Posts Tagged ‘Michael Kamen’


January 20, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Shining Through is an old-fashioned World War II spy thriller with a romantic undercurrent, written and directed by David Seltzer, based on the novel by Susan Isaacs. The film stars Melanie Griffith as Linda Voss, a clerk in a New York law office, who gets swept up into a world of espionage and intrigue when her employer, attorney Ed Leland (Michael Douglas), discovers she speaks German. Ed is secretly a colonel in the OSS, and he enlists Linda for an important assignment: she is to travel to Berlin and, while posing as a member of the household staff of a Nazi officer, steal top-secret plans for a missile weapon the Germans are developing. The film co-stars Liam Neeson, Joely Richardson, and John Gielgud, and has excellent technical pedigree, but unfortunately was a critical flop and a commercial disaster: critic Roger Ebert wrote that Shining Through was “such an insult to the intelligence that I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief … scene after scene is so implausible that the movie kept pushing me outside and making me ask how the key scenes could possibly be taken seriously”. As such, the film is mostly forgotten today, a footnote in the careers of its three main stars. Read more…

THE LAST BOY SCOUT – Michael Kamen

January 6, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Last Boy Scout is an action thriller directed by Tony Scott, produced by movie mogul Joel Silver, written by Shane Black and Greg Hicks. It stars Bruce Willis, hot off the success of his action outings in two Die Hard movies, as Los Angeles private detective Joe Hallenbeck, who suffers a major setback in his current case when the female witness he is protecting is murdered. Needing to find out what happened, Hallenback teams up with the victim’s boyfriend – a disgraced former professional football star named Jimmy Dix, played by Damon Wayans – and begins to investigate. However, the more Joe digs, the more scandal he uncovers and danger he finds, involving a corrupt politician and the ruthless owner of a sports franchise. The film co-starred Chelsea Field, Noble Willingham, and a young Halle Berry, and was one of the most popular and financially successful action movies of 1991, but thirty years down the line it has somewhat fallen into obscurity. The same could be said of the film’s score, which was by the great Michael Kamen. Read more…


July 8, 2021 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the biggest blockbusters of 1991 was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a big-budget historical action epic directed by Kevin Reynolds, based on the classic legends of the medieval English outlaw Robin Hood. Somewhat astonishingly, the producers cast Hollywood star Kevin Costner in the title role, and he made no attempt to do anything approaching an English accent, and in the end sounded less than he was from Sherwood Forest and more like he was from Malibu Canyon, going to “sup with his father in Notting-HAM”. Despite this, and despite some terrible lapses in geographic specificity (Robin walks from Dover to Loxley via Hadrian’s Wall in a single day, a trip of roughly 470 miles), the film is nevertheless a terrifically entertaining romp. It features some rousing action sequences, Morgan Freeman dispenses sage wisdom wherever he goes as the Moorish warrior Azeem, there’s a lovely Maid Marian in the shape of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and – best of all – we have Alan Rickman hamming it up, chewing the scenery, and having a ball as a Sheriff of Nottingham whose tongue is as cutting as his blade. Read more…

HUDSON HAWK – Michael Kamen and Robert Kraft

June 3, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hudson Hawk was an action-comedy vehicle for a post-Die Hard Bruce Willis, directed by Michael Lehmann. Willis plays Eddie Hawkins, a master thief who, on the day of his parole from prison, suddenly finds himself blackmailed into committing a series of elaborate heists. The complicated plot involves the Italian Mafia, an evil international conglomerate, the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci, and a machine that turns lead into gold, but it’s really just an excuse for Willis and his co-star Danny Aiello to engage in various globe-trotting escapades of comic tomfoolery. The film co-stars Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, and Richard E. Grant, and unfortunately was an enormous box-office flop; audiences seemingly couldn’t reconcile Willis’s tough guy persona with the film’s slapstick comedy action, bizarre sound effects, and surreal humor. Read more…

DIE HARD 2 – Michael Kamen

August 6, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The career trajectory of sitcom star Bruce Willis was forever changed by the success of Die Hard in 1988. No longer was he the charmingly roguish detective David Addison from the hit TV show Moonlighting; now he was the all-action NYPD cop John McClane, who had single-handedly foiled the gang of international terrorists who had taken over a Los Angeles skyscraper. Demand for another Die Hard movie was high, and so in the summer of 1990 Willis returned as McClane in Die Hard 2, which was released with the suffix ‘Die Harder’ in some territories. The film was adapted from Walter Wager’s 1987 novel 58 Minutes and saw McClane getting caught up in an all-new terrorism plot at Washington DC’s Dulles Airport. A group of disgruntled former special forces soldiers have disabled the airport’s air traffic control system so they can rescue a drug lord, who is being extradited to the US to stand trial. To make matters worse, a number of commercial passenger planes are circulating above the airport, unable to land, all of which are quickly running out of fuel, and McClane’s wife Holly is on board one of them. The film co-starred Bonnie Bedelia, William Sadler, Franco Nero, John Amos, and Dennis Franz, and was directed by Finnish action movie specialist Renny Harlin. Read more…

LICENCE TO KILL – Michael Kamen

July 18, 2019 3 comments


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The second – and last – James Bond film to star Timothy Dalton was 1989’s Licence to Kill, directed by John Glen from a screenplay by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum. I have long been of the opinion that Dalton was a hugely underrated Bond who should have been given more opportunities to succeed and develop his gritty version of the character, and that Licence to Kill is one of the best of the entire series. In it, Bond finds himself disavowed by British secret service agency MI6 and ‘going rogue’ after his best friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, and his new bride Della are viciously attacked on their wedding day. The perpetrator is Franz Sanchez, a drug lord and ruthless cartel boss in a fictional Central American country; seeking personal vengeance, Bond teams up with Pam Bouvier, an ex Army-pilot with a vendetta against Sanchez of her own, and crosses paths with two very different members of Sanchez’s entourage: the beautiful Lupe Lamora, and the sadistic henchman Dario. The film co-stars Robert Davi, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto, and a very young Benicio del Toro, but unfortunately the film was not a commercial success; adjusted for inflation. It remains the lowest-grossing Bond film of all time, something which, sadly, hastened to the end of Dalton’s tenure and his subsequent replacement with Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye in 1995. Read more…


April 25, 2019 3 comments


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The fictional German aristocrat Baron Hieronymus Karl Friedrich Freiherr von Munchausen was created in 1785 as a conduit for author Rudolf-Erich Raspe’s fanciful tales of absurdity and social and political satire. Munchausen had been a familiar name in literary circles for more than 200 years before writer-director and former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam embarked on making a film based on the ‘life’ of the Baron. A lavish and almost cartoonishly flamboyant adventure, the film stars John Neville as the elderly Baron, who interrupts a play based on his own life in order to correct the details. Munchausen regales the rapt audience with recollections of his astonishing life, during which he fought in a war against the Turks, traveled to the moon in a hot air balloon, was swallowed by an enormous sea creature, and much more besides – but by the end of the story many of the audience members are questioning whether the far-fetched tales really have any basis in reality. The film co-starred Eric Idle, Sarah Polley, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Jonathan Pryce, and Robin Williams, and was the third of Gilliam’s Imagination trilogy of films that also included Time Bandits and Brazil, and which were intended to explore the ‘battle between fantasy and what people perceive as reality’. Unfortunately the film was a commercial disaster, grossing less than $10 million at the box office, although its visual elements were praised and received Academy Award nominations for Art Direction, Costume Design, Visual Effects, and Makeup. Read more…

DIE HARD – Michael Kamen

August 16, 2018 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Die Hard is one of the most iconic, enduring, and ground-breaking action films ever made; it made an action star of former TV leading man Bruce Willis, launched the cinematic career of the late great Alan Rickman, and set the high benchmark for all the action movies that would follow it. The film is directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven de Souza and Jeb Stuart, based on the novel ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ by Roderick Thorp. Willis plays John McClane, a New York cop who has travelled to Los Angeles for his Christmas vacation, where he intends to try to reconcile with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). He arrives at his wife’s office skyscraper building, Nakatomi Plaza, where a Christmas party is underway. The party is disrupted by the arrival of a German terrorist group led by the suave but ruthless Hans Gruber (Rickman), which takes all the party-goers hostage – except for McClane, who escapes undetected onto a different floor. After Gruber brutally executes the company CEO, McClane becomes involved in a game of cat-and-mouse with the terrorists, picking them off one by one in an attempt to rescue the hostages. The film co-stars Alexander Godunov, Reginald Veljohnson, and Hart Bochner, and remains to this day one of my all-time favorite action movies. Read more…

LETHAL WEAPON – Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, and David Sanborn

March 23, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although it was pre-dated by films like 48 HRS., Lethal Weapon is the film which for me best defines the 1980s buddy-cop movie sub-genre. It’s a thrilling, action-packed, funny, surprisingly moving film written by Shane Black and directed by Richard Donner, starring Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs, a loose-cannon LAPD cop and former Vietnam War sniper with a suicidal streak after the death of his wife. In an attempt to rein him in, Riggs is assigned a new partner in the shape of Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a cranky, by-the-book homicide department veteran with a wife and three kids at home, and who doesn’t tolerate Riggs’s increasingly off-the-wall antics. However, things become more difficult for the new partners when they become embroiled in a plot which links the death of a woman who committed suicide by jumping from a high rise with a gang of vicious drug dealers, and which becomes personal when it is revealed that the drug dealers may be men from Riggs’s past. The film co-starred Mitchell Ryan, Gary Busey, Tom Atkins, Steve Kahan, and Darlene Love, and was an enormous box-office smash, grossing more than $65 million in the United States alone. Read more…

HIGHLANDER – Michael Kamen

March 10, 2016 3 comments


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite only being a modest hit when it was first released during the early months of 1986, Highlander has gone on to be a cult classic, and is now considered one of the most influential and well regarded sci-fi action movies of the decade. Directed by Russell Mulcahy, the film stars Christopher Lambert as Conor MacLeod, born in Scotland in the year 1518, who gradually discovers that he is an ‘immortal’, one of many such men who are destined to fight one another across time, and who can only be killed by complete decapitation. When one immortal decapitates another, the survivor receives a transfer of power called a “quickening,” and eventually, after all the immortals have battled until there is only one left alive, the last survivor will receive “the prize” of immense knowledge about the nature of the universe. After receiving training and education from Spanish nobleman Ramirez (Sean Connery), a fellow immortal, MacLeod gradually battles his way to 1980s New York, where he lives under the assumed identity of an antiquities dealer named Russell Nash. However, a string of beheadings in the city brings MacLeod into contact with NYPD detective Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart) and – worst of all – the evil immortal Kurgan (Clancy Brown), who will stop at nothing to claim the Prize for himself. Read more…

LIFEFORCE – Henry Mancini

July 2, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

What do you think of when you think of the music of Henry Mancini? The gentle romance of Breakfast at Tiffany’s? The effortlessly cool jazz of Peter Gunn or The Pink Panther? The forbidden passion of The Thorn Birds? The playful “Baby Elephant Walk” from Hatari? I’d bet my bottom dollar that most people would come up with those classics long before they thought of an epic orchestral sci-fi horror score, but that’s exactly what Mancini wrote for Lifeforce, a British-American production directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by the notorious Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan for Cannon Films. The film is a loose adaptation of Colin Wilson’s 1976 novel The Space Vampires, and stars Steve Railsback as the head of a multi-national space exploration team sent to investigate Halley’s Comet as it makes one of it’s regular 75-year passes past Earth. The team finds a space craft concealed inside the comet’s corona, and inside the space craft they find the preserved bodies of three seemingly humanoid aliens in suspended animation, including one incredibly beautiful female. However, when the space exploration team’s ship returns home, Mission Control in London finds it empty, save for the three aliens, which soon awake and begin draining ‘life force’ energies from every human they encounter. The film co-starred Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Patrick Stewart, and Mathilda May, who spends almost the entire film completely naked; despite this obvious selling point, the film was a disaster, recouping less than half of its $25 million budget, and receiving terrible reviews from most critics of the time. Read more…

OPEN RANGE – Michael Kamen

November 28, 2003 Leave a comment

openrangeOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

As I write this review, it is now just over a week since Michael Kamen, the composer of Open Range, tragically died of a heart attack, at the age of just  55. In such circumstances, it is tempting to give in to sentimentality, and the fondness for which I held the man himself, and to allow it to cloud my judgment in giving what turned out to be his final score an impartial review. Kamen had taken something of a “sabbatical” during the years following the turn of the millennium, writing just three scores: Frequency, X-Men, and the amazing Band of Brothers. Even on Open Range he was not the first choice composer, being brought in as a replacement at short notice after the original score had been rejected by director Kevin Costner. Ultimately, Kamen wrote a gentle ballad to the old west, an evocative statement that celebrates the nobility, honor and steadfastness of the great American cowboy, a score which would have been just as lovely to listen to had its composer still been with us. Read more…

Michael Kamen, 1948-2003

November 18, 2003 Leave a comment

Michael KamenComposer Michael Kamen died on November 18, 2003 in London, England, after suffering a heart attack. He was 55.

Michael Arnold Kamen was born in New York in April 1948, where he attended The High School of Music and Art and the Juilliard School, where he specialized in composition and oboe performance. After being a part of the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble with fellow composer Mark Snow as a youth, Kamen moved to England in the 1970s and found work as ballet composer and as an arranger for pop and rock bands, notably for artists such as Kate Bush, David Bowie and Pink Floyd, for whom he arranged the album The Wall in 1979.

Having already dabbled in film music during the late 1970s, Kamen began embracing cinema fully in the early 1980s, writing the music for acclaimed films such as The Dead Zone and Brazil, and the TV mini-series Edge of Darkness, before cracking the Hollywood big-time with a trio of massively successful action scores between 1986 and 1989 – Highlander, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. Read more…

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THE IRON GIANT – Michael Kamen

August 6, 1999 Leave a comment

irongiantOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The thing which distinguishes The Iron Giant from the vast majority of other film scores is that, by and large, there are no recurring themes anywhere. Written in the short gap between finishing his historic “S&M” collaboration with Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and re-commencing work on his millennium symphony, “The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arms”, composer Michael Kamen tackled The Iron Giant like a mini-symphony of its own, with each individual cue a standalone piece intended to depict a certain feeling or moment in childhood. Read more…