Film scores

Soundtrack review: The island of secrets (Panu Aaltio – 2015)

islandofsecrets

“The island of secrets” is a Greek – Finnish adventure movie about a vacationing family whose children get involved in an exciting hunt to capture illegal treasure hunters. One of the boys dreams of being Indiana Jones and this will play a part in how the score sounds. This MovieScore Media release was written by composer Panu Aaltio who had a brilliant score a few years ago, “The home of the dark butterflies” which remained on my iPod for a long time. I imagine “The island of secrets” will sound differently though…

And there it is…The opening theme is fun adventure at its best with a fanfare like sound that sends me back to those Indiana Jones scores. The composer wanted to play a bit on that sound to make us better relate with one of the characters. “Duel at see” throws us right in the middle of the action and is a beautiful orchestral piece with all the ingredients of a great adventure cue: danger, action and suspense. The beginning of the score takes no prisoners and I hope the composer can follow up in the same vein.

“Toni and Adriana” is a Mediterranean sounding theme with that sunny guitar and a moody piano that introduce us to another one of the teenagers in the movie, one who I imagine is more laid back than the guy who wants to be Indiana Jones. “Hidden treasure” has a mysterious sound that make me think more about an adventure in space than one at sea. “The adventure begins” has some lovely moments and I am already invested in this score. I have a hit and miss relationship with scores for children’s adventure movies but this one is done right and I like it.

“Underwater” counts as the first melancholic moment of “The island of secrets” and feels like an underwater swim which suddenly ends up in a magic cave where the light plays wonderful tricks on you. The action tracks like “Chasing kidnappers” are entertaining as well. “Bicycle heist” has that 70s spy movie sound you’ll easily recognize. “They have taken her” is serious, melodic and almost heart breaking in some moments. It provides this score with an emotional variety that works. The first minute of “A cunning plan” provides a glimpse through a door ajar into how Panu Aaltio could write for a different kind of movie. You can see through that small space a cello playing. I would have liked this track to keep that tone because it also has a few moments where an almost epic choir sings. But between these two parts we get back to the light adventure sound which could have missed from this cue. These interruptions keep the cue from getting 5 stars.

I am having a strange reaction to this score. I loved the adventurous beginning but once the deeper and more intense moments come I wish they would stay. I love how Panu Aaltio writes those and I want more of it. There’s a section in “The legend of Athanasios”, starting with 2:00 which is an amazing symphonic composition that just takes off and flies away from this score. I want to catch its tail and fly with it, that’s how beautiful it is. I forgot all about adventure and the subject of the movie and the mood of the score. I think these moments take me out of the kid frame of mind I need to fully enjoy the entire composition.

I will surely have to return to this score for a second impact because I can’t give a clear verdict after the first listen. It’s surely intriguing and enjoyable but a little uneven in some parts. Great beginning and great ending though.

Cue rating: 80 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 44

Album excellence: 26%

Highlights:

Duel At Sea

Underwater

The Legend Of Athanasios

Holiday Heroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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