Category Archives: Films

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace “Augie’s Great Municipal Band” (1999)

Star Wars is known for many things, but one of my favorites is the many great musical moments that define each of the films in their own way. In the prequel trilogy, one of my favorite moments comes at the very end of The Phantom Menace when everyone gathers in The (capital of Naboo) to celebrate their victory over the Trade Federation and the new alliance between the Gungans and the people of Naboo.

 

During “Augie’s Great Municipal Band”, the Gungans march up the main boulevard of Theed to the steps of the palace, celebrating all the way, while Queen Amidala waits for them along with a host of important characters (the Jedi council and the newly-elected Chancellor Palpatine among them). “Augie’s Great Municipal Band” has a bouncing melody that appears to perfectly reflect the excitement of the moment. But there’s a secret here, courtesy of John Williams.

Listen to this melody in the video above, listen to it very carefully. Do you hear it? Don’t feel bad if you can’t, I didn’t know this existed until I was told about it. Pay attention to the children’s choir, does it sound at all familiar? In a way it should, they’re actually singing the Emperor’s theme in a major key (it’s usually minor) and at least double the speed. That’s right, John Williams hid the Emperor’s theme in a scene of celebration as an extremely subtle bit of foreshadowing that Palpatine is literally controlling all of this. It’s downright spooky once you make the connection, not to mention it makes you view this “celebration” in a completely different light. Everything is going according to Palpatine’s plan, and the Jedi are already doomed, even though they appear to be stronger than ever.

 

Of all the musical foreshadowing John Williams has done in the Skywalker Saga, this is among the most subtle. Be sure to think about this the next time you watch the conclusion of The Phantom Menace, you’ll never look at that scene in the same way ever again.

Let me know what you think about “Augie’s Great Municipal Band” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Star Wars: A New Hope “The Throne Room” (1977)

Given the enormous amount of music that John Williams has composed for Star Wars over the decades, it stands to reason that some pieces will be remembered more than others. One piece that might not be remembered as much as it should is “The Throne Room”, the fanfare that concludes Episode IV before the credits begin to roll. To put it in context, the Death Star has been blown up, the surviving heroes have returned in triumph, and now it’s time for our heroes to receive their reward from Princess Leia:

 

It’s a stirring fanfare to be sure. As the heroes stride down the aisle to where Princess Leia and the other Rebel Alliance leaders are waiting, you hear a heroic version of “The Force” theme backed up primarily by the brass (and supported by the strings underneath). This music has all the makings of a climactic ending, and originally that’s what it was supposed to be. Remember, at the time the score was composed, there was no guarantee that there would be any sequel to Star Wars, let along a decades-spanning franchise that shows no sign of slowing down. With that in mind, it’s my understanding that the decision was made to give Star Wars as “final” sounding of an end as possible, just in case this was all she wrote and the film bombed at the box office (an idea that sounds laughable now but was a distinct possibility at the time).

“The Throne Room” is designed to bring the story of Star Wars to a close without the aid of dialogue. It tells us all we need to know: the heroes have done what they needed to do, now they can take a breath and celebrate their victory. And if this had been all there was, anyone could say this piece of music brings Star Wars to a thrilling conclusion. But of course, history tells us this was only the beginning for Star Wars. That being said, it doesn’t change the fact that “The Throne Room” is a beautiful piece of music, one that all fans of film music should take a few minutes and listen to.

Let me know what you think of “The Throne Room” 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

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

I skipped ahead slightly in my exploration of Pokémon films and next went to Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, the ninth Pokémon film. Notably, this is the first film in the series to feature an all-new voice cast (no Veronica Taylor, no Eric Stuart, etc.) and boy does it show. After listening to six straight films with the same general voice actors it was jarring beyond belief to hear these different voices. But I digress, on to the story!

Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea follows Ash, May, Max and Brock as they find themselves teaming up with Pokémon Ranger Jack Walker as the latter seeks to return the mythical Pokémon Manaphy to the legendary Temple of the Sea all while attempting to prevent a dastardly pirate from claiming the equally legendary Sea Crown. (On a side note, I couldn’t help but think about how much Misty would’ve loved Manaphy and the Sea Temple given her affinity with Water-type Pokémon).

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Jarring voice cast aside, I really like this story. Water-type Pokémon have been among my favorites and this film is full of them. Plus, there’s some fantastic CGI animation of coral reefs and various sea life that is really well done. And of course I have to mention the Temple of the Sea is beautifully rendered as well. This is a place that I wish existed in real life and as crazy as it sounds, it was kind of giving me Castle in the Sky vibes with the architecture (that’s a good thing).

At last, after several films of wanting more Team Rocket, I finally got my wish!! Naturally Jessie, James and Meowth are after Manaphy once they learn of its existence, being the implacable treasure hunters that they are. They briefly manage to get their hands on the creature but the consequences are hysterical. I love Team Rocket so much, they always make me laugh.

And then there’s Phantom the Pirate, the big antagonist of the story. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not (I have a hard time gauging humor sometimes) but this guy made me laugh so many times. The way he talks, the way he acts, I just could not be scared of him because he’s so over the top. To be honest, the first time I saw him, I was reminded of One Piece (you know, cause he’s a pirate?). He also has the shortsightedness typical of most Pokémon movie villains, in that he’s so focused on acquiring the Sea Crown he’s completely ignorant of the consequences that come with seizing it (either that or he doesn’t care). On the flip side, maybe it was Jack Walker’s English voice actor but he kept coming across as super gung-ho from time to time (mostly when he called in to headquarters to give status reports). Let’s just say he had his own over the top moments that had me rolling my eyes (it’s a kids movie though so I’m not going to nitpick that much).

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I will say also that the Sea Crown is probably not what you’re expecting it to be. I know I was taken aback by what it actually was (how IS one supposed to “wear” it??). That being said, I can’t really say anything bad about the story, it was fun, it was tear-jerking (yet another Pokémon film that made me cry), and if you’re looking for a good time you’ll definitely find it with this story.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea 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: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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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: 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)

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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

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