and entertaining. The whole sound of the score sounds pretty different apposed to earlier scores of Howard (it sometimes reminds of his Dinosaur score and one part of The Weasel realy sounds very familiar, although I have trouble placing it). When listening to What Are You Up To?, The Hand of Fate part I from Signs comes immediately to mind, but it sounds like Howards copying his music. It just his own sound you're hearing.
Overall, DreamCatcher is a very entertaining score, but not one of Howards best work. Some might have to get used to the music first before they can realy enjoy the music. On a side note, the entertainment value of the score might have something to do with Varese Sarabande, since it didn't release most of the music. Ok, they made a good pick from the movie, all of the music is enjoyable. But after seeing the movie, you know there's quite a lot missing and they could've put way more music on the CD since it's running time is only 40 min. approx. For example, I'm missing the end-credits music and more (and longer) versions of the Main Theme. I even dare to say that Howard's score for the movie itself is worth 5 stars, but the presentation on the CD is what brings it down. I hope, someday, an expanded score will be released, because the music deserves it! If not, this release is very enjoyable nonetheless.