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Posts Tagged ‘John Powell’

THE CALL OF THE WILD – John Powell

March 3, 2020 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Jack London’s The Call of the Wild has come to be regarded as one of the seminal adventure novels in the years since its first publication in 1903, and there have been several cinematic retellings of the story over the subsequent century. This latest version is directed by Chris Sanders – the director of the original How to Train Your Dragon, making his live action debut here – and it plays out sort of like a canine version of Black Beauty. The story follows Buck, a powerful St. Bernard mix dog, who is uprooted from his privileged position as a family dog on a ranch in California, pooch-napped, and sold as a working dog in the Yukon and Alaska, where the Gold Rush is in full force. Eventually Buck finds himself owned by the kind-hearted Perrault (Omar Sy), working as part of a team of sled dogs delivering mail all over the Northwest. After many adventures with Perrault, Buck eventually comes to be owned by a grizzled gold prospector named Thornton (Harrison Ford), who has a mysterious past. As Buck and Thornton bond, Buck also begins to hear ‘the call of the wild,’ an instinct speaking to his past and his innate heritage, which draws him to a more primeval existence among the mountains and with the wolves. Read more…

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD – John Powell

March 28, 2019 5 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Prior to its premiere in 2010, I had never heard of How to Train Your Dragon. I knew nothing of Cressida Cowell’s book series, had pretty much zero interest in watching the film (I assumed it was a silly thing for children), and I certainly had no expectations about John Powell’s score. I thought it might be a fun diversion – Powell had scored several excellent animated films before it, including Antz, Chicken Run, Shrek, Kung-Fu Panda, and several entries in the Ice Age series – but beyond that, my anticipation levels were low. Flash forward nine years and How to Train Your Dragon is a beloved animated franchise boasting not only a trilogy of films but a slew of straight-to-DVD shorts, a television series, video games, and more. The three Dragons films have grossed a combined $1.5 billion worldwide, both the first two films were nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and Powell’s scores are now regarded as some of the finest film music written anywhere in the world over the last decade. Read more…

SOLO – John Powell

May 29, 2018 6 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE FILM, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER WAITING UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE DONE SO TO READ IT.

In the years since Disney bought the rights to Lucasfilm from Twentieth Century Fox, the Star Wars universe has grown exponentially. Not only have we had two films in the official sequel trilogy – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi – but a number of side projects have also been greenlit, all expanding on the history and mythology of the franchise. The first of those ‘Star Wars stories’ was Rogue One in 2016, which looked at the events of how the Rebel Alliance came to possess the plans to the original Death Star, and eventually came to be seen as an immediate prequel to the first 1977 movie. Further movies are in development, including ones which would explore the origins of characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrissian, and Boba Fett. But, before all that, we have this movie: Solo, which looks at the early life of everyone’s favorite scoundrel and scruffy-looking nerf herder. The basic story of Han Solo’s life have long been known: he was an orphan and petty criminal on his home planet, Corellia, and eventually became an intergalactic smuggler, picking up a partner in the shape of the wookiee Chewbacca, and a ship in the shape of the Millennium Falcon, along the way – winning the latter in a card game from fellow smuggler and handsome playboy Lando Calrissian. What Solo does is look at the detail: his life on Corellia, the people he knew there at the time, how he first meets Chewbacca, how he acquires the Falcon, and what adventures he embarks up on during those first journeys among the stars. Read more…

JASON BOURNE – John Powell and David Buckley

August 2, 2016 1 comment

jasonbourneOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Jason Bourne is the latest film in the series of action-espionage films based on the novels by Robert Ludlum, after the original Bourne Identity in 2002, The Bourne Supremacy in 2004, The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007, and the spin-off Bourne Legacy in 2012. Paul Greengrass returns to the director’s chair and Matt Damon returns to play one of his iconic roles one more time; this time, the plot revolves around Bourne, a former CIA assassin, finding out more about his past, how he was first recruited into the ultra-secret black ops Treadstone programme in the first place, and how these things relate to the death of his father. The film co-stars Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Bourne veteran Julia Stiles, Vincent Cassel, and Riz Ahmed, and allows Bourne to trek across the globe from Athens to Berlin to London and Las Vegas, as he searches for answers about his past. Read more…

PAN – John Powell

October 13, 2015 Leave a comment

panOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Pan is, by my count, the 1,875th cinematic take on the classic J. M. Barrie story of Peter Pan, which by this stage is starting to look a little well-worn and ragged around the edges. This film is a prequel of sorts, telling the story of how Peter Pan and Captain James Hook first met, with the young orphan boy Peter (Levi Miller) and the twenty-something Hook (Garrett Hedlund) teaming up to fight against the dastardly pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) for the fate of Neverland, and its inhabitants of lost boys, natives, and fairies. The film was directed by Atonement’s Joe Wright from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs, and had all the pedigree to be a success – but, unfortunately, the film has been a critical and commercial flop, with many commentators criticizing its poor narrative coherence, unfortunate anachronisms, and overall lack of the magic necessary in any good Peter Pan story. Read more…

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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 – John Powell

June 30, 2014 3 comments

howtotrainyourdragon2Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

John Powell received his first – and, to date, only – Academy Award nomination for the surprise smash hit animated film from Dreamworks, How to Train Your Dragon, in 2010. The film was almost universally well-received, and grossed over $400 million worldwide, so a sequel was inevitable: so here we are, four years later, with How To Train Your Dragon 2. The film picks up five years after the events of the last film, and finds the heroic Viking dragon rider Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrara), and his dragon Toothless, happily exploring and mapping out new lands on behalf of his father Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), the chieftain of Berk. However, on one of their expeditions, Hiccup and Astrid discover a terrible potential threat: an insane warrior named Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) who has been capturing and enslaving dragons of his own for years, in order to help him conquer neighboring villages. Worst of all, Drago has a ‘bewilderbeast’, an alpha dragon which can control all other dragons it encounters – including Toothless… The film has an impressive voice cast, including Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill and Kit Harington from Game of Thrones, and – thankfully – sees John Powell returning to the scoring stage after his brief personal sabbatical last year. Read more…

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON – John Powell

March 26, 2010 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

We’re in a Golden Age of animated motion pictures. When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s you got one, maybe two films from Disney in a calendar year, plus the odd independent movie like Watership Down or The Secret of NIMH, or some arty foreign language thing with bad dubbing, but that was about your lot. Since the Disney renaissance began in 1989 with The Little Mermaid the strength and popularity of the animated feature has grown exponentially, to the point where every major studio has its own animation department, well over a dozen full length feature animations are released each year, and companies like Pixar break box office records with apparent ease. The competition is fierce, but the Dreamworks studio seems to have managed the right blend of hip comedy and family-friendly action, spinning off from their massively successful Shrek series with hits such as Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and their 20th and most recent feature, How to Train Your Dragon. Read more…

ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS – John Powell

July 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third film in the series of director Carlos Saldanha’s popular Ice Age animated features, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs continues the adventures of sarcastic woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), irritable saber toothed tiger Diego (Dennis Leary) and scatterbrained sloth Sid (John Leguizamo). With Manny and his mammoth mate Ellie settling down and starting a family, Sid decided he wants a family of his own; as such, he steals some dinosaur eggs to raise. However, a visit from the eggs’ real mother results in Sid being taken to a lush and strange underground ‘lost world’, causing Manny, Diego and the others to mount a rescue. Read more…

BOLT – John Powell

November 21, 2008 7 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 48th official film in the Disney animated feature canon, Bolt is the story a small dog – the Bolt of the title, voiced by John Travolta – who has lived his entire life on the set of a TV show in which he portrays a superhero dog and, as a result, thinks that his superpowers are real. However, when Bolt is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City, he embarks on a cross-country journey to reunite with his owner and co-star, Penny (voiced by Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus). Along the way, he teams up with a jaded alleycat named Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman) and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino (voiced by Mark Walton). Read more…

KUNG FU PANDA – Hans Zimmer and John Powell

June 6, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An animated action comedy from DreamWorks that features an astonishing voice cast – Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu – Kung Fu Panda follows the fortunes of Po, a clumsy but well-meaning panda who, despite his enthusiasm, is the worst student at the kung fu academy run by the noble, severe Master Shifu. However, when Tai Lung, an evil snow leopard, escapes from prison and vows revenge on Shifu and his students, Po is unexpectedly revealed to be the one prophesized to stop Tai Lung’s plan and save the academy.

The film, which was enormously popular and successful at the box office, has an original score by Hans Zimmer and John Powell, collaborating on an animated film for the second time, after The Road to El Dorado in 2000. Read more…

HANCOCK – John Powell

June 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A super-hero with a self-loathing problem, and a penchant for causing more damage than is necessary when he uses his ‘powers’. A city who doesn’t like the super-hero. A victim who, after being saved, decides to try to overhaul his hero’s image. This is the story of Hancock, one of many super-hero films to hit cinemas in 2008, the latest film from director Peter Berg, which stars Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman and Eddie Marsan.

Along for the ride is the incredibly busy British composer John Powell, for whom Hancock was the fifth score of 2008 (after Jumper, Horton Hears a Who, Stop Loss and Kung-Fu Panda). As befits the character of Hancock, there’s a slight sense of bitterness and despondency in Powell’s music, counterbalancing the super-hero action. Read more…

STOP-LOSS – John Powell

March 28, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In US military terminology, a stop-loss is the involuntary extension of a soldier’s active duty beyond their initial end of term of service date – in other words, the powers-that-be force them to return to active duty once their tour is up. Director Kimberly Pierce’s film is an examination of this controversial policy from the point of view of Iraq War veteran Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe), who deserts his comrades and refuses to return to the front lines following the end of his deployment in the Gulf. The film, which also stars Channing Tatum, Abbie Cornish, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is an effective anti-war drama, exposing the US government’s apparent disregard for its servicemen. Read more…

HORTON HEARS A WHO! – John Powell

March 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Though far from being a classic family film, “Horton Hears a Who” is far and away the most successful feature-length Dr. Seuss adaptation to date, easily topping the horrid “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Cat and the Hat” theatrical films. The film features the voice talent of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, and Seth Rogan. 20th Century Fox’s go-to guy for animated features in recent years has been the talented John Powell, who returns with yet another energetic effort here.

Powell supplies his trademark blend of zippy themes and slick orchestration, creating a rather entertaining if somewhat familiar listening experience. The themes are engaging enough, but Powell grabs the listener’s attention with the steady stream of eclectic curveballs he throws into the mix Read more…

JUMPER – John Powell

February 15, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Jumper is an enjoyably dumb action adventure movie about people who can teleport anywhere they wish, and the people who wish to stop them. Star Wars’s Hayden Christensen stars as David Rice, a young man who discovers that, through a genetic anomaly, he can teleport himself anywhere, at any time. After severl years of enjoying the carefree existence, he comes in contact with a fellow jumper named Griffin (Jamie Bell), who tells him that there have been jumpers through time, and that a war has been raging between these people, and a group of people dedicated to exterminating them – one of whom is the ruthless Roland (Samuel L. Jackson). The film was directed by Doug Liman, the director of the original Bourne Identity, and as such brought his regular composer, John Powell, on board with him. Read more…

P.S. I LOVE YOU – John Powell

December 21, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A downbeat romantic comedy from director Richard La Gravenese, P.S. I Love You stars Hilary Swank as Holly Kennedy, a happily married young woman whose life is shattered when her husband Gerry (Gerard Butler) dies; However, before he died, Gerry wrote Holly a series of letters that will guide her, not only through her grief, but in rediscovering herself. The first message arrives on Holly’s birthday in the form of a cake, along with a tape recording from Gerry telling her to get out and “celebrate herself”. In the weeks and months that follow, more letters from Gerry are delivered in surprising ways, each sending her on a new adventure. The film also stars Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, James Marsters, Kathy Bates and Harry Connick Jr., and features a whimsical, touching score from John Powell. Read more…