Latest reviews of new albums:
The Magnificent Seven
  • Composed by James Horner and Simon Franglen
  • Sony Classical / 2016 / 77m

Not long after the tragic death of the great James Horner in mid-2015, director Antoine Fuqua – whose Southpaw was one of the last films the composer completed work on – revealed that Horner had not only agreed to score his remake of The Magnificent Seven, he had actually already begun to write music for it based on the script (it was still being filmed at the time).  He didn’t directly say so, but the implication was that we might get to hear one final composition from the legendary composer, if a way could be found to turn Horner’s early ideas into a proper film score.

  • Composed by Austin Wintory
  • T-65b Records / 2016 / 59m

A contemplative video game, Abzu sees the player swim underwater picking up threads of an ancient civilisation, witnessing the interactions between aquatic beings and avoiding the occasional hazard.  Most reviews of the game say the same thing – even though essentially all you’re doing is swimming through beautiful environments, it’s such an immersive experience you don’t really notice that you’re not doing much other than watching and listening – and thinking.  It was developed by Matt Nava, who previously served as art director on Journey, and looks sure to appeal to a similar audience.

Swallows and Amazons
  • Composed by Ilan Eshkeri
  • Globe / 2016 / 44m

Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons was published in 1930 but was still a great joy to the young me, half a century later.  Its tales of adventure and imagination in the English Lake District feels very old-fashioned for the far less innocent times of today and I wonder if this adaptation, reportedly very faithful to the novel, will still be attractive to this generation’s youngsters (I rather hope it is). 

The Light Between Oceans
  • Composed by Alexandre Desplat
  • Lakeshore Records / 2016 / 62m

Based on the acclaimed novel by M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans is about a family who live in a lighthouse off the coast of Australia, just after the First World War.  After a shipwreck, a young girl is washed ashore with her dead father and the couple who live at the lighthouse adopt her.  Some years later they discover that the girl’s mother is still alive and the story follows the consequences for all of them.  Starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, Derek Cianfrance’s film is highly-anticipated.

  • 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.  […]

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 […]


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.  […]


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 […]