Archive

Posts Tagged ‘James Horner’

PROJECT X – James Horner

April 27, 2017 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

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…

AN AMERICAN TAIL – James Horner

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…

THE NAME OF THE ROSE – James Horner

September 8, 2016 2 comments

nameoftheroseTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Name of the Rose is a murder mystery with a difference. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, and adapted from the enormously popular 1980 novel by Umberto Eco, it stars Sean Connery as William, a 14th century monk who journeys to a Benedictine monastery in northern Italy to attend a religious conference with other scholars. However, the conference is disturbed by several unexplained deaths, and the monastery’s abbot (Michael Lonsdale) assigns William to investigate them. With the help of his young student Adso (Christian Slater), William quickly uncovers a hotbed of secrets, hidden desires, and political and religious skullduggery among the monks, leading to more murders as the perpetrator seeks to maintain hidden. The film, which co-stars F. Murray Abraham, Helmut Qualtinger, Feodor Chaliapin, and Ron Perlman, was unfortunately not a successful one in financial terms, but it has gone on to be something of a cult film in some circles, with critics likening Connery to a medieval Sherlock Holmes who uses ingenuity and intellect to uncover the truth, in stark comparison to Abraham’s fiery and superstitious bishop, who as a member of the Spanish inquisition sees witchcraft and devilishness under around every corner. Read more…

ALIENS – James Horner

July 21, 2016 5 comments

aliensTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror masterpiece Alien was a watershed landmark, a seminal film that forever changed the genre, so it was something of a surprise that a sequel was not forthcoming straight away. With behind-the-scenes wrangling between executives at 20th Century Fox, and a script that languished in development hell, it actually took almost seven years for Aliens to hit the big screen, but with hindsight it was more than worth the wait. For me, Aliens is one of the greatest action films ever made; a blockbuster war movie allegory about the Vietnam War, inspired by several seminal works in classic sci-fi literature, written and directed by the young and hungry auteur behind the 1984 hit The Terminator. In James Cameron’s capable hands, Aliens became a masterpiece of tension and horror, pulsating adventure, and noble sacrifice. Read more…

WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK – James Horner

March 24, 2016 2 comments

wheretheriverrunsblackTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1986, despite having achieved a great deal of popularity and success for his large scale orchestral scores, James Horner entered what many call his ‘experimental synth’ phase, such was the film music zeitgeist at the time. It lasted several years, in parallel with many of his more traditional symphonic works, and encompassed such scores as The Name of the Rose, Red Heat, Vibes, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, and Thunderheart, but appears to have begun in earnest with this one: a little-known drama called Where the River Runs Black. The film was directed by Christopher Cain (father of TV Superman Dean Cain), and tells the story of a young orphan boy named Lazaro, who grows up feral in the Amazon jungle, but is eventually found and sent to live at a Catholic mission with a kind priest, Father O’Reilly, played by Charles Durning. O’Reilly cares for the boy, and teaches him to speak, and for a while it seems as though Lazaro’s life is settled; however, through a set of coincidental circumstances, Lazaro meets a local businessman and recognizes him as the man who murdered his mother when he was just six years old. Read more…

COMMANDO – James Horner

October 22, 2015 Leave a comment

commandoTHROWBACK THIRTY

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…