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SONIC THE HEDGEHOG – Tom Holkenborg

February 26, 2020 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

So, I have a confession to make. I was one of those weird kids who, growing up, didn’t really play computer games. I had an Atari 800 back in the early 80s and I played precisely three games on it: Orc Attack, Zaxxon, and Paperboy, all of which came on a series of cartridges. When my friends graduated on to Commodore 64s and Sinclair ZX Spectrums, I stayed inside watching movies. I then skipped the entire console era and went straight to a Dell PC in 1995. Today, the only games I have are various iterations of FIFA Soccer, but I haven’t played them in years. I never had a Sega, I never had a Nintendo, I never even had a Game Boy, so all those classic cultural touchstones – Super Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong and so on – completely passed me by. As such, when it was announced that there was going to be a Sonic the Hedgehog movie, I was indifferent. I was similarly uninterested when a furore about the design of the little spiky speedmeister hit the internet in May 2019, causing a major delay in the film’s release due to the need for new special effects. Even now, and despite the generally positive ratings, the film holds little interest. It’s directed by Jeff Fowler, there’s a little blue hedgehog who can run incredibly fast, Jim Carrey plays the evil Dr. Robotnik who wants to capture Sonic, and James Marsden plays a kind-hearted cop who helps Sonic escape from Robotnik. Sonic runs fast, there’s action, comedy, hi-jinks, heartwarming pathos, and a set-up for a sequel… you get the idea. Read more…

LOST HORIZON – Dimitri Tiomkin

February 24, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

During the filming of It Happened One Night in 1934 director Frank Capra read and became inspired by the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. He was determined to adapt it to the big screen but had to delay production when his starring actor Ronald Coleman was contractually committed to another project. He eventually received the green light to proceed from Columbia Pictures executive Harry Cohn who provided a very generous budget of $1.25 million. The film was a passion project that Capra would produce and direct. The novel was adapted to the screen by screenwriter Robert Riskin, and a stellar cast was brought in led by Ronald Coleman as Robert Conway. Joining him would be Jane Wyatt as Sondra Bizet, H. B. Warner as Chang, Sam Jaffe as the High Lama, John Howard as George Conway, Edward Everett Horton as Alexander Lovett, Thomas Mitchell as Henry Barnard and Margo as Maria. The story centers on Robert Conway a writer and soldier set to return to England to assume the Foreign Secretary position in 1935. He is currently posted to China and ordered to evacuate 90 westerners lest they be captured by approaching Chinese revolutionaries. As they depart, the plane’s pilot has been replaced and they are hijacked, which ends with them running out of fuel and crashing deep in the Himalayas mountains. They are rescued by a mysterious man called Chang who leads them to a hidden and verdant valley called Shangri-La, where people live in idyllic peace and harmony, free of disease and blessed with unnatural long life. Read more…

STANLEY & IRIS – John Williams

February 21, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After enjoying a 1980s which saw him score two Star Wars movies (one of which is, in my opinion, the best score ever written), three Indiana Jones films, and such standalone masterpieces as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Empire of the Sun, and Born on the Fourth of July, all while picking up one Oscar from eleven Best Score nominations, one could be forgiven for thinking that Williams would begin the 1990s with yet another blockbuster to put under his belt. Instead, his first score of the new decade was for Stanley & Iris, a small, intimate drama directed by his old friend Martin Ritt, for whom he previously scored Pete ‘n’ Tillie in 1973 and Conrack in 1974. The film starred Robert de Niro and Jane Fonda in the title roles, and it tells the story of the gentle romantic relationship that develops between Stanley, a kind-hearted baker who loses his job when it is discovered that he is illiterate, and Iris, a lonely widow who teaches him how to read and write. It was also the last film Ritt directed prior to his death in December of that year. Read more…

DRAGONHEART VENGEANCE – Mark McKenzie

February 18, 2020 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’m somewhat astonished that I am able to actually write the following sentence, but here we are: there are now five Dragonheart movies in the world. This unlikely franchise began back in 1996 with the enjoyable original film, which starred Dennis Quaid, featured Sean Connery voicing the dragon Draco, and received an Oscar nomination for its special effects. The first sequel, A New Beginning, was released in 2000, and the first prequel, The Sorcerer’s Curse, came out in 2015, followed by a second prequel – Battle for the Heartfire – in 2017. This new film, Dragonheart Vengeance, is yet another prequel, and has been released straight-to-streaming. It is directed by Ivan Silvestrini and stars Jack Kane as Lukas, a young farmer whose family is killed by raiders and who sets out on an epic quest for revenge, eventually forming an unlikely alliance with a sword-fighting mercenary named Darius (Joseph Millson), and an ice-breathing dragon named Siveth, voiced by Helena Bonham-Carter. 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…

ALEXANDRE DESPLAT: EN FRANÇAIS – PART ONE

February 11, 2020 1 comment

Over the past decade or so, Alexandre Desplat has cemented his status amongst the world’s most respected film composers with a series of scores for major studio films in the United States. He has been nominated for eleven Academy Awards – for The Queen (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), The King’s Speech (2010), Argo (2012), Philomena (2013), The Imitation Game (2014), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), The Shape of Water (2017), Isle of Dogs (2018), and Little Women (2019) – winning twice. However, much of his early work in his native France remains relatively unknown to wider audiences – something this article intends to rectify!

In this first installment of Alexandre Desplat: En Français, we take a look at six of the first scores he wrote during the earliest part of his career in the early 1990s, beginning with his very first collaboration with one of his most frequent directors, Jacques Audiard. Read more…

IVANHOE – Miklós Rózsa

February 10, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1935 MGM Studio sought to bring Sir Walter Scott’s epic Medieval Knight tale Ivanhoe (1819) to the big screen. After crafting a screenplay, the project never got off the ground as production delays resulted in selecting two different casts, one in 1935 starring Fredric March, Loretta Young and Gary Cooper, and another in 1938 starring Robert Taylor, Myrna Loy and Clark Gable. Another setback to production occurred with the onset of WWII, which caused filming on location in England to be put hold. New energy for the project arose in 1946 when Æneas MacKenzie crafted a new script, which satisfied MGM executives. Pandro S. Berman was given a very generous budget to produce the film and he brought in Richard Thorpe to direct. A third stellar cast was hired, which included; Robert Taylor as Ivanhoe, Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca, Joan Fontaine as Rowena, George Sanders as Sir Brian De Bois-Guilbert, Emlyn Williams as Wamba and also the Narrator, Felix Aylmer as Isaac, Finlay Currie as Cedric, and Guy Rolfe as Prince John. Read more…