THE MONKEY KING 2 – Christopher Young

July 22, 2016 1 comment

monkeyking2Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Xi You Ji Zhi: Sun Wukong San Da Baigu Jing – known in English as The Monkey King 2 – is the second in the series of Chinese films based on “Journey to the West,” one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, which was written in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty by Wu Cheng En. Directed by Cheang Pou-Soi, the film continues the adventures of Sun Wukong, a monkey born from a magical stone who acquires supernatural powers. Following the events of the previous film, when he rebelled against heaven and was subsequently imprisoned under a mountain for 500 years, Sun Wukong (Aaron Kwok) is released and becomes the companion of a monk named Tang Sanzang (Shaofeng Feng), who is on a journey to India on a quest for enlightenment. However, their journey is fraught with danger, not least from Baigujing, White Bone Spirit (Gong Li), a demon who seeks immortality, and believes Tang Sanzang has the power to grant it to her. Read more…

ALIENS – James Horner

July 21, 2016 5 comments

aliensTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror masterpiece Alien was a watershed landmark, a seminal film that forever changed the genre, so it was something of a surprise that a sequel was not forthcoming straight away. With behind-the-scenes wrangling between executives at 20th Century Fox, and a script that languished in development hell, it actually took almost seven years for Aliens to hit the big screen, but with hindsight it was more than worth the wait. For me, Aliens is one of the greatest action films ever made; a blockbuster war movie allegory about the Vietnam War, inspired by several seminal works in classic sci-fi literature, written and directed by the young and hungry auteur behind the 1984 hit The Terminator. In James Cameron’s capable hands, Aliens became a masterpiece of tension and horror, pulsating adventure, and noble sacrifice. Read more…

GHOSTBUSTERS – Theodore Shapiro

July 19, 2016 1 comment

ghostbusters-shapiroOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Plans for a third Ghostbusters movie have been floating around Hollywood since the 1990s, but for a variety of reasons a true continuation of the story never materialized. Incomplete screenplays, lack of money, and reluctance from the stars of the original film – Bill Murray, especially – frustrated fans for decades, and the death of original cast member Harold Ramis in 2014 seemingly put an end to the possibility. However, in early 2015, it was unexpectedly announced that a complete reboot of the franchise had been green-lit, with Paul Feig directing a screenplay by Katie Dippold, and a brand new all-female leading cast comprising Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. That there was uproar about this is an understatement; almost from the moment the project was announced, there was a social media backlash, much of it aimed, somewhat misogynistically, at the fact that the leads were women, combined with the fact that the story completely ignored the characters and heritage of the first two films. Read more…

THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER – Bernard Herrmann

July 18, 2016 Leave a comment

devilanddanilwebster100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

1941 would prove to be a banner year for Bernard Herrmann as he was honored with two Academy Award nominations. Having completed Citizen Kane, what many believe to be his Magnum Opus, RKO Studios tasked him with a new project The Devil and Daniel Webster for director William Dieterle. Note that the studio later changed the title to “All That Money Can Buy”. From both Herrmann’s and Dieterle’s perspectives, the collaboration was collegial, and in the end, The Devil and Daniel Webster triumphed over Citizen Kane, earning Herrmann his only Academy Award win. Herrmann’s entry into the realm of film score music atop two nominated scores and an Oscar win was an outstanding achievement. Herrmann would later relate that he believed Citizen Kane was a superior score in that it was more original and better integrated into the film’s narrative – your author agrees. Read more…

SWISS ARMY MAN – Andy Hull and Robert McDowell

July 15, 2016 Leave a comment

swissarmymanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the strangest films in recent memory, Swiss Army Man is a surreal comedy-drama written and directed by two ‘Daniels’, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The film stars Paul Dano as Hank, a depressed young man who has been stranded on an island for an indeterminate length of time, and who has decided to commit suicide. However, before he can end it all, Hank’s life is saved when he finds a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) on the beach; incredibly, Hank discovers that the gases inside the decomposing body – who he has named Manny – are so powerful and potent, he can literally ride him like a jet-ski, thrust across the water by Manny’s forceful farts. After they wash up on a remote part of the mainland, Hank is even more astounded to discover that Manny is capable of speech, although he has no memory of who he was before he died. So begins the story of an incredible friendship, as Hank discovers that Manny has even more incredible powers, including the ability to vomit fresh water, the ability to shoot projectiles from his mouth, and – best of all – erections which act like a compass guiding him home. In return, Hank begins to educate Manny about life itself, imparting words of wisdom on love and friendship, as they slowly make their way back towards civilization. Read more…

THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE – Henry Mancini

July 14, 2016 Leave a comment

greatmousedetectiveTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Looking back from the vantage point we have now, thirty years into the future, it’s difficult to picture just how much trouble Walt Disney’s animated feature film department was in during the 1980s. A world away from their heyday of Snow White, Bambi, and Cinderella, Disney’s output in the late 1970s and early 1980s comprised some of their most forgettable works, ranging from The Rescuers in 1977 to The Fox and the Hound in 1981, The Black Cauldron in 1985, and Oliver & Company in 1988 – a year before everything changed with the release of The Little Mermaid in 1989. Released right in the middle of this lackluster phase, The Great Mouse Detective was Disney’s attempt to capture the essence of Sherlock Holmes in an animated film. Based on the popular children’s books by Eve Titus, the film is set in a version of Victorian England populated by anthropomorphic mice and rats, and follows the adventures of the famous detective Basil of Baker Street, who is hired by a young mouse named Olivia to investigate the disappearance of her toymaker father, who has been kidnapped by the evil Professor Ratigan as part of a fiendish plot involving robot clones and the Queen of England. The film was directed by Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, David Michener, and John Musker, and features the voice talents of Barrie Ingham and Vincent Price, among others. Read more…

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN – Rupert Gregson-Williams

July 11, 2016 Leave a comment

legendoftarzanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been dozens of movies and TV shows based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s classic Tarzan story since he was first introduced in literature in 1912. This latest cinematic adaptation, directed by Harry Potter alumnus David Yates, could almost be seen as a sequel to the excellent 1984 film Greystoke, which told the chronological origins of Tarzan. In this new story, Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård stars as John Clayton, the Earl of Greystoke, who has abandoned his Tarzan name and settled fairly comfortably into the life of an English aristocrat. Clayton is convinced to return to Africa by American lawyer George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) to help investigate possible acts of slavery against the native population by representatives of King Leopold II of Belgium; upon their return Clayton and his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) encounter the ruthless Leon Rom (Christophe Waltz), King Leopold’s emissary in the Congo, who is soon revealed to be using slaves to extract diamonds and build railroads on behalf of the Belgians. However, unknown to Clayton, Rom has an additional ulterior motive with links to his past, and before long Clayton is forced to adopt his Tarzan persona once more, interacting with the animals of the jungle to save his wife and free the slaves. Read more…

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