Tag Archives: film

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Escapes (1936)

The next Tarzan film I decided to see is Tarzan Escapes from 1936. Like Tarzan and His Mate, this film once again sees outside forces attempting to return Jane to civilization, this time in the form of her cousins Eric and Rita. These two mean well, but their actions sure do cause a lot of grief for Jane and Tarzan, especially when a certain revelation is made at the end of the film (but I’ll get to that in a little bit).

Tarzan Escapes has two primary conflicts: one centers on whether or not Jane will return to civilization to sign some financial papers that will help her cousins, and the other involves Captain Fry, a big game hunter who has nefarious designs on Tarzan. The latter plays out as exactly the way you think it will (Tarzan does get caught but it doesn’t last for long and revenge is exacted). The big heart wrenching element in this film comes when Jane has to explain to Tarzan why she needs to go away for a few months to help her cousins. The only part of it that Tarzan understands is that Jane is going away, and it clearly breaks his heart. It’s enough to make me want to cry, even though I’ve rewatched the scene several times by now. Weissmuller’s Tarzan is so in love with Jane, even a temporary separation feels like the end of the world.

But what really bugs me about all of this, as I mentioned earlier, is that none of it had to happen. You see, early in the film Eric and Rita make it plain that Jane needs to come with them to provide her signature on some documents. However, once the status quo has been restored, it comes out that Eric and Rita were lying through their teeth: Jane never needed to come with them, she could’ve just signed a paper in the jungle and that would’ve been that. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but this revelation makes me more than a little angry on Jane and Tarzan’s behalf. Essentially, Tarzan’s heart was ripped out and stomped on (when he thought Jane was leaving) for no reason.

And I can’t leave a review of Tarzan Escapes without talking about Captain Fry, or more specifically what happens to him at the end of the story. After racing to safety through a treacherous swamp, Tarzan turns and forces Fry to go back the way they just came. He doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t have to, after everything that’s happened, it’s clear that Tarzan consider’s Fry’s actions to be unforgivable and nobody, not even Jane, can convince him otherwise. It’s a spine-chilling moment and a reminder that Tarzan is not one to mess with, for any reason.

Tarzan Escapes is another enjoyable entry in the series of Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films, and one that everyone should see if they get the chance.

Let me know what you think about Tarzan Escapes in the comments below and have a happy New Year!!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

Some time ago I was very excited to finally get my hands on the first six Tarzan films starring Johnny Weissmuller. Having never seen any of these films before (but having heard about them since I was little), I decided to start with Tarzan and His Mate, the second Tarzan film starring Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan as Tarzan and Jane respectively. This is a direct sequel to Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), as it sees the return not only of Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton) as Jane’s would-be suitor, but also the return of the elephant graveyard that was being sought in the previous film. Like most, if not all of the Tarzan films I’ve seen to date, the plot is familiar: someone wants to plunder the treasures of Tarzan’s jungle and Tarzan does everything in his power to stop it while complications inevitably ensue.

As I’ve quickly discovered with these films, Tarzan and His Mate is pure adventure of the best kind. Even at its darkest point, it never feels like Tarzan or Jane are in serious danger, because even when they are you just can’t believe that anything bad is going to happen to them (mostly because Tarzan is bound to swing in to the rescue).

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One thing that delighted me about Tarzan and His Mate was learning that Jane had her own unique “Tarzan yell.” Of course I knew about Weissmuller’s yell, it’s been the template for all Tarzan yells for over 50 years (with The Legend of Tarzan admittedly being an exception), but I had no idea that Jane (and later Boy) had their own unique yells.

Johnny Weissmuller is, for obvious reasons, one of my favorite parts of this movie. While he’s nothing like his animated counterpart, and definitely not much like his literary predecessor (in terms of vocabulary), I have no trouble believing that Weissmuller is Tarzan. He just fits the role so well.

It was also really cool seeing Neil Hamilton star in something other than Batman. For years all I knew the actor for was his work as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman television series and I really liked his work in this film and the previous installment.

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Also, you can really tell that Tarzan and His Mate is a pre-Code film. Not only is Jane’s costume extremely revealing (there’s little left to the imagination), there’s also an underwater sequence where Jane (played by a body double) is completely naked! My eyes popped out when I saw that scene for the first time. I mean, I knew pre-Code films took risks like that, but I didn’t know they did that! I’m really glad the copy I have restored that scene, because I read that it was cut out of the film for the longest time.

If you want to start watching the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films, I highly recommend starting with Tarzan and His Mate. Let me know what you think about this film in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Escapes (1936)

Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

(author’s note: I’m BACK everyone!!)

2019 will definitely be remembered as a time of endings in cinema. Not only did this year see the 11 year Infinity Saga come to an end with Avengers: Endgame, it also saw the Skywalker Saga come to a close with the release of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.

And what an ending it is! This is a movie that I’ve been looking forward to for two years and after the teaser trailer revealed that the Emperor would be returning (a moment that completely blew my mind I assure you), I was more eager than ever to see how the final installment would play out. And while my many theories all proved to be woefully incorrect, that didn’t change the fact that I loved this film. Don’t let the critics turn you off from seeing The Rise of Skywalker, it IS a good story and a great conclusion…provided you go in with a completely open mind as to how the story can end.

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Now, I will admit that The Rise of Skywalker isn’t a perfect film by any means. Could the film have done better in explaining how the Emperor returned? Yes, it could’ve. Could a certain plot point with a certain First Order spy (name withheld because spoilers) have been expanded upon? Oh most definitely. And could we have had a lot more Force ghosts? Yup, no doubt. But really these are minor nitpicks and not gaping plot holes. Of course no movie is going to be completely perfect, and I wish people would remember that more often.

One thing this film gets completely right is its treatment of Carrie Fisher’s final appearance. As you’ve probably heard, all of her footage (minus one scene) was taken from deleted footage created for Episode VII. I wasn’t sure what that would look like going in but it works. It doesn’t feel awkward, but it does make certain scenes very emotional when you remember that Carrie isn’t here anymore. Well done to J.J Abrams and company for getting this right.

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The lightsaber battles were everything I hoped for and more. My favorite is the fight between Rey and Kylo Ren among the ruins of the second Death Star. It’s full of such raw emotion, as all the fights in the sequel trilogy have been, and the ending of this particular fight had me in tears. I have to say that it will be hard not seeing Adam Driver in Star Wars movies anymore (note: I’m not spoiling anything, Driver has said he’s moved on from the character), he’s quickly become one of my favorite parts of the sequel trilogy, and his style of lightsaber combat is a lot of fun to watch. I will admit I didn’t see his character arc going where it did, but Abrams did a really good job with it, so I’m okay with it too.

Another thing I liked about The Rise of Skywalker are the many surprises littered throughout the film. Some you’ll know about from the previews, and some you will not see coming. Of course there is one BIG spoiler that is likely dividing fans as I write this, but I for one am okay with it, even though it did torpedo my “Rey is a Skywalker clone” theory into oblivion. If you take a moment and think about it, this particular reveal is entirely plausible, and it does make a lot more sense than some of the theories I heard. Also, on a random note: D-O is my new favorite Star Wars droid.

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And it wouldn’t be a Star Wars review if I didn’t take a minute to talk about the music. For one final time, John Williams knocks it out of the park with a fantastic score that ties everything together. Since this is the final entry in the Skywalker Saga, there are a lot of musical callbacks, especially to the original trilogy. There isn’t nearly as much prequel trilogy music as I would’ve liked, but it’s also entirely possible that Williams tried to incorporate some of those themes and it just didn’t work out.

I will close by stating again that The Rise of Skywalker is a good film and a good conclusion to the nine film saga. Having rewatched Episodes I-VIII before seeing this film, I can say that this film fits in perfectly with all the rest. I’m still a little sad that there won’t be any further adventures with Rey or Poe or Finn, but at least now I can go back and watch the complete saga whenever I want. Bravo to everyone who worked over the last 42 years to bring not only The Rise of Skywalker, but all the Star Wars saga films to life.

Let me know what you think about The Rise of Skywalker in the comments below (keep it civil please) and have a great day! I’m happy to be back blogging once more!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Solo: A Star Wars Story (with spoilers!) (2018)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), My Thoughts!!

My Thoughts on: Star Wars (1977)

My Thoughts on: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Film Reviews

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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

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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 “All is Found” (2019)

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 “All is Found” (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

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

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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

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