STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN – James Horner

August 3, 2015 1 comment

startrek2expandedMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

James Horner won my heart in 1982 with his score to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and he quickly became my favorite composer. His tragic and untimely death was personally devastating to me and I to this day continue to mourn his passing. I realized that I was about to reach a milestone, my 100th review, and thought what could be more fitting than to use this special occasion to celebrate his legacy with a heart-felt homage to one of his greatest scores.

Although disappointed by the lukewarm reception of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, Paramount was committed to continuing with its enormous investment in resurrecting the franchise, albeit with different leadership. Gene Roddenberry was assigned blame for the lethargic and plodding Star Trek: The Motion Picture and ‘promoted’ to executive consultant. Harve Bennett was given creative control and tasked with writing a better and more memorable story, which recaptured the spirit of the TV series. Bennett quickly realized that he faced a serious challenge in developing the new Star Trek movie, as remarkably, he was unfamiliar with its history, having never seen the television show! He studiously watched all the episodes, and had an epiphany after viewing “Space Seed”. He correctly reasoned that what was needed to make Star Trek successful again, was a villain worthy to serve as Kirk’s foil. The fierce and indomitable Khan Noonian Singh fully embodied the coveted perfect adversary for the film. Read more…

ANT-MAN – Christophe Beck

July 30, 2015 Leave a comment

ant-manOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A wholly unlikely new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man is the latest super hero film to hit the silver screen. Originally created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby for the comic ‘Tales to Astonish’ in 1962, this first big-screen adventure for the character focuses on cat burglar Scott Foley, whose efforts to put aside his life of crime are stymied by his inability to hold down a regular job, jeopardizing his relationship with his daughter Cassie. Talked into committing “one last job” by his former cellmate Luis, Scott breaks into a house to steal a safe, unaware that the house belongs to scientist and inventor Hank Pym, who has created a suit which will shrink the wearer down to the size of an ant, while simultaneously giving him super-human powers. Unbeknownst to Scott, Pym – who became the original Ant-Man in 1963 – has manipulated events so that he can convince Scott to become a new Ant-Man, and help him retrieve the shrinking technology from his former protégé, the ruthless Darren Cross, who has stolen it, and intends to it sell to agents of Hydra. The film is directed by Peyton Reed, stars Paul Rudd as Foley, Michael Douglas as Pym, Corey Stoll as Cross, and Evangeline Lilly as Pym’s daughter Hope Van Dyne, and has an original score by Christophe Beck. Read more…

SILVERADO – Bruce Broughton

July 23, 2015 Leave a comment

silveradoexpandedTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite being the quintessential genre of American cinema, the western often goes through periods of decline, lulls in production where very few films of quality are produced by Hollywood. The early 1980s was one of those periods when cowboys were seemingly out of fashion, having been tainted by the overblown budget and massive failure of Heaven’s Gate at the box office in 1980. It would take five years for someone to take a gamble on another one, but two came out in the summer of 1985 – Clint Eastwood’s introverted and introspective Pale Rider, and Lawrence Kasdan’s more traditionally adventurous Silverado. With an all-star cast of talented character actors including Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Linda Hunt, and even John Cleese, the film follows the escapades of four drifters who become unlikely friends and find themselves in the small town of Silverado, New Mexico, caught in the middle of a land war between open range cowboys and homesteading farmers, and dealing with individual demons from their own past. The film was a modest financial success, taking $32 million at the box office, and was generally well received at the time, but as the years have gone by Silverado is now looked on more favorably, and is considered a turning point in the revitalization of the genre. Read more…

I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY – Joshua Johnson

July 21, 2015 Leave a comment

iambigbirdOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Sesame Street was one of the few American kid’s TV shows that aired in the United Kingdom when I was a child, so I grew up being very familiar with its cast of characters, both human and muppet. While that lovable ball of red fuzz Elmo is undoubtedly the star of the show these days, for many years the center of attention was Big Bird, the eight-foot tall yellow creature who has the innocence and inquisitiveness of a six year old child. Since the character first debuted on the show in 1969 he has been played by Caroll Spinney, a master puppeteer and artist. Now 81 years old, Spinney is the subject of this new documentary feature from directors Dave La Mattina and Chad Walker, which charts Spinney’s life, from his early years growing up in Massachusetts, to the beginnings of his friendship with Jim Henson, and his work on the Street controlling both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Read more…

ANTHONY ADVERSE – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

July 20, 2015 Leave a comment

anthonyadverseMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studio was in the market for a period piece romance and found its inspiration in Harvey Allen’s massive 1200 page novel “Anthony Adverse” (1933), paying an amazing $40,000 for the screen rights. Veteran director Mervyn LeRoy was hired to manage the project with Sheridan Gibney and Milton Krims tasked with adapting the mammoth novel for the big screen. The stellar cast included Frederic March as Anthony Adverse, Olivia de Havilland as Angela Giuseppe, Donald Woods as Vincent Nolte, Anita Louise as Maria Bonnyfeather, Edmund Gwenn as John Bonnyfeather and Claude Rains as Marquis Don Luis. Set in late 18th century Italy, the story offers a classic morality tale abounding with treachery, betrayal and misfortune. Maria is in an arranged marriage to the rich and cruel Marquis Don Luis, who is very much her senior. She however is in love with the man her dreams, a young and dashing French Calvary officer with who she becomes pregnant. When the Marquis discovers her dishonor, he kills her lover in a duel, and after she dies in childbirth, leaves her bastard son at a convent. When young Anthony reaches manhood he falls in love and marries his sweetheart Angela. By a twist of fate they become separated, tragically he is bereft at her disappearance while she feels he has abandoned her. As Anthony seeks his fortune overseas Angela rises to become an opera star. Years later when our lovers finally reunite, Anthony discovers that Angela has bore him a son, but she fails to disclose that she is now the famous opera star Mlle. Georges, mistress of Napoleon Bonaparte. When Anthony learns her secret, he is heart-broken and departs for America with his son in search of a better life. The film was a commercial and critical success, earning seven Academy Award nominations, winning four, including Best Original Score. Read more…

MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME – Maurice Jarre

July 16, 2015 1 comment

madmaxbeyondthunderdome-expandedTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third in director George Miller’s series of Mad Max movies, Beyond Thunderdome once again starred Mel Gibson and continued the adventures of the former Australian Highway Patrol officer Max Rockatansky, as he tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic society. Fifteen years after the events of Mad Max II, Max finds himself in Bartertown, a vicious society of scavengers and opportunists overseen by the ruthless Aunty Entity, played by Tina Turner. In exchange for returning to him his vehicle – which she has scavenged – she forces him in to conflict with Master Blaster, a dwarf and his hulking masked bodyguard, who control Bartertown’s fuel supply; to resolve the conflict, Max finds himself taking part in gladiatorial games inside the ‘thunderdome’, an enormous metal arena where people duel to the death. The film was an enormous success – the highest grossing film of the original trilogy – and further cemented Mel Gibson’s box office bankability as a leading man; his next film would be the smash hit buddy-cop action movie Lethal Weapon, two years later. Read more…

POLDARK – Anne Dudley

July 14, 2015 1 comment

poldarkOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Poldark is one of those British period romantic dramas that the BBC does so well. Based on the series of historical novels by Winston Graham, this is actually the second adaptation of the story made by Auntie Beeb, following the massively popular and successful series starring Robin Ellis and Angharad Rees which first began airing in 1975. The stories follow the fortunes of Ross Poldark, a British Army officer who returns to his home in Cornwall from the American Revolutionary War only to find that his fiancée, Elizabeth Chynoweth, having believed him dead, is about to marry his cousin Francis. Ross attempts to restore his own fortunes by reopening one of his family’s long-derelict tin mines, and after several years he marries Demelza Carne, a poor servant girl, and gradually comes to terms with the loss of Elizabeth’s love. However, as is always the case with stories such as these, the course of true love never runs smooth, and the dramatic saga of the Poldark family continues across the generations. The show stars Aidan Turner as Poldark, Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza, Heida Reid as Elizabeth, and Kyler Soller as Francis. Read more…

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