Latest reviews of new albums:
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
  • Composed by Henry Jackman
  • Paramount Music / 2016 / 52m

Christopher McQuarrie’s 2013 Jack Reacher, based on the ninth of Lee Child’s hugely successful (and entertaining) series of novels about the loner who seems to find trouble wherever he goes, was an above-average modern action thriller intended to start a series but it didn’t do all that well, so it was a bit surprising to hear the series would be getting a second entry, Never Go Back, based on the 18th novel.  Tom Cruise is back, of course, but McQuarrie isn’t, Edward Zwick stepping into the director’s chair in his place.

  • Composed by Hans Zimmer
  • Sony Classical / 2016 / 70m

The Da Vinci Code phenomenon a few years ago extended to Ron Howard’s film being hugely successful even though it wasn’t very good, which led to Dan Brown’s previous entry in the series Angels and Demons not long after.  It was slightly better but when the third book came and went without an adaptation it seemed for a while like the cinematic series may have run its course, but now the fourth book Inferno has turned up with Howard returning along with Tom Hanks.  This time round it’s a deadly virus that’s threatening the world and Robert Langdon has to piece together clues based on Dante’s Inferno to save the day.

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero
  • Composed by Atli Örvarsson
  • Lakeshore Records / 2016 / 45m

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero sounds rather like a religious propaganda film.  Made by the Dubai-based Barajoun Entertainment, it’s a 3D animation about Bilal abn Rabah, a young boy a thousand years ago who converted to Islam and followed Muhammed.  The rather unlikely leader of the voice cast is Ian McShane.  I can’t help but notice that the film’s subtitle is the same as that important cinematic milestone’s, Howard the Duck, but I guess the similarities probably end there.

RoboCop 3
  • Composed by Basil Poledouris
  • Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 2016 / 70m

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop was essentially a comic book movie for adults, with its withering social commentary set against the backdrop of a futuristic corporate-controlled police force in Detroit.  It was surprisingly successful and so Orion Pictures, going through difficult financial times, leapt at the chance of exploiting the character further even though he had received a complete arc in the first movie.  Despite the first sequel (which is in some ways even grittier) not being successful, a third film was put into production, with a decision mystifyingly taken to make it kid-friendly.

  • Composed by James Horner
  • Mercury Classics / 2016 / 77m

I’ve written it before, but it’s worth repeating that one of the many sad things about the death of James Horner in 2015 was that he had obviously acquired a fresh zest for writing music in the year or two beforehand.  Having fallen out of love with Hollywood and the processes surrounding composing film scores – he just wanted to write music, not get involved in politics and have so many masters to serve – he found other avenues that allowed him to write the sort of music he loved: building fresh relationships with a new set of directors, working on films outside Hollywood and also in the concert hall.

Jagged Edge

Composed by John Barry Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 2016 / 27m A tense courtroom thriller, Jagged Edge stars Glenn Close as an attorney who falls in love with her client, Jeff Bridges, on trial for the vicious murder of his wife.  It was widely-praised on its release in 1985 as a smart film, forensically examining […]

Starship Troopers

Composed by Basil Poledouris Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 2016 / 105m Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 satirical military science fiction Starship Troopers is a very entertaining film which works on multiple levels.  It’s credited as being based on Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel but really it’s lampooning it, also throwing in various references to old WWII propaganda […]

American Pastoral

Composed by Alexandre Desplat Lakeshore Records / 2016 / 40m Often considered amongst his finest works, Philip Roth’s 1997 novel American Pastoral won him the Pulitzer Prize.  It follows the disintegration of the American dream in the late 1960s and early 70s (Vietnam through Watergate) through one family’s eyes.  Ewan McGregor directs (for the first […]

Dark Waves

Composed by Alexander Cimini Kronos Records / 2016 / 58m An Italian fantasy horror movie, Dark Waves (known as Bellerofonte in its native land) is about a couple who live in a tower out on the open ocean and are visited by all sorts of unwelcome guests, including long-dead pirates.  The film had some festival […]

The Girl on the Train

Composed by Danny Elfman Sony Classical / 2016 / 52m While often not literary masterpieces, it’s usually not hard to see what makes any particular year’s publishing phenomenon so popular.  2015’s was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and it’s the exception: I’m absolutely baffled as to why anyone thought this story about […]


Composed by Howard Shore Howe Records / 2016 / 39m Denial focuses on a legal trial in England in the late 1990s after “historian” David Irving, a Holocaust denier, sued Deborah Lipstadt for stating as much in a book.  (He lost.)  Written by David Hare and with a strong cast including Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and […]

Deepwater Horizon

Composed by Steve Jablonsky Warner Bros. / 2016 / 62m I was in Florida at the time of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and I remember the terrible situation that ensued, with devastation for so many people and a dire outcome for the natural world.  Peter Berg’s new action film focuses […]

The Night Of

Composed by Jeff Russo Lakeshore Records / 2016 / 49m A smart and highly engaging series, The Night Of tells the story of a young Muslim man who goes back to a young woman’s house and wakes up after a night of drugs and alcohol to find that she has been viciously murdered.  He can’t […]

The Magnificent Seven

Composed by James Horner and Simon Franglen Sony Classical / 2016 / 77m Not long after the tragic death of the great James Horner in mid-2015, director Antoine Fuqua – whose Southpaw was one of the last films the composer completed work on – revealed that Horner had not only agreed to score his remake of […]


Composed by Austin Wintory T-65b Records / 2016 / 59m A contemplative video game, Abzu sees the player swim underwater picking up threads of an ancient civilisation, witnessing the interactions between aquatic beings and avoiding the occasional hazard.  Most reviews of the game say the same thing – even though essentially all you’re doing is […]