Tag Archives: Disney

Soundtrack News: Star Wars: The Bad Batch Volume 1 (Episodes 1-8) Available Now

Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Volume 1 (Episodes 1-8) is now available from Walt Disney Records. Star Wars: The Bad Batch debuted on May 4, with new episodes releasing each Friday, streaming exclusively on Disney+. Award-winning composer Kevin Kiner composed and produced all 37 tracks on Volume 1Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Volume 2 (Episodes 9-16) is set for release on August 20.

Honored with multiple Emmy and Annie nominations, as well as 12 BMI awards, Kevin Kiner is one of the most versatile and sought-after composers in Hollywood. In creating intimate soloistic guitar music over the grim realities of the Juarez Cartel, to grand orchestral music for a galaxy far, far away, Kevin’s wide musical range has allowed him to take on such diverse projects as Netflix’s hit series “Narcos: Mexico,” “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” Showtime’s “City on a Hill,” AMC’s “Hell on Wheels,” CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” CBS’s “CSI: Miami,” and Netflix’s “Making a Murderer.”

Kiner said of The Bad Batch:

I hope you enjoy our latest installment of Bad Batch cues from season one. Bad Batch continues to add to some of my favorite themes I’ve written for the Star Wars universe, most likely because many of these are co-written with my sons Sean and Dean (Omega’s Theme especially)! Some fun stealth music is in here with a bit of an homage to ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ or ‘The Guns of Navarone.’ I played the solo guitar viol instrument on ‘Zygerrian Camp.’ Also, check out Cad Bane is back!!!  May the Force be with you.

The series follows the elite and experimental troopers of Clone Force 99 (first introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch, as they prefer to be called — a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army — each possess a singular exceptional skill, which makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew. 

Track List

1. Logo (Star Wars: The Bad Batch) (0:19)
2. Omega’s Theme (2:58)
3. Civil War About to Begin (3:21)
4. Onderon (3:06)
5. Battle Simulation (4:46)
6. Experimental Tactics (2:34)
7. Omega Warns Hunter (2:34)
8. Caleb at the Cliff (3:01)
9. End of the War (3:17)
10. Tension with Crosshair (3:54)
11. Disobeying Orders (4:52)
12. First Time in Space (2:07)
13. Nexu Attack (1:57)
14. Raising Kids (3:31)
15. Smuggled Themselves (4:47)
16. Ordo Moon Dragon (4:24)
17. First Elite Squad (3:56)
18. Financial Incentives (3:23)
19. Danger at the Market (3:13)
20. Pantora Chase (3:13)
21. Fennec Shand (2:40)
22. Zygerrian Camp (3:22)
23. Muchi Unchained (2:58)
24. Monster Challenge (2:26)
25. Decommissioned Factory (4:25)
26. Police Droids (3:36)
27. A Diversion (3:31)
28. Stranger at the Bar (1:27)
29. To Bracca (2:32)
30. Stay Above the Water Line (3:02)
31. Chip Disorders (3:34)
32. Bomb Disposal Training (2:46)
33. Incoming Vessels (2:26)
34. Fight in the Artillery Room (2:44)
35. Breakaway Plan (3:50)
36. The Bounty Hunter Is Back (2:29)
37. Cid’s Jukebox Mix Vol. 1 (4:48)

You can check out the first installment of the Star Wars: The Bad Batch soundtrack now!

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Soundtrack News: Luca (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Dan Romer is Available Now!

Walt Disney Records releases Disney and Pixar’s Luca Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, available today. The score is composed and produced by Dan Romer (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”). A story about two teenage sea monsters who experience a life-changing summer, Disney and Pixar’s “Luca” is now streaming exclusively on Disney+ (where Disney+ is available).

The score was recorded with an 82-piece orchestra at the Newman Recording Stage, and was orchestrated and conducted by Mark Graham. Romer performed on accordion and acoustic guitar.

Dan Romer is an award-winning composer, songwriter and music producer based in Los Angeles. Romer’s scores include Disney and Pixar’s feature, Luca (Disney+) coming out Summer 2021, four-time Oscar®-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild (Searchlight),” “Maniac” (Netflix), “The Good Doctor” (ABC), “Beasts of No Nation” (Netflix), “Atypical” (Netflix), “Ski” (A24) Wendy (Searchlight) and Emmy® award-winning series “Ramy” (Hulu). In 2018, Romer composed the music for Ubisoft’s flagship video game Far Cry 5.

Luca director Enrico Casarosa turned to Romer to help set the stage and convey the youthful point of view of the main character, Luca. “I love his style—his accordion skills—and his ability to blend his style with the nuances of Italian music for this score,” said Casarosa.

The film is set on the Italian Riviera during the late 1950s, early 1960s. However, said Romer, “Enrico wanted something that felt like more of a nod, or a memory, than something that felt historically accurate. He told me what he really wanted was a more Italian-sounding version of the style of music I already make, which was very exciting and freeing!”

The composer especially liked working on the film’s dream sequences where Luca soars to great heights—feeling the freedom he craves. “They called for the most lush instrumentation, and usually the most wild rhythms,” he says.

Romer added, “It was an absolute joy getting to make such a melodically driven score and I’m excited for everyone to see the film.”

Track List

1. Meet Luca (4:08)
2. Did You Hide? (1:04)
3. The Curious Fish (1:39)
4. You Forgot Your Harpoon (0:39)
5. Phantom Tail (2:09)
6. Walking Is Just Like Swimming (2:02)
7. Vespa è Libertà (1:42)
8. You Hold the Ramp (0:59)
9. Silenzio Bruno (0:41)
10. That’s the Dream (2:05)
11. The Bottom of the Ocean (1:52)
12. Take Me, Gravity (1:44)
13. Portorosso (1:36)
14. Signor Vespa (1:17)
15. This Isn’t Any Old Race (2:55)
16. Buonanotte, Boys (1:27)
17. Land Monsters Everywhere (0:55)
18. Buongiorno Massimo (3:03)
19. The Out of Town Weirdo Tax (1:48)
20. Rules Are for Rule People (1:08)
21. How Humans Swim (1:03)
22. Not Our Kid (0:49)
23. Telescope (2:46)
24. Beyond the Solar System (1:02)
25. We Don’t Need Anybody (1:54)
26. The Sea Monster (3:33)
27. I Wish I Could Take It Back (4:01)
28. The Portorosso Cup (7:34)
29. How to Find the Good Ones (5:14)
30. Go Find Out for Me (1:39)

You can digitally download the soundtrack for Luca through any major digital music service. Enjoy!

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My Thoughts on: Wish Dragon (2021)

After finally sitting down and watching Wish Dragon on Netflix, I have to confess I have (once again) learned a powerful lesson: one should never judge a movie by its first 20 minutes alone. Because while Wish Dragon does get off to a rather slow start, it does eventually come into its own with a beautiful story to tell.

The story of Wish Dragon is set in modern Shanghai and follows a capable (but poor) young man named Din, who unexpectedly finds himself in possession of a magic teapot containing a “wish dragon” named Long who can grant him three wishes. If that sounds suspiciously familiar to the plot of Aladdin, well, it is, and on that basis alone I almost gave up on the film because, let’s be honest, Disney did that story years ago and did it very well.

But there’s a key difference between these two films and that is the titular wish dragon Long. This pink dragon is no Genie, and the film is well-written to make sure we don’t think of him that way. Long is an unexpectedly complex character; he started off irritating but slowly grew to become one of my favorite characters in the film. Long isn’t just a magical dragon, he has his own motivations that color the story and that creates a completely different relationship between Din and Long than what exists between Aladdin and the Genie. It’s a brilliant twist on this kind of story actually, and I’m glad I stuck with the film to see how this story arc played out.

Another thing I love about Wish Dragon is how this story puts a platonic twist on the “boy wants girl” story trope. When I first heard of this film and realized there was a young man and young woman involved, I rolled my eyes and thought “here we go, another YA animated romance film. Next!” And then I saw the part in the trailer where Din admits that he does NOT want Lina to fall in love with him, he just wants her back as his best friend. And that made my jaw DROP. That….you don’t see that in stories, or at least you didn’t until now. It was so refreshing to see a story where romance is NOT the ultimate goal of these magic wishes (another key difference from Aladdin).

And then there’s the film’s themes about telling the truth and friendship. Of course the most important theme in this film is friendship and how it is one of the most important things you can have, even more than money or fame. But…at the same time there’s an almost equal emphasis on telling the truth, be it about what you really want in life or being honest about who you really are. You need to be honest with yourself and the world about what you really want, at least that’s what I gathered after watching this film.

As a quick side note, I might also say that Wish Dragon also has a smaller lesson embedded in it, that being “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” It’s a lesson you don’t see implemented consistently with magical wish-granting stories, but Wish Dragon does make good use of it in this film, and Long even snarks about how one should “be careful what you DON’T wish for” in reference to this idea.

Now, as much as I ended up loving Wish Dragon, it does take a little while to get going. I beg you to be patient with the film’s first act because once things are properly set into motion, the story is a lot of fun. Other than that, I have no real complaints about this film. The animation is smartly done and the music, as I learned from talking to the film’s composer, is indeed a perfect blending of East and West.

Despite some minor flaws and a slow start, Wish Dragon proved itself to be everything I was promised and more. It proves a story like this doesn’t need romance to work and it also rams the lesson home that money is NOT everything nor is being rich everything it’s cracked up to be. As the credits rolled, I found myself more than happy with what I’d seen and I happily recommend checking this film out on Netflix.

Let me know what you think of Wish Dragon on Netflix in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Music, Magic, and Dragons: Talking With Composer Philip Klein About Wish Dragon (2021)

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My Thoughts on: Cruella (2021)

*warning minor plot spoilers for Cruella can be found below

I still have no idea how we got an origin story for Cruella DeVil, and I maintain that nobody actually asked for this film to be made. But since it was made and looked like a lot of fun, I decided to go ahead and see what it was all about.

And, to my delight, I actually enjoyed Cruella for the most part, though the film is far from perfect. Emma Stone absolutely KILLS it as the titular character, which isn’t something I thought I’d say at first, but by the end of the film I was completely invested in her as Cruella. And speaking of Emmas, I’m also a big fan of Emma Thompson’s work as the Baroness. She is, for plot reasons, my new favorite villainous character and I absolutely love to hate her due to her work in this film. She is the quintessential “you hate her guts but you can’t stop watching” type of character and by the end of the story you’re just itching to see her taken down.

Also have to give a shout out to John McCrea who plays Artie. Outside of Emma Stone as Cruella, he is my favorite part of this film. I love how he plays the character, and I wish there was more of Artie in this film because he is a delight to watch! And I also have to mention how much I enjoyed Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser as Jasper and Horace respectively. The verbal interplay between the two is so very funny at times, I loved to watch it.

All of that being said….Cruella does have its fair share of flaws. For one, this film is too long for the story it’s trying to tell. I feel like if about twenty minutes were shaved off and the plot subsequently tightened up, it would’ve done the film a huge favor. It’s not that any part of the story is bad, it just takes too long to get where it’s going. This is especially true in the opening of the film, which takes way too long to get to the point. In fact, the opening is so meandering that I almost lost interest in the film at the very beginning.

The other big flaw comes late in the film right before the last act gets going. This is where the story almost goes off the rails but thankfully it gets everything together for a good finish. Also, I’m not entirely sure if all of the narration from Cruella was necessary, it sometimes took me out of the moment.

One final flaw I have to highlight is the CGI. Maybe it was just me, but during the film it was blindingly obvious when certain canine characters were being CGI-generated. I get why it has to be done, but it’s distracting when you’re watching a scene and suddenly your brain registers that the dog (or dogs in several scenes) is not real. The point I’m trying to make is that if you’re going to CGI a dog, don’t make it obvious.

Fortunately, once the story finally gets going, it’s a good story. My favorite parts are all the scenes where Cruella appears in her trendy outfits. I swear the costumes in this film had better get recognized at the Oscars next year because I could look at Cruella’s costumes all day long and never get bored. I love the contrast between the Baroness’ idea of fashion and Cruella’s, you can tell immediately how they differ and why the latter’s is so popular. I also like the way that the main character is pulled between her competing personalities of Estella and Cruella. It’s an interesting take on the character because not only does it set up that this version of Cruella is different from the animated character, it also insinuates that she does have the capacity to become that character if she so wished. For what it’s worth, I’m happy this version of Cruella is different. Her story has layers now, and she’s a borderline sympathetic character now (though I wouldn’t go so far as to call her one of the “good guys” she’s more of an in-between character by film’s end).

The other thing I really liked about Cruella? If you read between the lines, this film is simultaneously an origin story for Cruella deVil AND a set up for an all-new live-action 101 Dalmatians with a new Roger and Anita. Seriously, I will be shocked if there is not a new 101 Dalmatians movie announced in the near future, all the pieces have been laid for it to happen. And based on how Cruella ends, I could see THIS version of 101 Dalmatians playing out with a significant twist, though I won’t say what it is lest I spoil the plot of Cruella. I will say that there is a viable opening for a sequel and I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney makes one happen in the next few years.

In the end, I’m glad I went to see Cruella, it’s flaws don’t overshadow the good and it’s a fairly interesting take on a character that honestly I didn’t think could be expanded upon, but I’m glad they did.

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

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My Thoughts on: Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

I have been super excited about Raya and the Last Dragon for so long, a part of me felt like the movie would never actually come. But at last, the movie became available on Premiere Access on Disney+ and against all the odds I found myself paying up the $30 to check it out on release day because the film looked that good in the previews.

As it turns out, this was a great decision to make, because Raya and the Last Dragon is amazing. Seriously, believe the hype you hear about this movie because this is some of Disney’s best work. The story is set in the fictional world of Kumandra, which is based on various parts of Southeast Asia. With her world threatened, Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) sets out to find Sisu, the Last Dragon (Awkwafina) and save the world.

With a premise like that, you might think you know how the story is going to play out, I know I did. And I was completely okay with how I thought the story was going to go: girl goes on an adventure, girl finds dragon, girl saves the world. However….that’s not what ended up happening because the movie is about so much more. To be sure, there is a LOT of girl power in Raya and the Last Dragon, and I loved every minute. But at the end of the day, the story isn’t just about a heroine saving the world, or even two or three heroes getting together to save the day. The real story is about coming together and trusting people, and building a better world on that basis. Given how messed up the world has been with racism and similar issues, the message in Raya and the Last Dragon couldn’t be more timely. There’s also a strong message about taking responsibility for one’s actions. I admit to being resistant about this particular message, but the character pointing this thing out was right: you need to admit when something is equally your fault and not just blame the other person.

Along with this amazing story is an equally awesome voice cast. Kelly Marie Tran absolutely kills it as Raya, it doesn’t take much and you’re completely hooked into her character. This is the type of Disney princess I’ve been dreaming about for years, even Queen Elsa (despite her awesomeness) didn’t quite hit the nail on the head for me as much as Raya does. She’s a badass warrior, but also sweet and compassionate. Watching her grow from beginning to end of the story is a fun experience.

And pairing her with Awkwafina’s Sisu makes one of the best parts of the movie. Sisu is nothing like what I was expecting, but that’s okay because I loved every minute of screen time she had. I’ve never seen a dragon like Sisu (I’m used to large scaled dragons like Smaug) before but she’s beautifully animated and she feels alive, which is a sign that you’ve nailed the CGI.

Then there’s the music (you know I had to mention that part). James Newton Howard, one of my favorite composers, has put together an amazing score that helps bring the different areas of Kumandra completely to life. As you might expect, it’s tinged with elements of Southeast Asia as well, I’m sure a behind the scenes look would confirm that a number of traditional instruments were used in the instrumental mix. The music definitely helps create the idea that the different areas of Kumandra are their own separate and unique places.

All of this is to say that Raya and the Last Dragon was not only worth the wait, it was also worth the $30 I paid to see it now instead of waiting until June. Disney has put together a story that honors its Southeast Asian inspiration, while also creating a new world that I would be more than happy to visit again. And the story will take you by surprise in the best way possible. I would love to go into more detail than that, but to say literally anything else would be giving too much away. You really do need to see this for yourself.

Go watch Raya and the Last Dragon (available now through Premiere Access on Disney+) and then let me know what you think about it in the comments below and have a great day!

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 Animated Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Soul (2020)

When Soul was bumped from its November 20th release date to Christmas Day on Disney+, I instantly knew what my top goal for my mini-Christmas vacation would be: sit and watch Soul with my family.

Not only was I successful with this goal, I also ended up watching a pretty enjoyable movie, though not one without a few flaws (I’ll get to that later). In fact, it was so much fun I didn’t realize until after the credits had rolled that (minor spoiler alert) there isn’t really a villain in this film. Which, if you think about it, doesn’t happen all that often. But really Soul doesn’t need a bad guy because it is dealing with a whole lot already.

Soul is, without a doubt, the deepest animated film I’ve ever seen. Think Inside Out and ratchet it up by a factor of 100 and you’ll be pretty close to the mark. In fact, Soul is so deep, that I wholeheartedly agree with every critic who has said that Soul is not and should not be considered a movie for children. This film deals pretty openly with matters of life and death, hinted reincarnation, chakras, the astral plane, the afterlife in general, and in short what it means to be alive on this Earth. It was a bold, BOLD move to deal with all of these concepts in a single film so openly and I applaud everyone involved with the film for putting that part of the story together. You might not agree with all of the beliefs presented or referenced in Soul (for example, I don’t believe in reincarnation), but you can easily appreciate the tone the film is going for: that there is way more to life and living than you might think.

Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner is an absolute delight. As a musician myself, I could totally feel the pull Joe is feeling between following his dreams of being a full time musician, and taking the pragmatic route by being a band teacher. Joe is the perfect kind of everyman to take us through the story, and the scenes where Joe loses himself in “the zone” while playing the piano….those moments spoke to me the most.

Tina Fey as 22….it took a while but she grew on me as the story went on. By the time the film reaches the emotional climax (and it IS emotional), I was fully invested in what happened to 22.

Also, I have to say I LOVE all of the music scenes in this film. It’s great to see jazz given such a prominent spotlight in a Disney Pixar film, and I really hope this encourages everyone watching, young and old, to give jazz another listen if they’ve dismissed the genre in the past.

Now, while I loved a LOT about Soul, it is not a film without flaws. Most noticeably…the middle of the film. I tried and tried to get around it, but I can’t excuse the middle act of the film. I had a feeling from the previews that something of a “screwball” nature would be occurring, but I was not prepared for what actually happened. Here’s the thing: this gag they go with (minor spoiler alert: when Joe’s soul is trapped in a cat’s body) is kind of funny, but it doesn’t quite fit what comes before and after. It’s almost like the writers struggled with how to transition from the beginning to the climax of the film and this was the best they could come up with. In other words, this part feels like it came from a slightly different film.

The good news is, while the middle of the film lags here and there, it more than recovers at the climax to leave me feeling very satisfied with the overall experience. I know there’s a lot of discussion about Joe spending a significant chunk of the film looking….other than himself, but really jazz and African-American culture is given such a spotlight…..pardon me if this sounds too forward, but I feel like it sort of balances out in the end.

I highly recommend Soul to anyone who hasn’t gotten the chance to see it yet. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year (and in the craziness that has been 2020 that’s saying a lot).

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

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 Animated Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Mulan (2020)

After waiting 9 additional months (thanks COVID), I have finally seen Disney’s reimagined Mulan while visiting home for Christmas and I’m pleased to report I liked it just as much as I thought I would.

It’s no secret that I have extremely mixed emotions where the live-action Disney remakes are concerned (the fact that most of them are inferior to the original doesn’t help). But from the moment I saw the first teaser, Mulan felt different. It felt to me like Disney had finally hit the right balance of new and old, such as I hadn’t seen since Maleficent in 2014 (despite the title that is very much a remake of Sleeping Beauty and you all know it). My curiosity was definitely piqued by the film appearing to draw on traditional Chinese martial arts films (wuxia is awesome), so I was super excited to finally check the film out with my mom like we’d always planned.

In case you didn’t know, this new Mulan is really, really good. As with any other Disney remake, there are story beats that come directly from the animated original, but they’re switched up just enough in this film that they’re actually an improvement. One of my favorite details is that the songs of Mulan (one of my favorite sets of songs in the Disney renaissance), make a subdued comeback in the form of spoken dialogue. I absolutely loved this, it was great to hear mentions of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” and “A Girl Worth Fighting For.” Hopefully the many Disney fans upset (like me) about Mulan not being a musical were appeased by this, I know I was.

But my favorite part of this film has to be the witch. This is not something I thought I would say a year ago. When it was announced that a witch was being added to the story, I thought it was a stupid idea, but that was before I realized that this wasn’t your stereotypical witch. The witch in Mulan is cool! In fact, she’s so interesting, I would almost demand that Disney make a prequel about how the witch got to be who she is, I can tell there’s a huge story there. Of course she’s designed to be a foil to Mulan, showing what our heroine might become if pushed down the wrong path, and I really liked the obvious similarities between the pair.

Another thing I liked? Jason Scott Lee as Bori Khan. He is a huge improvement over the animated villain Shan Yu, as we now have a much more defined reason for why Bori Khan wants to kill the Emperor. Also, I wanted to mention him because Jason Scott Lee also played Mowgli in Disney’s FIRST live action remake of The Jungle Book in 1994, and I thought it was really cool to see him in a Disney movie again.

Also, while I’m still upset that Li Shang is absent from this film, I AM okay with how Disney kept in a potential love interest for Mulan anyway. I say potential because nothing has officially happened by the time the credits roll, but it’s more than obvious that a sequel is being set up, and I would be more than happy to watch one.

One final note: the scene were Mulan finally embraces the truth of her identity as a female warrior is so powerful, it made me cry. Those are the kind of moments I live for in movies, and Disney hit the nail on the head with this one.

Mulan is definitely one of the best Disney live-action remakes the studio has made to date and I would be more than happy to see Mulan’s story continue in a future film.

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

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My Thoughts on: Hamilton (2020)

Like many, I was beyond excited for the opportunity to check out Hamilton for the first time when it came out on Disney+ yesterday. And why not? It’s been an absolute hit ever since it crashed into our lives in 2015. I knew of the musical pretty much from the start, but never really had the opportunity to check it out, not even to listen to the music….until now that is.

And holy SH*T what music!! I don’t always get into rap or hip-hop and I was briefly worried that this would deter me from getting into or enjoying Hamilton but I was so, so wrong. If anything, the story feels even more relatable when presented in this way. In brief, in case you’re not familiar, Hamilton chronicles the rise (and fall) of Alexander Hamilton in a way I guarantee you’ve ever seen before. What’s released on Disney+ is a filmed production of a show from late June 2016 and features the original Broadway cast.

reel-grab-hamilton-06-e3435647

I’ve seen filmed stage productions before (Cats from the late 90s, Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall), but they pale in comparison to this performance of Hamilton (not least because Cats and Phantom are WORLDS apart from this show). As you sit and watch you feel like you’re in the best seat in the house, seeing the show from the perfect angle. There are close-ups in the appropriate places, the overall sound quality is amazing, and oh my god I cannot get over all of that amazing music!

Now, I will say that the first time I watched Hamilton (last night), it did take me about half an hour to get into the flow. As I said before, I don’t listen to a lot of rap and hip-hop so I’m not used to that kind of freestyle, free-flowing music. Once you get the hang of listening to it, however, it’s a lot of fun to listen to, even if a few details do get lost in the shuffle (when Lafayette comes back as a general I still can’t tell you what he says). I think my two favorite pieces (really I love them all) are “The Ten Dueling Commandments” and “The Room Where it Happens.” I especially like the former because it lays out everything you need to know about a duel while still keeping it interesting.

hamilton_031_6fc22aae.0

I also love, love, LOVE the fact that Aaron Burr narrates the overall story, that reminds me so much of how Judas narrates the bulk of Jesus Christ Superstar (and according to my reading may have been done in homage to that very show). Let me tell you, when I found out that THAT was Aaron Burr my first thought was “Oh boy, THIS is going to be interesting.” And it is! Watching Burr and Hamilton interact throughout the whole show, knowing how it’s going to end….let’s just say by the time the climax finally comes the suspense will be almost overwhelming.

Lin-Manuel Miranda found this way to take the life of Alexander Hamilton, a story with all the potential to make for very dry reading/viewing and made it cool (and heartbreaking). To be sure, liberties are taken with the facts, but that’s not uncommon when history is adapted for musical theater. I think in the very broad strokes the story Miranda is trying to get across is correct, that Hamilton was this immigrant who did amazing things during his life, but who was also human and made many, MANY mistakes (my jaw dropped upon learning about the Reynolds pamphlet).

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I also have to say that I love King George III. His part is relatively small but he is FUNNY! Watching him comment on the coming war, the aftermath, and John Adams becoming the next president, all of it had me in stitches. He is one of the best parts of Hamilton and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Before I conclude, I learned something about dueling that made my brain explode. In a duel, “throwing away your shot” refers to firing so that you deliberately miss your opponent in a last ditch effort to end the affair once and for all. So when Alexander sings about not “throwing away my shot”, well….it kind of puts the ending of his story in a whole different light, doesn’t it.

In conclusion, I thoroughly loved watching Hamilton on Disney+ and I feel like everyone should sit down and watch it at least once. Given that Broadway is closed for the rest of 2020 (and possibly longer), this is your best chance to watch one of the hottest shows on Broadway (without paying an arm and a leg). I also think that, given the current political climate, this is also a really good time to watch Hamilton as well, and once you see it, you’ll understand why.

As for me, I’m perfectly happy to proclaim myself a Hamilton fan.

Let me know what you think about Hamilton on Disney+ in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Reviews

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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 Clone Wars “Bad Batch Theme” (2020)

To the immense joy of Star Wars fans everywhere, episode 1 of season 7 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars finally premiered on Disney+. Not only does this new season reunite the original voice cast, it also sees the return of composer Kevin Kiner to the 12 episode season. Honored with multiple Emmy and Annie nominations, as well as 12 BMI awards, Kevin Kiner is one of the most versatile and sought-after composers in Hollywood. In creating intimate soloistic guitar music over the grim realities of the Juarez Cartel, to grand orchestral music for a galaxy far, far away, Kevin’s wide musical range has allowed him to take on such diverse projects as Netflix’s hit series Narcos: Mexico, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Showtime’s City on a Hill, AMC’s Hell on Wheels, CW’s Jane the Virgin, CBS’s CSI: Miami, and Netflix’s Making a Murderer.

The first piece of music released from the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the “Bad Batch Theme”, the main musical theme heard in the first episode. You can listen to this theme below

This theme shares all the hallmarks of a good Star Wars theme as established by John Williams: a rich, brass sound bound together with a strong melodic framework. It could be coincidence, but portions of the “Bad Batch Theme” put me in mind of John Williams’ “March of the Resistance” (one of the best motifs that came out of the sequel trilogy). There’s a certain thematic similarity that sticks in my mind every time I heard that theme. It would be interesting to know if Kevin Kiner had that motif in mind at all when he put the “Bad Batch Theme” together.

Aside from the release of the “Bad Batch Theme” there are three further soundtrack releases scheduled featuring music from the new season. Those release dates are as follows:

3/13: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 1-4)
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)

“The Bad Batch” is only the first episode in a 12 episode season that will conclude The Clone Wars in the manner they’ve always deserved:

Now it is the end of the historic Clone Wars, as the forces of darkness have amassed great power in their bid to transform the Republic into the Galactic Empire. In the conflict’s final days, clone troopers specialize for the dangerous missions ahead, Ahsoka Tano confronts life outside of the Jedi Order, and a familiar menace returns to wreak havoc. The explosive final chapters of the Clone Wars chronicle the end of a major era in Star Wars history. 

Let me know what you think about the “Bad Batch Theme” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: Rebels “It’s Over Now”

Film Soundtracks A-W

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