Soundtrack Review: Brightburn (2019)

*Note: potentially minor spoilers from some of the track titles

The soundtrack for the upcoming film Brightburn with music by multi-award winning composer Timothy Williams (Wild Horses, Debug, Walking with the Enemy).  became available May 10th. The soundtrack features music from the James Gunn and Kenneth Huang-produced film, which makes its theatrical debut in the United States on Friday, May 24. The film is based on a terrifying premise: What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to humankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? In this horrific take on the classic superhero trope, a couple (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) adopts a baby who came from the stars. While they attempt to raise the boy (Jackson A. Dunn) to use his powers for good, an evil begins to grow inside that he unleashes.

Regarding the soundtrack for Brightburn, Timothy Williams had the following to say:

“Being able to merge two genres which have never been combined before, superhero and horror, was an amazing experience.  I was thankful for a close collaborative relationship with the director Dave Yarovesky.  We worked on the idea of a main theme at the beginning that would be simple and reflect the emotional investment of hope in the story.  You hear this in a three note piano solo theme.  As Brandon’s power increases, we begin to feel the weight and power of a large orchestra which then bends and distorts with Brandon’s descent into evil.  The low strings and low brass mutate the theme and processed percussion pumps up the tension.  Because Brandon is this kid from another world, I got to develop some unique sounds using a bespoke library for the ROLI which bends and pitches sound as well.  Overall it was a dream come true to create this sound for a new genre film.”

 

While Brightburn is described as a merging of the superhero and horror genres, make no mistake about it, most of the music is firmly entrenched in the horror genre. I love how Timothy Williams works with all of these unique sounds to create uncomfortable sensations that make your skin crawl. Some of the tracks will start “normal” but then twist and warp, likely symbolizing Brandon being slowly corrupted by whatever evil dwells inside him. I appreciate how varied the tracks in this soundtrack are. There are some moments that sound very bright (“Breyer Family” is one such example) while others like “Real Real Bad Things” and especially “Called to the Barn” are very, very dark.

As I listened to the Brightburn soundtrack, I was surprised to hear some passages that sounded reminiscent of the work of James Horner, particularly his score for Aliens. I don’t mean this in a bad way, it’s fairly common for composers to be inspired by earlier films, and this could be what happened here. And it makes sense too; Aliens sees the characters encountering a mysterious, undoubtedly evil presence (the xenomorphs and the Alien Queen). And Brightburn, from what I can tell, has a similar scenario. The residents of Brightburn encounter a growing evil in their midst.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to the Brightburn soundtrack. It’s undoubtedly music written for a horror film, but there are enough nuances thrown into the music that I enjoy listening to it. Timothy Williams does a great job using different musical textures to create themes that will make your skin crawl in the best way possible. Definitely check out the soundtrack when you get the chance, and make sure to see the film when it comes out this Friday. Afterward, let me know what you think of the film (and its score) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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My Thoughts on: High Life (2019)

*note: minor spoilers for High Life follow

I knew I wanted to see High Life from the moment I saw the first trailer. I have a keen interest in science fiction cinema that’s only grown stronger since I finished my dissertation, and I’m always looking for that best kind of science fiction film, the ones that really make you think about what they’re trying to tell you.

And let me tell you, High Life is without a doubt that kind of film.

One thing that’s interesting about High Life is the story isn’t told in a regular, linear format. The story opens after most of the action has already happened, then jumps back and forth, filling in the pieces of the story bit by bit. This is a process that can go horribly wrong if not done properly, but here it works. With each piece of the story that’s told, you feel a growing need to continue with the story, to find out what happens next.

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Robert Pattinson is great in this film. I admit, I haven’t really seen any of his work before this. I haven’t watched the Harry Potter films he appears in, I haven’t even watched any of the Twilight saga, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, but he does a really good job playing a man struggling to fulfill a multitude of roles all on his own. Many times he acts like he’s right on the edge of insanity, but there’s always something to bring him back in the end.

There’s one detail in High Life that surprised me very much, and that’s how…sexual the film is. I knew from the previews that the film centered in some part around the birth of a child, but the sexual undertones and the sexual imagery still took me somewhat aback. I’m not saying that part was bad, just that it was a shock to my system that at times left me feeling deeply uncomfortable. Looking back though, I think that was the idea; we were supposed to feel uncomfortable, especially during THAT scene between Monte (Pattinson’s character) and the doctor.

If you get the chance, you need to see High Life. It is a beautiful addition to the science fiction genre and one that will leave you thinking for quite a while after the credits roll. Let me know what you think about High Life in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: The Iron Throne (GoT S8 E6)

*warning, some spoilers are going to be mentioned here, it’s the series finale so it’s kind of unavoidable. I suggest not reading until you’ve seen the final episode.*

Oh wow.

Oh wow, wow, wow.

Of ALL the ways I imagined Game of Thrones coming to an end, I never imagined it ending quite like that. None of my theories even considered the possibility of the twists that we saw last night. Now on the one hand, that kind of makes me want to feel mad, since I could’ve sworn the show was indicating an entirely different ending. But on the other hand, the more I think about it, the more some of the twists make sense.

First of all, I don’t think anybody genuinely thought this character would be king at the end of the episode. I know when this character was chosen, my jaw smacked the floor. It made no sense, and really, despite some excellent arguing for why this character should be king, it’s the part of the episode that bugs me the most. I am convinced that this is NOT the character that will rule Westeros (most of it anyway, more on that in a minute) at the end of the books (assuming we ever see the end of the books). I do like how the system of monarchy is going to be changed…assuming it sticks anyway.

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Now I have to talk about Sansa, whose arc has been very hard for me to watch at times in the past few years. Of all the character arc endings on this show, I think I like Sansa’s the most because it makes the most sense. She’s completed her evolution from the perfect pawn to a master player in the game of thrones herself (Littlefinger would be so proud). She finally has real power, with no foreign queens to worry about, and no male claimants to take it away from her. I’m really happy for Sansa. I like Arya’s ending too, not quite as much as Sansa’s, since I was half-hoping that Arya would be with Gendry, but I understand why she can’t stay in Westeros. She’s seen too much of the world to go back to her home in the North. And even though we know Arya and Sansa love each other, if those two spend any length of time together, they’ll be bickering again in no time.

Okay, now I need to talk about the ending for Jon Snow, aka Aegon Targaryen. When Jon did…what he did, in the throne room, I thought all of my theories had been confirmed. He’s the sole Targaryen claimant, the throne will come to him one way or another. And then the episode moved forward and everything I thought I knew got thrown out the window. It hurt me, I admit it, and I was upset for most of the rest of the episode. It didn’t seem right that Jon’s true heritage should ultimately mean nothing, and I nearly howled in rage when Jon went back to Castle Black. But then I saw how his story ended, and suddenly I began to understand. No matter how much I or anyone else wanted it, Jon wouldn’t have made a good king. He’s too much like Ned Stark, and we all know what happened to him when he was just Hand of the King, imagine Jon trying to be king himself, and I don’t think it would’ve ended well. What changed my mind about Jon came at the very end, when I realized that he was leaving to go beyond the Wall (at first I thought he was just escorting the wildlings). And this morning it dawned on me; throughout this series, the happiest I ever saw Jon is when he was living with the wildlings, when he was with Ygritte. Jon never wanted to be king, he especially never wanted to be a Targaryen. Having had a taste of that power and not liking it, I realized Jon is all too happy to disappear into the forest and walk out of history forever. Furthermore, I think the person who ordered him sent back to the Wall KNEW this would happen.

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So in the end, am I completely happy with how Game of Thrones ended? No, to be honest no. It still feels wrong that this character became king, but really it’s not like there were many choices left. Now that I’ve had time to think about it though, I am mostly content with how it ends the story. The characters are in different places than I imagined, but at least we know where they all end up, more or less. They weren’t kidding when they said this would be a bittersweet ending. I think “bittersweet” hits the nail on the head.

And that’s the end of Game of Thrones. Next week I’m going back to the beginning and reviewing starting with season 1, episode 1. Let me know what you think about “The Iron Throne” in the comments below and have a great day.

See also:

My Thoughts on: The Bells (GoT S8 E5)

My Thoughts On: The Last of the Starks (GoT S8 E4)

My Thoughts on: The Battle of Winterfell (GoT S8 E3)

My Thoughts on: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (GoT S8 E2)

Film/TV Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Prospect (2018)

Ever since I’d seen the first trailer for Prospect, I’d been excited to see this movie, mostly because it was science fiction, but also because it looked like good science fiction. There was the added benefit of having Pedro Pascal (best known to me as Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones) as part of the cast. I’d hoped to see this movie months ago, but it never screened on any theaters near me, and obtaining a copy to review proved…difficult. But I was finally able to get my hands on a copy this past week and sat down to watch it yesterday.

What a disappointment. I barely made it halfway through the film before I had to turn it off. That in itself is saying something, since I almost never turn a movie off in the middle. Now it’s entirely possible that I might be able to watch this film all the way through in the future and be able to appreciate details that bugged me, but not right now.

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Prospect isn’t all bad, don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the look of the alien moon. It’s strange to see such a lush environment that is actually toxic if you breathe the air in (though now that I think about it, the same scenario exists in Avatar). The film has this little detail I really enjoyed where, as the characters are walking through the alien forest, you can see these little particles floating in the air. My brain interpreted this as a sign of the moon’s toxicity.

I also liked the look of the drop ship that brings the main characters to the planet. Just looking at it was enough to make me question what year/century this was all occurring in. Everyone looks human enough, but if you look closely, the instruments are labeled in a strange language that isn’t English (even the main character writes in a language that isn’t English). So it made me wonder, does Prospect take place in a future so distant that English has ceased to be used as a language? It’s an interesting detail that I liked.

 

Now to talk about what I didn’t like, and that’s the dialogue. The reason I had to turn the film off is the dialogue was driving me crazy. Considering this is a science fiction film, the dialogue, especially from Pascal’s character Ezra, just felt all wrong to me. It didn’t fit. I can enjoy almost every aspect of a film, but is the dialogue is wrong, it just ruins the film for me.

While I enjoyed a few parts of Prospect, I was bitterly disappointed overall by the portion of the film I was able to watch. I couldn’t really get into the story because of the dialogue, which threw everything else off for me. Let me know what you think about Prospect in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film/TV Reviews

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My Thoughts on: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

*warning: I don’t think I let any spoilers slip but it’s possible I did without realizing it

Two years.

We’ve been waiting two years to find out how the story of John Wick continues after he was sent running for his life with a one hour head start. After two years of waiting, our patience was finally rewarded with John Wick: Chapter 3 and my god did it ever deliver.

The story picks up immediately after the ending of John Wick: Chapter 2 and follows John Wick fighting to stay alive with every assassin in New York City and the world after the bounty on his head. The fight sequences are deliciously brutal, and the tension rarely lets up once the story gets going. It might be my imagination, but it feels like the fights are getting more brutal with every installment. Also, that scene with the horse is absolutely perfect.

Halle Berry as Sofia is a great addition to the John Wick universe, my only gripe is that I wanted more of her in the story. She’s clearly a complex character with a complex past (much like Wick) and I would love to learn more about her in future installments. Also, her dogs are just as awesome as you think they are.

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One of the things I like best about John Wick: Chapter 3 is that we learn more about the complex structure of rules that governs this group of assassins that Wick belongs to. More of the hierarchy is revealed, and it turns out that some characters that appeared to be all powerful also answer to a higher authority (which in itself was a bit of a shock for me). I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a prequel that explains how this group was established in the first place. There must be a story behind how an organization was formed with this much power all over the world and I would love to see it.

Keanu Reeves is on point once again as John Wick. You wouldn’t think there’d been two years since the second film and five years since the original film, just by watching him. There’s a great range of emotion in his performance, especially towards the end of the film. And speaking of the end…I honestly did not see that ending coming. It took everything I thought I knew about the situation and turned it upside down. That being said, I loved the ending because it practically confirms that John Wick: Chapter 4 will be happening. With all of the hype surrounding this film, it makes perfect sense that they would want the story to continue.

I really enjoyed John Wick: Chapter 3, and I’m excited for the fourth installment that is bound to follow, but I do hope the next installment ends it. I only say that because, while the story was good, some of the fight scenes felt a little long, and I’d rather not see the story become ruined with too many sequels. But for now, I’ll revel in the perfection that is John Wick: Chapter 3. Definitely check it out when you get the chance.

What did you think of John Wick: Chapter 3? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Thoughts on: John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)

Thoughts on: John Wick (2014)

Film/TV Reviews

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My Thoughts on: The Bells (GoT S8 E5)

*warning, there are some spoilers in this review, I’m trying very hard to avoid specifics but…if you’ve seen the episode you know why that might be hard to do

Holy sh*t.

I repeat, holy sh*t!

The events of last night’s episode “The Bells” has been teased for a while now and oh my god did the show deliver! This episode mostly centered on the Battle of King’s Landing and from the moment the fight started, my attention was held rapt to the screen. I’d been hoping that Daenerys wouldn’t go down this particular road, as I’ve been in extreme denial about her capacity to go mad like her father and brother Viserys before her. However, Daenerys has been bending and bending and BENDING for so long to accommodate what others want her to do, it was only a matter of time before she broke and unleashed dragonfire like no one has ever seen before.

And speaking of delivering…we finally got THAT fight. You know, the one that’s been teased and theorized for quite a while now? Pardon the spoiler, but I need to spell it out: Cleganebowl is real and it is INTENSE! I was never quite sure how this fight was going to play out, but I love how we got it. Intercutting the fight with other battle scenes was a wonderful touch. I think they changed the Mountain’s undead makeup for this fight too. There’s a glimpse of his undead feature in “The Winds of Winter” and it looks nothing like what we saw in this episode.  Despite that, I’m happy with how this fight concluded.

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I also have to say I feel terrible for Tyrion. He is trying so hard to do the right thing for a queen he genuinely believes in. But throughout the episode, we see more and more hints that his faith in his queen is being shaken to his very core. Tyrion tried so, so hard, to prevent what happened from happening. And I think my favorite part of the episode is this one moment where Daenerys can choose what happens next. The choice is hers and hers alone. And once she chooses…oh boy.

Now I also need to say that this episode was not perfect. Certain characters met their end in a way that did not satisfy me at all. I’m thinking of two characters in particular. I figured out years ago that both were going to die, but the way the show presented their deaths was far too peaceful and serene for everything they’ve done. Let’s just say I wanted one of the characters to really suffer as they died. I wanted their death to be brutal, painful, and I wanted a much more emotional breakdown than what I got. That being said, considering the show leaves out some critical plot details from the books, this is probably the best scenario I could hope for. I’m all but certain these two characters have a different death scene in the books. I also feel like the Golden Company was kind of wasted, though I know they play a bigger role in the books, so that doesn’t bother me as much.

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“The Bells” has me thoroughly excited for the finale of Game of Thrones. I have an in-depth theory up on my Patreon page about how I think the end is going to play out regarding who sits on the Iron Throne once and for all. Even if I’m wrong, I think there’s still a few insane things left to happen before the screen goes black for the last time. I know this season hasn’t quite met everyone’s expectations, but to be fair, we set the bar so freaking high I don’t think it could have ever pleased everyone. For me personally, I’m excited to see how the story ends.

What did you think of “The Bells”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts On: The Last of the Starks (GoT S8 E4)

My Thoughts on: The Battle of Winterfell (GoT S8 E3)

My Thoughts on: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (GoT S8 E2)

Film/TV Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

*note: very minor spoilers, but otherwise I did my best to avoid them.

Let me start this review by making one point clear: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is not a bad movie. In fact, there were times I quite enjoyed myself.  The first live-action Pokémon movie could have easily gone the way of so many other video game films and been so much worse.

But then again, it could have been a lot better too.

Sticking with the positive though, I have to say all of the Pokémon in the film are beautifully rendered. Each Pokémon looks real and believable, I’m not even upset there’s only 60 different species represented in the film (for context there are currently around 800 Pokémon). My particular favorites in the film are Charizard and especially Bulbasaur. I also surprisingly enjoyed Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu. I wasn’t sure about that in the beginning but it works.

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The film’s story is also a minor positive. Once you have all the core components, the film’s premise is essentially sound. We have a setting, a protagonist, a villain, and the villain’s motivations for doing what they do. We also have some convenient twists along the way along with a boy meets girl sort-of-romance angle that felt slightly forced. The problem is, the execution of this plot left something to be desired. Certain plot points are presented in such a convoluted manner that I was left asking questions in my head until almost the end of the film. I understand the writers were trying to create a sense of mystery, but as a result so much time was spent on a winding path of plot points that the story lost something. And while I liked most of the characters, I feel like more time could have been spent with the villain and the villain’s motivations. More character development would have made certain key scenes that much more impactful.

The film’s biggest weakness, for me at least, is the sheer amount of awkwardness. Early on, it felt like the actors were each interpreting the script differently. Some were playing it more or less straight, some were acting over the top, and this is one of the first times I can remember being distinctly aware of a lack of onscreen chemistry between certain characters. I think some of the scenes were meant to be awkwardly funny on purpose, but that kind of humor has never gone over well with me and the film would have been better without it.

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*minor spoiler for this next paragraph*

However, above all else, the thing that bugs me the most comes mid-way through the film when two characters go exploring in a certain rather dangerous area. The way these characters enter this area demonstrates such a lack of common sense and thinking that I was dumbfounded as the scene played out. I know these characters aren’t experts in investigation, but come on, EVERYONE knows you’re supposed to at least try to be sneaky about these things.

To conclude, I did enjoy Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, even though it didn’t blow me away. There’s certainly ample potential for a sequel and I’m not against seeing one made. Let me know what you thought about Pokémon: Detective Pikachu in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Film/TV Reviews

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