Saturday, February 11, 2012

Journey 2 The Mysterious Island by Andrew Lockington (2012)

Review by: Travis Elder (

It seems like at the beginning of every year at least one or two fantasy films geared toward children are released and 2012 is no different.  Journey 2: The Mysterious Island brings us the sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.  The franchise draws inspiration from French author Jules Verne’s classic 1864 novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth.  This time around Brendan Frasier’s starring role is replaced by Dwayne Johnson (aka “The Rock”) who has played roles in several prior children’s fantasies.   Thankfully, the producers chose to stick with Canadian composer Andrew Lockington for the score who crafted an exciting, theme based score the first time around.  Lockington spent almost a month backpacking in Papua New Guinea and spending time with two tribal groups to get in the tribal mood for the score.   His goal for the score was to maintain a strong orchestral presence, but this time to add more vocal and tribal elements to give the score an island flavor.  Last, but not least, he drew inspiration from reading Jules Verne’s work, in its original French no less.

Lockington assembles a number of elements to fill out the musical palette for this score including four themes, as well as percussion and rhythmic devices.  The four themes include: the original Journey theme, the Mysterious  Island theme, a tribal/jungle percussion motif, and a beautiful solo vocal tribal theme.  The themes are buttressed and accented throughout by choral chanting.  Lockington also employs some synth percussion elements and accents to several cues.  Finally, he also employs a rhythmic zig zag motif (featured in the beginning of “The Attic,” “Let’s Power This Thing Up,” & “The Nautilus Escape”) with piano and string variations several times (somewhat reminiscent of Trevor Rabin’s work for the National Treasure franchise). 

Theme composing is certainly one of Lockington’s strong suits.  Just listen to the contemporary original scores for Journey to the Center of the Earth and City of Ember for convincing proof.  Technically, Lockington excels at adapting, merging, blending, and varying his themes throughout so even though he states his themes often their usage never becomes trite or tiring.  As one example, the cue “Who’s Up For Adventure?” merges every theme Lockington offers in his score in a two minute and 15 seconds thrill ride of a track.  The Mysterious Island theme is backed by the tribal/jungle percussion theme, which then flows seamlessly into the solo vocal tribal theme.  The Journey theme makes an appearance as well this time accented by the solo vocal theme.  All I can say is: perfection.  Lockington is the theme weaver!

Synth elements also have their place in Lockington’s score, primarily in adding percussion accents.  The first appearance occurs in “Gold Dust” with the appearance of a synth sparkle effect (about  :23 to 1:07) aptly programmed by Trifonic, creating a beautiful counterpoint with the harp and string melody.   Most of the rest of the use of synth comes later in the score during “Finding the Nautilus,” “Let’s Power This Thing Up,” and “The Nautilus Escape,” and is utilized primarily as an additional percussive element.  The exception comes when the organic tribal/jungle percussion theme is replaced at the end of “Finding the Nautilus” with a drum pad variation.  Overall, the synth elements are merged well with the orchestra, used sparingly, and when they are used it’s to good effect.

As with Journey to the Center of the Earth voice plays an important role in the sequel score.  Choral chanting and accents flourish throughout the work embellishing moments of triumph (Sean’s Birthday), discovery (Discovering Atlantis & Island Reveal), and action (Bee Chase, Finding the Nautilus).  This time as promised, Lockington weaves an ethereal, solo vocal tribal theme throughout the score.   One wonders though if anyone in the tribe he visited actually sounds like what he composed.  The tribal solo vocal really elevates and enchants the soundscape whenever it occurs, much the same way voice elevated cues like “Eloi,” “Stone Language,” and “Godspeed” in Klaus Badelt’s excellent work for another Jules Verne inspired movie, The Time Machine.

Finally, let’s talk action.  The score features several rousing action cues including “Helicopter Crash,” “Lizard Chase,” “Bee Chase,” “Finding the Nautilus,” “Let’s Power This Thing Up,” and “The Nautilus Escape.”  Bee Chase and The Nautilus Escape are the standout cues, both offering extended length, varied thematic usage, variations of the pounding tribal percussion theme, and triumphant trumpet blasts.  “Finding the Nautilus” also offers a sweet variation of the jungle percussion offering some propulsive trek drum beats; a great cue to sit alongside John Williams’ “The Hunt” from The Lost World.

The album saves the best for last.  The conclusive Mysterious Island Main Titles is an excellent suite of all the themes Journey 2 has to offer and contains the most triumphant blasts of each theme on the entire album.  This cue is sure to be a highlight of 2012!

The score is immediately likable upon first listen and that appreciation is sure to grow with repeated listens.  Andrew Lockington’s work on Journey 2 stands as the first great score of 2012 and a solid entry in the fantasy score genre in general.  With the third movie in the franchise likely going to the Moon one can only expect another stellar Lockington score in the offing.  Let’s hope film producers take notice because Lockington seems in prime form for taking on an epic blockbuster.

Overall Rating: ****1/2 out of *****

Cue by Cue Rating:
Vernian’s Believe ***
The Attic ****
Helicopter Crash *** ½
Island Reveal ** ½
Lizard Chase *** ½
The Treehouse ***
Discovering Atlantis ****
Who’s Up For An Adventure? *****
Gold Dust *** ½
Bee Chase **** ½
Campfire ** ½
The Swamp **
Trident Cliffs **
Finding the Nautilus ****
Let’s Power This Thing Up *** ½
The Nautilus Escape ****
Sean’s Birthday *** ½
Mysterious Island Main Titles *****  

Purchase: Amazon


  1. Can't wait to hear this score. Thanks for reviewing it, now i'm even more inpatient to hear it! I wanted to ask you, maybe you know if it's available to buy somewhere else than just itunes and Amazon? I'm so eager to hear it but sadly i'm not able to purchase from either of the sites. Thanks in advance.

  2. Your welcome! Well, so far there is not a commercial CD release as far as I know. Amazon is offering an on-demand CD-R I believe, but that's not an option. The only other place I am aware of is emusic:


Thanks for sharing!