James Newton Howard

Waterworld [Original Score]

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In addition to the myriad other problems that hampered Kevin Costner's 1995 mega-turkey Waterworld, producers jettisoned Mark Isham's completed score at the 11th hour, recruiting James Newton Howard to compose a suitable substitute. Whatever the failures of the film itself, Howard's efforts demand praise. A rip-snorting adventure score in the classic Hollywood tradition, Waterworld boasts the kind of energy and suspense sorely lacking from the onscreen narrative, although it's mind-boggling to consider how much worse the movie might have been without Howard's music to buoy its action sequences. And there's more than just high-energy themes, too: the hauntingly atmospheric "The Bubble" beautifully captures the tranquil beauty of life below the ocean surface. Waterworld will no doubt always suffer from its association with its film inspiration, but taken on its own terms, it's one of Howard's best.

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