Walt Disney Records, 2003
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/15/2003
I know that readers hate to see this disclaimer on any film soundtrack I review, but Finding Nemo is yet another film I haven't seen. (Quite possibly, the only people who hate this disclaimer more are the publicists who are working these discs.) However, I have been planning to see this film ever since I saw the first preview for it, and by the time you have read this review, chances are good that I'll have plunked down serious coin to both see it and reserve a copy on DVD.
There are apparently many good reasons why Nemo has overtaken The Lion King as the highest-grossing animated film in history. And while the almost Midas touch of the powers that be over at Pixar has to be lauded, one cannot discount the beautiful score created by Thomas Newman. Capturing both the beauty and the danger of undersea life -- quite often at the same time -- Newman paints a picture of Marlin and Dory's search for Nemo without needing a single visual cue.
In the liner notes, director Andrew Stanton says he wrote the screenplay for Finding Nemo listening only to Newman's scores. It is in this manner that a symbiosis of audio and visual images combine to create something special. Yet for those few unfortunate souls who haven't seen this film yet (cough, er, ahem...), Newman makes you comfortable in exploring this world, albeit blindly, for the first time.
Newman keeps the Australian theme alive with subtle hints in pieces like "Wow" and "Finding Nemo," keeping the spirit of the film alive with every gentle note that pours through the speakers. You can't help but love the playfulness of tracks like "The Turtle Lope" or the almost Aborigine-type feel of "Mt. Wannahockaloogie," a track which sounds so pure that I found myself listening for instruments like a didgeridoo.
You almost find yourself even shuddering at the early doom that awaits Marlin's family on "Barracuda," and the struggles of search and escape on such works as "Lost," "Filter Attempt" and "Fishing Grounds". It's a masterful composer who can keep the peaks and valleys of the movie alive in the music, and Newman has nailed it perfectly.
I even have to give credit to Robbie Williams for his on-the-button delivery of the closing track "Beyond The Sea." A star across the pond who has never made it to superstar level in America, Williams proves with this track that he has the goods to make it to the next level, taking a classic track and giving it new life without ruining the original vibe. Well done, sir, well done.
I often hesitate picking up soundtracks because, while they may provide immediate joy (especially after seeing the movie), they tend to end up collecting dust on the shelves through no fault of their own. Finding Nemo is a solid enough effort that Newman's music can stand on its own without needing the breathtaking animation of the film to go along with it. Of all the discs I've had the chance to listen to this year, Finding Nemo may well be the prize catch of them all.