Latest reviews of new albums:
Ben-Hur
  • Composed by Marco Beltrami
  • Sony Classical / 2016 / 66m

Lew Wallace’s Christian epic novel Ben-Hur became a huge bestseller following its release in 1880, becoming the most successful American novel yet written (a position it would hold for over half a century, until Gone with the Wind came along).  MGM adapted it for the screen in 1925 and then most famously in 1959, with William Wyler’s film becoming the epic of all epics as it took audiences by storm.  Films like it are certainly not made any more, but I suppose someone thought maybe audiences would still be attracted to the story because along has come a remake, directed by Timur Bekmambetov and starring Jack Huston as Charlton Heston.

Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Composed by Dario Marianelli
  • Warner Bros. / 2016 / 53m

A stop-motion animated fantasy, Kubo and the Two Strings is set in ancient Japan and follows the adventures of a young boy who is transported into a magical world after he stays out too late at night.  (Whenever I’ve stayed out too late at night I’ve usually ended up with a banging headache the next morning – a much less magical world.)  14-year-old Art Parkinson lends his voice to Kubo, with support from Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey and Ralph Fiennes amongst others.

Suicide Squad
  • Composed by Steven Price
  • WaterTower Music / 2016 / 72m

The third film in the new DC Universe series, Suicide Squad follows a group of antiheroes who are given shorter prison sentences in return for carrying out dangerous missions and saving the world, which seems reasonable enough.  While the performance of the cast – led by Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto – has been praised, that’s about the only thing that has, but the lacklustre response hasn’t prevented it from raking in a load of money.

The Rocketeer
  • Composed by James Horner
  • Intrada / 2016 / 139m (score 75m)

To describe Joe Johnston’s 1991 adaptation of The Rocketeer – starring Billy Campbell as a stunt pilot in 1938 Los Angeles who discovers a jet pack which allows him to become a superhero fighting crime, with Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin and Timothy Dalton – as much-loved would not seem to be an overstatement based on what people say about the film today; but it wasn’t really like that at the time, when it received a reasonable but not exactly spectacular response from critics, and struggled to find much of an audience.

Jason Bourne
  • Composed by John Powell and David Buckley
  • Backlot Music / 2016 / 61m

Jason Bourne didn’t even feature in his fourth cinematic outing back in 2012 (perhaps his memory loss led to him forgetting to turn up) but is back in the fifth, with Matt Damon reprising his most famous role and Paul Greengrass returning as director.  Reviews have been mixed but audiences have flocked to see it. 

The Missing

Composed by James Horner Sony Classical / 2003 / 78m Based on Thomas Eidson’s novel The Last Ride, Ron Howard’s 2003 western The Missing stars Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett as an estranged father and daughter who come together just as her own daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) is kidnapped.  It’s got all the ingredients […]

La Tortue Rouge

Composed by Laurent Perez del Mar Quartet Records / 2016 / 48m A French animation produced in collaboration with Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli, La Tortue Rouge (The Red Turtle) tells the story of a man stranded on a desert island and his battle with a giant turtle as he tries to escape it.  Michaël Dudok […]

Star Trek Beyond

Composed by Michael Giacchino Varèse Sarabande / 2016 / 61m Seven years since it started with J.J. Abrams’s reboot, Star Trek‘s five-year mission reaches its half-way point in Star Trek Beyond.  With Abrams having jumped ship to another space opera, directorial duties have fallen instead to Justin Lin, who previously helmed four of The Fast […]

Ghostbusters

Composed by Theodore Shapiro Sony Classical / 2016 / 51m I can’t remember the last time so many people seemed to decide they hated a film without having seen it as much as 2016’s Ghostbusters reboot, which is not just guilty of being a reboot of Ghostbusters, it also features women in the leading roles.  […]

The BFG

Composed by John Williams Walt Disney Records / 2016 / 64m I loved Roald Dahl’s books when I was a young lad and The BFG, published when I was four, was probably my favourite.  There was an animated tv movie in 1989 but I was always a bit surprised that it didn’t have a successful […]

The Secret Life of Pets

Composed by Alexandre Desplat Back Lot Music / 2016 / 52m Cats, dogs, their battles against humans etc form the basis of The Secret Life of Pets, an animation with an impressive voice cast led by Louis C.K. and directed by Despicable Me‘s Chris Renaud.  It’s got good reviews and looks set to be very […]

All the Way

Composed by James Newton Howard Decca / 2016 / 54m Chronicling the presidency of Lyndon Johnson (Bryan Cranston) from the moment he assumed office through to the election he fought the following year, All the Way (the title a play on one of his campaign slogans) has a lot of ground to cover, primarily Johnson’s […]

Finding Dory

Composed by Thomas Newman Walt Disney Records / 2016 / 69m Content these days to revisit their past triumphs alongside the more original stuff, it was I guess inevitable that at some stage Pixar would go back to the world of Finding Nemo even though it appeared to be an entirely self-contained movie.  They’ve done […]

The Legend of Tarzan

Composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams WaterTower Music / 2016 / 71m The latest in a long line of cinematic adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s classic tale, The Legend of Tarzan stars Alexander Skarsgård as the legendary ape man with Margot Robbie as Jane.  It’s directed by David Yates, who made the last few Harry Potter films, […]

Independence Day: Resurgence

Composed by Thomas Wander and Harald Kloser Sony Masterworks / 2016 / 52m It’s amazing that it’s taken twenty years, really: Roland Emmerich’s mega-hit Independence Day was entirely self-contained, but that’s never been seen a barrier before to producing sequels.  The sequel is Will Smith-less, but otherwise most of the cast are back, including Jeff […]