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REVIEW – The Iron Giant

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment
The Iron Giant.jpgDirected by: Brad Bird
Produced by: Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff
Screenplay by: Tim McCanlies
Story by: Brad Bird
Edited by: Darren T. Holmes
Cinematography by: Steven Wilzbach
Music by: Michael Kamen
Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Vin Diesel, James Gammon, M. Emmet Walsh, Cloris Leachman
Based on the novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Year: 1999

 

Disney may have reigned at the box office in the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, the quality of their non-Pixar-produced films was undoubtedly beginning to slip, and so it’s no real wonder that other studios – particularly DreamWorks – were taking notice and trying to take a bite out of their share of the box office. Despite having the backing of a major studio behind it, however, Warner Bros. Animation struggled to find its footing with theatrical releases during this era. Space Jam, the studio’s first in-house feature film production, was a considerable success, but it relied upon familiar Looney Tunes characters and Michael Jordan (and an already existing and popular advertising campaign for shoes that already merged the two brands) to basically have the film market itself. Later films wouldn’t be able to use that crutch, however, and anemic advertising strategies for films like Quest for Camelot, Osmosis Jones, and even Looney Tunes: Back in Action – which no longer had the brand popularity and the basketball star to rely upon – did little to drum up ticket sales, and none of the films achieved the critical acclaim to even make them legit cult classics. There was, of course, one film released in between all this, however, that, despite the botched advertising (some of which, for some reason, used Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane”) and underperformance, did manage to eventually make a name for itself not just as a cult classic, but as truly one of the most underappreciated animated film classics. Read more…

James Bond: The Theme Songs – Part 2

March 12, 2012 7 comments

<< James Bond: The Theme Songs – Part 1

WARNING: Heavy Flash video use ahead!

“A View to A Kill” performed by Duran Duran, A View to A Kill (1985)

For Roger Moore’s final outing as Bond, new wave band Duran Duran was brought in, largely thanks to one of its band members drunkenly inquiring about the job. John Taylor, bassist, reportedly confronted producer Cubby Broccoli at a party, asking him when they would choose a “decent” band to do one of the themes. From that unseemly beginning came a major hit, and “A View to A Kill” remains the only Bond theme to hit #1 on the Billboard Top 100 to this day. Though it’s not my favorite, it’s definitely a great Bond theme for the 80s and manages to recall Paul McCartney’s action-packed theme, which is welcome after four love ballads – three of them being rather awful. It’s one of the few Bond themes you can dance to, which is only appropriate, since it has the infectious lyric “Dance into the fire” interjecting throughout, making it perfect if you wanted to have a James Bond theme party or something… Overall, an exciting and fun theme song. Read more…

James Bond: The Theme Songs – Part 1

March 8, 2012 3 comments

Hey, did you know that there’s a new James Bond film coming out this year? Yup! After a four year hiatus, thanks in large part to MGM’s troubled financials, Bond will be back on the big screen in the 23rd canonical James Bond film titled Skyfall, directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.

The film features the return of Daniel Craig to the role for his third time, joined by Oscar-winner Dame Judi Dench as “M,” Oscar-nominee Javier Bardem as the villain, Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe as the Bond girls, Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes as a government agent, Ben Whishaw reviving the role of Q, and Albert Finney in an undisclosed role but lends even more credentials to the cast and crew with his five Oscar nominations. That’s a lot of Oscars, and a lot of expectations to live up to!

Of course, with every new Bond film, there comes a new Bond theme song, which carries its own set of high expectations. The themes of the Bond films have themselves become an institution, and, with music proving to be far more divisive in my own experiences than films, the title song for Skyfall, which would traditionally come at the beginning of the film, will arguably influence how audiences connect with the film to follow. The best thing that the filmmakers can do is look back on the previous films’ themes and see what worked and what didn’t.

Now, I’m not at all knowledgeable about music (In fact, music appreciation, which is a lot harder than it sounds, was one of the small number of Cs that I received while in college, so the following article is far more casual and amateur than my more film-centered articles. Please, if you have any experience in musical composition, performance, etc., feel free to tear me apart for saying something stupid.), but, as they say, I do know what I like, and I do have some strong feelings about some of the previous themes. While we look forward to a new Bond film this year, I thought this would be a great opportunity to look back on Bond themes past and give my assessment, first chronologically and then, of course, in rank.

WARNING: Heavy Flash video use ahead! Read more…

Review: “Die Hard”, and a 51st post “Thank you!”

December 14, 2011 15 comments
Directed by: John McTiernan
Produced by: Lawrence Gordon, Joel Silver, Beau Marks (associate) Charles Gordon (executive)
Written by: Steven E. de Souza & Jeb Stuart (screenplay)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Alexander Godunov
Music by: Michael Kamen
Based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp
Year: 1988

You wouldn’t know it today, but Bruce Willis wasn’t known for action roles back in 1988. Having spent most of his career up to that point being known for the dramedy detective series Moonlighting, where he played a wisecracking detective opposite Cybill Shepherd, Willis wasn’t necessarily the most obvious choice for the role of John McClane, despite the character sounding fairly similar as a wisecracking police officer from New York. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to modern viewers unfamiliar with the era, but when you consider the fact that the show featured a largely romantic story between two co-workers, putting the actor into a film like Die Hard, which, by the way, released only a year after his starring role debut in the romantic comedy Blind Date, maybe it makes more sense why people may have been a bit more skeptical. Read more…

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