Saturday, July 28, 2012

Favorite Movie Scores

One of the many things that make up a movie is the music. Music sets the tone for the scene and tells us, the audience, how we should feel at the current time. Should we feel happy? Sad? Anxious? Pumped up like we're going to kick someone's ass? More often than not, it's the musical score that answers these questions for us. Over the years, there have been many awesome movie scores written by some musical geniuses and today, I'm going to countdown my personal favorites. I must admit that music is not something that I'm as invested in the same way I'm invested in story or characters or visuals, so this list may seem really generic or cliche'd to some people. Though on the other hand, if someone like me is able to point out what's so great about them, then maybe they have only more than proved their worth and all the more deserve to be put on here. But I digress, these are my top ten favorite movie scores.

  1. Star Wars- Kind of a no brainer really, people always get excited when they see the big title across the screen and hear this score accompanying it. This score is so well known that even people who haven't seen the movie recognize this theme. The Imperial March theme is also a number that shouldn't be overlooked, it's the music that plays whenever we are about to be introduced to Darth Vader, one of the biggest badasses in all of film. This music has been so iconic that people have incorporated it into everyday life. I for example, have it on my phone as my ringtone for whenever my scheduling department calls me.
  2. Indiana Jones- there's no doubt about it, these movies were kickass, and they have a really upbeat and exciting score to go with it. This was actually the song that my high school's orchestra played as we were exiting our graduation ceremony, and man did that only get us pumped even more. We're done with high school, summer is on the horizon, and we are being treated to the Indiana Jones theme as we are leaving. What makes this theme so awesome are the moments when it is played during the movie. Normally it starts playing when Indy is picking himself up from the dust and getting ready to kick some ass, and that just makes the scene all that much more exciting.
  3. The Exorcist- Something that I have noticed about music is that when a score is meant to get people excited or freaked out, it is set at a really fast pace to get the audience pumped, and when it is meant to give a mysterious feel, like we don't know what's going to happen, it is usually pretty slow. The two best examples that I can think of are the scores for Halloween and The Shining. Halloween is a movie where the scares come from startles and things that make you scream and piss yourself. The Shining is all about finding out the mystery to the hotel and the scares come from stuff in the hotel playing with your mind. So, fittingly, Halloween has a very quickly paced piano piece to serve as it's main score and The Shining has a very slow prolonged horn sound playing over the credits. The Exorcist however, has a mysterious feel to it but is played at a really fast pace. How that works, I don't know, but when you listen to the music and pair it with the image of Max Von Sydow standing under the lampost, you get this feeling of "Whatever is about to happen, it's not going to be good. But damn it all! I have to find out!"The Exorcist is the ultimate example of a movie where the audience covers their eyes then peaks through their fingers, and the tubular bells number only helped gear us up for it.
  4. Inception- Okay to be honest, I'm really only talking about the foghorn portion of the score. You know what I'm talking about... BWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMM... BWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM... That part. I don't know what it is, it's just so cool. Though the rest of the music is pretty good. It is after all Hans Zimmer, which means a few things: It's going to be big, it's going to be intense, and it's going to have a really heavy impact on how the audience is feeling.
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean- much like the Indiana Jones theme, this just has a really fun adventure feel to it. This normally can be heard in the trailers for each of the movies and it just puts you in the swashbuckling mood. The score was written by Hans Zimmer who has really shown range in terms of style and pace. He has written some fun adventure themes like the POTC theme, and he's written the score for Gladiator which has both slow moments and action filled parts as well. But in recent years, he's become known for writing the music for most of Christopher Nolan's movies, especially the Dark Knight trilogy, which we'll get to in a little bit. His music just seems to dominate the scene and in some cases be just as memorable as the action.
  6. James Bond- I had a hard time deciding between this and Mission Impossible, but then I realized that one of these had Sean Connery while the other had Tom Cruise and the decision became easy. But apart from that, the James Bond theme just has this power of taking the simplest actions and making them feel really intense. If you watch a guy walking down a hallway, it doesn't seem all that intense or exciting. Add the 007 music to it, and you would think he is off to go kill somebody.
  7. 300- I'm mostly talking about the bit entitled "Returns a King" in which you hear loud drums, a large dramatic choir and just about everything else that can make you pumped up for something. In fact most of the music in this movie is that way, which is just plain badass especially when you consider that you have a movie that is about 2 hours of almost nothing but big battles, limb hacking, rousing speeches, shouting, and nearly naked women... And men for that matter, but let's be honest, we aren't focusing on that. A score like the one composed by Tyler Bates is almost required.
  8. Batman- When I started putting this list together, I was only thinking about adding the Danny Elfman theme, seeing as how that is a classic piece that we always associate with the Caped Crusader. I even mentioned that this is the one area where Burton trumped Nolan because his score had more of a Batman feel to it. But the more I think about it, the score for the Nolan movies is pretty epic too. I mentioned Hans Zimmer earlier and the music he wrote for Nolan's trilogy is nothing short of awesome. It's big, it's dramatic, and in this last movie, he added the nice touch of including the chanting from the prison into almost every number. Whenever we reach a scene where shit's about to get real, you can faintly hear the chanting of "Deshi Deshi Basara Basara". So yeah, that may feel pretty epic, but when I hear "Batman" Danny Elfman's theme is one of the first things that comes to mind.
  9. The Good The Bad and The Ugly- I know westerns aren't always the most popular when it comes to genres, but I have always thought that westerns were badass, and this movie has a badass score to it. When you hear it, you automatically think "Oh... it's on alright"
  10. Lord of the Rings/ Game of Thrones- I couldn't decide between these two so I just decided to have them share a spot. I know it's weird having a show featured on here, but when you listen to the music that plays during the credits for Game of Thrones, you'll see why I have it on here. Both of these books are renowned for the respect that they brought to the fantasy genre, and the people making the adaptations for the books knew that, so they both deservedly have big musical numbers that make you feel like your watching something fantasy related... but also very adult. I wouldn't put this music in a movie like Chronicles of Narnia or Eragon because those are mainly aimed at kids (and because the movie Eragon sucked balls, but that's neither here nor there). Both of these numbers have this big, epic vibe to it that only help you get sucked into what you're watching.
So those are my top 10 favorite movie scores. Keep in mind, this is all opinion based and holds no real truth whatsoever. If you think I forgot to include one... I don't care, I'm the one with the blog and the balls to voice my opinions. I do have a number of runner ups which I would have liked to include, but I decided to keep it to 10 because... Fuck it, I don't know. Here are the runners up:
  • Terminator
  • Back to the Future
  • Braveheart
  • Superman
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Duck Tales- Here's something fun to do, if you see somebody staring off into space like they are deep in thought or trying to memorize something, run up to them and yell "Duck Tales! Woo-hoo!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Movies that I like, but nobody else does

Alright guys, so a few weeks ago, I made a list of the movies that I hate with a passion, but everybody else likes. So now, I'm doing the reverse, I'm going to list the movies that I like but nobody else does. To be clear, this is not a list of movies that I think are particularly ingenious or amazing, I just think they get a little more hate than they deserve. In fact, I don't think I even own most of these movies. With that in mind, let's get started

  1. The Village- M. Night has become the staple image of shitty movies, and I would say that after movies like The Last Airbender and The Happening, he has more than earned it. However, people seem to say that his good streak ended when he made this movie, which I think is kind of unfair. There isn't anything all that amazing about it, but at the same time, there isn't really anything all that awful, the more I think about it. I remember the one thing that people hated was the twist. As with most M. Night movies, there is always a twist and some of them are quite awesome like in The Sixth Sense, and others are really lame like The Happening. While I won't ruin the twist for you here, I will say that it is actually one that I didn't call when I saw the movie. My only real problem is that they reveal it about 3/4 into the movie when I think it would have worked a lot more if it were worked into the ending. Other than that, I don't really have any problems with this movie.
  2. War of the Worlds- I was actually kind of surprised when I heard everybody say they hated this movie, because as somebody who read the book, I thought this was a well done adaptation. Like I said, this isn't a perfect movie, it has its problems, but it does have some nice touches. For example, I love the scene where they are hiding out in the basement with Tim Robbins, and you can see clearly that he is starting to loose it (if he hasn't already), and that is one of those things that I could see happening if an invasion like this were to take place. Don't get me wrong, the movie does have a number of stupid moments, but I at least like that it tried to take itself seriously. Maybe that's why people didn't like it, because there were so many silly moments amidst this serious tone, but personally, I'm giving them an A for effort.
  3. Quantum of Solace- Again, another movie that I was a little surprised to hear that so many people bashed, and it was mostly Bond fans. A number of Bond fans said that Quantum was the worst of the series, to which I sincerely and disrespectfully disagree, because Die Another Day is still out there. If that movie did not exist, then I would hear arguments for this being the worst 007 movie.
  4. The Machinist- This isn't a movie that nobody likes so much as it is a movie that nobody has seen. Which is a shame in my opinion because The Machinist is another prime example of how committed Christian Bale can be as an actor. Considering that he did this and then Batman Begins about a year later, it is shocking to see his shift in weight between the two movies. Now I have heard that some people gripe that this movie wasn't very original, and yeah I guess that's true, there isn't anything all that groundbreaking about it, it is your basic psychological thriller. But having said that, it isn't a halfbad one either.
  5. King Kong- The one gripe that I heard about this movie that just kind of boggled me was that this movie "was too Hollywood". Well no shit this movie is going to be really Hollywood. It is a remake of a movie that was made in the 30's, and they were trying to be as faithful to the original as possible. I do agree that the movie is a lot longer than it needs to be, but it's still a well made movie.
  6. Robin Hood- This was a movie that I liked when I saw it in theaters, and then I bought the DVD, and then I realized that this movie had quite a few problems. However, I do appreciate that they were trying to make a Robin Hood movie that wasn't so tongue-in-cheek and had actors that were consistent with their accents and didn't call it quits half way through (looking at you, Costner). I like the fact that they were trying to give us a serious version of the Robin Hood story. And I think that is what people didn't like about it, the fact that this movie tried to be so serious, when we are used to Robin Hood movies just being fun and action packed. I have heard quite a few people say that this movie is just insanely boring, and yeah I do agree with that, but I have never had a problem with movies that were slowly paced. The few things that I will criticize this movie for is that I think they may have focused on some of the wrong characters (the Sheriff of Nottingham is kind of a throwaway character) and I think Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett would have been better suited for their roles if this were made roughly ten years ago. Overall, this is a movie that I give them an A for effort
  7. Kingdom of Heaven- What I have to say is very similar to what I said about War of the Worlds and Robin Hood. I can definitely name what went wrong with this movie, and it had nothing to do with the writing or Ridley Scott's directing. There was a huge chunk of footage edited out of this movie that really shouldn't have been, and had it remained, the movie would have flowed a lot better and not felt so tedious and clunky. This was also a movie that had way too much studio intervention and would have been much better if they had stayed out. I also remember it being advertised as some big crusade medieval war movie when in reality, it was a movie taking a look at the conflict between religions and cultures. I've heard that there is a DVD out there with all of that footage added back in, but I have yet to get my hands on it.
  8. The Book of Eli- I would like to emphasize that none of the movies here are superb, not by a long shot, but this movie in particular has a few things that I like. For one thing, it has a lot of cool action and gun fights in it. And the other thing that I love about this movie is that we finally get to see Gary Oldman play the villain, and man does he play a good villain in this movie. He steals every scene that he is in. I will admit that this movie is really preachy and it could have done without that, but otherwise, it's okay. Not terrible.
  9. J. Edgar- Actually, I think J. Edgar may have been one of the first reviews I ever wrote on here, if not the first. I remember saying that it was panned by critics which I didn't understand. It's a good movie, the acting is good and I like the way it serves as a sort of "Before and After" story with the way it jumps around between the time that Edgar is a young man barely building his career in the bureau to the powerful figure that he became and how it affected him and the people around him. Much like Robin Hood and KIngdom of Heaven however, it does tend to drag a little bit.
  10. Shrek 2- Again, I was a little taken aback when I heard the number of people that hated this movie. The third and fourth one I can understand, but the second one? I actually think that from a comedic stand point, this is better than the first one. The first movie had a good story, it had a good message and while I wouldn't have liked it as much if I had seen it now as opposed to when I was 9, I still think it's a good movie. It had its funny moments, but Shrek 2 just had me laughing my ass off at some scenes. I love Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots, I love how they turned Fiona's hometown into like a medieval era meets Hollywood, to the point that each of the princesses have their names on their castles the same way that celebrities have theirs. I love a lot of the jokes that you don't notice the first time round (Tom Waits having a cameo as Captain Hook and having two Starbucks across the street from each other being two examples). What can I say? From a comedic stand point, I think Shrek 2 is the superior of the two.