Latest reviews of new albums:
Papillon
  • Composed by David Buckley
  • BMG / 42m

Franklin Schaffner’s 1973 film of Papillon is a strange but entertaining one, featuring enjoyable performances by Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. The accuracy of Henri Charrière’s memoir on which it is based has always been challenged – and Dalton Trumbo’s screenplay took further liberties.

Crazy Rich Asians
  • Composed by Brian Tyler
  • WaterTower / 64m

A romantic comedy based on a best-selling novel might not seem a likely place for a film which may well turn out to be something of a cultural turning point in Hollywood, but that’s exactly how Crazy Rich Asians is being received.  Incredibly (really, virtually unbelievably) it is the first American studio film in a quarter of a century to feature a predominantly Asian-American cast in a contemporary setting (the previous – and indeed only – one being The Joy Luck Club).  Jon M. Chu’s film stars Constance Wu and Henry Golding as a couple who fall in love and all the rest of it and has been very well-received by critics and audiences, with a sequel already in the works (so it definitely won’t be a quarter of a century till the next one).

Christopher Robin
  • Score by Geoff Zanelli and Jon Brion
  • Songs by Richard M. Sherman
  • Walt Disney / 57m

The latest Winnie-the-Pooh film is not like the others: live action for a start, it stars Ewen McGregor as a grown-up Christopher Robin, who has forgotten how to have fun until his childhood bear turns up and reminds him what he’s missing.  (My favourite Christopher Robin anecdote: I was walking past St Paul’s Cathedral in London many years ago and a tour guide was telling his tour group that it had been designed by Sir Christopher Wren – an American tourist asked him incredulously “you mean the guy from Winnie-the-Pooh!?”)

James Horner – The Classics
  • Composed by James Horner
  • Sony Classical / 64m

I enjoyed last year’s Hans Zimmer – The Classics album, which saw a selection of Sony Classical artists offering their takes on various themes by Zimmer, often in radically-altered arrangements compared with the originals.  Zimmer’s music obviously lends itself to such treatments – the melodies can be taken out and given new settings readily enough.  I was excited by the prospect of a similar album for James Horner, released to coincide with what would have been his 65th birthday – even though it seemed a much more difficult prospect to pull off, given that the incredibly deliberate and careful orchestration is so much of what makes Horner’s music what it is.

John Williams: A Life in Music
  • Composed by John Williams
  • Decca / 50m

I suspect that for many generations to come, the most-performed and most-listened to orchestral music of the second half of the twentieth century will be John Williams’s.  His remarkable career has seen him write such high quality music for such successful films for such a long time, alongside a prolific conducting schedule that has given him the opportunity to arrange so much of it for concert performance, there’s a vast body of work there ripe for repeated performance and recording which continues to delight people and attract new young fans.

The Mummy

Composed by Jerry Goldsmith Intrada / 158m (score 91m) I don’t think anyone involved with 1999’s The Mummy could have predicted that it would become such a major success: a lighthearted reboot of the classic Universal monster series, Brendan Fraser starred (I repeat: 1999) as a 1920s archaeological adventurer who – with Rachael Weisz’s librarian […]

A Tribute to Michael Kamen

Composed by Michael Kamen Quartet / 74m My real journey of discovery into great film music began in the mid 1990s, around the same time the internet started taking off.  With most of the great composers I was exploring (Barry, Bernstein, Goldsmith, Morricone, Williams) it was not difficult to find kindred spirits online, espousing their […]

Hans Zimmer – The Classics

Composed by Hans Zimmer Sony Classical / 58m An interesting concept for an album, Hans Zimmer – The Classics offers new arrangements of various pieces by the composer, interpreted by various classical and crossover artists contracted to Sony Classical, accompanied in most cases by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by frequent Zimmer collaborator Gavin Greenaway.  […]

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Composed by Christophe Beck Hollywood Records / 56m One of the most entertaining of the Marvel movies, Ant-Man was refreshingly free of the bloated feel that dogs a lot of them – just the right blend of wit and action, and at times a pleasingly small-scale feeling (appropriately enough).  Now here’s the sequel, Ant-Man and […]

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Composed by Lorne Balfe La-La Land / 96m (for the love of god) Tom Cruise has been playing Ethan Hunt for 22 years now since he made Mission: Impossible with Brian de Palma in 1996.  Each of the next four films was made by a different director, generally in a pretty distinctive way, which has […]

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Composed by Michael Giacchino Back Lot Music / 80m The fifth film in the Jurassic Park franchise is the first not to be directed by Steven Spielberg, Joe Johnston or Colin Trevorrow, with J.A. Bayona stepping into the director’s chair this time around.  The plot is something like “wouldn’t it be a great idea to […]

Skyscraper

Composed by Steve Jablonsky Milan / 75m Action hero must save his family trapped in a tall tower after it is taken over by terrorists: hmm, let me think.  Nope, can’t think of anything, Skyscraper is an absolutely original thought from Hollywood.  Said action hero is played by Dwayne Johnson – somehow struggling to portray […]

Lost in Space

Composed by Christopher Lennertz Lakeshore / 72m Loosely based on The Swiss Family Robinson – but in space – the 1960s tv show Lost in Space was popular in its day and reruns of it (and the other Irwin Allen-produced shows of the day) kept running for a long time thereafter.  An ill-advised feature remake […]

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 […]

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 […]