"The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" Soundtrack Review
May 30, 2008 by Zach Demeter
It goes without saying that one of the most important elements of film is the score that backs up the actions on screen. Whether it’s a race through the jungle or a tender scene between two characters, no man has brought so much to the world of film scores as John Williams. For Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut, The Sugarland Express, Spielberg went after Williams and a longstanding partnership between the two was born. Williams eventually paired with George Lucas on the Star Wars epics and when Lucas and Spielberg were looking to do a new kind of adventure movie, it was a no brainer to have Williams score the film.
I’m sure it came as no great surprise that Williams has returned to score the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. William’s brings forward all of the old theme elements that made the previous Indy films sound so wonderful and adventurous, all the while mixing in some new elements to fit the films slightly foreign territory—for Indiana, anyway. Between the new themes and the return of some old favorites, Williams gathered together a score that was befitting of Jones in a new age—when atom bombs and testing facilities were just coming into fruition and when Indy’s discoveries became a little more…alien.
My experience in reviewing film scores is minimal (we are a DVD review site mainly, after all), but when the opportunity to review the new Indy score came up, I didn’t want to pass by the opportunity. Williams’s music has always been one of the most played collections of musical scores in my house and no matter how many films I watch that he’s scored, I’m always surprised by some new piece of music he’s able to come up with. It’s hard to imagine that for as long as he’s composed music he can still come up with new ways to use a subtle horn in the corner or a booming bass blast. It’s always a treat to hear his music in a film and his latest effort with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is no different.
Of course there will be those that say that all of Williams’ scores have sounded the same since the nineties, but there are subtleties to it all. I will say that I did a lot of “Hey this sounds like…” moments while listening to this soundtrack, but never once did it detract or pop up in the film that way. At times I hear an influx of Attack of the Clones or one of the Harry Potter films, but the moments are minor and really don’t harm the overall score in any way.
A few of the standout tracks on this soundtrack are “The Journey to Akator” which sounds similar to some kind of Mexican dance music, while “A Whirl Through Academe” is a classic Jones-style chase theme with plenty of booms and exciting set pieces. “Ants!” is also a great track, with a dose of horror/suspense mixed in to accompany the grotesquely giant hymenopterans. I also have to chuckle at the naming of the “Ants!” track, as The Last Crusade had a track titled “Rats!” on it to accompany its own gross critter/bug sequence.
Overall Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’s score is a fantastic ride and can be easily placed next to the other three scores without worry. While there are no absolute “You have to hear this!” tracks on the disc, there are also no “You have to see this!” moments in the film either (not to knock the film, but that’s a review for another time), so the two are a perfect match for one another. If you’re a fan of collecting film scores and of Williams in particular, there’s nothing to be disappointed about here and this one comes Recommended.
Not much to talk about here. It’s a pretty basic CD release with digi-pak style casing (no jewel cases for this release!). A flap holds the tiny booklet with a track listing, double page spread of Indy and Mutt and on the final pages an intro by Spielberg (why isn’t this in the front of the booklet instead of at the end?). Spielberg pretty much reiterates what I said above in that the music hasn’t changed much, but it’s the history behind it that makes it so much of a joy to listen to.
The rest of the set is just packaging with some nice disc art featuring the crystal skull on a tan background and a full fold-out width image of Indy running from the Mayan’s. Standard packaging and nothing to really talk about—there are no extras here, just the soundtrack.