Posts Tagged ‘James Horner’


March 18, 2019 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Having just finished the comedy Leaving Normal, director Edward Zwick decided to change direction and film an epic historical drama, which showcased the talent of rising star Brad Pitt as a romantic leading man. To that end he found the perfect vehicle in the 1978 novella Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison. His production company Bedford Falls purchased the film rights with TriStar Pictures agreeing to distribute. Zwick, William Wittliff and Marshal Herskovist would produce the film, with Zwick directing. He hired screenwriters Susan Shilliday and William D. Wittliff to adapt the story for the big screen and brought in an outstanding cast, which included Brad Pitt as Tristan Ludlow, Anthony Hopkins as Colonel William Ludlow, Aiden Quinn as Alfred Ludlow, Henry Thomas as Samuel Ludlow, and Juilia Ormond as Susannah Fincannon. The film is set in the territory of Montana circa 1890 when Colonel William Ludlow resigns his commission, loathe to continue his part in the army’s cruel betrayal and slaughter of native Americans. He settles on a ranch in a remote part of Montana where he and his wife Isabel live a tranquil existence in peace. Isabel bears him three sons – Tristan, Alfred, and Samuel – but ends up leaving him as she is unable to bear the isolation and long harsh winters, which forces William to raise the boys himself. Almost 20 years later, the the now-grown Samuel returns home to the ranch with his fiancé Susannah, but this is a harbinger of sorrow as it precipitates a series of tragic events which fracture the family and set brother against brother as they compete for her affections. Read more…



December 6, 2018 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Land Before Time is an animated feature film for children, directed by Don Bluth and produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. It’s set in the late cretaceous period, and follows the adventures of a group of orphaned dinosaurs searching for a fabled oasis where there is food, water, and safety. The main character is Littlefoot, a young Apatosaurus, who along with his friends – each of whom is a different species, such as a triceratops or a pteranodon – find themselves having to escape from numerous dangers, not least of which is a deadly ‘sharptooth’ Tyrannosaurus Rex that is hunting them. The film was incredibly popular at the time, and it works on multiple levels. Firstly, it is a fun story for children, with playful characters and a friendly cartoonish animation style. However, it also has some deeper meaning, addressing issues of racism (some of the adult dinosaurs are prejudiced against different species), climate change (the dinosaurs don’t know it, but they are living through a famine that heralds the beginning of their extinction event), friendship, and family. There is also some surprisingly dark material too, including some quite intense and frightening sequences involving the Tyrannosaurus, as well as character deaths which left real emotional scars on an entire generation of kids. Amazingly, the film spawned an incredible thirteen direct-to-video sequels and even a TV series, although none of them reached the level of acclaim the original had. Read more…

RED HEAT – James Horner

June 14, 2018 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The action comedy buddy-cop movie reached new heights in the summer of 1988 with the release of Red Heat, which was a vehicle for the increasing box office power of action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this film directed by Walter Hill, Schwarzenegger plays Ivan Danko, a captain in the Moscow police, whose partner is killed by drug dealer and crime boss Rostavili (Ed O’Ross). Rostavili flees to the United States and disappears into the Chicago underworld; he is arrested by local cop Art Ridzik (Jim Belushi) in connection with several murders, and Danko arrives from Moscow to oversee his extradition back to the Soviet Union. However, when Rostavili escapes again, Danko and Ridzik are paired with each other as partners and tasked with catching him again and bringing him to justice. In addition to the usual fight scenes where Schwarzenegger was able to show off his impressive physique, Red Heat was interesting because of its Cold War overtones. In 1988 the Berlin Wall was still up, the Soviet Union was still a world superpower, and the idea of pairing a traditional wise-cracking donut-munching beat cop with a stoic, by-the-book Soviet detective allowed the filmmakers to use them as a microcosm to explore the political tensions of the era, as well as to inject some fish-out-of-water social commentary as Danko observes and criticizes American consumerism and decadence from a communist point of view. Read more…

WILLOW – James Horner

May 24, 2018 3 comments


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Willow is a high fantasy film, which takes well-loved genre tropes from Lord of the Rings and elsewhere, and casts them in an adventure filled with magic, monsters, evil queens, beautiful princesses, soaring romance, daring sword fights, and much much more. Written by Bob Dolman from a story by George Lucas, and directed by Ron Howard, Willow is the story of a newborn baby prophesized to bring about the downfall of the evil witch Queen Bavmorda; to prevent the prophecy from coming to pass Bavmorda imprisons all expectant mothers, but after it is born, the baby is smuggled out of Bavmorda’s castle by a midwife, and eventually finds its way into the hands of Willow Ufgood, a Nelwyn (dwarf) farmer and aspiring magician. Determined to protect the baby, Willow journeys far from his home, and eventually finds himself in the company of a roguish swordfighter named Madmartigan, the good witch Fin Raziel, and a pair of mischievous woodland sprites. As the story progresses they all become involved in a large scale war between Bavmorda’s army and those who oppose her, while Bavmorda’s daughter Sorsha and the fearsome General Kael continue to hunt for the baby. The film stars Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, and Jean Marsh, and has a spectacular original score by James Horner. Read more…

PROJECT X – James Horner

April 27, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Project X was a genre-defying film – part action, part sci-fi, part-comedy, part drama – directed by Jonathan Kaplan from a screenplay by Lawrence Lasker and Stanley Weiser. Matthew Broderick starred as young US Air Force researcher Jimmy Garrett, who is assigned to a top secret project that involves teaching chimpanzees to fly planes. He bonds with one of the chimps, Virgil, after he discovers that it was taught sign language by its previous owner, graduate student Teri MacDonald (Helen Hunt). When Jimmy realizes that Virgil, along with all the other chimps, is supposed to die as part of the project’s research into the effects of radiation poisoning, he finds and contacts Teri; appalled by what the government is going to do to the animals, they agree to work together to rescue Virgil, and stop the project. The film co-stars William Sadler, Jonathan Stark, Stephen Lang, and Jean Smart, and was well received by critics at the time, who praised it as a ‘young person’s morality tale’ that tackles the important subject of animal welfare. Read more…


November 23, 2016 Leave a comment

anamericantailTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the wake of the success of The Secret of NIMH in 1982, master animator Don Bluth began a collaboration with Steven Spielberg and Universal Pictures, who wanted to capitalize on NIMH’s popularity and produce their own animated film, the studio’s first since 1965. The result was An American Tail, the story of a family of Russian-Jewish mice who emigrate to the United States in the late 1800s, having been lured there on the promise of there being ‘no cats in America’. During their ocean crossing the family’s youngest son, Fievel Mousekewitz, is swept overboard and feared drowned; upon their arrival in New York, the remaining Mousekewitzes resign themselves to having lost their son, and sadly begin their new lives. However, Fievel has miraculously survived and makes his way to New York on his own, and the plucky young rodent embarks on a quest to reunite with his family, engaging in numerous adventures on the way. The film features the voices of Nehemiah Persoff, Erica Yohn, Dom DeLuise, Christopher Plummer, and the then-8-year-old Phillip Glasser as Fievel; it was a huge success at the box office, especially with children, who loved the film despite its dark tone. Read more…

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN – James Horner and Simon Franglen

September 23, 2016 3 comments

magnificentseven2016Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The death of James Horner in June 2015, in a plane crash at the age of 61, was one of the most shocking events to hit the film music community in many, many years. It wasn’t just the fact that Horner was seemingly on the verge of a comeback, having written several classical pieces and new scores in the preceding year, and having signed to write several new works (Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall, and several Avatar sequels among them); it was the suddenness, the randomness of it all, coming completely out of the blue with no time to prepare for a film music world without him. At the time, once the immediate grief and concern for his family had been addressed, thoughts naturally turned to his musical legacy, and all the great music he was yet to write, and which we would now never get to hear. As it turns out, Horner had one last gift to share – the score for director Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the great western The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke as three members of a gang of gun-slinging heroes who team up to protect a town from ruthless industrialist Peter Sarsgaard, who is forcibly removing the inhabitants of a small Old West community for his own nefarious purposes. Read more…