This is John Williams first score since 2008 when he wrote the music for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I liked that score, although it was far from his best work. I do feel that the problem was with the film (duh) and not so much with his music. The opportunities for writing a big epic score just weren't there like they are with Tintin. This movie is fun, playful, and features numerous quirky characters and exciting action scenes. The scale seems somewhat larger than the latest Indy with adventures in Brussels, a 17th Century sailing ship, Bagghar (a Moroccan city), and a dockyard. On the whole this album is good. Very good. This film seems to have rejuvenated Williams in the same way it rejuvenated Spielberg. The tracks are exciting and memorable and the style is distinct enough that it sets the tone for the series.
To go into more detail on some of the tracks: "The Adventures of Tintin" sets up some of the themes which will be displayed later in the album. It seems very jazzy and chaotic, changing tone numerous times throughout. If I had to describe this track in one word it would be "fun." They use this for the opening titles which are a quite excellent traditional animation and tell an entirely unrelated story of the theft of some sort of glowing globe.
"Snowy's Theme" is a nice an perky number that hopefully fits in quite well. It sounds like a theme set up to establish a cheerful and innocent setting shortly before everything goes crazy. It has a screeching violin giving just the right hint of excitement popping up when needed. I really like this one and am glad to see that hints of it appear throughout the album.
"The Secret of the Scrolls" is a moody and mysterious piece which kind of reminds me of his theme for the Crystal Skull. It is still its own piece and it feels more versatile given how they mix it in with some of the other themes. In fact it is used later in some quite good action scenes in a way which I could never imagine the Crystal Skull theme being used.
"Introducing the Thompsons and Snowy's Chase" is the first real action track. It starts off with a dull, plodding number which I can only assume represents the Thompsons. Then it goes into the action music which features "Snowy's Theme" rather strongly. The violin from that theme pops up a lot more in this track as befitting the exciting nature of the scene.
"Sir Francis and the Unicorn" is my favorite track in the album. It starts off slowly and mysteriously with the theme from the "Secret of the Scrolls" which then rises in tempo and becomes all out action music. It's followed by a superb action piece which is similar to, but different from, the Tintin theme. It's all very epic and exciting and just feels booming and important. You can actually hear this music in the trailer as you watch the attack on the Unicorn which is exactly where it shows up in the finished film. The Unicorn fight is one of the best in the movie and the music goes perfectly with the scene.
"Captain Haddock Takes the Oars" is one of the quieter tracks that really works. It feels somewhat whimsical and pedantic which fits with a very drunk Captain Haddock. Somehow this sounds the way I think when trying to reason something out while hammered.
"Red Rackham's Curse and the Treasure" is a lot like "Sir Francis and the Unicorn." They are both definitely action themes and they do their job well. This one uses a lot of the main Tintin theme to good effect.
I really dislike "Presenting Bianca Castafiore." In fact, it's the only track here that I can't stand. I get that she's supposed to be irritating but the track doesn't have to add breaking glass sound effects. It's very annoying. This is basically just an opera track with Bianca singing at the top of her lungs.
"The Pursuit of the Falcon" is another good action theme. What's really great about all these themes is that while they're similar in style the tunes are completely different. And yet they're all quite catchy. Really, this music is as good as anything Williams did for Indiana Jones. Which isn't to say that it's the same style, although there are similarities. It's even more playful and direct which fits Tintin's more simplistic character.
"The Return to Marlinspike Hall and Finale" is sort of a wrap up. It calms down several of the earlier themes and feels very reflective.
"The Adventure Continues" is basically Tintin's theme played without distraction. This is the end credit music. As you'd expect from Tintin it's thrilling and seems to promise the hope of further adventures. I had sort of figured based on this that there'd be some kind of animation during the end credits but there isn't.
I do have to admit that there is no theme here so instantly catchy as the Harry Potter theme or the Raider's March, but that should not diminish what is in all respects an excellent score. The music is catchy and exciting and seems to effortlessly capture the lightheartedness and whimsy that makes the series so endearing. Many of the themes seem bound to become classics. I didn't realize until I heard it again how much I had missed John Williams' music. It is very nice to have him back. After a break of four years to get this and War Horse is a real treat!