Newest Major Reviews:.This Month's Most Popular Reviews: Best-Selling Albums:
. 1. Fifty Shades Darker
2. La La Land
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
4. Moana
5. Fantastic Beasts/Find Them
. . 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 September, 2003:





9/30/03 - The Quest: (Randy Edelman) --All New Review-- "Perhaps nobody clued him in on this probable fact before this film was made, but Jean-Claude Van Damme is much better at kicking people in the groin than he is at directing films. Being so, Van Damme --the kickboxer who you always see getting into enjoyable scuffles with relentless tabloid photographers on city streets in real life-- decided to make The Quest his directorial debut. The film, not much different from the formulas of the other kickboxing films in which he stars (except for an awkward role for Roger Moore), was a critical disaster, and went straight from empty theatres to video stores and midnight showings on cable channels. The film wasn't laughable, per se, but it simply repeated all the same old Van Damme moves in a poorer light, making it useless if you've seen him bash opponents (or, best yet, kick over palm trees) on screen in the past. Composer Randy Edelman, however, seems inclined to take on any project of dubious merit and provide a decent score for it...." ** Read the entire review.

9/29/03 - Daylight: (Randy Edelman) --Expanded Review-- "This 1996 urban disaster film is a suspenseful Sylvester Stallone drama which, despite following a stereotypical plotline, was received with better than expected applause from audiences. The director and his production team would go on to create the better known film Dragonheart later in the same year, with both films utilizing scores from synth and orchestra expert Randy Edelman. Some film music fans argue that the mid-1990's was the height of quality output from Edelman, following his immensely popular Gettysburg score with these two strong efforts in 1996. While Dragonheart remains the better known of the pair by far, Daylight stands on its own as a worthy action score. The film was entertaining in its claustrophobic treatment of a new disaster challenge, and Edelman responded by composing an equally energized, sophisticated urban score. While many casual film music listeners associate Randy Edelman mostly with fluffy comedy ventures..." *** Read the entire review.

9/28/03 - Shanghai Noon: (Randy Edelman) --All New Review-- "The appeal of Jackie Chan films was at its height when the idea for Shanghai Noon splashed across the big screens. His previous hit films in America, Rumble in the Bronx, Mr. Nice Guy, and Rush Hour, had varying levels of lower intelligence, but for the most part, any script that allows Chan to wiggle through a shopping cart and kick someone in the groin at the same time is worthy of a reel of film. The concept of Shanghai Noon presented the same awe-inspiring stunts from the funnyman, but this time in the setting of the Wild West... not the usual urban environment for Chan. Pairing up with comedian Owen Wilson, the two battle the law and kidnappers on the road to saving a princess, and several playful references to famous westerns (including, of course, High Noon) are included along the way. The film's success would lead to a sequel for the two leads, and both entries would be scored by Randy Edelman...." *** Read the entire review.

9/27/03 - Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story: (Randy Edelman) --All New Review-- "A handful of biographical films have been made about Bruce Lee, the master of martial arts who mysteriously died in July of 1973. Many of them have taken artistic liberties with the factual aspects of Lee's life, and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is no exception. Starring Jason Scott Lee (no relation) as the famed kung fu favorite, this film gets more of the facts straight about Lee's personality than any of the others, but still suffers from some awkward alterations of setting and circumstances. For director Rob Cohen, the film would mark his jump from television films to feature projects on the big screen, and his choice for the score would be the versatile Randy Edelman. The two would collaborate several more times in the following years, from Dragonheart and Daylight to The Skulls and XXX, and it's easy to understand how the partnership came to be so strong after its initial outing. The score for Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story avoids all of the stereotypical Hong Kong elements..." **** Read the entire review.

9/26/03 - The young career of John Ottman has already given movie-goers and film music enthusiasts much to think about. A jack of all trades, Ottman is one of only a few artists in the history of Hollywood to have significant talents in directing, editing, and scoring of films. Finishing a week of reviews of Ottman's scores, Filmtracks celebrates John Ottman's career with a Composer Tribute. Most people became familiar with Ottman's skills in 1995, when his blossoming collaboration with director and friend Bryan Singer led to massive critical and popular acclaim for the cult hit The Usual Suspects. Since then, his more than a dozen feature film scores have consistently gravitated towards the romantically perturbed, ranging from the classically troubled to the straight-forward horror of slasher films. He remains a passionate master of the thriller and mystery genres, with popular scores for Incognito, Apt Pupil, and Cruel Intentions. All but one of Ottman's album releases (2002's Trapped) are now reviewed at the site. Filmtracks also maintains nineteen other Composer Tributes.

9/25/03 - Eight Legged Freaks: (John Ottman) --All New Review-- "Who could ever forget the hairy horror films of monsters caused by nuclear radiation in the 1950's? You had giant spiders in Tarantula, and even better yet, giant ants that attack Los Angeles in Them!. The 2002 flick Eight Legged Freaks both paid tribute to that genre and mocked it at the same time, utilizing modern CGI effects to produce a similarly themed attack on trailer folk by huge arachnids. The film's original title, "Arac Attack," played to the tongue and cheek nature of the project, but that title was dropped because producers realized that real life people weren't much more intelligent than the ones getting killed in the film, and they would probably confuse the film with a Gulf War action documentary. Whether the giant spiders were unleashed on hostile Iraqis or trailer-dwelling Americans, the Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich film was much more of a comedy spoof than a serious horror film, and so they needed a score that was playfully sinister...." *** Read the entire review.

9/24/03 - Apt Pupil: (John Ottman) --All New Review-- "One of the more obscure collaborations between director Bryan Singer and composer/editor John Ottman, Apt Pupil was adapted from the same collection of Stephen King novellas as Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption. Its disturbing, modern tale involves a teenage boy who discovers that an elderly man who lives near him is actually a Nazi SS officer in hiding. In return for keeping the old man's secret, the boy forces him (Dussander) to recount the glory of the Third Reich. The two manipulate each other in a cat and mouse game of psychological enticement, with the film often fading back into scenes of 1941 horrors. John Ottman's involvement with the picture was first and foremost that of editor, for it is this duty that Singer had employed of Ottman first. The project had proven difficult for Ottman given time constraints and a decision to take the editing process digital halfway through the endeavor. By the time Ottman reached the time to compose the score, his energy had been drained..." **** Read the entire review.

9/23/03 - Urban Legends: Final Cut: (John Ottman) --All New Review-- "A jack of all trades, John Ottman is one of only a few artists in the history of Hollywood to have significant talents in directing, editing, and scoring of films. With his film Urban Legends: Final Cut in 2000, Ottman became the first person in modern times to accomplish all of those tasks for a single studio project. His enthusiasm for the project was never in doubt; he had already established himself as an in-demand composer and editor, and the next logical step for Ottman was to direct his own feature film (something he had done as a teenager with great, amateur zeal). The process of tackling so many duties for one project left him unavailable for other assignments in a year's span between 1999 and 2000, and thus he was unable to participate with long-time collaborator Bryan Singer for the original X-Men film. By his own word, Ottman was exhausted by the end of the Urban Legends: Final Cut experience, and while he wouldn't hesitate to jump into the director's chair again..." *** Read the entire review.

9/22/03 - The Usual Suspects: (John Ottman) --All New Review-- "Few films offer the superior level of intelligence in writing as The Usual Suspects, a crime thriller and mystery that grips you in its ambiguity from beginning to end. Its surprisingly deep cast, remarkable writing, and frightening sonic ambience all make for a ultra-creepy film that continues to achieve cult status ten years after its release. Jokes about Keyser Sze are a delicious part of modern movie culture, and the performance of actor Kevin Spacey earned him a ticket to the forefront of the industry. The film would be the second collaboration between director Bryan Singer and composer/editor John Ottman, with their first project being the largely unknown film Public Access just previous to The Usual Suspects. The composer/editor hybrid is very rare in the professional industry, mostly because the two tasks require entirely different sets of skills and a whole lot of time. On the other hand, having a single composer/editor for a film allows that individual to produce a perfect fit between film and score..." **** Read the entire review.

9/21/03 - Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over: (Robert Rodriguez) --All New Review-- "With the children stars of the series growing older quickly, the Spy Kids concept will likely end as a trilogy. With this in mind, and cranking out this third installment to the Spy Kids franchise in record time (and delaying his Once Upon a Time in Mexico film in the process), director Robert Rodriguez continues to expand his ethical beliefs of family and loyalty in the series. This time, a malevolent Toymaker, performed by Sylvester Stallone, has an insidious plan to take over all the kids in the world by trapping their minds in their video games, and our favorite Cortez family has to play the game itself to free a trapped member. The twist on the film is its use of 3-D imagery during video game sequences that make up the latter half of the film. Critically, the film fared poorly compared to the first two, with the 3-D elements considered blurry and badly rendered in its colors. Nevertheless, the film is meant as silly fun..." ** Read the entire review.

9/19/03 - British composer David Arnold is an artist whose talents stretch to nearly every realm of the music industry. Finishing a week of reviews of Arnold's recent scores, Filmtracks celebrates David Arnold's career with a Composer Tribute. His music, as well as the albums he has produced, have been heard by more people than most film music collectors realize. Arnold's sudden influence in the film music industry came early in his career (1994-1996), when he scored such large-scale orchestral efforts as Stargate, Last of the Dogmen, and Independence Day. Arnold's career after 2000 has been defined by his techno-influenced urban grooves for Shaft, Baby Boy, Changing Lanes, and 2 Fast 2 Furious. His list of credits as a record producer is lengthy, and he works with a wide variety of artists (across several genres) to arrange album recordings. Look for reviews of Shaft and A Life Less Ordinary in months to come. Filmtracks also maintains eighteen other Composer Tributes.

9/18/03 - Enough: (David Arnold) --All New Review-- "In his post-2000 scores, David Arnold is becoming less and less of the composer that fans fell in love with in the mid-1990's. As part of his effort to break out of his type-cast assignments relating to orchestral bombast, Arnold scored the Michael Apted film Enough. The plot offers some of the same drama and suspense elements that you can expect from Apted, whose collaborations with several top composers have tallied to quite an impressive list (James Horner, Danny Elfman, John Barry, and Maurice Jarre, among others). In Enough, Jennifer Lopez plays the role of "Slim" (ironic, given all of the talk about Lopez having her rear end artificially slimmed down), a working class waitress whose life becomes seemingly perfect when she marries a rich contractor and moves into the comfortable suburbs. Then, of course, the contractor becomes an abusive wacko, the wife runs away, the husband and his henchmen pursue her, and she has to save herself and her child by beefing up and training for the inevitable chance to kick his face in...." *** Read the entire review.

9/17/03 - Changing Lanes: (David Arnold) --All New Review-- "After announcing himself back into the techno scene with Shaft in 2000, composer David Arnold began accepting scoring assignments with which he could vary those techno elements in different urban settings. After the hip score for Baby Boy in 2001, and at roughly the same time as his suspenseful, but stylish effort for Enough, Arnold went to the far end of the techno scale for Changing Lanes. The film was a diversion for director Roger Michell, who is better known for comedies (and a partnership with composer Trevor Jones for his scores). In it, a traffic accident turns into a tale of vengeance and desperation between two men (Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson) who are both battling their own internal demons and have little to lose. The film is saturated with the ills of urban lifestyles and struggles, with the fates of the two men intertwined in a nasty, self-destructing battle. The film never plays the race card, however, which is one of the reasons it was critically acclaimed, and that also makes a statement about the soundtrack...." * Read the entire review.

9/16/03 - Baby Boy: (David Arnold) --All New Review-- "Director John Singleton is known best, of course, for 1991's Boyz N the Hood, and his 2001 companion film Baby Boy is a similarly structured urban drama involving the disadvantages and trials of African American black men. The film is once again a challenging look at the central themes that Singleton often raises in his projects, and while critics praised his ability to maintain his realistic perspective of the genre, many black audiences were less than pleased about the stereotypical portrayals of urban blacks in predictable and disappointing situations. Everyone agreed, however, that Singleton's film presented far more questions than answers. An interesting answer to one question was David Arnold, whose hiring for the score on the project was considered a curious move by the fans of the composer. The British composer is known in the United Kingdom for his pop arrangements and album productions. He is widely recognized as the composer of several very large-scale orchestral film scores of the 1990's in America..." *** Read the entire review.

9/14/03 - Jeepers Creepers 2: (Bennett Salvay) --All New Review-- "As teenie slasher flicks go, this series has a little more unusual premise than others in the horror genre. The first Jeepers Creepers film met a cult audience in 2001, raising the idea that a flying, flesh-eating "Creeper" monster arises once every 23 years to kill and maim as part of his voracious feast. Despite continuously poor critical results (and even a backlash against the series from devoted, slasher genre fans), the same production team has resurrected the creature and set a film just a few days after the previous one, with the target now being a stranded group of varsity basketball players, cheerleaders (yum, yum... no surprise!), and coaches traveling on bus in the same rural area. Director Victor Salva once again leads the film, strangely causing continued protests over his conviction for child molestation a dozen years ago. Salva had worked with composer Bennett Salvay for the first film in the series (the name similarity is just a coincidence), and Jeepers Creepers 2 would be their fourth collaboration...." ** Read the entire review.

9/12/03 - Filmtracks has honored six talented composers over the past month with a series of new Composer Tributes at the site. Even more composer tributes will follow in the weeks to come, and Filmtracks wants to know which composers you think should be featured with a new tribute. The tributes have traditionally been created when a composer has at least eight to ten reviews of his/her works at Filmtracks, so by supporting a new tribute for a composer, you are enccouraging us to review more of that composer's scores. You can send Filmtracks an e-mail using the address at the bottom of this page, or you can voice your composer choices in public at the Filmtracks Scoreboard. Keep checking back each Friday for a new tribute.

9/11/03 - Freddy vs. Jason: (Graeme Revell) --All New Review-- "With these two series running as long as they have, it's difficult to maintain any kind of continuity when you start thinking about their music. The Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies have held a cult audience since 1980, practically inventing the teenie slasher genre and opening the doors for more modern incarnations like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Despite a badly fading interest in the most recent films in both original horror franchises, fans found the prospect of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees together in the same film to be irresistible. With Freddy resurrecting Jason and the battling him over frightened teenie victims to slay, audiences propelled Freddy vs. Jason to the number one spot atop the box office earnings list for a week in the late summer season in 2003. The film exceeded most expectations by fans of the series, and so did the score by Graeme Revell. The two series have not been known for their superior scores..." *** Read the entire review.

9/10/03 - One of the most popular musicals of all time (grossing over $3 billion), Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera begins production on its film version this week, aiming for a December 2004 release. The project was to star original cast members Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford when Warner Brothers was to produce the film for a 1991 release. Stalled by a dozen years of production delays and Webber's successful translation of Evita to the big screen in 1996, The Phantom of the Opera is now being produced independently by Webber, with Warner Brothers serving as distributor. The only original cast member to be considered for a role reprise now was Crawford as the Phantom (a Tony-winning performance). But despite massive ad campaigns by fans of the musical, Webber has personally cut Crawford from the role in 2003. Both Webber and director Joel Schumacher expressed an interest in a younger Phantom, and Attila/Tomb Raider 2 star Gerard Butler --who has never sung professionally in his life-- has been given the role. Emmy Rossum (Christine), Alan Cumming (Firmin), Minnie Driver (Carlotta), Patrick Wilson (Raoul) also star. The film does not directly mirror the musical in plot, and Webber will be composing new songs to accompany at least seven of the original songs. The score will be less operatic and contain more modern orchestrations. Published outrage over Crawford's dismissal by Webber has been widespread, and you can read news, comics, and other information about this debacle at www.phantommovie.com, where the Crawford/Phantom online movie campaign is located. Even Filmtracks, a site devoted to scores (and not musicals), is receiving e-mails from irate, flabbergasted Phantom fans. What do you think? Voice your opinion at the Filmtracks ScoreBoard. Let us all hope that the voice coaches are competent and well-compensated.

9/8/03 - Muppet Treasure Island: (Hans Zimmer) --Updated Review-- "How far we have progressed in our entertainment industry? Well, try to imagine how Robert Louis Stevenson would react if he saw his classic story mangled considerably for the purpose of bringing singing Muppets to the big screen. The Muppets have always been a hit or miss kind of species of entertainment, either capturing you with their lovable personalities or causing you to seek out the nearest stuffed doll for destruction. The film and score for Muppet Treasure Island will probably divide people along the same lines. There is truly hideous material to be found here. And yet, for collectors of Hans Zimmer music, there might be some reward in it. Zimmer was a year off of his Academy Award win for The Lion King, and the same crude equation would be put to work for Muppet Treasure Island, with Barry Mann composing the songs this time. Zimmer's role in the project wasn't too demanding, with only a minimal amount of score required for the picture (Zimmer would, however, dedicate the score to his young child)...." *** Read the entire review.

9/5/03 - It is not often that top talent can be so consistently found in the genre of television scoring, but veteran composer Lee Holdridge has made a monumentally successful career of it. For his vast contribution to film and television, Filmtracks celebrates Lee Holdridge's career with a Composer Tribute. He has written music for films on nearly every network and cable entity, including NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, TNT, HBO, and Showtime, and his massive 2001 score for The Mists of Avalon remains his most outstanding mainstream success. His work for documentaries is also critically acclaimed, with several big-name documentary titles under his belt in the last ten years. The expansive list of works by the Latino-born composer also extends to popular song-writing abilities employed by the world's foremost opera and pop singers. The great majority of his music has unfortunately never seen a commercial CD release, leaving collectors scrambling for the few promotional albums of his diverse works. Filmtracks also maintains seventeen other Composer Tributes.

9/3/03 - Quest for Camelot: (Patrick Doyle) --All New, Double-Length Review-- "After the fiscal success of Warner Brother's venture into the animated realm with Space Jam, they decided to put a Disneyesque spin on an Arthurian legend. Their goal was to follow the mold --to the last detail-- of the popular Disney and Fox animation musicals that had received so much critical praise earlier in the 1990's. They went over the top for Quest for Camelot, signing the highest talent for the singing and speaking voices. The cast was magnificent, with several top names accompanied by the most famous vocalists in the world. They hired veteran songwriters and composers to produce what they hoped would be one of the top selling soundtracks of all time. Unfortunately, despite all their intentions, Quest for Camelot turned out to a colossal failure, destined to be ridiculed by adults and shunned by children for its very substandard animation, mismatched speaking and singing voices, and considerable problems with the flow of the plot. You could use Quest for Camelot at a studio to illustrate the anatomy of a doomed picture, but the music itself wasn't the cause of the failure...." **** Read the entire review.

9/2/03 - The Jungle Book: (Basil Poledouris) --All New Review-- "There have been several film and video adaptations of Rudyard Kipling's original story of The Jungle Book. On film you can go back all the way to the diverse 1940 Miklos Rozsa score for the original film rendition of the tale. Most people, though, are familiar with the 1967 Walt Disney animated version and its Academy-Award recognized song "The Bare Necessities." The 1994 live-action version, starring Jason Scott Lee, Sam Neill, Cary Elwes, and John Cleese, offers a similar Tarzan-themed story with additional challenges for the forest-dwelling young man to conquer. Despite newly revamped action sequences, this new revival of The Jungle Book didn't click well with audiences, and thus fell out of mainstream attention with haste. Composing the score for this adventure is Basil Poledouris, who was already established for ten years as an A-list composer in Hollywood. He was in between his popular and successful Free Willy assignments, and was going through a phenomenon much like James Horner in the early 1990's..." *** Read the entire review.

9/1/03 - Il Postino: (Luis Bacalov) --Updated, Expanded Review-- "Based on the novel "Ardiente Paciencia" by Antonio Skarmeta, Il Postino tells the lovable tale of a postman on a small island in Italy who has little reason to be excited about his isolated job. That is, until he delivers post to the legendary poet Pablo Neruda in exile and, with the help and inspiration of Neruda's work, puts the charms on the island's most beautiful young woman. The heart-warming romance story is tainted by a somewhat disruptive ending, as typically are bittersweet romances of Mediterranean attitude. Neruda's poetry sets a memorable mood throughout the film, as does the original score by Luis Bacalov. The film, much like Life is Beautiful a few years later, would be a quick phenomenon in America, where its short-lived momentum would carry it to rare foreign-film success at the Academy Awards. Most film score fans will recall Bacalov's Il Postino score as that defeated James Horner's Apollo 13 and Braveheart at the Oscars in February 1996...." **** Read the entire review.






Page created 9/16/03, updated 9/18/03. 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.