Archive for October, 2015


October 29, 2015 1 comment

nightmareonelmstreet2THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the wake of the massive, and unexpected, success of A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, New Line Cinema realized they had a potential franchise on their hands. Audiences had responded very positively to Freddy Krueger, the wisecracking maniac with a striped sweater and a gloved hand full of knives who kills people in their dreams. Despite him having apparently been vanquished at the end of the first film, they found a way to bring him back for a sequel, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge got the green light for release on Halloween weekend, 1985, under the direction of veteran Jack Sholder. With the exception of Robert Englund as Freddy, the film featured an all-new cast, focusing on Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton), a teenage boy who moves into a new house with his family, without realizing that it is the same house where Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) fought Freddy years previously. Before long, Jesse is having nightmares about being stranded on a school bus with two girls and being stalked by a deformed killer; Jesse and his friends soon uncover information regarding Freddy’s legacy, but things quickly turn violent, and it becomes apparent that, instead of Freddy murdering people in their dreams, he is actually possessing Jesse’s body so that he can carry out murders in the real world. Read more…

CRIMSON PEAK – Fernando Velázquez

October 27, 2015 Leave a comment

crimsonpeakOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

This is not a ghost story. It’s a story with ghosts in it.

Director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, Crimson Peak, is a love letter to the great Gothic horror stories of the 1800s, inspired by authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley, as well as Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre. Mia Wasikowska stars as Edith Cushing, the headstrong heiress to a Buffalo NY mining company, who is swept off her feet in the aftermath of a family tragedy by a dashing British nobleman, Lord Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After relocating to the Sharpe ancestral home, the crumbling Allerdale Hall in the north of England, Edith finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings, having to deal not only with the dilapidated building – which seems to literally bleed from the walls due to the red clay on which it stands – but also with Thomas’s aloof sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), who seems to be hiding sinister motivations. Worst of all, however, is the fact that Edith has been able to see ghosts since her childhood, and Allerdale Hall is full of them, all warning her to stay away… Read more…


October 26, 2015 18 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Due to the tremendous commercial success of Frankenstein in 1931, Universal Studios was highly motivated to film a sequel. However, director James Whale was not interested preferring to pursue other projects, going on to make The Old Dark House in 1932 and The Invisible Man in 1933. Ultimately, he succumbed after four relentless years of badgering, and agreed to direct The Bride of Frankenstein for release in 1935. He brought in trusted screenwriters John Balderston and William Hurlbut to write the script for “The Return of Frankenstein” and he was given a budget of $300,000. Over time the story evolved leading it to be retitled “The Bride of Frankenstein”. Boris Karloff would reprise the role of the monster, while Colin Cleve would return as Henry Frankenstein. Joining them would be Valerie Hobson as Elizabeth, Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Pretorius, Elsa Lanchester as the Monster’s bride, Glavin Gordon as Lord Byron, Douglas Walton as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Dwight Frye as Karl Glutz, and Una O’Connor as Minnie. The story opens on a stormy night with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron commending Mary Shelley on the success of her novel “Frankenstein”. She thanks them and then discloses that there was much more to be said regarding the story and we shift to the fiery ending of the first film. We discover that the monster and Henry Frankenstein have apparently survived. After recuperating, Henry meets with Dr. Pretorius who reveals his successful experiments creating homunculi. They decide to collaborate in the audacious creation of a mate for Frankenstein’s monster. After much intrigue they succeed in creating the monster’s bride only to see him shattered as she summarily rejects him. The monster is unable to bear this fate and in a fit of rage destroys the laboratory killing himself and his intended bride. The film was a commercial success earning $2 million or five times its production costs of $397,000. It was also critically praised yet secured only one Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording. Read more…

COMMANDO – James Horner

October 22, 2015 Leave a 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…

BRIDGE OF SPIES – Thomas Newman

October 20, 2015 Leave a comment

bridgeofspiesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Bridge of Spies, is a cold war thriller set in 1957 starring Tom Hanks as James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who is unexpectedly hired by the US Government to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), an unassuming middle-aged artist accused of being a Russian spy. Although the evidence against Abel is overwhelming – and even though Abel himself does not deny the charges – Donovan mounts a spirited defense, arguing that the US constitution affords everyone due process to a fair trial. Months later, Donovan is called upon once again when a U-2 spy plane operating over Russia is shot down, and its young pilot is arrested by the Soviets. Realizing that Abel can be used as a bargaining chip, the CIA sends Donovan to East Berlin, just as the Wall is being erected, to negotiate a trade. The screenplay, by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, is based on real events, and allows the narrative to unfold at a measured pace. This is a film about conversations, negotiations, political ideologies, and ethical dilemmas, and there is nary an action sequence in the entire film, which will alienate those who need more ‘stuff happening’, but which drew me into its intricacies. Tom Hanks is superb in the lead role, serious and honorable, while Mark Rylance is relaxed and unexpectedly funny in his role as the accused spy with an artistic flair. The film is also notable for another reason: it’s the first Steven Spielberg film in 30 years not to feature a John Williams score. Read more…

THINGS TO COME – Arthur Bliss

October 19, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

H. G. Wells published his novel The Shape Of Things To Come in 1933 and it immediately resonated with the public. Producer Alexander Korda was coming off the success of his last film, The Private Lives of Henry VIII, and recognized an opportunity to cash in on the popularity of Wells’s latest book. He purchased the film rights, but Wells imposed significant contractual constraints, which ensured he maintained creative control and wrote the screenplay. Korda tasked William Cameron Menzies with directing and brought in a stellar cast, which included Raymond Massey as John and Oswald Cabal, Edward Chapman as Pippa and Raymond Passworthy, Ralph Richardson as Rudolf – the Boss, Margaretta Scott as Roxana Black and Rowena Cabal, Cedric Hardwicke as Theotocopulos, Naurice Braddell as Dr. Edward Harding, Pearl Argyle as Catherine Cabal, and Sophie Stewart as Mrs. Cabal. The story paints a grim tale of a catastrophic World War, which commences in 1940 and rages for decades. After a plague pandemic in 1966 wipes out most of the populace, civilization collapses and people return to an agrarian life in small towns. It comes to pass that one day an advanced aircraft lands in one of the communities and brings news that an organization is restoring civilization to communities such as this. Civilization is reborn and an advanced society re-emerges with humanity living in grand underground cities. Yet there are those that remember the Great War, and on the eve of the first manned spaceflight to the Moon, these Luddites rebel against the new social order. The film had only modest commercial success and in the end did not cover its production costs of 260,000 pounds. Critics, however, hailed it as a masterpiece and it has served as an iconic example of thoughtful and provocative and science fiction. Read more…

SUFFRAGETTE – Alexandre Desplat

October 16, 2015 1 comment

suffragetteOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Women in the United Kingdom did not receive the right to vote until 1928. The issue of universal suffrage had been a parliamentary hot potato since at least 1872, and had dominated the political lives of several of the country’s leaders at the time, most notably King George V, and prime ministers David Lloyd George and Herbert Henry Asquith, all of whom were vehemently opposed to it. Things came to a head following the formation of the influential Women’s Social and Political Union, which had shifted sentiments in favor of women’s suffrage by 1906, but was equally criticized for its militant and sometimes violent campaign. Most commentators credit two women with changing the minds of British politicians: Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the WSPU (and the British equivalent of Susan B. Anthony), and Emily Davison, who intentionally walked in front of, and was subsequently trampled and killed by, the King’s horse Anmer during the running of the 1913 Epsom Derby horse race. Director Sarah Gavron’s film Suffragette tells the story of the movement from the point of view of the fictional Maud Watts, who joins the WSPU at the height of its influence, and becomes deeply involved in its activities. It stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Meryl Streep as Pankhurst, and is the first real ‘Oscar bait’ film of 2015. Read more…


October 15, 2015 1 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…

PAN – John Powell

October 13, 2015 Leave a comment

panOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Pan is, by my count, the 1,875th cinematic take on the classic J. M. Barrie story of Peter Pan, which by this stage is starting to look a little well-worn and ragged around the edges. This film is a prequel of sorts, telling the story of how Peter Pan and Captain James Hook first met, with the young orphan boy Peter (Levi Miller) and the twenty-something Hook (Garrett Hedlund) teaming up to fight against the dastardly pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) for the fate of Neverland, and its inhabitants of lost boys, natives, and fairies. The film was directed by Atonement’s Joe Wright from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs, and had all the pedigree to be a success – but, unfortunately, the film has been a critical and commercial flop, with many commentators criticizing its poor narrative coherence, unfortunate anachronisms, and overall lack of the magic necessary in any good Peter Pan story. Read more…

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KING KONG – Max Steiner

October 12, 2015 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director and screenwriter Merian Cooper awoke one night from a nightmare of a giant gorilla terrorizing New York City. The nightmare served as the catalyst for conceiving a film, which would pit the giant gorilla against a Komodo dragon and other beasts. He pitched his idea to R.K.O. executive David Selznick who saw opportunity to lift the struggling studio out of debt and tasked Cooper with both producing and directing the film. To save money he would use stop-motion animation, as well as the huge jungle stage that had been built for The Most Dangerous Ground (1932) rather than shooting on location. A screenplay was crafted by Cooper, James Creelman and Ruth Rose, which secured Selznick’s blessing. The cast would include Fay Wray as Ann Darrow, Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham, Bruce Cabot as John Driscoll, Frank Reicher as Captain Englehorn, and Noble Johnson as the native chief. The story offers a classic “Beauty and the Beast” tale, which takes place in 1932 and is set in New York City. Famed filmmaker Carl Denham has conceived his most audacious film yet, which will be shot on an isle of legend – the uncharted Skull Island where resides an enormous best of unfathomable power. He finds Ann Darrow, a young actress down on her luck and offers her a role of a lifetime, starring in his new film to be shot on an exotic South Seas island. She jumps at the opportunity and they set sail on the Venture for Skull Island. Read more…

Movie Music UK presents the Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century

October 12, 2015 5 comments

top100A new series by Craig Lysy

As part of Movie Music UK’s tradition of innovation, I have decided launch a new series charting the Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century. I had always wanted to undertake this daunting challenge, and after 35 years of procrastination, finally summoned up the resolve and courage necessary to bring it to fruition. So, every Monday, over the course of the next several years, I will list my choices for the Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century, initially in reverse chronological order, but thereafter with a little more leeway in terms of timing.

In regards to rankings, I was not successful after numerous attempts to listen them in order of merit. Ranking these scores would seem to be an exercise in futility, so instead, I have chosen with this series to take you on a journey through time, beginning with the score, which launched film score art – King Kong, by Max Steiner. I will relate to you why I believe each score merits inclusion, and my hope is to provide an insightful and enjoyable journey.

I believe simplicity of criteria was needed to be successful. Firstly, the score must have achieved a masterful synergy with the story’s imagery, characters, setting and narrative, which served to elevate the film. Secondly, the score must have provided an exceptional and memorable listening experience within both film context and as a CD/MP3. Finally, the score must have made an indelible and lasting impression due to its creativity, innovation, sophistication, or thematic beauty.

I freely admit that this is but one man’s opinion, that I like everyone has certain biases, and that these manifest in my choices. But we must be authentic, and true to ourselves. So I offer my voice to the chorus of voices that have preceded me, and hope to achieve some degree of consonance.

All the best!

THE MARTIAN – Harry Gregson-Williams

October 9, 2015 3 comments

themartianOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ridley Scott has been in something of a career slump of late. The once-revered director of classics like Alien, Blade Runner, and, more recently, Gladiator, did not receive many good reviews for his last few films, which have included Prometheus, The Counselor, and Exodus: Gods and Kings. His new film, The Martian, may set things back in the right direction. Based on the acclaimed debut novel by Andy Weir, the film is a space adventure that plays as a cross between Castaway, Gravity, and Apollo 13; it stars Matt Damon as Mark Watney, an astronaut on the latest successful NASA mission to make a manned trip to Mars. Unfortunately disaster strikes and the other members of his team – including Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, and Michael Peña – are forced to blast off the planet, leaving Mark behind, presumed dead. NASA officials Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kristin Wiig, and Chiwetel Ejiofor announce Mark’s death to a shocked world – but, back on Mars, Mark has somehow survived the accident, and is now faced with a terrible double dilemma: how to survive on Mars with dwindling food and water supplies, and how to contact Earth so that they can come and rescue him. The film is a superb combination of high action-adventure and intelligent application of real science, and will surely appeal to those with any interest in the realities of space exploration and the possibilities and problems it holds for those bold enough to do it. The film is anchored by Matt Damon’s excellent lead performance as Watney, which is at times surprisingly funny as he muses ironically at his situation and the bizarre things he has to do to survive, and is at other times spectacularly beautiful, taking every possible opportunity to present the barren Martian landscapes in all their austere glory. Read more…

SID MEIER’S CIVILIZATION: BEYOND EARTH – RISING TIDE – Geoff Knorr, Griffin Cohen, and Grant Kirkhope

October 6, 2015 1 comment

civilizationbeyondearthrisingtideGAME ZONE REVIEW

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide is an expansion pack which builds on the first Beyond Earth installment of Sid Meier’s extremely popular Civilization video game series, which was released to general acclaim last year. The expansion allows players to embark on new quests on new ‘biome’ planets – including a water planet and an ice planet – as they try to create and maintain civilizations in outer space. One of the most notable aspects of the game was its IFMCA Award-winning, BMI Award-nominated score by Geoff Knorr, Griffin Cohen, Michael Curran, and Grant Kirkhope, which was roundly praised as being one of the most impressive orchestral game scores in many years. For Rising Tide, three of the four composers are back (Curran left development company Firaxis for another company, Stardock Entertainment, earlier this year), and their music builds on the sound of the first game, but adds in new textures, and new ideas. The result is very, very impressive. Read more…


October 5, 2015 1 comment

breakfastattiffanysMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Hollywood producers Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd saw opportunity beckoning with Truman Capote’s controversial 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and convinced Paramount Studios to purchase the film rights. They hired George Axelrod to write a screenplay that “softened” Capote’s edgy narrative, and Blake Edwards was given the director reigns. Edwards assembled a fine cast, which included Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, George Peppard as Paul Varjak, Patricia Neal as Emily Eustace, Buddy Ebsen as Doc Golightly, Martin Balsam as O. J. Berman, and Mickey Rooney as Holly’s landlord Mr. Yunioshi. For the 1950’s, this truly sordid story broke all the sensibilities of the day – Holly was a foul-mouthed, bisexual, social-climbing and gold-digging prostitute, who has had an abortion and smokes marijuana! The fact that the story’s narrator was gay only added to the controversy. Jurow and Shepherd knew the story as written would never fly, so they chose not to make a modern and edgy social drama. They astutely recast the story’s narrative into a more conventional, and emotionally accessible direction – a romantic comedy. Well, Holly’s love affair with struggling writer Paul succeeded on all counts and won audience hearts worldwide. The film was also a critical success, earning five Academy Award Nominations, winning two for best Original Song and Best Score. Read more…

EVEREST – Dario Marianelli

October 1, 2015 Leave a comment

everestOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although more than 4,000 people have scaled the summit of Mount Everest since Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay first conquered the mountain in 1953, hundreds have also perished on its treacherous slopes. Director Baltasar Kormákur’s film Everest tells the story of one of the mountain’s most deadly incidents, when eight people died trying to reach the summit in May 1996, including experienced guides Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, both of whom ran ‘adventure vacation’ companies that specialized in taking tourists to the top of the world. It’s an exciting, dramatic, harrowing, visually beautiful film, made all the more tragic through the knowledge that (by and large) it depicts true events. The film stars Australian actor Jason Clarke as Hall – getting to use his native accent for once! – and Jake Gyllenhaal as his American counterpart Fischer, and features Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Michael Kelly, and Sam Worthington in supporting roles. Read more…