Newest Major Reviews:.This Month's Most Popular Reviews: Best-Selling Albums:
. 1. Beauty and the Beast
2. The Boss Baby
3. Logan
4. The Lego Batman Movie
5. Fifty Shades Darker
. . 1. Star Wars: Force Awakens
2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
3. Titanic
4. Avatar
5. Nineteen Eighty-Four
6. Gladiator
7. Star Wars: A New Hope
8. Animal Farm
9. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
10. Harry Potter: Sorcerer's Stone
. . 1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2. Fantastic Beasts/Find Them
3. Willow
4. The Ghost and the Darkness
5. An American Tail
Filmtracks On Cue


On Cue for June, 2003:





6/30/03 - The Secret of N.I.M.H.: (Jerry Goldsmith) --All New Review-- "Animated films were undergoing a significant change in the 1980's, one which would eventually lead to the vast business of made-for-video animated pictures for small children. For a long time, Disney held a grip on the large-scale, animated film industry, but by the time The Little Mermaid revived their dominance in 1989, several offshoots of the industry were thriving. One such offshoot was Don Bluth, who had been a Disney animator until 1979, when he started his own animation business. Eventually, he would be best known for bringing to life the An American Tail and The Land Before Time series. One of his early efforts was the animated adaptation of "The Story of N.I.M.H.," the tale of rats (made intelligent in human laboratories) who escape and try to make a community life for themselves in the wild. Bluth certainly succeeded in stealing some attention from Disney, with his film The Secret of N.I.M.H. meeting with critical and popular success. One of the reasons for this positive response was the score by Jerry Goldsmith. The early to mid-1980's were a remarkable time in Goldsmith's career (and some will argue that it was the best), and The Secret of N.I.M.H. was a departure for the veteran composer into a realm which he had not yet explored: animation...." **** Read the entire review.

6/27/03 - Conan the Destroyer: (Basil Poledouris) --All New Review-- "With the stunning success of John Milius' Conan the Barbarian two years earlier, a sequel set with Conan once again in the Hyborean age was inevitable. Other than the executive production team, only three elements returned for the sequel: actors Schwarzenegger and Mako, as well as composer Basil Poledouris. Despite early ideas of utilizing a pop/rock score for the first film, Poledouris had beaten the odds and produced one of the finest pre-historic orchestral scores in the history of film. Twenty years later, Conan the Barbarian still stands as the most outstanding achievement of Poledouris' career. Thus, his return for Conan the Destroyer was an immediate necessity. Not returning for the sequel, though, was the same brutally classic vision of the Hyborean age that Oliver Stone and John Milius had created in the first film. Some will argue that new director Richard Fleischer, a veteran filmmaker in his own rights, built an extension of the Hyborean age in the sequel film... following a different avenue that developed other aspects of Conan's character and his surroundings. Others will argue that Conan the Destroyer was a monumental failure simply because it lost the classic realism and solitude that made the first film so enticing...." *** Read the entire review.

6/26/03 - Conan the Barbarian: (Basil Poledouris) --All New Review-- "And on to this Conan..." When director John Milius and his college buddy Basil Poledouris collaborated to produce their first fantasy adventure film, little did they know that they would be catapulting their own careers, as well as that of Arnold Schwarzenegger, into the bright lights of both cult and mainstream attention. When Conan the Barbarian hit the theatres in 1982, Hollywood was hitting the peak of its "sword and sorcery" phase (which some called the "swords and steroids" phase), and producers and directors struggled to create authentic representations of a fantasy Earth from the Middle Ages on limited budgets and do it during a time when audiences were being awed by the special effects of space age films. Film scores were also undergoing a renaissance in the early-1980's, spurred by John Williams' orchestral adventure scores, back towards large symphonic representations of the fantasy genre. The producer of Conan the Barbarian, Dino De Laurentiis, was an advocate of experimenting with pop scores in the epic fantasy genre, and recommended such an approach for the film. Milius and Poledouris recognized that a rock/pop score would not function for Conan the Barbarian because of the film would rely on the music and cinematography to take the place of dialogue in painting the correct canvas for the film's depiction of the Hyborean age...." ***** Read the entire review.

6/25/03 - Don Juan DeMarco: (Michael Kamen) --All New Review-- "One of the most successful songwriter/composer pairings in Hollywood during the 1990's was Bryan Adams and Michael Kamen. After their dominance of all music charts and awards for "Everything I Do..." from the 1991 Robin Hood film for which Kamen wrote the score, the two would collaborate once again for another blockbuster in Don Juan DeMarco. The 1995 film offers the story of a delusional Johnny Depp, who claims to be Don Juan, the world's greatest lover, and who claims to have rolled around in the sack with more than his fair share of beautiful females. His psychiatrist, Marlon Brando (who allegedly showed up at filming sessions naked from the waist down), must analyze his patient to sort out reality and, at the same time, live up to the romantic aspirations of his wife, played by Faye Dunaway. With lush flashbacks from the psychiatric sessions to the adventures of Don Juan in Mexico, the film is the ultimate romantic comedy. Some people have claimed that the entire Don Juan reference is false, because Depp's actions in the film more closely resemble those of Casanova rather than Don Juan, but that's beside the point. The film's charm resides in masterful dialogue (performed flawlessly) and Michael Kamen's score...." **** Read the entire review.

6/22/03 - Interview with the Vampire: (Elliot Goldenthal) --All New Review-- "Neil Jordan's sinister romance entry into the horrific world of vampires came at a time when blood sucking films were experiencing their comeback in the mainstream of American cinema. Just two years prior, the epic Bram Stoker's Dracula had captivated audiences with its grim drama and stellar cast, and Jordan's film would steer the genre towards the modern pop edge. His casting of several heartthrob actors in Interview with a Vampire led to a sort of cult status with young women, and the film performed very well. Jordan hired veteran classical composer George Fenton for Interview with the Vampire, soliciting a darkly romantic effort extended from the massive base established by Wojciech Kilar in Bram Stoker's Dracula. After Fenton was into his recording sessions, the producers admonished the composer by claiming that his work was too understated and slowly paced. Thus, Elliot Goldenthal, who had impressed with his work for Alien 3, was hired onto the project and given just three weeks to complete a score that exceeded Fenton's. While Goldenthal's effort culminated in an Academy Award nomination, critics were wildly varied in their responses to the score...." *** Read the entire review.

6/20/03 - The Dish: (Edmund Choi) --All New Review-- "Few people know that Australia played a pivotal role in the broadcasting of live images during Neil Armstrong's historic step onto the moon in 1969. The film The Dish is the story of the Australian satellite complex, located on a sheep paddock, that served as the backup transmitter for the live images from the moon to the rest of the world. Inevitably, when the primary NASA satellite in America failed, the Australians served a silent, heroic part in the adventure. A character drama with a decent cast, the film is a lightweight tale that received primarily positive reviews from critics in 2000, but failed to win the hearts of audiences. Director Rob Sitch was familiar with composer Edmund Choi, who had been director M. Night Shyamalan's first collaborator on two films and had worked to re-score a Sitch film a year before. With Choi's career still in the fledgling stages, his music for Wide Awake had been heard on album at about the same time. For The Dish, Choi would be given the task of writing a patriotic score for the hometown Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and a local choir. He indeed accomplished this feat, but at a cost. Choi's finished score, albeit pleasant, is a mirror image of those temp scores: James Horner's Apollo 13 and, to a lesser extent, Bill Conti's The Right Stuff...." *** Read the entire review.

6/19/03 - The Last Starfighter: (Craig Safan) --Updated Review-- "The early 1980's represented the peak of corny science-fiction movies, with one of the typical stories to streak into space at the time being The Last Starfighter. It's hard to imagine now that in 1984, The Last Starfighter was a rather innovative and serviceable film in the genre, featuring cutting edge special effects technology that served as the origins of computer-generated animation. You can laugh at it now, of course, with its silly effects displaying the modest budget of the film, but the early effects were a match for the subject matter of the film: video games. The story of the film is quite intriguing, especially for video game aficionados, basically entailing that aliens put certain video games on Earth as a test to see what humans would make the best pilots in for the real life representation of the game... in this case, a battle between advanced space-faring races. One particular everyday kind of guy is recruited from the arcade to the stars, and thus begins his fantastic journey. The choice for composer was not expected; with a music director to supervise song use in the film, Craig Safan was hired for the project. Safan is best known for his long-standing piano theme for the hit TV show Cheers..." **** Read the entire review.

6/18/03 - The Adventures of Pinocchio: (Rachel Portman/Lee Holdridge/Stevie Wonder) --All New Review-- "Several attempts have been made to market the Pinocchio story to young children over the years, and The Adventures of Pinocchio was a live-action/animated/digital combination adaptation in 1996. Very obviously aimed at small children, this adaptation failed to muster even minimal support among adults, with its confusing array of fairy-tale and modern day elements too illogical to comprehend. A colorful and overwhelming combination of mattes, miniatures, and digitized wonders conveyed a Pinocchio story with a modern edge of low humor, pop-musical songs, and off-hand humor. Its only redeeming factor may have been an outstanding Martin Landau as Geppetto, starring opposite of insufferable child-star Jonathan Taylor Thomas as the title character. Infused at the center of the music for the film is a cluster of songs by Stevie Wonder, which further confused the era and feel of the story. Also causing a blatant lack of consistency was the choice to make the film a pseudo-musical, with a variety of songs ranging from the pop variety to a full-blown opera libretto that steals the show. It's hard to wonder what the filmmakers were thinking with this one, though they did manage to hire some top notch talent for the project..." *** Read the entire review.

6/17/03 - Pumpkin: (John Ottman) --All New Review-- "It is hard to imagine what John Ottman's mental state must have been between the summer of 2001 and early 2002. The composer was in extremely high demand, scoring six projects during that span of time. One of the lesser known of these six was an odd job called Pumpkin, a character-driven film about the societal and personal problems which arise when a sorority college girl falls in love with a retarded male student, and vice versa. The awkward situation is played out on a campus stage that is saturated with peer criticism, and the two characters work to resolve their doubts about whether or not their affection towards one another is acceptable. The film is light years away from Cruel Intentions, but the project overlapped in its expression of what Ottman calls "wrong love," for which he was required to score scenes with a romantic, yet slightly twisted emotional edge. The directors of the film requested a score that was "musically off," representing the development of the problematic relationship, and this request was something of a challenge for Ottman. Any fan of the composer will note that his works fit their films like a tight glove, with Ottman always paying close attention to how the music could be edited in the film (given his editing and directing experience). Add to the equation an extremely limited budget and a delivery of a score for Pumpkin in about three weeks, and the project became one of midnight oil for Ottman...." *** Read the entire review.

6/16/03 - Marvin's Room: (Rachel Portman) --All New Review-- "A Scott McPherson off-Broadway play, Marvin's Room was translated onto the big screen in 1996 by director Jerry Zaks. The film featured a blockbuster cast, with several awards nominations spread among them for their performances in this project alone. It is an intimate tale of a family estranged by distance and brought together to take care of one another in a series of medical crises. Along expected lines, the characters grow in their harmonious union as the film progresses, and despite the rather grim circumstances of their problems, the film also features its fair share of black humor. It is a tear-jerker in the end, and there was not better a choice for the tender scoring assignment than Rachel Portman. The year 1996 was best noted in Portman's career as the one in which she scored her first Academy Award nomination and win for Emma. While Marvin's Room is a story set in contemporary times, its score shares the same deeply rooted dramatic sense of love and harmony as the one for Emma. At the time, Portman's music was still refreshingly new --especially with extensive re-use of her Only You work from just a few years before-- and her critics had not yet begun to assert themselves along the vein that her music for dramatic art house films all sounds alike. Looking back at Marvin's Room, a certain amount of repetition of sound will likely add fuel to that fire..." *** Read the entire review.

6/14/03 - Gone in 60 Seconds: (Trevor Rabin) --All New Review-- "By the year 2000, film producer Jerry Bruckheimer had clearly defined the kind of music that he liked to hear in his films. It's a ball-busting, head-slamming, in-your-face, no-nonsense attitude that Bruckheimer offers in his projects that requires s specific genre of music. After teaming up with Hans Zimmer in his early pictures, Bruckheimer chose former Yes band rocker Trevor Rabin --also a pupil of Hans Zimmer on the scoring side of things-- to be his regular guy when a testosterone heavy film was in production. Unlike Zimmer, Rabin typically caters more towards the "Yes" audience of rock fans rather than the Zimmer audience of open-minded orchestral film score collectors. In his early days, Rabin still would, if possible, attempt to establish a theme or motif that would at least bookend the film and its score. By 2000 and 2001, however, Rabin's compositions for film began to stray away from the basic rules of film scores. Between Gone in 60 Seconds and The One, Rabin had gone from being a film composer to a human sound effects machine whose job is to pump up the audience with adrenaline by using hard rock music at high volumes. As a sign of the times, perhaps, the scary side of this eventuality is the fact that the majority of mainstream audiences simply accepted this moment-to-moment blasting of loud, unorganized rock music as a new staple of summer blockbuster films. Part of this transition may be the result of Bruckheimer's insistence that this kind of sound effects serve as music..." ** Read the entire review.

6/12/03 - The Return of a Man Called Horse (Limited Edition): (Laurence Rosenthal) "After the success of A Man Called Horse in 1970, star Richard Harris collaborated with director Irvin Kershner to bring the title character back to the big screen in 1976. Despite positive audience response to the original 1970 film, it did several cinematic injustices to the representation of Native American lifestyles, and the new production team wished to correct those errors. The sequel, The Return of a Man Called Horse, was, through the involvement of Kershner and his associates, a significantly more sensitive and realistic portrayal of Native American culture on the big screen. The film contained several slowly developed visual elements that that gave it a documentary quality, including several expansive vista scenes without much more than Laurence Rosenthal's music to compliment their beauty. From the 1960's through the 1980's, Laurence Rosenthal was known as a composer of great consistency, a gentleman with classical inclinations, but also a talent for bringing sophistication to a score of any genre. Some of his works have aged better than others, but most critics and collectors will agree that the mid-1970's to early 1980's represented the most lasting period in Rosenthal's career. After The Return of a Man Called Horse, which even Rosenthal agrees to being one of his finest compositions, both Meteor and Clash of the Titans (despite the shortcomings of their films) would continue to interest film score enthusiasts...." **** Read the entire review.

6/11/03 - Romancing the Stone (Limited Edition): (Alan Silvestri) "It's difficult to imagine today, but there was a time in 1983 when director Robert Zemeckis couldn't find a composer to pair up with. So famous now is the Zemeckis/Silvestri collaboration that Zemeckis' troubles finding the right sound for Romancing the Stone make the project noteworthy for film score enthusiasts by itself. A struggling 20th Century Fox took a chance on Zemeckis for Romancing the Stone, which Michael Douglas had been pushing for a few years. Despite the fact that the film was a cash-cow success for Fox, the production was plagued with every imaginable post-production problem, from poor test audience reactions to, ironically, a need to distinguish the film from the concurrent Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Zemeckis was frustratingly fired from the upcoming Cocoon (and replaced with Ron Howard) before Romancing the Stone could even be finished. Perhaps the best thing to come out of all that mess was the suggestion that Zemeckis visit an aspiring television composer, Alan Silvestri, at his house to see if his ideas would match the music the producers were looking for. To further combat the competition (that pesky Indiana Jones film), the score for Romancing the Stone would have to be campy and more contemporary, with the bulky orchestral action held to a minimum. Silvestri, known professionally only by his work for the TV show CHIPS, impressed Zemeckis with his easy-going, free-flowing style..." ** Read the entire review.

6/9/03 - Magic (Limited Edition): (Jerry Goldsmith) "The 1978 film Magic was the fourth directorial outing for Richard Attenborough, who, after fielding moderate success for this film, would turn his immediate attention to Ghandi. At the time, Magic was not known for its star power, but most of the attention given to it today is due to the emergence of several people involved with the project. Its star, Anthony Hopkins, had already performed in several great roles for a decade, but had not yet achieved superstar status. The same applied to Attenborough. The film's strong supporting cast (which looks now like an awkward preview of the Grumpy Old Men supporting cast) was limited to just a few characters, with a tightly woven and introverted script telling a tale that involves only five characters. Five, that is, if you include Fats, the dummy. The film's plot is a horrific tale of mental derangement by the primary character, a magician and ventriloquist, who succumbs to the suggestions of his puppet and commits hideous crimes while haunted by the love for an old schoolboy crush. The body count swells to encompass most of the cast, and the film is ultimately a frustrating and disturbing endeavor in every possible way. When envisioning the score for the film, no task too tough was to exist for composer Jerry Goldsmith at the time. Goldsmith's music would be key in the development of the self-destructive relationship..." *** Read the entire review.

6/7/03 - The Bride (Limited Edition): (Maurice Jarre) "There have been dozens upon dozens of Frankenstein interpretations on the big screen over the past 80 years, but by the mid-1980's, a while had past since the last monster thriller involving the famed creature. Columbia Pictures decided at the time that audiences were ready for a modern Frankenstein interpretation, and they as usual wanted it to cater to young, pop-oriented audiences. Thus, they brought two enormously popular stars of the early 1980's onto the project: Sting (Dune) and Jennifer Beals (Flashdance). Unfortunately, the two stars of The Bride had no screen chemistry from the start, both out of place in an oddly baroque-turned-modern setting. The film also failed to do what all Frankenstein films are supposed to do: scare people! The end result of the film was a pseudo-sequel to the original Mary Shelley tale, and there wasn't enough serious horror or silly playfullness (a la Young Frankenstein) to make The Bride work. Thus, the film slipped away into obscurity, as did the acting careers of its two stars. The only redeeming aspect of the entire project was Maurice Jarre's score. Jarre had the musical sensibilities of the era from which Frankenstein films experienced all their glory. He was still in demand in the mid-1980's, scoring several high profile projects in 1985 alone, including Witness and A Passage to India. Jarre's job on The Bride was made all the more difficult by the film's multiple, concurrent storylines and jagged settings...." **** Read the entire review.

6/6/03 - Final Solution: (John Sponsler/Tom Gire) "With high praise from both within the international Christian community and from mainstream critics, the apartheid film Final Solution is a tale of personal transformation, redemption, and confrontation of past crimes. Its premise revolves around the character journey of a young, white South African whose childhood circumstances led him to adopt the idea of genocide as a solution for South Africa and its "black danger." After training paramilitary white groups to strike at blacks, the man is slowly shown and cured of his prejudices by his love interest, as well as a pastor. The film presents a mob scene confrontation that allows the story of this man to unfold, and offers the ultimate opportunity for salvation. Produced for showings in film festivals, on PBS, and in churches, Final Solution is a film created by a partnership of Christian filming and distribution companies. Despite the mainstream theatrical limitations that typically arise for films distributed by religious organizations, the high quality of Final Solution is extending the film beyond that nucleus. One such example is the soundtrack release for the picture. Composed by John Sponsler and Tom Gire, the score for the film was recorded in South Africa with a moderate orchestral group, a local chorale, and several instrumental and vocal soloists. Some John Debney fans may already own a snippet of John Sponsler's work, as Sponsler worked with Debney to provide music for the television show "Doctor Who" in 1996...." **** Read the entire review.

6/4/03 - Primal: (Andrew Barnabas/Paul Arnold) "Scores for video games have consistently been low-budget midi-technology efforts since their emergence decades ago in mainstream culture. If you stop to consider the sheer volume of video games existing on the market, it is easy to understand how the vast majority of those games use midi electronic scores or license out rock music from stocks created specifically for this purpose. In the past few years, however, a handful of directors of video games have convinced their executives to fund ambitious orchestral scores for the promising flagship gaming products. In the case of Primal, Sony's European Computer Entertainment division was convinced by the midi-score creators that an orchestral score would be viable and extremely effective in the game. Primal is among Sony's top projects at the moment, with the same creators having produced the popular Medievil games in the previous years. The decision to record an orchestra over the existing midi score for Primal was made in part because the game features several hours of storytelling in a cinema format. As the main female character, Jen, battles through several levels of hideous creatures to rescue her boyfriend, Lewis, the game offers these film-like passages in between many steps that Jen takes. Thus, an orchestral score became necessary for almost three hours of these moments..." **** Read the entire review.






Page created 6/17/03, updated 6/18/03. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 2003, Christian Clemmensen. All rights reserved. "Real Audio" logo and .ra are Copyright © 1996, Real Audio (www.realaudio.com). "Academy Awards" and the Oscar statue are ® AMPAS, 1996.