Posts Tagged ‘James Horner’

COMMANDO – James Horner

October 22, 2015 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were cinematic rivals throughout the 1980s, going toe-to-toe through a series of increasingly spectacular action movies, as they tried to out-shoot, out-fight, and out-muscle each other to the top of the box office charts. 1985 was arguably the year their battle commenced, as it saw the release of Stallone’s Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Schwarzenegger’s Commando, the first movie in which the Austrian Oak starred as a contemporary human being, after playing a fantasy warrior in the Conan series, and an unstoppable cyborg in The Terminator. Directed by journeyman Mark L. Lester, Commando saw Schwarzenegger playing John Matrix, a retired elite Black Ops commando who is forced back into action when Arius, the exiled South American dictator he helped depose, kidnaps his daughter, intending to blackmail Matrix into restoring Arius to power. The film, which also starred Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, and an 8-year-old Alyssa Milano, was critically lambasted, but was a commercial success, and helped initiate Schwarzenegger’s career as a heroic leading man. Read more…


October 15, 2015 Leave a comment

journeyofnattygannTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following his breakout year in 1982, when he wrote music for the box-office smashes Star Trek II and 48 HRS., James Horner spent the next several years solidly entrenched as one of the newest, most exciting young members of the Hollywood studio system, scoring several successful and popular features. After he proved his reliability when asked to replace Georges Delerue on Something Wicked This Way Comes in 1983, the executives at Walt Disney turned to Horner again in the fall of 1985, when they asked him to write a last-minute replacement for Elmer Bernstein’ score for the film The Journey of Natty Gann. Directed by Jeremy Kagan from an original screenplay by Jeanne Rosenberg, and set during the darkest days of the Great Depression in 1935, the film starred 12-year old Meredith Salenger as the eponymous Natty, a tomboy who sets off on a cross-country trek to find her father Sol (Ray Wise) after he leaves their Pacific Northwest home for Chicago in a desperate attempt to find work. En route she is befriended by a wolf, who travels with and protects her for much of her voyage, and even has a brief, innocent romance with another young traveler named Harry, played by a young John Cusack. Read more…


August 19, 2015 1 comment

startrek3expandedMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan achieved tremendous critical and commercial success, and so Paramount quickly authorized the making of a third film. However, director Nicholas Meyer refused to return in protest over changes made to the prior film’s ending without his consent. When Nimoy was asked to reprise the role of Spock, he said yes, with the caveat that he wanted to direct the film. The studio hesitated, but ultimately agreed, and Harve Bennett was again hired to produce and write the script. The original crew ensemble returned including; William Shatner as Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, DeForest Kelly as Dr. McCoy, James Doohan as Scott, George Takei as Sulu, Walter Koenig as Chekov and Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. Joining the cast was Christopher Llyod as the villain Captain Kruge, Robin Curtis replacing Kirstie Alley as Lieutenant Saavik, Mark Lenard as Sarek, Merritt Buttrick as Dr. David Marcus, and the renowned Dame Judith Anderson as the Vulcan high priestess T’Lar. Nimoy wanted the film to be operatic with a transpersonal exploration of the themes of life, death and rebirth. Yet he also wanted to explore on a more personal level, the deeper meaning of friendship. Nimoy relates: “What should a person do to help a friend? How deeply should a friendship commitment go? And what sacrifices, what obstacles, will these people endure?” Read more…


August 3, 2015 3 comments

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…

COCOON – James Horner

June 25, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Cocoon was one of the major box-office successes of 1985, a winning combination of science fiction adventure and family drama directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley and Hume Cronyn as three old-timers living in a retirement community in Florida; part of their daily routine is to sneak into an unoccupied house next door and swim in its swimming pool. One day they find a number of strange, rock-like objects at the bottom of the water, but after checking them out, decide to swim there anyway; following their swim, the three geezers suddenly find themselves rejuvenated with a vigorous, youthful energy, and they share their discovery with their respective wives and lady friends, played by Gwen Verdon, Maureen Stapleton, and Jessica Tandy. However, much to the shock of the senior citizens, the ‘rocks in the pool’ turn out to be cocoons containing dozens of sick aliens, left behind by friendly extra-terrestrials centuries ago, and which were about to be returned to their home planet by their leader, Brian Dennehy, with the help of a local ship captain, played by Steve Guttenberg – until the pool was drained of its life force by the old folks. As such, the sextet of retirees must work with the aliens to help them find a way home, without revealing the secret of the pool. The film earned two Academy Awards – one for Best Supporting Actor for Don Ameche, and one for Best Visual Effects – and boasted a magnificent score by the then 32-year-old James Horner. Read more…

James Horner, 1953-2015

June 22, 2015 Leave a comment

James HornerComposer James Horner has been killed in a plane crash. Horner died when the single engine S312 Tucano plane he was piloting crashed in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, California. He was 61 years old.

James Roy Horner was born in Los Angeles in August 1953, the son of Harry Horner, an Oscar-nominated Hollywood production designer and occasional film director who emigrated from Austria. He attended high school in California and Arizona, but spent most of his formative years living in London, where he attended the Royal College of Music, and later completed his PhD at UCLA in Los Angeles. After scoring several short film projects for the American Film Institute in the late 1970s, and spending several years teaching, Horner joined the staff at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, scoring several low-budget genre films, including the popular Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), and working with soon-to-be Hollywood bigwigs such as director James Cameron and producer Gale Ann Hurd.

Horner launched into the big time in 1982 with his score for the critically acclaimed and commercially popular science fiction sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and from that point on Horner quickly rose to become one of the most in-demand composers in Hollywood. In the 1980s and 90s Horner became known for his grand, large-scale, emotional orchestral works; he scored a succession of box office hit movies including 48 HRS. (1982), Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989), The Pelican Brief (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Apollo 13 (1995) and Ransom (1996), and wrote enormously popular scores for films such as Krull (1983), Cocoon (1985), Willow (1988), Field of Dreams (1989), Glory (1989), Legends of the Fall (1994) and Braveheart (1995), culminating in the massive Titanic in 1997, which remains one of the biggest-selling orchestral score albums of all time. Following the turn of the millennium Horner’s career continued apace, with scores for further box office successes such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Perfect Storm (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Avatar (2009) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) amongst his efforts. Read more…

WOLF TOTEM – James Horner

March 11, 2015 2 comments

wolftotemOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been a long 2½ years, since the summer of 2012 and The Amazing Spider-Man, to wait for a new James Horner score. In the intervening period he has had at least one score rejected (Romeo & Juliet, eventually scored by Abel Korzeniowski), and left at least one other project under unclear circumstances (Ender’s Game, eventually scored by Steve Jablonsky), all the while making dark mutterings about how unhappy and disillusioned he is about the state of the Hollywood film music scene overall. The fact that all this was coming from a man who, for almost 30 years, had been at the forefront of the entire genre, one of the leading public faces of the industry, with literally dozens of scores for mainstream blockbusters under his belt, was troubling; was Horner’s career about to follow that of composers like Bruce Broughton, Trevor Jones, and the late Basil Poledouris, whose bold, emotional, symphonic writing had become passé for Hollywood’s young directors? Thankfully, the answer to this question, at least for now, appears to be a resounding no: he’s back with a full slate of five films scheduled for 2015 and 2016, the first of which – this one – ranks among his very best. Read more…


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