Saturday, February 29, 2020

Score Sample: John Carter (2012)

Probably been too long since I mentioned Michael Giacchino on this blog, right? Right! So let's his score from the 2012 sci-fi adventure film John Carter another look. Through most of the 2010s Giacchino has been attached to Disney related film scores. Could be Pixar, Star Wars or even one off films like this one. Of course Disney wasn't hoping for a one off with John Carter, there were looking for their own Star Wars saga (before they bought Lucasfilm).

Unfortunately the film did poorly in theaters and with a budget that could almost fund mission to Mars itself, John Carter is considered one of the biggest financial failures in film history. Ouch. All that said, the movie is actually solid entertainment, with plenty of eye candy to keep a viewer engaged. Helping along with that is Michael Giacchino's score. Giacchino goes full adventure epic with his style. You'll hear all kinds of golden age influences in the score including a little Lawrence of Arabia in there. But you also have those kinetic Giacchino action tracks.

One of my favorites is Sad Than Pursues the Princess which just blasts along with action. But I also love the end titles which gives you a nice sampling of all the theme Giacchino crafted for the film. So enjoy both in this entry!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Score Sample - 80s Forgotten Gems - Lionheart

Jerry Goldsmith worked with director Franklin Schaffner several times over the years, providing him with some of the most memorable scores of his career. Planet of the Apes, Patton and Papillion are are well regarded films and scores. But the two men worked on a couple films that aren't quite as well remembered these days. One of those is the film Lionheart, a medieval adventure that takes place during the Children's Crusade of 1212. It starred Eric Stolz and Gabriel Byrne. The movie ended up getting a very limited theatrical release and was shuffled off to VHS and cable viewing.

These days the only folks that seem to mention the film are the Jerry Goldsmith fans, because DAMN is this an awesome score. Goldsmith goes full medieval adventure mode with this, and while I think he would perfect the sound in First Knight, what you get in Lionheart is top notch material. It has a rousing theme, heroic action, and because it was written in 1987, just a few synthesizer touches that Goldsmith was so fond of during this era. For all that, the score is certainly one of his best during the 1980s, and a double CD edition presents all the music from the film (sadly out of film order). Here is the massive finale piece, King Richard from the score to Lionheart by Jerry Goldsmith.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Score Sample - 80s Forgotten Gems - Young Sherlock Holmes

Taking another look at scores from 80s films that have been forgotten over the years. Today's entry comes from the film Young Sherlock Holmes. The score was composed by Bruce Broughton and is one of the very best adventure scores of the decade. Broughton crafts some wonderful themes for Watson and Holmes, a beautiful love theme, and one of the most diabolical evil chants for the Egyptian death ritual in the film. It is a powerhouse of a score, and in many ways may remind you of a John Williams score.

That said, has anyone else noticed that the schoolyard villain in this film is named Dudley and looks like Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter franchise. I would be willing to bet J.K. had this movie in mind when writing the first Potter books... but I digress.

Here is the end title piece to Young Sherlock Holmes composed by Bruce Broughton.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Score Sample - 80s Forgotten Gems - The Last Starfighter

I continue my look back at wonderful scores from the 1980s attached to movies that have been lost in the mists of time. Now The Last Starfighter did a lot of things right, and it is a very entertaining film all the way around. It also was one of the very first movies to use computer generated visual effects for the starships on screen. For that alone will be logged in history books.

But these days folks don't seem to talk too much about it. That is a shame because the wonderful score by Craig Safan has a very memorable main title. In fact, I've heard this main title played in amusement parks when they are trying to get a heroic vibe going. Safan's score could be at home in space or in a film with knights and dragons. He does some great stuff with it, and also gives us a couple of other themes to play with over the course of the film (along with some minimal electronics as a nod to the role of video games in the plot).

But in all honesty the end credits piece Into the Starscape is what you need to hear. So here you go, from the film The Last Starfighter composed by Craig Safan.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Score Sample - 80s Forgotten Gems - Return to Oz

Here is a little mini series of posts about movie music. Because I love it, and I love sharing it. The 1980s were a great time for fantasy and adventure film scores. The decade was dominated by some of the biggest names in film scores with John Williams giving us the amazing Indiana Jones trilogy as well was two Star Wars films. You had James Horner cranking out both Krull and Willow not to mention two Star Trek scores. And speaking of Star Trek Jerry Goldsmith knocked it out of the park with Star Trek V as well as his immense and amazing score to Legend. At the end of the decade you had Danny Elfman really coming into his own with fantastic scores to Scrooged and Batman.

But I'm not going to talk about any of those, I'm going to focus on the forgotten ones. Scores to movies that most people don't talk about any more, but had amazing scores. First up is David Shire's wonderful work with Return to Oz. Shire did some amazing work with various themes for nearly all the characters and weaving them into one powerful score. Listening to the full album is a treat with a new memorable theme popping up in each track. It is nearly impossible to pick one to sample here. But I think his most charming music is the rag time triumphal march that plays near the end of the film. Using the rag time style fits perfectly with the setting of the film, and gives the score a unique identity among the very much orchestral bombast scores (nothing wrong with that) we got in the decade.

So here is Rag March from Return to Oz by David Shire.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas!

I saw this posted by the folks at Satellite News a few years back, and I just make sure it makes the rounds again this year. 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.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Score Sample: The Dark Crystal (1982)

2019 brought us a new television series based around the 1982 fantasy adventure The Dark Crystal. The television series outlines the events that lead up to the situation Jen and Kira find themselves during the earlier film. So yeah it is a prequel of sorts, but I'm just happy to see the amazing puppetry and sets brought to life. As a kid, I adored The Dark Crystal, as well as it's younger sister Labyrinth. So I've been enjoying the series quite a bit (still working my way through it at this point).

One thing that I don't think has been improved on is the amazing score from the 1982 film by Trevor Jones. In a lot of ways this is one of those forgotten fantasy scores that really deserves more attention, kind of like the work on Young Sherlock Holmes. Jones created a myriad of themes for The Dark Crystal and nearly every one of them is memorable in some way. He interweaves the themes all through the film and gives the world its own unique flavor.

He wrote a wonderful Overture piece that I'll share today, but really the whole score is worth seeking out for fans of big colorful fantasy adventure scores. It might even be my favorite work by Jones. So here is Overture from The Dark Crystal by Trevor Jones.