Home > Reviews > JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH – Andrew Lockington


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The last time a major movie was made of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth was 1959, and the composer was Bernard Herrmann. It’s a big pair of shoes for composer Andrew Lockington to step into, but step into them he has, and although his score for the 2008 version certainly does not emulate or surpass Herrmann’s excellent work, the young Canadian has nevertheless created a fun, exciting, enjoyably old-fashioned score which stands as an unexpected highlight in what has otherwise been a largely lackluster summer.

2008’s Journey is the directorial debut of special effects whiz Eric Brevig, whose previous films include Total Recall, Hook, Men in Black and Pearl Harbor. Brendan Fraser, taking a break from battling mummies, stars as adventurer/professor Trevor Anderson who, in the company of his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) and mountain guide Hannah (Anita Briem), travels to a fantastical world located at the center of the earth in an attempt to find his missing brother. The film’s gimmick is that it is filmed in 3D – the latest to resurrect the long-dormant 80s technology. Basically, it’s an excuse for the filmmakers to play around and impress audiences with flashy special effects and innovative production design, and on that basis the film works well; one review of it describes the film as “big, dumb, summer fun”, which I have no doubt is pretty accurate.

Andrew Lockington began his career working as an orchestrator for his fellow Canuck, Mychael Danna, before branching out on his own. He impressed greatly with his 2007 horror score Skinwalkers (which was released on the Moviescore Media label), and also wrote music for the popular step dance movie How She Move prior to taking on this assignment. Journey to the Center of the Earth is certainly his most high profile score to date and, if his work here is anything to go by, I foresee a bright future in Hollywood.

The score is anchored by the bold, positive-sounding “Journey Theme”, a prototypical adventure piece with brassy fanfares and cooing choirs; not the most original thing you’ve ever heard, but certainly what one would expect from a light-hearted escapade such as this. The theme appears with pleasing regularity, underpinning Professor Anderson’s exploits with a refreshingly un-cynical air, and even managed to crop up in some unexpected places; it visits in a faux-amusing scherzo “Max’s Things”, is used as a darkly-hued base for “The Generator”, and, of course, has a sense of ooh-aah awe and wonder in the title track, “The Center of the Earth”.

The action music is big and brave, sort of John Williams-ish, sort of John Debney-ish, and with energy to spare. Cues such as “Mine Car Adventure”, the outstanding “Building the Raft”, the thunderous “Storm” and the rampaging “Dinosaur!” are tremendously energetic and entertaining, all flashy brass fanfares, crackerjack string runs, and heroic choral work. “Rope Descent” and “Water Drop” are slightly darker and more tense, making use of slightly more sinister-sounding writing, especially in the string section, and well-integrated electronics, while the occasional blasts of dissonance add a little welcome depth to the counteract the otherwise relentless optimism. Elsewhere, the expansive, noble “Climbing Sneffels” reminds me of some of Jerry Goldsmith’s ‘spectacle of nature’ music, which is a good thing indeed, while the truly gorgeous “Goodbye Max” highlights Lockington’s talent for warm, emotional orchestral writing.

Lockington hasn’t yet been able to develop a personal style, or adopt any trademarks, so this is a voyage of discovery into his musical personality. I can see how some would dismiss his efforts here as being somewhat generic – big orchestral themes seem to attract this criticism regularly – but it’s all done with such unselfconsciousness that it’s hard to dislike it. With this score, and Skinwalkers, and his work with Mychael Danna, Andrew Lockington is certainly a name to watch in future.

The score is available as digital download from New Line Records in the United States, or as an actual physical CD from Silva Screen in Europe. Whichever media you choose, I heartily recommend you pick up a copy – it’s a fun ride!

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Journey Theme (1:16)
  • Morning Routine (1:13)
  • Max’s Things (1:55)
  • Iceland (2:28)
  • Hannah and the Institute (1:11)
  • Climbing Sneffels (1:30)
  • Trapped (2:56)
  • Rope Descent (2:10)
  • The Generator (2:26)
  • Mine Car Adventure (2:37)
  • Diamonds and Muscovite (1:53)
  • Water Drop (3:10)
  • The Center of the Earth (4:44)
  • Mushroom House and Artifacts (3:52)
  • Goodbye Max (2:44)
  • Building the Raft (3:45)
  • Storm (3:24)
  • The Search for Sean (4:00)
  • Magnetic Rocks (3:45)
  • Meet at the River (3:12)
  • Dinosaur! (3:19)
  • Skull Rescue (2:00)
  • Volcano (4:00)
  • The Return (4:00)

Running Time: 67 minutes 30 seconds

Silva Screen SILCD-1269 (2008)

Music composed by Andrew Lockington. Conducted and orchestrated by Nicholas Dodd. Recorded and mixed by Andrew Dudman. Edited by Stephen Lotwis Album produced by Andrew Lockington.

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