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Small Soldiers
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 76m

I love Joe Dante – everyone loves Joe Dante.  I’ve always thought his best two films were Gremlins 2 and Matinée, made consecutively – but neither was a particular success and he found himself working in television for a while afterwards.  His return to bigger things came in 1998 with Small Soldiers, one of the first releases from the fledgling Dreamworks studio.  A kind of cross between Gremlins and Toy Story, the film sees two groups of toys (the soldiers and the Gorgonites) fighting each other against the usual Dante backdrop of suburbia.  I remember it being fairly entertaining, if lacking the more subversive humour of Dante’s better films, but I haven’t seen it since its release.

Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Composed by John Powell
  • Walt Disney Records / 77m

A little-known fact about Star Wars is that its French title is Les dents de la mer, which I can tell you translates directly as The War of the Stars.  [*See footnote.] You may wonder why I’m telling you this – well, I’m a follower of Ron Howard on Instagram and let me tell you, just before he was revealed as the director of Solo – the latest instalment of the series set in the distant future, this one follows the adventures of the young Han Solo, telling us how he got his name, showing us when he first met Lando and finally letting us see that infamous card game when he got his hands on his pet Chewbacca – I saw a picture of him, right there, in France with his elder son Clint – and I just knew what was going to happen.  Sure enough, before we knew it, the production was revealed to be in trouble and in stepped the veteran director to take over the shoot.

Bicentennial Man
  • Composed by James Horner
  • Sony Classical / 66m

Overly mawkish and sentimental, Chris Columbus’s Bicentennial Man is not well-remembered.  Based on an Isaac Asimov story, it follows the story of a robot (Robin Williams) who is the slave of a wealthy family over an extended period (the length of the period is no surprise to those who know what the title means).  Over time he becomes more and more human-like and it becomes a story about just how human you have to be before you can have human rights.  (And he falls in love, of course.)

Avengers: Infinity War
  • Composed by Alan Silvestri
  • Hollywood Records / 72m

Ten years after Iron Man started it all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe hurtles towards the end of the road for some of this batch of characters in Avengers: Infinity War.  Because they release these films more frequently than most people change their socks, it can be hard to keep up with what’s happening.  This one distinguishes itself from the others by having lots of people fight each other, loads of explosions, self-referential wit – and of course, everyone dies.  Or do they?

Rampage
  • Composed by Andrew Lockington
  • WaterTower / 73m

We’ve all been there – make friends with a gorilla, gorilla gets accidentally turned gigantic and goes all nasty, have to coax it to be friendly again to defeat the giant crocodile and wolf also raging through the city.  Dwayne Johnson plays the man at the centre of it all in Rampage, about which critics are saying “this is… very good!” (a truncated quote from the actual phrase used, “this is not very good!”) 

I Kill Giants

Composed by Laurent Perez del Mar Varèse Sarabande / 53m A children’s fantasy film, I Kill Giants follows the adventures of a teenager called Barbara – who kills giants.  The film actually got decent reviews but barely anybody saw it (according to Wikipedia, its total box office takings in its first month of release have […]

Ready Player One

Composed by Alan Silvestri WaterTower / 84m Steven Spielberg’s most popular film in years, Ready Player One diverts away in many ways from Ernest Cline’s novel but perfectly captures its heart: a young man in a not-so-distant future gives his all to try to get away from a horrible life and claim a massive prize […]

Pacific Rim Uprising

Composed by Lorne Balfe Milan / 76m Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim didn’t break any new ground but it was an entertaining spectacle and I guess its success meant a sequel was inevitable.  There’s no del Toro this time, with tv producer Steven S. DeKnight making his cinematic debut, and all the predictable things happen […]

Wild

Composed by Matthijs Kieboom MovieScore Media / 64m A Dutch nature documentary, Wild follows the life cycle of some animals living in the woods in the enormous Veluwe park in the country.  Many species inhabit the area but the film chooses to focus on three: deer, foxes and wild boar.  (The film may take place […]

Max and Me

Composed by Mark McKenzie Sony Classical / 57m An as-yet unreleased animation which frames a contemporary story of an old man helping a young rebel navigate his way through life against the inspirational story of Father Maximillian Kolbe, the Polish priest whose story of inspiration and bravery while imprisoned at Auschwitz led to him later […]

A Wrinkle In Time

Composed by Ramin Djawadi Walt Disney Records / 76m I not only have a child, apparently I was once a child myself, but I’ve never heard of A Wrinkle In Time despite it apparently being a “hugely popular” children’s book.  It’s directed by Ava DuVernay and its big stars are Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, and […]

The Hurricane Heist

Composed by Lorne Balfe Filmtrax / 42m A heist takes place in a hurricane in Rob Cohen’s latest film, The Hurricane Heist.  When I saw a trailer for it on tv I thought it was going to be a Sharknado-type self-referential tv movie but to my (and everyone else’s) amazement it’s actually a film being […]

Red Sparrow

Composed by James Newton Howard Sony Classical / 76m A spy thriller which seems eerily appropriate at the time I write these words, Red Sparrow stars Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian secret agent trained at the “Sparrow School” which teaches female agents how to seduce their male targets.  Quicker than you can say “#MeToo” she’s […]

Tomb Raider

Composed by Tom Holkenborg Sony Classical / 72m Most films based on video games are cinematic masterpieces and the two Tomb Raider films which starred Angelina Jolie are no exception.  I remember both of them – they starred Angelina Jolie and, oh wait, I don’t remember anything else.  (OK, I remember that bit when she […]

Nostalgia

Composed by Laurent Eyquem Varèse Sarabande / 31m With an amazing ensemble cast featuring Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman and many others, Mark Pellington’s Nostalgia is one of those films that follows various people and the ties that link them together, the connection this time being loss.