Posts Tagged ‘Danny Elfman’

DARKMAN – Danny Elfman

September 3, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Having gained cult popularity and success as a result of his influential horror movies The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, writer-director Sam Raimi was given his first crack at a major studio feature towards the end of the 1980s. The project he chose was Darkman, based on a short story he wrote years earlier as an homage to Universal’s horror films of the 1930s. The film stars Liam Neeson, in what was essentially his first leading role after spending the 1980s putting in impressive supporting performances in films such as Excalibur, Krull, The Bounty, The Mission, Suspect, The Dead Pool, and others. Neeson plays Peyton Westlake, a scientist who is developing a new type of synthetic skin to help burn victims. Westlake’s life is changed forever when his girlfriend, attorney Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), finds incriminating evidence against corrupt property developer Louis Strack (Colin Friels). Strack hires ruthless mobster Durant (Larry Drake) to ‘send a message’ to Julie, which results in Westlake’s lab being burned to the ground and Westlake himself being disfigured and left for dead. However, Westlake miraculously survives the attack, and uses his synthetic skin treatment to treat his own injuries – the only drawback being the unintended side-effects, which give him super-human abilities, but also render him mentally unstable, borderline psychotic, and bent on wreaking vengeance on those responsible for his disfigurement. Read more…

DICK TRACY – Danny Elfman

June 11, 2020 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the earliest comic strips ever created was Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, which debuted in the Detroit Mirror in 1931, and subsequently gained immense popularity through syndication in newspapers in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. It’s a crime story following the adventures of the titular hard-boiled detective, an Elliot Ness-style lawman taking on various gangsters and villains in the New York underworld, clad in his iconic yellow trench coat. There were several Dick Tracy movies made in the late 1930s and early 1940s, usually with Morgan Conway in the lead role, but the character was curiously ignored for more than 45 years until he was brought back in 1990 by director Warren Beatty, who played the title role himself. The plot saw Tracy locking horns with the vicious gangster Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino), who Tracy had been investigating for years. When a young street urchin known only as ‘the Kid’ (Charlie Korsmo) witnesses Caprice committing a murder, Tracy takes the boy under his wing, both to protect him from retribution, and also to groom him as a potential protégé. Meanwhile, the seductive nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) also emerges as a witness to Caprice’s crimes, but her involvement in the case threatens to disrupt Tracy’s relationship with his long-term girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly). After all, sooner or later, she always gets her man… Read more…

DOLITTLE – Danny Elfman

January 24, 2020 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Whimsical fantasy adventure scores have been bread and butter for Danny Elfman for more than thirty years, ever since he first burst onto the scene and wowed us with his magical, maniacal musical talents. His latest effort in the genre is Dolittle, a new adaptation of the famous stories by Hugh Lofting about an eccentric, reclusive doctor in Victorian England who has a somewhat unique gift – he can talk to animals! The role was made famous by Rex Harrison in a 1967 screen musical, and then by Eddie Murphy in a very different approach in 1998; this new version returns (mostly) to its roots and stars Robert Downey Jr. in the title role, setting sail on a fantastical adventure to find a cure for Queen Victoria, who is suffering from a mysterious illness. The film is adapted from Lofting’s 1922 novel The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, is directed by Stephen Gaghan, and has an astonishing all-star supporting cast both corporeal and vocal, including Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Holland, Rami Malek, and Octavia Spencer. Read more…

DUMBO – Danny Elfman

April 23, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The recent Disney trend of making live-action versions of their animated classics continues with Dumbo, a re-imagined version of their 1941 film about a baby elephant with ears so big that he can use them to fly. The original Dumbo was short – just over an hour – and so director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger had to flesh out some additional material to make it feature length. The basic core of the story is the same – a young baby elephant is born in a traveling circus and is ridiculed by crowds for his enormous ears, until he wins over audiences with his ability to fly – but it adds a great deal of depth and back story to the supporting human characters, including the good-hearted elephant keeper Holt (Colin Farrell), circus owner Medici (Danny De Vito), trapeze artist Colette (Eva Green), and unscrupulous businessman Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who wants to take over Medici’s circus for his own nefarious purposes. Interestingly, the new film excises several of the original film’s plot points entirely, including Dumbo’s relationship with the anthropomorphic ringmaster mouse Timothy, and Dumbo’s encounter with the ‘Jim crows,’ although the latter is probably a good thing due to the overtly racist overtones of those characters. Read more…


January 14, 2019 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Tim Burton related that, as a teenager growing up in Burbank California, he felt estranged, isolated and misunderstood. A drawing by him of a solemn man bearing long sharp blades spoke to his inability to form and retain friends. The drawing served as inspiration for his film Edward Scissorhands, where he sought to explore a young man dealing with feelings of isolation and self-discovery. After reading First Born, a 1983 novelette by Caroline Thompson, he was sufficiently impressed to hire her to write the screenplay for the film. Burton and her sought inspiration from the classic monster movies of the past including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera, and Frankenstein, as well traditional fairy tales. The project was very personal to Burton, and Thompson relates she wrote the screenplay as a love poem to the director. 20th Century Fox acquired the film rights, and given Burton’s stunning commercial success with Batman in 1989, gave him complete creative control. He assembled a fine cast, including Johnny Depp for the titular role. Joining him would be Winona Ryder as Kim Boggs, Dianne Wiest as Peg Boggs, Anthony Michael Hall as Jim, Kathy Baker as Joyce, Robert Oliveri as Kevin Boggs, Alan Arkin as Bill Boggs, O-Lan Jones as Esmeralda, and Vincent Price in his final screen role as Edward’s creator. Read more…

BATMAN – Danny Elfman

December 31, 2018 2 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Bringing Batman to the cinema was a torturous journey that took ten years to come to fruition. Producers Benjamin Melniker and Micheal Uslan purchased screen rights from DC Comics in 1979, and their creative vision was to abandon the campy TV iteration and fashion a dark and serious exposition of the hero. Regretfully United Artists, Columbia Pictures and Universal Pictures all turned down the project, as they wanted a script that reprised the campiness of the TV series. Eventually in 1980 Warner Brothers took on the project seeking to capitalize on its massive success with Superman. Tom Mankiewicz was hired to write the script, which was completed in 1983. Yet the project stalled until 1985 when Tim Burton was hired. Burton wanted his own vision and so rejected Mankiewicz’s script, instead tasking Sam Hamm, a comic book fan, to write a new screenplay. After three years of delays by Warner Brothers executives, the film was given the green light to proceed in April of 1988. Casting the principles could have supported a feature film of its own. Instead of going with one of the leading male action movie stars of the day, Burton selected Michael Keaton whom he had directed in Beetlejuice, which caused uproar among comic book fans who sent 50,000 letters of protest to studio executives. The casting drama continued when Robin Williams was hired for the role of the Joker and then let go in favor of Jack Nicholson. Rounding out the cast would be Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon, Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, and Jack Palance as Carl Grissom. Read more…

SCROOGED – Danny Elfman

December 20, 2018 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been so many different cinematic versions and variations on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol over the years, its amazing that people keep coming up with ways to make them new and fresh. In the winter of 1988, however, director Richard Donner and screenwriters Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue did just that with Scrooged, which re-imagined the story as a comedic tale of redemption set in the world of network television. Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a morality-free and highly cynical TV studio executive who takes perverse delight in designing increasingly tasteless programming while tormenting his employees. After one particularly heartless episode when he forbids his secretary from leaving work on Christmas Eve to take care of her sick son, Frank is visited by a series of ghosts, each of whom show him the error of his ways, teach him to be a better person, and allow him to feel the true spirit of Christmas. The film co-stars Karen Allen, John Forsyth, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, and Bobcat Goldthwaite, and has since gone on to be considered a seasonal classic which was somewhat ahead of its time. Read more…

THE GRINCH – Danny Elfman

December 4, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Whenever I tell this fact to Americans they invariably look at me like I’m from Mars, but I swear I’m telling the truth: growing up as a child in England, I had never really heard of Dr Seuss. I think I might have had some passing awareness of The Cat in the Hat, but beyond that the literary canon of the rhyming Theodor Geisel remained a complete mystery to me. My childhood literary icons were Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, A. A. Milne, E. Nesbit, and people like that, and so when director Ron Howard made a feature film based on Seuss’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey in 2000, I went into it blind (it perhaps says something that the film was released simply as ‘The Grinch’ in UK cinemas, such was the nation’s general unfamiliarity with the character). I have since become aware of the 1966 Boris Karloff-voiced animated short film, and come to understand it’s status as a festive American television staple, and as such it is no longer surprising to me that there is now a full-length animated film based on the same story. Like the previous incarnations, it tells the tale of the eponymous mean and grumpy green creature who hates Christmas so much that he decides to ‘steal’ it by ruining the holiday for the citizens of Whoville, who live in the valley beneath his mountaintop home. Of course, in the process of ruining things, the Grinch actually comes to learn the true meaning of the season – and they all live happily ever after. The film is directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney, and features Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the title role. Read more…

MIDNIGHT RUN – Danny Elfman

August 23, 2018 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Midnight Run was one of the best buddy action comedies of the 1980s, and was one of the first films to showcase the hitherto untapped comedy potential of the great dramatic actor Robert De Niro. De Niro plays Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter working for bail bondsman Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano), who is hired to find mob accountant Jonathan Mardukas (Charles Grodin) in New York and bring him back to Los Angeles; Mardukas had embezzled $15 million from Chicago mob boss Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina) before skipping on the bail Moscone had posted for him. What initially appears to be an easy task – Mardukas is annoying but generally compliant – quickly turns into a nightmare when Serrano’s henchmen, FBI agent Alonso Mosley (Yaphet Kotto), and rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton) all converge on Walsh, wanting Mardukas for themselves. Thinking on his feet, Walsh finds himself taking Mardukas on an epic road trip, trying to stay one step ahead of his pursuers, while keeping ‘The Duke’ under control. The film was written by George Gallo and directed by Martin Brest, and was a critical and commercial success, with special praise being given to the chemistry between De Niro and Grodin. Read more…

BEETLEJUICE – Danny Elfman

April 5, 2018 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Beetlejuice is an irreverent supernatural comedy, one of the best of the 1980s, and is the film which introduced the world to one of the most iconic characters of the period – the ghoulish, disgusting, undead horror-for-hire played by Michael Keaton at his most madcap. The film is set in an idyllic New England town, where blissful newlyweds Adam and Barbara Maitland are renovating their dream home; unfortunately, they are killed in a car crash on their way back from the hardware store, and become ghosts, stuck haunting their home for 125 years. Some time later the home is sold to a new family, the Deetzes, comprising the insufferable and talentless artist Delia, her henpecked developer husband Charles, and his goth daughter Lydia; immediately, Delia begins ripping out the country charm of the house, replacing it with garish modern art. Desperate to save their home, the Maitlands travel to the afterlife – a dreary netherworld set up like the universe’s worst DMV office – where they are advised that they can scare out the Deetzes if they so desire. To accomplish this, the Maitlands find and hire a ‘bio-exorcist’ named Betelgeuse, who can be summoned by saying his name three times – but the perverted, irreverent ghost quickly causes more chaos then he cures. Not only that, but it quickly becomes apparent that the introverted and sensitive Lydia can actually see the ghosts… Read more…


February 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following it’s publication in 2011, the novel Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James became a literary phenomenon. Originally a self-published and sex-filled piece of Twilight fan fiction, it eventually morphed into an original story that followed the relationship between mousy college student Anastasia Steele and enigmatic billionaire Christian Grey, who is an enthusiastic practitioner of bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism. The book and its two sequels topped best-seller lists around the world, with the first story selling over 125 million copies worldwide. Films inevitably followed; Fifty Shades of Grey premiered in 2015, the first sequel Fifty Shades Darker came along in 2017, and now we have this third and final installment, Fifty Shades Freed. James Foley returns to the director’s chair for the second time, and Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprise their roles as Ana and Christian. Read more…


November 21, 2017 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The competing comic book franchises of DC and Marvel have arguably hit peak saturation point. Between them they have released 22 movies – 17 from Marvel dating back to Iron Man in 2008, and 5 from DC beginning with Man of Steel in 2013 – and there have been five this year alone: Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, and now Justice League. This latter film is a direct sequel to 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and sees the Batman and Wonder Woman attempting to put together a team of similar super heroes in order to combat the existential threat posed by a powerful alien/god named Steppenwolf, who wants to destroy the Earth in the aftermath of Superman’s death. The film stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher as the five members of the Justice League – Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg – with support from Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons, among a large ensemble cast. Read more…

TULIP FEVER – Danny Elfman

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The tale of Tulip Fever is a long and sad one in terms of the way the film has been treated by its distributor. It’s an adaptation of the enormously popular novel by Deborah Moggach, directed by Justin Chadwick, and written by the great Tom Stoppard. Set in the Netherlands in the 17th century, during the period of the tulip mania (when the Dutch economy was almost ruined by the enormous inflation, then the sudden collapse, of the price of tulips), the film tells the story of an impoverished artist who falls in love with a young but unhappily married woman after he is commissioned to paint her portrait by her husband, a rich and powerful flower merchant. The film stars Dane De Haan, Alicia Vikander, and Christophe Waltz, and was originally scheduled for release in late 2015, in order to prime itself for a run at that’s year’s Academy Awards. However, for some reason, the film was delayed and delayed and delayed by the distributor, Harvey Weinstein. Release dates came and went until the film finally dragged itself into cinemas in a limited release in August 2017, almost two years after it was first scheduled to appear; virtually no-one went to see it, and it was a critical disaster, with one writer memorably describing it as ‘a floral-scented fiasco that is so lifeless you can barely feel a pulse.’ Read more…


October 11, 2016 1 comment

girlonthetrainOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Girl on the Train was one of the best-selling and most controversial novels of 2015, a psychological thriller about the murder of a beautiful young woman, and the mystery surrounding her death; the inevitable film version stars Emily Blunt in the lead role as Rachel Watson, whose life fell apart when she separated from her husband Tom (Justin Theroux), due to a combination of his infidelity, their inability to conceive a child, and her increasing alcoholism. A year later, Tom is happily re-married to Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), and has a young daughter; Rachel, however, is unable to let go, and repeatedly turns up at her old house, which she passes every day on the train during her morning commute. Rachel also fantasizes about Megan and Scott (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans), a seemingly perfect couple who live two houses away from Tom and Anna, and who she also sees from her train carriage. Things come to a head when Megan disappears and Rachel, who blacked out from drinking on the day of her disappearance, genuinely believes she may have had something to do with it. The film was directed by Tate Taylor, written by Erin Cressida Wilson from Paula Hawkins’s novel, and has an original score by Danny Elfman. Read more…


September 10, 2015 Leave a comment

peeweesbigadventureTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The story of how Tim Burton and Danny Elfman met has probably been turned into an urban myth, Chinese whispers-style, by now, but here’s my understanding of how it went down. In 1984, Burton was an aspiring filmmaker, a former animator for Disney who worked as an artist on films such as The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, and Tron, and who had impressed many with his animated short film Frankenweenie. One fan of Frankenweenie was actor and comedian Paul Reubens, who actively sought Burton out to direct Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, the planned big-screen spinoff of his popular Pee-Wee Herman character, which has become a cult-success on stage. Burton was a fan of the theatrical rock band Oingo Boingo and its charismatic lead singer Danny Elfman and, when it came time to decide on a musical direction for Pee-Wee, he approached Elfman to offer him the gig. Unknown to Burton, Elfman had basically grown up as a ‘film music fanboy’, having a special affinity for the work of Bernard Herrmann, and jumped at the chance to work in the genre that had fascinated him all his life. The rest, as they say, is history. Read more…