July 14, 2014 3 comments

dawnoftheplanetoftheapesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the eighth film extrapolated from the ideas originally posited in Pierre Boulle’s 1963 French novel La Planète des Singes; after the five original films in the 1960 and 70s that began with the Charlton Heston classic, the 2001 Tim Burton movie everyone ignores, and the well-received first installment of the reboot series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, we continue the story ten years after the conclusion of that film. Most of the world’s human population has been killed by the ALZ-113 virus, which was created in the first film as a possible cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but proved fatal to all humans except for a few random individuals with natural genetic immunity. Caesar, the chimpanzee who became super-intelligent during the first film, subsequently escaped into the woods near San Francisco with other apes he freed from captivity, and established a basic civilization there; like all non-humans, he is completely immune to the effects of ALZ-113. The plot concerns the conflict between Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), the leaders of a group of survivors in what remains of San Francisco who must venture into ape territory to re-establish power at a hydroelectric dam, and Caesar (Andy Serkis) and Koba (Toby Kebbell), the leaders of the ape colony who face dangers both from the humans and from within their own community. Read more…

EARTH TO ECHO – Joseph Trapanese

July 7, 2014 Leave a comment

earthtoechoOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Essentially a remake of E.T. for the current youngest generation, Earth to Echo is a children’s sci-fi adventure directed by David Green and starring Teo Halm, Brian Bradley and Reese Hartwig as three young friends in suburban America. Two days before they are scheduled to separate – their neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project – the boys begin receiving a strange series of signals on their cell phones. Convinced that something bigger is going on, they team up with another school friend, Emma, and set out to look for the source of their phone signals, filming their adventures on a hand-held video camera as they go. Much to their astonishment, the friends come face to face with a small alien who has become stranded on Earth, and quickly find themselves in a race against time to send their new friend home. Read more…


June 30, 2014 2 comments

howtotrainyourdragon2Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

John Powell received his first – and, to date, only – Academy Award nomination for the surprise smash hit animated film from Dreamworks, How to Train Your Dragon, in 2010. The film was almost universally well-received, and grossed over $400 million worldwide, so a sequel was inevitable: so here we are, four years later, with How To Train Your Dragon 2. The film picks up five years after the events of the last film, and finds the heroic Viking dragon rider Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrara), and his dragon Toothless, happily exploring and mapping out new lands on behalf of his father Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), the chieftain of Berk. However, on one of their expeditions, Hiccup and Astrid discover a terrible potential threat: an insane warrior named Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) who has been capturing and enslaving dragons of his own for years, in order to help him conquer neighboring villages. Worst of all, Drago has a ‘bewilderbeast’, an alpha dragon which can control all other dragons it encounters – including Toothless… The film has an impressive voice cast, including Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill and Kit Harington from Game of Thrones, and – thankfully – sees John Powell returning to the scoring stage after his brief personal sabbatical last year. Read more…

LAIR – John Debney

June 15, 2014 2 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Lair is a role-playing video game where the player assumes the role of a dragon-riding knight named Rohn Partridge. The player is given a variety of tasks to perform including; defending a certain realm, destroying certain objects, eliminating enemies or creatures, and other mission-based objectives. After each stage of the game, the player has an opportunity to earn gold, silver, or bronze medals, depending on their performance during the level. A rare platinum medal is also available, although unlike the other three medals its requirements are secret. Earning medals assists the player in unlocking combos and behind-the-scenes videos. lair takes place in a world threatened by numerous emerging volcanoes that are destroying the planet’s ecosystem. Two cultures contest; the Mokai, whose lands are arid and depleted of resources, and the Asylians, who live in one of the last remaining verdant areas. Desperate to survive, the Mokai attack and try to seize the granaries of the Asylians. The spiritual leader of the Asylians, called the Diviner, condemns the Mokai as pagans and savages. Thus war begins and the game revolves around the pursuits of Rohn Partridge, an Asylian Sky Guard. His allegiance wavers after the Diviner orders the assassination of the Mokai peace envoy Atta-kai, and he becomes a renegade when his attack on a Mokai ‘armory’ reveals instead a temple housing women and children. He thus assumes the mantle of a warrior for justice as he navigates the conflict and attempts to bring about a lasting peace. Read more…

MALEFICENT – James Newton Howard

June 10, 2014 Leave a comment

maleficentOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Walt Disney’s 1959 animated version of Charles Perrault’s classic 15th century fairy tale Sleeping Beauty is rightly considered a classic of children’s literature and cinema. In it, a beautiful princess is cursed by a wicked witch to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep, death-like sleep, from which she can only be awakened by true love’s kiss. It’s a timeless tale, the basis of many fables, but in Disney’s new film Maleficent things turn on their head: it tells essentially the same story, but from the point of view from the “evil witch”. In this version, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is not truly evil, but instead a fairy from an enchanted world known as The Moors, who was betrayed and mutilated by her human lover. Vowing revenge on those who harmed her and her kind, Maleficent does indeed curse Aurora (Elle Fanning), the daughter of King Stefan (Sharlto Copley), but immediately regrets her actions; with the help of her minion Diaval (Sam Riley), Maleficent tries to protect Aurora throughout her childhood, while Stefan’s forces attempt to invade and destroy The Moors. The visually sumptuous film was directed by Robert Stromberg (the Oscar winning production designer of Avatar), and features a dazzling score by composer James Newton Howard. Read more…


June 6, 2014 2 comments

amillionwaystodieinthewestOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Seth MacFarlane is one of those people who you either seem to love or hate. Since the debut of his animated TV show Family Guy in 1999 he has polarized audiences, who seem to both love and loathe his crude humor, oddball characters and self-aware pop culture references in equal measure. I have always been firmly in the “love him” camp, having greatly enjoyed Family Guy, it’s spin-off The Cleveland Show, and his other project American Dad, as well as his big-screen debut project Ted, which I still think is one of the funniest comedies in years. His sophomore effort is, somewhat surprisingly, a western: A Million Ways to Die in the West, which stars MacFarlane himself as Albert Stark, a sheep farmer in old Arizona circa 1880, who hates everything about his life, especially the way in which the environment, the weather, and everyone and everything around him has the potential to kill him: hence the title of the film. After breaking up with his needy girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried), Albert thinks he has reached his lowest ebb – until the arrival of the beautiful and spunky Anna (Charlize Theron), to whom Albert takes an immediate shine. The only problem, however, is the fact that Anna is the estranged wife of Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), the most dangerous bandit in the territory… and he wants his wife back. Read more…

ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD – Fathers of Film Music, Part 2

June 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Erich Wolfgang KorngoldArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 29 May 1897, Brünn, Moravia.
Died: 29 November 1957

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was born of Jewish ancestry in the city of Brünn located in the province of Moravia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and is now Brno in the Czech Republic). He was the second son of renowned music critic Julius Korngold and his wife Josephine. His innate musical gifts manifested early when he played his Cantata “Gold” for composer Gustav Mahler, who was so impressed that he declared him a musical genius. When at age 11 his ballet “Der Schneemann” premiered at the Vienna Court Opera house for Emperor Franz Josef his destiny was set. His parents chose to act on Mahler’s recommendations and enrolled Erich to study under the auspices of Alexander von Zemlinsky and Robert Fuchs. To support his education Korngold made live recordings for player piano rolls, some of which survive today. Read more…

Categories: Fathers of Film Music

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