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The Four Feathers
  • Composed by James Horner
  • Sony / 79m

Director Shekhar Kapur’s follow-up to the very successful Elizabeth was an adaptation of A.E.W. Mason’s The Four Feathers (whose previous big-screen adaptation came courtesy of Alexander Korda in 1939). Set during an uprising in Sudan in the 1880s, the film focuses on a British soldier accused of cowardice who seeks redemption when his friend is attacked. It’s a gorgeous-looking film with impeccable production values, but sadly isn’t very good.

Casper
  • Composed by James Horner
  • MCA / 73m

An adaptation of the old cartoon, Amblin’s Casper was directed by Brad Siberling and released with some success in the summer of 1995. The ghost falls in love with Christina Ricci, Eric Idle tries to get rid of him, Bill Pullman’s a ghost therapist, trying to find his dead wife – you know how it goes.

Extraction
  • Composed by Henry Jackman & Alex Belcher
  • BMG / 68m

Essentially one long action sequence, Extraction stars Chris Hemsworth sent on a mission to recover a kidnapped boy in Bangladesh. Violence ensues. Director Sam Hargrave is a long-time associate of the Russo Brothers (veterans of a number of stunt-laden action movies, such as Welcome to Collinwood and various episodes of Arrested Development) and Henry Jackman, who has worked on some of their less well-known pictures in the past, provides the score alongside his own long-time associate Alex Belcher, receiving full co-credit. I will say one thing for their score – it is certainly noisy and that is certainly what the film required. It’s full of all the things you might expect of a 2020 action score – and to give it its due, a few things you might not. For one, there’s an orchestra and it actually sounds like an orchestra (words I never would have imagined one day I would have to type as my chief compliment in a review when I started doing this).

Wendy
  • Composed by Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin
  • Milan / 46m

A reimagining of Peter Pan that transplants it to the American Deep South, Wendy is the second movie from director Benh Zeitlin; as on the first (Beasts of the Southern Wild) he has co-composed the score with Dan Romer. It’s a playful score with more than a dash of magic – and if I say that it’s got a reasonable sized orchestra, plenty of pizzicato strings, all sorts of percussion, a large number of colourful instruments adding distinctive flavours including dulcimer, glass harmonica, guitars and marimba then you’ll probably think it sounds a bit like Thomas Newman. In fact it doesn’t sound anything like Thomas Newman and while it’s quite impressive that Romer and Zeitlin could write a score which could be described as such and not sound like Newman, it’s even more impressive that they’ve managed to create something so incredibly distinctive that is so full of life and joy and magic and feeling – and it really is.

Defending Jacob
  • Composed by Atli Örvarsson
  • Paramount / 42m

Based on William Landay’s popular novel, Defending Jacob is amongst the small amount of content available on Apple tv+, following a family whose son is accused of murder. While it only moves with a pace that might politely be described as glacial, it’s compelling enough and one of their better offerings so far. The score is written by tv veteran Atli Örvarsson (who specialises in various shows about Chicago-based emergency services) but the title theme is by Olafur Arnalds. Heard in extended form in the opening track, it’s a haunting piece typical of the composer – simple, textural and very effective, setting just the right tone.

Another 48 Hrs

Composed by James Horner Scotti Bros. / 38m (score 20m) 1982’s 48 Hrs directed by Walter Hill was one of the decade’s earliest buddy cop movies (a genre which proved surprisingly popular during that era), launched the big-screen career of Eddie Murphy and was the most successful movie by far by that point for the […]

Ransom

Composed by James Horner Hollywood Records / 73m (Horner score 48m) Ron Howard’s Ransom starred Mel Gibson as a wealthy man whose son is kidnapped. Rather than paying the demanded ransom, he offers it as a bounty for the capture of the kidnappers and the return of his boy. Allowing him to play his signature […]

The Journey of Natty Gann

Composed by James Horner Intrada / 43m A highly-regarded film, The Journey of Natty Gann is a live-action Disney adventure about a girl who travels across America in search of her father during the Depression.  It did only modest business on its release in 1985, but has gone on to become a firm family favourite and is […]

The Big Fix

Composed by Bill Conti Varèse Sarabande / 51m The Big Fix stars Richard Dreyfuss as a private eye hired by an old girlfriend to investigate a smear campaign against someone running for governor of California – with (to quote Wikipedia) deadly results. The versatile Bill Conti was still riding the crest of the Rocky wave […]

Dolphin Reef

Composed by Steven Price Walt Disney / 68m One of those peculiar anthropomorphic Disney Nature films that attempts to backfill a silly narrative on top of gorgeous wildlife shots (surely this stuff is interesting enough to kids that it doesn’t need to be made this way), Dolphin Reef was originally to be released in 2018 […]

Across the Sea of Time

Composed by John Barry Epic / 43m An IMAX 3D film produced more to showcase the format and its subject city than anything else, Across the Sea of Time is notionally a drama about a Russian immigrant arriving in New York City to search for his ancestors and ending up taking lots of photographs of […]

U.S. Marshals

Composed by Jerry Goldsmith Varèse Sarabande / 74m A world-class film editor he may have been, but Stuart Baird’s directorial career is unlikely to be considered alongside the all-time greats. Apologies if that seems a somewhat controversial statement – clearly he is set well apart from the workmanlike Truffaut or the emperor’s new clothes wrapped […]

Elephant

Composed by Ramin Djawadi Walt Disney / 61m While he became known for his pulsating modern scores to big action films (and a certain tv series), the first time I came across Ramin Djawadi was for a score for a film set in South Africa called Beat the Drum. He was co-credited with Klaus Badelt […]

Lev Yashin: The Dream Goalkeeper

Composed by George Kallis Moviescore Media / 43m A biopic of the legendary footballer Lev Yashin, goalkeeper for the Soviet national side as well as Dynamo Moscow from 1950 to 1970, The Dream Goalkeeper follows his life from the humblest of beginnings to worldwide fame. Composer George Kallis has tackled Russian movies previously – this […]

Battle Beyond the Stars

Composed by James Horner BSX / 71m (score 43m) It’s extraordinary really that James Horner – a gentle, shy man – began his film music career by working for Roger Corman. But that was his route into the mainstream and the film that really did it for him was Battle Beyond the Stars – it […]