Latest reviews of new albums:
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 he becomes a grandfather. The music comes from Frank Ilfman and he takes his inspiration from Rory’s Scottish background to provide a lovely, lilting Celtic-tinged score which is evocative and completely charming. The score’s sweeping opening encapsulates this perfectly – the strings swell over a backdrop of various local textures – and then we go to “Rory’s Theme”, tinged with a great sadness but underneath it all really very beautiful. Its B-section late on, when it moves from a chamber piece to something bigger, has a great emotional weight behind it, then reduced down to a solo piano which is delicate and touching.

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 was represented by an album called “Live in Prague” and now the second one is here – “The World of Hans Zimmer: A Symphonic Celebration” to give it its proper title. It was recorded as part of the Hollywood in Vienna tribute to Zimmer in 2018 and features the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martin Gellner (the tour itself was conducted by longtime Zimmer associate Gavin Greenaway).

Hellboy
  • Composed by Benjamin Wallfisch
  • Sony Classical / 47m

We all remember where we were when the first Hellboy movie came out. The main reason for that is because it was only about a week ago last Tuesday, but that hasn’t stopped the powers that be deciding that it’s time for a new one, so here we are, with director Neil Marshall taking the helm and David Harbour taking over from Ron Perlman in the title role. Everyone thinks it’s rubbish, but I don’t suppose anyone will be too concerned because I’m sure the next reboot will come round before the dishwasher finishes its cycle. Marco Beltrami’s score for the first film was one of his finest (and it was a fine film, too); this time round musical duties have fallen to the prolific Benjamin Wallfisch, whose very intense score might fit the film like a glove but certainly isn’t easy listening away from it.

Captain Marvel
  • Composed by Pinar Toprak
  • Hollywood Records / 68m

It’s taken an embarrassingly long time but we finally have one of these Marvel films focusing on a female character. Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as the eponymous hero and while the plot is basically the same as all the other 683 films in the series, I did think the film felt a bit fresher and more entertaining thanks to its slightly different perspective and really hope it won’t be long before the fact that a big tentpole film is released with a woman in the leading role is no longer such a peculiar event that it attracts all the attention that this one has.

Cold Pursuit
  • Composed by George Fenton
  • Varèse Sarabande / 49m

In stark contrast to all his other recent films, Cold Pursuit stars Liam Neeson as a wronged man on the hunt for revenge. (The press materials for this album describe him as “Liam Neeson, Taken, Taken 2-3.”) It was all rather overshadowed by the actor’s unfortunate comments on a chat show just before it was released (but let’s face it, may not have been spectacularly successful anyway). Of most note to those around these parts is that it marks the return to Hollywood filmmaking of the wonderful composer George Fenton after a gap that’s far too long – and while it’s perhaps not the sort of project I might have expected him to take (nor, frankly, would have chosen) it’s great to have him back. It opens with a lovely theme – “Snow Plough” – all lightness and good-natured, with what sounds like a balalaika and gentle strings. You just know it’s not going to be like that for long though and, sure enough, the second track “Citizen of the Year” is cold (if subtle) and then the third, the title track, is agitated and rhythmic (a bit Thomas Newman-like), synths come in, that balalaika again but not all happy now.

Serenity

Composed by Benjamin Wallfisch Milan / 63m I don’t think it’s supposed to be a comedy, but I haven’t laughed as hard at a film as Serenity since the last time I saw the immortal words “Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker” appear on a screen. It’s an extremely strange film starring Matthew McConaughey as a very angry fisherman who […]

Alita: Battle Angel

Composed by Tom Holkenborg Milan / 64m James Cameron was originally supposed to be directing Alita: Battle Angel, adapted from the Japanese comic book series, but of course he ended up working on his Avatar universe and so handed over the directorial reigns to Robert Rodriguez (but remains credited as writer and producer). Alita (played […]

All Is True

Composed by Patrick Doyle Sony Classical / 37m Kenneth Branagh directs and stars as William Shakespeare in All Is True, written by Ben Elton and drifting between fact and fiction in its portrait of the great man’s twilight years. Branagh’s collaboration with composer Patrick Doyle has spanned decades now and – of course – included many Shakespeare adaptations. […]

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Composed by John Powell Backlot / 76m Completing the trilogy, The Hidden World sees Hiccup searching for the eponymous dragon utopia so the surplus of dragons that have accumulated have somewhere to live. Critical response has been very favourable (these are unusually classy films for Dreamworks Animation) and it would seem the long wait since […]

Welcome to Marwen

Composed by Alan Silvestri Intrada / 58m Robert Zemeckis’s strange Welcome to Marwen follows a man who tries to deal with his PTSD suffered after a violent attack on him by constructing a fictional village (the titular Marwen) and living out various fantastical storylines. I often jokily say in these introductions that a ludicrous plot is […]

Bumblebee

Composed by Dario Marianelli Paramount / 57m A prequel to the Transformers film series, Bumblebee is also the first in the series not to be directed by Michael Bay, and has attracted a far more positive critical response than any of the previous five; perhaps not surprisingly, it’s also not attracted anywhere near the sort of […]

Mary Poppins Returns

Songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman Score by Marc Shaiman Disney / 79m A belated sequel to Mary Poppins was probably not on anyone’s wish list, but Disney has been trawling through its archives recently making films that probably weren’t on anyone’s wish list and making tonnes of money in the process. (Next year […]

Aquaman

Composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams WaterTower / 65m The latest instalment in the ever-popular DC Extended Universe, Aquaman tells the true story of the great warrior Aquaman who teamed up with his brother to cleanse the world’s oceans of undesirable objects, bringing down tall buildings in the process and causing general chaos. Critical reception has been a […]

If Beale Street Could Talk

Composed by Nicholas Britell Lakeshore / 53m From Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk is an acclaimed film based on James Baldwin’s novel based in Harlem in the early 1970s and follows a young woman’s attempt to clear her husband’s name before their child is born. Jenkins teams up again with composer Nicholas […]

Mary Queen of Scots

Composed by Max Richter Deutsche Grammophon / 59m The latest of many tellings of the story, Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as her cousin Elizabeth I of England – and tells the story of the war between the countries in 1569. The music comes courtesy of the […]