Dinosaur

Composed by: James Newton Howard

Towards the tail-end of its Renaissance era, Disney released an ambitious fully CGI dinosaur film simply titled Dinosaur. Visually the film is great, but the story and characters are so clichéd and predictable that it becomes a surprisingly forgettable experience. It’s telling that the best part of the movie is the first five or so minutes, when there is no dialogue. The plot itself concerns an orphaned Iguanodon named Aladar who is raised by lemurs. Displaced by the meteor that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs, he teaches a herd of migrating herbivores on how to work as a team. One of the positives is James Newton Howard’s score, one of the best of his career. Howard had a brief tenure as a lead composer for Disney as it shifted its animation department towards non-musical action-adventure films. While he does not have the songs to make his scores iconic as, say, Beauty and Beast or Lion King, I have to say that the actual instrumental scores are generally superior to Alan Menken’s. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: The Dark Knight

Composed by: Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight is still considered by many to be not just the greatest Batman movie but the greatest superhero movie of all time. For me the film does live up to the hype, and was certainly better than Batman Begins with stronger villains (especially the deceased Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker), clearer action scenes, a heavily intense story, and great performances by Gary Oldman as James Gordon and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent.

One area that did not  necessarily improve from Batman Begins is the music. Once again collaborating with James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer and Media Ventures was now in even more control, with Howard only rarely showing his style. When deciding who would get what of the two new main character themes (Joker and Harvey Dent/Two-Face), Zimmer got the big main villain. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Batman Begins

Composed by: Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard

Eight years after the disastrous Batman and Robin, Warner Brothers released the Christopher Nolan-directed reboot of the Batman franchise: Batman Begins. Batman Begins successfully returned the character to his darker roots. The new film universe was also much more gritty and realistic, with no neon lights or wacky over-acting villains. The best thing the reboot did was make Commissioner Gordon (played wonderfully by Gary Oldman) an important character. The movie does have its flaws, such as a weak third act and a couple moments of pretentious dialogue, but I think it captures the Batman of the last thirty years perfectly. Continue reading