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LICENCE TO KILL – Michael Kamen

July 18, 2019 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The second – and last – James Bond film to star Timothy Dalton was 1989’s Licence to Kill, directed by John Glen from a screenplay by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum. I have long been of the opinion that Dalton was a hugely underrated Bond who should have been given more opportunities to succeed and develop his gritty version of the character, and that Licence to Kill is one of the best of the entire series. In it, Bond finds himself disavowed by British secret service agency MI6 and ‘going rogue’ after his best friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, and his new bride Della are viciously attacked on their wedding day. The perpetrator is Franz Sanchez, a drug lord and ruthless cartel boss in a fictional Central American country; seeking personal vengeance, Bond teams up with Pam Bouvier, an ex Army-pilot with a vendetta against Sanchez of her own, and crosses paths with two very different members of Sanchez’s entourage: the beautiful Lupe Lamora, and the sadistic henchman Dario. The film co-stars Robert Davi, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto, and a very young Benicio del Toro, but unfortunately the film was not a commercial success; adjusted for inflation. It remains the lowest-grossing Bond film of all time, something which, sadly, hastened to the end of Dalton’s tenure and his subsequent replacement with Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye in 1995. Read more…

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME – Michael Giacchino

July 17, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

With Avengers Endgame having smashed almost every box office record in existence, it was always going to be difficult for Marvel to build on that movie’s enormous success. The two-part Avengers finale was one of those rare things that is both a commercial and cultural touchstone; it also marked the end of the ‘Third Phase’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which the existential threat of Thanos was finally eliminated, and the circle of movies that began with Iron Man in 2008 ended with Iron Man’s death. Spider-Man: Far From Home, despite being officially the last part of Phase III and the 23rd Marvel film overall, is actually something of a coda, acting both as a rumination on the events of Endgame and as a bridge to the Phase IV series which is scheduled to begin in 2020; it also seems to have successfully maintained the interest that peaked with Avengers, enjoying huge box office takings and good critical reviews. The film is set 8 months after Endgame and again stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man; he is still coming to terms with Tony Stark’s death and longs just to be a normal teenager again. As such, he agrees to go on a trip to Europe with his high school classmates, including his potential girlfriend MJ (Zendaya); unfortunately, Peter can’t escape from his responsibilities even there, and is called upon by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to assist a multi-dimensional warrior named Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in saving the world from creatures that wreak havoc by controlling the power of the four elements. The film is directed by Jon Watts and has an original score by Michael Giacchino. Read more…

GOOD OMENS – David Arnold

July 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have been a fan of the late great British author Sir Terry Pratchett ever since I was a kid. Titles like The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Mort, and Pyramids were among my most treasured literary discoveries in the 1980s and 90s; the combination of fantasy, science-fiction, and historical adventure with a distinctly Pythonesque brand of English humor and wit appealed to my sensibility greatly. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, very few of his works have been translated into film or television projects, and even fewer of them have been seen outside of the UK, which means that while he remains massively popular at home, he is something of an unknown quantity to the rest of the world. This is why I’m so pleased that Good Omens has been so well received; it’s a 6-part TV adaptation of the novel Pratchett wrote with sci-fi author Neil Gaiman in 1990, and is a comedy about the end of the world. Michael Sheen and David Tennant star as Aziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon, who have been living on Earth since the beginning of time as the official representatives of God and Satan. When they learn that the son of Satan has been born – an event which will in time trigger the apocalypse – Aziraphale and Crowley team up to stop it happening. It turns out that, over the millennia, the pair have become unlikely friends, and are not willing to give up their pleasant and comfortable lives in England – even if Armageddon is part of God’s ineffable plan. Read more…

HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS – James Horner

June 27, 2019 5 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most popular and successful children’s adventure films of 1989, Honey I Shrunk the Kids starred Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinsky, a scientist and inventor who makes a machine capable of shrinking objects down to miniscule size. One day, Wayne accidentally shrinks his son Nick, his daughter Amy, and the two brothers who live next door, and throws them out in the trash. Stranded at the bottom of their back yard – which, due to their size, is now the equivalent of several miles away from their house and looks like the Amazon rain forest– the children must fight their way through this jungle of plants and enormous insects in order to return home; meanwhile, Wayne has realized what he has done, and desperately begins searching for his kids so he can restore them to their regular size. The film co-starred Thomas Brown, Amy O’Neill, Robert Oliveri, and Jared Rushton as the kids, and marked the directorial debut of Joe Johnston, a special effects genius who had previously worked on several Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. Read more…

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE – John Williams

June 20, 2019 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third movie in director Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones series was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and whereas 1984’s Temple of Doom was a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Last Crusade was a direct sequel, set just two years later in 1938. Harrison Ford returns as the titular archaeologist-adventurer, who is sent off on a globe-trotting escapade when he receives news from American billionaire Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) that his long-estranged father Henry Jones (Sean Connery) has gone missing while searching for the holy grail. Jones teams up with his old friends and colleagues Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) on the quest to find his father, and quickly becomes embroiled in a vast labyrinthine plot involving ancient myths and legends, a brotherhood of religious warriors, way too many Nazis, and a beautiful Austrian art professor named Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) to whom there is more than meets the eye. The whole thing is a delight from start to finish, with several wonderfully exciting action set pieces, and beautiful location settings, but the cornerstone of the film is the father-and-son chemistry between Ford and Connery, whose outward gruffness and constant bickering masks a deep love and affection. Whereas Ford is an all-action matinee idol hero, Connery is a slightly bumbling academic, more at home with books and libraries than punching Nazis in the face, but who is still able to make his son feel like a 12-year old when he calls him ‘junior’. Read more…

CHERNOBYL – Hildur Guðnadóttir

June 19, 2019 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, close to the Ukraine-Belarus border in what was then the Soviet Union, suffered a catastrophic accident in which one of the plant’s four nuclear reactor cores exploded. The explosion started a fire and released massive amounts of nuclear radiation into the atmosphere and across most of Eastern Europe; it entirely irradiated the nearby city of Pripyat and, although official totals are much lower, may have directly and indirectly lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The new mini-series Chernobyl, produced jointly by HBO in the United States and Sky in the UK, is a detailed look at what happened: the events leading up to the disaster, the work of the emergency services in the immediate aftermath, the work of the scientists tasked with finding out what happened, and the fates of those directly affected. Many people have taken Chernobyl to be a cautionary tale about the dangers of nuclear power, but director Johan Renck and screenwriter Craig Mazin say that is not what the show is about at all. Instead, it’s supposed to be a damning indictment of government corruption, lies, and abuse of power, with parallels echoing the current situation involving global warming and climate change. Read more…

DEAD POETS SOCIETY – Maurice Jarre

June 13, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been a lot of great movies about inspirational teachers over the years, from Goodbye Mr. Chips in 1939 (and its musical remake in 1969), to Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland’s Opus in the 1990s, but for my money the best of them all is Dead Poets Society. Directed by Peter Weir and written by Tom Schulman, the film is set at an elite all-male New England prep school in 1959, a stuffy establishment whose school motto – tradition, honor, discipline, excellence – tells you everything you need to know about the faculty. Everything changes when a new English teacher, John Keating, joins the school, bringing with him a brash and innovative philosophy that teaches students to think for themselves. Keating has a particular influence on a group of seven young men who, having been inspired by Keating’s love of classic poetry, form the eponymous society and begin to embrace their lives, loves, and ambitions more than they had ever done before. The film is anchored by an utterly astonishing lead performance by Robin Williams as Keating, who brings depth and emotion and sincerity and manic energy to what is, to my mind, the greatest role of his entire career. The young men of the society are also superb, notably Robert Sean Leonard as a boy whose passion for acting is constantly crushed by his overbearing father, and Ethan Hawke, who overcomes his crippling shyness as a result of Keating’s encouragement. Read more…