Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Score Sample: Avatar - The Last Airbender

Well, I posted my review for the M. Night Shyamalan film, The Village and I had to mention the wonderful score by James Newton Howard. That reminded me that Shyamalan and JNH have been working together since The Sixth Sense back in 1999. Shyamalan's films bring out some of the best work from this composer, and nearly all their collaborations are worth seeking out and enjoying. 

Avatar - The Last Airbender is considered one of Shyamalan's biggest flops. It was a big budget fantasy adventure that didn't grab many viewers (and enraged fans of the animated series that the film was based on). But no one complained about the amazing adventure score that JNH crafted. It's got big themes, amazing action music, powerful moments of musical wonder. It's easily one of his most exciting and accessible works. So here is his climactic cue from the final battle sequence of the film entitled Flow Like Water


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Village (2004)

Introduction:
I remember when this film’s trailers came out, I was pretty eager to see it. It looked like an interesting film. However, it was around this time that Shyamalan started rubbing folks the wrong way. I heard some really negative things about the film and ended up missing it. But it popped up on Netflix download and I figured, what the hell, why not give it a shot.

Summary:
In a small, secluded village in Pennsylvania a community struggles to survive, not just against the powers of nature and fact that they are using 19th century technology – but there is something in the forest that holds them in terror. The elders of the village lead by Edward Walker (William Hurt) have a set of rituals and rules that the village must follow if they are to survive. This includes never using the color red.

In this village Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) discovers secrets buried in the hearts of these rituals. He begins to suspect that the elders aren’t telling the people the whole story. His friend, the lovely but blind Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) cares for him a great deal, even if he is the black sheep of the village. Her kindness has won the heart of a mentally disturbed man named Noah (Adrien Brody) who appears to have encountered the creatures in the forest, and lived to tell the tale (in his own unique way). These three will find themselves forced to face the darkness beyond The Village and either bring hope to their community or destroy it forever.

Good Points:
  • A visually gorgeous film with excellent cinematography by Roger Deakins
  • The score by James Netwon Howard is haunting and effective
  • A solid premise and interesting take on the hero’s journey

Bad Points:
  • Stilted dialogue ends up hurting performances and deliveries
  • The twist ending will land with a thud for some viewers
  • The slow pace will not work for some folks

Overall:
An interesting movie that nearly works, but ends up stumbling a bit by the end. Shyamalan is one of those directors who does great work with visuals, but needs to work with a screenwriter to get dialogue and flow hammered out. Performances seem stiff and stilted at times, but I believe it is the odd dialogue and phrasing. I understand that is supposed to be archaic sounding, but it just doesn’t work. If you can get past that, you’ll find film with wonderful visuals, a lovely score (with excellent violin work by Hilary Hahn) and one of the few times in a Hollywood film of the era where a woman takes on the classic hero’s journey.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 3
Acting: 3
Script: 3
Music: 4
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 3
Total:  3


Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Nostalgia Nugget: Looking at 2014

Feeling nostalgic or just a bit confused? Maybe both.
Are you ready for a nostalgic look back at 2014? Is that even possible? Of course not, but I felt like doing a recap of the year and Nostalgia Nugget seemed like a great place to put it. So lets begin with my big goal. I wanted to hit 100 posts for the year. It seemed possible especially considering I nearly hit it last year. Well, I did it. Not bad for a guy with a day job and who spends way too much time watching movies. 2015 is going to be a bit lighter, I’m going to start working on my fiction writing this year, and that means the movie blog will be closer to 2012 numbers.

I tried to provide a nice spread of mini reviews and full-length reviews this year. Each month featured at least one of each, and in most cases you got two minis and one full-length review. The big exception was October. I went all mini-reviews for the horror flicks. But that balanced out with November where I packed in four MST3K reviews (full length) and a top ten list.

Hey, the MCP kinda looks like the Kool-Aid
Man from this angle!
It was a bit tricky determining when I wanted to write a full-length review versus a mini. In some cases it was just a whim, like when I wrote about Tron, which was not planned as a review at all. My review of Zeffirelli’s Hamlet also came out of nowhere, but after viewing it, I felt the need to defend the film a bit (since I see reviewers coming down kinda hard on it).


Most of the time, I had a readymade source for full-length reviews. I ran two series in 2014 and I covered them both pretty well.

I don't think the Connery fans are going
to like my review.
First up was my continued exploration of the James Bond series. I revisited a couple reviews giving them better content and more images: Goldeneye and Casino Royale. But I also offered reviews of three of my favorite James Bond films: Thunderball, The Spy WhoLoved Me and On Her Majesty’s SecretService. In 2015 I may be able to finish off the Bond reviews, but we’ll see. We’re heading into some really poor ones. Not sure if could handle a back-to-back viewing of Diamonds are Forever and Octopussy, but we’ll see.

Previously I explored the work of Japanese animator Satoshi Kon, and had a lot of fun delving into his films and television series. In 2014 I attempted something similar for Mamoru Oshii. I covered his work on UruseiYatsura, Patlabor OAVs, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence and Avalon. I had already tackled his films Ghost in the Shell and Jin-Roh back in 2013. But I wasn’t able to review a few other items he’s worked on such as Sky Crawlers, Assault Girls and the Patlabor movies. Being a fan of Oshii, I’ll make sure to give them a go, if and when I can get my hands on them.

Eagerly awaiting my review of Spirited Away.
In 2015 I’m going to switch gears and go with Hayao Miyazaki. This will be a real treat, because I haven’t revisited some of his films in a number of years, and I’ll be able to go into more detail on some of my favorites that I keep mentioning (Spirited Away I’m looking at you).

When it came to Mystery Science Theater 3000 I had two goals. To provide at least one review a month and to tackle at least one per season. I almost made it, but was unable to update a Season Ten episode (I covered nearly all the season ten episodes back in 2010). But I did tackle each and every single Gamera episode the crew watched. That was quite a bit of fun to write about, even if some of the episodes meandered more than I remembered. It was certainly less of a chore than my insane attempt to watch and review all three Coleman Francis films back in 2013. For 2015, I’m thinking of tackling the three Russian fantasy films for November.

I had some fun with top ten lists in 2014. The James Bond Pre-CreditSequences was a spontaneous one and was a lot of fun to put together. I also enjoyed putting together a list of TheStrangest Movies Watched on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The toughest one was probably my top ten Favorite Anime. I'm still not sure I'm happy with all my picks. Maybe I'll revisit that one next year.

Not nearly enough Jerry Goldsmith related blogs
on this site. I will rectify that.
A couple lists focused on film music (from the 1980s and electronic specifically). But I also wrote a bit on the subject of film music in my Movie Music Musings. I shared the amazing work of Charles Gerhardt and his work on classic film scores. After writing that blog post, I picked up his album covering the work of Franz Waxman, and it was excellent. If you are interested in classic film music, seek out Gerhardt’s rerecordings. They are a perfect place to start. I delved into the complete Matrix Soundtrack Trilogy. I also focused on specific scores to specific films including: 2001: A Space Odyessey, TotalRecall and On Her Majesty’s SecretService. I also kept sharing my favorite tracks with the Score Samples and Anime Jukebox posts.

Blogging on the brain? I've
been there.
Not too many Nostalgia Nuggets this year. But I did share my experiences with James Bond and Planet of the Apes. I also participated in a fun October Blog-a-thon that featured cosmic horror. These posts tend to be spontaneous so I can’t predict when they’ll pop up.

So all in all it was a fun year of watching and writing about movies. I hope you enjoyed taking the ride with me. As usual, feel free to send me suggestions on topics, movies or anything else you want me to write about or explore. 2015 may be a lighter year for this blog, but that won’t stop me from having some fun with it.


Finally, thanks to everyone for reading and commenting. Even if we don’t always agree on some of the posts, I appreciate the fact that you are reading my random musings about the film, animation and music.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Oculus (2013)

Introduction:
Since my wife and I enjoy a good horror movie, we keep our ears open for positive reviews. Well this film got quite a few, and when we discovered that Amy Pond of Doctor Who fame was in the film that just pushed it up the list. Does the film serve up scares and live up to the accolades, or is it all fish sticks without the custard.

Summary:
Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) has come to grips with the gruesome events that destroyed his family. As a child he witnessed his mother and father lose their minds and turn murderous without any rhyme or reason. Years of therapy have helped him cope and now he’s free to leave the sanitarium. But his sister, Kaylie (Karen Gillan) has made up her mind that supernatural forces were at work, and now with her brother’s help, she’s going to face her past.

You see, she is convinced a cursed mirror unleashed dark spirits into the home, spirits she saw as a child (and is convinced her brother saw as well). She’s managed to obtain the mirror, and has set up a series of experiments in their old home. Her goal is to capture the supernatural events on camera and then destroy the mirror. Once this is complete, she’ll be free of her past. Tim is less then convinced, and even begins to wonder if his sister has already lost her mind and he is the only one dealing with reality. But what is reality when staring into the Oculus of the haunted mirror.

Good Points:
  • Some good jump scares and a disturbing moment with an apple
  • Thwaites and Gillan do a fine job as siblings
  • Manages to twist reality and keep the viewer guessing

Bad Points:
  • Never really manages to build its creepy premise to a satisfying conclusion
  • The foreshadowed outcome hurts the film
  • The score ends up grating rather than helping 

Overall:
Perhaps my expectations were a bit too high on this one. But I think this is a case where the total doesn’t equal the sum of the parts. I usually like reality-shifting films, but about half way through, I saw very clearly where this one was going. Because I was so confident in the ending, I felt no tension for the characters. I knew how it would play out. However, there are some interesting thematic elements dealing with abuse and trust. Not a bad film, but one that could have done a bit more with the premise and done a better job not telegraphing its conclusion so much.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 3
Music: 2
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 3
Total:  3


Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas!

I saw this posted by the folks at Satellite News last year, and I just had to share it. Remember the little ditty that Joel and the Bots sing during the Santa Claus Conquers the Martians episode? Well someone decided to take that, arrange it for a choir and then record it. Check out the serious faces as they sing these wonderful festive lyrics. And keep an eye peeled for a nod to Pod People as well.

Just figured I'd spread some MST3K inspired holiday cheer! Hope you all have a great end of the year. I'll catch you in 2015!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gamera vs. Zigra (1971) - MST3K Review

Summary:

It all starts on the moon, when a candy colored space ship arrives and blasts a moon rover with a strange beam, causing it to vanish. Later, some marine scientists working at Sea World perform some experiments in their rowboat, when two things happen. Their kids Kenny (Yasushi Sakagami) and Helen (Gloria Zoellner) have stowed away, and then the aliens abduct all four. Turns out these aliens are comprised of one space babe (Eiko Yanami) and one huge beaked monster called Zigra. They have the power to cause earthquakes and eruptions, so that isn’t good.

Luckily Gamera (friend to all children) is on the case. He is able to save the four humans, and even attempts to take on Zigra. But little does he know that Zigra can grow to enormous size, fight with amazing skill under water and pretty much trounces Gamera. Meanwhile the space babe arrives in Sea World to kill Kenny and Helen, Zigra takes over the television and telling everyone how cool he is, and there is a really long scene with two men arguing about fish. You can bet your bottom dollar that this will all end with two monsters beating the tar out of each other while the Gamera theme song plays triumphantly, or else they wouldn’t have called it Gamera vs. Zigra.

Movie Review:
Joel tastes the rainbow of fruit flavors.
Every year since 1965, a new Gamera film hit theaters. But by 1971, the old rocket powered terrapin has pretty much run his course. The folks at Daiei had run out of stories, run out of monsters and run out of time as the studio went into bankruptcy after this film was released. Still, looking at the way Gamera vs. Zigra plays out, you could argue that the time had come to put the series aside and let some new ideas percolate. Gamera would return in 1995, with a new look and a new story line.

In some ways Gamera vs. Zigra is kind of like a celebration of the previous Gamera films, kinda like Die Another Day is like a celebration of the first 20 James Bond films. Another similarity is that both films aren’t that good.

One of the big problems with the Gamera film is that the story beats are oh so predictable at this point. One of the reasons Gamera vs. Guiron is so much fun, is because it goes in completely new direction with the giant monster storylines. Sure it’s a goofy direction, but it is still new and surprising. Here, everything that happens, you’ve seen before – and it was done better in the earlier films.

The space babe's plan is evil. You can tell by the
green under lighting.
Alien beings from space threaten earth and the space babe? Both right out of Gamera vs. Guiron. Alien unable to withstand the light? Got that one from Gamera vs. Gaos. The marine scientist and Sea World doctor look familiar? They both appeared in key roles in Gamera vs. Barugon. Even the space babes from Gamera vs. Guiron appear again, but in different roles as a housewife and … wait… as a space babe? To be fair, Daiei was using a pool of actors for all its films, very similar to the studio system in the golden age of Hollywood. So seeing familiar faces in films was nothing new. But it all adds to the feeling that you’ve seen this stuff before.

However, like all the Gamera movies from Gamera vs. Gaos going forward, Gamera vs. Zigra has a lot of just plain goofy and off the wall moments. The moon base abduction sequence seems to have no purpose at all, until a very odd late film revelation – that does absolutely nothing for the story. The Sea World angle just seems bizarre, especially when they have living facilities and a hospital on site. The side story with the bathysphere and the long, long sequence featuring two men arguing about fish sales will cause you to wonder if you put a completely different movie in your DVD player. There are little things like Helen obsessed with drinking Coke, and the cartoonish chase scene with the space babe and the kids.

"Let's keep mugging and bantering. We can
stretch this scene out 6 more minutes at least."
Then there are the visuals. Gamera gets a bit of a redesign. Well that’s not exactly correct. He gets a tongue, which sticks forward from his mouth in a very disturbing way. The Zigra spaceship is a very colorful and silly looking thing, with jutting points and rounded Skittles lights all over it. But Zigra itself is a pretty cool monster, a fishlike beast who can swim very quickly and has blades all over its body. Gamera gets pretty beaten up and bloody by this fishy creature. It looks a bit like a Goblin Shark, a disturbing deep-sea creature that is a living fossil.

One of the odd things about Zigra is that this is the first time the monster in a Gamera film can actually speak. And boy is he an arrogant blowhard. Some of his ranting and raving provides unintentional laughs, mostly because the dubbing is so poor. And yeah, I know I keep saying that, but Gamera vs. Zigra may have the worst dub of the series. Lots and lots of nonsensical lines and moments that attempt to match the lip flaps, but do so with the most bizarre lines or sounds we’ve heard yet.

Part parrot, part horseshoe crab, part manta ray - all evil.
Still it all makes for some entertaining moments. Unlike the slow pacing of Gamera vs. Barugon or the original Gamera film, at least Gamera vs. Zigra moves pretty quickly. The outlandish visuals are fun for a little while. And you can attempt to untangle the storyline, which seems to be really thrown together this time around (I’ll admit the edit used by MST3K doesn’t help things, it really feels like whole scenes are missing). As far as a finale for the monster series goes, well it could have been a lot better. But as a finale for Joel and the bots to celebrate their final Gamera movie on MST3K… well, read on and find out.

Episode Review:

No matter how hard Gamera tries, his new tongue
will never top Barugon's.
If Daiei studio was feeling some fatigue with the Gamera films, it is no surprise that the cast and crew of MST3K was also feeling some fatigue watching them. This comes through in the celebratory nature of the host segments, as well as the riffing of Gamera vs. Zigra. In a way, I kinda wish they spread out the Gamera (and Japanese movie) riffing over a couple seasons. It would have kept some of this a bit fresher for them. But when it is all said in done, we’ve got what we’ve got. Luckily the riffing is pretty solid for this episode.

What makes the best riffing are the really odd moments. These are still enough to give Joel and the bots material for funny jokes. When our marine scientists jump into the rowboat to head out for specimens, Joel quips, “Let’s get some tuna safe dolphin!” When the boys discover that the little boy is named Kenny they all yell “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” at the same time. Kenny from the first Gamera film really scarred them.

Does this shot look familiar to you too?
When the Zigra space ship is revealed the boys keep referring to it as a candy dish, and Crow tries to figure out if it is filled with Skittles, Dots or Jujubes. When Zigra starts talking Joel points out that “it is weird that the monster is badly dubbed.” One of the scientists asks Zigra why he does horrible things, Tom replies, “Because I didn’t get picked for cheer!”

Near the end after the Gamera vs. Zigra portion of the film concludes, Gamera does a kind of victory dance, to which Joel encourages him with “Bust a move, Gamera”. But then turns to Crow and says, “You know what? These films are weird.”

Unfortunately a portion of the riffing revolves around how familiar the plot is, how annoyed they are that they are watching another Gamera movie and a surprising amount of obvious observation (or State Park) jokes. It almost feels like an episode from Season One in that regard.

I'm not a real space babe, I just play one in Gamera
movies.
The episode begins with Joel and the bots enjoying a root beer kegger. They’ve got a Gamera piƱata and they are ready to party. Why? Because this is the last Gamera movie they have to tackle. For the invention exchange, the mad scientists have created 3 Stooges guns. Should be seen to be believed. For the party Joel had turned Tom into the root beer keg and Crow into a shish-ka-crow. At the first break, Tom and Crow have crated a model show how Gamera works. It turns out Gamera has a game room inside of him as well as sleeping quarters for Kenny. Joel ruins it when he opens the secret door leading to Gamera’s guts. When we come back from the next break, Joel and the bots show off their dioramas featuring their favorite scenes from the Gamera films. When we come back Joel and the bots are visited by Kenny and Helen (Mike and Bridget badly dubbed). It gets kinds surreal. When the movie ends Joel the bots and the Mads all sing the Gamera theme song in different styles. This final sequence is not for the feint of heart.

The bots reveal the inner workings of Gamera!

When it comes down to it Gamera vs. Zigra is a fun episode, but it falls somewhere in the middle of the bunch. Gamera vs. Guiron is still the funniest episode, and I think I’d take Gamera vs. Gaos over this one too. But it makes for a solid finale for any MST3K Gamera marathon.


This episode is available on the MST3K vs. Gamera boxset (Vol. XXI).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten - Favorite Electronic Film Scores

On one of the film score sites I frequent, there was some discussion about favorite electronic or synth film scores. This ended causing a lot of debate about the perceived decline of orchestral scores, and the dominance of electronics. All that was interesting, but not something I wanna get into here. Instead, I found the various top ten lists of electronic scores to be fascinating.


Compiling my own list, I found that it leaned heavily on the 1980s. And lets face it, if there was a decade that was in love with the Casio synthesizer, it was the 80s. So a huge helping of nostalgia is at work in this list. But you’ll find some modern stuff on here too. You may also find a couple scores with an orchestral base, but where the electronics play a key or prominent role.

10. Tron Legacy composed by Daft Punk
When I heard they were making a sequel to Tron I wondered how they were going to handle the music. Would Wendy Carlos come back? Well, the creators decided to keep the electronic style of the music, but modernize it (as they did with the visuals and concept behind the film). The result was bringing in electronic duo Daft Punk (and some composers from Hans Zimmer's music team) to create a sonic world that fits Tron Legacy like a glove. The score has a very modern feel with the orchestra, but Daft Punk's retro/techno/funk combinations turn this into one of the best scores of that year. I wish Carlos' Tron theme had made an appearance, but all in all, this is one of my favorite scores of the last five years.

9. Dune composed by Toto and Brian Eno
In the 1980s there was a bit of a craze of pulling in pop and rock groups to compose film scores. The results were often mixed, but they were almost always interesting. This score is really an anomaly. Who would have guessed that a David Lynch film would get a score by Toto? Not me. But hell, it works! There are a number of bold themes, with full throated electronics. But one of the most interesting pieces is The Prophesy by Eno. This is an atmospheric almost etherial piece that combines the mystery and mysticism of the film. Lynch uses the music very well in the film, but it makes for a great stand alone listen.


8. Backdraft composed by Hans Zimmer
You can't talk about electronic fusion with orchestral power and not mention Hans Zimmer. The man has perfected this combination and it has had a huge impact on film music, coming to dominate most Hollywood action, sci-fi and fantasy blockbusters for the last ten years and counting. It all started with his work on Backdraft. This score remains one of my favorite incarnations of this sound. Zimmer uses bold masculine themes, uses the electronics to modify the sound of the orchestra and really add resonance to it. The result was something no one had really heard before. It's a great fit for the film, but makes for some great listening if you want to feel like you are kicking ass while doing household chores.

7. Hoosiers composed by Jerry Goldsmith
Goldsmith was never afraid to experiment with electronic sound effects, and used them in his scores as far back as the mid 60s. But the man really dove into the synth revolution of the 1980s and composed some really unique and interesting scores. My favorite from this period has to be Hoosiers. While a good portion of the score is traditional orchestra, Goldsmith uses synth percussion. Specifically, he uses the recorded sounds of a basketball on a wooden floor as his percussion. The result gives this score a unique sound. The score also features a full synth version of the main theme, which is so 80s you may feel you necktie getting skinnier as you listen to it.

6. 1492: The Conquest of Paradise composed by Vangelis
The Greek electronic guru was asked to tackle a historical drama for 1992 film exploring the voyages of Christopher Columbus. This production was truly an international showcase, and while the film certainly has its flaws, the amazing score is not one of them. Vangelis fuses three distinct styles into the score: middle eastern (representing the moorish influence in Spain), medieval style choral work (for the catholic church) and a world music sound for the island nations that Columbus encounters. All these are brought together with some distinctive themes, and of course lots of electronics. But there is enough orchestra and unique instruments to make this one hell of a colorful album. His 13 minute finale cue is worth the price of the album alone.

5. Alexander composed by Vangelis
Really it only made sense to have Vangelis score a film about Alexander the Great. How could Oliver Stone resist. Much like the earlier film, Alexander is far from a perfect film, but the music is really something else. Vangelis takes the listener on a musical journey from Pella in Macedonia, across the plains of Gaugumela, into the rocky wastes of Asia and into the jungles of India. Vangelis gives us a couple of powerful themes, but focuses on specially instruments and various audio colors (with lots of synths of course). While the album listen it's quite as fluid as 1492, I prefer the musical journey of Alexander. Its a shame the official album is so short, plenty of great music in the very long film never made it to the CD.


4. Logan's Run composed by Jerry Goldsmith
Goldsmith was used to creating unique soundscapes for science fiction films. His work on Planet of the Apes is considered a massive triumph of his early career. But I really love what he did with his 1970s synthesizers. For the scenes based around the computer controlled society in the city, Goldsmith uses a purely electronic score. What is amazing is that he creates a motif for the city's overwhelming power. At first you hear only electronic pulses, but they do create a theme, and that theme appears in various guises throughout the film. Goldsmith introduces the orchestra gradually into the story, as Logan moves further from the city. But the motif is never left behind and often appears as his friend pursues him into the wilds, played by orchestra - but still the same pulsing theme. This score rubs some listeners the wrong way, the 70s electronics are very much of their time. But to me, they really give an identity to the world of the film: cold, brutal and inflexible. Something the warmth of the orchestral final track really shatter.

3. Blade Runner composed by Vangelis
As much as I enjoy his work on the historical films, there really was no better fit for Vangelis then science fiction. It was really a stroke of genius that caused him to work with Ridley Scott on what ended up being one of the best science fiction films of the 1980s. One of the reasons the film is so effective is that Vangelis score builds upon the visuals and adds depth to the atmosphere of the film. While the score is primarily known for its electronics and its energetic end titles piece, there is a heavy vibe of noire music styling in the film. The saxophone (with some synthetic layering) has a prominent role in the score. In addition there are some very dark moments in the final portion of the score that create a dissonance that I've never heard from the composer. All in all, this score may be Vangelis' best, and certainly one that helped Blade Runner obtain it's place as one of the best science fiction films of the 80s.

2. Tron composed by Wendy Carlos
This score appeared on my Top Ten Favorite Scores of the 1980s. So it really isn't a huge surprise to see it here. Once again we have a composer using electronics to create her own audio world for the film. One of the reasons I really admire this score is the way it ends up sounding so unique. Nothing else out there sounds like the score to Tron. Carlos uses a mix of orchestra and electronics, but her style is much closer to modernistic film styling of the 1950s and 60s. It deals more in atmosphere as opposed to Golden Age score methods focusing on theme and theme development. Carlos still takes us on a musical journey and there are a couple themes, but she fleshes out the emotions and world with her music. While not a unique approach, it wasn't something that was too popular in the 80s with the John Williams inspired Golden Age style resurgence. But Tron's fusion of electronics with that modern style is what make it so impressive.

1. Transformers the Movie composed by Vince DiCola
Well, here is another one from my Top Ten Favorite Scores of the 1980s. As much as I admire the skill and technique of Vangelis, Carlos and Goldsmith, sometimes you just need to rock out and have fun. Really it doesn't get much more fun than DiCola's score to Transformers the Movie. It's big, it rocks and it is bursting with action and adventure. To me this is the quintessential 80s synth rock score. No one could mistake this score as coming from any other decade. And once you tell someone that it is from a movie about transforming robots battling to save the universe... well what other kind of soundtrack can you really expect? But I don't want to sell DiCola short, because he does create themes and utilize them throughout the score. He does build a musical story, and carry the film along. He does what he was supposed to do with a film score. But he also made it one hell of a ride, and something that I love listening to over and over again, especially during the summer.

Well there you have it. I had a few other special mentions that didn't make it onto the list. Anime composer Ko Otani provided a couple of excellent electronic scores for Outlaw Star and Tenchi Muyo 2: A Midsummer Night's Dream. You also have the incredibly awesome videogame score Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon which will remind you of Vangelis, John Carpenter and pretty much every action movie from the 1980s. And speaking of John Carpenter, the man has brought us some really fun electronic/rock scores like Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China. If you want to head into a more experimental style, Tangerine Dream also contributed a few scores such as Legend (for its US release) and Thief. You also have Giorgio Moroder who provided music for Cat People, The Neverending Story and a new score for the silent film Metropolis.