After Earth

Composed By: James Newton Howard

Distributed by: Sony Music

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Set a thousand years after a cataclysmic environmental event causes the human race to abandon Earth as its home, After Earth stars  Will Smith as General Cypher Raige, a war hero who crash lands on Earth with his teenage son Kitai (Jaden Smith).  Cypher is seriously injured in the crash and it is up to Kitai to find the homing beacon he'll need to call for help.  To do so, he must cross hostile terrain filled with highly evolved species and a ruthless predatory alien creature set lose by the enemy, the aliens known as the S'krell.  Can Kitai survive long enough to get his father the help he needs, finally living up to his father's reputation as a warrior?

                The musical score of After Earth was created by American composer James Newton Howard.  Having scored over one hundred films, Howard has received a number of award nominations for his work since the early 1980s.  His film scoring debut was in 1985 with the film Head Office.  Since then, he has created the musical scores of such notable films as The Prince of Tides, The Fugitive Flatliners, Wyatt Earp, Eye for an Eye, The Devil's Advocate, Stir of Echoes, The Hunger Games, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Bourne Legacy and more.  This is not James Newton Howard's first time working with director M. Night Shyamalan, having scored the music for The Sixth SenseUnbreakable, Lady in the Water, Signs, The Village and more.

                The After Earth Soundtrack features musical tracks that often run into one another.  It's a dramatic orchestral score with fast-paced strings, horns and percussion throughout.  The action in the film is represented well (Bird Attack, Baboons, Chase Through the Cave), as is the otherworldliness of the alien encounters (Can You Ghost).  But some of the most dramatic moments in the film feature a strong piano presence (Kitai on Earth, Kitai Finds Cypher, Four Vials Remain Sir).

                The movie didn't receive an excellent reception from critics and its numbers at the box office were less than stellar, but the musical score of After Earth is really something to behold.  This is a dramatic score that tells the story of the film in vivid detail.  Closing one's eyes while listening to the tracks, one gets a perfect sense of what is taking place in the film and the emotions involved in each scene.  The movie may not have been a tremendous success, but the musical score of After Earth represents some of James Newton Howard's greatest work. 


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