Archive for March, 2023

SHAZAM: FURY OF THE GODS – Christophe Beck

March 22, 2023 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 2019 superhero film Shazam remains, for me, the best entry into the DC Extended Universe to date. At the time, I wrote that “its playful tone is a far cry from the grim seriousness of the previous Ben Affleck Batman and Henry Cavill Superman movies, it’s much more intelligent and nuanced than Aquaman, and the less said about Suicide Squad the better. What I love about it the most is how it captures the excitement and eagerness of how an actual kid would behave when given super powers, and much of that is down to Zachary Levi’s central performance, which appears to me to be a combination of Christopher Reeve and Tom Hanks from Big.” Unfortunately the response to this sequel, Shazam: Fury of the Gods, has been less effusive, with some critics calling it “more unfocused and less satisfying than its predecessor,” despite it still retaining much of the source material’s “silly charm”. The film again stars Levi as 17-year old Billy Batson, who transforms into a super hero when he utters the titular magic word; this time, Billy/Shazam finds himself in conflict with the three daughters of the Titan Atlas, played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler, who want to re-claim the staff that gives Shazam his power, saying it was stolen from them eons ago. Read more…


March 20, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1949 MGM studio executives were seeking a biopic of a famous American for their next film. They decided that the 1946 play The Magnificent Yankee by Emmet Lavery, which had a Broadway theatrical run of 159 performances would be their choice. Armand Deutsch was placed in charge of production with a $1.03 million budget, Emmet Lavery was hired to adapt his play for the film, and John Sturges was tasked with directing. Veteran stage and screen actor Louis Calhern was cast as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Joining him would be Ann Harding as Fanny Bowditch Holmes, Eduard Franz as Justice Louis Brandeis, and Philip Ober as Owen Wister. Read more…

SWING KIDS – James Horner

March 18, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Swing Kids is an interesting exploration of a sub-culture that existed in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 40s. These so-called ‘swingjugend’ were groups of 14- to 21-year-old Germans, mostly middle or upper-class students, who admired the “American way of life” and rebelled against the government by gathering in underground nightclubs in Hamburg and Berlin, and listening to and dancing to swing music – an activity that the Hitler Youth of the National Socialist Party hated, and tried to suppress. The film follows the fortunes of one such group of youths, who grow up surrounded by intolerance and violence, and find the ‘swingjugend’ movement to be a welcome distraction, until the ramifications of their action begins to impact their daily lives. The film is directed by Thomas Carter, stars Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, Frank Whaley, and Barbara Hershey, with an uncredited Kenneth Branagh in especially fine as an unexpectedly sympathetic Nazi SS-Sturmbannführer. Read more…

SHADOW OF THE WOLF – Maurice Jarre

March 16, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Shadow of the Wolf is a French-Canadian action adventure film directed by Jacques Dorfmann and Pierre Magny, set in the snowy wastes of the Arctic in the 1930s. The film stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Agaguk, an Inuit warrior who has a violent hatred for the white men encroaching on his territory. A series of incidents leads to Agaguk being banished by his shaman father, and he is forced to live in isolation in the most inhospitable parts of northern Quebec with his wife Igiyook. Things get worse for Agaguk when he gets into an altercation with, and accidentally kills, a white fur trader, an incident which brings the might of the Canadian police to bear on his tribal home. The rest of the story intends to be a serious exploration of themes related to the culture clash between white men and the Inuit, dressed up with an action-adventure police manhunt plot, but unfortunately it was hamstrung by terrible dialogue, poor acting performances, and a screenplay that erased all the nuance and subtlety of Yves Theriault’s acclaimed original novel. At the time the film was the most expensive Canadian film ever made, but it sank without a trace at the box office, and is mostly forgotten today. Read more…

WILD ISLES – George Fenton

March 15, 2023 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For almost 70 years the BBC Natural History Unit has been, in my opinion, the world leader in making nature documentaries. Although it had been making smaller-scale programmes for quite some time, it was the groundbreaking 1979 series Life on Earth that truly cemented its reputation; further entries such as The Living Planet in 1984, The Trials of Life in 1990, and Life in the Freezer in 1993 built on this success, and then more recent things like Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Africa, Life, and their various sequels, have showcased the NHU’s spectacular wildlife footage to millions worldwide. However, despite how majestic and awe-inspiring these massive shows are – and they are tremendous – I have always enjoyed their smaller scale examinations of British nature and found them to be equally rewarding; Wild Isles is one of those. Read more…


March 13, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1948 20th Century Studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck made the business decision to adapt another of Ernest Hemingway’s novels for the big screen, The Snows of Kilimanjaro from 1936. He purchased the film rights for a hefty $125,000 and personally took charge of production, allocating a budget of $3.0 million. Casey Robinson was hired to write the screenplay and veteran Henry King was tasked with directing. Zanuck had already decided that Gregory Peck would star as Harry Street, with Ava Gardner playing Cynthia Green. Joining them would be Susan Hayward as Helen, and Hildegard Knef as Countess Elizabeth. Read more…

Academy Award Winners 2022

March 12, 2023 1 comment

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the winners of the 95th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2022.

In the Best Original Score category composer Volker Bertelmann won the award for his score for the new version of the classic anti-war story All Quiet on the Western Front, based on the all-time great novel by Erich Maria Remarque. In accepting his award, Bertelmann said:

“Well, thank you so much, thanks to the Academy for this huge recognition. When I was working on the film I was thinking a couple of times of my mom, because she was telling me, every now and then, when you want to change humanity and empathy in the world, you have to start by yourself and with your own surroundings, because you learn by that and you can show actually where we all – how we all can live together. So, you know, by working on a film like that you always are deeply touched and sometimes you have to make the screen very small because there are so much explosions happening. I want to say thank you to my wife, Elizabeth, and my kids up there, Lotte, Paulina, and Lucas. To Malthe Grunert and Edward Berger, and the whole cast and crew, for their amazing craftsmanship. To Netflix for their huge support. And to my fellow nominees, Carter, John, Justin, Son Lux, that I can be a part of such a unique, human, and diverse group of talented composers, that’s for me a big gift. And last but not least I want to thank all of you, for this wonderful evening. Thank you so much!

The other nominees were Carter Burwell for The Banshees of Inisherin, Justin Hurwitz for Babylon, Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia, and Ian Chang (Son Lux) for Everything Everywhere All at Once, and John Williams or The Fabelmans.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were M. M. Keeravani and Kanukuntla Subhash Chandrabose for “Naatu Naatu” from the smash hit Bollywood movie RRR.

The other nominees were Stephanie Germanotta (Lady Gaga) and Michael Tucker (Bloodpop) for “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick, Ryan Lott, David Byrne, and Mituski Miyawaki (Mitski) for “This Is A Life” from Everything Everywhere All At Once, Temilade Openiyi (Tems), Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Ryan Coogler, and Ludwig Göransson for “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Diane Warren for “Applause” from Tell It Like A Woman.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,


March 9, 2023 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Army of Darkness is the third instalment of director Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, and is a direct continuation of the story of 1987’s Evil Dead II. The plot of that film saw its protagonist, Ash, inadvertently summon a demon after reading passages from an ancient ‘book of the dead’. His girlfriend Linda is possessed by the demon, and attacks him, and in the ensuing battle he has his hand severed at the wrist with a chainsaw. Eventually Ash is able to defeat the demon, but in doing so he accidentally opens a temporal vortex to the Middle Ages, through which he and his car are transported. Army of Darkness follows the story from that point on, as Ash enlists the help of a medieval lord, falls in love with the lord’s daughter, and has to search for another version of the ‘book of the dead’ that will allow him to return home – all while battling more demonic ‘deadites’. The film starred Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, and Marcus Gilbert, and was a moderate commercial success, but unfortunately was not well-liked by critics, many of whom were disappointed with its campier, less horrific tone. It ultimately ended the Evil Dead franchise for more than 20 years, until it was resurrected and rebooted by director Fede Álvarez in 2013. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2023, Part 1

March 8, 2023 1 comment

I’m pleased to present the latest instalment in my on-going series of articles looking at the best under-the-radar scores from around the world. This article, the first of 2023, covers five scores for projects from all around the world that especially impressed me during the opening months of the year. The scores include a trio from France – two children’s adventures and a broad comedy – plus another children’s adventure from Finland, and a serious historical epic from Japan. Read more…


March 6, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

It had been eight years since the commercial and critical success of 20th Century Fox’s religious themed film The Song of Bernadette. Warner Brothers Studios executives decided that they wanted to explore the genre and decided that a similar tale, The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, would accomplish that end. Their resident producer Bryan Foy was assigned the project, James O’Hanlon and Crane Wilbur were hired to write the screenplay, and John Brahm was tasked with directing. A trio of children were hired to play the roles of the child witnesses of the vision; Susan Whitney as Lúcia dos Santos, Sherry Jackson as Jacinta Marto and Sammy Ogg as Francisco Marto. Joining them would be Gilbert Roland as Hugo de Silva, Angela Clarke as Maria Rosa de Silva, and Richard Hale as Father Ferreira. Read more…

SOMMERSBY – Danny Elfman

March 2, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Sommersby is an English-language adaptation of the 1982 French film Le Retour de Martin Guerre, which was itself based on a real-life event that happened in the 16th century. The film was written by Nicholas Meyer, Sarah Kernochan, and Anthony Shaffer, and was directed by Jon Amiel; it transposes the story from medieval France to post-Civil War Tennessee, and stars Richard Gere as Jack Sommersby, a man who returns home from the conflict, six years after he was presumed dead. Jack’s ‘widow’ Laurel (Jodie Foster) has already moved on, and is planning to marry farmer Orin Meacham (Bill Pullman), but Jack’s return home throws her life into turmoil – not least because Jack appears to be a changed man, and is no longer the unpleasant and abusive husband he was when he left. As time goes on, Jack proves to be a hugely positive force for the community, and Laurel begins to fall in love with him again, but something in the back of her mind keeps nagging at her, and she has doubts as to whether the new and improved Jack really is who he says he is – doubts which become stronger when men from Jack’s past appear, and accuse him of murder. Read more…