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 October, 2003:





10/31/03 - The Frighteners: (Danny Elfman) --Expanded Review-- "Long before his adventures with The Lord of the Rings, director Peter Jackson brought the campy ghost story of The Frighteners to the big screen. The 1996 film starred Michael J. Fox as a person who could see and talk to ghosts, and thus, the film was rich for its time in the amount of CGI effects generously provided for the audience. As to be expected, The Frighteners, despite its considerable comedy in dark places, is a horror film. It would be the final film that Jackson would direct before heading down under for the three film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, and his sparse directorial output before The Frighteners often utilized the music of Peter Dasent. His hiring of composer Danny Elfman for the project was not an obvious choice, but a well grounded one. Elfman was no stranger to the horror genre, especially with projects that had similarly suspect popular appeal, such as Darkman and Nightbreed...." * Read the entire review.

10/30/03 - Thirteen Ghosts: (John Frizzell) --All New Review-- "This remake of William Castle's 1960 classic of the same name follows largely the same storyline and uses modern set technologies to update its visual appeal. Met with harsh criticism from audiences and critics alike, director Steve Beck's new Thirteen Ghosts is a film that is surprisingly short on truly frightening sequences and even more surprisingly short on running time. The film compensates for this flaw by presenting the haunted house with brilliant, elaborate sets of glass and steel. The family who enters the house, claiming it as inheritence from a dead, eccentric uncle, accidentally starts up the machine within it basement, causing its massive gears and glass walls to shift unpredictably and, in an unrelated twist, unleashing twelve ghosts who want to kill one of them and thus, as thirteen in sum, unleash the forces of Hell on our microwave/fast-food loving population. The film would be remarkably similar to the kind of stereotypical genre work that composer John Fizzell would be assigned..." *** Read the entire review.

10/29/03 - Panic Room: (Howard Shore) --All New Review-- "A smaller project sandwiched just after Shore's first adventure with The Lord of the Rings (and an Academy Award win), Panic Room is another collaboration between Shore and director David Fincher. The genre of films that these two bring to life are trademark modern thrillers, with The Game and Seven offering bleak scores for troubling films. The amount of psychological trauma that is often inflicted upon the viewer is something that Shore seems to be able to understand, because the composer has had a knack for bucking Hollywood trends and providing equally disturbing music for these projects. Whereas a composer like Jerry Goldsmith often prefers to score his horror assignments with more of a stylistic, thematic edge, Shore is content to travel closer to the Bernard Herrmann route of using the orchestra like a blunt tool with which to draw out the primordial emotions of the audience by making an underscore that sounds more like noise rather than music. Such is the case once again with Panic Room..." ** Read the entire review.

10/28/03 - Ghosts of Mars: (John Carpenter) "The movie was a total bust, but the original motion picture soundtrack in an entirely different matter. Let's get one thing straight immediately: this isn't your traditional movie score. Taking inspiration from old school heavy rock with screaming guitar solo's and relentless pounding drums, the Ghosts of Mars soundtrack is an unstoppable barrage of high tempo high caliber rock instrumentals intertwined with John Carpenter's distinctive, sweeping keyboards. The result? Exceptional. While this movie may not be the sci-fi classic many were hoping from cult director John Carpenter, the overwhelming brute force of the thumping rock soundtrack makes it seem as if Carpenter went out and made a theme record, with the movie basically coming across as an accompanying 90 minute rock video. The album is the product of collaborations between Anthrax, Buckethead, and veteran guitar wizard Steve Vai, along with the self-scoring horror maestro John Carpenter himself...." **** Read the entire donated review.

10/26/03 - Trapped: (John Ottman) --All New Review-- "Taking a greater quantity of scoring assignments for films below the mainstream radar, John Ottman scored more films in 2002 than in any other year in his career. The quality of the films, both on the big screen and on cable television, were often suspect (although it's hard to qualify Eight Legged Freaks because it was so intentionally bad), and Ottman would follow with a strong pair of front-line projects in 2003. For the 2002 psychological suspense thriller Trapped, Ottman would have use his creative talents to compensate for a tiny music budget. The film presented a well-rounded cast, telling the story of an abduction for ransom in which a criminal (Kevin Bacon) and his wife (Courtney Love) trap two parents in separate locations while a third accomplice kidnaps their daughter. The mental breakdown of Bacon's character through the course of the film, as well as the strong emotional bond between the kidnapped girl and her mother (Charlize Theron)..." *** Read the entire review.

10/24/03 - Poltergeist II: The Other Side: (Jerry Goldsmith) --Expanded Review-- "Disaster not only followed the Freeling family in the Poltergeist franchise of films, but the productions and actors as well. After the huge fiscal and popular success of Poltergeist in 1982, a sequel was inevitable, but the collaboration of the same cast and crew would prove to be daunting. The production process for the sequel was badly plagued, from the battle for control over the picture to the death of some of the franchise's key actors. By the end of the Poltergeist trilogy, four primary actors would be dead, including Heather O'Rourke, who portrayed the clairvoyant little girl, Carol Anne. Despite all of these real life hauntings, the franchise forged ahead, and Poltergeist II was billed as having the most spectacular special effects ever to be seen in a horror film. Despite these bone-chilling effects, however, the film suffered from a poor script, ambivalent audience response, and a lack of fresh ideas. Signed on late in the process was composer Jerry Goldsmith..." *** Read the entire review.

10/23/03 - The Rundown: (Harry Gregson-Williams) --All New Review-- "One of the more successful students of Hans Zimmer to spin off into a strong career of his own, Harry Gregson-Williams gained new followers with his rousing 2003 score for the otherwise disastrous Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. His next project after the swashbuckling affair would be The Rundown, which would suffer from an almost equal critical bashing with film reviewers. Fans, however, many of whom asking the age-old question, "why do they call Dwayne Johnson 'The Rock'?", provided the film with reasonable box office success. Basically, it's a man-versus jungle kind of topic, with none of the men being particularly likable in their affiliations (to a greedy kingpin or an evil Gold-mining manager) except, perhaps, for the peculiar bond they must form to survive and retrieve a priceless treasure and get out of the Brazilian jungle alive. The plot is not one of horror, but rather one of regular adventure and the usual dumb comedy (seeing Johnson attacked by a monkey is a welcomed turn of events)...." ** Read the entire review.

10/22/03 - Memphis Belle: (George Fenton) --All New Review-- "Depicting a heroic bomber mission in World War II, Memphis Belle is a tale of the final exploits of a bomber plane by the same name. With a gallant crew, the US Air Force B-17 bomber makes its 25th and final bombing run over Germany during concluding stages of the war. The story of the Memphis Belle is as exciting as it is heroic, with the famed planed nearly meeting with disaster before miraculously returning safely at the end. Thus, the film's glory is tapered by a significant feeling of somber suspense for nearly its entire length. Classically-inclined composer George Fenton is an expert in the realm of period scores, with historical British dramas at the heart of his accomplished career. For Memphis Belle, Fenton would be able to develop a remarkably romantic score amid a military backdrop, which is a dream come true for any composer. Additionally, Fenton would integrate several staples of 1940's pop and jazz music, and he would do so in such a fashion that the period source music would flow seamlessly into and out of his own orchestral compositions...." **** Read the entire review.

10/20/03 - Congo: (Jerry Goldsmith) --Expanded Review-- "With the massive cinematic success of Jurassic Park a few years earlier, the studios would jump on the Michael Crichton bandwagon and bring another animal versus human challenge by Crichton to the big screen. Never had Congo been as successful as a concept as many of the writer's other stories of technology and nature, but the film's distinguishing production feature would be the massive apes themselves. Even with many of the technical obsticles conquered by the filmmakers, the film suffered from a terrible translation onto the theatre level, with an unknown cast and questionable directorial execution. Composer Jerry Goldsmith had been lucky, in many regards, in the African or jungle-related assignments he would receive in the 1990's. Even in the common circumstances when Goldsmith was handed a truly horrible film to provide music for, he would offer in return a serviceable and, occasionally, enjoyable score...." ** Read the entire review.

10/17/03 - Trevor Jones has become one the best known dramatic theme-writers in the film scoring industry. His broad themes for films such as The Last of the Mohicans, The Dark Crystal, Cliffhanger, and the television productions of Cleopatra and Dinotopia have established Jones as a master of cinematic scope, and this week, Filmtracks celebrates Trevor Jones' career with a Composer Tribute. In most of his major projects, Jones maintains a consistent standard of consonant orchestral depth, ranging from the nobility of dramas to the dark corners of disturbed thrillers. Studying a vast array of musical styles for twelve years before walking straight into a successful career, Jones has returned to the collegian world of film music study, chairing a major film music school program in England since 1999. This is the last of ten new Composer Tributes added to Filmtracks over the past twelve weeks, bringing the total to twenty-three Composer Tributes at the site. Look for more new tributes in 2004.

10/16/03 - Notting Hill: (Trevor Jones) --All New Review-- "After the popularity of Four Weddings and a Funeral earlier in the decade, mainstream British comedy was ready for a series of similarly themed and humored romance films. Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts were juxtaposed in a British/American romance tale for Notting Hill (in a nutshell, a British guy who is a nobody improbably wins the heart of a top-name American actress who is in a film shooting in his home town --you can guess who plays which roles), with several twists of humor and basic plot ideas repeated from Four Weddings and a Funeral. Propelled by its star power, Notting Hill was a date-movie success, so much so that the soundtrack began to take on epic proportions in its variations around the world. Several songs by the likes of Shania Twain and Elvis Costello are positioned wisely in the film, with one montage sequence involving the changing of seasons utilizing "Ain't No Sunshine" to great effect. Mixed in between the songs is a score by Trevor Jones...." **** Read the entire review.

10/15/03 - Dinotopia: (Trevor Jones) --All New Review-- "Based on the best-selling books by author/illustrator James Gurney, the six-hour miniseries of Dinotopia debuted on the ABC network in the United States in 2002. It is the epic story of a lost continent where dinosaurs and humans live together in an almost-utopian world, with their diverse culture dealing with many of the same issues as our more familiar humans-only society. Two brothers crash their modern-day plane on the island while lost in the Caribbean and are thrown into this human & dinosaur culture where they attempt to make a life for themselves. The adventures of the young men lead them to daring chases, outlandish discoveries, and, of course, affection for the local women. Composer Trevor Jones was first known for his fantasy and adventure scores, beginning his career with the cult classics of Excalibur and The Dark Crystal. He had stepped away from the fantasy genre for many years, claiming that he had used all of his musical ideas for that genre at that time...." **** Read the entire review.

10/14/03 - War of the Buttons: (Rachel Portman) --Expanded Review-- "A largely unknown film, John Robert's adaptation of Louis Pergaud's French novel "La Guerre des Boutons" pits two idealistic groups of young, Irish school boys against each other. Their outdoor adventures are realized with the backdrop of beautiful cinematography and location behind them, causing the film to serve as a true representation of Ireland and its beauty and culture. Composer Rachel Portman wrote and then recorded the score with Irish players in Dublin, making the project one of ethnic authenticity all around. Portman was in the process of bursting into the American mainstream while continuing her writing of lesser-known dramas back in Europe. Her score for The Joy Luck Club had been met with a chorus of cheers the previous year, and her concurrent efforts for Only You would prove to define the composer from that year forward as the expert of lush, romantic music for the big screen. Her styles are easily recognizable and frightfully consistent..." *** Read the entire review.

10/13/03 - Under Fire: (Jerry Goldsmith) --Expanded Review-- "The year 1983 was an excellent one for film scores, with a slate of Academy Award nominees that was well beyond most other years in quality. One of the nominated scores that year was Under Fire, which marked an achievement in instrumental integration that would lead to several successful years of orchestral and synthetic elements together in Jerry Goldsmith's works. The film Under Fire also received critical praise, with the hot, contemporary plot detailing the real-life struggles of American journalists attempting to report on the 1979 governmental revolution in Nicaragua. Most of the film deals with the human element as seen in the most horrific of war zones, ranging from Chad, in Africa, to the turmoil in Central America. Director Roger Spottiswoode had been enchanted by Goldsmith's score to Patton, specifically because the score captured the human emotions of war while also playing out on the larger, grand stage of the conflict...." ***** Read the entire review.

10/10/03 - If any one digital-age composer was to be forever connected with a single genre of film, then it is Christopher Young and horror. A man fascinated with horror films and their creators, Young became hooked on film music when he first heard the scores of Bernard Herrmann. While many modern composers began their careers by scoring student horror films, Young did it so well that he rose through the ranks to become Hollywood's foremost horror composer for major features. With Halloween looming in the near future, Filmtracks celebrates Christopher Young's career with a Composer Tribute. His work on the first two Hellraiser films brought an immense orchestral power to the genre, and ushered in a new era of horror film music. His steamy jazz music is equally heralded, from Rounders to Wonder Boys, and Young has even ventured into R&B projects such as Set It Off and In Too Deep. Filmtracks also maintains twenty-one other Composer Tributes.

10/9/03 - Bless the Child: (Christopher Young) --All New Review-- "It is not often that films have to deal with real life timing when considering their production schedules, but the date January 1, 2000 had a special significance for the plethora of films dealing with religious turmoil and, potentially, the end of the world. The best known entry in this stock was End of Days, which was timed perfectly to dwell upon Y2K fears. And then there was Bless the Child, the Kim Basinger/Jimmy Smits film that had a remarkably identical plot to End of Days, but was plagued by a different kind of disaster. The film was re-written, re-shot, and re-edited extensively, pushing its release date well into 2000 and thus rendering the film somewhat void. Not surprisingly, the bad timing, as well as the rehashing of the same old gateway-to-hell scenario, led the film down the forgotten path to oblivion. Such cinematic floundering was no new experience for composer Christopher Young, who would often write noteworthy horror music for films that would hit a brick wall..." *** Read the entire review.

10/7/03 - Predator: (Alan Silvestri) --All New Review-- "When considering the early projects of Arnold Schwarzenegger, many fans have argued successfully that Predator presents the actor-turned-politician in his most varied and human light. The bodybuilder had been a automated war machine in his Conan and Terminator films, and the comical elements in his other projects lessened his the effectiveness of his size and attitude. Such was the glory of the film Predator, the first major feature success for director John McTiernan. The plot of the film progressed backwards from the norm, with the technology and hunting spirit becoming more primitive and intensely personal as the film reaches its climax. The human side of Schwarzenegger is portrayed in such a manner that the big guy might actually be killed while fighting for good, and this convincing aspect of the actor's performance helped maintain the film's awesome cult status. Composer Alan Silvestri was brought on to the Fox project at the height of his newly discovered popularity from Back to the Future...." **** Read the entire review.

10/6/03 - Ghosts of the Abyss: (Joel McNeely) --All New Review-- "It would seem that Jim Cameron's obsession with the Titanic shipwreck continues to occupy his every artistic endeavor. After his monumental film Titanic in 1997, Cameron assembled the equipment and expertise necessary to produce an elegant, 3-D IMAX tour of the sunken ship. Six years after his first journey to the wreck, Cameron anchored teams of Russian and American scientists, the world's foremost Titanic historians, and actor Bill Paxton (who seems out of place) above the site of the tragedy. With his immense funding of the project, Cameron set out to use the most advanced digital technology to film (and thus preserve) the wreck in 3-D IMAX picture quality. Thrown into the documentary were animated re-creations and some footage of ghostly live action that make Ghosts of the Abyss a more dramatic experience. The film balances the enormity of the disaster's size with the concurrent tragedy of September 11th, 2001, which occurred during the filming process...." *** Read the entire review.

10/3/03 - It is hard to overestimate the artistic reach of Randy Edelman. His music has appeared in so many unconventional places for a typical film composer that even veteran film score collectors may not know when they are hearing it. Finishing a week of reviews of Edelman's scores, Filmtracks celebrates Randy Edelman's career with a Composer Tribute. With his distinctly positive style of harmony heard in such vast sporting events as the Olympics and the Super Bowl, the exposure of Edelman's music --down to simple commercial break jingles-- is more diverse than that of practically any other current, major Hollywood composer. In addition to the original music that Edelman writes for events and shows, his themes from Gettysburg, The Last of the Mohicans, Come See the Paradise, and Dragonheart are continuously used in similar situations, including countless movie trailers. So popular is Edelman's melodic, upbeat style that some television networks even instruct other composers to imitate Edelman's music. Filmtracks also maintains twenty other Composer Tributes.

10/2/03 - Come See the Paradise: (Randy Edelman) --All New Review-- "A film that has since been long forgotten, Come See the Paradise tells the touching story of romance and perseverance between an American man and a Japanese-American woman during the domestic turmoil of World War II. Executive Order 9066, written and implemented by President Roosevelt's wartime government, puts the pair through trials when the family of the Japanese woman is imprisoned in the American desert. The American man, battling his own brush with the law, must also overcome the prejudice of the woman's Japanese-born family, slowly attempting to win over their hearts by showing his loyalty and commitment to the woman he loves. It is an intensely personal film, and it redeems itself (despite poor editing that managed to cut out the scene in which they explain the title of the film) through its character development and masterful use of songs appropriate to the culture and time. Director Alan Parker has often allowed his sons to dabble in the scoring efforts for his films..." *** Read the entire review.

10/1/03 - Passion of Mind: (Randy Edelman) --All New Review-- "The premise of Passion of Mind is intriguing for people of like to sit around and discuss the philosophy of real life versus a dream life. In the film, Demi Moore spends nearly every moment on screen, playing two roles and never knowing which is her real life and which is her dream life. In New York, she is a strong-minded publisher in a troubled relationship, and in France, she is a less secure, single mother who is engaged in a passionate relationship. The film counts on the plot's ability to lure you with a desire to sort out which is reality and which is fiction, and while that curiosity remains, the path that the film takes to answer the question is one that put many viewers to sleep. One reviewer called the film "a pointless exercise in existential hogwash," and if you're not a fan of seeing Moore on screen, then be prepared for a nap halfway through. Director Alain Berliner decided to accentuate the passion in the film..." *** Read the entire review.






Page created 10/16/03, updated 11/11/03. 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.