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My 2012 James Bond Skyfall Film Review, More Movie Reviews  

ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's an Archive of my Film Review of the James Bond film "Skyfall".

http://www.guitar-muse.com/skyfall-film-review-5714

Skyfall Film Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright November 12-18, 2012, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

Release Date November 9, 2012 Eon® Productions & Danjaq® LLC

Distributed By MGM® & Columbia Pictures®

“Sometimes the old ways are the best”. That hallmark line of dialogue, uttered twice in “Skyfall” proves more than telling and prophetic.

Photo: James Bond - Skyfall - London

007 returns in this 23rd James Bond film, just in time to celebrate the 50th golden anniversary of the silver screen’s longest running (and one of its most iconic and successful), motion picture franchises. Bond has never been more gritty, raw, and soul searching in what is perhaps the darkest, and most epic Bond film ever.

“Skyfall’s” lofty, compelling, and cerebral storyline pulls no punches in deeply probing and questioning the relevance, usefulness, and even abilities of the old order of the spy world of MI6 and an aging, world weary Bond, pitted against a post 911 technological world amped up beyond light speed, where war is now waged, and exceedingly surpassed by, the formidable faceless evils of terrorism in the very unlevel playing fields of the virtual netherworld of cyberspace…rendering the human element that is that of the field agent, seemingly archaic and obsolete.

What good can our hero, James Bond, possibly instill among all this? The answer to that is very much indeed.

After Daniel Craig’s superb debut as Bond in 2006’s outstanding James Bond motion picture reboot “Casino Royale”, and then reprising his role in the convoluted, lackluster follow-up misfire that was 2008’s “Quantum Of Solace”, Craig hits his target point blank with astonishing form, depth, and gravitas in “Skyfall”. Craig portrays Bond with much intensity, as a grizzled, long in the tooth, aging, wounded warrior who ponders to M, “So this is it? We’re both played out”?

It’s all very heady stuff addressing the fundamental realities of mortality as Bond faces down with perhaps his most ominous nemesis yet, the advancing of time, age, and the technological “brave new world” that Bond begrudgingly must welcome and negotiate détente with. Craig supremely endows Bond with an uncanny vulnerability, introspection, and reflectiveness, yet it is these very sensibilities that inform and shore up Bond’s invincible resolve and valor in the catastrophic hour at hand.

The mission at hand this time involves Bond’s attempts to recover a stolen hard drive containing the names of every MI6 agent embedded in terrorist organizations throughout the globe. After the pre-credit sequence momentarily suggests that Bond has been killed (a wonderful nod to Sean Connery’s similar pre-credit fate in 1967’s “You Only Live Twice”), MI6 Headquarters suffers a devastating attack by a mysterious, unknown assailant, killing and wounding many.

Bond quickly returns from a self imposed respite on a tropical island, very much alive as he heeds the call to arms valiantly seeking to solve and stop the assassin. Only Bond soon finds that it is M who is the assassin’s actual target, that of a very personal vengeful vendetta by cyber terrorist Raoul Silva (Oscar® winner Javier Bardem doing a remarkable update on Christopher Walken ‘s Max Zorin in 1985’s “A View To A Kill” with full on peroxide haired, flamboyant psychopath mode).

After M crustily grouses “Where the hell have you been?” in her relief that Bond is alive and ready to serve and protect, it is through the series of field tests that she instructs Bond that he must pass in order to be fit for duty where we see Bond as we never have before.

Out of shape, breath, and form on his physical tests, missing his target with bleary eyed, shaking hand on his marksmanship, and shutting down and becoming confrontational in his psychological evaluation, Bond flunks all of his field tests.

But the resolve of Bond’s sense of duty and honor, his resilience, courage, and the unbreakable integrity and strength of his moral tack and fiber has never been more impeccable and unstoppable, especially when protecting M, or Mum as Bond refers to her. “Skyfall” delicately explores and examines the quiet, reserved, unspoken regard and affection and the somewhat mother-son relationship dynamic that M has with Bond, with tender respect and fondness.

I must say that after enjoying the performances of the wonderful, late Bernard Lee, who originated the role of M in the first eleven Bond films, my worries about who might fill his shoes, one very tall order, (actor Robert Brown’s portrayal of M in four Bond films after Lee’s passing, notwithstanding), were thankfully very much put to rest with the now, nearly two decade long, bravura tenure of the brilliant, Dame Judi Dench as M.

Dench’s debut as M, dishing out the now legendary ball busting tongue lashing and calling out of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in 1995’s “Goldeneye”, coining Bond a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War” were spot on, and assured us that she was in no uncertain terms, a force to be reckoned with and never to be trifled with…and moreover, that a woman could brilliantly run MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, one of the most powerful espionage and intelligence organizations in the world, with strategic intelligence, courage, resourcefulness, and strength.

But while most of M’s turns in previous Bond films saw her in brief appearances, momentarily giving directives to Bond from the sidelines, in “Skyfall’s” dire portrait of a nation and its security in crisis, we see M, emerge as a true leader.

We see M resolute and unwavering in protecting her nation, the world, and the operatives of MI6, in an age where international atrocities can be orchestrated with the point and click of a mouse. And though M is still tough as nails, full of irascible spit and vinegar, we also see how very much she cares about Bond and the people around her.

In “Skyfall”, M also demands and commands the audience front and center, as a pivotal character alongside Bond for most of the film’s story. M and Bond share equal screen time as we also gain insight and understanding into Silva’s highly dysfunctional take on the surrogate maternal underpinnings of his relationship with M, which comes to a head when Bond and Silva do combat the old fashioned way, mano a mano in a searing, suspense laden, jaw dropping climax set in an old country manor house in Scotland.

Director Sam Mendes and his team of writers wisely know that like Bond’s quintessential martini, not to tamper with the classic Bond formula, paying reverence and regard to the previous Bond films’, source material. Back are Bond’s Walther PPK, the blood stained gun barrel credits, and numerous homages, inside references, and tips of the hat galore to past Bond films, (including an auspicious update on the infamous alligator farm scene from “Live And Let Die”), Bond’s gleaming Aston Martin DB5 with the same license plate affixed to it as when the car was first introduced in 1964’s “Goldfinger”, (which drew resounding cheers and applause when unveiled at the screening that I attended), and best of all the return of a young, cyber techno wiz version of Q, portrayed with witty banter and much warmth by the just wonderful Ben Whishaw.

James Bond Skyfall“Skyfall” is more of an ensemble set piece than previous Bond films, and is rounded up by the many sterling talents of Berenice Lim Marlohe as the newest Bond girl, the sultry Severine, the always glowing Naomie Harris as MI6 Agent Eve, Rory Kinnear as MI5 Chief of Staff Bill Tanner, Ralph Fiennes as Chairman Of The Intelligence and Security Committee Gareth Mallory, and the very welcome surprise appearance of the incomparable Albert Finney who all but steals the show as Kincaid, a very special person with links to Bond’s past.

Director Of Photography, Roger Deakins’ breathtakingly beautiful vistas of the glittering evening city skylines of Shanghai and Macau, his panoramic, expansive landscapes of the city streets and Grand Bazaar of Istanbul and of the rural highlands of Scotland, and his camera shots of the historic, glorious, and iconic architecture, landmarks, and structures of London, partnered with his astonishing use of silhouettes, light, and shadows creates some of the most phenomenally stunning visuals ever put to cinema.

Production Designer Dennis Gassner’s opulent, dazzling set designs convey an eye popping, spectacular visual splendor made even more spellbinding by the effects of the IMAX Digital theater in which I saw “Skyfall”. Bursts of fireworks rain over Bond’s nighttime journey by riverboat to a Macau waterside casino, showering him with light as his gondola passes through 300 luminous floating lanterns and two, thirty foot high crimson colored dragon heads. A cavernous WW2 makeshift bunker and underground tunnels serve as MI6’s new home after Silva sets off gas explosions destroying their headquarters. An imposing and ominous island whose inhabitants have deserted, sits in decaying ruins and disarray, a seaside ghost town now taken over by Silva and his henchmen.

Film Composer Thomas Newman, who has regularly collaborated with Sam Mendes on many film scores, rises to the occasion with an epic score, handsomely painted with unforgettable cues, motifs, and themes which resonate Newman’s own distinct and evocative stylings and voice. I particularly liked his oriental motif colored with ornate, indigenous instrumentation and nuances for the Shanghai and Macau scenes.

But Newman’s most memorable and resonant theme is his theme for M. This dignified, mournful, somber dirge, darkly colored with deeply emotional, resounding brass, cellos, and woodwinds, salutes and voices M in her most cataclysmic hour, as she proclaims, “We’re under attack”, seeing six of her own agents die in the explosion at MI6, the loss of the computer hard drive resulting in the death of three more agents, and her own abilities to protect England and its national security come under disciplinary fire from Mallory and the Prime Minister.

Newman’s other compelling motifs make brash use of bold, majestic fanfares comprised of the classic Bond horns and brass flourishes combine with an exciting and innovative infusion of guitar laden, techno electronica, perfectly voicing the storyline itself, a perfect blend of old and new.

Newman also throws in classic revisitations of themes from 1965’s “Thunderball” and of course, Monty Norman’s iconic, James Bond theme with its tuned down, reverbed, twangy, acid jazz guitar voicings. As edgy, ultra cool, and hip as the first time it was heard on screen in the very first Bond film, 1962’s “Dr No”, and this time, it makes its appearance at a very special moment.

The one major failing where “Skyfall” falls horrendously short, is in its offensive misogyny of women…not by the character of Bond….but in the story itself, directed towards the female characters by screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan and Director Sam Mendes (something also inherent in the off putting misogyny of Mendes’ Oscar® winning directorial turn, “American Beauty”), all who should know better with their credentialed pedigree. Of “Skyfall’s” three female characters, all three suffer dismal fates. It’s no secret by now that Severine suffers and dies, and that this is Judi Dench’s swan song as M, (and I must say I will miss Dame Judi’s commanding and emotionally resonant presence and gravitas very much in future Bond films).

Worst of all, is the revelation that Naomie Harris’s MI6 Agent Eve’s last name is Moneypenny who as we know from Bond lore, and are shown in “Skyfall”, becomes M’s secretary. Eve attempts to be Bond’s equal but is not up to the task and so she decides to leave the field and chooses to become a secretary.

Eve is bestowed with the highest rank of an MI6 Agent, the elite double 00 licence to kill. While it was insightful that she decided that the field was not for her, why didn’t she choose an important, decision making, powerful bureaucratic job like Mallory did when he retired from being a field agent?

Instead Eve chooses to be demoted and relegated to a secretary? Very disappointing thinking and writing on Mendes part and his team of screenwriters.

They also bring in another man to play M. Couldn’t they bring in another strong woman to play M? Why doesn’t Eve become the new M? Why doesn’t Eve take Mallory’s old job when he is promoted to become the new M or why not just develop Eve’s character in an intelligent, strong manner? Could they not have written a better back story for Moneypenny and a separate back story altogether for Eve (who did not have to be the same person, resulting in this terribly sexist, degrading, and insulting origins story) than this? What happened to the strong, brave, intelligent female spies who could more than hold their own with Bond such as “The Spy Who Loved Me’s” KGB Agent Anya Amasova, “Tomorrow Never Dies’” Colonel Wai Lin, and “Die Another Day’s” NSA Agent Jinx Johnson?

Are we to think that Mendes and his screenwriters have Eve fail as an Agent and demote herself to a mere secretary because she is a member of MI6, the same espionage organization as Bond, where if she were Bond’s equal, she would continue to work directly alongside him as his ongoing peer, unlike these three aforementioned strong women role models of past Bond films, who after their missions all went back to their own respective home countries’ spy organizations? It could have been so much more intriguing bringing Eve back as a recurring character in future Bond films as an MI6 Agent, (much like recurring Bond film friend and ally, Felix Leiter of the CIA), delightfully sparring off of Bond, rather than recurring as a mere secretary.

Furthermore, at the end of “Skyfall”, Bond’s espionage world is now completely run by men once again.

What a waste of potential and what a terrible message to send to people after seventeen years of a woman heading up MI6 and of many years of female super spies’ dispatching of baddies with equal gusto & skill alongside Bond.

Much has been made of “Skyfall’s” borrowing of elements from, and its similarities to, Director Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”. Well apparently not in Mendes’ disrespectful depiction of women and he could definitely take a cue from the much more forward thinking Nolan. In “The Dark Knight Rises, Selina Kyle is a brave heroine who doesn’t take crap from anyone, she easily dispatches of anyone who gives her any, and she excels in her stealth, skills, and prowess. She not only holds her own with Batman, she saves his life. Selina kills the villainous Bane, just when he is about to kill Batman, as well as fighting alongside Batman to save the people and city of Gotham from a deadly nuclear bomb. Selina is Batman’s peer and his equal on every level.

Save for this one gross misstep, in “Skyfall”, paints an emotionally complex and deeply resonant narrative steeped in richly drawn character development addressing iconic archetype themes, an enigmatic origins back story into Bond’s life shaping childhood and formative years and how they would later come to mold and inform his persona, and a highly affectionate paean to all things classic Bond. “Skyfall” is a fabulously stellar entry in the Bond canon, in which the scope of its story is far reaching in ambition and depth, and whose visuals, stunts, and set pieces are beyond stunning. But perhaps like Eve when taking and missing that all important shot in the film’s pre-credit sequence, “Skyfall” momentarily misses its mark by just a hairsbreadth, when it could have been, even more satisfying.

In “Skyfall”, Bond endures an odyssey, much like that of Ulysses, where everything that he has ever been taught, everything that he and the world as he knows it is founded on, will be put through a trial by fire.

We see that the greatest heroes are the ones who acknowledge and accept their mortal flaws, free of hubris (something the still wet behind the ears overconfident Q will be forced to come to grips with in one of “Skyfall’s” most crucial moments,). Significantly, it will be Silva’s own prideful arrogance which will come to rue his day of reckoning in the final battle between Silva and Bond. For Bond’s most powerful weapon, is his cathartic humility, grace, and acceptance of his own weaknesses, turning them into triumphant strengths.

Heroes remain steadfast and stalwart, railing against the tides with courage, perseverance, and indomitable spirit of the heart and mind, who “do not go gentle into that good night” to quote Dylan Thomas.

And so it is that in “Skyfall”, as the undaunted James Bond defiantly proclaims his resurrection to Silva’s nefarious, blustering braggart, thankfully for us, 007 is very much resurrected, always at the ready to save the world…..forever, “reporting for duty, with pleasure”.

© Copyright November 12-18, 2012, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

[Edited on 11/12/2015 by ArleneWeiss]

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Topic starter Posted : November 11, 2015 6:54 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's an Archive of my 2012 Movie and Soundtrack Review of the comedy, musical film adaptation of the hit stage musical "Rock Of Ages".

http://guitarinternational.com/2012/06/25/rock-of-ages-film-review-original-motion-picture-soundtrack-review/

Rock Of Ages - Film Review and Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Review

© Copyright June 24, 2012, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

By: Arlene R. Weiss

I must say that when I first heard news that actor Tom Cruise, of all people, was being cast as fictional rocker, singer, guitarist, Stacee Jaxx of the fictional glam ’80s rock band, Arsenal, for the 2012 motion picture adaptation of the Broadway comedy stage musical, Rock Of Ages, I was more than skeptical…yet somehow intrigued.

Ironically, the naysayers, including myself, have been put at ease, as most of the incredible, positive buzz surrounding the film, centers on the immense praise being heaped on the shoulders, (or rather the guitar!) and very deservedly so, of Tom Cruise and his larger than life, phenomenal, chameleon-like performance as Stacee Jaxx.

Def Leppard’s lead singer Joe Elliott and bass guitarist Rick Savage, as well as Poison’s Bret Michaels are showering Cruise’s incredible musical talents and performance with accolades, as well as for Cruise completely immersing himself in the role, performing all of his own singing and guitar playing. The rockers are equally impressed with Cruise for getting down the look, the attitude, and the swagger of a rock and roll front man.

Elliott and Savage had this to say about Cruise to The Associated Press, when Elliott and Savage sat in on Cruise filming his live performance of their classic ’80s rocker, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.

Associated Press: “What did you think of his interpretation of the song?”

Rick Savage: “His voice was good”.

Joe Elliott: “Yeah, we were talking to him between takes, and he was a little put out that we were there at first, you know, “Uh, oh. The queen’s in town!” He said, “What do you think?” I said, “Can you sing?” He said, “No, I started like four or five months ago, just a couple of hours a day.” He had other movies he was shooting, so it was like a part-time thing. I’m thinking, “Wow. If he’s got that good in four or five months, that’s much better than half the people on some of these talent shows.””

Brett Michaels told USA Today, “(Cruise) is the bastard child of Bret Michaels and Axl Rose in this,” says Michaels, front man of the ’80s glam-metal band Poison. “He has the dark, intense Axl Rose thing, along with my look and stage presence.”

Tom prepared for months with vocal coach Ron Anderson who also has worked with Guns N’ Roses Axl Rose, and personally helped Cruise develop his vocal chops. Cruise also spent months taking guitar lessons, a first for him. Now Cruise is stunning critics, real life rock stars, and fans alike with his spellbinding four octave vocal range and scorching guitar licks.

Throughout Tom’s three decade long career as an A-List motion picture leading man and action hero, most notably in the blockbuster, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Cruise has continuously worked out with personal trainers, remaining in top form and physique. That regimen pays off as Cruise struts and poses while burning up the stage, in tattoos, bare chested right down to his six pack abs, donning leather pants and a rhinestone encrusted devil’s skull codpiece throughout the film, looking every inch the badass, guitar strumming, rock band front man that he portrays.

But what about the film, Rock Of Ages? That also pays off. If you haven’t seen Rock Of Ages, I greatly recommend it. What a fun filled, affectionate film just brimming with wonderful memories of the music and pop culture of the 1980’s! For those who grew up in that decade loving the era, as I did, this film is chock full of happy and sentimental memories of that time period.

Fabulously directed by Hairspray’s Adam Shankman, Rock Of Ages is a straightforward fable of boy meets girl, both who follow their dreams of fame and making it as rock and roll music artists as they fall in love, all cleverly centered around some of the ’80s most iconic rock tunes, which are glowingly performed by the film’s cast as they break out into song in between dialogue to tell the film’s story.

In 1987, Midwest teen and aspiring singer Sherrie Christian [Julianne Hough] boards a bus headed for Los Angeles. We then see barback Drew Boley [Diego Boneta] with his own dreams of fronting his own rock band, hard at work at The Bourbon Room, a rock club on L.A.’s legendary Sunset Strip. Intercut into the narrative, Sherrie and Drew burst into song singing their own renditions of Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian”, David Lee Roth’s “Livin’ In Paradise”, and Poison’s “Nothin’ But A Good Time”.

Meanwhile, The Bourbon Room’s owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin putting on his best gruff but lovable mentor of all things and artists who rock, demeanor) and his club manager Lonny (the wonderful and incomparable Russell Brand), are threatened with losing the club due to unpaid taxes.

Enter rock star Stacee Jaxx, who is about to leave his band Arsenal to persue a solo career. Dennis and Lonny invite Stacee to stage his final performance with his band at The Bourbon Room which is where Stacee originally launched his career, helping out his friends and the nightclub by raising the cash to avert its closing.

Sherrie arrives in L.A., she meets Drew, they fall in love, and then the two follow their rock and roll dreams. Sherrie waits tables at The Bourbon Room hoping to become a famous singer as Drew fronts and plays guitar for his band Wolfgang Von Colt. (Yes that really is the name of his band! Van Halen anyone?!)

Needless to say, Stacee, Sherrie, and Drew all face more than a few speed bumps and detours in their own musical aspirations, which of course lead to more excuses for them and the A-List cast members to keep breaking forth into song and rocking out their own “jukebox” choruses to the hits of the ’80s. And well, you’ll just have to see the movie to see how it all turns out, but think of the old, Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland, “Let’s put on a show and save the day” premise, and you get the idea!

Newcomers Hough and Boneta, a successful Latino rock star and guitarist who just signed to Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine’s record label, are actually quite good. They bring a sweet, fresh faced innocence, energy, exuberance, and especially, a lot of heart to their roles. Their genuine, knowing romance and their spirited resolve and pluck against all odds to see their musical dreams finally come true just make the film.

Paul Giamatti’s comedic timing and turn as Paul Gill, Stacee’s sardonic, effortlessly droll, beyond slimy cobra of a manager, and the begrudging PR master (or rather circus ringmaster!) of spin and damage control for Stacee’s sideshow rock lifestyle and antics that would make Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses blush, (but wholeheartedly approve!), is just hilarious.

Bryan Cranston and Catherine Zeta-Jones are also a hoot, squaring off with our rock and roll heroes in their roles as villainous hardasses, being the Mayor of Los Angeles and his bible thumping, conservative wife Patricia Whitmore, who makes it her personal mission to close down The Bourbon Room and who also has a mysterious axe to grind (the actual kind, not the guitar kind!) with Stacee.

Peppered throughout the movie are some of the ’80s most unforgettable joys, inside jokes, and self referential nods. There’s rockers galore clad in big hair, Aqua net, and Spandex. There’s lots of vinyl records, wild novelty guitars painted with neon, and the beloved Tower Records, (which are now no more, having gone bankrupt with the advent of digital music).

One of the film’s most stellar scenes, and in the film’s most amazing musical mash up, Sherrie and Drew sing about their dreams of being famous, rocking out on Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero” in a Tower Records store whose walls are lined with brightly painted guitars. Meanwhile, we also see Dennis and Lonny sing Joan Jett & The Blackheart’s “I Love Rock And Roll”.

In the film’s most memorable and heart tugging moment, Drew sends Sherrie a treasure trove of LP’s wrapped inside the iconic yellow Tower Records merchandise bag emblazoned with their red logo….the ultimate token of Drew’s love for Sherrie! A resonant moment that ’80s generation record lovers who spent their youth browsing the aisles of Tower and so many record stores back in the day, often meeting their one true love, or their future bandmates, can all definitely relate to.

And of course, there’s Tom Cruise’s sterling acting performance complementing his matchless musical numbers. Modeling his character and rocker persona as a mixture of Axl Rose meets Bret Michaels, Cruise’s performance is superb. Effusing a wink wink, nudge, and tongue planted firmly in cheek, deadpan delivery of his lines amidst a pensive, introspective, soul searching seriousness that befalls fame and the lonely life of the touring rock star, Stacee is a sight to behold.

The first time we see Stacee, he emerges from his bed in a surreal, debauched lair like boudoir, literally covered not by blankets, but by a bounty of beautiful women laying on top of him. The running joke in the film is that every time we see Stacee, women are fawning over him or fainting in his rock god, guitar hero presence.

And yet the film, and Stacee, somehow never come off as sexist, mostly because of Jaxx’s sweet, overtly humorous equal weak in the knees adoration and near worshipful appreciation of womanhood, even proclaiming his virtuous love for Constance Sack [Malin Akerman], the Rolling Stone reporter who sees through Stacee’s bravado and facade, warts and all.

Constance pulls no punches in her pointed cover story about the rocker, causing Stacee to reassess the shallow emptiness of a rocker’s lonely life and the road (Cruise’s scorching take on Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”), and finding meaning in his life, (Cruise’s and Akerman’s duet on Foreigner’s power love ballad, “I Want To Know What Love Is”).

Credit Rock Of Ages screenwriters Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo, and Allen Loeb for their sensational, smart and savvy narrative and script that pulses with hilarious, spot on barbs that are sharper than a tack, yet is also buoyed by heartwarming, feel good cheer.

Cruise’s electrifying, incendiary musical numbers, belting out how “hot, and sticky sweet” he is to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, on Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City”, and especially, Cruise’s blistering, elegiac take on Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” on which Cruise rocks out on electric guitar, just set the stage and the film, on fire. Cruise phenomenally reinterprets and makes each song his own, oozing the combustible chemistry, stealth, and seduction of a panther gracing the catwalk, showered in stage pyrotechnics and the incandescent rays of the spotlight.

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, the Rock Of Ages soundtrack went to number one on iTunes and no doubt, very much due to Cruise’s astonishing musical gifts and virtuosity as a first class rocker.

Cruise’s assured authenticity, stage presence, and vocal and guitar prowess in just commanding the stage are beyond dazzling.

Rock Of Ages is a warmhearted send up of, and ultimately, affectionate homage to, the music and popular culture of the ’80s told with wit, style, and much joy. It’s wonderfully over the top and overflowing with sparkling musical numbers, eye and ear candy, camp, and lots of cheese. Moreover, just as Stacee, Drew, and Sherrie take the stage and regale us along with their glittering, show stopping rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, Rock Of Ages is a heartfelt, sentimental salute to the joyous wonder, pursuit, and realization, of our rock and roll dreams.

“Rock Of Ages” Soundtrack Track List

“Paradise City” – Cruise
“Sister Christian” / “Just Like Paradise” / “Nothin’ But A Good Time” – Hough, Boneta, Brand, Baldwin
“Juke Box Hero” / “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Boneta, Baldwin, Brand, Hough
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” – Zeta-Jones
“Waiting For A Girl Like You” – Boneta, Hough
“More Than Words” / “Heaven” – Hough, Boneta
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” – Cruise, Hough
“I Want To Know What Love Is” – Cruise, Akerman
“I Wanna Rock” – Boneta
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Cruise
“Harden My Heart” – Hough, Blige
“Shadows of the Night” / “Harden My Heart” – Blige, Hough
“Here I Go Again” – Boneta, Giamatti, Hough, Blige, Cruise
“Can’t Fight This Feeling” – Brand, Baldwin
“Any Way You Want It” – Blige, Maroulis, Hough
“Undercover Love” – Boneta
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – Hough, Boneta, Cruise, Blige
“Rock You Like A Hurricane” – Hough, Cruise
“We Built This City” / “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Brand / Zeta-Jones
“Don’t Stop Believin'” – Hough, Boneta, Cruise, Baldwin, Brand, Blige

© Copyright June 24, 2012, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 4:26 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's an Archive of my June 2012 Film Review and Score Review of Director Ridley Scott's "Alien" prequel, "Prometheus".

http://guitarinternational.com/2012/06/16/prometheus-film-score-review/

Prometheus Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright June 12, 2012, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

Thirty three years after the first “Alien” burst out of actor John Hurt’s character and onto the silver screen, burrowing like the intergalactic monster into our collective consciousness, Director Ridley Scott reboots his science fiction thriller with this breathtaking, emotional roller-coaster ride prequel, set among the stars’ far reaches of deep space.

Like the Greek mythology that it takes its name from, Prometheus reinvigorates Scott’s interstellar horror show admirably, taking a somewhat more cerebral approach effusing lofty aspirations about creationism and humankind’s beginnings, pondering, who made us and why? What is our purpose and the meaning to life?

Scott wisely brought Lost writer Damon Lindelof on board to co-write the film’s story (along with Jon Spaihts), and Lindelof injects his signature open ended mythology and questions, steeping the storyline with abundant red herrings which confound and mystify.

Archeologist Elizabeth Shaw, (actress Noomi Rapace who just shines) is intent on finding the answers to exactly those very questions.

Prometheus sets things up with the theory that thousands of years ago alien life forms came here and created mankind with their own identical DNA. About a century from now, Shaw leads a space expedition to a distant planet financed by millionaire corporate industrialist, Peter Weyland, (Guy Pearce who conducts himself with understated aplomb), hoping to make first contact with these alien beings or “Engineers” as Shaw refers to them.

Only this earnest mission goes rapidly and horrifyingly south, evolving into a cautionary tale of be careful what you wish for and the seeker may not like what they find, (also posed in another science fiction film parable concerning man’s origins, Planet Of The Apes) as the tables are terrifyingly turned by the inhabitants of this planet onto the stalwart crew of the Starship Prometheus, with far reaching deadly consequences.

Michael Fassbender all but steals the show as the Weyland Corporation’s dapper, blond haired, meticulous android creation. “David” is one part HAL, the creepily reserved, intellectual computer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, whose soothing lexicon oozes skullduggery, one part actor Jude Law’s peroxide haired wry, canny Gigolo Joe automaton from Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.

Seemingly well-meaning in his service to the crew members of the Prometheus, yet ambiguity lies within the oily air of his somewhat duplicitous agenda and intentions.

As so is Charlize Theron’s ball busting ice queen Meredith Vickers, Weyland Corporation’s CEO of sorts who oversees things on the Prometheus with silken chicanery that she holds close to her vest.

The always incomparable Idris Elba as Captain Janek affects perhaps the film’s most bravura and inspiring moment, elevated by Marc Streitenfeld’s soaring centerpiece score.

Noomi Rapace, in her first starring role in an American film since first captivating the world with her fiery portrayal of heroine Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish language version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film trilogy, is just remarkable and a force to be reckoned with.

Her fierce, unstoppable courage and indomitable spirit resonates throughout the deadly extraterrestrial rampage, and her quick thinking, brave resourcefulness when confronted with the ultimate alien close encounter evokes equal parts shocking revulsion and inspiring awe.

Ridley Scott’s atmospheric aura of isolation and impending doom on a faraway planet wouldn’t be complete without a matchless score. Esteemed film composer Marc Streitenfeld, who has enjoyed a particularly creative, ongoing professional collaborative relationship with the Director, composed the 23 of the film’s 25 tracks for the imposing score. Two additional score tracks for the motion picture were composed by the equally venerable British film composer, Harry Gregson-Williams.

The two composers’ scores create a tandem of duel creative sonic vocabularies, each with their own unique and compelling voice serving and elevating Scott’s astounding vision.

The German born Streitenfeld interned for Hans Zimmer after moving to Los Angeles at only 19 years old. Soon after, Ridley Scott noticed his considerable talents; Streitenfeld was working as a music supervisor and music editor for Scott. Not coincidentally, Gregson-Williams composed the score for Scott’s 2005 film, Kingdom Of Heaven which Streitenfeld served on as music supervisor.

Scott was so impressed with Streitenfeld that he invited the young composer to score his 2006 film, A Good Year. Scott enjoyed the creative process with Streitenfeld so much that Streitenfeld has now scored every subsequent film directed by Scott, totaling five so far. Streitenfeld also recently scored Director Joe Carnahan’s The Grey which stars Liam Neesom, another harrowing adventure, much like Prometheus, only set among the vast isolation of the arctic.

Streitenfeld told Static Mass Emporium Magazine that he recorded the score for Prometheus with a 90 piece orchestra at London’s Abbey Road Studios, and wanting to “try out some different sounds and techniques. I tried to do a few unusual approaches with this. I recorded some of the score backwards – but not in the sense that I just reversed the recording. I actually wrote out the sheet music backwards so the orchestra played it backwards and then I digitally flipped it. So you’re hearing the score as it’s written, the same melody, but with a backwards sounding orchestra which gives it a kind of unusual, unsettling sound.”

Streitenfeld’s epic, urgent, classically influenced score, along with its adaptation of the legendary Jerry Goldsmith’s classic theme from 1979’s original Alien on the track “Friend From The Past,” is bold and intriguing but lacks a signature thematic element.

For that, Harry Gregson-Williams’ admirably rises to the occasion, making deft use of vibrant, sweeping and majestic brass fanfares and emotionally expressive strings, on the inspiring track, “Life,” the most memorable piece and one true standout theme in the film’s score.

Like Shaw’s wistful leap of faith in her quest for answers among the stars, at the behest of what she believes to be an invitation from our alien ancestors, Gregson-Williams’ uplifting introduction invites us to a brave new world with ornate, baroque horns and choir heralding us, to at last meet our benevolent makers.

The stately grandeur of his orchestration is rife with possibilities. Soaring, transcendent and just beautiful, this regal prelude assures us that our quest for knowledge and the truth can only render infinite hope and possibilities.

Or does it? Streitenfeld then invades and takes over, much as the aliens do with cacophonous sonic cues and motifs that rattle our bones and disturb our senses, battering our emotions with pure adrenaline and fearful malevolence.

Streitenfeld crafts multi-dimensional soundscapes that invade with a Grand Guignol aural collage of unnerving textures and nuances that relentlessly drive the suspense, taut action, and emotional dysphonia of looming foreboding and danger. Streitenfeld announces that maybe what we received from our ancestral makers was certainly not an invitation, by way of his implementation of striking, sharp, and forceful strings, loud and bold orchestral swells, and great, grand symphonic flourishes.

His dissonant time signatures and harsh accents penetrate and bore straight into the deepest synapses of our cerebellum with as much relentless nihilism as the tentacled alien creatures.

The amazing Dariusz Wolski’s breathtaking cinematography captures the ethereal, otherworldly beauty of earth’s own Iceland and Scotland that open the film. His camera then haunts us with the bleak, damp, dark claustrophobic landscapes of a faraway planet, something Wolski has done so well before in his spellbinding visionary work for both of Director Alex Proyas’s enigmatic dystopian films, 1994’s The Crow and 1998’s Dark City and evoking Ridley Scott’s own dark, dystopian vision, that of 1982’s Blade Runner.

Bravo to Director Scott for crafting once again, just as he did with actress Sigourney Weaver’s character of Ripley in Alien, yet another strong, intelligent, courageous female role model and heroine in the character of Elizabeth Shaw, who is shored up with a backbone of indomitable moral fiber and character, unbreakable will, compassion, and resilience deep within her emotional core. Shaw continues to stay the course no matter what, to save humankind and earth.

Prometheus is imbued with dazzling eye popping visual and special effects that literally leap off of the screen at you (with or without the IMAX or 3D effects), with captivating beauty that is just mesmerizing.

Its chock full of inspiring awe, repulsion, and ultimately, triumphant character development portrayals, notably by both the sparkling Fassbender and Rapace who acquit themselves just superbly.

Prometheus is a thrilling, riveting, spectacular escapade of wonder that like the character of Shaw in her quest makes us yearn to know and see, so much more, no matter what we may find in the great beyond.

© Copyright June 12, 2012, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 4:31 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's an Archive of my January 2012 Movie Review and Score Review of the action thriller "Haywire" starring Gina Carano in her first starring role along with an All-Star cast including Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, and more.

http://guitarinternational.com/2012/01/29/haywire-film-and-score-review/

© Copyright January 24, 2012, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

Haywire Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

Being a huge fan of action flick heroes Jason Statham, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Jet Li, I can’t say how excited I am that Director Steven Soderbergh has made this remarkable motion picture showcasing and built around a real life female action heroine who does all her own fighting and stunts.

After Soderbergh caught wind of real life, women’s mixed martial arts champion and radiant beauty, Gina Carano, Soderbergh was so impressed with Carano’s ability to “break you in half” as he told “Sports Illustrated Magazine”, that he and screenplay writer Lem Dobbs whipped up this sinfully delicious, spectacularly over the top, espionage soufflé, solely to showcase the incredible Carano.

Carano who also previously worked on TV’s “American Gladiators” more than easily holds her own with the big screen bad boys, as she handily dispatches and beats the living daylights out of them with the fluidly choreographed precision, prowess, and power of a graceful, yet ever so deadly, vicious panther.

Carano plays former Marine, covert Special Operative, Mallory Kane. The film opens with a stunningly brutal brawl in a small roadside diner between Kane and Aaron, (the always wonderful and much underrated Channing Tatum), a contact liaison sent to meet her on behalf of an as yet, undisclosed, higher up. Mallory proceeds to makes light work of Aaron. She then escapes with the help of a customer named Scott in his car, and as they drive, Mallory relates to Scott (Michael Angarano), through a series of flashbacks staged across the globe in lush, international locales including Barcelona, Dublin, and New York, that she has been set up in a mission gone terribly wrong, double crossed by her “employer”, Kenneth, (portrayed with oozing smarmy slime by the outstanding Ewan McGregor).

For “Haywire”, Soderbergh called on some of his most stellar, A-List acting colleagues to generously support Carano and shower their spotlight of star power on the budding newcomer actress to great effect.

A formidable Hollywood ensemble constellation of actors comprised of Michael Fassbender, Tatum, McGregor, Michael Douglas, and Antonio Banderas, all who are supreme, round out the duplicitous government contractors and agents who concoct a tangled web of deceit, murder, and cover ups that all lead to and erroneously point at Mallory.

As they mistakenly think that Kane will easily take the fall and be readily erased, instead she turns rogue and into an unstoppable, relentless force of strategic counterplay, stealth, and destruction, determined to find out who has betrayed her and to clear her good name. Pity the killer who takes on Mallory Kane. Armed with intelligence, strategic force and ferocity, and a death grip via the most lethal legs in cinema (a la a real life version of James Bond’s Xenia Onatopp – google this!), Mallory leaves a trail of crumpled bodies in her wake.

Light on dialogue, wisely letting Carano’s feral physicality, fisticuffs, and acrobatics do the talking, and heavy on the hard hitting action, Soderbergh makes deft use of composer David Holmes’ sizzling, whip cracking score to authentically and compellingly voice much of the film.

Holmes, who first worked with Soderbergh, scoring 1998’s “Out Of Sight”, has enjoyed a particularly creative, ongoing professional relationship with the Director, with the two regularly collaborating together on several films, including 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” rat pack film remake and both of its sequels, “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen”.

The talented, Irish born film composer started out DJing in Ireland’s club scene, later running the two seminal night clubs Sugar Sweet and Shake Yer Brain in the Belfast Art College, and since 2009 Holmes has been running the South Belfast club, The Menagerie. Holmes earned his cred soaking up the pulsating backbeats and many diverse, multi-colored music textures that have flooded through the clubs, and on “Haywire”, he acquits himself superbly with this sparkling, effervescent score.

Holmes’ uniquely distinctive, stylish, uber chic, sophisticated score, spurs, paces, and all but narrates several extended key action sequences, often becoming the second most integral character in this smart and savvy film.

One particularly mesmerizing motif, Homes’ enthralling musical accompaniment set to a breathtaking chase scene in Dublin as a Swat Team pursues Mallory as she runs across the building rooftops, is just dazzling.

Holmes’ vividly colors his sonic orchestrations with a palette of stinging, tuned down, reverbed, twangy jazz guitars, chunky, dissonant percussion, and a cacophonous traffic jam of hepcat brass and horns. Then Holmes generously drenches his savory buffet of jazzy soundscapes in a river of funked up, thumping, full bottomed grooves voiced on wonderfully fat and flavorful bass guitar.

Interspersed throughout Holmes’ dynamic score are gently percolating, melodic keyboard phrasings, Mallory’s theme if you will, just to remind us who the real star of this show is.

Holmes has a real gift at recreating the evocative cool jazz influenced aural landscapes that hark back to the landmark 1960’s spy films of the cold war era conjuring up the sonic imagery and influential film scores of “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold”, “Torn Curtain”, and of course, “James Bond”, with its legendary theme by Monty Norman.

Ultra cool and hip, imbued with luscious acid house, lounge jazz stylings, crafted with a flair, finesse, and panache worthy of “Haywire’s” main character, Holmes’ scintillating arrangements, spot on retro feel, and fabulously versed musical narrative, hold and drive the suspense, tension, and excitement of this action spectacular vehicle, sure to make a star out of the luminous Carano.

A stronger and less convoluted storyline, script, and character development could have made “Haywire” even more delectable. But the gorgeous Carano in her first time starring on the silver screen is more than amazing, a fierce, charismatic actress who has the “woman-chismo” thang so going on and is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. An action heroine who can rightfully take her place among such kickass female action film icons as Angelina Jolie’s Laura Croft and Diana Rigg’s Mrs. Peel of “The Avengers”.

Bravo to Soderbergh and Dobbs for crafting a luminescent, action movie, female role model that is strong, resilient, and intelligent.

Gina Carano, in her debut and breakthrough film performance, makes “Haywire” all her own in this phenomenal spy and action adventure tour de force, making her more than worthy of the title, titan and tigress of action movies. Beautiful, bold, and oh so badass to the core.

© Copyright January 24, 2012, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 4:35 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's an Archive of my December 2011 Film Review of Director Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" and also a Review of film composer John Williams' Original Film Score.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/12/29/war-horse-film-and-score-review/

© Copyright December 28, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

War Horse Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

Director and co-producer Steven Spielberg was so moved by War Horse‘s timeless anti-war story that he expounded, “From the moment I read [Michael] Morpurgo’s novel, War Horse, I knew this was a film I wanted DreamWorks® to make. Its heart and its message provide a story that can be felt in every country.”

Written by British author Michael Morpurgo in 1982 and staged as a critically acclaimed production for the London stage in 2007, War Horse is currently receiving accolades for its 2011 U.S. stage production on Broadway at New York’s Lincoln Center Theater (for which the play won five of the prestigious Tony Awards® including the award for Best Play), and now, in this transcendent and inspiring motion picture adaptation.

Originally narrated by and told from the perspective of the horse in both the book and in the theater production, the film adaptation of War Horse instead relates its narrative by taking us through the heart wrenching experiences of the central character, a thoroughbred horse named Joey.

Set during World War I, the tale takes us on a perilous and incredible journey with Joey, the beloved horse of young English farmboy Albert Narracott of the town of Devon. When war is declared, Joey is sold to the British Cavalry, and through a series of harrowing events, he serves in both the British and German armies. Joey suffers the horrors of the battlefield, pulls ambulances for the wounded, and works as a draft horse pulling cannons and artillery. Meanwhile, Albert enlists, also enduring the scourges of warfare, hoping to reunite with Joey and safely bring him home.

Through Joey’s dark and tortuous odyssey, we bear witness to man’s utter inhumanity to himself and to the innocent and faithful creatures of this world in an anguished indictment of the horrific atrocities of war. As vividly brutal, traumatic, and desolate as Spielberg’s intensely realistic WWII epic, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse also stands shiningly aside such iconic World War I anti-war documents as Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Stanley Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory.

Spielberg’s stellar ensemble international cast includes newcomer Jeremy Irvine as Albert, Tom Hiddleston as British Calvary Captain Nicholls, Niels Arestrup as Grandfather and Toby Kebbell as Geordie, all who just sparkle. They all offer richly nuanced, affecting performances of emotional depth and touching poignancy.

But it is Joey, portrayed by fourteen amazing equine actors, who is the spirit, conscience, and beating emotional heart of this story for the ages. Bravo to horse trainer Bobby Lovgren, for coaxing such amazing multi-dimensional emotional expressiveness out of his four legged charges. Lovgren also owns and trained his amazing horse Finder, who is one of the horses that plays Joey in some of the film’s most emotionally pivotal scenes and who also acted in the Academy Award nominated Seabiscuit.

Spielberg, screenplay writers Richard Curtis and Lee Hall, and the dazzling cinematography of Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski paint duel portrait canvases of striking and authentically detailed vast polar contrasts, each a stark perspective essaying the resolute narrative. The endless innocence of the emerald green valleys of Devon’s countryside fraught with splendor and beauty shines in contrast to the relentless ravages, carnage, and brutality of the killing fields of war.

The phenomenal and venerable John Williams’ profound and thoughtful score is hallmarked by trumpeting brass fanfares, resounding and sweeping epic orchestral pageantries and understated woodwind interludes. They beautifully evoke and compellingly voice the storyline’s emotional resolve, devastating and inspiring events, kindnesses of people, and promise of hope on the horizon.

Williams’ radiant themes, cues, and motifs for Joey are particularly emotionally resonant. One can almost see Joey’s gallops and sprints as a young colt being raised in the shire by Albert, in Williams’ playful and exuberant strings. The inspirational main theme for Joey is an aural vision to behold and one of the most indelible and sublime of his legendary career.

A poetic, eloquent piano passage ever so gently proceeds with subtle beauty into deeply emotional, evocative strings and orchestra which crescendo into a soaring, uplifting song of glory for this “remarkable and miraculous horse.” But it is the flute solo, intertwined within Joey’s theme, exquisitely rendered by virtuoso flutist Louise Di Tullio, that is just otherworldly. Pensive, wistful, and contemplative, it extends a reserved felicitous eloquence that speaks to all of us, a resounding voice for Joey.

This magical voice of beautifully gentle melodic context conjures up the pastoral vistas of Joey’s home, hearth and family in Devon, untouched, and unfettered by war. Regaling a majesty and grace in its solitary presence, poetry, and meaning, it speaks for Joey… and to, us. It is a far reaching outcry and urgent plea of the unspeakable, blackest fathoms of war, that we should all, always take heed to.

As so does Spielberg’s superb and unforgettable film. War Horse speaks the most universal, timeless message that reaches our deepest emotions, hearts and minds. Like Joey, we may find an unbreakable connection of friendship and love that always guides us safely home… and that we may also find and embrace, at long last, peace.

© Copyright December 28, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 4:40 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's an Archive of my December 2011 Film Review of the American remake film adaptation of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, and also my review of the film's score composed by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor along with Atticus Ross.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/12/26/the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-film-and-score-review/

© Copyright December 26, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

Sadly, Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson passed away in 2004 at only fifty years old, before he could witness the publication, acclaim, and monumental success of his Millennium thriller-novel trilogy and its subsequent transformation into the universally, critically and commercially acclaimed 2009 Swedish film adaptations that caused a worldwide sensation. So much so, that now, the greatly anticipated 2011 English language adaptation of the first motion picture in the Millennium film series,The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher, has just been released to much fanfare.

Fincher’s modus operandi of cinema verite is his ability to play psychological sleuth and devil’s advocate, delving into the deepest conundrums of the mind, as he has done so well before in Zodiac, Se7en, last year’s The Social Network, and in the iconic cult classic, Fight Club. Moreover, nothing is off limits to Fincher in the realm of the twisted synapses to which he is willing to subject his audience to, to finally reach and thus reveal the pathology of his quarry.

The painful, very ugly, tortured, disturbing inner sanctums Fincher often approaches are all hung out to dry, all conventions shattered beyond repair, and never more so than in this hypnotically mesmerizing reinterpretation and remake of 2009’s Swedish film version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Larsson’s original title, Man Som Hatar Kvinnor, or Men Who Hate Women, is the key component to what is a sordid and horrifyingly unnerving mystery whodunit involving the investigation of a serial killer’s decades long murder spree, and the potential homicide of missing sixteen year old Harriet Vanger some forty years ago. Are these crimes related somehow?

Remember that tag line, “Men Who Hate Women”, because that misogyny and recurrent theme of violence against women is the pile driving, relentless psychological and emotional motivation for the film’s anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander who must face off with the serial killer of women.

The film is also a study of irony in that people are not always what they appear to be, especially in our society’s all too black and white views of good and evil, societal acceptance, role models, social class system and social outcasts.

A stalwart Daniel Craig, portraying discredited and disgraced investigative Millennium Magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist travels to a secluded island owned and maintained in residence by aging aristocrat Henrik Vanger (the always wonderful Christopher Plummer who conducts Henrik with canny aplomb), where he is hired to solve the murder of Henrik’s great niece Harriet, and in the process stumbles onto a series of serial killings of local women throughout the years.

Newcomer Rooney Mara is a marvel, inhabiting the title character, that of computer hacker, researcher, and goth punk Lisbeth Salander, with a remarkable vitality, intelligence, visceral ferocity, and unbreakable, spirited will, an almost invincible fortress of courage, like the dragon painted on her so defiantly.

For all of its bravado as a murder mystery thriller, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is in essence, a beautifully framed character study etched in delicate tendrils of balance and emotion. Both Mikael and Lisbeth have been betrayed and brutalized by trusted authority figures, “role model” pillars of society, and people in power. Both are ostracized in some form or another by society. Mikael for his alleged libel against businessman Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Lisbeth for her inability to fit in based on her anti-social outward appearance, behavior, and demeanor. Yet, they’re the only characters in the storyline who are imbued with selflessness and virtue, who seek justice for the innocent who have suffered harm, even at great cost to themselves.

These two wounded warriors set off sparks and a knowing, amiable chemistry as they each tentatively and warily learn to reach out to one another, initially as peers going outside of themselves to help others and then later to help one another. In doing so, they find themselves and become all the better for it, rising to the occasion and forming a bond, a connection of tenderness and compassion that Salander is new to experience and is particularly moved by.

Lisbeth gains self-esteem and confidence through Mikael’s regard and respect for her investigative skills, and for her as an equal, as a woman, and as a person. By Mikael innately just seeing and valuing Lisbeth as so much more than the tattooed, multiple pierced punk, social misfit that she brandishes as a shock value, defense mechanism, Mikael gently pulls the best part of Lisbeth out to her fore.

Daniel Craig gives a bravura and glowing performance as the underpinning to the film. It’s no easy task playing the steadfast foundation to the charismatic heroine. His understated emotion, fraught with moments of just being tender, gentle, compassionate, and kind, evokes an endearing, sweet quality that cuts through Lisbeth’s icy veneer of understandable, self-protecting emotional armor. Likewise, Mara is just luminous, responding to Craig with a radiant poignancy, warmth and vulnerability that is a compliment to her heroic strength, intelligence, and resilience.

I must say that Fincher could well learn the art of understatement, from Craig and Mara. While Fincher deftly pulls amazing performances from his cast, the film’s narrative would fare better from not being weighed down by Fincher’s heavy handed, distracting reliance on fast pace editing and timing. Too often when the characters have a deep, tender, or powerful moment or dialogue, Fincher jumps too hastily to a new frame or scene without allowing the emotion to resonate or distill fully. (Something which Swedish Director Niels Arden Oplev handled with skilled grace in the 2009 version.)

Even the telling opening credits with Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Karen O’s ballistic, wailing cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” set to high gloss computer generated effects, projects and sets up a polished, jacked up feel and pace that dilutes the well-drawn, thought out script, dialogue, and narrative.

Fincher also has a nasty habit of injecting too many unnecessary slick action sequences, rather than providing further insight into the very complex heart and mind of Lisbeth. Significantly and moreover, when Lisbeth is questioned by Mikael about her troubled past, Fincher makes what should be Lisbeth’s most provocative and revelatory line of dialogue, more comically flip than insightful. Comparatively, the 2009 film version intently pondered detailed, quiet, somber moments depicting Lisbeth’s serious thoughts, reflections, or memories of inner emotional turmoil, revelations, and complexities and in doing so, it shed great illumination and understanding into her character.

Fincher, however, acquits himself superbly and far more astutely than Director Oplev personified in the 2009 version, via Fincher’s and screenplay writer Steven Zaillian’s wonderfully written, multi-textured character portrait of Blomkvist. With Mikael, Fincher takes us on an intimate journey within the journalist’s deepest emotional cornerstones.

Fincher is astonishingly adept at crafting his male leads’ personas as exhibited here and in his previous film forays. However, this is an intelligent, analytical mystery whose title character is an empowered woman who has been abused by men, on the trail of a sociopath who loathes and kills women. The central character’s emotional and psychological complexities drive the narrative and are the key to solving the crime. Sensitivity to the source material and due care and subtlety are essential to the storyline.

Trent Reznor’s and Atticus Ross’s provocative score speaks in subtly hushed shades and tones, compellingly voicing and serving the essence of the film. The composing team have crafted darkly vibrant themes, cues, and motifs richly hued with sparse, stripped down, intricate yet ornate instrumentation, almost semi-acoustic in nature though created in an electronic environment.

Understated, delicate piano and percussion, along with lyrical xylophone and gamelan like, bell-toned textures within synthesized programmed arrangements, realize an atmospheric aura of haunting isolation and darkness, a mosaic of dread.

Melodic context is withdrawn in favor of more distinctive abstract rhythms and multi-layered sonic colors that paint dynamic, multi-dimensional soundscapes, conjuring the deepest emotional conduit and uttering a musical vocabulary that beckons the farthest and most tormented reaches of the soul.

Each note, each accent is assured, premeditated, and resonates within the consciousness, an enigma to evoke the prism of complexities within Lisbeth and the film’s serial killer, as powerful as the never ending snow that keeps falling and the frozen, desolate winter that envelops the characters throughout The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Its sonic nuance, like the snow blanketing the countryside, reverberates everywhere, sprinkling a chill of foreboding, suspense, treachery, and deceit…yet perhaps also a cleansing purity, a stark pale truth to be revealed that is just on the horizon.

I could have done, however, without the Nine Inch Nails, “NIN” self-ingratiating promotional grandstanding emblazoned on the T-shirt of one of Lisbeth’s computer hacker friends. We get it Trent, we know about your band and would appreciate the same cerebral subtly as your score.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a dazzling film, supremely elevated by the enigmatic, charismatic performances of the incandescent Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig who both are a breathtaking triumph in this motion picture, beautifully photographed on location among some of Sweden’s most striking vistas.

Word is that David Fincher may be tapped to direct the two motion picture sequels to Larsson’s thriller novel trilogy. A much more emotionally satisfying portrait would be best served and achieved by Fincher’s emphasis on a more thoughtful script and narrative that just as Lisbeth and Mikael extend to one another, takes its time in regarding and drawing out not only the best and brightest of Lisbeth but also the innermost complexities and resolve of her emotional core and immense character.

© Copyright December 26, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

[Edited on 11/12/2015 by ArleneWeiss]

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 4:45 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's an Archive of my August 2011 Film Review and Score Review of Director Renny Harlin's war based semi historical based film, "Five Days Of War".

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/08/19/5-days-of-war-film-and-score-review/

Five Days Of War Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright August 18, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

After being plagued by numerous title changes, delays in production, editing, and release dates, Director Renny Harlin’s long awaited motion picture, 5 Days Of War has finally received an exclusive limited theatrical USA release on August 19, 2011, in New York City and Washington, D.C..

Harlin, known for his breakneck action thrillers, portrays an often melodramatic, sensationalized, and brutally graphic, (though highly entertaining) depiction, of the five-day, Russian-Georgian War of 2008.

The film centers on a group of journalists who try to tell the world about the atrocities of the conflict, from the Georgian point of view.

5 Days Of War has courted much controversy surrounding its failure to objectively and accurately address the intricate politics, triggers, and details on both sides of the war and its hagiographic glorification of the nation of Georgia. The people of Georgia, are portrayed as purely virtuous innocents, ruthlessly attacked by Russia and its separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

There’s not so much as a thought to showing the Russian point of view, people or events, except in the role of villainous tyranny, even though the people and peacekeepers of the Russian territory of South Ossetia were also attacked by Georgia and its military. Which might be noted and accounted for, in that the film was spearheaded and financed by Georgian Parliament member Mirza Davitaia and produced by Georgian film producer David Imedashvili and Georgia Parliament member Koba Nakopia. Moreover, the film premiered June 6, 2011 in Georgia as a benefit fundraiser to aid victims of the war.

Harlin seems to have lofty ambitions here in utilizing the recurrent theme of gaining the audience’s trust, and empathy via the war correspondent journalist’s point of view and first hand experiences. Which, when done with the attention to detail, care, and caution of such Oscar winning war films as The Killing Fields and The Year Of Living Dangerously, is strikingly effective.

Both films truly touched the viewer’s hearts and minds, raising their awareness to the horrors of war. More importantly, the audience also gains knowledge of the full depth and breadth of its causes, be they geopolitical, governmental, etc. set within a context of deep human emotion and complex well drawn characters.

Instead, Harlin’s penchant for adrenaline and gut reaction bravado grandstanding takes center stage with often one dimensional caricatures and exceedingly manipulative, emotionally fueled, contrived plot devices.

Rupert Friend stars as fearless American reporter Thomas Anders, plucked and saved from the jaws of death while covering the war in Iraq by a Georgian Coalition of freedom fighters (of course this in no way influences his objectivity to the future events of the film) led by the valiant, heroic Rezo Avaliani (the always wonderful, underrated Johnathon Schaech who all but steals the film with his glowing performance and the most redeeming portrait in the film).

Anders then gathers a group of like-minded, dedicated journalists to cover the first flames of the conflict in Tbilisi, Georgia. Anders and his British cameraman, Sebastian Ganz (the incomparable Richard Coyle in an understated, moving performance) stop at a Georgian village to enjoy a beautiful, traditional wedding. During the innocent joy of the wedding celebration, a South Ossetian militia and mercenaries acting as agents of the Russian government stage an air strike, leaving a swath of death among the innocent villagers, all caught on the reporters’ video camera.

From there, Anders, Ganz, their colleagues, and several of the villager’s survivors, go on a mission to further film and document the violence and brutality of Russia against Georgia, and consequently get that information out to the rest of the world via the Human Rights Watch. The film crisscrosses to scenes of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (the always sterling Andy Garcia) and Harlin’s usual overuse of over the top explosions and overly graphic gore.

Writers Mikko Alanne and David Battle revert to every superhero film and Hollywood popcorn flick cliche, instead of crafting well written character development and narratives worthy of a film so intent on the gravitas of its history based purpose, intent, and message. The most over the top scene comes when Anders and Ganz are captured by Col. Demidov, leader of the South Ossetian militia and mercenaries aiding Russia (Rade Serbedzija in a near mustache twirling villainous performance chewing up the scenery, the tanks and the film).

In a scene played out from so many films owing to Sleuth and X-Men(only this film is again, based on the real life horrors of war and human rights issues) Col. Demidov engages Anders in a game of cat and mouse while playing chess. Spouting more psychological mind games than Hannibal Lecter with Clarice Starling, Demidov remains stoically calm and collected while vexing Anders with details of the journalist’s personal tragedies, deaths of loved ones, Anders’ failings.

Then, just as Demidov finally get to the point of his prey, which is that he must obtain the memory card for Ganz’s camera which contains the damning footage, we see Ganz about to be tortured by a heavily tattooed hulking henchman who displays his “instruments” at Ganz’s feet with hand rubbing delight.

And wouldn’t you know that just at that precise moment, in a scene straight out of every action popcorn flick, Rezo and his band of freedom fighters repel and crash through the window to save Anders and Ganz.

The film continues to descend into implausibility at the film’s climax, when the journalists are surrounded by enemy tanks and militia forces as Demidov, sitting perched atop his tank with guns pointed straight at Anders and his colleagues and without any reasonable explanation, develops a conscience, telling them that they are free to go. They go and then bravely share what they’ve witnessed with the world.

The President triumphantly declares Georgia’s freedom and independence as we at last, bear witness to Anders’ documentary newscast amid tearful testimonials from Georgian villagers. 5 Days Of War boasts stunning cinematography of the Georgian countryside where location filming took place, by former news cameraman and Director Of Photography Checco Varese.

While Harlin focuses all too much on the blunt force action, he also knows how to deftly use that camera and say a lot through understatement and subtlety. The scene where Anders wistfully eats an apple, gazing at the pastoral Georgian landscape, which is then starkly decimated by the encroachment of the Russian forces’ South Ossetian tanks, military helicopters, and militia, speaks volumes.

The wedding scene in which we see and hear the immense, richly textured music, dance, and culture of the people of Georgia, touches our hearts and resonates deep within our souls, rather than tearing at them with a heavy hand. Harlin would be best to have made the entirety of his film a more understated, crafted vision such as these two poignant, unforgettable scenes.

The always dazzling Trevor Rabin has truly outdone himself here, in composing the film’s transcendent score. Trevor, when discussing working on 5 Days Of War, in a 2010 Interview (at that time the film was titled, “Georgia”) said that “The subject matter is a real work of passion for me. It’s emotional, grave, and chaotic,” and in that Trevor succeeds just supremely with this soaring musical vision.

This much darker, somber score from Trevor is passionate, heart wrenching, emotionally stark and beautifully striking. His score more vividly and compellingly conveys the human condition and the tolls and anguish of war on humanity, than any dialogue throughout Harlin’s film. This is one of Trevor’s most mesmerizing and evocative scores and its subtle power and grace are just sublime.

Rabin’s lyrical music narrative is imbued with traditional Eastern European and Russian instrumentation, percussive rhythms, Balalaika textures, Saz, tabla, and Trevor’s eloquent strumming on guitar. The otherworldly composer’s lush orchestrations, crescendo & transform into his recurrent uplifting theme of heroism and valor. Trevor paints an immense sonic canvas of deep emotion, conviction, and feeling.

There are three key themes. One textured with beautifully melodic piano, one that is a Russian atmospheric violin motif, and another context darkly colored with cellos that are just exquisite in their haunting, elegiac, enigmatic vocabulary. What a breathtaking & deeply emotional score by Trevor.

5 Days Of War actually is quite entertaining fun, and an exhilarating action, war film with an inspiring storyline and ending, that might have been better suited for cable or Network TV. If it billed itself as only that, there wouldn’t be an issue. But it portends to depict fact based events and a semi-truthful resonant indictment of the Russian-Georgian War.

Instead, 5 Days Of War is steeped in one sided populist Hollywood propaganda, fueled by almost super hero theatricality concerning its central characters and storyline. Harlin might want to take heed from Director Michael Cimino who did much the same with 1978’s “The Deer Hunter”, which while a far superior written, directed, and acted film, still perpetrated Hollywood revisionist propaganda and a dangerously inaccurate altering of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, also to raging controversy.

Harlin indeed regards his subject matter with affection and thoughtfulness and may indeed mean well with 5 Days Of War.But playing with the facts, is playing with fire. When the truth is at stake, something the film’s courageous war correspondent characters hold so very dear, it is something that should always be honored and respected to a fault and heralded to the world with only the utmost care, accuracy, and conviction.

© Copyright August 18, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 4:50 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
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Here's an Archive of my July 2011 movie Review and Score Review of "Captain America: The First Avenger" starring Chris Evans (in his breakout role as Steve Rogers/Captain America), Hayley Atwell (in her breakout role as Agent Carter), and Dominic Cooper (in his breakout role as Howard Stark, billionaire inventor and father to Tony Stark/Iron man).

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/07/26/captain-america-the-first-avenger-film-and-score-review/

© Copyright July 25, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

Captain America: The First Avenger Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

The iconic comic superhero and freedom fighter, whose 1941 debut initially served as an inspiring symbol to rally America’s patriotism during World War II, celebrates his 70th birthday by finally getting his due in this evocative, rousing silver screen adaptation.

Director Joe Johnston, who helmed the disastrous The Rocketeer, takes a more thoughtful, subdued approach with Captain America: The First Avenger, crafting a faithful realization with a keen eye for attention to detail.

Rich in emotional storytelling, with affectionate tips of the hat to plot devices from Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, Johnston’s vision is a loving homage to the heroic serials and World War II movies of the ‘40s.

Striking visual effects abound throughout Captain America, but with far less emphasis and spectacle than this summer’s previous blockbuster offerings. Instead, the film embraces well drawn, fleshed-out characters imbued with emotional depth, subtly textured nuances and shadings, and intricate character driven narratives, set among emblematic depictions of good and evil.

Beginning in the present day, the film’s opening introduces us to a team of U.S. scientists who are called to the Arctic, when what appears to be the wreckage of an enormous aircraft is discovered beneath the snow. But wait! An even more startling discovery comes to light when they find a mysterious object with a red, white, and blue insignia.

Then, we are transported via flashback to March 1942, to a castle in Tonsberg, Norway. There, the evil Nazi Johann Schmidt, aka The Red Skull, (the masterful Hugo Weaving deliciously chewing up the scenery in a top notch performance and full on villain mode), and leader of research organization HYDRA with designs on world domination, steals a glowing cube artifact with the ability to make him all powerful and rule the world.

It’s here at this juncture, in Brooklyn, New York, that we first meet our hero, the future Captain America, in sweet faced, plucky kid, Steve Rogers, (the wonderful, underrated Chris Evans in a particularly affecting and charming performance).

This origins story that kick starts The Avengers epic, speaks to all of us with an everyman story for the ages. Steve isn’t endowed with the alien or genetic super powers of Superman, Thor, or the X-Men. His power lies within. It may be a little harder to see or recognize, but it is one that is very special indeed.

Steve is a sickly, scrawny 98 pound weakling who takes his licks from neighborhood bullies who revel in delivering back alley beatings to the diminutive boy from Brooklyn. This doesn’t matter to Steve though. No matter how many whippings Steve suffers, he always just keeps getting back up, determinedly exclaiming, “I can do this all day.”

What Steve lacks in physical height and strength, cannot compare to the tremendous measure of the courageous, kind, and good man within. Even five, 4F Army rejections can’t deter Steve from yearning to yet try again, to enlist in the noble, selfless fight to defend his country from Hitler and the Nazis.

Bidding a fond farewell to his friend, Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan), on the night before Bucky leaves with the 107th Infantry for overseas, Steve, grows ever disheartened telling Bucky, “There are men laying down their lives. I’ve got no right to do any less than them.”

He earnestly wants to protect the citizens of America, but instead he’s benched on the sidelines, unable to stand aside his fellow countrymen doing his very best duty for his country.

That is until the U. S. Government’s Strategic Scientific Reserve’s Dr. Abraham Erskine (the always marvelous Stanley Tucci in a truly understated, resonant performance), overhears Steve’s impassioned words to Bucky. Erskine is in the midst of conducting a medical experiment with a super soldier serum he’s invented. One that enhances physical strength, height, and endurance, yet also amplifies the inner character traits. Dr. Erskine wisely sees the most purposeful qualities in Steve, who may be small in physique, but is so very large in courage, indomitable spirit, and heart.

The doctor approves Steve’s military enlistment at last and chooses Steve as the recipient of the serum, much to the humorous dismay of Steve’s Commanding Officer, Col. Chester Phillips (the gruff yet stalwart Tommy Lee Jones), and the encouragement of Steve’s crush, SSR Agent Peggy Carter, (the radiant Hayley Atwell in a beautifully enchanting performance).

Steve receives the serum, along with a blasting of vita-rays administered by inventor Howard Stark, (Dominic Cooper), better known as father to future Iron Man, Tony Stark. Steve emerges from the experiment as a buff, muscled Adonis with the ability to regenerate his own cells and heal himself, now more than fit for active duty and able to fight the good fight.

The newly dubbed Captain America is then off on his thrilling adventures as the patriotic face promoting War Bonds, rescuing the captured Bucky and the 107th Infantry while in hot pursuit of the dreaded Red Skull, and falling in love with Agent Carter.

Captain America: The First Avenger, ultimately is a film that is a triumph of the human spirit. In that respect, it just soars thanks to Evans who effortlessly carries the film on his shoulders with the resolute exuberance and sparkle of Steve himself.

The more character driven, first part of the film where we first get to know Steve, who is flush with unbreakable resolve and valor, is the emotional highlight of the film. Evans just shines in the role in a breakout performance. One that showcases Evan’s deft grasp at inhabiting and elevating warm hearted, likeable characters, much as he’s done so flawlessly before in The Losers and both Fantastic Four films.

Wonderfully notable as well, the scenes and exchanges between Dr. Erskine and Steve are the most emotionally moving, meaningful, and touching. Especially the night before Steve is to be injected with the super soldier serum, when Dr. Erskine relates to Steve, why he was chosen by the doctor.

Dr Erskine expounds that he actually first administered the, at the time, untried serum, to Johann Schmidt. But since Schmidt was an inherently bad man, it only accentuated Schmidt’s nefarious nature.

But, in the most profound line in the film, Dr. Erskine says that Steve is a compassion person and so he tells Steve, “Whatever happens, stay who you are, not just a soldier…but a good man.”

It’s when the action kicks in during the second half of the film that things actually fall flat and bog down. Captain America isn’t really endowed with any of the awe inspiring super powers of other super heroes. He just transitions from being a weakling to being strong and fit. So the plot and pacing gets kind of ho hum boring.

There’s just nothing all that impressive about seeing a mostly typical World War II movie with the Army fighting the bad guys. Johnston’s tendency to lose momentum when the narrative focus veers from the actors to the action doesn’t help matters either.

What elevates and makes this film are the beautifully, well written, multi-dimensional characters. Moreover, and delightfully, Captain America: The First Avenger is also at heart, a very touching, old fashioned romance, framed in a beautifully nostalgic period piece motion picture.

Evans and Atwell generate much glowing chemistry in their tender feelings for one another. Not the sexual kind, but the sweet romantic kind, born of true love. Just their knowing glances and touching words to one another evoke their love and mutual respect for one another. Watching the luminous Evans and Atwell together is just dazzling, conjuring such classic World War II, romance films as Casablanca and Hanover Street.

The film’s most poignant and wrenching moments come when Steve and Peggy schedule a date over her air traffic controller, radio tower transmission to Steve as he braces to crash land the Red Skull’s jet before it can reach and annihilate New York. An elegiac Steve offers the film’s tear invoking, bittersweet closing line at missing that much anticipated date with his girl.

Kudos to Johnston and screen writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely not only for their smart writing and story, but also for their portrait of Agent Carter. Rarely has a female character in recent cinema been so thoughtfully and intelligently written, or been depicted as such a sterling role model for women to aspire to.

Atwell makes Agent Carter just captivating and all her own. Intelligent, compassionate, brave, she’s as physically strong and adept at fighting as any of her fellow infantrymen. She can sharp shoot a gun at any range and make her target with finesse, handily dispatching of HYDRA infiltrates.

And Agent Carter throws a powerful left hook at a sexist insubordinate while putting him in his place, all while knocking Steve’s socks off with her sophistication, beauty, and grace.

The fabulous Ann B. Sheppard’s stunning Costume Design, Rick Heinrichs’ stellar Production Design, along with the film crew’s glorious Art Direction and Set Decoration all beautifully drop us right into vintage, World War II era 1942 via their imaginative, atmospheric, craftwork.

The always phenomenal composer Alan Silvestri’s anthemic, richly textured, epic and lyrical score further elevates the storyline in evoking the many emotional moods, colors, and period atmosphere of the film with enigmatic and breathtaking conviction.

The eloquent string motifs and themes that play during Steve’s tender moments with Dr. Erskine, Bucky, and Peggy, and the sweeping, majestic orchestral fanfares that compellingly drive the action, beautifully convey the spirited essence of this remarkable little film with a big heart, much like its central character.

Captain America: The First Avenger isn’t so much a super hero film. It’s a film that shows us that real heroes, are everyday ordinary people, taking a stand and doing the right thing, people whose most extraordinary qualities are the great depth of integrity, moral fiber, strength of character, and wonderfully virtuous heart within them.

Be sure to stay until after the closing credits finish rolling for the highly anticipated, spectacular, Official Motion Picture Trailer for the phenomenal The Avengers, featuring clips of Captain America in his next film adventure, and a glittering galaxy of other Marvel® super heroes including Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Iron Man and Nick Fury!

© Copyright July 25, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 4:56 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
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Here's an Archive of my July 2011 Film review and Score Review of "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon".

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/07/08/transformers-dark-of-the-moon-film-and-score-review/

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright July 6, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

This third installment in the multi-billion dollar Transformers franchise is definitely the charm. Leaving behind the convoluted storyline that derailed the series’ second film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Director Michael Bay and Executive Producer Steven Spielberg are once again at the helm of this third film. Only now, they pull out all the stops with a mind-blowing, thrill-ride of a film. Steeped in science-fiction lore, and combining a phenomenal mix of special effects and action-driven, escapist fare, this is perhaps the most impressive installment in the series.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon offers an enthralling story arc, immersed in red herrings, unlikely alliances, and conspiracies shrouded in cloaks of betrayal. The storyline is a revisionist take on NASA’s® Apollo Eleven lunar landing in 1969. Interspersing actual news footage from the event, we learn that the 1960’s U.S. and Russian space programs, and our own landmark first trip to the moon, were a government cover up. Covert missions, sent to investigate the 1961 crash landing of a spacecraft on the moon’s dark surface, which itself was originally sent on a doomed rescue mission of its own from the war ravaged planet Cybertron, home of the Transformers alien robot race.

On board that spacecraft, The Ark were Autobot Sage, Sentinel Prime, and countless “Pillars,” a new teleportation technology of his own design which had the ability to help the peaceful Autobots win the war. However, should it ever fall into the wrong hands, it could spell disaster. Fast forward to the present, as the valiant Autobots led by Optimus Prime, their friend Sam Witwicky, (Shia LaBeouf), and a bevy of earth’s compatriots race against time to thwart the evil Megatron and his Decepticons from using that technology to create an apocalypse against mankind.

The original cast from the two previous Transformers motion pictures return to reprise their roles, sans Megan Fox, now replaced by Britannia’s bodacious Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Sam’s new love interest Carly. The live acting ensemble then joins with their Autobot allies to take down the Decepticons and their evil plan before it’s too late. There’s just one problem. An Autobot traitor in the ranks is standing in their way.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon boasts some of the most breathtaking, dazzling visual effects ever put to cinema, crafted by the wizardry of Industrial Light & Magic®. That’s a good thing with the Transformers film series, as it’s the actors who are window dressing used to help drive the action forward, furthering the character development surrounding the continued battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons.

Yes! I did say character development with a straight face. Just as The Lion King helped to usher in a new era of emotional depth and expressiveness in animated films, Transformers: Dark of the Moon can lay claim to groundbreaking visuals that aspire to the same heights for special-effects driven films. The multi-layered expressiveness of the robots, in particular Optimus Prime and Bumblebee whenever they interact with Sam by way of their soulful eyes, facial expressions and mannerisms, often convey the film’s most tender, emotional depths.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a hybrid of two parts, one that works magic and one that is downright abysmal. Nearly every time the story and action centers on the live actors, the film loses momentum. Its plot and dialogue veer off the tracks in a train wreck of vacuous, guffaw comic relief. Waylaid at its worst by the horrendously devoid of talent LaBeouf, and inane newcomer Ken Jeong as Jerry Wang, criminally aided and abetted by the great John Malkovich and Academy Award® winning actress Frances McDormand, who are wasted in drivel laden, minor roles. Amazingly though, the screen comes alive every time the Transformers are at the fore. The colorful ensemble of the Autobots is the very soul, light, and beating emotional heart of the film.

Then again, LaBeouf, Huntington-Whiteley, and Josh Duhamel are no match for the sophisticated talents of actors Peter Cullen, (who voices Optimus Prime), Hugo Weaving, (who voices Megatron), and Leonard Nimoy, (who voices Sentinel Prime).

Bay and story writer Ehren Kruger also give the best lines to the Transformers, who often speak with conviction and in eloquent, thought provoking prose, as if they were players in a Shakespearean tragedy. While the live actors’ dialogue abounds in clipped comedy, catch phrased with references to Facebook® and Twitter®.

What a stroke of genius it was voice casting iconic hero “Star Trek’s” Spock himself, Nimoy as Sentinel Prime, who isn’t all that he appears to be. Bringing a dark irony to Spock’s signature heroic line, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Cullen, in his third performance voicing Optimus, speaks his lines with a commanding presence and gravitas emboldened to the benevolent Autobot leader and friend of mankind, who rises to the occasion whenever he imparts his wisdom, significantly with his profound, resolute words which sublimely close the film.

Kudos to Bay and Kruger for their own transformation of Huntington-Whiteley’s character Carly, into a brave, smart, and strong woman who steps up with the men of earth and the Autobots in the fight to save the planet and its people. Introduced as mere eye candy for the testosterone fueled members of the audience, Carly becomes one of the most courageous heroes essential to the film, and a key to victory for the Autobots and mankind.

Daring to walk right up to evil incarnate himself, Megatron, and all but spit in his eye, Carly also proves to be not necessarily all that she appears to be on the surface. Instead, she proves to be so much more. She fearlessly uses her intelligence as the ultimate weapon, outwitting Megatron as she plays upon his own insecurities and thirst for power, turning him against his own co-conspirator and showing that in times of war, wits and intelligence often prove more powerful than force.

The film’s anthemic score, composed by Steve Jablonsky, is hallmarked by epic orchestral fanfares, majestic symphonic flourishes and sweeping choral arrangements, heralding the final battle between the Autobots aligned with humankind and the Decepticons. Jablonsky’s pageantry-filled score, triumphant and a call to glory, touches the very core of the soul. Beautifully and powerfully conveying all that is at stake in the hour at hand for the central characters, where friendship and humanity go forth in the hearts of man and robots alike.

The audience in attendance where I screened the film responded to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, with their resounding approval and enthusiastic applause primarily directed at the heroism of Optimus and the incomparable Autobots. This feel good, blockbuster-popcorn movie, is one that ultimately, exhibits its most endearing qualities and humanity by virtue of the compassionate Autobot heart that it wears on its sleeve.

© Copyright July 6, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 5:00 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
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Here's an Archive of my June 2011 Film Review and Score Review of Director Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence in their first breakout roles.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/06/07/x-men-first-class-film-and-score-review/

X-Men: First Class Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright June 6, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

Though the title of this prequel motion picture refers to the iconic mutants of the Marvel Comics®, when they were still budding youths just discovering their special gifted abilities and first finding their destined paths in the world, the title more than aptly describes this superb motion picture installment in the beloved film series.

Director, story co-writer Bryan Singer lovingly crafted the blockbuster success of the first two films in the franchise, hits X-Men and X2: X-Men United, with far reaching aspirations and much critical acclaim, raising the bar and setting a pinnacle standard of excellence for the superhero film phenomenon.

Singer’s deft touch was greatly missed without him on board to helm X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Both lackluster films suffered through weak and muddled direction along with a disastrous focus on comic relief and camp cheesiness that threatened to derail the franchise.

Now Bryan Singer is back, this time as producer, and thankfully once more co-writing the story with Director Matthew Vaughn directing. The result is this spirited, resolute, purposeful reboot, which is first class all the way.

Director Vaughn reinvigorates, recharges, and breathes new life into the series with writing that emphasizes inspired character driven, breathtaking action, detailed and complex character development, and a storyline of immense social commentary, meaning, and often dark, emotional depth and gravitas.

Set in the early 1960’s during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy years, we come to learn how young mutants, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who will become Professor X, leader of the humane “X-Men,” and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), who will become the militant Magneto, leader of The Brotherhood Of Mutants, first meet and forge a deep friendship and admiration for one another.

That connection extends to their mutually valiant recruitment and mentoring of a crack team of unseasoned super powered mutant youths who then must avert a nuclear war engineered by the evil megalomaniacal Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), thus saving mankind.

Ironically, the very human race that the mutants race to save, turn on them, persecuting them and attempting genocide on their mutant protectors, blinded by their own ignorance, intolerance, and prejudice.

Within this conundrum we witness the deep fracture in this seemingly unbreakable bond between Charles and Erik, whose intense relationship and moral stance was directly inspired by The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Charles idealistically believes that through understanding and compassion, mankind and mutants can peacefully co-exist. Erik, a Holocaust survivor, who suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the Nazis, is on a bloodlust crusade for revenge against all of mankind.

McAvoy and Fassbender effortlessly step into the roles originated by the illustrious Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen with remarkable grace and luminous originality, creating and putting their own, unique and sterling stamp on their characters. Making them their own, with each calling forth determined resolve, great moral integrity, and thought provoking courage of conviction in their struggle to gain tolerance and social acceptance from a narrow minded, intolerant, and unfoundedly fearful mankind towards mutants, while instilling mutant pride in their young wards.

Jennifer Lawrence as Raven, aka Mystique, and Nicholas Hoult as the infectiously likable Dr. Hank McCoy, aka Beast, light up the screen as young mutants flirting with first love yet also deeply conflicted about whether or not their outward mutant appearance and origins should look “normal” among human society.

The film strikes a wonderful chord in at last introducing to the silver screen, the fresh faced youth ensemble of stalwart superhero characters that have given the “X-Men” comics such adored longevity with fans and in popular culture, all played exuberantly by a sparkling cast of newcomers. Sean Cassidy/Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Till) Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz), Emma Frost/White Queen (January Jones) and Charles’ ally and love interest, CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) all firmly take their first, youthful place in the film franchise adaptation of “X-Men” lore, as well as being welcome, integral characters.

Elevating and coloring the film with rich, vibrant hues, is the tremendous score composed by Henry Jackman. If that name rings a more rock related resonant bell, Jackman is the son of keyboardist and arranger Andrew Pryce Jackman of the band, The Syn. Andrew has also often collaborated with Chris Squire of the progressive rock band Yes. Henry’s credentials also tie in admirably with Squire, having collaborated with members of the band Spock’s Beard, in a one off performance backing Squire in August 2006.

Epic in scope, Jackman’s score is imbued with prodigious and grand orchestral swells, sweeping and majestic fanfares, lush marches and pageantries, and triumphant, heroic flourishes that dramatically and faithfully, serve, voice and compellingly convey the emotional tenderness, complexities, and anguish of the film.

Jackman’s rock roots shine through and illuminate his supreme score by virtue of his implementation of stinging guitars which are beautifully layered and textured over his symphonic string and orchestral arrangements, on three centerpiece themes.

Erik has his own particularly intriguing, suspenseful theme. A delectable, reverbed, tuned down, guitar echoing twang that recalls the James Bond films’ theme which was composed by Monty Norman and was played by guitarist extraordinaire, Vic Flick. Erik’s theme is evocative of early ‘60s club, acid-house lounge music straight out of the spy films of the cold war era.

Charles and his young charges have two signature guitar-driven themes. One which contains crunching, effects laden surround sound within orchestra, and the other, imbued with lyrical, melodic, understated voicings on guitar.

Special effects wizard, John Dykstra’s breathtaking and mesmerizing effects color and texture the film, but are refreshingly restrained to not only emphasize the characters, but also to keep the spotlight on the film’s sparkling, cool and stylish retro look and set design that evokes a wonderful period feel, dropping one right into the hip, mod, and “groovy” ‘60s, as Charles charmingly enjoys coining with aplomb when courting the ladies in his dashing moments. John Mathieson’s stunning cinematography highlights the spectacular and beautiful international locales that drive the feel of the movie as the action jumps from one nation and continent to yet another with heart stopping breathlessness.

“X-Men: First Class” fabulously feels, at times, more like a sophisticated, witty, and intelligent espionage film, rather than a superhero film, owing to its distinct period look and feel and often somber, introspective mood, much in the same vein as the James Bond films and the early ‘60s spy and thriller movies directed by the legendary Martin Ritt and Alfred Hitchcock, notably Ritt’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain.

The film’s dazzling split screen edits and Main Titles by Prologue Films and its gorgeous, eye popping end titles by the same company, evoke the atmospheric credit title sequences of the influential title sequence of the great Otto Preminger’s The Man With The Golden Arm.

The only flaw with this otherwise spectacular film is the appallingly derogatory and misogynist portrayal of women. Literally every female character, including all of the women mutants and CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert, are reduced to lingerie clad sexual objects who seduce, get seduced, or in the case of Emma Frost, “fetch ice” for Shaw’s drink. All the female mutant heroes defect from Charles to the “dark side” of either Shaw or Erik. Even MacTaggert allows herself to be brainwashed clean of all vital information by Charles after she swoons from his kiss, prompting the CIA Director to utter to her and his fellow agents in a meeting, “This is why we don’t have women in the CIA.” Note to Singer, not funny and highly offensive.

What happened to the strong, courageous, and intelligent heroism of X-Women, Storm, Rogue, and Kitty Pride in the first three “X-Men” films? I sincerely hope this isn’t a downward trend and that Singer brings back the exciting, resilient, stalwart “X-Women” role models of the previous films.

Save for this one misstep, X-Men: First Class exceeds and triumphs with its intelligent, informed, and striking attention to outstanding storytelling, profound narratives, and unforgettable, emotionally driven characters who inhabit and are embraced by, our hearts and minds.

© Copyright June 6, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

[Edited on 11/12/2015 by ArleneWeiss]

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 5:04 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's my May 2011 Soundtrack Review of "I Am Number Four", with the score composed by Trevor Rabin.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/05/22/i-am-number-four-soundtrack-review/

I Am Number Four Soundtrack Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright May 21, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

When it was announced that Producers Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay had optioned the best-selling novel, I Am Number Four for a big budget screen adaptation, my main cause for excitement emanated from the news that, venerable film composer, Trevor Rabin, renowned for his esteemed artistry and scores for Armageddon, Remember The Titans, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, National Treasure 1 and 2, Enemy Of The State, Con Air and many more Hollywood celluloid jewels, would be crafting the film’s score.

I had very much looked forward to Trevor’s score for I Am Number Four being released on an official album after experiencing his score firsthand, when I screened and reviewed the film. Here, Varese Sarabande Records does Rabin proud with the release of this Original Motion Picture Score Album, featuring Trevor’s luminous score, which he both composed and produced. This 21 track release highlights Rabin’s dazzling and affecting soundscapes that so beautifully serve and voice the film.

On “Welcome To The Jungle,” “Water Vision” and “Mog Shop And Feed,” Trevor offers tense moments of foreboding, suspense, and imminent, looming danger, and Rabin evokes taut action on the central characters’ chase sequences “VI To The Rescue,” “IV And Sarah Escape,” and “Forest Fight,” by way of his implementation of striking, sharp, and forceful strings, loud and bold orchestral swells, and great, grand symphonic flourishes.

“Hit Me With Your Lumen” and the gorgeous “Rising From The Ashes,” crescendo with epic, sweeping and majestic, fanfares and pageantries that just soar, and are brightly imbued with uplifting heroism and valor.

Depth and emotional resonance, lustrous hallmarks of Rabin’s scores, illuminate his exquisite emotional centerpieces for the film, “Getting To Know Sarah” and especially his key theme “Who We Are.” This key theme comes up in the film whenever the film’s hero, John, (aka Number IV), looks at meaningful photographs, keepsakes, or he shares a romantic moment with Sarah.

Eloquent, lyrical, wistful, and full of joy, these sublime musical motifs are the shining moments that stand out and elevate the film, and ultimately, are the beating, emotional heart of “I Am Number Four.”

Gentle, intricate, and beautifully melodic piano and guitar, color and theme, and indeed give life, to the film’s main characters, conjuring indelible memories and images of their most emotionally urgent moments, by virtue of Rabin’s essence of ever flowing sparkle and magic.

What makes this key theme even more memorable, is that is Trevor, strumming the understated brushstrokes on guitar, enveloped delicately by Trevor’s beautiful arrangement for orchestra, painting remarkable emotional depth and breadth with his wonderfully textured, multilayered sonic canvas.

Trevor Rabin has crafted a stunning score that resoundingly rises to the occasion, showcasing Rabin’s flair for composing unforgettable music that can be endlessly treasured and that evokes dynamic, riveting, aural narratives and purposeful, thoughtful, character development, complimenting I Am Number Four just beautifully, with compelling excitement, luster, and grace.

© Copyright May 21, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 5:08 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's an Archive of my May 2011 Film Review of the blockbuster 5th entry in "The Fast And The Furious" film franchise, "Fast Five", with my Review also of film composer Bryan Tyler's film score.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/05/02/fast-five-film-and-score-review/

Fast Five Film Review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright May 2, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

This fifth installment in the Fast and the Furious film franchise pulls out more than all the stops. Riding on the blockbuster success of 2009’s fourth chapter in the series, Fast & Furious, this edition shows off its infusion of big budget production, international jet set locales, gorgeous cinematography, and sports spectacular high-tech gadgetry and breathtaking stunts. Bigger, bolder and badass to the core, before its opening weekend even ended, Fast Fivereportedly already earned some $84 million, surpassing all expectations, making it the most successful film in the series.

Charismatic tough guy, street racers, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), return, along with Dom’s sister and Brian’s girlfriend Mia Toretto, (Jordana Brewster), who soak up the stunning scenery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while eluding the law, relentless DSS Federal Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing his best, hardass who really is an affable teddy bear impression!), and a powerful, homicidal, crooked businessman, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), who has the local citizens cowering under his chaotic, criminal rule.

Dom, Brian, and Mia organize the ultimate bank heist, setting their sights on Reyes’s hundred million of laundered money. Cool, stylish, and resembling some of the great bank heist capers of the silver screen from The Italian Job, to Ocean’s Eleven, to Kelly’s Heroes, no big bank job would be complete, without bringing in an ensemble of slick and infectiously likable friends, who are operatives in various underworld specialties, from explosives to safe cracking, and who also all happen to be cast members from all four previous Fast and the Furious films.

Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, and Don Omar, all shine and just sparkle alongside stars Diesel, Walker, and Brewster in this over the top testosterone fest of nonstop adrenaline, quick witted, crackling (and occasionally cheesy but delicious) dialogue, and incredible stunts, all set spectacularly in speeding, flying, and very expensive cars.

Keeping this high performance film vehicle, well-oiled and at optimum rev, is Fast & Furious film composer Brian Tyler’s dynamic, thunderous, roaring score, which serves and fuels Fast Five as remarkably as Dom tinkering and tooling the engine under the hood of the matchless “ten second car.”

Massive, loud, orchestral swells, subtly textured moods, Latin flavored salsas, and high tech electronic, synthesized, pumping, percussive drenched grooves, keep the plot and action burning up the road and screen in high gear and on all cylinders.

Actors, Omar and Ludacris return to their signature soul street beats and music origins, with each offering songs on the delicious film soundtrack. Omar’s high energy, spicy hot “How We Roll” serves up the same tangy barbecue he cooks up in the film and should only be listened to in a very fast car!

Kudos to Director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan who also return after helming Fast & Furious, for keeping the series fresh, fun, and vital with this fifth edition, and also for making this one of the few action film franchises that continually boasts strong, sexy, and intelligent ladies, kickin’ it with equal merits among the guys. Brewster, Gadot, Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves, Hobbs’ incorruptible rookie officer on a personal mission against Reyes, and Eva Mendes as U.S. Customs Agent Monica Fuentes, all hold their own with the guys in this sizzling spectacle of fun.

There are plot twists and turns and red herrings galore, including friends and nemeses alike who double-cross one another, switch sides, and form unlikely alliances.

Be sure to stay after the credits begin to roll for (Spoiler Alert!), the final scene and set up for what is certain to be an even more thrilling and exciting Fast and the Furious 6! Fast Five’s storyline may be implausible and often seemingly impossible, and that’s the best part, as it’s all in fantastical fun making it most certainly, phenomenally incredible.

© Copyright May 2, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 5:12 am
ArleneWeiss
(@arleneweiss)
Extreme Peach

Here's my February 2011 Film Review and Score review of "I Am Number Four".

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/02/24/i-am-number-four-score-review/

I Am Number Four Film review and Score Review

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright February 20, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

Producer Steven Spielberg’s and DreamWorks® Pictures’ first film to be released through their new 30 picture distribution deal with Walt Disney Company’s® Touchstone Pictures® has a lot going for it.

Co-Producer Michael Bay optioned the bestselling novel I Am Number Four, authored by James Frey and Jobie Hughes, and assembled a smart and savvy screenwriting team comprised of Smallville’s Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Marti Noxon. With Disturbia Director D.J. Caruso at the helm, expectations loomed high for a bright, intelligent, science fiction thriller steeped in thoughtful character development, emotional resolve, and rich narrative. Well, maybe not so much.

I Am Number Four features an uninspired mashup of X-Men, Smallville and Twilight, bogged down by clichés galore, banal dialogue, convoluted, derivative storyline elements and wooden, bland acting from newcomer Alex Pettyfer as virtuous superhero Number 4 aka John Smith, Glee’s Dianna Agron as syrupy sweet Sara and shockingly, from Justified’s wonderfully talented Timothy Olyphant as John’s guardian figure Henri, who looks bored and embarrassed with the few lines he’s given to deliver.

Did anyone else catch that the evil “Mogadorians” sent to earth to kill John and the eight other superpowered teens from his planet sound an awfully lot like Star Wars: The Phantom Menaces’s “Midi-chlorians,” which also rhymes with John’s home planet of “Lorien?” Whatever!

This leaden paced movie doesn’t finally take off until the last half hour, when (Spoiler Alert!) Aussie actress Teresa Palmer (giving her best, cocksure Han Solo impression) lights up the screen with her charismatic, wisecracking, badass Number 6, blasting through the door. In a bid to steal the film’s dynamic climax from Palmer, John’s loyal protector beagle pup then shapeshifts into a super galactic, behemoth, alien dog aka a Chimera, wherein both Number 6 and the Chimera rush to save John, (and this film!).

I must say that while I started getting nervous that this highly anticipated film just might not be all that the advance hype projected, when “Rolling Stone” and “Entertainment Weekly” magazines and other press were denied previews (and when the lights went out at my local movie theater!) my reason for seeing this film was validated nonetheless.

For some time I had very much looked forward to experiencing the film’s score, knowing that it was crafted by venerable film composer Trevor Rabin, renowned for his esteemed artistry and scores for Armageddon, Remember The Titans,National Treasure 1 & 2 and many more Hollywood celluloid jewels.

Trevor doesn’t have much cinematic foundation to work with here, and kudos to him in that he still manages to work magical wonders with what he is given. Depth and emotional resonance are not to be found in this film. However, they are hallmarks of Rabin’s scores and on I Am Number Four Rabin rises to the occasion just beautifully with compelling excitement, grace, and luster.

There’s a key theme throughout the film that I like to call “photographs, memories, and love theme,” which comes up whenever John looks at meaningful photographs, keepsakes, or he shares a romantic moment with Sara. Eloquent, lyrical, wistful and full of joy, this sublime musical motif is one of the few shining moments that stands out and elevates the film, and ultimately is the beating, emotional heart of I Am Number Four.

What makes this theme even more memorable, is that is Trevor, strumming the understated brushstrokes on guitar, enveloped delicately by his beautiful arrangement for orchestra, painting more emotional depth and breadth with his wonderfully textured, multilayered sonic canvas, than D.J. Caruso’s stilted direction ever does.

On the second screening I Am Number Four proved more enjoyable, largely due to the special effects wizardry of George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic®, supporting actor Callan McAuliffe’s sensitive portrayal of John’s friend Sam, oh, and that beagle pup who just kept tugging at my heart. Bring your popcorn, park your brain, and you’ll enjoy this silver screen ride for the exhilarating thrills in its final act, and especially for Trevor Rabin’s sparkling and affecting soundscapes.

© Copyright February 20, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2015 5:15 am
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