Before David Arnold felt the urge go all John Barry with his updating of the Bond sound for Tomorrow Never Dies, he went for mammoth version of Barry's more recent approach with Last of the Dogmen. Written after Stargate and before Independence Day it doesn't start in a typical Arnold fashion. The main theme is a hugely expansive melody that is much larger sounding than even Barry's grandest themes. What does give it its own character are the complex orchestrations, thoughtful harmonies and confident counterpoint. These combine to provide for a greater textural depth which really works splendidly. It's just as well the theme is very good since the score is essentially monothematic and in the fairly short running time is used quite liberally, albeit with some fairly good variations.
Of course Arnold, unlike Barry, tends to wind up the drama and orchestral impact to often somewhat unrequired levels. Therefore cues such as Somebody's Out There and The First Arrow do often sound like they have escaped from Independence Day rather than from a film about an undiscovered tribe of Native Americans. For example the end of Medicine Run ends with a huge brass passage that suggests the world is about to be blown up, rather than anything I could imagine happening to peace loving Native Americans. The powerful performance of the London Symphony Orchestra, thick orchestrations and liberal percussion rather compound the heavy handidness. There are fortunately a few lighter moments and the following cue, Cheyenne Valley provides for one of the most beautiful, with the harmony for the main theme altered slightly to wonderful effect, the addition of a solo violin counterpoint only heightens the impact. Then again, The County Line throws everything into the melting pot: brass, rumbling percussion, high strings which is impressive and exhilarating, but rather excessive.
It's a difficult score to judge since its strengths are more often than not its weaknesses. The main theme is excellent and the multi layered feel to it is impressive, but can become cloying after a while. I am always a little indecisive over this score. It is filled with some wonderful moments, the wondrous main theme, the beauty of tracks such as Cheyenne Valley and the more playful music in The Truth. Sometimes I thoroughly enjoy the more exuberent moments, but on other occasions I sit wondering what the score might have been like had it just been toned down a little. One that definitely falls into the mixed bag catergory. However, given that this was his second score (I believe), it's an impressive achievement and let's face it, David Arnold has never been one to take a softly-softly approach.