All posts under Reviews

Book Review: No Minor Chords – My Days In Hollywood

Books about film music are rare. Entertaining books about film music are even rarer. And entertaining books about film music written by those who are actually down in the trenches are practically nonexistent. That alone is reason enough to read André Previn‘s 1991 memoir, No Minor Chords: My Days In Hollywood. What makes the book even more important as a historical record is that Previn bristles in interviews when asked to speak about those years, perhaps feeling that he has already covered everything in the book. And while the book doesn’t contain much on…

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CD Review: Winnie the Pooh

WINNIE THE POOH, that willy-nilly, silly old bear all stuffed with fluff, is back in theaters for a new generation. I’m sure I saw the original POOH when I was a child, but I don’t have any particular connection with the characters, though I have been compared to Eeyore on numerous occasions (most recently immediately following this screening). In the film, Pooh must interrupt his perpetual search for honey to locate a missing Christopher Robin, who is suspected of being kidnapped by the fictional Backson. While the stakes aren’t particularly…

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CD Review: Super 8

When a train derails releasing a dangerous, unseen presence in a small suburban town, a group of youngsters making an amateur film unwittingly capture the alien images on their Super 8 camera. The nuts and bolts of SUPER 8 aren’t particular fresh or original. Rolling elements from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, THE GOONIES and E.T. into one film was a bold move, given the affection felt by many fans towards these films. No matter how much director J. J. Abrams claims the film is an homage to the films of his childhood, having…

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CD Review: Cars 2

The original CARS in 2006 is widely considered one of the weaker Pixar efforts. Its box office performance did not nearly match its merchandising sales, with an estimated $5 billion in sales. After merchandising challenges like WALL-E and UP (grumpy old man action figure anyone?), it’s no surprise that the studio would revisit the film for an unnecessary sequel. The first film had the presence of Paul Newman and a small shred of emotional resonance with the potential collapse of small-town America. Those two pluses are gone in CARS 2‘s…

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CD Review: The Tree of Life

I’ve held off posting a review of Alexandre Desplat‘s score for THE TREE OF LIFE until I had a chance to see how it fit within the film. Little did I know I could have saved myself the time and torture of sitting through Terrence Malick’s latest piece of cinematic pretension and posted the review weeks ago when the album was released. The film is a complete waste of time in nearly every way, none more so than in its limited use of Desplat’s music. The 138-minute running time contains…

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CD Review: X-Men: First Class

I freely admit that I don’t know jack about X-Men. I’ve never read the comics and I only saw the first movie years after its 2000 release. So I went into X-MEN: FIRST CLASS with no expectations and no knowledge of the characters or where the story was heading. I knew it was a prequel, nothing more. Pitting the mutants against the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis would seem to give the story some dramatic weight, but watching a scantily-clad stripper buzzing about on her wings or a nondescript,…

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CD Review: Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides

There’s very little gray area when it comes to how film music fans feel about the PIRATES OF THE CARIBEEAN music. But to complain about the scores at this stage of the game is superfluous. You either like them or you don’t. As I wrote in my “Avast, Ye Matey!” post, I’ve been on a real POTC kick these past few weeks in preparation for the fourth installment of the popular franchise, ON STRANGER TIDES. So what do you get with P4? More of the same…but less of it. Johnny Depp’s…

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CD Review: Soul Surfer

SOUL SURFER, the true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton’s recovery from a shark attack, seems tailor-made for the movies. But not for this viewer. I can only see one loss-o’-limb film (127 HOURS) in any 12-month period. Thankfully, Marco Beltrami doesn’t suffer from my weak constitution, composing an exciting and moving score that rides the waves with musical agility. The lovely main titles weave together some haunting Hawaiian chanting before the piano plays the memorable main surfing theme. With its flowing melody, the theme seems to float on the…

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CD Review: Rio (Song Album)

I don’t often review song soundtrack albums on this site. There’s a reason why the words “film score” are in the title. But occasionally a song album is so enjoyable and so integral to the fabric of the score that it needs to be shared. The new animated film RIO film received rare double CD releases, one for the score and the other for the more typical (and probably better selling) songs. Co-produced by John Powell and the legendary Sérgio Mendes, the song album is an energetic burst of infectious Brazilian rhythms…

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CD Review: Rio

I’ve found this year’s major new scores generally lacking so far, and it has taken me almost four months to find a 2011 score worth writing about. Thankfully, that dry spell has been broken. The trailers for RIO promised busy, colorful animation with lame humor. And that’s pretty much what you get in the film itself. The story of a blue macaw (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) who is brought back to Brazil to mate with the only other known female of his species (Anne Hathaway) and gets stolen by poachers trying…

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