Author Archives: Film Music Central

About Film Music Central

I'm a 30 year old musicologist and blogger and I've had a lifelong obsession with film music, cartoon music, just about any kind of music!

Soundtrack Review: Gemini Man (2019)

The soundtrack for Gemini Man is now available digitally on Paramount Music, and a CD release is forthcoming from La-La Land Records. Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move. The soundtrack features a robustly textured original score by Grammy-winning composer Lorne Balfe (Mission: Impossible – Fallout, 12 Strong).

“It was an absolute pleasure getting to collaborate with the masterful dream team – director Ang Lee and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Ang and I spent 4 days in the studio exploring themes with soloists playing live! He wanted a theme that portrayed the delicate relationship between Henry and Junior, so I did a theme that intertwines both melodically, as their bond grows stronger. Hope you all enjoy the thrill, as we unfold the mask behind Gemini Man.”

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My feelings about this soundtrack are decidedly mixed. While Gemini Man isn’t the worst soundtrack I’ve ever heard, it’s also not the best from this year either. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good action melodies in this soundtrack, and I really like how Balfe uses the strings to create driving rhythms. No, the problem I have with the soundtrack for Gemini Man is that so much of it sounds the same. There are minor variations sure, but by and large it’s all the same and that bothers me. When I listen to a soundtrack, I like hearing a wide range of sounds and melodies. And I just don’t hear that in the music for Gemini Man.

The soundtrack for Gemini Man is adequate and gets the job done, but it’s nothing that will blow you away. Let me know what you think about Gemini Man and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

Track List:
  1. Last Shot
  2. Burning The Past
  3. Are You DIA?
  4. First Confrontation
  5. Cartagena
  6. Bike Fu
  7. Catacombs
  8. I Know You Inside And Out
  9. Henry and Junior
  10. Fighting Gemini
  11. Teaming Up
  12. Don’t You Feel Pain?
  13. Verris
  14. A Perfect Version Of You
  15. Those Ghosts
  16. Thanks, Brother
  17. Gemini Man

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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The Nightmare Before Christmas “This is Halloween” (1993)

Here’s something I’m slightly ashamed to admit: to date, I have still not seen The Nightmare Before Christmas. I know it’s a classic, I know I should have seen it long since, but somehow I’ve just never gotten around to it, and I admit at this point I have no excuse. However, to somewhat make up for it, I thought I would start looking into the songs that appear in that film, some of which I am quite familiar with.

“This is Halloween” is the first major song that appears in the film, and as of right now is the song I’m most familiar with. It serves as our proper introduction to Halloween Town and its spooky denizens, where Jack Skellington rules as the Pumpkin King (it’s like Santa Claus and the North Pole, only everything is based around Halloween).

Boys and girls of every age
Wouldn’t you like to see something strange?
Come with us and you will see
This, our town of Halloween

This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night
This is Halloween, everybody make a scene
Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright
It’s our town, everybody scream
In this town of Halloween

I am the one hiding under your bed
Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red
I am the one hiding under your stairs
Fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair

This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!

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In typical Tim Burton fashion, the characters in Halloween town are all really creepy, but in an almost charming type of way. Even so, it’s probably for the best that I didn’t see this movie when it was new, because I can only imagine what younger-me would’ve thought of it all (I scared so easily at that age).

In this town, we call home
Everyone hail to the pumpkin song
In this town, don’t we love it now?
Everybody’s waiting for the next surprise

Round that cornerman hiding in the trash can
Something’s waiting now to pounce, and how you’ll…
Scream! This is Halloween
Red ‘n’ black, and slimy green

Aren’t you scared?

Well, that’s just fine
Say it once, say it twice
Take a chance and roll the dice
Ride with the moon in the dead of night

Everybody scream, everybody scream

In our town of Halloween…

I am the clown with the tear-away face
(deeper voice) Here in a flash and gone without a trace
I am the “who” when you call, “Who’s there?”
I am the wind blowing through your hair…
I am the shadow on the moon at night
Filling your dreams to the brim with fright!

This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!

Tender lumplings everywhere
Life’s no fun without a good scare

That’s our job, but we’re not mean
In our town of Halloween

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In this town, don’t we love it now?
Everyone’s waiting for the next surprise!

Skeleton Jack might catch you in the back and scream like a banshee, make you jump out of your skin
This is Halloween, everyone scream
Won’t ya please make way for a very special guy?
Our man Jack is king of the pumpkin patch
Everyone hail to the Pumpkin King now

This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!

In this town, we call home
Everyone hail to the pumpkin song

La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la, Halloween, Halloween! [Repeat two more times]
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…
Whee!

This song has to be one of the coolest introductions of a place and character (Halloween Town and Jack Skellington) that I’ve ever seen. Any time I listen to it, I’m instantly in the mood for Halloween (pity I’m too old to go trick or treating). And I have to say, for being made in 1993, the stop-motion animation in this scene holds up spectacularly well.

Let me know what you think about “This is Halloween in the comments below and have a great day! I’ll try to share more songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas this weekend.

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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My Thoughts on: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

One of the great things about October is that it’s now time for one of my favorite Peanuts animated specials, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I grew up watching the Peanuts holiday specials (this one, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas), and as a result I hold them all very close to my heart. While many think of A Charlie Brown Christmas as the Peanuts special, I think it could be argued that It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is just as good as its Christmas counterpart.

As you might guess from the title card, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is set on Halloween, as everyone gets ready to celebrate in their own way. One of the things I love best about this special is that Charlie Brown actually gets invited and goes to Violet’s Halloween party; just seeing his happiness at getting the invitation warms my heart every single time (being a victim of bullying, I’ve always taken issue with how Charlie Brown gets treated by the other kids). And, as usual, Linus is preparing to meet the Great Pumpkin, a Halloween entity similar to Santa Claus that only he believes in, much to Lucy’s embarrassment (and the amusement of everyone else).

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Part of what makes It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown so endearing is how much fun it is to watch. From the moment Linus and Lucy set out to choose a pumpkin, to the end when Linus vows to see the Great Pumpkin “this time, next year” the jokes and animated mayhem never really stop. The humor is innocent, pure, and a reminder of what it was like to celebrate Halloween as a kid, which is a big part of why I love it so much.

Of course, I can’t leave a review about It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown without discussing what happens with Sally and Linus. I can’t tell you how many years I felt terrible on Sally’s behalf: she ends up spending the entire night in the pumpkin patch, only for Linus to mistake Snoopy for the Great Pumpkin. Upon realizing that she’s missed Halloween for nothing, Sally lets loose on Linus in a tirade for the ages:

I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could’ve been out for tricks-or-treats! Halloween is over and I missed it! You blockhead! You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle! I didn’t get a chance to go out for tricks-or-treats, and it was all your fault! I’ll sue! What a fool I was! I could’ve had candy, apples, and gum! And cookies and money and all sorts of things, but no! I had to listen to you. You blockhead. What a fool I was. Trick-or-treats come only once a year. And I miss it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead.

YOU OWE ME RESTITUTION!!!

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(quick side note: Sally’s voice actress actually couldn’t pronounce “restitution” no matter how much she tried, so the sound people had her pronounce each individual syllable and then strung it together to make it sound like she says the word)

I can almost quote Sally’s diatribe from memory, but it never gets old. And the look on Linus’ face after Sally gets through with him has me in stitches every single time. There’s also the subplot of Snoopy pretending to be a World War I flying ace that is as brilliant as it sounds.

If you’ve never seen any of the Peanuts specials before, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown provides the perfect jumping off point. Despite being 53 years old, the special feels as fresh and funny as ever.

Let me know what you think about It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

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My Thoughts on: Captain Marvel (2019)

I know I’m 7 months late to the party but damn Captain Marvel was awesome!

Due to watching Avengers: Endgame earlier this year, I was already somewhat acquainted with Captain Marvel and her awesome powers, but I’d yet to see her origins explained. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I feel like a bit of a goof for avoiding the film for so long, because it really is a brilliant film.

Normally, I avoid origin films like the plague, because most of them have that “awkward phase” when the hero is just learning how to deal with their powers or situation (or a combination of both) and I find it all very difficult to watch. However, Captain Marvel takes the same road that Black Panther did last year: the awkward phase is skipped over entirely, with Carol’s origins explained in flashback form. This is a format I really like for origin films, because the awkward moment I was afraid of never arrived.

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And then there was the humor, which I didn’t see coming at all! Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson are incredibly funny when put together, and it makes me want to see more. All throughout the film are little funny moments that make you want to smile, and it’s yet another reason why I love this film. The other pairing that I found fascinating to watch was the interplay between Carol/Vers and Yon-Rogg. First of all, Jude Law is brilliant in that role. Second, I’m still trying to figure that guy out. I’ve been jumping back and forth in my opinion of Yon-Rogg since last night. While I initially thought he was just Carol’s well-meaning mentor, I quickly thought he was her mortal enemy the whole time. But then I thought about it, I mean really thought about it, and now I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. I think, on some level, Yon-Rogg does genuinely care about Vers/Carol, because at times he seemed genuinely conflicted. Considering he leaves the film very much alive, I imagine that situation will be resolved in Captain Marvel 2.

Also, on a quick side note, that little plot twist regarding the Kree and the Skrulls (and which ones are the bad guys) just about blew my mind. I did not see that coming, I really didn’t.

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But I think what I loved most in Captain Marvel was the evolution of Carol throughout the story. She started as a would-be Kree warrior struggling to fit in, and grows into this absolute badass who realizes she doesn’t have to justify her existence to anyone and the moment she came to that realization had me in tears because it was just so beautiful.

I’m so happy I finally made the decision to watch Captain Marvel, it is by far one of the best films in the MCU, and in my mind it also firmly cements Captain Marvel as one of my favorite Marvel superheroes. I can’t wait to see Carol’s story continue in the sequel (whenever it arrives). Let me know what you thought about Captain Marvel in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My thoughts on: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

My thoughts on: Black Panther (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War-Review (no spoilers)

My (spoiler-free) Thoughts on: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Film Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

 

Soundtrack Review: Euphoria (2019)

A soundtrack album featuring music from the first season of the HBO series Euphoria is now available from Milan Records, an imprint of Sony Music Masterworks. The album features music by multiplatinum-selling artist and producer Labrinth. Euphoria marks Labrinth’s first-ever project as lead composer. Written and recorded in close collaboration with the show’s writer Sam Levinson, his original compositions feature prominently throughout the series as a sonic companion to the show’s angst-driven narrative.  The resulting 26-track collection is a genre blending mix of gospel, soul and electronic influences, indicative both of Labrinth’s imitable style as well as the show’s deeply moving storyline.

Regarding the soundtrack album, Labrinth had this to say:

My experience with Euphoria has made me a better musician. It was a dream come true to give wings and add magic to the different storylines. It was a collaborative effort among Sam Levinson, the crew and the cast – I only added texture to an already phenomenal show. I hope that anyone who listens to the music embraces feeling something.

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Euphoria, if you didn’t know, follows a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media. It is an American adaptation of an Israeli show of the same name, and all episodes are written by Sam Levinson.

I haven’t seen the show myself, but having taken a peek at the soundtrack, I can say that the music is definitely interesting. It’s not traditional in the slightest, but that’s a good thing since I firmly believe that not all music should sound the same (for example, not all shows need to sound like Game of Thrones). If you’re a fan of Labrinth’s work, or just a fan of the series in general, I think you will like this soundtrack album very much.

Let me know what you think about Euphoria, and the soundtrack, in the comments below and have a great day!

EUPHORIA – SCORE FROM ORIGINAL HBO SERIES
TRACKLISTING –
1. New Girl
2. Formula
3. Preparing For Call
4. Forever
5. Planning Date
6. Nate Growing Up
7. Home From Rehab
8. We All Knew
9. Say Goodnight
10. Shy Guy
11. Following Tyler
12. Still Don’t Know My Name
13. Kat’s Denial
14. Slideshow
15. Family Vacation
16. Grapefruit Diet
17. WTF Are We Talking For
18. Euphoria Funfair
19. The Lake
20. Maddy’s Story
21. Demanding Excellence
22. McKay & Cassie
23. Gangster
24. When I R.I.P.
25. Arriving at the Formal
26. Virgin Pina Coladas

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Joker (2019)

The soundtrack for the recently released film Joker (starring Joaquin Phoenix) is now available via WaterTower Music. The Joker soundtrack album features an original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (Chernobyl, Sicario: Day of the Soldado), whose composition features the cello as the centerpiece of the score, leading string-based melodies played by a symphony orchestra of 90 musicians.

To interpret the many themes explored throughout the film, director Todd Phillips very early on turned to the composer. “Hildur was writing music as far back as pre-production. I was sending her script pages and she was writing music before we even shot, and what she did for the film is so unique,” says Phillips.

Regarding the soundtrack, composer Hildur Guðnadóttir had this to say:

Todd asked me to write some music based on my feelings from reading the script, which I was inspired to do because it truly resonated with me.” She sent him a sample and recalls, “The film is a gritty character study, which to me translated to melodies that are very simple and monotonic, because that’s kind of the way Joaquin’s character Arthur is seeing things.  Then I tried to expand within that simplicity the orchestration around Joker’s evolution not with chords or any complicated music, but with texture that I felt resonated with the melancholia of this character.

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Having listened to the soundtrack, I found myself slowly but surely drawn in by those monotonic melodies. The music feels so simple at first, but the more you listen, like in “Defeated Clown” the more you begin to get a sense of nuance. The cello really was a great choice, it’s an instrument with an incredibly wide range, and when it’s paired with the pounding drums, you can just feel the tension pouring out of the music. In one blow the music can leap from melancholy to a burning rage (“Following Sophie” contains a great example of rage in music). In fact, the music intrigues me so much, I’m nearly tempted to see the film to hear this music in context (though I think I’ll wait for the DVD release, I don’t think I can handle this film in theaters).

The point I’m trying to make is, I think Hildur Guðnadóttir has done something brilliant with the soundtrack for Joker. She’s taken very simple melodies and used them to slowly build up a musical impression of how Arthur, the man who becomes the Joker, views the world, and how he feels deep inside. And that’s the key here, you need to remember that the music, in many ways, IS Arthur. It’s mood matches Arthur’s moods (that’s my impression). And it’s so brilliant because, given that this is the Joker, you would think the character would have bombastic and swirling melodies to match. But no, that’s not it at all. Hildur hit on the reality that the Joker’s frame of mind is actually very simple (to him), and the music reflects that. This is definitely one of my favorite soundtracks of the year, and a must-listen for anyone who enjoys movie soundtracks.

Track List:
  1. Hoyt’s Office
  2. Defeated Clown
  3. Following Sophie
  4. Penny in the Hospital
  5. Young Penny
  6. Meeting Bruce Wayne
  7. Hiding in the Fridge
  8. A Bad Comedian
  9. Arthur Comes to Sophie
  10. Looking For Answers
  11. Penny Taken to the Hospital
  12. Subway
  13. Bathroom Dance
  14. Learning How to Act Normal
  15. Confession
  16. Escape from the Train
  17. Call Me Joker

Let me know what you think of the soundtrack for Joker, and the film itself, in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

My Thoughts on: Ad Astra (2019)

*minor spoilers may follow for Ad Astra*

Well that was…different.

There is no doubt that 2019 has been a really good year for science-fiction films. There was Alita: Battle Angel waaaaay back in the first part of the year; then there was High Life and Aniara, both amazing films in their own right. And now as the year begins to turn towards the end, we have Ad Astra, a film that’s been in the pipeline for quite some time. Having seen a wide variety of science-fiction films, both this year and in years past, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Ad Astra. But I think I’ve been spoiled by all the action flicks I’ve been watching as of late, because I definitely wasn’t expecting what I saw.

First, let me make one thing crystal clear: Ad Astra is a good film, it really is. The visuals are stunning, the cinematography is on point, and I actually like the voice-over from Brad Pitt’s character. That being said, this film is a lot more…cerebral…than what I was expecting. There are a few beats of action here and there, but most of the story is devoted to much deeper issues. This is a film designed to make you think about what exactly it is you’re being told (maybe not as much as Annihilation, but headed in that same direction).

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And what exactly are we meant to think of Ad Astra? What story is being given to us? Honestly, I’m still piecing that together, but I have managed to work out a few of the pieces. First of all, on the most simple level, Ad Astra looks at how humans affect outer space. The commercialization of the Moon, for example, was nailed so perfectly it physically hurt. There’s also the recurring trope, one I see in most science-fiction films, that points out in several ways that no matter how advanced our technology becomes, the lowest aspects of human nature (greed and a base desire for violence) will out in the end. But on that deeper level I alluded to before, Ad Astra looks at what outer space does to humans, in both good ways and bad. On the one hand, it’s not so bad to spend some time in the near infinite void, because it really gives you a sense of perspective for what matters (and this is what I believe happens to Brad Pitt’s character by the end). But on the other hand, there’s the opposite end of that spectrum, where humans become so wrapped up in exploring space that they forget where they came from, and are in fact driven to insanity after being in space for so long.

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Those thinking points aside, I should mention that Ad Astra is not without its flaws, most notably in the realm of physics. After all these years, it astounds me that films are still being made that lean on long since debunked film tropes (the one that annoys me the most involves explosions in space creating shockwaves, which is impossible in a vacuum). I understand films need moments of action now and then, but surely there are ways to create these moments while still obeying the laws of physics. Also, I feel like one section of the plot was almost completely unnecessary (I mean that little side trip to the Vesta en route to Mars). The rest of the film can be neatly compartmentalized into my mind, all except that part. That part feels like a relic from an earlier draft of the script when the film was meant to go in an entirely different direction. Seriously, cut it out and I don’t think you’d have noticed the difference.

Even with those issues, Ad Astra is a good film. I get the sense that this is a film that will reveal different messages and ideas each time you watch it. Do be sure to see this on the big screen if you can, these visuals were meant to be seen in the theater. There’s so much more I could say, but I think I need further viewings first.

Let me know what you think about Ad Astra in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook