Top Film Score Composers

If any of you read my Avengers Infinity War review, I promised a blog post on my favourite composers who produce music for movies. Now these may not necessarily be the world’s best but they are the composers that I listen to the most (yes, I am one of these people who listens to movie scores when I am working). I would also like to point out that I don’t know a lot about sound within cinema so please don’t expect me to use technical terms throughout this post.  So in no particular order, here are my top music composers, known for working in film.

Hans Zimmer:

hans zimmer

The German film score composer and record producer is definitely one of the most talented sound workers I have listed to during films. His use of timing and ability to make any scene dramatic and memorable is a spectacle to behold. Everything he has created in my opinion, has created tension and enhanced the cinematic experiences of the film he has worked on. From the representation of time passing within Dunkirk to the fear of space within Interstellar, leave it to Hans to keep us on the edge of our seats. As a friend of the Incredible Christopher Nolan, a director named within my Top Directors (list :My favourite directors of all time.),there is no wonder that he has been given a large number of opportunities to immerse us in some dark and exciting universes. His music really has defined epic! With film such as, Inception, Lion King, Interstellar, Dunkirk, The Dark Knight, The Holiday and Pirates of The Caribbean, there is no wonder that Hans Zimmer is a common name within the households of movie fans.

John Williams:

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The American composer, conductor, and pianist is a name that everyone knows, or at least knows some of his work. Any great soundtrack you know, has probably been composed by Williams. I think If I didn’t include him in my list, you would think I was mad. For me, his music creates the movies and will add nostalgia to your cinematic experiences. Who hasn’t seen a picture of a dinosaur and hummed the Jurassic Park theme or crept up on someone whilst singing those infamous two notes ‘Du Dun Du Dun’? Basically, if the film was by Spielberg, the music was by John Williams. I think that the success of a lot of these films can definitely be to do with the sound scores. He is responsible for the well known themes from film such as : Star Wars, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Superman, E.T, Harry Potter, Schindler’s List, Indiana Jones, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse and Home Alone. That really is an impressive list!

Danny Elfman:

2017 BMI Film, TV And Visual Media Awards - Arrivals

The American composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer, is a name that may be unknown the the regular movie goer. However, If you have watched any Tim Burton film, chances are, you have heard some of Elfman’s Music. He is a master of twisted fantasy, brilliant enough to bring the weird and wonderful mind of Burton (another one of my top directors) to life through music. He has been responsible for creating the music from some of my all time favourite movies so he holds a special place on this list. He can send you down the rabbit hole or into the land of the dead. It is safe to say that he has a type cast but when you are that talented at fantasy, might as well stick to it. His films include: Alice in Wonderland, Beetlejuice, Batman, The Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Big Fish , Mars Attacks and Justice League. Yes I know, 9/10 of them were Tim Burton.

James Newton Howard:

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is an American composer, conductor, music producer and musician. He is a recent addition to my favourites thanks to my obsession with the Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them soundtrack. Listening to just the sound score alone put me in the immersive universe of witchcraft and wizardry, showing how great Howard is as his job. With plenty of fantasy films under his belt, much like Elfman, there is no wonder that he can add spectacle to the genre. His films include: The Hunger Games, The Sixth Sense, Batman, I am Legend, Signs and King Kong. Like all great composers, his music takes you through a wonderful journey. His work with the Harry Potter spin off, showed awe inspiring magic, incorporating elements from John Williams and brought to life the mischievous characteristics of the beast. His music doesn’t just create a world but the characters within.

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Jerry Goldsmith: The Omen, Star Trek, Alien, Gremlins, Basic Instinct, Mulan, Rambo.

James Horner: Titanic, Avatar, Aliens, Braveheart, Jumanji.

Thomas Newman: Finding Nemo, The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, The Green Mile, A series of Unfortunate Events.

Alan Silvestri: The Avengers, Polar Express, Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, A Night at The Museum.

 

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Avengers Infinity War (Anthony Russo, Joe Russo,2018)

The moment we have all been waiting for is finally here! Every Marvel fan has had one movie on their mind, Avengers Infinity War. One of the biggest events in cinematic history and certainly for me, was released late last month and the box office has blown up. I was not surprised to hear the record breaking number of over $800 Million, with the number still climbing. But it is actually as good as everyone thinks?

infinity war poster

Plot: The ultimate superhero team up, with your favorite Marvel characters forming a super band to defeat Thanos before he can collect all the infinity stones and destroy half the universe.

 

Trailer:

 

Review: As Thanos has demanded our silence (not like any should listen to that monster), I will review this film without any spoilers so whether you have or haven’t watched this film, I promise a spoiler free environment. To be fair though, I have waited long enough to post this review so you seriously should have seen it….. With that being said, let’s get into it.

A film lasting 2 hours and 30 mins, runs the risk of dragging out the action in hopes to increase the impact of the end scenes. This time is usually for character development. However, everyone knows these superheros well enough, so how does Infinity War spend this time? Simple, action, action and even more action. The entire film is packed with badass scenes from the outset and throughout. There are hardly any slow parts and when there is, it’s like 5 minutes of important dialogue. The film runs smoothly and is well paced, with frequent cutting between all of our main characters so you aren’t left wondering about what anyone is up to. On the other hand, not all the characters actually meet each other because of the large number of people and the way the narrative played out. We missed out on some interactions that we definitely would have love to have seen.  There is always next time eh? I mean at least Peter and Peter got to meet.

avengers-infinity-war

Despite the large cast, the film works really well and they all have a big part in the film. BUT, some do have larger parts than others, something to be expected from a film with this many characters. The pressure definitely was on for actors to shine and they did not disappoint. Tom Holland in particular did a fantastic job considering he wasn’t allowed to read the script. Hence, why THAT SCENE was improvised. Just give the boy an oscar for those few memorable lines!
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This brilliant pacing is reinforced through a kickass sound score. You can’t have an fight scene without some epic background music now can you? These tracks are definitely going to be added to my work out playlist. (I am hoping to post something about my favourite movie composers, so keep an eye out for that!) The traditional Avengers score is played throughout to give you that excited feel good mood. However, when any thing emotional happens (you know what scene I am not about) the score will push you to tears. Basically, the music really does its job.

One thing I did appreciate about the film was the way is strayed away from the usual Marvel movie trope ‘ lack of consequences’. Normally within these films, everyone lives, in particular, the main character. However, this time, nobody is safe. Hence why many people, including myself had their heart ripped out. I was still sobbing when I got home from the cinema! Now we need to wait an entire year for part 2.  That being said, it is possible to wait that long ,for one, Infinity War Part 1 was a complete film and ended at a place that can be seen as an official ending, unlike other 2 part films, such as Hunger Games. In addition, judging by the way it ended, you can kind of guess what will happen in Part 2 or at least how it will end. This removes the idea of consequences for their actions. We just need to wait a year to see how the second part will get to this conclusion.

infinity war meme

 

As I said previously, Infinity War will destroy you. Luckily, Marvel gives us a few laugh out loud moments to ease the pain they will cause you. Comic relief really is a life saver. There was one particular joke delivered by Drax that made everyone crack up. It was nice to hear joy from that audience for a while. Let me know in the comments, your favourite line in the movie.

 

As a proper Marvel fan girl, I have decided to leave the discussion of the end credit scene till last. As we are all whipped to the studios every whim, we will sit through 15 minutes of end credits just for 15 seconds of extra footage. However, there are always a few amatures who leave before the credits are over. Normally, this would not affect how the film plays out but this time was different. We are given a lot more information in a very short period of time. Hence, why you should suck it up for an extra 15 mins.

Overall, I loved infinity war but I will never forgive Marvel for what they have put my favorite characters and myself through. It is an epic movie that pulled off the crossover of a lifetime. To answer the question ‘it is actually as good as everyone thinks?’ The answer is, absolutely.  

 

Top Anticipated Release for May 2018

Firstly, I would like to personally thank Marvel for giving us two films in the space of two months.  Thanks you Stan Lee, thank you so much. Hopefully, I will have a Avengers Infinity War review for you next week!

After the success of Skull PoopL, Marvel knew that they could trust Ryan Reynolds and the Merc with a mouth to make them a few million dollars. Hence, the sequal arriving in cinemas May 2018. With the traditional origin story now out of the way, we are given Cable.  Cable is a man/ machine (so a terminator?) that gives Dead Pool, a run for his money. Luckily, this shrivelled avocado of a man can not die so we get to see all the blood and guts we can handle, without loosing the beloved anti-hero. The film is basically about these two fighting it out over a kid… like a divorce but with superpowers. Still, I can’t wait. I will be interested to see how Dead pool keeps up the energy created by the first or if they “kill it at two”.

Check out the trailer below:

 

Tips for writing a TV/ film review blog!

As the only writer for the movie/TV review blog ‘How Have you not seen this’ for over 3 years now, I have picked up a few tips on writing reviews and what works best for me. Nevertheless, I do not get paid to write these reviews and everything is written in my spare time, as one of my main hobbies. Even though I work in the media industry, I am not a journalist, as anyone who has a quick glance at my website can tell. So basically… don’t take my word as gospel. Without further ado, here are my top tips on writing movie reviews.

 

Tone of voice/ point of view:

tone of voice

 

  • Have a consistent tone of voice. Your readers should be able to identify that the blog is written by you so the tone you use should be consistent throughout every post. This can be anything from chatty to serious, rude to light-hearted. I have chosen the colloquial approach, like I am having a chat with my readers about a film.

 

  • Try to encourage conversation, you are stating the pros and cons of a film or show and people will either agree or disagree with your point of view. Try to provide them a way to really engage with what you have written, to encourage a fan following. This can be through a comment section or links to your social media.

 

  • Have a clear point of view on what you are reviewing and work from there. Understand what angle you are writing from. Did you love it? Did you hate it? Even though you may have a strong opinion on if the film was good or not, try to include arguments from both side, to avoid being too biased and give a professional review.

 

Content:

content concept

  • Start by splitting your review into sections. Your reviews should have a clear structure. Try to then use this structure within all of your reviews. This can include Introduction, plot, trailer and then main review. The main reviews should then split into additional sections. This can include plot, music, actors etc. Try to focus on one point at a time and weigh up the pros and cons of that feature within the film. For example, why the music was good and why the music was bad.

 

  • Including a for and against. You are reviewing a film so people want to know what was good about it and what was bad. You don’t need to have a point for every feature you discuss but try to balance it out.

 

  • Include content your readers will be interested in. Try to post about what your readers are particularly interested in. My blog, for example, is aimed at movie buffs who understand film terminology and will want to know about features, such as camera techniques and use of sound and plot development. These usually have a key interest in recently released or ongoing films/ TV shows. Therefore, my content mainly focuses on these elements, meeting the needs of my audience.

 

  • Spelling and Grammar. I know that when it comes to spelling and grammar, I am awful. I use to be much worse but writing this blog has actually improved my writing skills. When writing anything online, it is common knowledge that people on the internet will pick up on bad spelling and grammar so the idea is not to give them this material.   Try to proof read everything you post beforehand and use spell check!

 

  • Conclude your review. Have a quick summary to give your audience your overall opinion on the film. Should they watch it? What would you rate it out of 10?

 

  • Spoiler warnings. Some people may have not seen what you are reviewing so either, post spoiler warnings or try to be as spoiler free as possible.

 

Layout/ design:

design

 

  • Have a consistent and professional layout. You want to look professional so ensure everything is neat before posting. It is a good idea to preview the blog before postings, to ensure everything is how it should be.

 

  • Be visual. You are showcasing a movie or TV show so include still and clips (be careful of copyright).

 

  • Let people know where the important information is. If you have split your reviews into section, then include headings or bold text. Try to use Italics for film titles etc.

 

Research:

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  • Know what you are talking about. Watch the film or show recently. In addition, try to make a few notes during or after so you know the points you want to include.

 

  • Research the film a little. Find out who plays who, the director and the release date. These are good bits of information to include. You could also release any news and behind the scenes knowledge to try and backup your arguments. You want to come across as knowledgeable on the subject.

 

Extra:

fun

 

  • Try to post regularly. Try to post on a schedule and stick to it. This keeps readers happy and will motivate you, if you have a deadline. As writing reviews is a hobby for me and I have a very busy work life, I try to post once a week, on Mondays or Tuesdays. However, find a schedule that works for you.

 

  • Have fun.  Post about a film or show that you are interested in.

 

Ghost Stories (Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman,2018)

After years of America hogging the horror genre, the British have finally attempted to take back the film type and add a darker colder twist. The weather is wet all the time, the people are miserable and has an odd sense of humour…defo a British horror. The gloomy atmosphere is perfect for a supernatural horror but how well did it pay off?

ghost stories

Plot: Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman), known for debunking psychics and anything paranormal is asked to investigate 3 unsolvable ghost Stories.

Trailer:

Review: As I have mentioned, the horror film sets itself as British very well, through known British actors and the overall aesthetic of the movie. As one of the few British horror films, especially within the past 5 years, there is a lot of pressure on the success. Everyone knows that American horror films can be crap and still earn a boat load of cash at the box office but the Brits have a bit more pressure. Any good horror should rely on a mixture of actual horror and a strong plot or if it’s a modern horror… just a hundred jump scares.  A few great actors including Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther and Paul Whitehouse did take the film to new highs and removed the crap created by the false scares.

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Ghost stories opens in a documentary style show, to encourage the investigative journalism element to the film. Each of the three stories Phillip aims to debunk are considered ‘scarier than the last’, according to the marketing material. However, as someone who is hard to scare, I found that the best was actually the first horror story but this one is up to the preference of the viewer. Each of the three stories, in particular the first, is great at showing suspense. It doesn’t just open with a glint at the killer or a bit of scare to keep the audience engaged but instead, the fear factor is dragged out. The film was more ‘Alien’ than ‘Scream’. This gives the viewer a bit of time to settle in before they are given a genuine scare. Apart from suspense, the horror is created through lighting, use of on screen space, character design and like most unoriginal horrors, jumps scares. One fault I would give the film is the director chucking in a few red herrings. I mean it sticks to the conventions but boy, at what cost. In some cases, it’s not just the story itself but the way it is told by those who experienced the event. Story 2 is particularly good at achieving this.

ghost storeis 3

The film however, may be good at telling a horror story but every story needs a good conclusion. Each of these little tales of terrors ends at the climax, without showing what actually happens once these characters encountered the monster. I mean, we know they survive as they are telling the story but how did they survive? However, this little plot mishap could be a part of the films charm.

Like any good horror and well any good drama or thriller, there is a unique and unexpected plot twist you just couldn’t predict. It worked in the way that no one could have thought that the film would actually end like that but the plot twist was rather confusing and for me and many others, removes the affect and horror of the film. Honestly, it got weird quick and left me dumbfounded.  They do drop subtle hints throughout, which is clever but again, you would not have picked up on these hints.

ghost stories 2

Overall, for me the most of the film is decent, offering a good little horror film, a lot better than some of the crap Hollywood has been sprouting off. However, it didn’t live up to how it was shown in the marketing material. I felt that the trailers were misleading and I was not getting what I paid for. Nevertheless, this might have been done to keep the big plot twist a secret.

 

 

Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg,2018)

In film and Television lately, it is safe to say that Nostalgia is a recurring theme, thanks to shows such as Stranger Things and films like IT… basically anything with Finn Wolfhard. We are given the warm fuzzy feeling from reminiscing on better times. However, this is usually for people born in the 80’s. Ready Player One is no exception, but with a twist… it’s 80’s, 90’s and today. It is essentially pop culture the movie and has an Easter egg for everyone! This is the film we all need to feel young and excited again.

ready player one poster

Plot: In 2045 the world spends most of their days in the Oasis, a virtual reality world where you can see and do anything. The creator, upon his death, has promised control of the Oasis to anyone who finds the hidden Easter egg. The only way to find the egg is by first winning 3 keys. Wade Watts embarks on this journey with 4 others to find the keys before the corporations beat them to it.

Trailer:

Review: Starting at the basics, the plot itself is good, it’s carried out well and builds steadily throughout the 140 minutes (like any good plot should) but is not what makes the film fantastic. Fair enough, it is interesting enough to keep the audience engaged and follows the structure of a typical video game but the narrative alone is nothing compared to the spectacle of the film. It’s just obvious how the film would end. Steven Spielberg is known for creating big amazing movies with incredible production design and characters. This movie has definitely ensured this stereotype sticks. Good plot with incredible design… so far so good! Firstly, the Oasis is designed beautifully, the number of game worlds is good enough to please any nerd and the CGI is phenomenal. The attention to detail both in set and to the characters avatars should be putting this film into the next Oscar nominations. The mix of real world footage with these animated avatars is a sight to behold (the second key, all I’m saying). What I am getting at here is it’s visually stunning.  If you are a big fan of film design and game design this should definitely be at the top of your watch list.

character design ready player one

Now we have established that it’s a good looking film, let’s move on to the POP CULTURE. There is something for everyone from Minecraft (as pointed out by the excited boy behind me in the cinema) for the 12 year olds to horror and 80’s references for the older generations. You see everything from Harley Quinn to Chucky, from Hello Kitty to the Iron Giant. It really is a game of spot the character you recognise. As a film and game nerd I felt that the film covered a big range of interests, with a surprising focus on the horror genre but I am sure there were a few references that went underappreciated by the younger audience. I hope that the younger side of the desired 12PG audience haven’t watched the Shining. On the other hand, there are also a few references underappreciated by the older audience. However, the film recognises this flaw and takes the mick, when one of the characters doesn’t know the plot to the media product that they are in, putting themselves in danger by going near the scary thing. (I am really trying not to spoil anything here). This entire element to the film is really what makes the movie but I can’t help but think that the film would have lost a lot of brownie points if the film didn’t include these characters.  Despite the diversity of the avatars, the characters themselves are from a variety of ethnicities, genders and ages. This is always a factor I like to see within a film and is always something I will give film extra points for including. The more variety then the more people who can connect to the film.

iron giant

Within any film and I do mean any film, there is usually a love story. Ready Player One is no exception. Wade Tye Sheriden and Samantha (Olivia Cooke) share a romance that seems a little too forced and fast developed. This does affect the believability of the movie but yet again, this is about everyone living in a game by the year 2045. I’m not sure if our technology can develop that fast. By that time, the world has gotten to the point where we all live in shanty towns. A little trivia for you: The real world was filmed in Digbeth, Birmingham. This was where I went to university. As it was so close to my uni, a few of my friends worked on the set (including an ex). It was also fun to know that Birmingham, according to Spielberg, looks like a dystopian disaster city.

ready player one set

Overall, the film is a fantastic piece of cinema that fills everyone with nostalgia and is just great to look at. Where else can you see King Kong smashing up the DeLorean. If you don’t get that happy feeling at least once in the film, you have clearly been living under a rock.