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5. LOTR: The Two Towers (2018)
Filmtracks On Cue

On Cue for May, 2003:

5/29/03 - The Dark Crystal (Limited Edition): (Trevor Jones) "Long before becoming famous for his brassy fanfares in such modern favorites as Last of the Mohicans and Cliffhanger, Trevor Jones was a regular composer for the Jim Henson productions of the 1980's. None of the Jim Henson Muppet films has achieved a cult status greater than The Dark Crystal, a tale of innocent Gelfling creatures who, with the assistance of benevolent Mystics, must battle evil Skeksis rulers and their henchmen to restore the crystal that binds their destinies together. While the story may not seem wildly original by today's standards, there were several aspects of The Dark Crystal that made it stand out as a superior effort when compared to similar projects at the time. First, the puppet effects, while obviously lacking compared to computerized wizardry today, were surprisingly convincing. Second, the film had a distinctly dark and frightening style about even its brighter and more heroic parts. Third, its score by Trevor Jones is a classic in the history of animated features. When Jones sat down with film producer Gary Kurtz, they recognized that the animated film genre had reached the point where the stories and imagery on the screen were so foreign that the music needed to be rooted in an orchestral base that audiences could relate to. Interestingly, Don Bluth and Jerry Goldsmith would be making same realization at exactly the same time for The Secret of N.I.M.H...." ***** Read the entire review.

5/28/03 - Batman & Robin: (Elliot Goldenthal) --All New Review-- "By 1997, the Batman concept that had once captivated audiences with its elegant vision of good versus evil had dissolved into a MTV light show with an excess of characters and total lack of consistency and common sense. Director Joel Schumacher's return to the franchise after his monumentally failing Batman Forever drove the final nail into coffin of the Batman series, at least for several years until audiences could shake off bad memories of Batman & Robin. Suffering from the same overdose of eye candy as Batman Forever, the predictable and unengaging Batman & Robin introduced two new villains, a bat girl, another Bruce Wayne flame, and, of course, another different actor as Batman. The entire project was a disastrous example of franchise stupidity, and somewhere, you had to get the feeling that Tim Burton and Danny Elfman were wincing and celebrating at once. Like Poison Ivy's garden, the film was overgrown in size and lacking in substance. Despite calls by thousands of upset fans for a return of Danny Elfman to the franchise (which was never going to happen), Elliot Goldenthal returned with his Elfman-imitation Batman knock-off theme. Disgruntled fans were treated to another Batman film which used Elfman's theme in the trailers, but utilized Goldenthal's less coherent music on the viewers of the film. Due to a cold reception by fans to every aspect of the project..." *** Read the entire review.

5/26/03 - Batman Forever: (Elliot Goldenthal) --All New Review-- "The tables were turned on the Batman franchise in 1995 when Tim Burton declined to work with Warner Brothers on a third film for the series, with criticism still pouring in about the lack of cohesion in Batman Returns. The original Batman had been constructed with such a classic formula, pure in its brooding styles and stark colors, that the more ambitious and broad Batman Returns turned out to be a major letdown. Warner, however, decided to proceed with the franchise by not correcting that problem; instead, the studio hired director Joel Schumacher to solve the problem by taking the franchise further down its current path to despair, a path that would meet a laughable end with Batman & Robin. Schumacher's solution was to make the films more consistent with the original comics and their outrageously silly character villains. Gone was the bleak darkness of Burton's creation and infused were colors, streaks of lights, and a carnival atmosphere that would liven the film's visuals to an almost intolerable level. Composer Danny Elfman, who saw this situation coming, declined to continue down this road and left with Burton. Elfman's Batman theme had quickly become one of the most easily recognizable in recent cinema, and whether or not you liked his Batman Returns interpretations of the Batman theme and its brooding attitude..." ** Read the entire review.

5/19/03 - Johnny English: (Edward Shearmur/Howard Goodall) "The Brits consider spy thriller films to be among their dearest specialties. They are, after all, the brains and talent behind the James Bond series and, logically, they're the ones in the best position to poke fun at their beloved espionage genre. Such is the case with Johnny English, a direct Bond spoof with the title character portrayed by talented physical comedian Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean). Along with a supporting cast of John Malkovich and Natalie Imbruglia, Atkinson heads a movie in which his newly commissioned license to stupefy is extended to the boundaries of misfortune and satire in every direction. Whether or not you can tolerate the film probably depends on how high Rowan Atkinson is on your top-10 list of "people who should suffer an untimely death." Personally, he's pretty high on my list, if only because I find his bizarre facial contortions to border on the perverse and disturbing. The film opened in Great Britain in April of 2003 and is scheduled for a July 2003 release in America. It joyously takes advantage of strained relations between the French and their American and British counterparts in recent politics, with Malkovich's over the top performance revolving around a French maniac who steals the crown jewels (literally) of England. Young composer Edward Shearmur was hired to provide a parody score for the project...." **** Read the entire review.

5/18/03 - The album for The Matrix Reloaded has already matched the sales of the score album for the original The Matrix by Don Davis. The score and song 2-CD set is holding a place on Billboard's Top 200 Chart and is expected to continue into sales of hundreds of thousands of albums as the film remains atop the box office. "I'm honored that the Wachowski Brothers wanted to release the music as a whole [soundtrack and score] to keep the musical integrity of the project, and that Maverick Records had the foresight to release a two-disc set," states Don Davis in response to the high sales of the album. "As brilliant as they are in helming the Matrix franchise, the brothers were in overseeing this soundtrack. As a consumer, I always feel a little bit slighted if I get a soundtrack CD that's mostly songs or only score music. This soundtrack is a real effort to change the paradigm of what's being offered to consumers in film music." A Filmtracks editorial review of The Matrix Reloaded is available, as well as audio, ratings, and a comment area for you to post your own response to the album or Don Davis' remarks.

5/14/03 - Legend: (Jerry Goldsmith) --Expanded Review-- "If film score disasters could be ranked on a top ten list, then Legend would be somewhere near the top of that list. Director Ridley Scott was coming off of two unpleasant films, Alien and Bladerunner at the time, and had decided to proceed by creating an uplifting fantasy film targeted more towards families. Plagued by production cuts, stage fires, and studio meddling, Scott's Legend turned out to be just as much of a nightmare for the director as it would be for composer Jerry Goldsmith. The veteran composer had not been entirely happy with his experience working on Alien with Scott, but he was nevertheless won over by the fantasy script and was eagerly brought in on Legend's pre-production to assist in adapting John Bettis' lyrics into songs that would fit into appropriate points during the films. Goldsmith had just completed the synthetically jarring Runaway score, and thankfully utilized his newly-developed array of synthesizers in a much more harmonious fashion with a London orchestra and choir for Legend. The massive score would first suffer the same fate as Scott's entire film, with the initial European release being cut significantly in length, along with Goldsmith's score. With half an hour removed from various places in the project, Goldsmith's score would end up jumbled and out of place, with several temp cues remaining in the final cut of the film...." **** Read the entire review.

5/11/03 - Old Gringo: (Lee Holdridge) --Expanded Review-- "Known best as the last major acting performance on the big screen by Gregory Peck, Old Gringo is a doomed tale of adventure and romance in a Mexican hacienda during the time of Pancho Villa and the Mexican Revolution. With its serious drama darkened by a dismal plot and unforgiving ending, the film was met with horror and distant admiration, with most of the attention going to Peck's performance. The dark and depressing nature of the film is scored brilliantly by veteran composer Lee Holdridge. A obvious choice for the project, Holdridge grew out of musical roots in Costa Rica, conducting the country's foremost symphony orchestra and eventually training in the United States. Whether intentionally or not, the international flavor of his works would resonate in several of his scores, including his eventual best-seller, The Mists of Avalon. At the time of Old Gringo, Holdridge had completed several scores for films that didn't achieve as much success as expected, with the popular exception of Splash. Primarily a television series and mini-series composer, his works rarely offered him a chance to return to those Hispanic roots on a large scale...." ***** Read the entire review.

5/8/03 - Varèse Sarabande: A 25th Anniversary Celebration: (Compilation) "The Varèse Sarabande record label began producing LP records in 1978 and, nearly 1,000 recordings later, has become the most prolific soundtrack label in the world. Its original focus in the 1970's was classical music as well as scores, but with their score releases by golden age film composers leading their sales charts, the label quickly established itself as the leader in film score recordings. After producing LPs in the late 1970's and early 1980's, Varèse Sarabande offered LPs and CDs (and cassettes, of course) concurrently for a short time in the mid-1980's before CDs became their sole focus. Fans who stumble upon early Varèse Sarabande CDs will note the original few pressings by the little ring of removable foam that was used to keep the CD in place within the case. Despite criticism about short album running times in the 1990's (an argument that was based mostly on fans' ignorance of how the music industry works), the label delighted in pressing albums that no other label would, taking chances on young composers and often producing a combination of hidden gems and obscure disappointments. By taking those chances, Varèse Sarabande has shed light on countless young careers..." **** Read the entire review.

5/5/03 - The Princess Bride: (Mark Knopfler) --All New Review-- "For an entire generation of teens and pre-teens, The Princess Bride was the ultimate slumber party flick. Seen countless times by anyone in that age bracket in the late 1980's, the Rob Reiner film lives on in the history of movies as one of the wackiest and dumbest success stories in the romantic comedy genre. With a decent cast, the film wasn't ashamed of its own campy low-budget feel, catering to that teen logic and leaving parents shaking their heads and searching for something more intelligent with which to distract themselves. Several lines from the film, with the endlessly repeating "You killed my father; prepare to die..." quote leading the pack, would be imitated by comedians for several years to follow. As that generation grew up, however, the film lost its unique appeal, and while it served its film well at the time, the same can be said of the score for The Princess Bride. Reiner recognized immediately that the film was ridiculous and hearty enough to require a musical departure from the norm. Having enjoyed the Mark Knopfler scores for Dire Straits and Local Hero, Reiner..." **** Read the entire review.

5/3/03 - Quigley Down Under: (Basil Poledouris) --All New Review-- "One of the more vibrant modern Westerns, Quigley Down Under places American sharp-shooter Tom Selleck in the outback of Australia, battling an evil British landlord, Alan Rickman. Keeping it alive during its slow moments are the film's campy attitude, quirky characters, and trademark Western score by Basil Poledouris. A man of the sea, Poledouris is an avid sailor, and his enthusiasm for ocean-related films is reflected in such scores as Wind, The Hunt for Red October, and Free Willy. Even though Poledouris had won acclaim for his Lonesome Dove television music, the desert Western genre was still not an obvious choice for Poledouris at the time, but the film did offer him a superb sailing scene at the beginning with which to get his themes rolling. As it would turn out, the choice of Poledouris for Quigley Down Under was fantastic, and the composer would produce an upbeat, solid Western score with the same vigor and outlaw style that fans clamored to hear in Cherry 2000. The opening clarinet solo would set the pace for the entire score, performing a dancing, Western-style theme that eventually grows to encompass the entire orchestra. The woodwinds continue to portray the happy go lucky attitude of the film..." **** Read the entire review.

5/1/03 - True Lies: (Brad Fiedel) --All New Review-- "One of the most popular pure action films of the 1990's, True Lies has it all: Arnold Schwarzennegger, large explosions, silly humor, Charlton Heston, dancing, half naked women, and, of course, crazed Arabs. That last part makes True Lies a particularly politically incorrect film, especially in its portrayal of Islamic characters as raging lunatics who fire guns into the air indiscriminately and proclaim the "Death to America" line of thinking. The film's balance between style and senseless action, from the elegance of tango dancing to the brute force of public restroom destruction, requires a similar range of styles from its music. Director James Cameron turned to his previous collaborator, Brad Fiedel, to score the film. Fiedel's music for the Terminator films was serviceable, but not embraced widely by film music fans, the majority of whom were unaccustomed to the synthesized styles of Fiedel in the pre-Media Ventures days. Fiedel had, for his previous projects, engaged the films with an array of synthesizers, but for the larger-scale True Lies production, he also employed a moderately sized orchestra with the help of veteran composer Shirley Walker. Cameron's loyalty to Fiedel would be questioned when Fiedel's score failed to garner the same praise that True Lies received as a film...." * Read the entire review.

Page created 6/2/03, updated 6/3/03. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 2003, Christian Clemmensen. All rights reserved. "Real Audio" logo and .ra are Copyright © 1996, Real Audio ( "Academy Awards" and the Oscar statue are ® AMPAS, 1996.