Category Archives: Reviews

ZORRO. (1975).

Zorro-Original-Soundtrack-cover

 

Released in 1975 and starring Alain Delon and Stanley Baker, ZORRO, was directed by Duccio Tessari and contained a musical score written by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, now this composing duo had made a name for themselves via their rather quirky and pop orientated approach to scoring movies. But their score for ZORRO seemed more dramatic and much more developed which could I suppose have something to do with the involvement of Italian Maestro Gianfranco Plenzio who not only conducted the score but also orchestrated it. The music that the composing siblings provided for the production had a greater depth and also contained much more than we had come to expect from De Angelis, yes there are a number of musical passages and phrases that can only belong to De Angelis, but the majority of the score is a driving and highly adventurous work, As was normal with any De Angelis score for a film there are a couple of songs included which are not that off beat or odd ball, and I say this without being insulting, (remember KEOMA), I rest my case. The score for ZORRO was released on compact disc as part of the CAM SOUNDTRACK ENCYCLOPEDIA, sadly it was a release that initially did not sell that well, but after CAM deleted the release and it became scarce collectors were seeking it everywhere, so a re issue came from Japan which arguably contained far better sound quality, superior art work and more importantly more music. Given the subject matter of the storyline the score obviously leans towards a Spanish/Mexican style and at times reminds one of the quieter moments within Jerry Fielding’s WILD BUNCH score, it has a definite pop infused sound to it with slow guitar solos and light and sultry hacienda songs that evoke a hot summers night spent watching the sun set over the dusty but picturesque desert views. The score is also in my opinion filled with fun compositions that are crammed with energy and although are simple in their makeup are vibrant and linger long in the listeners mind. These are accompanied by fiercely Hispanic sounding cues, that are not only haunting but dramatic, within certain cues I was also reminded of Riz Ortolani’s THE HUNTING PARTY theme, driving strings backed by pulsating percussion and guitar, purveying a sense of urgency and desperation.

 

Initially the movie was a romantic comedy of sorts, but it did also contain some swordplay and other fight scenes. The theme song sung by Oliver Onions, (G and M De Angelis in disguise) is catchy and somewhat annoying, but this can be said of the majority of the De Angelis songs, the majority of which seem to repeat themselves over and over, until you find yourself reaching for the fast forward button. However, saying this, ZORRO IS BACK is quite short in its duration, so does not really have time to agitate one that much, see what you think.

 

Zorro Is Back Lyrics
Here’s to being free la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to flying high la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to being free la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to flying high la la la la la la Zorro’s back

It’s fun to be
It’s fantasy
He’s so glad
To know the world as Zorro (Zor-ro!)
You know you weren’t the next and run to learn El Zorro
As one good deed
Is all we need
So he’ll be there
And guard our cares oh Zorro (Zor-ro!)
He’ll tell you hang upon
Their necks and run you see

Here’s to living free
Here’s to you and me

Here’s to better times with only one of a kind Zorro
Here’s to living free when you know that your friend is old Zorro
Here’s to being free la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to being free la la la la la la Zorro’s back

It’s hard to find when all the time
He stand the pain the world is job worth doing (Zor-ro!)
Let any strength he have the proof to make it through
In proof he drawn without a frown
Once he’s there he bears a number of Zorro (Zor-ro!)
You better make your debt to settle your affairs with Zorro

Here’s to being free
Here’s to you and me
Here’s to being free la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to flying high la la la la la la Zorro’s back
(Key Change)
Here’s to being free la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to flying high la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to being free la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to flying high la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to being free la la la la la la Zorro’s back
Here’s to flying high la la la la la la Zorro’s back

 

The instrumental version of the title song for me anyway is more appealing, the remainder of the score however is entertaining and an enjoyable listening experience, and contains some nice guitar work that is supported by woodwind, and strings giving it a romantic sound and style.
In my ever so humble opinion ZORRO stands next to and equal with the De Angelis western THE CONTINUEING STORY OF TRINITY. One to watch out for on well-known selling sites and available on Spotify.

DRAGONHEART-BATTLE FOR THE HEARTFIRE.

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Composer Mark McKenzie for me has always written some beautiful thematic and emotive music. He is a composer who always steps up to the mark and brings much to any project he works on via his truly captivating style of composition. His latest work is DRAGON HEART, BATTLE FOR THE HEART FIRE. This is a score that is predominantly electronic or shall we say synthesised, with a handful of conventional instruments being included throughout the work. The movie is one that will go straight to Blu Ray, and will not as far as I am aware receive a release in theatres. This does not mean that the movie is not worthy of such a release, and the score certainly is not in any way inferior to anything that has been written for any number of so called blockbusters in the past two to three years.

The score is to be released on, Universal Studio’s Back Lot Music label and should be available on June 9th, 2017, although it is already available on Spotify. This is the fourth instalment of the DRAGONHEART series, and Patrick Stewart is voicing the star of the show DRAGO for this tale. This will be the third movie within the series that composer McKenzie has worked on, the original movie in the franchise being scored by Randy Edelman. The score that McKenzie has penned is a highly emotive one, the composer incorporating a wide range of musical colours, textures and styles, we are treated to some wonderfully uplifting and at times anthem like pieces that give the listener goose-bumps at times. This is a soundtrack that incorporates, Celtic flavoured compositions alongside dark and menacing sounds, plus passionate and vibrant compositions that are filled with romance and tinged with melancholy. The work displays perfectly the versatility of this talented but alas at times ignored composer. I love the way in which the composer employs solo cello giving the score real heart and soul, adding a touch of sadness to the proceedings.

 

 

He also makes use of Randy Edelman’s original and now iconic DRAGONHEART theme at certain points within the score and gives this a fresh and regal sound that is rich and sumptuous. This is a powerful score, a commanding and fearsome sounding work, which I am confident will not disappoint and fan of film music. Although this is for the most part a synthesised work, one just gets enveloped by the driving forces behind the music and the numerous musical colours that the composer puts into the mix. Highly recommended.

 

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THE MUMMY (2017).

 

Tom Cruise in THE MUMMY, well not entirely sure on this, for me the jury is still out. I am used to Mummy movies from studios such as Hammer etc, so maybe the MUMMY 2017 is just too much to take. The score however is something else. We all love Jerry Goldsmiths score for THE MUMMY and, we are all just as fond of the musical scores for Mummy adventures as brought to the screen by the house of horror and studios such as Universal. So, when I heard that Brian Tyler was to be the composer on this latest re-telling of the story, I was quietly confident that we would be delivered a score that was filled with action, suspense and more importantly some good thematic material, glad to say I was not wrong. This is a large-scale work, which is written for full orchestra and includes many choral performances throughout that are themselves bolstered and supported by various synthetic sounds. I was immediately taken with the composers grand and epic approach to the movie, his rasping and growling brass flourishes instantly grabbing one’s attention, these alongside and fused with driving strings that are embellished by thundering percussive elements are imposing and at times fearsome. I have always been a fan of Tyler, and particularly enjoyed his rhythmic yet grandiose approach to IRON MAN and his epic and powerful score for THOR THE DARK WORLD, he has this knack of creating fantastic film music that fits the movie like the proverbial glove but at the same time stands on its own as just a great and inspiring piece of music. With Brian Tyler you at least get a score that is filled with real themes that develop, breath and grow throughout the score, there are none of these electronic unlistenable grating compositions, if indeed these are compositions that have graced or disgraced block busters over the past few years, by composers who we will not mention now. Tyler’s score for THE MUMMY is a class act, it will enthral and delight film music fans and for me as always Tyler evokes many memories of the style of the late Jerry Goldsmith with also a nod in the direction of Bernard Herrmann. In many way’s this is a score that is written and performed in the same fashion and passion as good old fashion film music which sadly seems to be a thing of the past these days, it is a work that is commanding and at the same time mystically emotive, although poignancy is at times rather scarce, the composer often introducing a cue with something that is not at all action orientated but transforming a lilting motif into something rather more sinister, melancholy and calm more often than not falling by the wayside when things really get going, this is a nonstop, no holds barred action score that has real heart and character and will I know be returned to many times after an initial listen. Tyler hits the spot on every occasion, each time stepping up the mark and enhancing, underlining, punctuating and supporting. His artistry creating a soundtrack that is at times as foreboding, and virulent as the MUMMY itself.

One to add to your collection, a real rollercoaster ride with so many twists and turns it may well send you dizzy. One cue that particularly evoked Jerry Goldsmith for me was track number 24, FORWARD MOMENTUM, swirling strings and timpani supported by brass, woodwind and a scattering of percussion create a wonderfully tense and fraught mood, with the strings carrying along the remainder of the instrumentation on a surge of excitement that is unrelenting and unstoppable, propelling the listener into a volatile and frenzied situation. The same can be said for SANDSTORM another piece that is a showcase for the string and percussion sections, this time supported by choir and brass that together generate and electric atmosphere. So highly recommended.

 

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES.

 

 

 

It’s amazing that the Pirates of the Caribbean series began back in 2003, and is still by reactions from fans of the series on the latest addition to its cycle, going strong. The musical scores have played a big part in the popularity of the movies and have also become something of a standard on the radio and in concert performances of film music. The first movie in the series had a score credited to composer Klaus Badelt who in my opinion did a great job of enhancing and underlining the action and very tongue in cheek and over the top antics of Captain Jack Sparrow masterfully portrayed by the highly talented Johnny Depp, and this is where I get confused Badlet scored the first movie, yes? So Badlet also created the now familiar PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN theme Yes? Or maybe no? because the next instalment, DEAD MANS CHEST also contains the very same theme but the credit this time goes to Hans Zimmer, confused yes, I am a little me hearties. Then came AT WORLDS END which followed on very quickly behind DEAD MANS CHEST in fact it was in cinemas less than a year after DEAD MANS CHEST, again music credited to Hans Zimmer, so at this point are we thinking who is Klaus Badlet? Up next we have in 2011 ON STRANGER SHORES, again its Mr Zimmer, but is the theme still present yes me hearties it be there arrrr, oops sorry was slipping into character whilst splicing the main brace and standing on the poop deck. So, I am still confused, Badlet or Zimmer, or did Zimmer have a hand in the original? when the films were not popular or an unknown quantity, then when the films began to gain a large audience Zimmer decided ummm now hang on a sec, maybe I should have agreed to have my name on the first movies credits for that theme. There is certainly no doubt that the theme is filled with everything that is love him or hate him Hans Zimmer, it evokes BACKDRAFT for example and brings into play the grandeur and the dramatic power of GLADIATOR, so maybe Zimmer did write it, and very graciously gave the credit to Badlet, not sure, so I won’t pursue this any further because I am becoming as befuddled as Captain Jack. The scores for the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN series are probably some of the best and arguably the worst of the 21st century thus far, they are filled with the correct amount of yo ho ho and are also bulging with numerous bottles of rum, copious amounts of skulls and cross bones etc, and if anyone says any different I will keel haul you and make you walk the plank. So, to the latest offering PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-DEAD MAN TELL NO TALES, OR SALAZARS REVENGE, see the motley crew in search of the Trident of Poseidon, the tale is filled with action and mystical goings on. The movie has been met with mixed reviews and I must say by looking I have found most of the critic’s reviews to be a little negative, it is sad at times when a franchise or series of movies out stays its welcome, and maybe just maybe Pirates has done this and really should now be heading towards Davy Jones locker to rest forever.

 

The score for DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is credited to Geoff Zanelli, who although at times does burst into the Badlet, sorry Zimmer Pirates theme at times, has for the most part as far as I can hear written an entirely original sounding work for the movie, which is something of a breath of fresh air these days in film. However, there are as I say certain points win his score where the influence of the past Pirates scores seep through, but this is certainly not a negative. Zanelli’s score for me is more developed or has more substance than the past two works in the series, but also it does somehow lack any real punch or power as I was waiting each time it seemed to get underway for it to build and become even more of a commanding powerhouse of a score, but instead each time it just held back. Please do not take this the wrong way, as the music is for the most part good, but it is a basic action score in the end with no real surprises and nothing that kind of stands out or comes along and hits you in between the eyes and wows you. There is no doubt it is a serviceable score within the movie, but away from it as a listening experience I was not bowled over, three exceptions are the tracks entitled KILL THE FILTHY PIRATE, I,LL WAIT, I,VE COME WTH THE BUTCHERS BILL and TREASURE which are in parts interesting because the composer manages to sustain a decent pace and momentum throughout both, with that Badlet, No sorry, Zimmer theme weaving in and out. Zanelli is a fine composer and I have for many a year admired his scores, but this PIRATES episode I think is maybe PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-ON TEPID MUSICAL WATERS.

THE EXCEPTION.

 

 

THE EXCEPTION, is a riveting World War II thriller that is filled with espionage and romance in equal measure, the story focuses upon a German Soldier Stefan Brandt portrayed by Jai Courtney as he embarks on a mission to investigate exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II played wonderfully by the talented actor Christopher Plummer. The Kaiser has taken up residence in a secluded mansion in The Netherlands, and as Hitler’s Nazis are taking over Holland, the country’s authorities are concerned that Dutch spies may be watching the Kaiser. As Brandt begins to infiltrate the Kaiser’s life in search of clues, he finds that he is slowly but surely being drawn into an unexpected and passionate romance with Mieke (Lily James), one of the Kaiser’s maids whom Brandt soon discovers is secretly Jewish. When Heinrich Himmler (Eddie Marsan), Head of the SS, decides to come for an unexpected visit with a large platoon of Nazis in tow, the stage is set for a breath-taking showdown, as secrets are revealed, allegiances are tested, and Brandt is forced to make the ultimate choice between honouring his country and following his heart. It is a gripping and absorbing movie and one that will keep audiences interested and entertained throughout, the musical score is by composer Ilan Eshkeri, who is in my opinion one of the leading lights in film music composition, his score for STARDUST still amazes and enthrals all who listen to it for the first time and holds the attention of collectors who have had it within their collection since its release.

Eshkeri’s score for THE EXCEPTION contains some of the most beautiful and attractive themes that I have heard in a while, many of which are performed by piano, the instrument lending much to the poignancy and emotiveness of the music. The delicate and fragile sounding themes which are quite simple in their make-up seem to be even more haunting when both piano and cello combine to create a touching yet solemn style and sound that certainly hits the emotional spot wonderfully. The score also contains a harder and more martial sound in places which is in-keeping with the films storyline, it also has a mysterious and somewhat exhilarating air to it, with the composer developing an atmosphere that is uneasy and urgent via strings and underlining timpani, the percussive elements acting as punctuation to the string sections and being further enhanced by the utilization of piano, which although fleeting is effective and adds a sense of intrigue to the proceedings. Overall, I would say that this is a somewhat low-key score, with the composer employing just strings. piano and the timpani sections of the orchestra, the lilting and haunting themes are beautifully written and contain a richness and warmth but at the same time seem to ooze a melancholy and fragility which becomes attractive to the listener almost instantly. I am confident that this will become a firm favourite of collectors old and new. Please check it out. Recommended.