Category Archives: Films

Danny Elfman talks Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

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Danny Elfman talks Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Oh dear…I actually had some hope for this sequel at first. When Alice Through the Looking Glass was announced, I felt excited because I’d enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and I was initially up for a return to this crazy world. And then the previews started and things got…weird (and I don’t mean weird in a good way).

The more I watched and learned, the more this felt like a re-hash of the first film (with Sasha Baron Cohen thrown into the mix). I’m not ALWAYS opposed to sequels, but if the best they can do is remix the original plot…then forget it!!

That being said, Danny Elfman DID return to score the film, so that is one positive in a film that largely disappointed. I hope you enjoy this brief interview with the composer.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Danny Elfman, see here

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Danny Elfman talks Alice in Wonderland (2010)

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Danny Elfman talks Alice in Wonderland (2010)

If I’m perfectly honest, Alice in Wonderland (2010) should be included in my “Didn’t Think I’d Like it (But I did!)” series because, well, I really didn’t think I would like it when the previews arrived. But during my spring break that year I went to see the film because a friend of mine wanted to see it and I actually enjoyed it.

This film is actually something of a sequel to the first Alice in Wonderland (1951) because Alice is now grown up and has all but forgotten her childhood adventure in Wonderland (renamed here as “Underland”). Finding herself on the cusp of being forcefully pushed into a marriage she doesn’t want, Alice unexpectedly returns to Wonderland/Underland, where, as it turns out, she must slay the Jabberwocky, defeat the Red Queen and return the White Queen to power. Mayhem and insanity ensues.

One of the highlights of this film is the musical score by Danny Elfman. The composer is well known for his collaborations with Tim Burton, and this effort is one of their more memorable efforts in recent years.

In the brief interview I found, Elfman briefly talks about his work on the film’s score (I always love watching interviews like this one, I just wish they could be longer!). I hope you enjoy this interview clip.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Danny Elfman, see here

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Thoughts on Sailor Moon R: The Movie

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On Saturday night I got to do something I never thought I’d get to do: see a Sailor Moon film in the theater!!!! Just last month, a brand new English dub of Sailor Moon R: The Movie was released for the very first time in North America. It was a LONG time coming (considering the film premiered in Japan in 1993) but for me, it was worth the wait.

The film is set after the initial adventures of Usagi and her friends (after we meet Chibiusa, but as far as I can tell, BEFORE we meet Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. At the very least, they don’t show up in the story). Usagi, Mamoru (her boyfriend), and the other Sailor Senshi are spending the day at the botanical garden when a strange man named Fiore arrives. He appears to know Mamoru, and says that he has come to fulfill a promise he made to bring him flowers.

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Fiore has a pretty intense entrance at the garden

It takes some time, but Mamoru eventually remembers that Fiore was a strange boy who showed up at the hospital shortly after his parents were killed in a car accident. They became friends very quickly, but Fiore was actually an alien being who couldn’t survive in Earth’s atmosphere for very long, so he had to leave. But before he left, he promised Mamoru that he would return with flowers for him (as Mamoru gave him a rose just before he left).

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Fiore

But (naturally) something is wrong: the flower Fiore has found is a Xenian flower, one of the most dangerous plants in the universe!! The bottom looks like a normal plant, but the middle of the bloom has the upper body of a woman!! The flower is dangerous because it latches onto weak-minded hosts (preferably humans) and feed off their energy, turning any fears into implacable paranoia and hatred. Wherever a Xenian flower goes, civilization inevitably collapses, with the destruction of the planet following shortly thereafter. Fiore is now firmly controlled by the Xenian, and is bringing an enormous asteroid containing THOUSANDS of Xenians towards Earth: if they successfully arrive, the human race will be annihilated, no matter what Sailor Moon or her allies tried.

To complicate matters, in an early battle, Mamoru (fighting as Tuxedo Mask) is critically wounded when he dives in front of Sailor Moon to save her from a killing blow launched by Fiore. The alien takes Mamoru back to the asteroid to heal him, and after deducing its location, the Sailor Senshi teleport there in pursuit.

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Fiore under control of the Xenian

Fiore, under the Xenian’s influence, cannot see why the Sailor Senshi are fighting so hard, as he believes (falsely) that they do not care about Mamoru, or anyone else for that matter. He spent so much of his life alone, that he believes no one can understand his loneliness, or why he needs a friend so badly. But a series of flashbacks reveal that the Sailor Senshi know exactly how Fiore feels, because they’ve all gone through it themselves. And the reason they fight so hard now is because Sailor Moon is the glue that holds them all together.

But despite this outpouring of love, Fiore won’t give up. Goaded on by the Xenian, he alters the asteroid’s course so that it will hit the Earth!! Assuming the planet isn’t completely destroyed in the process, the Xenian will take over whatever is left. Sailor Moon cannot allow this to happen, and she only has one course of action left: she activates the full power of the Silver Crystal (despite her friends begging her not to).

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Serenity using the Silver Crystal

Sailor Moon transforms into Princess Serenity and unleashes the Silver Crystal, which begins to break down the asteroid as it enters the atmosphere. Mamoru and the others lend their support, and it works….but the Crystal shatters as a result, and Sailor Moon is dead…or IS she? Just before he leaves, now free of the Xenian’s control (the Silver Crystal annihilated it), Fiore gives Mamoru the flower he promised: it holds the power of life inside it. This is used to revive Sailor Moon as Fiore flies back into space.

For the whole movie, I was sitting in my seat wide-eyed like a little kid. Sailor Moon is the very first anime I was ever exposed to, and so it has always held a special place in my heart. Sailor Moon R: The Movie is a great story, there are so many flashback clips that, even if you haven’t seen any of the regular episodes, I don’t think you would be lost if you just jumped into this film. The only part that bugs me is the ending: where is Fiore going? Will we ever see him again? It just feels so abrupt, that I wish the ending played out a little differently.

I can’t praise the new English dub enough, everyone captured their characters perfectly. And I totally geeked out for the transformation sequences (those were my favorite parts when I was a kid).

If this film is playing near you, I highly recommend going to see it. It’s playing for a very limited engagement (it only played two nights where I live) and I’m not sure how long it will last. Hopefully this means we’ll see the other Sailor Moon films (S and Super S) in theaters too someday πŸ™‚

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“Jyn Erso and Hope” from Rogue One, my thoughts…

I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since I saw Rogue One. Since then, I have been turning over portions of the score in my mind, particularly “Jyn Erso and Hope”, the main theme for our badass heroine.

From the moment I first heard it, something wiggled in the back of my mind and said “I’ve heard something like this before.” But for the longest time I couldn’t think of what that something was.

Then I went back and listened again, and finally it dawned on me: I know EXACTLY where I’ve heard this melody before (granted it wasn’t the exact same, but the core is still intact).

“Jyn Erso and Hope” is, to put it simply, a variation on “Across the Stars”, the love theme for Padme and Anakin from Episode II/III. Here, let the music speak for itself:

Here is “Jyn Erso and Hope”

and here is “Across the Stars”

To my ears, it sounds like Giacchino took components from “Across the Stars” and rearranged a few notes. But if enough of a similarity remains, the mind will remember and try to supply the missing parts (that’s how I knew I’d heard the theme somewhere else).

I don’t think there’s any hidden symbolism behind this, as it makes no sense for there to be any connection between Anakin/Padme and Jyn (though part of me does wonder if Jyn’s mother was a Jedi, she DID have a kyber crystal after all).

I’m not particularly surprised that Giacchino borrowed from another piece of Star Wars music; this is a practice that dates back to the dawn of film music (they don’t really talk about it, but everyone knows about it), but a part of me wishes that he had done a better job of disguising the theme if he wanted to do something like that.

I’m interested to hear what all of you think about this: do you hear the similarity? Or do you hear a connection to another piece? I love discussing film music like this πŸ™‚

Reaction to Oscar Nominations: Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana

I was so looking forward to checking out the Oscar nominations when I got back from my trip. In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten more and more into watching the Academy Awards and tracking which films win and which films don’t. And as I stated earlier, I had my own thoughts on who might get nominated for Best Original Score (the Academy Award I pay attention to the most); my favorites included Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings, which are (in my opinion) the best animated films I saw in the previous year.

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Well, the results are in and I am stunned, and slightly disgusted. But let’s start with the good news: Kubo and the Two Strings has been nominated for Best Animated Feature (and rightfully so) as well as Best Visual Effects (also rightfully so).

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Moana has also been nominated for Best Animated Feature (which I agree with) and the gorgeous song “How Far I’ll Go” has been nominated for Best Original Song. This makes me really happy because “How Far I’ll Go” is a great song, it’s the equivalent of “Let it Go” from Frozen, which makes me really confident that it could win the Oscar.

That’s the good news. Now for the bad news….

Neither film has been nominated for Best Original Score. The films that were nominated for Best Original Score are: Jackie; La La Land; Lion; Moonlight; and Passengers. Shockingly (or perhaps not), John Williams BFG score wasn’t nominated either, and Williams has been nominated fairly consistently over his career.But I digress…

I can (almost) understand why Moana didn’t get the Best Original Score nomination; it’s beautiful and amazing, but I can admit (reluctantly) that it wasn’t THE best score of them all. But I cannot accept that Kubo and the Two Strings wasn’t at the very least NOMINATED because…have you HEARD that score?? As I said before, the score for Kubo is refreshing in that it places traditional Japanese music front and center, with the shamisen providing the bulk of the melody. The Academy has made a serious mistake by not considering this film for the award.

And looking back at the ones that DID get nominated…will someone please tell me what is so great about La La Land? For the record, I have heard some of the music in question, and while it is good and serves its purpose, it’s not the BEST music I ever heard. And yet, somehow, this film has been nominated for FOURTEEN Academy Awards.

??????? Really?? I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. Maybe I will understand some day, but right now I’m just upset that a lot of great films are being snubbed by the Academy.

 

Thoughts on Suicide Squad (2016)

It finally happened: I actually caved and watched Suicide Squad, and boy oh boy do I have some thoughts on the subject.

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It happened towards the end of my little vacation trip; there was a screening of Suicide Squad that evening and I thought to myself “Well I don’t have anything better to do, why not?” The next thing I know, I’m over an hour in to the story and I’m HOOKED!

Yes, despite the flaws (and they were many), I found myself enjoying the story I was being fed, so I’ll start off by listing the positives:

  • Margot Robbie absolutely KILLED it as Harley Quinn. I could watch her all day long, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the full-length Harley Quinn film.
  • Will Smith was fantastic as Deadshot, I loved the prologue part where he’s demanding his money over the phone before he’ll do the hit. And based entirely on the scene with Deadshot and his daughter (when Batman arrests him), I want/need to see a full-length Deadshot film, and it must have Will Smith in it.
  • The visuals are out of this world! This is important for me, as I’m a visual-based person.
  • I like the look of Enchantress, both her initial look and her secondary look when her brother gives her some of his power so she’s not dependent on her heart.
  • And then there’s the Joker…I admit, I DID enjoy Jared Leto’s performance, what little of it we got to see anyway. I can’t pass a complete judgement on whether it was good or bad because he’s barely there as a character, but it definitely has the potential to be amazing (and definitely a unique spin on the legendary villain).

Those are the big good points for me, now for the not so good.

  • Here’s the thing with Suicide Squad: if you don’t THINK about what you’re seeing, it’s a great story. The problem comes when you think about the sequence of events, where these people come from, etc. and then issues start coming out of the woodwork. Everyone who says they should’ve done some standalone films before launching Suicide Squad are absolutely right. In fact, those “prologue” segments for most of the main characters look like they came from 5-6 separate films, and I desperately want to see more, because aside from the bigger characters like Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Killer Croc, I don’t really know who Captain Boomerang or Diablo are.
  • And then there’s the fact that not all of the characters get a backstory at all. Slipknot is literally introduced out of nowhere, and we don’t even get to know him before he (spoiler alert) dies in a rather gruesome fashion. And THEN there’s Katana, who is also brought in with ZERO explanation, which stinks because she looks really awesome!!
  • And speaking of explanations, I feel like they could’ve made a full-length Enchantress movie explaining how she and her brother came to our dimension, ruled the humans, were betrayed, etc. and such a film would’ve been really helpful in establishing her motives in this film. I mean we do get plenty of hints that the pair were worshipped as gods, that they’re very ancient, but in the end they were betrayed and trapped away, and now they want vengeance.
  • It really was a mistake to put the Joker in this film and NOT have him as the main villain. I know that was the biggest reason (among many others) that this film failed to impress. Because, let’s face it, the previews essentially promised a film where the main villain was the Joker!! And who doesn’t want to see that? Then we actually GET to the film and, even in the extended cut, the Joker has maybe ten minutes of screen time. Talk about a bait and switch!! It should’ve either been Joker as the main villain, or Enchantress as the main villain, but using both was a mistake (though I would’ve been okay if they had done the following: have Harley receive messages from the Joker periodically, but don’t actually show him. THEN, at the very end of the film, have the “Joker breaks Harley out of prison” scene play as normal and show the Joker as a teaser/hook for the inevitable sequel. You know, something to whet the appetite of the audience.

Suicide Squad is definitely not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but it does not meet its full potential either. That being said, it does solidly rank as a good popcorn film with me (that’s why I ran out and bought a DVD copy as soon as I got home from my trip). Hopefully Jared Leto gets to reprise his Joker role in the future so I can form a better opinion of his performance.

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Reaction to final Logan (2017) trailer

This week saw the debut of the final trailer for the upcoming film Logan (2017), the final outing of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and the last time we’ll see Patrick Stewart play Professor X (both have played their respective roles since X-Men (2000)).

Final Trailer for Logan (2017): contains violence and swearing

*deep breath* HOLY SH**!!!!!!! Insert any other bleep you’d like, and that about sums up my reaction to this trailer.

I’m so excited to see X-23 brought to life on the big screen. I first became aware of her about two years ago when she showed up in a Black Widow comic (set not long after Wolverine’s “death” in the Marvel Universe). And right now I have to say that the shot of her claws slowly extending as she stalks forward is one of my favorite images. She’s little, but she is NOT to be trifled with.

I’m really looking forward to the relationship that will build between X-23 and Logan, because according to the trailer, Logan doesn’t seem too keen to help (at first anyways). I know a lot of people are speculating that Wolverine is going to die by the end, and I have to say, they might be right. I feel a little torn on this: on the one hand, having Wolverine die would provide a conclusive end to his character’s arc (and it’s not like he’s coming back for another sequel), but at the same time…I don’t WANT to see him die. I know he’s just a fictional character, but of all the X-Men, Wolverine is particularly “real” to me. I’m not sure why, I just identify with him the most, so I know if he does die, watching it happen will be painful for me. I would actually love it if the film ended with Logan and X-23 driving off into the sunset (and I’m perfectly okay if they make a later film with a teenage or a fully grown X-23, because let’s face it, that would be awesome).

Logan premieres on March 3rd, so we don’t have that much longer to wait.

One last note: I love how Logan pulls the girl back from attacking the clerk and he’s like “Not okay!!!” I loved that.

Okay, I mentioned this yesterday and I’ll say it one more time in case anyone missed it: tomorrow I’m leaving on a trip and I won’t be back until the 28th. And when I say I’m on a trip, I mean I will be completely away, no internet access or nothing, so I won’t be able to check my email, respond to comments or anything. I just wanted to make sure everyone knew. Have a good weekend, and have a great week next week πŸ™‚ -Becky

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