The Year in Review: The Best Scores of 2014

Marco Beltrami and the SNOWPIERCER soundtrack | ©2014 Varese Sarabande Records

THE BEST SCORES OF 2014 AUTOMATA (Zacarias M. de la Riva / Movie Score Media) Scores like A.I. and I, ROBOT have portrayed automatons as having infinitely more soul than their human creators, a purity of electronic spirit that makes them closer to God than any flesh and blood creation. No score has religiously captured that spiritual ghost in the machine with the beautiful, beatific quality of Zacarias M. de la Riva, whose transcendent use of the chorus, and the anguished, spare strings of homo sapien despair merge for a moving requiem to the human race, while signaling the birth […]Read On »

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CD Review: MALEFICENT soundtrack

MALEFICENT soundtrack | ©2014 Walt Disney Records

Genre films have always held a rewarding spell for James Newton Howard, an astonishingly adept, and prolific composer who from his first supernatural score to 1990s “Flatliners” has taken to the thematic majesty of a chorally-powered, symphonic orchestra to both horrifically dark and soaringly heroic effect – both emotional ends of which meet like never before in his magnificent MALIFICENT. For one of the best villain apologist fantasies in many a moon, Howard becomes a sorcerer’s apprentice as he unleashes Disney’s most infamous she-devil in all of her unexpectedly moving might. While he’s accompanied lost civilizations (ATLANTIS), talking thunder lizards […]Read On »

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CD Review: WYATT EARP: LIMITED EDITION soundtrack

WYATT EARP: LIMITED EDITION soundtrack | ©2013 La La Land Records

Sure, 1993’s TOMBSTONE may have smoked 1994’s WYATT EARP at the box office O.K. Corral, a place where near-simultaneous movies with same subject matter are forced to shoot it out – the spoils usually afforded to the first picture into Dodge City. In this case, TOMBSTONE certainly had it over EARP in terms of length and enjoyability. And its terrific score by SILVERADO‘s Bruce Broughton was certainly a gunslinger to be reckoned with, even more ironically that it was Lawrence Kasdan’s western that truly impacted his composing career. But now with La La Land revealing the epic scope of James […]Read On »

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CD review: AFTER EARTH soundtrack

AFTER EARTH soundtrack | ©2013 Sony Music

They may have started off with the THE SIXTH SENSE. But with one godawful M. Night Shyamalan movie after the next, the one thing you can be assured of is a very good score by his musical enabler James Newton Howard. His scoring always manages to make the absurdity that the director’s fallen into just a bit less goofy, whether it’s using solo violins to embody killer planets for THE HAPPENING or LADY IN THE WATER‘s rapturously symphonic fairy tale. While there’s no surprise that Howard has risen to the challenge with AFTER EARTH, it’s no small help to his […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE BOURNE LEGACY soundtrack

THE BOURNE LEGACY soundtrack | ©2012 Varese Sarabande Records

James Newton Howard takes the baton from John Powell to run a more straightforward, beat-driven marathon. In much the same way that new writer-director Tony Gilroy has thankfully wiped out Paul Greengrass’ crazy-cam movement, Howard’s keeps the ethnic, thematic rhythms of Powell’s three previous scores to a minimum to make his LEGACY to BOURNE‘s seminal action sound a combo between that composer’s lean, mean fighting machine and his own breathless, powerhouse suspense for another guy on the run he scored called THE FUGITIVE. That Oscar nominated touch is a bit more hipped up here, and with significantly less orchestra, which […]Read On »

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CD Review: GREEN LANTERN original soundtrack

GREEN LANTERN soundtrack | ©2011 Watertower Music

Not only does this summer stand as having the some of the strongest superhero movies in memory row, but also for having two of those pictures feature characters who were likely voted most impossible to pull off for live action. First there was the mystical might of the Marvel god THOR, whose Asgardian grandeur was impressively hammered in by Patrick Doyle with a symphonic/ percussive score that virtually rebooted Doyle’s old-school orchestral sound to new levels of young Hollywood hipness. Then in the DC corner, there’s the GREEN LANTERN, Earth’s recruit to a legion of space cops who make the […]Read On »

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CD Review: GNOMEO AND JULIET soundtrack

Gnomeo and Juliet soundtrack | ©2011 Walt Disney Records

There might not be a kitschier combination than the pairing of garden gnomes and Elton John, or in the case of GNOMEO AND JULIET, a more unexpectedly winning one. For when you add up the soothing, soulful sound of the 70’s pop-rock icon with the orchestral bells and whistles that composer James Newton Howard is duty-bound to deliver for the plaster faerie figures, you end up with a musical confection only slightly less eccentric than the classic song mash-ups of MOULIN ROUGE– made far less maddening here by the fact that it’s only Elton John’s immortal tunes that are being […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE TOURIST soundtrack

THE TOURIST soundtrack | ©2010 Varese Sarabande Records

Forget Johnny Depp. No man is proving to be a more reliable companion to Angelina Jolie’s mysterious allure like James Newton Howard, who turns in his second terrific score for the actress after this year’s SALT. While there’s a surfeit of that film’s ballsy spy action here, THE TOURIST is mostly plying the same kind of luxurious, old-world waters that Henry Mancini and John Barry did when movies like CHARADE and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE were the height of escapist fashion- a throwback appeal that THE TOURIST pulls off with panache. Most of this music is the elegant equivalent of […]Read On »

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