Tag Archives: patrick doyle

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

jack-ryan

 

 

I must confess to something: before this film, I hadn’t seen any of the Jack Ryan-centric movies, meaning The Hunt for Red OctoberPatriot GamesClear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears, which is apparently a big deal. I own Patriot Games but haven’t gotten around to watching it, and The Hunt for Red October has been on my list for a while as well. Anyway, the point is that I had no established expectation for this character; I just knew that it was a reboot, and that it was the first Jack Ryan film to not be based on one of Tom Clancy’s original novels. My expectations weren’t too high, which I suppose is a good thing because I walked away moderately pleased.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (re?)introduces us to Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), a CIA analyst who has a past as a Marine but left due to severe injury. He is engaged to Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), a physician who helped him to recover following his accident. When Ryan discovers a discrepancy with bank accounts connected to Russian tycoon Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), a discrepancy that might endanger the economy of the United States, he flies to Moscow to get to the bottom of it, but he is nearly killed upon arrival, forcing him to resort to his military training and take care of business in a way atypical of his position as an analyst. Tensions rise as he comes into contact with Cherevin himself, is suspected of infidelity by his fiancé, and is joined by his supervisor, Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) in a race to stop Cherevin and save the US.

Chris Pine as Ryan was the best part of this movie. The backstory provided at the start of the film showing how he joined the Marines as a response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center gives us an emotional reason to invest in his decision, and his subsequent injury resulting from trying to save another Marine further solidifies that investment. He has a likable personality and does well in the action film setting thanks to his charisma and confidence. Kenneth Branagh both directs the film and plays Cherevin, and though I liked parts of his portrayal, it also seemed to me that his attempts at what I can best describe as “Russian stoicism” often seemed flat and uninteresting. There isn’t really anything to say about Kevin Costner except that he did an acceptable job without being stellar, as did Knightley as Ryan’s fiancée, though her American accent was inconsistent and, frankly, laughable.

My biggest complaint about the film – aside from the fact that the villain’s evil scheme was actually pretty confusing – is the abundance of overreactions from multiple characters throughout. At one point, Knightley’s character suspects Ryan of cheating on her with another woman because she finds a movie ticket stub in his pocket…sounds like cheating to me! She then flies to Russia like it’s not a big deal just to confront him on what she thinks is a business trip. This is most obvious example of what I’m talking about, but Cherevin and a couple of other minor characters have similar reactions for no reason at later points in the film.

Patrick Doyle’s score was actually pretty decent. I haven’t listened to it outside of the film itself, but what I heard in the film did an excellent job at propelling the action forward and building the tension/anxiety of the plot up. Doyle’s scores have been hit and miss for me in the past (well, more accurately, his score to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was a HUGE miss), but I was relatively pleased here.

Though I was a bit confused at time and irritated at others, this movie did a fairly decent job at keeping me interested and on the edge of my seat throughout. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit may have been my first venture into the world of Jack Ryan, and it may not have been an overwhelmingly positive one, but, to the film’s credit, it has piqued my interest in the character himself, so I am looking forward to looking backward at the previous films in this character’s history.

-Chad

Rating: 3 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language


Thor: The Dark World (2013)

thor the dark world

Though I enjoyed Marvel’s first Thor film (my review) well enough, I didn’t like it as much as I did the first Iron Man film or Captain America: The First Avenger and especially not as much as The Avengers (my review). That being said, the high quality of The Avengers and the altogether decent Iron Man 3 (my review) had me excited that Thor: The Dark World would be at least an improvement on its predecessor – and, thankfully, it is.

Thor: The Dark World opens with an introduction to the film’s villain, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), a Dark Elf set to destroy the universe with an evil substance called the Aether. We witness Odin’s father defeat Malekith and hide the Aether, but Malekith and other Dark Elves manage to escape in suspended animation. The film then picks up after the events of The Avengers, with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) being imprisoned for his crimes against Earth. Meanwhile, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Warriors Three (Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, and Tadanobu Asano), and Sif (Jaimie Alexander) are fighting to make peace in the Nine Realms. On Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), along with her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), is still searching for a way to make contact with Thor again after their last encounter. Her research leads her to the discovery of some sort of magic portal, through which she is accidentally teleported to another world, where she is infected by the Aether, awakening Malekith and threatening her life. Thor returns to Earth and seeks to find a way to save her life, eventually turning to Loki as his only hope for saving Jane, Asgard, and the universe itself.

Marvel has done an excellent job of casting people perfect for their roles, with the prime example being Tony Stark as Robert Downey, Jr. Robert Downey, Jr., as Tony Stark. Chris Hemsworth is no exception here, as he really falls into his stride and wields the god of thunder’s hammer perfectly. The return of Hiddleston as Loki is also a welcome addition to the film; Hiddleston’s ability to be simultaneously charming and sinister is put to good use as Thor turns to him for help…can he really be trusted? The character brings a couple of nice twists and plenty of humor (including one particular scene in which he jokingly morphs into a certain Captain who we all know and love), though I fear that the character almost turned into too much of a good thing, similarly to Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Now, fear not, he never fully crosses that line, but in true Loki fashion he toes the line carefully, with a few jokes becoming a bit annoying for me because they came all at once. Still, Loki’s presence here was overall a good thing, and it would have been a much less entertaining film without him. Part of the reason why the return of Loki is so satisfying is because it gives him a chance to be brother to Thor again. Thor doesn’t know whether or not he can trust his brother, which in one scene he reveals is hard for him to accept. The two were raised together, and it’s difficult for Thor to accept that the person who he spent so many years with has no good left in him. It’s an interesting dynamic that is explored pretty well, however briefly.

Other faces are back in varying capacities. At least a brief mention should be given to Idris Elba as Heimdall, who is simply lots of fun – and he even gets his moment to shine here! Natalie Portman as Jane does a better job here than she did in the first film…but I still don’t believe that she’s a scientist. Thankfully, her relationship with Thor is a bit more believable this time around, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still think she’s an awkward character. The role of her assistant, Darcy, played by Kat Dennings, contrasts with her role in the first film in the sense that I actually liked her here; rather than simply being the comedic relief for the film, she played a definitive part in defeating the villain in the end, and the moments in which she WAS comedic relief played off better this time around. I like that Stellan Skarsgård is back as Dr. Erik Selvig, though you could say that his role here has been switched with Darcy’s in the first film. You could make the argument that the silliness/eccentricity of the character here (he spends more than half the film not wearing pants) is a result from Loki spending too much time in his head during The Avengers, but the fact of the matter here is that Skarsgård would have been put to better use as someone who could convince us that the science in the film is actually believable, rather than using Jane as the throwaway scientist. Either way, he’s at least moderately entertaining here…just a bit of wasted potential. Anthony Hopkins returns as Odin, but he’s gone from bad father in the first film to bad king in this film, making decisions based less on good judgement and more on pride. He even calls Jane a goat…it just seems odd. Eccleston as Malekith makes an appropriately menacing villain, but there is little explanation as to why he is the way he is or any sort of reason for his actions. Again, it just seems like a wasted opportunity.

The visuals of the film are on the whole better than in the first film, which relied mostly on CGI and often looked pretty cartoony. The CGI that is used in TDW is on the whole much more tasteful and refined, but it otherwise relies more on actual sets rather than on a green screen, which I really appreciate. I also really admire the ties that it makes to The Avengers; like Iron Man 3, the implications of Loki’s war crimes on Earth and the effects that they had on our heroes are explored here, from Loki’s imprisonment to Selvig’s eccentricity to various other small examples. It just helps the film to feel a part of the greater universe that Marvel has compiled, and it’s done without making it seem like TDW relies on the events of The Avengers to make sense. 

Since I’m the music guy, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Brian Tyler’s score for the film. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed when I first learned that Patrick Doyle wouldn’t be returning to score the sequel, since I generally appreciated his work on the first film, but that disappointment has disappeared since listening to Tyler’s score in full. The energy that he also brought to Iron Man 3 is just as present here without feeling like a rehash, and, while his music is almost entirely his own creation, he doesn’t completely abandon the main theme from Doyle’s score, an act that I appreciate for continuity’s sake. The score is definitely worth picking up and listening to if you’re interested in those sorts of things!

This film leaves us with some interesting questions that I won’t spoil here, but just know that the future of Thor and friends should hopefully be a great ride. On the whole, Thor: The Dark World takes what was good about the first film and improves on it, and it also flips around much of what made the first film, shall we say, less than stellar, to make a film that feels fun, adventurous, and even weighted at times, all in the best of ways.

-Chad

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – Patrick Doyle

For a long time, I had a sort of self-imposed boycott on Patrick Doyle’s music. Why? Because I despise his score to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Why? Well, you’ll have to wait for a review of that one for the answer to that. The point is, I only purchased Doyle’s score to Rise of the Planet of the Apes because I had to admit to myself that, Goblet of Fire aside, he did a fantastic job with this film’s score.

*mild film spoilers*

The opening track of the album, “The Beginning”, is mysterious and fascinating; Caesar’s theme is heard in its beginning stages as a soft sort of ethereal vocal melody, but it doesn’t stay that way forever. By the end of the film, however, in the track “Caesar’s Home”, we hear the big, in-charge, brassy fanfare that his melody has grown into, showing his growth in terms of intelligence and leadership. This theme is also heard several times in-between these two tracks in just about every form imaginable: aggressive, emotional, haunting, etc.

In fact, there are a few tracks that are highly emotional, conveying what Caesar, with his…err…limited vocabulary, can not, tracks such as in “Who Am I?”, when Caesar questions whether he’s part of the family or just a household pet, and in “Visiting Time”, when Caesar decides that he doesn’t want to be either of those things.

Much of this score manages to be both aggressive and brooding which is fitting of the tone of the film. Throughout the film, we see Caesar’s thirst for justice for his fellow apes grow into discontent and eventually into a revolution against the human oppressors. This tone can be heard in tracks like “‘Caesing’ the Knife”, which features an aggressive sixteenth-note string motif, and in “Cookies”, in which Caesar begins taking command of the other apes in the facility.

Despite the fact that these emotionally violent tracks dominate the album, it is not without its beauty; tracks like the frivolous “Lofty Swing” and the soaring “Off You Go” bring a bit of balance and light to a dark and depressing (though fantastic) film.

My favorite track? The final track, “Caesar’s Home”, is a perfect mix of emotional melodies and the brassy theme for Caesar that I mentioned above. We hear the theme from the sweeping string buildup heard in the earlier track “Off You Go” that represents freedom, and the final French horn fanfare is permeating, managing to send a chill up my spine every single time I hear it.

Overall, Patrick Doyle’s score to Rise of the Planet of the Apes put me on the path to becoming a fan in spite of my reservations. His aggressive, often tribal, music blends in perfectly to a film that depends largely on the music to convey thoughts and emotion; after all, apes can’t talk (…ha), so the score often acts as dialogue and is very successful at it. Definitely worth a listen!

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

  1. “The Beginning” 2:48
  2. “Bright Eyes Escapes” 3:38
  3. “Lofty Swing” 1:36
  4. “Stealing the 112” 1:52
  5. “Muir Woods” 1:20
  6. “Off You Go” 2:17
  7. “Who Am I?” 2:21
  8. “Caesar Protects Charles” 3:58
  9. “The Primate Facility” 2:45
  10. “Dodge Hoses Caesar” 1:40
  11. “Rocket Attacks Caesar” 1:24
  12. “Visiting Time” 2:17
  13. “‘Caesing’ the Knife” 2:04
  14. “Buck is Released” 1:52
  15. “Charles Slips Away” 1:16
  16. “Cookies” 1:15
  17. “Inhaling the Virus” 2:45
  18. “Caesar’s Stand” 4:23
  19. “Gen-Sys Freedom” 4:57
  20. “Zoo Breakout” 2:41
  21. “Golden Gate Bridge” 5:21
  22. “The Apes Attack” 2:10
  23. “Caesar and Buck” 1:58
  24. “Caesar’s Home” 2:40

Total Length: app. 62 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad