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Posts Tagged ‘James Horner’

A FAR OFF PLACE – James Horner

April 1, 2023 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A Far Off Place is a children’s adventure movie directed by Mikael Salomon about a group of teenagers who must survive in the African desert after their families are killed by poachers. It stars a then 17-year-old Reese Witherspoon as Nonnie Parker, a young girl who lives on a game reserve with her father; after the poachers attack and her father is killed, she is forced to flee into the Kalahari with a young African boy named Xhabbo (Sarel Bok), and along the way they are joined by an American teenager named Harry Winslow (Ethan Randall), who is also trying to escape from the poachers and their leader, corrupt ivory smuggler John Ricketts (Jack Thompson). The group faces many dangers in the harsh desert environment, including dehydration, starvation, encounters with dangerous wildlife, and further attacks from Ricketts, but eventually they discover evidence of the poachers’ illegal activities and decide that they must try to put an end to their operation. The film was received as a slightly updated version of the 1971 Australian film Walkabout, and was praised at the time for its beautiful desert cinematography, but it has become somewhat forgotten in the intervening years. Read more…

SWING KIDS – James Horner

March 18, 2023 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

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…

AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER – Simon Franglen

December 29, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For a while, people sort of forgot what a big deal Avatar was. When James Cameron’s spectacular sci-fi epic first hit screens in December of 2009 it was immediately heralded as a visual masterpiece, boasting some of the most impressive and realistic special effects in the history of cinema, as well as being a groundbreaking step forward in the use of 3D technology and motion-capture. It won three Oscars, was nominated for another six (including Best Picture), and grossed something in the region of $2.9 billion at the global box office, making it one of the most financially successful films ever. But then the backlash came, with some people (rightfully) criticizing the story as being a tired re-tread of both the Pocahontas legend and movies like Dances With Wolves and Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, while also noting its ‘white savior’ tropes. And then… well… it all sort of drifted away. Cameron announced that there would be sequels – possibly four of them – and then he went away to go and make them. And, slowly, over the course of more than a decade, almost everyone forgot about the whole thing. Every once in a while some bit of Avatar news would leak out – shooting began way back in 2017 – but more than anything the Avatar sequels felt a little like a mythical thing, some fairy-tale idea seemingly destined to never come to fruition. Read more…

SNEAKERS – James Horner

September 1, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Sneakers is a fun caper movie with an all-star cast, directed by Phil Alden Robinson, and written by Robinson with Lawrence Lasker and Walter Parkes. Robert Redford stars as Martin Bishop, a former computer hacker now working as a ‘penetration tester’ for the tech industry, who spends his time leading a team of various misfits played by Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, and David Strathairn, while trying to maintain a relationship with his on-again-off-again girlfriend Mary McDonnell. Bishop’s life is thrown into turmoil when he is tasked by the NSA with recovering a device that is capable of breaking the encryption of nearly every computer system in the world; this brings him back into contact with his former partner Cosmo (Ben Kingsley), who spent many years in federal prison, and who now wants the device for himself so he can destabilize the global economy and exact some revenge. The film was a reasonable critical and commercial success, which grossed over $105 million at the box office worldwide, and maintained the then 55-year-old Redford’s status as a top cinematic draw. Read more…

PATRIOT GAMES – James Horner

June 16, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Patriot Games was the second film to feature the character Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst and protagonist of a series of novels by Tom Clancy. He first appeared on screen in 1990 in The Hunt for Red October, played by Alec Baldwin, and returns in this second installment played by Harrison Ford. The film is directed by Philip Noyce and is, in my opinion, one of the best political action-thrillers of the 1990s. The story begins with Ryan on vacation in London with his family, where he inadvertently foils a plot to assassinate a member of the British royal family by an Irish paramilitary group, the ULA, a radical offshoot of the IRA Irish Republican Army. With the ringleader dead and the other terrorists in custody, Ryan is given an honorary knighthood by the Queen, and returns home a hero – but things become much more serious when Sean Miller, the brother of the killed ULA leader, is broken out of prison, and vows to exact revenge on Ryan. The film co-stars Anne Archer, Patrick Bergin, James Earl Jones, Richard Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, and a young Sean Bean, and is a terrific tale that offers an overview of Irish republican politics in the 1980s and 90s, a high level examination of ‘the troubles,’ combined with some excellent action and suspense. Read more…

UNLAWFUL ENTRY – James Horner

June 2, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Unlawful Entry was one of a spate of home invasion movies that hit theaters in the early 1990s. Directed by Jonathan Kaplan from a screenplay by Lewis Colick and Ken Friedman, the film starred Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe as Michael and Karen Carr, a happy couple living in an upscale part of Los Angeles. One night an intruder enters their home and attacks Karen before escaping; one of the police officers who responds to their 911 call is Pete Davis (Ray Liotta), who is friendly and helpful and goes out of his way to install a good security system in the house. However, what initially appears to be a kind gesture quickly turns sinister when Pete develops an unhealthy fixation on Karen, and begins to stalk her. The film, which co-starred Roger E. Mosley and Ken Lerner, was a commercial success, and was especially praised for Ray Liotta’s compelling and terrifying performance as the unhinged Pete. Read more…

THUNDERHEART – James Horner

April 14, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Thunderheart is a serious, interesting murder-mystery thriller, directed by Michael Apted from an original screenplay by John Fusco. The film stars Val Kilmer as FBI agent Ray Levoi, who is sent to a Native American reservation in South Dakota to lead the investigation into the murder of a tribal council member; Levoi is of Sioux heritage, but has no connection to his tribe and his ancestry, and is reluctant to go. However, once he arrives on the reservation, he becomes increasingly convinced that a cover-up is happening, involving local authorities, an apparently dangerous militia group, and even members of the US government. The film co-stars Sam Shepard, Graham Greene, and Fred Ward, and was a modest box office hit, while also receiving critical acclaim for its tone, pacing, performances, and sympathetic portrayal of contemporary issues in Native American communities. Read more…

AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST – James Horner

November 18, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A fun, undemanding sequel to the 1986 original, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West continues the animated adventures of the immigrant mouse Fievel Mousekewitz and his family. Having successfully reunited at the end of the first film and settled in New York, this new film sees the Mousekewitzes making the decision to head west to start a new life, prompted by the fact that their neighborhood is being terrorized by a new gang of felines led by a British aristocratic cat named Cat R. Waul. Desperate for safety and security the family boards a train bound for Utah; Fievel has aspirations of meeting the famed lawman Wylie Burp, while his sister Tanya wants to be a singer in a burlesque show. However, the Mousekewitzes are unaware that they are falling into a trap set by the unscrupulous Waul, and must find a way to defeat him before his nefarious plan comes to fruition. The film is directed by Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells, taking over from Don Bluth; it features the voices of Philip Glasser, Cathy Cavadini, Dom DeLuise, John Cleese, and James Stewart in his final film role, and has a score by James Horner. Read more…

THE ROCKETEER – James Horner

July 1, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Rocketeer is an early entry into the annals of Disney comic book action movies, and is based on a character created by Dave Stevens for Pacific Comics in 1982. The film is set in Los Angeles in 1938 and stars Billy Campbell as Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot working for Howard Hughes in the early years of Hollywood. A pair of mafia gangsters steal a prototype jetpack from Hughes, and events lead to the jetpack coming into Secord’s possession; seeing a chance to further his career, Secord re-invents himself as the high-flying Rocketeer, and he wows the crowds at a local airshow, but his antics bring him to the attention of both the police and the FBI, and get him mixed up with the sinister forces who arranged for the initial theft, and who have plans for the jet pack that stretch way beyond Hollywood. The film was directed by Joe Johnston, and has a wonderful supporting cast that includes Alan Arkin as Cliff’s gruff friend Peevy, Jennifer Connelly as Cliff’s sensationally sexy nightclub singer/actress girlfriend Jenny, Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes, and Timothy Dalton as the devilishly handsome matinee idol actor Neville Sinclair, to whom there is more than meets the eye. The whole movie is awash in stylish art-deco production design that glamorizes the Hollywood of the 1930s, and is capped off by a sensational score from James Horner. Read more…

CLASS ACTION – James Horner

March 18, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Class Action is a courtroom drama directed by Michael Apted, starring Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Hackman plays Jedidiah Ward, a liberal civil rights lawyer who is hired to file a lawsuit against a major auto manufacturer whose station wagons have a dangerous design flaw. The case becomes more complicated for him when he discovers that his daughter Maggie (Mastrantonio) is representing the firm he’s suing; Jedidiah and Maggie have been estranged for many years ever since she discovered that he was cheating on his wife, her mother. The film is intended to be an indictment of corporate greed, specifically companies which weigh financial risk against public interest, while also providing a father-daughter redemption story. The film co-stars Colin Friels, Joanna Merlin, and Laurence Fishburne, and has a score by James Horner. Read more…

ONCE AROUND – James Horner

February 25, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Once Around is a romantic comedy-drama about family dynamics, cultural differences, and finding love late in life. Holly Hunter stars as Renata, the oldest daughter of a sprawling Italian-American family, and the only unmarried offspring of patriarch Joe (Danny Aiello). While on a vacation in the Caribbean Renata meets and falls in love with Sam (Richard Dreyfuss), an abrasive chain-smoking salesman of Russian heritage. Despite his best intentions Sam continually causes rifts and arguments between different members of Renata’s family – until a medical emergency causes them all to stop and think about what love actually means. The film was directed by Lasse Hallström from a screenplay by Malia Scotch Marmo, co-stars Laura San Giacomo and Gena Rowlands, and has an original score by James Horner. Read more…

ANOTHER 48 HRS. – James Horner

May 14, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 1980s buddy-cop movie trend arguably began in 1982 with the film 48 Hrs., which paired gruff homicide detective Jack Cates (played by Nick Nolte) with smart-mouthed street criminal Reggie Hammond (played by Eddie Murphy, making his big screen debut). The mismatched duo had two days to find the men responsible for the murder of two of Jack’s colleagues – hence the title of the film – and the confrontational dynamic between the two leads led to box office gold; the film grossed almost $80 million in the US, launched Eddie Murphy’s movie career, and paved the way for future movies in the buddy-cop genre, notably Lethal Weapon. Nine years later Nolte and Murphy re-teamed with director Walter Hill for Another 48 Hrs., a somewhat belated sequel. In this story, Jack is accused of murder after killing a suspect while trying to capture ‘The Iceman,’ a vicious San Francisco drug lord. Meanwhile, Reggie is due to be released from prison, but discovers that the Iceman has put a bounty on his head, although Reggie doesn’t know why. To solve their mutual problems with the Iceman, Jack teams up with Reggie once more – to save Reggie’s life, and to clear Jack’s name and prove his innocence. Read more…

GLORY – James Horner

February 12, 2020 3 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Blow the horn, play the fife, beat the drum so slowly. Blow the horn, play the fife, make the drum beat glory…

Stories from the American Civil War have fascinated filmmakers for decades. Films as great and respected as Gone With the Wind, The Red Badge of Courage, and even things like The Outlaw Josey Wales, have examined different elements of the conflict that so ravaged the fledgling nation from 1861 to 1865. However, for my money, one of the best movies about that period was the 1989 epic Glory, written by Kevin Jarre and directed by Edward Zwick. It tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, a platoon of ‘free black’ soldiers and former slaves fighting for the Union Army. Under the command of Colonel Robert Shaw, the regiment becomes involved in numerous battles and incidents, culminating with their heroic charge on Fort Wagner, a Confederate stronghold in South Carolina. But the film is about more than that – it’s about bravery, and honor, and courage. It’s about the dignity of these African American soldiers, and how they inspired similar feelings of honor and dignity in their communities. It’s about the relationships between Shaw and his officers and soldiers, and how the racism and prejudice that still existed in the North was turned into friendship and mutual respect as a result of their experiences. The film has an astonishing cast – Matthew Broderick, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington who won an Oscar – and was a major critical success. Read more…

DAD – James Horner

September 26, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dad was a sentimental family drama starring Jack Lemmon, Ted Danson, and Ethan Hawke as Jake, John, and Billy Tremont, three generations of fathers and sons who are brought together when Jake’s wife Bette, played by Olympia Dukakis, suffers a health emergency. Needing to fend for himself for the first time in decades, Jake finds a new lease of life through his forced independence, and bonds with his workaholic son and free-spirited grandson, as well as members of his extended family that he has been neglecting. However, when Bette returns home, she baulks at the formerly-passive Jake’s new assertiveness, which leads to conflict and – eventually – more medical drama. The film was written and directed by Gary David Goldberg (the creator of Family Ties), adapted from a novel by William Wharton, and was an unexpected critical success, with special praise reserved for Jack Lemmon’s performance, and for the Oscar-nominated old age makeup. Read more…

HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS – James Horner

June 27, 2019 6 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…