Tag Archives: film

My Thoughts on: The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

After picking up Frankenstein Created Woman and realizing just how much I enjoy watching Peter Cushing play Frankenstein, I made it a goal to get all of Cushing’s performances as the character (on blu-ray) in my collection. So, when the opportunity came to pick up The Evil of Frankenstein, I immediately took it.

This film was completely new to me, unlike Frankenstein Created Woman, however the plot generally follows what I’ve come to expect from these stories: a creation of Frankenstein’s runs amok, chaos ensues, and it all ends in a big dramatic climax. Only in this case the story takes a few unexpected twists between the beginning and the end. As with several of these films, the story starts with Frankenstein already in the midst of a new set of experiments, only to be chased out of town (yet again), forcing him to return to his hometown in search of money. Things take a twist when he discovers his original Monster, only to find it comatose and unresponsive. Frankenstein coerces a traveling hypnotist into reviving his creation, but that quickly creates more problems than it solves as Frankenstein soon finds out.

Here’s the thing about The Evil of Frankenstein: I know that Hammer made this film (and the other Frankenstein films in their series) as separate entities from the old Universal films, but I swear THIS film is a near perfect blend of Son of Frankenstein (1939) and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). How so? Well, first of all, a major plot point in The Evil of Frankenstein is that Baron Frankenstein discovers his original creation, but it is now unresponsive. That is eerily similar to Son of Frankenstein, where Wolf von Frankenstein (the titular “son of Frankenstein”) discovers his father’s monster in a comatose state. But the similarity continues: once Frankenstein’s monster is revived, it only responds to the commands of the hypnotist who revived it, EXACTLY like in Son of Frankenstein where the Monster only responds to Ygor’s commands. Those are way too many similarities to be mere coincidence and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the writers for The Evil of Frankenstein took inspiration from Son of Frankenstein, even if they weren’t supposed to.

The similarities to this film and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man are less striking, but still interesting. The big similarity between these two films is the Monster being rediscovered frozen alive in ice, which is also how he’s found in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. I’m also struck by the similarities of the two film’s climaxes, or at least they seem similar to me. In both films, Frankenstein’s monster is swept away and presumed killed when the laboratory is destroyed (blown up in one film and swept away by floodwaters in the other). Again, it’s one similarity too many to be pure coincidence (though having read that this film was distributed by Universal, maybe Hammer really did just copy past film elements after all).

Those interesting details aside, I have a serious bone to pick with whoever put together the creature make-up in The Evil of Frankenstein. Part of the reason I love the original Frankenstein makeup from the 1930s so much is you really can’t tell that it’s a make-up. In THIS film however, it is painfully obvious that this is an actor in makeup, and not even really good makeup. This is my least favorite part of the film and it made it really hard to take certain scenes seriously.

Peter Cushing is a delight to watch, as always. For years I only knew him for his appearance in Star Wars, and I’m glad I’m finally taking the time to check out more of his filmography. I noticed in this film the same detail I saw in Frankenstein Created Woman: Baron Frankenstein is too clinical for his own good. That is to say, he’s so interested in his monster as an experiment, that the greater ramifications don’t occur to him until it’s too late. The same as in this film: he’s content to make use of the hypnotist, but it doesn’t occur to him that the hypnotist would USE the monster for his own personal ends until the damage has been done.

Flaws aside, I did ultimately enjoy The Evil of Frankenstein. It’s an enjoyable film, Peter Cushing is completely believable as an obsessed Baron Frankenstein and while the outcome of the story is predictable, it’s no less fun to watch.

Let me know what you think about The Evil of Frankenstein in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

My Thoughts on: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Film Reviews

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Soundtrack Review: Brin d’amour (2019)

Earlier this summer I was invited to check out the documentary Brin d’amour, about the life and work of Alain Vigneau, with music composed by Andre Barros. The documentary is fascinating in and of itself, as it follows not only Vigneau’s life, but also how he uses being a clown as a form of therapy. But what really pulled me in was Barros’ music for the documentary, which reminded me more than once why I fell in love with film music in the first place.

More than once, as I sat listening to the music of Brin d’amour, I thought I was merely out of practice because I kept losing the thread of the music because I was paying attention to the documentary at the same time. But it finally dawned on me that I wasn’t getting distracted, it was simply that the music is interwoven so well with the story that you don’t realize it’s there, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, the best film music is the kind you don’t notice. It should blend in with the visuals and that’s exactly what happens here.

The score for this documentary is based on a small ensemble: piano, a string trio, and several electronic instruments and synthesizers. A small group of instruments, to be sure, but they are used to great effect. I really love how Barros’ music draws you into the story, and not just the funny moments when you see Alain doing clownish things, but also the more deeply serious moments when some truly dark topics are touched upon. My favorite part is the music during the time when Alain and other members of his family talk about his late mother. You really get the feeling that this was a wonderful woman who was lost. Equally compelling is Barros’ ability to know when not to use any music, like during a therapy session when Alain is having one woman work out her feelings over the death of her grandmother. Moments like that, the music would distract from the experience, so using silence is those moments makes them resonate even more.

I’m happy I finally had the time to sit down and listen to Andre Barros’ music for Brin d’amour. It’s really good and I had a lot of fun listening to it.

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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My Thoughts on: Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

I think I was in high school the first time I encountered Hammer’s Frankenstein films that starred Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein. I forget how many of them I saw, but I know I saw Frankenstein Created Woman and the memory of that film had dwelled in the back of my brain ever since. So, some months back, when I got the chance to own the film on blu-ray (courtesy of Scream! Factory) I took it, and just the other day I finally had the chance to watch this film again.

Before I get to my thoughts on Frankenstein Created Woman, a quick overview as to what this film is. Hammer released seven Frankenstein films between 1957 and 1974, and this was the fourth film in that series. In Frankenstein Created Woman, the story focuses more on the metaphysical, as Baron Frankenstein is now obsessed with capturing and transferring a human soul from one body to another. He gets his chance when Hans (Robert Morris) is executed for a crime he didn’t commit and his lover Christina (Susan Denberg) commits suicide by drowning shortly thereafter. At first Frankenstein’s work appears to be a total success, but even a brilliant man like Frankenstein can’t realize the dangers involved in placing Hans’ soul in Christina’s body until it’s far too late.

It’s funny to me now, but while I was watching Frankenstein Created Woman, it occurred to me that my memory must not be as good as I thought (I usually have a good head for remembering movies) because except for the ending most of this film felt completely new to me. That’s not a bad thing, but it makes me wonder if perhaps I saw a different cut all those years ago, I’ve heard of things like that being done with Hammer films before, so maybe that’s why some of the scenes felt completely new to me.

A lack of memory aside, I really enjoyed Frankenstein Created Woman as much as I thought I would. Its message is a little heavy-handed (i.e. don’t put a vengeful soul inside a new body because there will be dire consequences) but overall it is a lot of fun to watch. Cushing’s Frankenstein is almost hilariously oblivious to the fact that he’s helped create this beautiful woman. To him Christina is only an experiment, but to everyone else she is pure woman, and it’s only at the very end of the film that the full extent of her monstrousness is revealed.

I really do like how the film goes about revealing what the human soul might look like outside of its body. I don’t quite agree with the explanation the film goes for as to how a soul could be trapped and contained but the visual of this glowing ball of light representing the soul is quite beautiful and is one of my favorite shots in the film.

There’s also an interesting lesson to be gleaned from this film, that being that it is dangerous to tamper with something as powerful as the human soul. Of course it is, as I said before, presented in a rather forceful manner, but it’s still a good point to be made. One can’t mess with the human soul in a purely scientific manner as Frankenstein attempts to do, that won’t work any more than building and animating a body from scratch will, as Frankenstein learns by the end. Additionally, there’s an equally poignant lesson about the injustice of condemning someone simply because their father was a criminal.

I would still probably recommend starting with The Curse of Frankenstein if you’re going to watch the Hammer Frankenstein films, but be sure to watch Frankenstein Created Woman not long after, because it’s really good.

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

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Film Reviews

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Soundtrack News: Vinyl Edition of ‘The Green Knight’ Score by Daniel Hart Available for Pre-Order from A24

 Following last month’s digital release of THE GREEN KNIGHT (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by composer and performer Daniel Hart, the album’s vinyl edition is now available for preorder exclusively on the A24 shop. Available digitally to stream and download, the album features score music written by Hart for director David Lowery’s latest fantasy adventure film based on the classic Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. Newly pressed on emerald-green marbled vinyl, the soundtrack arrives as a 2-LP gatefold set featuring liner notes from Hart and Lowery – preorder exclusively via the A24 shop hereThe Green Knight is currently available to watch in theaters and will be available to watch on PVOD anywhere your rent movies starting Thursday, August 19.

Available everywhere now, Daniel Hart’s soundtrack to The Green Knight is both as epic and unique as the film itself, a sweepingly dramatic and expansive body of music that straddles the divide between medieval and modern. Hart’s work has already garnered acclaim from critics, with the Los Angeles Times writing, “These fateful encounters draw lyricism and gravity from the singsong interludes and delicately plucked strings of Daniel Hart’s enveloping, ever-present score,” and eventually determining the film to be a “ravishing triumph.” The soundtrack is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Lowery and Hart, the duo having worked together previously on Ain’t Them Bodies SaintsPete’s DragonA Ghost Story and The Old Man & the Gun.

Of the soundtrack, composer Daniel Hart says:

“Making this music was somehow both like running from a pack of hyenas and wading through a river of chocolate mud. It has never taken David [Lowery] and I this long to find what we were looking for musically on any of his films, so to listen back now and actually love what we made is all the more satisfying, especially when I think about how many late nights and hair pullings went into it. Much like Gawain himself, I was stumbling through the wilderness most of the time and found little moments of good fortune here and there, often through stubborn dumb luck. I hope that when you listen to the soundtrack, you’ll think about things other than me sitting in my studio, endlessly fretting. But if you do, then your imagination is very accurate.”

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

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Behind the Music of Action and Comedy: Talking with Atli Örvarsson about ‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’

Recently I had the chance to speak with Atli Örvarsson about his work on The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. Atli’s credits include composing and orchestrating music for some of Hollywood’s biggest projects, including the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Angels & Demons, The Holiday, The Eagle, Vantage Point, Babylon A.D., Thick as Thieves, The Fourth Kind, and Season of the Witch.

Atli’s accolades include winning the HARPA Nordic Film Composer Award for his acclaimed score to Rams, several ASCAP and BMI Film and TV Music Awards, a “Breakthrough of the Year” nomination with the IFMCA Awards in 2009, plus he was nominated for the prestigious World Soundtrack Academy’s “Discovery of the Year Award” for his score for Babylon A.D in 2009 and his score for Ploey: You Never Fly Alone was nominated for a “Public Choice Award” in 2018.

I hope you enjoy the discussion we had about this film!

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me! My first question is, how did you get started as a composer?
I have been writing music since childhood but got “serious” about composition when I was attending Berklee College of Music and found out they had a film music program. I had always been interested in film music, as far back as the first Star Wars film when I was just a little kid, so this field of study really appealed to me and has been my path ever since.

I know you previously composed the music for The Hitman’s Bodyguard in 2017, was it always assumed that you would return to score the music for the sequel?
Yes. Patrick Hughes, the director of these films, started discussing a possible sequel with me right after the first film came out.

Speaking of, what did you think of getting to return to the world of The Hitman’s Bodyguard to create more music for it? Was it easier scoring this film because you’d also written the music for the first film?
I don´t know if easier is the right word but perhaps it was a bit of a luxury to have a lot of themes from the original film to work with and it just made sense to reuse these.

On a similar note, what was the discussion with the director like when it came to putting the score together? Were you building on the first film’s musical themes in the sequel or did you create something wholly new?
A bit of both. There is a new bad guy in this film who needed a new theme, obviously along with some other new characters and storylines. Salma Hayek’s character also plays a bigger role here so that called for some new music. At the same time the two main characters are the same so there is a lot of reusing and reinventing themes from the original film.

Speaking of themes, are there musical themes for specific characters?
Yes.


I know this film is considered an action-comedy. How did you balance the music in the score between action and comedy?
It’s usually pretty clear cut whether a scene is primarily an action scene or a comedy scene but there are certainly scenes in this movie that combine both. In these cases, I usually choose to score the scenes very much like serious action scenes as the comedy sort of speaks for itself but to be honest, there’s no hard and fast rule. It just depends on the scene and what feels right.

How much time did you have to score The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard?
I had quite a bit of time as the Covid pandemic kept interrupting the schedule, but once we got started “for real” it went quite fast. I’d say about 2 months from the start of scoring to recording with the orchestra.

How much did the previous score for The Hitman’s Bodyguard influence the music for the sequel?
Quite a bit! As I mentioned earlier, I did reuse themes from the first movie but perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that there’s more score and less songs in the sequel.

Do you have a favorite musical moment in the score?
It’s hard to say… I really enjoyed writing some of the comedy cues around Bryce’s personal backstory where the music plays very serious over the comedy, e.g. when we first meet his step father and for the flashback about his mom.

Finally, is there any musical detail you hope viewers notice when they go to see this movie in theaters?
There are many places where I geeked out and tried to sneak in my themes in disguises. Hopefully someone picks up on that!

I hope you enjoyed this interview about the music of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

See also:

My Thoughts on: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)

Composer Interviews

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Soundtrack News: ‘The Green Knight’ Original Soundtrack to be Released July 30, lead single “One Year Hence” Available Now

Milan Records announces the July 30 release of THE GREEN KNIGHT (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by composer and performer Daniel Hart. Available for preorder now, the album features music written by Hart for director David Lowery’s latest fantasy adventure film based on the classic Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. The resulting 29-track collection is both as epic and unique as the film itself, a sweepingly dramatic and expansive body of music that straddles the divide between medieval and modern.

Making its debut alongside album preorder is soundtrack lead single “One Year Hence,” a darkly foreboding number underscored by a haunting, heavy synth and punctuated with jittery recorders and dissonant choral bursts – listen here. The soundtrack is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Lowery and Hart, the duo having worked together previously on Ain’t Them Bodies SaintsPete’s DragonA Ghost Story and The Old Man & the Gun. Starring Dev Patel as Sir Gawain, The Green Knight makes its theatrical debut Friday, July 30 from A24. 

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Of the soundtrack, composer Daniel Hart says:

“Making this music was somehow both like running from a pack of hyenas and wading through a river of chocolate mud. It has never taken David [Lowery] and I this long to find what we were looking for musically on any of his films, so to listen back now and actually love what we made is all the more satisfying, especially when I think about how many late nights and hair pullings went into it. Much like Gawain himself, I was stumbling through the wilderness most of the time and found little moments of good fortune here and there, often through stubborn dumb luck. I hope that when you listen to the soundtrack, you’ll think about things other than me sitting in my studio, endlessly fretting. But if you do, then your imagination is very accurate.”

THE GREEN KNIGHT (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

1. In Stori Stif And Stronge
2. Christ Is Born Indeed
3. You Do Smell Like You’ve Been At Mass All Night
4. Tell Me A Tale Of Yourself, So That I Might Know Thee
5. Shaped By Your Hands
6. O Greatest Of Kings
7. Remember It Is Only A Game
8. One Year Hence
9. I Promise You Will Not Come To Harm
10. Child Thou Ert A Pilgrim
11. Rest Them Bones My Brave Little Knight
12. A Meeting With St. Winifred
13. Your Head Is On Your Neck, My Lady
14. Are You Real, Or Are You A Spirit?
15. I Will Strike Thee Down With Every Care That I Have For Thee
16. Aiganz O Kulzphazur (feat. Emma Tring)
17. The Giant’s Call
18. Brave Sir Gawain Come To Face The Green Knight
19. Should Not A Knight Offer A Lady A Kiss In Thanks?
20. Hold Very Still
21. Do You Believe In Witchcraft?
22. You Are No Knight
23. I Never Asked For Your Help Anyway
24. Gawain Runs And Runs (feat. Bobak Lotfipour and Katinka Vindelev)
25. Blome Swete Lilie Flour
26. Excalibur
27. O Nyghtegale (feat. Atheena Frizzell)
28. Now I’m Ready, I’m Ready Now
29. Be Merry, Swete Lorde (feat. Katinka Vindelev)

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Soundtrack Review: Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Milan Records today releases GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) by composer Frank Ilfman (Big Bad WolvesThe OperativeRory’s Way ). Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Ilfman for Navot Papushado’s Gunpowder Milkshake. The film is a female-driven, high-concept thriller with a rich mythology and multi-generational narrative that give it a fresh, 21st century perspective on the traditional assassin film. Directed and co-written by Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves), Gunpowder Milkshake debuts on Netflix in the US, Canada and Nordics today, with theatrical releases rolling out everywhere else worldwide from July 15.

In Gunpowder Milkshake, Sam (Karen Gillan) was only 12 years old when her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey), an elite assassin, was forced to abandon her. Sam was raised by The Firm, the ruthless crime syndicate her mother worked for. Now, 15 years later, Sam has followed in her mother’s footsteps and grown into a fierce hit-woman. She uses her “talents” to clean up The Firm’s most dangerous messes. She’s as efficient as she is loyal. But when a high-risk job goes wrong, Sam must choose between serving The Firm and protecting the life of an innocent 8-year-old girl – Emily (Chloe Coleman). With a target on her back, Sam has only one chance to survive: Reunite with her mother and her lethal associates, The Librarians (Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett and Carla Gugino). These three generations of women must now learn to trust each other, stand up to The Firm and their army of henchmen, and raise hell against those who could take everything from them. 

Of the soundtrack, Gunpowder Milkshake director Navot Papushado says:

“Because this movie mixes so many different genres and so many ideas, the music was always going to be the glue. When I started talking to composer Frankie (Haim Frank Ilfman), I said I had the Western vibe of Ennio Morricone, the Italian chic of Stelvio Cipriani, and the violent suspense of Bernard Herrmann in mind. The end result is Western mixed with Italian retro chic and the suspense of Bernard Hermann with an electronic vibe that came from Frankie. The soundtrack is retro but modern, it could be played on vinyl or Spotify.”

Due to a busy schedule, I’ve not yet had the chance to watch Gunpowder Milkshake on Netflix (though I plan on fixing that in the next few days) but when I saw the soundtrack had arrived in my inbox, I couldn’t wait to check it out and get a hint of what I was in for.

Oh my goodness this music is so good!

The director really does sum it up perfectly by describing this music as Western mixed with Italian retro chic with the suspense of Bernard Hermann thrown in for good measure. The music for Gunpowder Milkshake is a delightful mish-mash of all of those things and more, it’s the kind of soundtrack you can sink your teeth into and find something different every time. In fact, I would go so far as to call this a “neo-classical” film score, in that it appears to be a modern take on a classical film score. Or, put another way, imagine if someone took a classic film score from the 1930s or 40s and redid it for the modern era, that’s what this music reminds me of.

This may be one of the best movie soundtracks I’ve heard in 2021, as I can hear influences all over the place. Even without the director mentioning it, I can hear the influence of Ennio Morricone the most, especially in “Goonfight at Gutterball Corral.” There’s also, as I said before, definitely a decent sampling of Bernard Hermann in this score too. But there’s also a lot in this music, and it may be coincidental, that reminds me of Daniel Pemberton’s score for The Man From UNCLE. I can’t put my finger on a specific cue, but more than once I found myself thinking of that film while listening to this soundtrack. That’s not a bad thing by the way, Pemberton’s scores are among my favorite, and if Frank Ilfman’s score for Gunpowder Milkshake reminds me of that style of film music, so much the better.

I can also say that the soundtrack for Gunpowder Milkshake is very easy to listen to, as many of the tracks are relatively short and therefore you can go through them at a relatively quick pace. I like how “bite-sized” some of these themes are. You get a feel for the music rather quickly and it didn’t take me a lot of time to take the measure of this film’s score.

Listening to the music for Gunpowder Milkshake has me more eager than ever to watch the movie itself, and I can only hope that the film is just as good as the music that was written for it.

GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. Opening Titles
  2. Home Sweet Home?
  3. Scarlet’s Theme
  4. Gunpowder Milkshake
  5. Big Bad Mommy
  6. New Books and Clean Guns
  7. Dressed To Kill
  8. Le Bonbon
  9. A Careless Whisper
  10. The Firm
  11. The Rollin Roars
  12. Goonfight at Gutterball Corral
  13. The Monsters
  14. Rock Monster
  15. Yankee and the Goons
  16. Redemption Is For The Careless
  17. 13:8 In 60 Seconds
  18. La Balada de los Charros
  19. Are You a Serial Killer?
  20. 944 Bullets
  21. The Sam and Emily Story
  22. Escape Route
  23. Fudge you!
  24. Bare Knuckles and Gold Bars
  25. The Library Fight
  26. The Big Gundown
  27. To The Death
  28. Madeleine’s Adagio
  29. McAlester’s Theme
  30. The Standoff
  31. Red Dot Marks The Spot
  32. Sam’s Theme
  33. Ensemble pour toujours

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: The Tomorrow War (2021)

Milan Records has released THE TOMORROW WAR (AMAZON ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by GRAMMY Award®-winning and Emmy®- and BAFTA-nominated producer and composer Lorne Balfe.  Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Balfe for the futuristic action film directed by Chris McKay and marks the second collaboration between the composer and director, who previously worked together on McKay’s directorial debut The Lego Batman Movie

In The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.

Of the soundtrack, composer Lorne Balfe says:

“On the surface this is an action movie, but what stood out for me when writing the score was the family dynamics between the main characters. Being able to write themes and music around these relationships and people, both as their future and present-day selves was a unique experience. It was a delight to be able to work with Chris [McKay] again having previously worked with him on the Lego Batman movies, his creativity and versatility as a director is exceptional.”

After listening to Lorne Balfe’s work on Black Widow yesterday, I felt in the mood for more of his work and I decided to check out his score for The Tomorrow War. And after listening to his music for this recently released film, I’m so glad I did.

Balfe’s score for The Tomorrow War is beautiful! Predictably, there is a lot of synthesized music, which I would expect for a science-fiction film that revolves around time traveling 30 years into the future to fight aliens that are destroying planet Earth. But what really gets my attention is how Balfe contrasts the synthesized music with the orchestra, giving you a full range of music that is never once boring.

Another detail I liked? Balfe mixes in a range of sound effects: whooshes, vocalizations and what almost sounds like moaning in “Multiply.” This, combined with the music, creates a very unsettling effect and I really liked it. Given that this film deals with jumping 30 years into the future, the music makes you feel like you’re now in a time and place where you don’t belong, where you don’t fit, and that’s what you’d expect to feel if you’re suddenly pushed forward into the future.

Finally, I have to mention “The Tomorrow War” my favorite piece in the entire score. This gorgeous piece features an uplifting theme that recurs throughout the score, giving the music a big blockbuster feeling that I confess I did not expect given this film was released as an Amazon Original. I say “The Tomorrow War” is uplifting but there’s also hints of danger mixed in the latter half, reminding you that there’s a lot at stake in this unique conflict.

Whether you see the actual film or not, you need to take the time to listen to the music of The Tomorrow War, it is definitely worth it.

Track List

  1. Multiply (2:54)
  2. Spikes Attack (1:57)
  3. Who’s With Us? (4:04)
  4. Reunited (3:07)
  5. Back to the Past (4:03)
  6. The Tomorrow War (5:33)
  7. The Whitespikes (4:01)
  8. The Draft (4:41)
  9. Goodbye (4:15)
  10. So It Begins (8:21)
  11. Fight (2:47)
  12. Message From the Future (2:28)
  13. The Nest (2:08)
  14. Test Tubes (3:19)
  15. The Cube (2:51)
  16. Pushing (6:24)
  17. Miami Dolphins Still Suck (1:52)
  18. Colonel Forester (5:09)
  19. Dan Forester (3:16)
  20. Homecoming (2:17)

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My Thoughts on: Black Widow (2021)

It feels like an eternity since I watched Avengers: Endgame in the waning days of 2019. So much has happened since then that I genuinely forgot what it felt like to experience a Marvel movie in the theater. And then I sat down to watch Black Widow (after waiting more than a year to see it) and it all came rushing back to me, that thrill that can only come from seeing a Marvel film on the big screen.

Let me start off by saying that Black Widow was absolutely worth the extended wait. Sure, it would’ve been ideal if we’d gotten this story several years ago, or at least before Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, but it’s made clear multiple times that this film takes place immediately after Captain America: Civil War, so I’m willing to let it go. At least we finally got a standalone story about Black Widow that takes us deep into her past, and gives us a tantalizing look at how she (and other “widows”) were trained.

If I have one gripe with Black Widow it’s that I really wanted to see more of the Red Room training that goes into creating assassins like Natasha and Yelena. We’re given, as I said, a tantalizing glimpse, but no more. Given what’s implied about this training process, that might be for the best, but I still found myself wanting more.

Other than that, I found myself loving pretty much everything about Black Widow. The chemistry between Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh is off the charts and is by far one of my favorite parts of this movie. Believe the hype about Pugh’s performance as Yelena Belova, it’s all true. I’m not sure if Yelena is going to be the new Black Widow moving forward, but I could certainly see her stepping into that role in future Marvel films and I wouldn’t complain if that indeed happened. Speaking of chemistry, I really enjoyed the interplay between David Harbour (Red Guardian) and Rachel Weisz. I would happily watch a film that explored the background of these two characters, especially anything that focused more on Red Guardian. I think we all want to see a film that explores THAT story.

Another detail I liked and one that surprised me is how many funny moments there are in this film. Given the serious topics involved, I wasn’t expecting this at all, but I really liked it, it helped to break up the tension, which is always an important element that some movies neglect. After all, if you keep things too fast or too serious all the way through, it can really grate on an audience.

And make no mistake, there are some serious issues touched on in Black Widow, particularly in regards to the treatment of women. I know what I said earlier about wishing this film had come out several years earlier, but given everything that’s happened in recent years (especially the Me Too movement) I think maybe Black Widow came out at the right time after all. The film’s main villain is one of the most disturbing and revolting to appear in the entire MCU and long before he meets his demise you’ll be begging Natasha to finish him off. Speaking of villains, for what it’s worth, I really like Taskmaster’s appearance in this film. I admit I’m not familiar with the character’s comic book origins, but I like how the character was updated for this film.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t briefly mention the film’s score. Lorne Balfe has constructed some gorgeous music to go with Black Widow and what I heard intrigued me enough that a full-on soundtrack review will be forthcoming. My favorite part has to be the music associated with Taskmaster and if you’ve seen the movie you probably know what I’m talking about (my soundtrack review will provide details). And one final note: I like that the movie leaves some plot threads unresolved, because it practically guarantees that we will see some of these characters again.

In conclusion, I loved Black Widow. Marvel has returned to the big screen in style and I urge everyone who hasn’t seen it yet to go see Black Widow in theaters if at all possible, this is a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen.

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

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My Thoughts on: The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (2021)

I recently had the opportunity to check out a screener for the upcoming documentary The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (due to release on July 9th), which follows director Joshua Zeman’s journey to locate the so-called “52-Hertz whale”, a near-legendary creature due to the fact that it appears to be the only whale in existence to call out at a frequency of 52 Hertz, giving it the nickname “the loneliest whale” because no other whales can seemingly communicate back with it.

I’d never heard of the loneliest whale before seeing this documentary, so I found the entire story fascinating. It also helped that I’ve always been interested in whales, and I’ll always take the opportunity to learn more about them if I can. This documentary will certainly teach you quite a bit about whales, particularly about blue whales (the largest whale on Earth), fin whales (the second-largest) and humpback whales. I knew of course that humpback whales could sing, but I never knew that blue whales and fin whales had their own vocalizations as well, and the documentary covers this in a way that makes it easy to understand.

The bulk of the documentary, as the title implies, follows Zeman and a crew as they embark on a seven-day expedition to look for this mysterious 52-Hertz whale, which at the time of filming in 2015 hadn’t been documented for nearly 11 years. In between tracking the expedition however, there are segments inserted that explain the history of humanity’s fascination with whales for better and for worse. The history of humans hunting whales is touched upon, along with the subsequent “Save the Whales” movement that started in the 1970s. It’s a nice way to cut up the action and prevents what could be relatively boring story about hunting for one lone whale into a story that not only follows that hunt, but tells you about humanity’s relationship with whales along the way.

That being said, while I do appreciate learning about the history of whaling and the devastating effect it had on whale populations worldwide, I did find some of those scenes to be rather distressing. I’m sure that was the idea, but if you are uncomfortable with the sight of blood and seeing carcasses cut up, some of that footage might bother you.

Now, on the side of the story that followed the hunt for the whale, I liked how they explained each step of what they were doing to try and hunt for the whale. They even included some amazing underwater footage of the sonar buoys deploying, which I found fascinating because I had no idea that’s what one looked like and it was really helpful that the documentary showed that process. But my favorite part has to be when the crew went around “tagging” blue whales and fin whales in an effort to locate the loneliest whale. And I liked it because these tags had cameras attached, so once they managed the rhythm of getting the tag attached, one minute you (the viewer) are in the air, the next…you’re suddenly riding on the back of a blue whale, the largest animal on Earth. It’s a thrilling moment, one that took my breath away and I definitely have a new appreciation for whales after seeing them up close like that.

But aside from the whales, The Loneliest Whale also touches on why we are so fascinated by this mysterious whale. There’s an interesting commentary on the nature of human relationships and how they’ve changed. The documentary could have touched on this a bit more, but it definitely provides some food for thought on the nature of human relationships and why they’re so important (and necessary) for us.

Now, the one thing that frustrates me about The Loneliest Whale is that it ends with less resolution than I would like. I know documentaries like this aren’t guaranteed to have conclusive endings, but this one’s ending definitely left me wanting more. Hopefully there will be a follow up documentary down the line, because I definitely want to hear more about this mysterious whale.

In the end, I’m very glad I got to see The Loneliest Whale. I learned a lot about whales, about our history of interacting with them, and I gained a deeper appreciation for the issues facing whales in the 21st century. This is a really fun documentary and I highly recommend checking it out.

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

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