Friday, 31 January 2014

Arrow (2012-Present): Season 2, Episode 12 Review

Title: Arrow
Season: 2
Episode Count: 12
Episode Title: Tremors
Starring: Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, Katie Cassidy

Unknown to pretty much all my followers, I'm a huge television fan! I love Game of Thrones, Elementary, Breaking Bad and surprisingly Arrow! Season 1 started off poorly, but soon enough improved to a fantastic degree, and captured me with the best season finale of last year! Now, we're into season 2... it's a mixed season at best. Sure, most of the character introductions have been really good, and Stephen Amell has still kept the great performances rolling in... but with Laurel's storyline being an incredibly dull filler all season, I have to downgrade most episodes. Thankfully, last episode had an absolutely awesome ending, with Arrow agreeing to help train Roy, and Deathstroke FINALLY making an appearance! This episode though... well, let's see how it fairs!

To start with, Bronze Tiger is back, played by Michael Jai White. He had a short stint on the show a few episodes back, and he got busted and is being held up in prison. He busts himself out, and partakes in fighting Arrow a little within this episode. The fights between himself and Arrow feel incredibly choreographed here, unfortunately, which makes for some dull moments. Michael Jai White does fine in his role, which is all fine and dandy. His lines, though, feel incredibly cliched and corny, so points off!

The whole plot within this episode is that an unnamed arms merchant breaks Bronze Tiger out of prison to steal a secret prototype of the earthquake machine that lies within Malcolm Merlyn's home. Ultimately, this is just an episode that is meant to advance Roy Harper's character, as well as introduce the Suicide Squad, a name most certainly known to comic book fans. The whole main plot line feels incredibly forced, and very thrown together. They reveal that there has been ANOTHER earthquake machine nestled in Starling; something that sounds completely out of the blue. No lead up, nothing! Then, it's destroyed at the end. So much for that devastating piece of machinery! The story for this episode is just really pathetic and bad, in comparison to the previous episodes endeavors.

The whole Roy being trained by Arrow also feels quite staged. From the setting, to the way Arrow stands and addresses Roy, it all makes me not believe this as a real training sequence. That's really unfortunate, as the thing I was most looking forward to seeing this episode was some badass Roy on Arrow action, or some pretty straightforward training sequences. We certainly didn't get that. They also have to continually force the idea that Roy is angry at everything down our throats, and that makes the training sequences incredibly repetitive. Every time we see Arrow training him, it's always "I can't do it! I'm going to get angry, break something, and tell Arrow that this isn't working!" That happens 2-4 times this episode, and it's infuriating!

There were some decent angles tonight, clouded within the crap. Moira is now running for the mayor office, which is an angle which I think is really good! Sebastian Blood is now going to have to eliminate Moira, which will have Oliver angry, whether she's killed or not, and now with Deathstroke in the fray, we may finally have an Arrow on Deathstroke fight! And the island flashbacks was interesting tonight. Slade wanted to blow up Ivo's ship with the missile launcher that is still on the island, but Oliver convinced him not to, and instead tells him that they are to seize control of the ship! So that's a lot of build up for the next few episodes, all of which I'm anxiously awaiting! 

And we finally reach Laurel... ugh, it's worse than ever here! Her father tries to help her again, this time by fooling her into walking into an AA meeting. She flips her shit, and establishes her belief; that she's been through worse than the people in the meeting. This absolutely infuriates me, as it's meant to, so props to the writing team for that move. Laurel then spirals out of control afterwards, and goes to Thea's bar and proceeds to get drunk. Katie Cassidy's acting ability is fairly limited, and she should certainly not be given another opportunity to act drunk within this show. It's just embarrassing! Fortunately, we get to see some real character development (or a hint of it) at the end of the episode, when she falls to the ground back at her apartment. She looks up and sees her sister coming towards her, before we fade to black. What does it mean? Is Laurel finally turning into Canary? We'll have to wait to find out! Nonetheless, the Laurel angle tonight wasn't very good at all! Despite some decent moments, Laurel's scenes feel forced and awkward.

This episode was pretty bad. Certainly a let down after the big cliff hanger left to us by the last episode. Tremors had a forced centre plot line, a pretty repetitive and stupid few training sequences, and more Laurel crap, yet it did fortunately have some really important character development, and a fairly good finale. Oliver does reveal himself at the end to Roy, and lets him join the team, so that's exciting! And the Suicide Squad angle seems in full force, so I can't wait! This episode was pretty shocking; a certain down point of the season.

Junkie Score: 5.3

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Monday, 27 January 2014

Her (2013) Film Review

Her poster
Title: Her
Director: Spike Jonze
Screenwriter: Spike Jonze
Length: 126 minutes
Year of Release: 2013

Her is a film directed by Spike Jonze, and it stars the ever fantastic Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams, and centres around Phoenix's character, Theodore, who has recently come out of a long relationship. He is sad and lonely; that is until he downloads an artificial intelligence, named Samantha, that opens his eyes to the world around him that he has neglected to acknowledge whilst deep in self loathing. 

The performances, to begin with. Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore, as always, is absolutely fantastic. He never delivers a performance less than wonderful (in my case anyway) and this time is no exception. He's strangely relatable and lovable here. I seriously would never have guessed so, based on his previous roles. Well, never judge a book by it's cover certainly applies to this situation. He is helped along by a fantastic voice performance from Scarlett Johansson, who plays Samantha surprisingly! Who would have guessed she could've been this damned good in a voice role?! She brings a third dimension to a character which has no physical appearance, and that is something that is very awe worthy. I feel that she has been snubbed by the Oscars, not getting a nomination for her performance. It's absolutely pitch perfect. These two are accompanied by Amy Adams, in a small but pivotal role as Theodore's friend, and Rooney Mara, who plays Theodore's ex-wife. Both are very good in their small roles, and it all makes for a fantastic film, performance wise. 

Ultimately, the real star of the show is the wonderful Spike Jonze. This guy has an imagination like no other. It's crazy, wild, imaginative. Here, he takes you on an emotional roller coaster, one that I have not embarked on for quite a while. Sincerely; I've not had another film from 2013 hit me in the heart like this one did. Jonze has managed to create a real, beautiful love story, one that showcases the beauty of love, and how it's affects on people can really change them, for better or worse. It's not like 500 Days of Summer; one which you can relate to perfectly. It distances itself away from that kind of genre, the one which tries to stay relatable throughout, and keep you involved simply because you can fit yourself right in the shoes of the main character. Here, you simply can't. But that doesn't matter, because you can accept this relationship, between a man and a computer, because it's delivered in such a real, honest way. 

I thought about a concept around half way through this film. That is, that all the visuals are taken away. You close your eyes for the duration, or maybe you rip the audio from the film. Either way, I feel like you're going to get an experience that may not just be as good as the original, intended experience, but one that may surpass the original. This story is so centred around dialogue, that I feel pictures almost don't add that much to the film. See, I found the film shot very quietly. It is shot in a way that allows the dialogue to be the main character, not the physical person itself. The words flowing from Johansson and Phoenix's mouths are really what you need to be focusing on. An all audio experience may add to the beauty of this brilliantly told film, by allowing the dialogue to be the only form of expression. You'll have to try it out and see whether it works for you or not; I just think that it would be a good idea to try out.

Overall, Her is an absolutely fantastic film. It's not going to crack my top 10 of the year, but it's come incredibly close. It's an emotionally driven film, that will hit you to your core. I challenge you not to cry at the end of this film! Despite the lack of visual presence, this is a film which I'm certainly hoping wins Oscars. 

Junkie Score: 9.2
Worth admission price? Yes

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How To Train Your Dragon Score Review

 Title: How To Train Your Dragon

 Composer/s: John Powell

 Length: 1 hour, 12 minutes

 Track Count: 25

 Year of Release: 2010

Hello one and all! I'm back with another score review, this time, for one that was released in 2010. That means it's time for one of my favourite scores, How To Train Your Dragon, by John Powell. I had to venture outside of Spotify to find this one (the horror!) but it's certainly worth it! I've got a playlist on Grooveshark for it, so I'll post that link down below. Anyway, I should probably start reviewing this score, so lets get into it!


I'm going to be honest; the first time I heard this score, it sounded very much like a John Williams piece of work. That's partially good, partially bad. For the most part, I don't like John Williams' work. I know, you're all about to crucify me, but that's just how I feel. But John Williams can make some pretty damn awesome scores, and he has a way with making interesting, complex pieces. The first piece on the score card, This Is Berk, sounded like a really awesome John Williams piece. I did find John Powell's name instilled though, and I was almost a little disappointed. Nonetheless, John Powell has delivered something sensationally brilliant, with intricate sets to the max.

The big thing you need to know about this score, coming into it, is that it's very much a Viking score. You're going to get deep brass here in the bucket loads, and it's awesome. But that's ultimately what we expect from Viking scores, so John Powell also adds a whole range of instruments to the equation, starting from native Scandinavian horns to some bagpipes, which have place in some of my favourite pieces from the score. It all sounds very European, which is certainly not a bad thing. It's always good to see something that sounds very culturally accurate, and HTTYD is just that.  On that account, John Powell has excelled. 

The score is a whole bunch of fun. It's got pieces which seem to go flying off in a random direction, which is partially the point; I mean, we are covering the story about a stubborn dragon being trained. He's probably going to jetting off in any direction he can the first chance he gets, right? But all this, see, I certainly expected. What really makes the score, are the more touching, personal moments. Powell uses vocals and soft piano to their full extent, at various points, to allow for a lot of really powerful, key moments. Take piece 6, The Dragon Book, one of my favourite pieces on the card. It evolves from a quiet, soothing rhythm, into something more aggressive, and loud. All very tightly done, which is good to see. This contrast that is achieved in mere seconds, so many times within the score, is a pleasure to listen to.   

There are few scores which are as emotional as HTTYD, to be quite honest. I love the film (it is #22 on my top 25 films of all time) and the score just brings all the memories back, to my enjoyment. My favourite piece on the entire card, Forbidden Love, has one of the more emotional riffs in the entire score. In the latter stages of the piece, it evolves into a powerful, beautiful orchestral piece, which is tear worthy. I can say the same for so much of this score, but I think I'd take up much too much of your time, if I was to try! Nonetheless, on an emotional level, Powell has delivered greater than I could have ever expected. 

There are very few pieces within the score which I can criticise at all, and that's all thanks to Powell's exciting, fun way of telling a story in musical form. This is Powell's finest work, and some that you should certainly check out. 

1. This Is Berk
2. Dragon Battle
3. The Downed Dragon*
4. Dragon Training*
6. The Dragon Book
7. Focus Hiccup
8. Forbidden Love*
9. New Tail
10. See You Tomorrow*
11. Test Drive*
14. Astrid Goes For A Spin
15. Romantic Flight*
16. Dragon's Den
17. The Cove
18. The Kill Ring
19. Ready The Ships
20. Battling The Green Death*
21. Counter Attack*
22. Where's Hiccup?
23. Coming Back Around*
25. The Vikings Have Their Tea

Junkie Score: 100
Buy or Stream? Buy

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Legend of Hercules (2014) Film Review

Title: The Legend of Hercules
Director: Renny Harlin
Length: 99 minutes
Year of Release: 2014
The Legend of Hercules is a film directed by Renny Harlin, and stars Kellan Lutz, Scott Adkins and Gaia Weiss, and revolves around the character of Hercules, son of Zeus, who was born solely to end the life of the King of his people, and unite the lands in peace, or something like that. I didn't pay too much attention, to be honest!
This movie is horrible. It's clichéd to pieces, poorly directed, horribly acted and disastrously written. All the dialogue feels so god damned forced, and makes it incredibly difficult to latch onto any of the characters. Whenever they speak... It's like someone saw Spartacus or Game of Thrones and went "Well, now I certainly know how people of that era spoke!" and wrote a screenplay, full of fancy words and shallow speeches. You don't feel like a single word here is sincere; from Hercules speaking to his clichéd, forbidden love Hebe (Yeah, that's right; his forbidden love's name is Princess Hebe), and from the King to his son... It's all atrocious! The screenwriter also saw the speeches in Braveheart and LOTR: Return of The King and went "Well, we obviously need a battle speech!" and wrote a bunch of big speeches that were emotionless, and couldn't have been more forced. I'll move on, cause I could go on about the dialogue for days!
The acting... It's too much! The main actor, Kellan Lutz, came from Twilight... So you knew from the beginning you were in for a bad ride. He's completely emotionless, stale and you not for one second care for his character. His forbidden love, played by Gaia Weiss, is equally horrible! The only reason she was cast, obviously, is because she's pretty damned hot! Scott Adkins, though, leads the way in crappy performances! His entire performance revolves around him yelling every single word. He could be speaking to his wife in private, and still find the need to yell every word to her. It was dreadful to watch! The only decent performance was delivered by Liam McIntyre, who plays Hercules's friend and comrade. He could actually deliver the lines with a bit of power, emotion! Despite his decent performance though, the rest of the cast deserves Razzie's. I'm calling it people; every single actor and actress here will get nominated at the Golden Raspberries this year! That is not good!
The action is horrendous. Remember 300; that badass film about Spartan's kicking a bunch of Persian's asses? And remember how it used to go into awesome slow motion every once in a while during the fighting, when a sword was plunged deep into a body, or someone hit another over the head? Well, they do it here! And is it good? Hell no! They overuse it to pieces, and by the end of the film, you can't help but cringe every time it occurs. The action in general feels weak. There is never a moment in this film in which you worry for Hercules. You always know that he's going to beat his opponents, and that makes for fights that have you bored and uninterested! When the great hero Hercules lacks peril in his fight scenes, you have a problem.
The CGI here is again, horrible! All the green screen looks like it could have fit right into a 1980's action flick. For a film coming out in 2014, that's not a good sign! All the CGI aspects of this film look incredibly fake, and mixed in with the terrible live sets, it makes for a difficult experience. I'm so thankful I did not see this in 3D, I certainly wouldn't have been able to stand it all. And the extra admission price... completely criminal!
Overall, The Legend of Hercules is a pile of crap. Just please don't watch this! This film should be nominated for Razzie's, and make a minimal amount at the box office. It's one of the worst movies of all time, and certainly going to be on my top 10 worst of 2014. I need to watch 300 now, to feel good about this genre again.

Junkie Score: 1.1/10
Worth admission price? No

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Expansion Of This Blog

If you follow me on Google+, I should say it's quite evident that I'm a person who is very interested in film. Apart from scores and soundtracks, film is my first love, and I do enjoy reviewing film. That's why I see it appropriate to expand this blog, to not only soundtracks, but film news and reviews. Because, hey, I can! So... that's that! You should be witnessing changes in the very near future!

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Banner Saga Video Game Score Review

Title: The Banner Saga

Composer/s: Austin Wintory

Length: 1 hour, 11 minutes

Track Count: 29 tracks

Year of Release: 2014

Hello all! It's time for my first video game score review of 2014, and what a way to celebrate that fact! We have an Austin Wintory score in the house everyone! Austin Wintory is one of, if not my favourite composer of all time. He's delicate, witty and very simplistic. Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine has to be the perfect example of all this, as he uses a piano for 95% of the score, and still kept me involved, entertained the entire way through. Not easy, with just a piano! He returns here, with a score to another video game; this time one known as The Banner Saga. Let's jump into it!


Wintory will surely be criticised for this album, for the large, constant attempt at making this sound as much like a Viking or Nordic score as possible. I personally find it a very good attempt. It employs a lot of culturally diverse instruments and vocals to reach these heights. Wintory indulges in percussion here, with a lot of emphasis on timpani, and other drums. Various bells and chimes are also slotted in, here and there, to give the score an Eastern vibe. Along with these are an extreme dose of vocals and heavy strings, both which give a certain edge to the music. The vocals are quite strong, as well. They never just sit in the background and add to the piece in small works. They literally control quite a few of the pieces, and change the tone up accordingly. I'm still wondering on whether or not I enjoy these vocal solos. They're incredibly loud,  low and ultimately, quite central to the score. But the problem lies within how often they are incorporated. Wintory indulges slightly too much in vocal heaven and maybe over does it a little, unfortunately. 

That said, the orchestral pieces here are very well done, as I've come to expect from Wintory! He certainly doesn't allow for a straightforward plot, and attempts to create multiple interesting yet simplistic themes. Ultimately, Wintory has always had a soft spot for simplistic themes. His scores are, as a whole, generally quite complex and intricate. Monaco had a lot going on within each piece, despite it's use of only a single piano. Yet like Monaco, the theme is catchy and minimalist, allowing you to hum it accordingly. For a game score, this is certainly vital, and Wintory knocks it on the head. The multiple themes heard within the score are all relatively easy to hum and get stuck in your head, and for that, I applaud Wintory. There is one theme that I believe was overworked, and that is found within the piece Cut With A Keen-Edged Sword. I found it a little repetitive and dull unfortunately. 

This score reminds me quite heavily of The Lord of The Rings scores, by Howard Shore, surprisingly. The piece, Little Did They Sleep is a great example of this. Maybe it's the use of flutes, to create that almost floating feeling, or the wonderful, heavy brass which starts the piece off, which is almost a grandeur signal for battle!  Whatever it may truly be, I don't know exactly. I guess it's all these puzzle pieces put together, that really allow for this distinct resemblance between the two scores. Ultimately, the Nordic sound opens itself up to interpretation and resemblance to a whole bunch of scores, and LOTR is one of those old fantasy scores which could certainly slot into this score, without a sudden shift in any tone or theme. Garnering a comparison to Lord of The Rings is no mean feat, but Wintory has certainly achieved something of the sorts here. 

I thought special mention was to go out to the longest and best piece on the score card, Of Our Bones, The Hills. It's basically a suite of awesome, Nordic themed music, that had me from the word go. I'm generally not a guy who enjoys longer music; 10 minute music in this case. But, in this case, I really did! It was incredibly well composed, fun, and had some very nice ostinatos which I found very engrossing! Wintory is one of the only people on the planet that can really make an ostinato work, along with James Horner, Hans Zimmer and a few various others. I even enjoyed a vocal solo towards the end, to my utter surprise! It's a very carefully done piece that I thoroughly enjoyed! 

The Banner Saga is one of Wintory's better scores. It's incredibly well composed, establishes the tone and theme perfectly, and is an all round enjoyable listening experience. It does, unfortunately, repeat itself a little too often, and the vocals seem to be overindulged in. Despite these faults, there are some incredibly awesome pieces here which totally make up for these faults. Of Our Bones, The Hills and Onward are both going into my Favourites playlist, which is to say that they are both of extreme quality. This is one to certainly check out, whether you're a Wintory fan like myself or not.

2. How Did It Come To This?
5. Cut With A Keen-Edged Sword*
6. Huddled In The Shadows
9. No Life Goes Forever Unbroken
10. Little Did They Sleep*
12. Thunder Before Lightning
13. Embers In The Wind*
15. The Egg Cracks*
17. Walls No Man Has Seen
18. Strewn Across A Bridge
20. An Uncertain Path
21. Into Dust*
24. A Sunken City
26. Long Past That Last Sigh
27. Of Our Bones, The Hills*
28. We Are All Guests Upon The Land*
29. Onward*

Junkie Score: 85.75
Buy or Stream? Buy

Amazon MP3 Purchase
Austin Wintory Official MP3 Purchase

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Friday, 17 January 2014

Scoring System: Explained!

So... I've figured I'd better explain in a little more depth as to how the whole scoring system for scores works, and show you what has properly changed! Here you go!

 Junkie Score
The Junkie score was previously a score based on the average of the scores I gave to all the individual pieces in a score. Basically, I'd add up all the individual piece scores and then figure out an average for the whole thing. This didn't work, or just pissed me off, for a couple of reasons!
  • The fact that often the Junkie score wouldn't reflect my own personal thoughts on how well composed the score was in it's own right. For example; I believe that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was worthy of less than an 80, whilst Oblivion, in my mind, should have received much higher than 90.52.
  • It's quite time consuming having to figure out a score for every single piece, and then calculating the whole average of the score. 
So, I figured I'd change it! Instead of calculating an average, I'm just going to give a Junkie Score which reflects my own personal opinion. It's not going to be mathematically correct, obviously. What it is going to be though, is a reflection of what I actually did think of the score, which to me, is much more important than a carefully calculated result. Reviewing scores is pretty damned subjective anyway, right?!

Highlights used to be based on pieces which I felt needed a recommendation. Highlights is now basically a recap of any and every piece that has score higher than 95. An entire score can be listed in the Highlights, or maybe a single piece, or maybe none at all, who knows?! This gives you an idea on how much of the score I liked, or vice versa. 

An asterisks basically means that a piece has excelled. It has captured me, overjoyed me; those kind of things help in emulating an asterisk. Again, an entire score can be listed in the Highlights and all have asterisks, or vice versa.

Buy or Stream?
Buy or Stream is basically my recommendation on whether or not a piece is worth buying or not. A buy will generally be recommended when over half the pieces on the score card have a Highlights place. Buy will generally be quite rare, as forking out $20 for every good score is not really a smart move.

I hope I've cleared that all up!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Dawning Promises Album Review

Title: Dawning Promise  

Composer/s: Frederik Wiedmann

Length: 48 minutes

Track Count: 20 tracks

Year of Release: 2013

Hello! Back again, this time with something a little different; a review to a trailer music album, instead of a film, game or television score. I'm a huge fan of trailer music, and after having a long hard listen to ICON's most recent album, Dawning Promises, I figured I should write a review! So here you go, a review to Dawning Promises.


If you follow trailer music, then you've probably heard of Audiomachine. They are easily my favourite trailer music brand, and their music is generally incredibly epic, powerful and battle-worthy. It is high honors when I compare this album to my favourite Audiomachine album, Existence. Dawning Promises has a lot of variety, and I think that's what most sets this apart. So many trailer music albums consistently aim for the highest of highs, in every piece. Yes, it's powerful and amazing stuff, but it can be refreshing to hear something that goes a little under. Something that mixes it up in the way of themes and tones and volume. There is not a single piece here which sounds like the previous piece that was played beforehand, and that is the sign of a good composer in Frederik Wiedmann. The guy has absolutely killed it here!  There are some more subtle riffs laying within these huge, booming brass solos which are always lovely to hear. He also manages to mix up the classic orchestral with some lovely bass guitar, and more commonly used instruments. It's this variety that drew me to this album, and has me enjoying every piece available, literally.

My favourite piece has to be Devising Dangerous Designs. Wiedmann mixes it up with contemporary instruments and booming orchestral, to create something that is in the middle of rock and grandeur. It's this mix of instruments that makes every single piece so interesting and unique. 2 pieces later, in Rewarding Radiance, he illustrates a fantastic use of vocals, and how he can go from an incredibly epic, powerful piece, to a more calm and catchy piece. It's a wonderful thing to behold, in how quickly he can change it up to something so different. 

Part of the reason I love trailer music is honestly, the lack of story to try and cover. Film scores require that you cover both the big, important moments, and the smaller, less interesting pivots in time. This can make for a score that has both ups and downs. Trailer albums consist of highly satisfying, beautiful music, and that's all there is to it. Dawning Promises very much adheres to this description, with pieces that are unrelated to each other and continue off in their own direction. This is ultimately the reason I, at no point, lost interest in the album. It was always showing and doing new things, to which I could never stop focusing on. That's the sign of a brilliant trailer album. 

Dawning Promises is a wonderful album from ICON, and something that I will surely listen to more often into the future. It's energetic, full of variety, and incredibly powerful, all very good things. I'm begging you to order this baby, for ICON really does deserve it.

1. A Legacy Uncovered*
2. A Mighty Force
3. Dawning Promises*
4. Origins Unveiled
5.The Protector Prepares*
6. Hero To The Helpless
7. The Eye Of The Oracle
8. In Shining Defiance
9. Devising Dangerous Designs*
10. Rise Of The Renegade*
11. Rewarding Radiance*
12. The Burden Of A Blessing
13. When Dusk Turns Dark
14. Quick Burning Wick
15. Fluid Commotion*
16. The Clock Strikes Rebellion
17. Over Centuries
18. Eternal Honor
19. Visions Of Grandeur*
20. Purity Shall Prevail

Junkie Score: 100
Buy or Stream? Buy

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Sunday, 12 January 2014

All is Lost Score Review

Title: All Is Lost

Composer/s: Alexander Ebert

Track Count: 11 tracks

Length: 45 minutes

Year of Release: 2013

Hello again! I'm back, and with a review to the newly crowned Best Original Score for the Golden Globes; All Is Lost, by Alexander Ebert. To be honest, before the award ceremony premiered today, I didn't even know the film or score existed, which makes winning pretty impressive in my eyes. Coming from nowhere to beat out Steven Price's incredible score for Gravity must mean good things, hopefully! Let's see whether this score is worth the attention! 

To begin with, All Is Lost, for the most part, is a very calm score. After reading the IMDb synopsis, I know the film is about isolation and a single man's fight for survival. Ebert really does ease you into the feeling of isolation. Piece 3 and 10, Virginia's Dream and Excelsior and the All Day Man really highlight these thoughts. They leave you feeling quite isolated and lonely. Piece 10 and 11, were, to add to the calmness and isolation, incredibly emotional, and left me with a lump in my throat that didn't seem to want to go away, and for good reason. They were both incredibly well composed, smart pieces which really did take my breath away. 

Unfortunately, a lot of this score feels as if it's dragging on. Our fourth track on the card, The Infinite Bleed, lasts for a total of 8 and a half minutes, and gets frustrating and irritating at the 2 and a half minute mark. That leaves 6 minutes to trudge through. 6 minutes of brutally irritating, painful music. That's not the half of it. So many pieces within the score are long, slow and awfully loud. I had to readjust my stereo volume a countless amount of times, simply because the volume on the slower, more painful pieces spiked to incredibly loud propositions

Ebert certainly goes for that atmospheric, almost claustrophobic sound for a lot of this score, most noticeably on the longer pieces. When he uses it more sparingly, it can be quite affecting. It feels as if the sound is closing in around you, and it caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end at various points in time. Unfortunately, when used in the longer pieces, it can really wear thin. Breaks are very much necessary when your attention span starts to wither under the constant hammering of synth and strange, foreign noises. The same riffs can repeat for up to 4 minutes at a time, and it inevitably makes the score feel very repetitive and bloated. Listening to the same music for extended periods of time, over and over again does not make for an enjoyable listening experience. 

Ultimately, the question that I'm going to ask myself at the end of all this is whether or not this should've beaten out Gravity for Best Original Score at the Golden Globes. And should it have? Certainly not! Gravity is a marvel of ingenuity on Steven Price's part, whilst All Is Lost has few highlights. This is not too bad of a score; it's just not worth any of the hype surrounding it. I'm probably not going to come back to this one any time soon, which is not the best of comments to leave you on, but that's ultimately how I feel.

1. Excelsior
2. All Is Lost
3. Virginia's Dream*
7. Dance of the Lilies
10. Excelsior and the All Day Man*
11. Amen

Junkie Score: 64
Buy or Stream? Stream

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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Lone Survivor Score Review

Title: Lone Survivor

Composer/s: Explosions in the Sky, Steve Jablonsky

Length: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Track Count: 20 tracks

Year of Release: 2013

Hello, once again everyone! This time I'm back with a review to a highly anticipated score; Lone Survivor, by Explosions in the Sky and Steve Jablonsky. I saw the film this morning, and it was pretty damn good. Now, the score! I'm not going to waste anymore time with introductions, so lets get into it!

Lone Survivor is, for the most part, a very atmospheric score. Certainly the first half at least. It's slightly reminiscent of Johan Johannsson's Prisoners score, and to be honest, that is certainly not a compliment! We do have a few pieces full of atmospheric music that do work, such as Seal Credo / Landing, which has a few catchy, decent riffs mixed in to the piece. As well as that, Waking Up, the second piece on the score, is also a fairly good piece. It sets up the tone and mood of the rest of the score quite effectively, so for that it earns close to top marks. For the most part though, the first half is quite irritating and doesn't do much good for my ears, unfortunately. 

The second half of this score, though, manages to pick up and culminate in a very good ending. The show starts at track 10 with Murphy's Ridge, my favourite piece on the score. It's full of powerful, intense action music, and after watching the film, it really has me thinking back to the emotional fights that took place. Not a bad thing at all. The show continues into 47 Down, another very good piece, which kept me thoroughly entertained for a good while. We drop off in quality for a little bit before returning to form in A Storm Is Coming. From there, we have the self titled Lone Survivor, my second favourite piece on the score. It's emotional and really brings a lump to your throat. The credits piece, Never, Never, Never Give Up is also quite heartbreaking, and earned top marks. All in all, the final half of this score was quite effective in both the emotional and action areas. 

Overall, Lone Survivor is quite a good score. I'd say pay most attention to the final part of this score, and you should have a good time. It certainly begs for repeat listens, and I've already come back to certain pieces more than a few times. I think it was a good move to get both Explosions in the Sky and Steve Jablonsky in to work on this score. Jablonsky knows how to work with Peter Berg, the director of the film, so it was not a bad move for him to enter the fray. Overall, I did enjoy this score, but it could have done with less atmospheric, ear piercing music. 

2. Waking Up
4.Seal Credo / Landing
10. Murphy's Ridge*
11. 47 Down
17. A Storm Is Coming
18. Letter Received / Taliban Attacks*
19. Lone Survivor*
20. Never, Never, Never Give Up

Junkie Score: 68
Buy or stream? Stream

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Friday, 10 January 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Score Review

Title: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Composer/s: Howard Shore

Length: 2 hours, 9 minutes

Track Count: 29 tracks (Extended Edition) 

Year of Release: 2013

Why friends, it's finally that time! Howard Shore's score to the very anticipated film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a film I adored, has been released! Actually, it was released a couple of weeks ago; it's just that Blogger hates me, and decided that I wasn't aloud to release any reviews for a while. Well, now I can, so I bring to you the review to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Extended Edition score.

I'm going to begin with explaining my love for the rest of the Middle Earth scores. I recently decided to have a listen to Fellowship of the Ring, the extended edition of Return of the King, and An Unexpected Journey. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a decent version of The Two Towers on Spotify, so I decided to leave that out for now. What I found, is that all the scores are full of incredibly wonderful, elaborate music. My favourite score out of that 3 has to be Fellowship of the Ring, as it introduces us to the world of Middle Earth in spectacular fashion. An Unexpected Journey is, though, second to Fellowship, with it's large array of themes, and new and exciting music! I loved it, and it's one of my favourite scores from 2012. Now... Desolation of Smaug. I ordered the extended edition from Intrada, and am I disappointed in what Shore has given us? Partially, I must say. Desolation isn't as full of variety or excitement as An Unexpected Journey, and repeat listens are almost necessary to be able to fully take in what Shore has given. It's not all bad, though, so I'll get into what I liked and what I didn't.

I'm going to begin with the pieces and themes that I did really adore. The Lake-Town theme, which appears in both Protector of the Common Folk and Thrice Welcome, is one of my favourite themes from all of the music of Middle Earth. It's powerful, fun and ultimately, very simple. I can play it on my keyboard, for damn's sakes! It's an easy theme to whistle, and it'll stick in your head for days. The secondary theme for Tauriel, a very beautiful Elvish themed piece, has fortunately grown on me, since my first listen. This theme appears within Beyond The Forest, most prominently, which is one of my favourite pieces from the score. It's emotional, well composed and a joy to listen to. The theme to Beorn as well, which appears in the self-titled House of Beorn is also very good. For the most part, the music is still quite as exciting and dramatic as it always has been. Unfortunately though, a lot of this score seems, to me at least, to be filler.

The Quest For Erebor is the first piece on the score, and it's a bit of a letdown. It throws us into the thick of it a little too quickly, and whilst composed well, isn't that good a listen. Of course, it has the obligatory Hobbit theme, which I quite enjoy, but apart from that, it's quite dull. A lot of the score is like this. It feels, on the first few listens at least, like Shore is just trying to pound us over the head with depressing, dark music. I mean, seriously! We get it, Desolation of Smaug is full of more peril and danger than the previous film! He takes this to the extreme, and it can get quite irritating. Sure, we get some excitement in pieces such as Barrels out of Bond, one of my favourite pieces on the card. It still has that dark undertone to it, but at least it's got a bit of pace and some peaks. A lot of the score just stays slow and deep, and it gets a little boring after a while. 

Like I mentioned, we do have some excitement, here and there. When it does pop up, it's very good to listen to! Barrels out of Bond and The Forest River both have some wonderful music which really gets your heart pumping. Tauriel's main theme appears heavily in The Forest River, and it's wonderful! It never seems to stop, and in a score which has so many points at which it slows down and ceases to amaze, that's something. Most of the fast paced pieces occur within the beginning of the score, which makes sense, I guess. The film does slow down quite dramatically within the final hour, thanks to the Smaug conversations. Within the film, Smaug is certainly something to behold, but here, he's quite dull. His music is slow and repetitive, compared to so much of this score. Sure, it's grown on me every listen; but that's after 6 repeat listens. That's a little too many to find some good in the piece! 

The Desolation of Smaug certainly gets better after repeat listens, for sure. My first listen was incredibly dull, and I just couldn't find much good. The second and third listens were a lot of the same. It was my fourth listen, in which I paid a lot more attention, that I found some really good music lying within. Of course, I was still subjected to some painfully slow and uninteresting music which I just couldn't find any reason to like. But, luckily, this time, I had some good to pay attention to as well. It was a welcome contrast; all this really well composed, good music, and all this slow, boring brass blasting. It's better than all brass blasting, to be honest.

We do have pieces which I have mixed feelings about. The Nature of Evil is one of those. There are points in which the piece really picks up, and sounds quite evil. But, for the most part, the piece is just loud, constant brass which failed to impress me. Again, this occurs in The Hunters, a 9 minute piece. There are points at which Shore has excelled in making an exciting, dark action piece that enthralls me. There are points at which I got incredibly bored whilst listening. This is so common within this score, and it's quite irritating! 

Brass is certainly not a bad thing, if you use it in moderation, and well. Thrice Welcome, my favourite piece, has one of the best sets of music I've heard all year. When the brass section pick up and start going hard at the theme for Lake-Town, I'm in pure bliss! The whole piece is such a wonderful showcase on how to work a brass section, yet so much of the score has me pissed off at the trumpets and horns. What the hell happened?! Shore was concentrating half the time, and the rest, he was throwing sloppy music on the sheets? It's strange, certainly. 

Within this score, we also get some Ed Sheeran! I'm not a fan of the guy, but his voice certainly matches the overall dark and brooding feel of the rest of the score, so I think Peter Jackson, the director of the film and executive producer of the score, made a great decision bringing him in to work on the end credits song. His song, I See Fire, is on a lot of my playlists at this point in time, and I just can't stop listening to it. It really matches the Dwarves tone, which is quite the contrast from the Hobbits. It's a much more simple kind of sound. Ed Sheeran perfectly emulates this, and it works for the kind of song he envisioned and delivered. 

This score, in extended edition, has 29 tracks and lasts for a little over 2 hours. I understand, for that running time, that Shore would've certainly had a lot of problems. I can't write music that lasts over a minute or two, for crying out loud! Howard Shore, though, is a professional composer who has written music for a very long time, and coming from him, I don't think this stands up to what he did a year ago with An Unexpected Journey. It's disappointing, after all the anticipation I've gone through!

Howard Shore has created a dark and brooding score, that both pleases and angers me. There is some really awesome music lying within the covers of this score, that begs for repeat listens. My favourite cue from the score, Thrice Welcome, happens to have one of the sets of the year, for me. Yet, at the same time, constant brass hammering infuriated me to the point of which I actually hated listening to various parts of this score. A Liar And A Thief is a chief example of this. All in all, The Desolation of Smaug isn't necessarily a huge failure, and most fans of Howard Shore's scores for Middle Earth will adore this. Buy the extended edition and listen to this on surround sound like I did; I promise you, it improves the score vastly!

2. Wilderland
4. The House of Beorn
6. Flies and Spiders
7. The Woodland Realm
8. Feast of Starlight*
9. Barrels out of Bond*
10. The Forest River
11. Bard, A Man of Lake-Town
12. The High Fells
14. Protector of the Common Folk*
15. Thrice Welcome*
16. Girion, Lord of Dale
17. Durin's Folk
18. In The Shadow of The Mountain
23. Kingsfoil
27. My Armour Is Iron
29. Beyond The Forest*

Junkie Score (Extended Edition): 76
Buy or Stream? Buy

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Note 1: Before I go, I'd just like to point out how my scoring works as of now. I've recently changed the scoring system multiple times, and without any explanation. Junkie Score is more of a personal preference as of now, and not necessarily very mathematically correct. I didn't calculate any average, it's just how I saw the score overall. Highlights has returned, and it's for pieces with a score higher than 95. An asterisk implies that the piece is especially liked, and that it has a perfect 100. I hope this cleared up any queries.