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James Horner Review Odyssey

Like many others, I was affected by James Horner’s death and touched by the various tributes paid by his friends, colleagues, collaborators and fans. There is little I can do in the way of tribute other than write about his music – and it strikes me that the body of work he developed over his 35-year film music career is one of the most impressive that anyone’s ever built up and one that’s particularly worthy of writing about.

I’ve reviewed many of his scores over the years, most of them some time ago and am now keen to re-explore his body of work and consider it in the context of what we now know is, sadly, the full extent of his writing (not to mention to reflect my own changing opinions – sometimes drastically so). Not all of his scores have been released on album – and I don’t have quite all the albums – so I can’t do everything, but over the coming weeks and months I intend to write about everything I can.

There is little point in me rewriting reviews I’ve written in the last five years or so, so with some exceptions they will remain untouched. The rest will be either updated or completely rewritten and the many gaps for scores I have never reviewed will mostly be filled.  There’s no intention to sugar-coat any opinions given events – if I am generally rather enthusiastic (and sometimes very enthusiastic) about his work, it is only because that is how I genuinely feel about it.  But I don’t like all of it and won’t shy away from saying so.

Below is a complete list of his scores, with links to titles already reviewed as part of this series (the old, un-updated reviews will still be accessible from the main review index but will not appear here until updated).  I won’t be doing them in any particular order and given how many there are, it will take a long time to complete.  The easiest way to keep informed when new titles appear is to follow Movie Wave on Facebook or Twitter.

As always, I encourage people to leave their own feedback in the comment sections of reviews – whether you agree or disagree with my own assessments, it’s always interesting to read yours.

2016:
The Magnificent Seven (completed by Simon Franglen)

2015:
The 33
Southpaw
Living in the Age of Airplanes
Collage (concert work)
Wolf Totem
One Day in Auschwitz

2014:
Pas de Deux (concert work)

2012:
The Amazing Spider-Man
For Greater Glory

2011:
Black Gold

2010:
The Karate Kid
Flight (aerobatic display music / concert work)

2009:
Avatar

2008:
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The Spiderwick Chronicles

2007:
The Life Before Her Eyes

2006:
Apocalypto
All the King’s Men

2005:
The New World
The Legend of Zorro
Flightplan
The Chumscrubber

2004:
The Forgotten
Troy
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius

2003:
House of Sand and Fog
The Missing
Radio
Beyond Borders

2002:
The Four Feathers
Windtalkers

2001:
Iris
A Beautiful Mind
Enemy at the Gates

2000:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Perfect Storm
Freedom Song

1999:
Bicentennial Man

1998:
Mighty Joe Young
The Mask of Zorro
Deep Impact

1997:
Titanic
The Devil’s Own

1996:
Ransom
To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday
Courage Under Fire
The Spitfire Grill

1995:
Balto
Jumanji
Jade
Apollo 13
Casper
Braveheart

1994:
Legends of the Fall
The Pagemaster
Clear and Present Danger

1993:
The Pelican Brief
We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story
Bopha!
The Man Without a Face
Searching for Bobby Fischer
House of Cards
Once Upon a Forest
Jack the Bear
A Far Off Place
Swing Kids

1992:
Sneakers
Unlawful Entry
Patriot Games
Thunderheart

1991:
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
The Rocketeer
Class Action
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
Once Around
Norman and the Killer

1990:
Extreme Close-Up
Another 48 Hrs.
I Love You to Death

1989:
Glory
Dad
In Country
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Field of Dreams

1988:
Cocoon: The Return
The Land Before Time
Vibes
Red Heat
Willow

1987:
*batteries not included
Project X
P.K. and the Kid

1986:
An American Tail
The Name of the Rose
Captain EO
Where the River Runs Black
Aliens
Off Beat

1985:
Commando
The Journey of Natty Gann
Volunteers
Cocoon
Surviving
Heaven Help Us
Let’s Go

1984:
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
The Stone Boy

1983:
Uncommon Valor
Gorky Park
The Dresser
Testament
Brainstorm
Between Friends
Krull
Something Wicked This Way Comes

1982:
48 Hrs.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
A Piano for Mrs. Cimino

1981:
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper
A Few Days in Weasel Creek
Deadly Blessing
Wolfen
The Hand
Angel Dusted

1980:
Battle Beyond the Stars
Humanoids from the Deep

1979:
The Lady in Red
Up from the Depths

1978:
The Watcher


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  1. Matt C on Saturday 27 June, 2015 at 22:37

    I was heartbroken and devastated to hear the news of James Horner’s tragic passing. It was as if I had lost a dear family member or friend. James Horner has been such an inspiration and influence in how I write my music. I listen to his film scores nearly every day and own nearly all of the available albums of his scores. I enjoy playing his music on the piano, as well. In other words, I was a huge fan.
    This weekend I am choosing to celebrate Horner by watching films that he composed the music for. I started last night with Michael Apted’s film Class Action. I know it’s not Horner’s most notable score, but it fit the film like a glove.
    I have a classic lineup ready to go – Field of Dreams, A Beautiful Mind, Titanic, Star Trek 2 and 3, etc.
    I think it is kind of awesome that we will still get to experience some of his music in the remaining part of this year, for the first time. It’s great to know that we still have Southpaw, Wolf Totem, The 33 and Living in the Age of Airplanes to look forward to! (Though of course most, including myself, have already enjoyed the treasures that Wolf Totem had in store for us!)
    I just want to say Thank you, James Southall, for always writing great reviews. You are one of the first sites I go to for recommendations and I perceived you were a James Horner fan like myself. Thank you, again. I look forward to your James Horner Odyssey, as I know I’m looking forward to mine!

  2. Elfenthalsmith on Sunday 28 June, 2015 at 14:20

    I’m curious to see how you’ll re-evaluate Troy, since you gave it high praise at the time. That and Enemy at the Gates are my favorite Horner scores.

  3. Ian Smith on Sunday 28 June, 2015 at 14:22

    Well I’m certainly looking forward to your future reviews in this series and I think its a great idea. I have been listening to some of my old Horner albums over the past few days for obvious reasons. My sense of loss has only increased, sadly. Where is another Glory or Legends of the Fall ever going to come from?

  4. Daniel Henderson on Monday 29 June, 2015 at 06:40

    I’m interested to read your updated reviews of Aliens and Willow. Those are two good ones I think you underrated in your originals.

    I know at one point you had a Braveheart review, but I don’t remember what you thought of it.

  5. […] Horner’s music. Instead of providing a full review to each and every score (you may resort to MovieWave’s James Horner Review Odyssey for that), I will summarise his work by year (in order of the movie’s release date, knowing […]

  6. André on Wednesday 20 January, 2016 at 20:00

    summer 2014 to summer 2015 – This was on of his very best release years!!! 3 diffrent movies, which he all scores very good and diffrently, 2 documentations and 2 big concert works.
    He leaved us with a great bang in styles! This was a genius. I miss so much the days, where I was waiting for the next thing like last year til the tragic day.

  7. Daniel Henderson on Monday 15 August, 2016 at 13:31

    When do you think you’ll get around to Aliens?

  8. James Southall on Monday 15 August, 2016 at 21:00

    I don’t know. This is taking a lot longer than I expected! Despite its quality, Aliens isn’t one I listen to very often so it might be a while yet…