Tag Archives: film

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “Kylo Ren’s Theme (Redeemed Version)” (2019)

*warning (in case you haven’t seen it): some plot details from The Rise of Skywalker are mentioned

I understand that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has polarized Star Wars fans in every way imaginable and likely will continue to do so for years to come. That being said, this film, as with all the others in the Skywalker Saga, is full of interesting musical moments that we’ll be spending years breaking down and analyzing.

One moment that caught my attention the very first time I saw the film in theaters comes at the end of film, just as the dust is settling from Rey’s climactic fight with Emperor Palpatine. It’s a short moment in a larger theme, but it essentially makes up Kylo Ren’s “redeemed” theme.

You can find this moment in the cue “Farewell” starting around the 0:50 mark. In the film itself, it starts the moment we see Ben’s hand emerge from that crack in the ground, revealing that he is, in fact, alive and didn’t fall to his death.

 

In strictly technical terms, this is the same theme we’ve heard for Kylo Ren all along. The notes haven’t changed all that much…but how they’re presented is. Gone is the harsh brass, the loud, angry tones. Instead, we have a soft theme gliding along in the strings and woodwinds. In essence, this is John Williams making it as clear as possible that Kylo Ren is indeed dead and gone, that this is a changed man before us crawling and making his way towards Rey.

But as with anything John Williams does, there’s a lot more going on just in this short moment. As the redeemed theme emerges, it begins to layer on itself, building and growing as the layers rebound off one another. All of this symbolizes Ben’s grief at finding Rey dead and the battle over. How incredible is it that all of this happens in just a short space of time? It’s so effective, which is why this is one of my favorite musical moments in the entire sequel trilogy.

And of course, there is yet another connection to Ben’s grandfather Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. You see, this isn’t the first time a Star Wars villain’s music has changed to a milder, “redeemed” style. All the way back in Return of the Jedi, Williams did something very similar for the cue “Darth Vader’s Death” (starting around 0:48)

 

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? It’s the same Imperial March, same notes and all that, but it’s been moved to the strings and sounds a lot more mild, just like what we hear in The Rise of Skywalker. I’m fairly certain that John Williams did this on purpose, to heighten the connection between Ben and his grandfather. It seems that Ben is exactly like Anakin after all, angry in life and redeemed at the moment of death.

Let me know what you think about Kylo Ren’s “redeemed” theme in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Empire Strikes Back: “The Imperial March” by John Williams

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi “Final Duel” (1983)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Bad Batch Theme” (2020)

Star Wars: Rebels “It’s Over Now”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Kylo Ren’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Rey’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “March of the Resistance” (2015)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

My general opinion of The Last Jedi has changed a great deal since I first saw the movie in 2017, but one thing that hasn’t changed is my love of the film’s soundtrack. It’s been my longstanding opinion that the Star Wars soundtrack as a whole is one of the greatest film music creations ever made and the music for The Last Jedi is up there with some of the best themes Williams ever created.

“The Spark” is one such theme and one I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. It occurs very late in the film, when Luke Skywalker appears out of nowhere in the remains of the Rebel base on Crait. Most of the cue, starting around 1:00 is actually from a Return of the Jedi theme known as “Luke and Leia” and plays when Luke finally reunites with his twin sister. You would know this as the music that plays in ROTJ when Luke reveals that Leia is his twin. It’s pretty much the same theme all over again and it really is perfect for this scene that happens to be the first and sadly, only, time we see Luke and Leia together in the sequel trilogy (everything after this was done with body doubles and CGI so it doesn’t really “count” for me if that makes sense).

After this memorable theme runs its course, then the fun really starts. Starting around 2:15 the music begins to morph into something different but it doesn’t latch onto the new theme until around 2:30. From that point on, the music enters a weird march-like motif that might sound odd at first, or vaguely familiar depending on your point of view. There’s a deep, booming motif that repeats over and over again as Luke strides out to confront the First Order and his wayward nephew Kylo Ren. As you listen to it, you might realize that this is actually from the bass line of The Imperial March, known the world over as “Darth Vader’s theme.”

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Think of the symbolism in this choice on the composer’s part. We have Luke Skywalker, Jedi, hero of the Rebellion, etc. and so on, marching out to face the evil First Order to more or less the tune of the Imperial March. I don’t know if it’s merely ironic or also meant to send a message, maybe something to the effect that it’s Luke who has the power and authority that Kylo has always sought but will never find because he’s too much of a hothead. It could be I’m thinking too much into it but it always sends chills down my spine to hear the remnants of that immortal theme when Luke walks out, all alone, to stare the enemy down.

Some people gave John Williams a lot of flack for not creating a new Imperial March or something equivalent for the sequel trilogy, but I really feel he didn’t need to, and “The Spark” is a prime reason why. It’s a combination of the old and new that lends sadness and power to this scene in a way that only Williams can make possible.

Enjoy listening to “The Spark” from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Let me know your thoughts about this moment in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Empire Strikes Back: “The Imperial March” by John Williams

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Kylo Ren’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Rey’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “March of the Resistance” (2015)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Bad Batch Theme” (2020)

Star Wars: Rebels “It’s Over Now”

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Disturbing Bluth #7: Charlie Dreams of Hell in All Dogs Go to Heaven

Oh boy….let’s talk about this shall we?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that Don Bluth’s animated films have given birth to some of my worst childhood nightmares, and All Dogs Go to Heaven is a prime example. Aside from Charlie being brutally murdered in the film’s opening act, the most disturbing part of this entire film is a sequence that takes place mid-film, when Charlie has a nightmare about falling into Hell. It’s a very real prospect, since Charlie’s impulsive act in winding up a certain watch and escaping Heaven means he’s forbidden from returning there, meaning Hell is the only place he can go when he dies.

The sequence starts ominously, with the faint voice of Annabelle (the dog who welcomed Charlie to Heaven) repeating “You can never come back, you can never come back…” before suddenly Charlie is thrown headlong into a nightmarish landscape that quickly opens up to reveal the mouth of Hell.

And then it gets worse.

After being dragged into the mouth of Hell, Charlie falls into a demonic boat surrounded by lava, fire, and brimstone. It’s a nightmarish image, and the ominous music certainly doesn’t help. Oh yes, and there’s also a skeletal monster onboard that lunges and snaps at Charlie. But then comes the worst of all: from out of the flames and lava comes what can only be described as a terrifying Hellbeast, one that breathes fire and causes other, smaller demons to appear and torment Charlie.

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This creature is terrifying, horrifying, the last thing you’d expect to see in a children’s movie (which All Dogs Go to Heaven is supposed to be don’t forget). The thing is…I think this isn’t the only time we see this creature. Look at the picture of the Hellbeast again and notice the reddish fur/skin and the jutting chin. Look at all familiar? If it does, it’s because that’s awfully similar to Red, the demonic villain of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. I admit Red isn’t nearly as demonic in appearance, but I have a theory that this appearance in Hell is how Red really looks while his appearance in the sequel is the appearance he chooses to wear while on Earth.

Thankfully, the nightmare comes to an end as the boat sinks back into the lava, trying to take Charlie with it. The sequence barely lasts two minutes but it makes quite the impression. For years this scene scared me out of my mind, and to this day I don’t understand why anyone would think a little kid could handle something like this. On the one hand, I do get that Bluth was trying to get across how scared Charlie is of going to Hell (hence why he’s so protective of that watch), but surely there was another way to do it that didn’t involve…this. I can’t overstate how messed up this entire scene is. I’ve wanted to write about this one for a while, and I hope my words did justice to how disturbing it all is.

Let me know what you think about Charlie’s nightmare of Hell in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disturbing Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Disturbing Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

Disturbing Bluth #3: The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #4: Jenner in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #5: The House is Sinking in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #6: Meeting Brutus in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

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Soundtrack Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

The soundtrack for Universal Pictures’ remake of The Invisible Man is now available digitally and will be available on LP starting March 4th, 2020. Starring Emmy Award winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), The Invisible Man is a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic Monster character.

Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding. But when Cecilia’s abusive ex, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House), commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turn lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

The film’s score was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch (Blade Runner 2049, IT). He has worked on over 75 feature films and has received Golden Globe®, BAFTA®, two-time GRAMMY® and Emmy® nominations. It was recently announced that Wallfisch will score the New Line/Warner Bros reboot of Mortal Kombat, which is slated for a 2021 release.

Regarding the film’s score, Wallfisch had the following to say:

It was about using silence rhythmically. When there is music, the gestures and sonic attitude are sometimes so left-field and extreme that you almost don’t trust the score’s absence when it’s not there. As a kind of analogue to the presence of Adrian Griffin [the Invisible Man] in the film.

Also, the orchestral instrumentation is deliberately constrained to strings- only so that the musicians were pushed to their max, without the support of a full orchestra. That choice was also an homage to one of my heroes, Bernard Herrmann and one of his masterpieces, the Psycho score.

As the film progresses, Cecilia (Moss) devolves into questioning her every move, then grows into her power. The composer reflected that journey musically as well:

Cecilia’s Theme,’ a simple melody for cello and strings, was written to be a musical reminder of her own sanity, as everything unravels around her,” Wallfisch said. “You only hear it a handful of times in the movie, at key turning points in the story. There is also a piano motif that recurs a few times, something building and insistent, meant to portray the way she still manages to hold on to who she really is, against all the odds, ultimately triumphing.”

Because Wallfisch was tasked with creating musical space for an antagonist who is literally not present, the composer had to factor into his choices for Adrian/the Invisible Man some elements that he’d not previously considered for a villain:

Rather than a melodic theme, we needed a signature sound for Adrian—something that just creeps up on you. The sonic for the Invisible Man himself is entirely electronic, and when it goes full tilt, we tried to push things as hard as they could possibly go.

Knowing that the Invisible Man is characterized by electronic sounds makes listening to the soundtrack very interesting indeed, as his motif truly does creep up on you, appearing when you least expect it. There’s a jarring contrast between the strings of the orchestra and the electronic tones as well, which could be symbolizing how unnatural Griffin’s invisible existence really is (after all humans weren’t meant to be invisible). Also, I can definitely sense the homage to Herrmann with the all-strings orchestra. These days it’s somewhat unusual to get a film orchestra that’s all strings, as it creates a musical dynamic that you don’t hear all that often anymore.

Wallfisch really appears to be ratcheting up the tension with this soundtrack as well, as each track is just full of it. Even the tracks that don’t contain references to the Invisible Man are full of subtle tensions (which you would expect in a horror film), as if the next encounter could happen at any moment. It was enjoyable to listen to, but also more than a little nerve wracking since after a while you come to expect that at some point the Invisible Man sonic will jump in and surprise you.

All in all, the soundtrack for The Invisible Man was quite enjoyable, just from listening to it I’m half tempted to check out the film itself once it arrives in theaters.

TRACK LIST
  1. Cobolt
  2. Escape
  3. He’s Gone
  4. This Is What He Does
  5. We’ve Got That In Common
  6. Make It Rain
  7. Attack
  8. Why Me
  9. The Suit
  10. Asylum
  11. He’s Behind You
  12. House Fight
  13. It’s All a Lie
  14. Surprise
  15. Denouement

Check out the soundtrack for The Invisible Man when you get the chance. And let me know what you think of it (and the film) in the comments below, and have a great night!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: Wendy (2020)

It’s been announced by Milan Records that the original motion picture soundtrack for Wendy will be released on February 28, 2020. It will be released the same day the film comes out, and you can view the trailer for Wendy below:

 

The album features music co-written by Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin. The album is the latest in a series of scoring collaborations for the duo that includes both Zeitlin’s own critically-acclaimed, breakout film Beasts of the Southern Wild as well as additional titles Brimstone & Glory and Mediterranea.

Of the soundtrack, Wendy director and co-composer BENH ZEITLIN has this to say:

We set out to create a score the charges straight at you, with all the energy and reckless abandon of a toddler on a rampage. The themes are meant to feel timeless and cathartic, iconic yet dizzying.  We wanted to take the ragtag back yard orchestra concept from Beasts of the Southern Wild and explode it to new heights.

A single from the new soundtrack, “The Story of Wendy” has been made available already. You can listen to it below:

 

“The Story of Wendy” is a beautiful piece of music. It starts off with some whimsical strings but quickly grows in power, adding in brass and the rest of the orchestra. If this piece is representative of the soundtrack as a whole, then Romer and Zeitlin have indeed taken the story of Peter Pan and Wendy in a completely different direction than anything we’ve seen before (and that’s really not a bad thing). I’m excited to hear what the rest of the soundtrack is like just based on this single track. Romer and Zeitlin really have gone for a timeless feel here as they said, and that’s the type of feeling you want in any story dealing with Peter Pan and not growing up.

Enjoy this sneak peek at the Wendy soundtrack and be sure to check it out when it becomes available on February 28, 2020.

WENDY (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –
1. Sneak Away
2. Straight On ’till Morning
3. The Haunted Train
4. Into The Night
5. Neverbirds
6. The Mother
7. Never Grow Up
8. The Old Hand
9. Where Lost Boys Go
10. Want To Fly?
11. To Grow Up is a Great Adventure
12. Battle for Mañana
13. I Love My Mother
14. Counting the Days
15. The Story of Wendy
16. Once There Was a Mother

Let me know what you think about “The Story of Wendy” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

In coming to Pokémon 4Ever, I finally reached terra incognita. For while I’d seen the first and third Pokémon movies, and new of the second one, I’d never seen much less heard of  any of the Pokémon films after that (with the possible exception of Arceus and the Jewel of Life, but that’s a story for another day). So I was very excited to sit down and watch this film for the very first time.

And from what I can see, Pokémon 4Ever is a really enjoyable film (with spot-on animation for the most part). The story sees Ash, Misty, and Brock set out to help save Celebi, a Pokémon who functions as the “Voice of the Forest” and has the ability to travel through time. To escape from a hunter, the Pokémon travels to the future, inadvertently bringing along a young boy named Sam with him. Together, Sam, Ash and company must work to save Celebi from forces that are hunting Celebi for the great power he possesses.

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This movie really makes you feel for poor Celebi. I thought watching the first movie was an emotional experience, but this movie takes it to a whole different level. Most of the movie sees Celebi being chased, abused, and otherwise scared out of his mind. And even after the situation is fixed, more enemies appear and make the situation worse. This Pokémon really goes through a beating.

And then there’s Team Rocket. Oh, not Jessie, James, and Meowth. Oh sure, they’re as persistent as always, but they’re nothing compared to Iron Masked Marauder, the Team Rocket Member chasing Celebi. This is the first time I can recall being actually scared of Team Rocket, before watching this film I thought Team Rocket was only meant to be a joke, not to be taken seriously. This film definitely proved me wrong on that count.

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I’m not completely satisfied with this film’s plot twist. While I find it interesting that Sam is revealed to be a young Professor Oak, I’m not sure I’m okay with how the details are worked out. How Oak remembers something that Ash and company haven’t even done yet doesn’t quite make sense to me. Perhaps I’m thinking too hard about it, but the plot details don’t quite mesh and that bothered me quite a bit while I was watching. Also, the CGI of…whatever that thing is that Celebi creates doesn’t quite hold up now that it’s nearly 20 years old. The contrast between it and the surrounding animation is just weird.

Also, is it weird that I was expecting Suicune to talk? Maybe I was spoiled after seeing Entei in the third film, but I was fully prepared for Suicune, as a legendary Pokémon, to have dialogue and it doesn’t, which completely subverted my expectations.

On a final note, the very concept of the Dark Balls is a scary one. It actually reminds me somewhat of Mewtwo’s plan in the first film, only instead of cloning Pokémon that are stronger than the originals, the Dark Balls just corrupt the existing creatures instead.

All in all, I enjoyed Pokémon 4Ever. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is enjoyable, and it was nice to finally move past the first three Pokémon films.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon 4Ever in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

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

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Sonic the Hedgehog occupies what might be a completely unique position in my mind. This is, as far back as I can remember, the first time I’ve ever gone to see a movie because I felt I owed it to the filmmakers to do so. Allow me to explain: remember when the original trailer for this film came out and we were all horrified by Sonic’s appearance? And then, to the shock of all, the studio withdrew the film and actually fixed it? That NEVER happens, and since the studio was so thoughtful as to actually listen to our wishes, I felt I had no choice but to repay them by going to see the film in theaters.

That turned out to be a great decision because Sonic the Hedgehog is a lot of fun! The story doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the comedy is actually pretty funny (that’s saying a lot from me because I’m very picky about the comedy I like). James Marsden made a great foil for Sonic, and aside from one or two awkward moments there really weren’t any moments I didn’t like.

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Aside from Sonic himself (more on that in a moment), my favorite part of this film has to be Jim Carrey. He was made for a movie like this and throws himself into the role of Dr. Robotnik with everything he has. Seriously, Carrey’s performance had me in stitches from the moment he arrived onscreen. If the clearly teased sequel happens, then I really hope we see more of Carrey’s Robotnik.

The other part of the film I really liked is Sonic. I was admittedly doubtful that the speedy hedgehog could ever be realized in a live-action movie, but after overhauling the design it works really well. Sonic looks just enough like his video game counterpart to satisfy longtime fans of the video games, while also looking like a living, breathing creature that found its way to Earth.

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And that leads me to one point that I do have a problem with: the story of how Sonic got to Earth. Now, I understand that the story needs an explanation of how we got to this point, but that prologue feels extremely rushed, with a lot of exposition crammed into what felt like five minutes or less. Perhaps a sequel will delve into this part of the story a bit more, because I have a lot of questions regarding how and why Sonic has his powers and the film didn’t really answer them (I should note I have never played any of the Sonic games). These aren’t the only pacing issues the story has, but it is the part that bothered me the most.

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

And speaking of sequels, I am completely excited to see one after seeing the mid-credits scene. When that scene came on, that’s the first time in a long time that I’ve heard a there burst into applause and cheers. They could really be on to something here with a Sonic film franchise and I never thought I’d say this but I want to see what happens next!

Defying my worst fears, Sonic the Hedgehog is a cute movie that makes for a great time. While the story has a few pacing issues, Jim Carrey’s performance as Dr. Robotnik makes up for most of the issues, and the hints of what may come in a sequel leave me eager for more. If you go in with an open mind, you are definitely going to enjoy this movie.

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

See also:

Film Reviews

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