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Archive for May, 2000

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 – Hans Zimmer

May 26, 2000 Leave a comment

missionimpossible2Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hans Zimmer’s score has come in for a lot of criticism over the last few weeks but, when you consider the film which his score accompanies, it’s a wonder it turned out this good. After everyone complained about how confusing Mission: Impossible was, it was decided to make Mission: Impossible 2 simpler. Simpler, yes. Dumber, no, but once again the Hollywood executives have pandered to the lowest common denominator of the movie-going public, and made M:I2 a stupid, albeit enjoyable movie, at least on a visceral level. After being forced to watch producer/star Tom Cruise show off his glistening biceps while hanging off a mountain during the opening credits, Mission: Impossible 2 actually turns out to be a virus movie with delusions of grandeur. Rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) has stolen the antidote to a killer virus called chimera which, when released into the atmosphere, will incapacitate anyone who encounters it within 20 hours. With the help of his nasty Australian henchman Stamp (Richard Roxburgh), Ambrose plans to steal the virus itself from the laboratory where it was made, release it, and blackmail the world into paying him for the cure. The mission, should the ubiquitous Ethan Hunt (Cruise) choose to accept it, is to travel to Australia in the company of his loyal technical whiz Luther (Ving Rhames), and thwart Ambrose’s plan – but not before he has made a diversion to Spain to elicit the help of Nyah Nordoff-Hall (the luminous Thandie Newton), Ambrose’s former lover. Read more…

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DINOSAUR – James Newton Howard

May 19, 2000 Leave a comment

dinosaurOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A mammoth majestic effort of immense proportions and great beauty, James Newton Howard’s score for the Disney animated epic Dinosaur is far and away the best work of his career to date. Previously defined by taught, almost themeless thriller and horror works with the odd landmark standout (Waterworld, Wyatt Earp), Dinosaur is highly recommended for anyone who was underwhelmed by The Sixth Sense or bored by Snow Falling on Cedars. It is the James Newton Howard score I have been waiting all my life to hear. As a film, Dinosaur’s themes and messages are rooted in the grand Disney tradition. Right from The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, through The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mulan, the mouse house have continually recycled the old story line chestnuts again and again – an outsider comes to be part of a new community, is initially shunned by the group, but is eventually accepted when he/she/it stands up to an aggressor and proclaims the merits of teamwork, loyalty and understanding. In this case, the outsider is a young dinosaur named Aladar, who is orphaned at birth and raised instead by a family of lemur-like monkeys on a small island. When the island is devastated by a meteor shower, Aladar and the survivors hook up with a group of other dinos who are searching for “The Nesting Grounds”, a mythical place where land and water are bountiful, but who are continually avoiding the deadly carnotaur predators who track their every move. Initially shunned by the herd, Aladar eventually makes friends with Neera, a female, and offers help to three elders who are slowing down the group – and making an enemy of Kron, the leader, in the process. Read more…

HAMLET – Carter Burwell

May 12, 2000 Leave a comment

hamlet-burwellOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the worst things about being a soundtrack reviewer is that, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t think of anything to write about a particular score. I’ve struggled with Carter Burwell’s Hamlet for months, never being able to properly put into words my feelings about the music. I’ve listened to it a dozen times, and never been able to form any kind of opinion about the score, either positive or negative. And then it dawned on me that my basis for review should be precisely that: when I listen to Hamlet, I feel absolutely nothing. It provokes absolutely no reaction in me whatsoever. And, for a film score, that is probably the most damning criticism of all. Read more…

BATTLEFIELD EARTH – Elia Cmiral

May 12, 2000 Leave a comment

battlefieldearthOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The definition of a “turkey” in cinematic terms is, in my own words, a film which fails to impress on ever conceivable level, from acting to direction to writing, up to and including any and all of the technical departments. Battlefield Earth, a big-budget science fiction epic wannabe adapted from the best-selling pulp novel by L. Ron Hubbard, is a turkey. A great, big, bloated, clucking turkey complete with giblets a wattle and a parson’s nose and everything. It’s a rare occurrence for such a high-profile movie to be this bad – there are normally at least one or two redeeming features, even it’s only a high quotient of campness a la Showgirls – but Battlefield Earth fails on every conceivable level, with the possible exception of its music. Read more…

UP AT THE VILLA – Pino Donaggio

May 5, 2000 Leave a comment

upatthevillaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In what is his most high-profile international outing since Never Talk To Strangers back in 1997, Italian composer Pino Donaggio has written a beautifully romantic score for the new film version of W. Somerset Maugham’s Up at the Villa. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Sean Penn and Anne Bancroft, the movie is an old-fashioned love story between a soon-to-be betrothed English rose and a brash, charming American set against the backdrop of a pre-War Italy that is beginning to embrace fascism with an alarmingly rapid pace. While the two lovers anguish over whether or not their illicit liaisons should continue, Maugham’s social and political commentary seeps through the rest of film, resulting in a motion picture which is emotionally engaging and intellectually stimulating. You know, from history, that their affair is ultimately doomed, but such is the strength of the performances you still care. There is also a twist in the story that I won’t reveal – suffice to say that it concerns the fate a young Austrian refugee played by Jeremy Davies. Read more…

THE BASKET – Don Caron

May 5, 2000 Leave a comment

thebasketOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’d happily wager that 99% of the people reading this have never heard of Don Caron, and have never heard of The Basket, let alone seen it. The film was never released widely in cinemas, you cannot buy the soundtrack in stores, and it premiered on TV in the UK as late as June 2001, well over two years after it was made. Contrary to all of the above, however, both film and score are absolutely superb, proving once again that you cannot judge a film’s quality by its success, or a composer’s talent by the size of his “name”. Read more…

GLADIATOR – Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard

May 5, 2000 Leave a comment

gladiatorOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

When I’m not actually sitting down and listening to a Hans Zimmer score, I like to tell myself (and anyone else within earshot) that I’m not a great fan of his work. He’s too simplistic, I say. He relies far too much on synthesisers and banks of programmers, and he has a style that virtually never differs from score to score. Every other score he writes is just another variation on the patented Crimson Tide heroic anthem. And, to some extent, each element of the above arguments have some shred of truth within them. But, when I do actually sit down and listen to a Hans Zimmer score, I usually thoroughly enjoy doing so. It’s a painful contradiction, but it proves one thing: as a composer, he has a rather limited range, but as a dramatist and as a manipulator of emotions, he has few peers. Read more…