SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY Review
Reviews / September 3, 2017

SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY Review There are few things I am more passionate about than film music, and ‘Score’ is a soundtrack fan’s dream. This new documentary has been supported by people around the world (including myself) and truly represents how much diligence and passion into creating the emotional backbone for the movies we love. Beyond that though, ‘Score’ is a skillfully produced and delivered documentary that will make anyone feel more deeply about this shamefully overlooked genre. Comprehensive doesn’t begin to describe the scope of this documentary. They talk about every aspect of film music. As soon as you start thinking that there is no more material they need to cover, you are learning about a whole new part of this process. They delve into the history and progression of this medium. They cover the composing process and working with the orchestra, mixers, and orchestrator in recording the music. We learn about scoring sessions, matching the music to the picture, and working with directors. Themes, composition techniques, and other practices of composers are covered. Obviously, there is still plenty more to learn about this ever expanding field, but Score is a terrific resource to jump start a fascination…

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES Review
Movies , Reviews / July 13, 2017

In a time when the terms “prequel” and “reboot” are treated like swear words in film communities, the new Planet of the Apes series stands as a proud example of what these can be. This conclusion of Caesar’s chronicle is an achievement in storytelling, effects work, and sound and builds upon the groundwork of the past two installments. However, where ‘War’ really stands out in cinema is in emotion and being able to convey important morals. In 2034 (8 years since the events of ‘Dawn’ & 15 years since ‘Rise’), the genetically enhanced ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) is still working to keep the rest of the apes safe from humans lead by the ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson). After a devastating attack, Caesar, accompanied by a handful of others, goes on a mission to end this war and avenge his kind. To get right to the point, this movie is so satisfying and emotional. It really wraps up this prequel story very in a way that will leave audiences really touched. It is far more than your run-of-the-mill blockbuster. It brings to life the nuanced question of what it means to be human and how we value our “humanity”. The morals…

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING Review
Reviews / July 6, 2017

With great intellectual property rights comes great responsibility. Marvel and Sony are finally working together to bring us a Spider-Man movie set in the popular, ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is the 16th movie in the massive franchise). The movie has all of the fun and excitement that are standard fare in the MCU while also taking Spidey in a fresh direction. After the epic events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (though it still isn’t entirely clear in what year this takes place), Peter Parker is trying to balance his life as a friendly neighborhood superhero and a normal high school student. He discovers a criminal group lead by Adrian Toomes (aka The Vulture) and has to work to stop them. The movie does a clever job of keeping this plot lines working together. It never feels like the movie gets distracted or can’t handle its different tones. In actuality, the film’s over arching plot of Peter trying to prove his self worth feels self-referential of Spider-Man’s disappointing recent history in cinema. Following five feature films, this is a new type of Spider-Man. He is involved in activities that we haven’t seen from this character before. We get to…

FIRST IMPRESSIONS “Spider-Man Homecoming” Score by Michael Giacchino
Movies , Soundtracks / June 28, 2017

After some terrific work on both Doctor Strange and the Marvel Studios fanfare, Michael Giacchino returns to the MCU to deliver the score for Sony’s ‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ directed by Jon Watts. The movie is a lot of fun and the best iteration of Spider-Man on the big screen. It is a real treat for Marvel fans. Here are first impression thoughts on Giacchino’s music. This is one of the MCU’s best scores! Giacchino’s Spider-Man theme is among the most memorable of the MCU. It’s the kind of theme where casual fans’ll hum it out of the theater. The theme is heard frequently all throughout the movie in a variety of styles including heroic, adventurous, soft, and playfully. It is even heard during the IMAX intro, showing that Marvel may be finally learning how to promote their music and themes right. It even gets a cool rendition through the end credits with lots of varied instrument styles, like what he did with Doctor Strange. Some of my favorite music from the movie was the plucky staccato version of the new SpiderMan theme when Peter is just being a teenager. Besides the theme for Spider-Man / Peter Parker, there are a few…

WONDER WOMAN Review
Reviews / June 1, 2017

Warner Bros. DC Extended Universe has finally produced a good, solid movie. It has taken four movies over four years, but ‘Wonder Woman’ has broken the mold to be an adventure for audiences, fans, and critics to all enjoy. DC has taken a step back to focusing on plot and character in order to craft a grounded story separate from their past three attempts. Despite it not being perfect, this first modern female superhero film is inspiring, engaging, and a great improvement from the numb grittiness of DC’s universe. ‘Wonder Woman’ takes us back to her origins as a young goddess living with the Amazons and then joining a spy for the British to help end World War I and defeat Aries, the god of war. This change of setting helps to make this distinct from DC’s other installments and keeps it fresh, bright, and colorful. The “World War setting as an origin for a superhero prequel movie preparing for an upcoming major team up film” can make it seem from afar like it is similar to the first Captain America movie The movie does have typical prequel issues since we know that Wonder Woman won’t die and we can…

FIRST THOUGHTS – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” Score by Geoff Zanelli
Movies / May 16, 2017

Just saw the new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’. Geoff Zanelli’s score was really spectacular and fit with the world of PotC so well. I was elated. There were a lot of old themes that come back and the new themes felt at home here. It did seem obvious at times how the temp was used though. I am looking forward to hearing this score on the soundtrack. Read my first impression thoughts below. The PotC series is close to my heart, particular the original trilogy. The music is extremely enjoyable. It is among the most iconic film scores of this century. There are a couple dozen themes in the series at this point, most of which are fairly recognizable. With Hans Zimmer scoring Dunkirk and busy with his concert tour, this film is scored by his collaborator on the series, Geoff Zanelli. I am pleased that this score can proudly stand beside the rest of the series. It has the fun, the darkness, the adventure, the action, and the emotion that keeps these movies going and felt very refreshing in this time where themes are frequently discarded as a franchise goes on. THEMES The signature…

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS Review
Reviews / April 12, 2017

With the arrival of the 8th Fast & Furious movie it is clear that this franchise is far from running out of gas. Toward the beginning, Dom says about a weighed down car “remove everything that isn’t the engine”. In that spirit, all the staples that keep people come back to this series are here including (naturally) tricked out cars, global locales, family, high stakes, disrespect for physics, unconventional names for titles, muscular leads, and plenty of insane action. But the movie stays fresh by breaking out of its mold in several key ways. ‘The Fate of the Furious’ sets Dom (Vin Diesel) at odds with his “family”. He is working for a rogue mastermind (Charlize Theron) while the rest of the team must be both fast and furious in order to stop her and Dom from starting a world war. It is admittedly predictable at times and a lot of the plot makes little sense, but it is still fun and the strong pacing keeps the momentum going from beginning to end. With the main character turned antagonist, this gives room for the side characters to shine. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tez (Ludicris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Deckard…

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
Reviews / February 9, 2017

This is the Batman that we need and deserve right now. Following up on the unexpected success of The Lego Movie, Warner Bros. has combined the world of toy building blocks with one of the most popular and pervasive characters of fiction. This movie is exactly what DC and their fans needed. It is a fresh take on the Caped Crusader, has a lot of heart, features fun characters, and (unlike every other DC movie) is endlessly funny. Batman / Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) once again saves Gotham city from a staggeringly broad rogues gallery, but soon learns that he needs more than just himself. He adopts Dick Greyson aka Robin (Michael Cera) and realizes that he is struggling with becoming part of a family again. Meanwhile the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) has another nefarious plan in his quest to defeat his archenemy. Plus, the new Gotham commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawon) is working to make Gotham safer without relying on Batman. With all this going on, our hero certainly has a lot to deal with. Like following the instructions for a new Lego set, the plot does occasionally, feel rather safe and predictable. The casting is pretty spot on. The…

STAR WARS – EPISODE VIII Title Thoughts
Movies / January 24, 2017

Today, the title for Star Wars – Episode VIII was announced as THE LAST JEDI. This certainly has an epic feel to it that was hinted at even in The Force Awakens’ opening crawl. Announcements like this are always followed by fan responses, so here are mine. Many people aren’t too concerned about the actual title that is given to a particular work, but I feel that they are very important as those few words will come to represent that entire 2hr+ movie. I’m actually not a big fan of the new title for Episode VIII for a few reasons. It may grow on me though. I’ll admit that I still don’t like the title ‘The Force Awakens’. Here is my list of reasons for why I am not fully on board with this title. 1. We’ve already had a Star Wars movie that is abbreviated as ‘Jedi’. This new title makes it difficult to shorten the names for the 2. This breaks the trend of each trilogy having a movie that begins with the following letters “A”, “T”, & “R” (it’s nit-picky, I know). 3. The Last Jedi title seems more like a title for a finale, not the…

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review
Reviews / January 20, 2017

After more than 11 years, we get the 3rd xXx movie and it’s hard to know what purpose is intended with this movie. Is it here so that Paramount can retain rights to one of the few franchises they have? Is it so that Vin Diesel’s other movies this year look better by comparison? Is this simply a large vat where all of the bad ideas from the increasingly popular Fast & Furious franchise can be dumped? More importantly though, do the producers have anything else on their minds than infeasible feats, girls in bikinis, and showing off people’s muscles? It may have a few creative stunts, but ultimately the movie is unoriginal, boring, poorly conceived, and obsolete. As is made extremely clear in the marketing material, Vin Diesel plays Xander Cage. This is not a stretch for Diesel at all as we’ve seen this same type of character from him over and over. Even though the name Xander Cage has not been heard by audiences in over a decade, his costars still treat him like a character equal to James Bond or Jason Bourne. Regardless, Cage gathers together a group of “the good, the extreme, and the completely insane”…

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