A children's fantasy like The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep gives free rein to James Newton Howard
's most grandiose music impulses -- this kind of project is a perfect fit for the composer's over the top sentimentality and unabashed histrionics, and for all of its excess, it's one of his most creative and heartfelt scores. With its soaring strings, broad melodies, and lush Celtic instrumentation, The Water Horse
luxuriates in a kind of mystical otherness essential to Howard
's musical vision -- heroic strings, sledgehammer brass, and eruptions of percussion all vie for space in the overstuffed arrangements. Despite its sheer density, the score works: Howard
summons a genuine sense of childlike wonder sure to override even the most jaded listener.