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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!

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

In this time of crisis, with all the issues the coronavirus is causing, it seemed like the perfect time to dive back into my backlog and do a series of movie reviews that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. Among these films is the sixth Pokémon film, Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker.

As with everything after the third Pokémon film, I had not seen nor really heard of this film before, so I was excited to see what this story was all about. The story is set during the sixth season of Pokémon: Advanced, and follows Ash and company as they encounter the mythical Pokémon Jirachi when the Millennium Comet swings by the Earth. Allegedly, Jirachi has the power to grant wishes, and there are not-so-friendly forces who want to get their hands on that power.

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I’ve never seen any of the Pokémon television series, so I wasn’t aware that the cast changed as time went on. While I was pleased to see Brock was still traveling with Ash, I was very disappointed that Misty isn’t around anymore. To me there’s no trio more iconic in this story than Ash, Misty, and Brock. May and Max were a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but I did feel Misty’s absence in the story. Also, pardon my ignorance, but is Team Magma supposed to be like Team Rocket? They sure act like Team Rocket (not Jessie, James, and Meowth but the sinister organization that Giovanni is in charge of). The further I get into the films, the more I’m convinced I really need to do some catching up on these old anime series.

Jirachi is one of my favorite parts of this film and he is adorable! I like how his “headdress” his shaped like a star to kind of correspond with the idea that he’s a living “wishing star.” If I had a Jirachi plushie I would hug him all day long, because he is that adorable. I also really adore his friendship with Max which is so sweet and wholesome that it makes the ending really hard to get through (seriously, what is it with Pokémon films making me cry by the end).

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I was relieved to see Team Rocket make their appearance known for a few minutes early in the story (trying to steal Pikachu again). This was a big step up compared to their appearance in the previous film, even though they didn’t do much except trail our heroes after that. I wish they would do more, but I’m glad the film at least included them, these stories don’t feel the same without Jessie, James and Meowth.

I really liked Butler, the would-be villain of this story. He’s introduced as a skilled magician, which he is, but he’s got one heck of a backstory that you do not see coming at first. I actually got really behind him because he’s the living embodiment of “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” and once he gets what he thinks he wants, he immediately does an about-face and is like “My God, what have I done?” No true villain would have that kind of reaction, so Butler is really alright. It’s one of those situations where you think you want something until you get it and you realize it’s actually a really, REALLY bad thing.

In conclusion, I think you’ll really like Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker. It’s a fun story, it’s got an adorable mythical Pokémon at the center of the action, and a fairly straightforward plot. Really, what more can you ask for from a story like this? Be sure to check this film out if you can.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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Soundtrack Review: Outer Wilds (2019)

Last year, composer Andrew Prahlow took us on a sonorous journey in Mobius Digital and Annapurna Interactive’s video game adventure through time and space – Outer Wilds. In the game, the player-character finds themselves on a planet with only 22 minutes before the local sun goes supernova and kills them. The player continually repeats this 22-minute cycle by learning details that can help alter the outcome on later playthroughs. Prahlow’s celebrated soundtrack accompanies players’ planetary expeditions with a tranquil mix of lulling synths and electronic reverie (and the catchiest banjo motif this side of the galaxy!).

 

Speaking about his approach to scoring the game, Prahlow had the following to say:

When asked to compose the music for ‘Outer Wilds’, I wanted to create a sense of simplicity and nostalgia as the player slowly becomes familiar with the world of the Hearthians. I immediately thought of an old beat up banjo that I had received as a gift a few years prior.

This main theme contrasted the melancholic textures of the Nomai [a technologically advanced alien race in the game] – where I crafted ambient soundscapes with guitar and synthesizers, heavily influenced by post-rock. As the player explores the solar system and the story moves forward, these textures become more complex, along with the campfire tunes that are the center of the score.

Having listened to the soundtrack, I have to say that the Outer Wilds soundtrack is not what I expected given the story is about an astronaut exploring a planet and an extinct alien civilization. The banjo dominates a large portion of the score, giving the music a very rustic sound that is, again, unexpected for the genre, but also comforting because it is familiar. And indeed, the main banjo theme for this score is very catchy, I really liked it. It’s subtle enough that you could listen to it during a long period of gameplay and not get tired of it.

I also feel it’s very interesting that Prahlow makes the score more complex the farther along you go in the story. It’s almost like musically rewarding the player by giving them new music as they explore new portions of the game. This is something I don’t recall seeing in other video games and I think it’s an interesting detail that sets this game apart in a good way.

Outside of the Main Theme, the score possesses a wide range of soundscapes, all cleverly executed and that give the impression of various places. For instance, “Space” and “The Sun Station” give off the vibe of being in the void of outer space. By contrast, “The Nomai” and “Nomai Ruins” are among the most melancholy in the entire score, echoing the demise of a long-dead civilization. Those last two are actually some of my favorite pieces in the score, they provide a great contrast to “Timber Hearth” and the game’s main theme. And finally, I have to give a mention to “Let There Be Light”, an all too short cue that fairly explodes (pun fully intended if you think about it) with sound and imagined light. It’s unlike anything heard in the score to date and was a very pleasant surprise given the overall tone of the score. I really liked that moment and it was a lot of fun to imagine what was happening in the game to create that kind of music.

All in all, you should definitely check out the score for Outer Wilds as it is very beautiful. In fact, for his work on this score, Andrew Prahlow has been nominated by both BAFTA and G.A.N.G. (Game Audio Network Guild) in multiple categories for his dynamic score for Outer Wilds. Prahlow’s score for Outer Wilds has previously won “Best Original Score” at Only Single Player’s Best of 2019 Awards.

Let me know what you think of Outer Wilds (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

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Soundtrack Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars-The Final Season (Episodes 1-4) (2020)

Now that we’re a third of the way through the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Disney has released the official soundtrack for the first four episodes. This covers soundtrack excerpts for “The Bad Batch”, “A Distant Echo”, “On the Wings of Keeradaks”, and “Unfinished Business.”

If you’ve been following the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+ then you know the music has been as brilliant as ever. There have been callbacks to some classic Star Wars motifs, and plenty of action as only composer Kevin Kiner can deliver it.

Kiner said (of this season): “It has been such a fantastic ride scoring ‘Clone Wars’ and working with Dave Filoni and George Lucas was a dream come true. I feel like season seven is everything we all wanted ‘Clone Wars’ to be, top to bottom.  From the music to the animation to the story lines to the directing, this is the show I always wanted to be a part of!”

The release dates for the remaining soundtrack releases are as follows (hopefully the coronavirus will not delay them):

4/10: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 5-8)
5/4: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 9-12)

 

Tracklist

  1. Star Wars Main Title & A Galaxy Divided
  2. Misplaced Hope
  3. Droids Approaching
  4. Clones Retreat
  5. Anakin and Padmé
  6. Chase in the Sky
  7. Poltechs
  8. Search Party
  9. Escape Route
  10. Walkers Battle
  11. Mission Begins
  12. Ticking Time Bomb
  13. Bad Batch Heroics
  14. Finest Troopers

Enjoy the new soundtrack release for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Bad Batch Theme” (2020)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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

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My Thoughts on: Onward (2020)

Onward is a film that I’ve been pretty excited about ever since it was announced because, let’s face it, in a world dominated by ongoing franchises, sequels, reboots, etc., you don’t see wholly original stories all that often. This is one such example and it lived up to pretty much all of my expectations.

The story is set in a fantasy world turned on its head. Imagine a world filled with unicorns, mermaids, elves, fairies, even manticores…but modernized. Instead of using magic, modern technology took over. Enter Ian and Barley Lightfoot (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt respectively), two brothers who have an amazing opportunity thrust upon them: the chance to be reunited with their late father for one day only. This revelation sends the brothers on an insane quest to achieve the impossible.

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I’m not sure where to even start because there is so much to love about Onward. First of all, Tom Holland and Chris Pratt are fantastic together. I’ll bet anything they recorded lines together because the chemistry between the two is off the charts. Also, there’s something just inherently funny about all of these fantasy creatures living in a modern suburban environment. I know this is hardly the first story to put fantasy creatures in a modern setting, but the way Onward does it is just a lot of fun. Outside of the Lightfoot brothers, my favorite character is the Manticore, she is in one of my favorite moments in the entire film.

The setting of New Mushroomton is beautifully rendered and contains a lot of Easter Eggs. I won’t spoil any of them but there’s one pretty early in the film that made everybody in the theater laugh. Also, fans of Dungeons and Dragons will likely love this movie because one of the major plot elements is basically straight out of a D&D book (the film doesn’t call it that but the reference is obvious). And the one spoiler I will mention: the fact that all of the spells in the roleplaying book are real is just funny.

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The quest, once it gets started, is mostly hilarious though (this being Disney/Pixar) there are some serious twists and turns before it’s all over. Onward deals several emotional gut punches, none of which I can discuss for spoiler reasons, but believe me when I say that you will need tissues before the end credits roll. It’s very satisfying to watch Ian and Barley grow throughout the story. The ending will probably surprise you, by the way, but I do understand why Disney/Pixar went the route they did. It’s very atypical for this kind of story, and it’s nice that the studio tried something new.

All in all, I highly recommend Onward to anyone wanting to have a good time at the movies. I would be more than willing to go see a sequel, as this is a world I very much want to visit again. Bravo to everyone who helped create such a beautiful story and bravo to Disney/Pixar for creating something original!

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

See also:

Animated 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

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “March of the Resistance” (2015)

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived at theaters in 2015, John Williams proved that he hadn’t missed a step by filling the film with all kinds of musical themes. Heroes and villains alike were given their own memorable themes. “March of the Resistance” is one of the heroic themes and was written for the Resistance as a whole, though I feel it could also be applied to certain characters. Check out “March of the Resistance” below:

This theme arrives for the first time in the midst of the Battle of Takodana, just as our heroes have been taken captive by the First Order. It starts as the camera turns and reveals Resistance X-Wings are racing towards the ruins of Maz’s Castle led by Poe Dameron.

“March of the Resistance” is one of the more “classic” Star Wars themes that John Williams created for The Force Awakens. By “classic” I mean that this theme could easily fit into the original trilogy with its jaunty bass tones and upbeat rhythms. Think about it, doesn’t this theme feel like it could apply to the Rebellion just as much as the Resistance? Not only that, but I really feel this theme could apply to Poe Dameron as his own personal theme. It fits Poe perfectly: it’s brash, it’s loud, and it just oozes confidence, all qualities that the future Resistance general definitely possesses. I’m not sure if Poe has his own theme or motif, but if he doesn’t, I’m probably just going to apply this theme to him from now on because it is just too perfect for him.

This theme recurs at several points in the sequel trilogy after debuting here, most notably in The Rise of Skywalker when the Resistance is departing to bring the fight to the Final Order. It’s a very versatile theme, good for playing over sections of the film that show the Resistance in action. It’s also quite memorable, as its one theme from the sequel trilogy that I’ve found myself humming from time to time.

I hope you enjoyed listening to “March of the Resistance” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Let me know what you think about this theme in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Kylo Ren’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Rey’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “Kylo Ren’s Theme (Redeemed Version)” (2019)

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: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

As my adventure through the Pokémon films continues, I made my way to Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias, the fifth Pokémon movie overall. This movie was released in 2002 and follows the adventures of Ash, Misty, and Brock in the town of Alto Mare (a place that bears a significant resemblance to Venice). This town is protected by two legendary Pokémon named Latios and Latias and, predictably, members of Team Rocket want these magnificent creatures for their own nefarious ends.

By and large I really liked Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias. Alto Mare is a beautifully rendered location with adorable Pokémon around every corner. There’s a fun opening scene with Ash and Misty taking part in a water-chariot race (Totodile is adorable). I was initially dismissive of the idea that there were Pokémon modeled after fighter jets, but that is indeed what Latios and Latias are and it just works! They’re incredibly cute (as most Pokémon are), and you can get a pretty good idea of what they’re saying to each other, an impressive feat since neither speaks a recognizable language. Also I think it’s really fun that Latios and Latias can take human form, though I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the human form of Latios.

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That being said…there were a few things that bothered me with this movie. First of all, there’s the extremely limited presence of Brock and Misty in the film. By and large, these two don’t do very much, especially compared to the previous four films. Ash does most of the work this time. And then there’s the almost complete absence of Team Rocket (Jessie, James and Meowth) from this story. Really, aside from a glorified cameo, they don’t play any part in this story whatsoever and I am not okay with this. Here’s the thing, if you aren’t going to involve this trio in the story, then don’t include them at all. For that matter, Annie and Oakley are okay villains (I especially like Oakley’s power trip at the climax of the film), but we don’t really know that much about them (and no, that one line about Giovanni is not enough, I want backstory for my villains).

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Ultimately, while I enjoyed Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias, it is inferior to the first Pokémon movie (which admittedly set a pretty high bar). However, don’t let that stop you from checking this movie out. As with any lengthy film series, there are highs and lows, and this one just isn’t the best (it’s still fun though!)

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure that’s Latias at the end of the film. I know it’s supposed to be up in the air, but I can’t see it being anyone else.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated 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

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Rey’s Theme” (2015)

This is my honest opinion: if you try to tell me there are no great musical themes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, then you haven’t been paying attention, because John Williams introduces a beautiful, original theme relatively early in the film. This is “Rey’s Theme” and it comes when, you guessed it, we first meet Rey living as a scavenger on Jakku.

 

The theme starts as Rey is leaving the ruins of the crashed Star Destroyer, having finished her work for the day. It starts off with a bit of whimsy, a soft chiming melody that soon grows into a flowing theme with the strings and woodwinds. This melody tells us several things: that Rey is young and idealistic (much as Luke Skywalker was many years ago), but also that she has her own inner strength even before she starts to use the Force. The former is heard in the opening part of the theme, and the inner strength is revealed when the strings come in, pushing the theme to new heights.

This original version of “Rey’s Theme” lays the foundation for several melodies to come in the sequel trilogy, particularly in The Rise of Skywalker. Williams will put this melody through several variations, altering it to meet Rey’s changing circumstances as the story progresses.

As a musical introduction to one of the most pivotal characters of the sequel trilogy, “Rey’s Theme” performs its purpose beautifully. This theme deserves to be remembered just as much as “The Force Theme”, “The Imperial March”, “Duel of the Fates” and any other classic Star Wars theme. For me, this theme is clear proof that John Williams is just as talented as ever when it comes to creating memorable film music themes.

I hope you enjoy listening to “Rey’s Theme” as originally heard in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, let me know what you think about it in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Kylo Ren’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “March of the Resistance” (2015)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “Kylo Ren’s Theme (Redeemed Version)” (2019)

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 🙂