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Posts Tagged ‘James Horner’

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 2 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 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…

FIELD OF DREAMS – James Horner

May 2, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Field of Dreams is a film about baseball, but it’s also about much, much more than that. It’s a film about regret, about missed opportunities, about the relationships we allow to fritter away through petty disagreements and neglect. It’s a film about life, about how the ambitions we had in our youth turn into something completely different in adulthood, and how we deal with that change. It’s a film about hope, about how each of us longs to re-capture that innocence and optimism we once had, and the things we will do to get it. And it’s a film about reconciliation, coming to terms with the mistakes we have made, and making things right. The film is written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson, based on the novel ‘Shoeless Joe’ by W. P. Kinsella; it stars Kevin Costner as Ray, a corn farmer who lives in Iowa with his wife Annie (Amy Madigan), and their young daughter Karen (Gaby Hoffmann), on the property that his late father left him. Ray had been estranged from his father for many years before he died, and the legacy of that relationship weighs heavily upon him. One day, while out in the cornfield, Ray hears a spectral voice whispering the words ‘if you build it, he will come,’ and he is subsequently inspired to build a full-size baseball diamond on his property. This event sends Ray off on a voyage of personal self-discovery involving Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the ghosts of the disgraced 1919 Chicago White Sox team, a reclusive political author (James Earl Jones), and a beloved country doctor (Burt Lancaster) who played just a single game in the major leagues for the New York Giants in 1922. Read more…

TITANIC – James Horner

April 22, 2019 3 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

James Cameron had long been fascinated with shipwrecks and conceived to write a love story set on the greatest shipwreck of all time – the RMS Titanic. He believed that telling the story of the sinking of the great ship in and of itself was insufficient, so the addition of a love story as well as an intimate exploration of the lives of the people who died would add a compelling narrative to the tale. He pitched his story to 20th Century Fox executives as ‘Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic’. They bought his idea given his resume of directorial success, as they wanted to secure him for future projects. He was provided with the largest budget ever for a film at that time – $200 million – and took it upon himself to do what had never been done before; to produce, direct, write and edit a film. He brought in a fine cast to support his vision, including Leonardo Di Caprio as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Billy Zane as Cal Hockley, Frances Fisher as Ruth DeWitt Bukater, Gloria Stuart as the older Rose, Kathy Bates as the Unsinkable Margaret “Molly” Brown, Victor Garber as Thomas Andrews, Bill Paxton as Brock Lovett, David Warner as Spicer Lovejoy, and Danny Nucci as Fabrizio De Rossi. Read more…

BRAVEHEART – James Horner

April 1, 2019 2 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

During a visit to Scotland screenwriter Randall Wallace was inspired by the lore of the Scottish patriot William Wallace. He conceived and wrote a screenplay for a grand historical epic, which would bring this heroic figure to the big screen. MGM producer Alan Ladd Jr. realized he had a winner and purchased the script, which he shared with Mel Gibson. Gibson initially passed on the project, but eventually relented, agreeing to direct, however he declined to star as he felt he was too old at age 40 to play the part of Wallace, who was in his late twenties. Financing constraints led to a reversal as Paramount Studios would only agree to finance the film if he starred in it. Gibson agreed to take on the titular role and brought in a fine cast to support, which included Sophie Marceau as Princess Isabelle, Angus MacFadyen as Robert the Bruce, Patrick McGoohan as King Edward I, Catherine McCormack as Murron, Brendan Gleeson as Hamish, Peter Hanly as Prince Edward, and Ian Bannen as Robert the Elder. Gibson’s final script took significant license with historical accuracy, so as to make the story more intimate, dramatic and grand. The film is set in Scotland the year 1280, when the country is occupied by the forces of English King Edward I, and it tells the story of the rise and fall of the legendary Scottish patriot and freedom fighter. Read more…

APOLLO 13 – James Horner

March 25, 2019 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following his retirement from NASA in 1973, Apollo 13 astronaut James Lovell collaborated with journalist Jeffrey Kluger to recount the riveting tale of his failed moon landing, titled ‘Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13’. In 1993 director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment received a pre-publication copy of the novel and immediately realized that this story offered classic American heroism, which needed to be brought to the big screen. They secured the film rights and, in partnership with Universal Pictures, undertook the project with a modest budget of $52 million. Howard secured a stellar cast, which included NASA fan Tom Hanks as Commander Jim Lovell, Kathleen Quinlan as his wife Marilyn, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton as fellow astronauts Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, Gary Sinise as Ken Mattingly, and Ed Harris as NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz. The story retells the harrowing tale of the Apollo 13 mission, which was intended to bring a third astronaut team to the moon. Read more…

LEGENDS OF THE FALL – James Horner

March 18, 2019 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

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…

THE LAND BEFORE TIME – James Horner

December 6, 2018 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

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

THROWBACK THIRTY

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

THROWBACK THIRTY

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

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…