Latest reviews of new albums:
Captain America: Civil War
  • Composed by Henry Jackman
  • Hollywood Records / 2016 / 69m

The Marvel machine rolls on with no sign of audiences losing interest in Captain America: Civil War, in which the superheroes split into two factions, one led by Captain America and the other by Iron Man, after the United Nations attempts to start regulating them.  The cast is enormous, with the latest big addition to the roster of heroes teased in the film’s trailer earlier in the year, reviews have been glowing and box office returns already gigantic.  Anthony and Joe Russo, who made Captain America: The Winter Soldier, return as directors.

Executive Decision
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 2016 / 75m

Veteran film editor Stuart Baird made his directorial debut in 1996 with Executive Decision, an action thriller in which Steven Seagal leads a team of special forces tasked with boarding and securing a plane which has been hijacked with a bomb on board.  In the film’s big twist, Seagal dies early on while attempting to board the plane and it falls to Kurt Russell’s intelligence analyst to save the day.  I’m surprised to see how well-reviewed the film was at the time (given it’s not particularly good) – and it was a big hit with audiences, earning a comparative box office fortune for a film like this back then.

Despite the Falling Snow
  • Composed by Rachel Portman
  • Cube Soundtracks / 2016 / 52m

Directed by Shamim Sarif based on his own 2004 novel, Despite the Falling Snow follows a former Cold War-era Russian politician who has to confront the truth of the woman he loved in 1950s Moscow, many years later.

The Jungle Book
  • Composed by John Debney
  • Walt Disney Records / 2016 / 74m

One of those stories that gets a new film treatment every few years, this 2016 version of The Jungle Book is a “live action” remake by Disney of their 1960s animated version.  It’s been just over twenty years since the last major Hollywood version, which was directed by Stephen Sommers in 1994 and only modestly successful – this one, directed by Jon Favreau and starring youngster Neel Sethi as Mowgli, with the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson and various other big names seems set to provide the company with a big hit.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War
  • Composed by James Newton Howard
  • Back Lot Music / 2016 / 74m

A follow-up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War sees Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron reprise their roles from the first film.  There’s a new director though (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who was visual effects supervisor on the first film, makes his directorial debut) and some new cast members including Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain and, wonderfully, Rob Brydon.

Criminal

Composed by Brian Tyler and Keith Power Lakeshore Records / 2016 / 72m A dead CIA agent’s memories are implanted into an ex-con in order to finish the assignment in Criminal.  The ex-con is played by Kevin Costner, and support comes from Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman, with the trio who starred together in […]

Beyond Borders

Composed by James Horner Varèse Sarabande / 2003 / 55m Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen star as aid workers in Martin Campbell’s 2003 Beyond Borders, traveling to war-ravaged regions and falling for each other in the process.  I thought it was a bit crass, setting the romance over the backdrop of such extreme suffering, but […]

Open Season: Scared Silly

Composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Dominic Lewis Varèse Sarabande / 2016 / 32m The third direct-to-video sequel to the 2006 animation Open Season, Scared Silly picks up the adventures of Boog the bear and his friend Elliot, a one-antlered moose.  Given the original film wasn’t particularly successful, the series’ longevity seems somewhat improbable, but I […]

The Night Manager

Composed by Victor Reyes Silva Screen / 2016 / 53m An excellent BBC adaptation of the John Le Carré novel, The Night Manager stars Tom Hiddleston as a man who gets entangled with Hugh Laurie’s sinister arms dealer as he seeks revenge.  The typically deep and complex material from the novelist (surely the best there’s every […]

Cocoon: The Return

Composed by James Horner Varèse Sarabande / 2016 / 71m Ron Howard’s Cocoon was an unexpected runaway success in 1985, its simple story about a group of elderly residents (Don Ameche, Wilfrid Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy et al) of a care home being given a new lease of life and vigour by some visiting aliens […]

Once Around

Composed by James Horner Varèse Sarabande / 1991 / 34m A romantic drama, Once Around stars Holly Hunter as a woman who starts a relationship with and then marries a much older man, Richard Dreyfuss, with profound effects on her family.  It was the first film directed by Lasse Hallström following his move to Hollywood […]

Misconduct

Composed by Federico Jusid Varèse Sarabande / 2016 / 65m It seems more than a little sad that two of the greatest screen actors of their generation, Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins, can end up starring in straight-to-video fare like Misconduct, a legal thriller about a young lawyer (Josh Duhamel) under extreme strain from a […]

Class Action

Composed by James Horner Varèese Sarabande / 1991 / 32m A John Grisham-ish courtroom drama from before they were invented (it came two years before The Firm), Class Action pits Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio against each other as lawyers on either side of a class action lawsuit against a car manufacturer for knowingly […]

Bloodline

Composed by Ennio Morricone Varese Sarabande / 2016 / 48m Part of that wonderful genre of film that existed primarily in the 1970s, the “international thriller”, Bloodline – based on Sidney Sheldon’s novel – featured a typically diverse cast, led by Audrey Hepburn who inherits her father’s pharmaceutical company after he is killed and then […]

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Composed by Georges Delerue Intrada / 2015 / 74m Ray Bradbury had tried for decades to get his story Something Wicked This Way Comes onto the big screen.  It started life as a short story, he turned it into a treatment intended for his friend Gene Kelly to direct, when that didn’t happen it became […]