Category Archives: Films

Frozen II “Into the Unknown” (2019)

*warning: spoilers for Frozen II below

The other song that I really liked the most in Frozen II is “Into the Unknown”, Elsa’s first big solo in the story. In this song, Elsa addresses the mysterious voice that has been calling her in a voice that only she can hear. The song takes place late at night when everyone is asleep, everyone except Elsa, who can’t sleep due to the voice’s incessant calling.

Ah ah, ah ah
Ah ah, ah ah
Ah ah, ah ah ah ah

I can hear you but I won’t
Some look for trouble
While others don’t
There’s a thousand reasons
I should go about my day
And ignore your whispers
Which I wish would go away, oh oh

Ah ah, ah ah

Oh

Ah ah ah ah, ah

frozen2-into-the-unknown.jpg

Now what’s interesting about this song is that Elsa is turning the conventions of this song-type onto its head. Most Disney characters would simply sing about how they’re curious about this voice and want to go on an adventure. But Elsa openly defies this idea, saying “I’ve HAD my adventure (i.e. the first Frozen), go bother somebody else.” And yet, at the same time, Elsa also verges into traditional territory, admitting that she wants to follow the voice, but she’s afraid of the consequences. And this fear is understandable, since Elsa is queen and she has an entire country to think about.

You’re not a voice
You’re just a ringing in my ear
And if I heard you, which I don’t
I’m spoken for, I fear
Everyone I’ve ever loved is here within these walls
I’m sorry, secret siren, but I’m blocking out your calls
I’ve had my adventure, I don’t need something new
I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you

Into the unknown
Into the unknown
Into the unknown

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah

Ah

Ah ah ah ah, ah, ah

What do you want? ‘Cause you’ve been keeping me awake
Are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?
Or are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me?
Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?
Every day’s a little harder as I feel my power grow
Don’t you know there’s part of me that longs to go

Into the unknown?
Into the unknown
Into the unknown

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Another detail I like about this song is how Elsa imitates the voice at the end of each verse (the third time she sings “Into the Unknown” her voice ululates like the voice, showing how it’s slowly but surely influencing her).

Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah

Whoa oh oh
Are you out there?
Do you know me?
Can you feel me?
Can you show me?
Ah ah ah ah

Ah ah ah ah

Ah ah ah ah

Ah ah ah ah

I also really like the sequence where Elsa…for lack of a better description enters the magic world where her ice magic seems to come alive around her. Apparently this somehow grabs the attention of the spirits (according to Elsa’s own explanation moments after this song ends) but I still don’t entirely understand how that happened. Storytelling issues aside, the “magic world” is beautifully rendered, and provides a brilliant example of how Elsa is literally getting lost in her magical abilities.

Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah

Where are you going?
Don’t leave me alone
How do I follow you (Ah ah ah ah, ah ah ah ah)
Into the unknown? (Ah, ah, ah!)

Having listened to this song a number of times, I can see why people are comparing it to “Let it Go” from the first film. It’s definitely a similar song in style, but the tone, to me, is different. “Let it Go” was about Elsa proclaiming her new identity and letting go of the past. “Into the Unknown” is about Elsa hesitating to follow a destiny that might take her away from all that she knows and loves, quite a different story than the first song. But while different, I don’t love it any less, and in fact I really enjoy the back and forth that Elsa has with the voice by the end of the song.

Let me know what you think about “Into the Unknown” and Frozen II in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Frozen II “Show Yourself” (2019)

My Thoughts on: Frozen II (2019)

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

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Frozen II “Show Yourself” (2019)

*WARNING: major plot spoilers for Frozen II. DO NOT continue if you haven’t seen the film yet!

Of all the songs featured in Frozen II, one of my immediate favorites was “Show Yourself”, a song that comes late in the film as Elsa sets off to discover just who has been calling her and upending her life as the queen of Arendelle. After (literally) harnessing the Nokk, the water spirit, Elsa rides across the Dark Sea to Ahtohallan, a river of memory preserved in the form of a glacier.

Every inch of me is trembling
But not from the cold
Something is familiar
Like a dream I can reach
But not quite hold

I can sense you there
Like a friend I’ve always known
I’m arriving, it feels like I am home
I have always been a fortress
Cold secrets deep inside
You have secrets too
But you don’t have to hide

Show yourself
I’m dying to meet you
Show yourself
It’s your turn

Are you then one I’ve been looking for all of my life?!
Show yourself!
I’m ready to learn…
Ah-ah-ah-ah

Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah

So far so good. This feels like we’re finally reaching the true climax of the story and rightly so. This voice has haunted Elsa since the beginning of the story, and now it appears that we’re finally going to see who this voice belongs to. And it appears that the owner of the voice is close at hand as Elsa chases it farther into the ice.

I’ve never felt so certain
All my life I’ve been torn
But I’m here for a reason
Could it be the reason I was born?
I have always been so different
Normal rules did not apply
Is this the day?
Are you the way
I finally find out why!!?

Show yourself!
I’m no longer trembling!
Here I am
I’ve come so far!
You are the answer I’ve waited for
All of my life!

Oh, show yourself
Let me see who you are…
Come to me now
Open your door
Don’t make me wait
One moment more!

Right about now, however, is where things began to go slightly sideways for me. On its own, I absolutely love every moment of this song. However, taken in context with the film, this part doesn’t make too much sense. Of course I see the revelation they’re going for, that Elsa is the 5th spirit, but at this point in the story I have no idea how we’ve gotten to that point. And the fact that I’m aware of this during the song made it lose just a little something for me (beautiful moment though it is).

Oh, come to me now
Open your door
Don’t make me wait
One moment more!

Where the northwind meets the sea

(Ah-ah-ah-ah)

There’s a river

(Ah-ah-ah-ah)

full of memory

And of course this is the moment where I (temporarily) put aside my confusion and just completely teared up. This moment is beautiful, with the song coming in, and Elsa somehow coming face to face with the spirit of her mother. I don’t understand how this is possible (and it could have been slightly better explained), but it is.

Come my darling, homeward bound

I am found!

Show yourself!
Step into your power
Grow yourself
Into something new

You are the one you’ve been waiting for

All of my life

All of your life

Oh, show yourself

You

Ah-ah-ah-ah!
Ah-ah-ah-ah
Ah-ah-ah-ah
Ah-ah-ah-ah
Ah-ah-ah-ah!!!

Despite a few storytelling flaws, “Show Yourself” remains a powerful song and one of my favorite moments in the entire film. Let me know what you think about “Show Yourself” in Frozen II and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Frozen II (2019)

Frozen II “Into the Unknown” (2019)

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

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

An Interview with Paul Mills, Composer of Overcomer (2019)

Last month, I had the honor of interviewing film composer Paul Mills, a composer who has worked on a number of films, including War Room (2015), Still Breathing (1997), and Sweet Sweet Summertime (2017).  This interview had to do with one of Paul’s most recent works, his score for Overcomer (2019), a film directed by the Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the same minds behind War Room four years earlier.

The plot of Overcomer follows several characters, including John Harrison (Alex Kendrick), who is a basketball coach at a high school. Due to the closure of businesses in the city and the departure of several families, he agrees to be the running coach for Hannah Scott (Aryn Wright-Thompson) who is an asthmatic. Hannah’s sporting journey will be accompanied by a self-discovery that will answer a question that has been a concern for her for a long time.

I hope you enjoy this short interview with Paul Mills, composer of Overcomer.

How did you get started with composing for films?

It was a long journey, I always loved music growing up. My dad had some films that had music he loved, he had some Henry Mancini scores, Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone; I became fascinated with what the music in a film could do. And then through school I was involved in music; I went to the University of Houston to get a degree in composition, and while I was there I started working at a recording studio. I started learning more about how to arrange strings for pop music, and how to work with artists and record companies. And there was a guy there who worked with documentaries and short films who ended up going to Los Angeles with a script he’d written, and ultimately arranged for me to score the project. That experience is what hooked me [into film composing], even though it was 12 years between that score and my next composing project.

How did you become connected with Overcomer, and what did you think of the film’s story?

After War Room, I’d been throwing hints around [about working with the Kendrick brothers again]. Finally, I was in a Publix grocery store, and I got a call and it was Stephen Kendrick on the phone. He said “We want you to do the movie, and here’s what it’s about.” And it was like a twenty minute space where he told me the whole story arc of the movie. By the time he described a critical scene at the end of the film to me, I was jumping up and down I was so excited to score it, it was such an awesome sounding scene. That’s how it happened, [the Kendrick brothers] were happy with War Room so they wanted me for Overcomer.

Was it easier working on Overcomer because you’d worked with the Kendrick brothers before for War Room?

It was. We already had a shorthand, and we had this program where I can upload scenes from the movie-in-progress with my music embedded into it. And with a set of earbuds [the Kendrick brothers] can watch the scene with music on their iPhones, and comment on it in real time. It was really easy then, because we didn’t have to try to figure each other out. For example, I know that the brothers love films with “hummable” themes, they want the audience to be humming those themes as they leave the theater, and as a composer I love that! My job was made easier because I already knew that.

On a related note, how is that story reflected in the film’s score? Is it?

Well, the way the music came about, you see there’s a long race scene at the end. And I sat down with the director’s to watch a rough cut of the movie (that’s called the spotting session). Long story short, once we got to the end of that, we thought “this scene is so critical, maybe we should start here.” I spent a couple of weeks trying to put things together and then I realized “I CAN’T do this scene yet, because I don’t know what the other thematic material is going to be.” I already knew in my head that I wanted to have an “Overcomer” theme, because the movie is basically about finding your identity in Christ, and overcoming the obstacles along the way. So…once I realized I needed thematic material, I went back to the beginning of the story and wrote the Overcomer theme. After that, I jumped to Hannah’s theme, and went on from there.

I haven’t seen many film score tracks that are 11 minutes long, what was it like putting such a lengthy track together?

It was actually way easier [to write] once I had my thematic material, because a lot of stuff happens during that scene. Having the thematic material definitely made it easier, because this is Hannah’s big race. And there are big areas in the track, and slow areas, and the slow areas happen when there’s a lot of dialogue. That is a scene where people are actually yelling at the screen in theaters. And there was just nowhere that the music could break because it was one long race. The music had to go all the way through it. I was really happy with the way it came out, with the ebbs and flows and the climax at the end. It really works with the scene, and it stays out of the way of the dialogue when it needs to.

What do you want audiences to take away with them when they hear this music?

When people see this movie I want them to realize that they can find their identity and their meaning in something more important than a number of things that we normally attach meaning to, whether it’s a career, or worrying about our finances, or having family problems. This movie talks about finding your identity in Christ, and I think the Kendrick brothers have done a really great job showing people that there are answers that you can find. So I want people to be uplifted by the music, so that they’re lighter walking out of the theater than when they came in.

I’d like to say thanks to Paul Mills for taking some time out of his day to speak with me about his work on Overcomer.

See also:

Composer Interviews

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: Little Women (2019)

The soundtrack for Sony Picture’s Little Women will be available on all formats starting December 13th, and can currently be preordered. The soundtrack for Little Women was composed by Alexandre Desplat, known for previous works like Godzilla (2014), Isle of Dogs, The Golden Compass, and The Secret Life of Pets, just to name a few.

Of the soundtrack for Little Women, composer Alexandre Desplat says:

“To capture the life of these four young girls on their path to adulthood, I have called in the four hands of two pianists. They are surrounded by a chamber orchestra, which keeps us in the intimate world of these ‘little women.’  We recorded the score in New York City with the most wonderful musicians whose musicality and virtuosity went beyond my expectations.”

“Working with him has been a dream,” adds Greta Gerwig of working with Desplat on the score.  “From the first sketches he sent me to listening to him record the glorious score with an orchestra in New York, every step of the process has been a joy. He has taught me how to work with a composer: how to listen, how to give notes, how to wait for it to develop, how to step away, how to dive in. I am a better filmmaker for having worked with him, and I sincerely hope that it is not the last time.”

“For Little Women, Greta envisioned a musical without lyrics. From the beginning, Alexandre had to be the musical voice of the film,” says Spring Aspers, President of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, Music. “The resulting score is both dynamic and intimate making it the perfect complement to this exquisite retelling. I can’t wait for audiences to come together to experience this film.”

Be sure to pick up a copy of Alexandre Desplat’s soundtrack for Little Women when it becomes available on December 13th, 2019. And be sure to go see Little Women when it arrives in theaters on December 25th.

Once you see Little Women and hear its soundtrack, let me know what you think about it in the comments below. Also, are you excited to see this movie? Let me know what also in the comments and have a great day!

LITTLE WOMEN (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –
1. Little Women

2. Plumfield

3. The Beach

4. Christmas Morning

5. Dance On The Porch

6. Ice Skating

7. The Book

8. Father Comes Home

9. Christmas Breakfast

10. Amy

11. Friedrich Dances With Jo

12. Telegram

13. Theatre In The Attic

14. Laurie Kisses Amy

15. Friedrich

16. Laurie And Jo On The Hill

17. Young Love

18. Meg’s Dress

19. Carriage Ride

20. Laurie

21. The Letter

22. Snow In The Garden

23. Jo Writes

24. Amy, Fred, Meg And John

25. Dr March’s Daughters

26. It’s Romance

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: 21 Bridges (2019)

The original motion picture soundtrack for 21 Bridges is available now from Sony Music Masterworks. The soundtrack was composed by Henry Jackman and Alex Belcher (previous collaborations include Captain America: Civil War, Jack Reacher and Io); the pair drew inspiration from the grittier, more nuanced, and classically-influenced scores of film noir and action cinema of the 1950’s-70’s. The intensity they deliver in their score for 21 Bridges creates a unique and gripping original soundtrack hearkening back to these nostalgic movies of yesteryear while still forging new ground in contemporary composition.

Of the soundtrack, composer Henry Jackman had this to say:

“Writing the score for 21 Bridges in collaboration with Alex was immensely fun and creatively rewarding.  The fact that we, along with Brian Kirk and Joe Russo, had such a specific aesthetic in mind, made it all the more interesting.  The idea was respectfully to derive some influence from the Bernard Herrman-era of film scoring and fuse that influence with contemporary composition and recording techniques.  I think we ended up with quite a brave and musically opinionated result.  Working with Brian and Joe was a pleasure and collaborating with Alex was also fantastic since not only was he a keen student of the original’s Herrman scores, but also he is a great guitarist and bass player, with an ear for an authentic tone, all of which contributed greatly to the score.”

Co-composer Alex Belcher added:

“Writing music for film is a uniquely rewarding artistic expression. As the composer, you act as a guide for the audience, leading them through the story and giving them information they aren’t necessarily seeing on screen.  Writing the score for 21 Bridges was even more rewarding because the film offered us the chance to do this sort of storytelling in a way that payed homage to some of the great film scores of the 1970’s. It was, truly, a wonderful endeavor.”

21 Bridges follows an embattled NYPD detective (Chadwick Boseman), who is thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers after uncovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy. As the night unfolds, lines become blurred on who he is pursuing, and who is in pursuit of him. When the search intensifies, extreme measures are taken to prevent the killers from escaping Manhattan as the authorities close all 21 BRIDGES to prevent any entry or exit from the iconic island.

It’s intriguing that Jackman and Belcher looked to the past, particularly to Bernard Herrman, when they put the score for 21 Bridges together. That would make the soundtrack a distinctive blend of past and present (Herrman’s scores almost always stood out). For that reason alone, I recommend checking out the soundtrack to 21 Bridges if you get the opportunity.

Let me know what you think about 21 Bridges (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day! The soundtrack is available for purchase now!

21 BRIDGES (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –
Prelude
Radio Chatter
Mosto’s
Cocaine Shootout
Speed Cam
Aftermath
Hawk
Chinatown
That Leaves Manhattan
Meet The Preps
Pan Am Club
Close The Island
Thumb Drives
See You In Miami
Guys Like Me
Bring Him In Alive
Hostage
Coolhand
Foot Chase
Grand Central
Look The Devil In The Eye
Epilogue

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: Steven Universe: The Movie (2019)

*warning: minor spoilers for Steven Universe: the Movie

Given how much I was looking forward to Steven Universe: the Movie, part of me finds it really funny that I completely forgot the movie was getting a DVD release until I stumbled across a copy at the store. Of course as soon as I saw it my first thought was “I need to get this!” because, due to having no cable, I actually hadn’t seen the movie yet. And trust me when I say, buying the film on the fly was totally worth it.

As beautiful as the movie is, Steven Universe: the Movie is also another reminder that the story of Steven Universe is slowly winding down to a close. After five seasons of fighting evil and saving the world, Steven has grown into a 16 year-old who bears only a passing resemblance to how he looked for most of the series. Also? Steven’s voice is much, much deeper, and that took some getting used to for me.

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Speaking of changes, this movie is all about change and how necessary it is, even if it’s completely unwelcome. The movie opens with Steven and the Crystal Gems completely content with the life they’ve built on Earth after the events of season 5 (which I won’t mention because I don’t dare spoil it). However, since this IS Steven Universe, it doesn’t last long, and once again Steven is forced to deal with something that Pink Diamond did in the past. This part of the story is actually really sad, and I’m having a really hard time liking Pink Diamond right now due to what she did.

Spinel, the villain for most of the story, is one of the most tragic characters I’ve seen in all of Steven Universe. She was only doing the job she was created for, and then….THAT happened to her. It’s no wonder she’s angry, she has a right to be angry. And what she does to Steven and the Crystal Gems is not only cruel, it’s proof positive that we should never take the way things are for granted, because it change, permanently, at a moment’s notice.

Steven Universe (main)

As with everything in Steven Universe, the movie is filled with songs that are memorable and catchy, just what you’d expect from Rebecca Sugar. I highly recommend checking out the soundtrack if you get the chance. There are songs everywhere, in fact, I almost feel like there are too many songs, because at times there’s one song, a beat, and then a second song begins. That doesn’t really bother me per se, but it might bother some.

Steven Universe: the Movie is a really fun movie. There are twists, highs and lows, and one surprise in particular had me gasping in surprise. And in the end, I felt extremely satisfied as the credits rolled. I’m still not ready to say goodbye to Steven Universe, but at least there’s still a little bit of story left to tell in Steven Universe Future.

Let me know what you think about Steven Universe: the Movie in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Admitting I was wrong about Steven Universe (2013-present)

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

 

My Thoughts on: Frozen II (2019)

*warning: potentially minor spoilers for Frozen II below

I’ve been looking forward to Frozen II for a really long time, so much so that the first teaser convinced me to sit down and watch the first Frozen film earlier this year. Given how much the original film blew me away, I was really excited to see if the sequel would do something similar. And while Frozen II is a great film, I will say right from the start that it is not as good as the original.

Frozen25d68425185100.jpg

I say that because Frozen II, a great film as I said before, doesn’t quite hit the mark with its plot. In broad strokes the story is great. Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven are pulled into an adventure that threatens the very existence of Arendelle. Going to the far north, they find an enchanted forest locked away by a barrier of mist due to something mysterious that happened over thirty years earlier. Our heroes must uncover what really happened and make it right in order to free the forest and the people trapped inside. Thus far, the story is great. It’s in the details though, where things begin to slip. The story takes some…unexpected turns. Some of them make sense, others don’t, and if you’re not closely following along you might lose track of what’s going on.

One twist that isn’t explained very well is what happens with Elsa. The film almost explains why these things are happening to Elsa, but it doesn’t quite get there. I think I understand what happened where Elsa is concerned, but I don’t know for sure, and that’s a problem. One twist in particular, at the end of “Show Yourself” (a beautiful song by the way, I was crying by the end), had me wanting to scratch my head because I didn’t understand how we got to this point. It’s almost like the filmmakers skipped over a plot point in their haste to get to an admittedly beautiful moment.

FROZEN II-title-small.jpg

Those issues aside, Frozen II is beautiful to look at. The animation has evolved by leaps and bounds, with some startling and amazing effects that make everything feel so alive. I really like the “moments in time” and I thought it was a cool (no pun intended) concept.

As much as I enjoyed Frozen II, I hope there is not a Frozen III. There really is nothing more to add to the story at this point. We know, mostly, why Elsa has her powers, no plot threads remain unresolved. At this point, Arendelle should be left in peace. As I said before, the film isn’t perfect, but the brilliant animation and songs (especially “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself”) pretty much make up for it.

Let me know your thoughts on Frozen II in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Frozen (2013)

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