James Newton Howard
You have to feel sorry for James Newton Howard -- he has scored all of Kevin Costner's "epics" post-Dances with Wolves. Where Dances with Wolves seemed to suggest that Costner had the Midas touch, Waterworld, Wyatt Earp and now The Postman suggest otherwise. None have done particularly well at the box office, but that shouldn't detract you from the music. Now I have heard some of Wyatt Earp and thought it quite good, and from my review of Waterworld you'd know James Newton Howard provides a good score for the ex-"Most Expensive Movie of all time" (which now goes to Titanic). The Postman seems to follow this trend -- good score, box office flop.
Getting back on track, Howard provides a very solid score to The Postman. The Main Titles are superb, with that grandiose theme that could be used as a title for any epic adventure. I particularly like the choral piece infused with the main theme, my only complaint was that it wasn't used more. The rest of the tracks seem to fall in two categories -- quiet and action. The quiet tracks -- Shelter in the Storm, Abby Comes Calling and The Postman (though not completely) -- are unremarkable in their melodies and would be best used as simple background music to quiet moments in your adventure. The action cues -- The Belly of the Beast, General Bethlehem and The Restored United States -- are best used for fight scenes and ambushes (if you can time it well).
The album is a nice length, but only 68% of it is actually score. So keep this in mind when deciding whether to buy. As mentioned in atmosphere, the songs can be ignored. I don't think the score could be categorised as only Science fiction or only Fantasy, I think it would work in either setting. Of course it is probably going to be most useful in a post-nuclear setting, as that's where the film is set. Note the long track length for the seven score tracks. This is going to make it hard to set it to a description especially since most have at least one or two "mood" changes. Thus they will be better utilised as background music for long events -- such as when the characters are exploring or (as was mentioned above) getting into a fight.
Howard has come up with a fine score for Costner's movie. Don't let the movie put you off music that is well suited to grand, epic adventures -- much like the film.
Track Listing and Notes
- Main Titles (2:21) - rousing opening
- Shelter In The Storm (6:23) - slow
- The Belly Of The Beast (6:49) - journey ~ tracking ~ danger ~ arrival ~ hope
- General Bethlehem (6:55) - danger ~ slow ~ triumphant
- Abby Comes Calling (10:49) - tracking ~ quiet
- The Restored United States (6:43) - pride ~ fight
- The Postman (9:50) - reflections ~ pride ~ victory
- Almost Home * - Jono Manson (3:59)
- The Next Big Thing * - Jono Manson (2:18)
- Almost Home * - Jono Manson (2:19)
- The Perfect World * - John Coinman (3:38)
- Once This Was The Promised Land* - John Coinman (2:06)
- I Miss My Radio * - Jono Manson and John Coinman (2:42)
- Come And Get Your Love * - John Coinman (3:06)
- He Didn't Have To Be So Nice * - Amy Grant and Kevin Costner (3:38)
Total Running Time: 73:41