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Archive for December, 2007

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX – James Hannigan

December 31, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Joseph W. Bat

Is it really any surprise that one of the most successful book series and now film series has made its entry into the video game domain? Of course we are talking about Harry Potter. Author JK Rowling never thought her book would be as successful as it is or make its way onto the big screen and she probably didn’t think it would be a video game either, but since every film there has seen a video game adaptation. Since the first video game, composer Jeremy Soule had written award winning music till Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was arguably the best music he had written for the video games. This time around, composer James Hannigan has written the music for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. For a very good reason, the music here has been receiving more attention than previous efforts – read on to find out. Read more…

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM – Brian Tyler

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s interesting how the careers of Brian Tyler and the late Jerry Goldsmith have dovetailed: Tyler replaced Goldsmith on Timeline in 2003, and is scoring the fourth Rambo movie in a series which Goldsmith made his own. On Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Tyler is not only following in the footsteps of Goldsmith, but also James Horner, Elliot Goldenthal and Alan Silvestri, each of whom left an indelible musical mark on their respective entries into the franchises. What’s most impressive about this score is how Tyler has managed to pay homage to all the composers who preceded him by incorporating some of their compositional stylistics into his own music, while still retaining a great deal of his own voice throughout the score. Read more…

THE BUCKET LIST – Marc Shaiman

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been a while since the world had an original score by Marc Shaiman since he went off to write Hairspray and subsequently become the new darling of Broadway, but when Rob Reiner comes calling, Shaiman usually responds – and so we have The Bucket List, the latest cinematic collaboration between the two. The film stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two old men – both diagnosed with terminal illnesses – who make ‘the bucket list’, outlining the things they want to achieve before they shuffle off the mortal coil and kick the bucket. And so, the film follows their various misadventures as the pair escape from their cancer ward and subsequently tick off all the items on their list by going skydiving, driving stunt cars, traveling the world, and living their lives to the fullest before time runs out on them. Read more…

THE ORPHANAGE (EL ORFANATO) – Fernando Velázquez

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A hugely effective mystery/horror/thriller from Spain, El Orfanato is the latest film from Iberia to take the art houses by storm, off the back of the likes of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. The film, which is directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and stars Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo and Roger Príncep, tells the story of a woman named Laura, who brings her family back to her childhood home, where she opens an orphanage for handicapped children. Once there, Laura discovers that the new environment awakens her young son’s imagination – but before long, the fantasy games he plays with an invisible friend turn into something much more frightening. Desperate to save her family from the increasingly disturbing occurrences in the house, Laura turns to a group of parapsychologists for help in unraveling the mystery that has taken over the orphanage – but finds something more terrifying than she could have imagined. Read more…

THE GREAT DEBATERS – James Newton Howard and Peter Golub

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Denzel Washington’s second feature film as director, The Great Debaters is a worthy and noble film based on the true story of an all-black college debating team fighting for recognition and equality. Washington himself stars as Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas in 1935 who inspired his students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge the elite, wealthy and all-white Harvard team in the national championship. Films like these challenged institutional racism in the 1950s and 1960s, but are still just as powerful today: it’s also probably no coincidence that Washington seems to be channeling both Sidney Poitier and Brock Peters on the score album’s CD cover. Read more…

THERE WILL BE BLOOD – Jonny Greenwood

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most critically acclaimed motion pictures of 2007, director Paul Thomas Anderson’s dramatic character study There Will Be Blood is based on the 1927 novel “Oil!” by Upton Sinclair, and charts the beginnings of the California oil industry. Daniel Day Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, a single-minded and opportunistic businessman who, through a combination of bullying, charm, and actual genuine hard work, sets himself up as an oil baron. However, despite his financial and business success, Plainview remains a man with little else in his life, and his ruthless actions make him numerous enemies. Things come to a head when Plainview locks horns with the god-fearing Sunday family, whose land Plainview covets, and whose eldest son Eli (Paul Dano) proves to be more than a match for Plainview’s intimidating ways. The film, which also stars Ciarán Hinds, Kevin J. O’Connor and Dillon Freasier, had been the recipient of a huge amount of critical praise, and looks sure to be a major player at the 2007 Academy Awards. Read more…

THE WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP – James Newton Howard

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A delightful little fantasy with a Celtic lilt, The Water Horse is a children’s family film directed by Jay Russell. Set in Scotland, it follows the adventures of a little boy named Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel), who befriends a rather unusual animal: an amphibious ‘water horse’, which causes much mischief and mayhem in the MacMorrow household, but also eventually becomes the source of a much-discussed legend – the Loch Ness monster. The film stars Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, Brian Cox and David Morrissey in the adult roles, and features a pleasant score from James Newton Howard. Read more…

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR – James Newton Howard

December 21, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A political comedy-drama from director Mike Nichols and writer Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Wilson’s War tells the outrageously true story of former Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), a minor political player in Ronald Reagan’s administration who, through a series of contrived circumstances, finds himself part of a covert plot to supply the Afghan mujahaddin freedom fighters with the weapons and support to defeat the Soviet Union. The film also stars Julia Roberts as conservative fundraiser and lobbyist Joanne Herring, Philip Seymour Hoffman as shady CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, and Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Om Puri and Ned Beatty in smaller roles; the film was a critical success, but never really took flight with audiences, and ended up being one of the least-lucrative box office films of Tom Hanks’s career. Read more…

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS – Trevor Rabin

December 21, 2007 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Considering the monumental success of the original National Treasure movie, it was almost inevitable that a sequel would be made – and so here we are again, with Jon Turteltaub directing Nicolas Cage as adventurer Ben Gates – although this time he’s trying to get his hands on a mythical “book of secrets” which, if found, will uncover the truth about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and exonerate his great-great-grandfather from the accusations that he collaborated with John Wilkes Booth, the great president’s killer. Along for the ride this time around are Jon Voight, Ed Harris, Helen Mirren, Harvey Keitel, Justin Bartha and Diane Kruger, as is composer Trevor Rabin, who scored the original. Read more…

P.S. I LOVE YOU – John Powell

December 21, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A downbeat romantic comedy from director Richard La Gravenese, P.S. I Love You stars Hilary Swank as Holly Kennedy, a happily married young woman whose life is shattered when her husband Gerry (Gerard Butler) dies; However, before he died, Gerry wrote Holly a series of letters that will guide her, not only through her grief, but in rediscovering herself. The first message arrives on Holly’s birthday in the form of a cake, along with a tape recording from Gerry telling her to get out and “celebrate herself”. In the weeks and months that follow, more letters from Gerry are delivered in surprising ways, each sending her on a new adventure. The film also stars Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, James Marsters, Kathy Bates and Harry Connick Jr., and features a whimsical, touching score from John Powell. Read more…

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET – Stephen Sondheim

December 21, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The resurgence of the Broadway movie musical in recent years, off the back of Award-winners like Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, Dreamgirls, and this year’s popular Hairspray, is a pleasing one indeed, at least from my perspective. Classic musicals from the golden age of Hollywood, however much they may be considered passé today, were nevertheless hugely enjoyable escapist entertainments, and often introduced a number of showstopping ballads into public consciousness – and making stars of the singers in the process. Whether the new adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd will have the same popular impact remains to be seen – the story is perhaps a little to outlandish to truly cross over – but, from a purely musical perspective, it is an absolute masterpiece. Read more…

THE KITE RUNNER – Alberto Iglesias

December 14, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Another powerful drama based on a hugely important and successful novel, director Marc Forster’s The Kite Runner examines 30 years of the history of Afghanistan – from the downfall of the historical monarchy, through the Soviet years, to the stifling influence of the Taliban and beyond – from the point of view of two young friends, Amir and Hassan, whose fates diverge dramatically as a result of a seemingly innocuous childhood incident.

The score for The Kite Runner is by Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias, and as one might expect a fair amount of the score contains the increasingly-familiar Middle Eastern inflections, in the writing, the orchestration, the rhythms and the vocal effects Read more…

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH – Osvaldo Golijov

December 14, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An unusual and highly personal drama from director Francis Ford Coppola, Youth Without Youth is based on the novella by Romanian author Mircea Eliade, and stars Tim Roth as 70-year-old linguist and philosopher Dominic Matei who, dismayed by the onset of World War 2 and unable to finish his life’s work, contemplates suicide. However, after Matei is struck by lightning, he wakes up to discover that he has miraculously made a full recovery, has been rejuvenated with the body of a 35-year-old man, and can store limitless amounts of information in his brain simply by passing his hand over a book… a phenomenon that quickly becomes famous within the scientific community, and which sends the Gestapo and Hitler’s top scientists in his direction. Read more…

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS – Christopher Lennertz

December 14, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ever since those adorable little critters, the Chipmunks, first burst onto airwaves and screens in the United States in the 1950s, they have been a mainstay of American popular culture. Over the years the anthropomorphic trio – Alvin, Simon and Theodore – and their human manager David Seville have enjoyed numerous hit records, featured in TV shows both animated and live action, and now feature in a new movie directed by Tim Hill, starring Jason Lee, and featuring the voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney.

Alvin and the Chipmunks was one of the surprise box office hits of 2007, taking in over $200 million domestic. It’s also by far the biggest film to date of Christopher Lennertz’s career Read more…

I AM LEGEND – James Newton Howard

December 14, 2007 1 comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Dear reader, I would like to ask you a question. Which sort of film frustrates you more: a film that is bad from start to finish, or a good film that features some bad moments? I find myself picking the latter. I can sit through a stupid movie and accept it for what it is… it’s often a painless and clinical experience for me. However, when a movie is as frequently good as “I Am Legend” is, it really hurts me to see it turn sour. “I Am Legend” is often such a thoughtful popcorn movie that you might as well not even bring the popcorn. It’s a big-budget extravaganza that spends most of it’s time paying attention to more important things than explosions. Most of it’s time. Read more…

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