Dario Marianelli has come up for a fitting soundtrack for an adventure movie set in a world overflowing with mysterious, fantastical events: Somber, haunted with golden-age ghosts, this CD harks back to classic Hollywood scores. Actually, it harks back even further since Bizet seems to be among Marianelli's influences. The very beginning of "The Queen Awakens" winks at the French composer's Carmen.
Echoes of Bizet pop up early in "The Queen's Story" as well, before the track takes a turn into Max Steiner territory. Indeed, it's fun to trace the composers Marianelli honors--and at least he looks up to the greats, as exemplified by the Bernard Herrmann-esque screechy strings in "Muddy." Elsewhere, "The Eclipse Begins" starts off with a direct quote from Rossini's The Thieving Magpie
before switching gears and later incorporating the haunting vocals of no, not Lisa Gerrard, but eery soundalike Dessislava Stefanova, from Bulgaria. Sure, it all feels a bit derivative after a while, but it's also well-crafted and perfectly appropriate for the film's tone. And Marianelli is also capable of stirring things up on his own: "The Forest Comes to Life" is epic in length and scope, taking the listener through one storm after another, each one having greater intensity than the one before. --Elisabeth Vincentelli