Latest reviews of new albums:
Marco Beltrami: Music for Film
  • Composed by Marco Beltrami
  • Silva Screen / 68m

The annual Gent Film Festival in Belgium always has a heavy film music presence, including the World Soundtrack Awards and concerts, and in the last few years has produced a studio-recorded album of suites and themes from one of the main guests – this year it’s Marco Beltrami.

Joker
  • Composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir
  • Watertower / 36m

We all have our own moral compass, a set of things we know we will never do because, simply, they are not right. Of course every person is different, and so is every person’s moral compass – what’s seen as fine by one person may be completely unacceptable to another. There are just a small number of things that pretty much everyone has in common – such as never, ever go and see a DC extended universe film because they’re all rubbish. Joker has left quite the moral quandary for many people, as has been widely reported: is this one really different? Dare I break that rule?

Solis
  • Composed by David Stone Hamilton
  • MovieScore Media / 66m

A man is trapped inside a capsule heading straight towards the sun, in radio contact with the person trying to help rescue him. Solis stars Steven Ogg and Alice Lowe in the two roles, and for the music writer/director turned to up-and-coming composer David Stone Hamilton. Given it’s 2019 and what much film music sounds like today and given there probably wasn’t much budget, you know exactly what sort of score to expect – and will be as surprised as me to find that that’s not the sort of score Hamilton actually wrote.

Across the Stars
  • Composed by John Williams
  • Deutsche Grammophon / 83m

John Williams has developed an incredible canon of film music in his long career and there are numerous albums devoted to it quite apart from all the soundtrack recordings. Wonderfully, he adapts themes from most of his scores into arrangements to be heard in concert and it is generally these that we hear on the compilations – but it’s very rare that we hear anything radically different from the full orchestral arrangements.

Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Intrada / 140m (score 62m)

If First Blood was unexpectedly thoughtful for a 1980s action thriller then its sequels certainly weren’t. The first of them saw star Sylvester Stallone team up with James Cameron to write the screenplay, which took John Rambo back to Vietnam to locate and release some US prisoners of war still being held. It’s peak Reagan-era ludicrousness, but remains very popular.

First Blood

Composed by Jerry Goldsmith Varèse Sarabande / 40m It may be full of implausible action sequences and its reputation is probably forever sullied by its inferior sequels but First Blood is a surprisingly deep and intelligent thriller examining the sometimes harsh reaction given to returning veterans, in this case John Rambo played by Sylvester Stallone […]

Erica

Composed by Austin Wintory Sony / 58m An “interactive cinematic game”, Erica is essentially a film that the player controls. I can’t help but think of those books I had as a kid where I got to choose what happened next. Holly Earl plays Erica, a girl confronting the death of her father in an […]

Ready or Not

Composed by Brian Tyler Fox Music / 63m An action/horror/black comedy, Ready or Not follows a young woman marrying into a wealthy family – with the catch being that all the family members have a night in which they must try to kill her. Hey, it’s a family tradition, so she can’t complain about that. […]

The Dark Crystal

Composed by Trevor Jones La-La Land / 41m It was part of the swathe of fantasy films that appeared in the early 1980s, but what marked The Dark Crystal apart was that it was the first adult-oriented project from Jim Henson (the genius behind the Muppets). And it was a dark film – its story […]

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Composed by John Debney and Germaine Franco Paramount Music / 72m Everything changes when you have children. One thing that’s changed for me is that I hardly ever go to the cinema any more, but one thing’s for certain: I will be going to see Dora and the Lost City of Gold. And my daughter […]

After the Wedding

Composed by Mychael Danna Varèse Sarabande / 45m Based on the 2006 Danish film of the same name, After the Wedding stars Michelle Williams, who travels from Kolkata in India to New York to try to raise some much-needed funds for the orphanage she runs. Director Bart Freundlich turned to Mychael Danna for the music […]

Aladdin

Composed by Alan Menken Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul Disney / 76m The pace of Disney’s releases of “live-action” versions of their animated classics shows no sign of abating. None of them seems to get much traction with critics but so far they have mostly been very lucrative, so I […]

Dark Phoenix

Composed by Hans Zimmer Fox Music / 68m X-Men: The Last Stand was not received well at all in 2006, and after it was rather conveniently erased from the timeline of this film series in a later instalment, the filmmakers had the chance to do it again and so Dark Phoenix was born to conclude […]

Rory’s Way

Composed by Frank Ilfman MovieScore Media / 46m Based on José Luis Sampedro’s classic Spanish novel The Etruscan Smile, Rory’s Way sees an old man (Brian Cox) reluctantly move from the Scottish highlands to San Francisco to stay with his son while he seeks medical treatment only to see his twilight years transform him after […]

The World of Hans Zimmer

Composed by Hans Zimmer Sony Classical / 117m Hans Zimmer went on tour with a small band a few years ago, to the delight of his fans; shortly thereafter his music went on tour again, this time under the name of “The World of Hans Zimmer” and performed with a full orchestra. The former tour […]