The delay in me typing this up comes from the fact that there are still a few major films from 2013 that I have yet to see – American Hustle, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Wolf of Wall Street (though I’m thinking I won’t see the latter due to excessive sexual content). That being said, I wanted to go ahead and tackle what I have seen before too much of 2014 passes, so just know that, if I see these films and find them worthy of this list, I will update it and let you all know.
2013 was a pretty great year for me. I saw more films than ever before, largely due to my involvement in The MovieByte Podcast with my friend TJ. If I totaled everything correctly, I saw 40 new films this year in theaters, so this list is drawing from a pretty wide selection.
An important note: this is a list of favorite films, which may conflict with my ratings. My ratings are usually based on a combination of both quality and enjoyment, whereas this list will mostly be based on enjoyment with quality mixed in just a bit. Click on the titles to see my reviews for each film. With that said, let’s get started with number 10:
Honorable Mention – Thor: The Dark World
After the mediocre first Thor film, I was hoping for a much better second film, which we thankfully got in Thor: The Dark World. Chris Hemsworth is an excellent Thor, made better by the fact that we’re not establishing an origin anymore. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki continues to impress as well, this time as an ally, bringing an interesting twist to the character and allowing for a fun and occasionally potent brother-to-brother relationship. Brian Tyler’s score is just as fun as the movie itself, and Christopher Eccleston’s villain Malekith is appropriately menacing, if a bit vague in intention.
I love Disney films, especially musical ones, because they remind me of my childhood, when The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast (my review), and Aladdin were supreme. Frozen reminds me of those 1990s Disney movies, but this time with a nice twist at the end – which I won’t spoil for you. The voice cast is incredible here, namely Kristen Bell as Anna and Josh Gad as Olaf the Snowman, with Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” set to be a surefire nominee for Best Original Song at this year’s Academy Awards – and, I’ll call it now, it’ll win too. The animation is beautiful, the story is touching, and you’ll walk out whistling the songs, wanting to watch it again and again.
9. 12 Years a Slave
This film is difficult to rank because, while it’s certainly a 5-star film, it’s also difficult to watch. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Solomon Northup, a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery for twelve long years. The film covers his incredibly painful time spent on a plantation in Louisiana, where he meets good people, bad people, and fellow slaves who are also struggling for their lives. Director Steve McQueen doesn’t shy away from the harsh truths of slavery and how brutal the slave owners often were, making this film exceptionally powerful and a must-watch – if you can stomach it.
8. Ender’s Game
I read Orson Scott Card’s classic book in anticipation of this film, so it was fresh on my mind when I walked into the theater. As expected, the book is much better and much of the content in the film is watered down, but that doesn’t stop the film from being pretty excellent on its own. For the most part, it keeps the themes of morality and unnecessary violence intact, and Asa Butterfield as the eponymous Ender does a fantastic job of capturing the character, from his calm control in stressful situations to his intense emotional outbursts upon the realizations of what has happened to him. The visuals in this movie are gorgeous, with scenes from the book, such as the armies in the Battle Room, flying right off the page in a great way.
7. The Book Thief
I also read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief before seeing the film based on it, and many of my criticisms are the same as for Ender’s Game in regards to the watering down of content and such, but that doesn’t stop this film from being an emotional punch to the gut. Sophie Nélisse is outstanding as Liesel Meminger, as are her parents, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. The period setting of the film is well-done, and John Williams delivers as intimate and beautiful a score as ever. Bring a box of tissues for this one…maybe two.
6. Captain Phillips
In this film, Tom Hanks has the best performance of his life…for, what, the fifth time now? Man, he continues to prove that he’s one of the best actors out there. Captain Phillips tells the true story of how Somalian pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama but were thwarted by Captain Richard Phillips, who not only protected everyone on board with his actions but also offered himself as hostage to continue that protection. Barkhad Abdi plays the lead pirate, who isn’t portrayed as a bad guy but rather as a guy forced to do bad things due to unfortunate social circumstances. There isn’t a bad guy here, not really – at least, that’s not how the film portrays the pirates – but there is simply reality and suspense that rises from it. The long run-time never feels too long as you are caught up in the action from start to finish, and if Tom Hanks doesn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actor, it’ll only be because he lost it to Chiwetel Ejiofor.
5. Saving Mr. Banks
Emma Thompson shines in this historical film about the making of the 1964 Disney film, Mary Poppins, based on the book series by P. L. Travers. Thompson’s portrayal of the stubborn author is both quirky and humorous, but it’s also heartbreaking in her remembrance of moments in her childhood that inspired her books. Colin Farrell plays her father in these flashbacks, juxtaposing a happy-go-lucky father with a down-on-his-luck drunkard, giving us insight into Mary Poppins and the Banks family that I was not previously familiar with. Tom Hanks plays an admirable Walt Disney, even if his performance doesn’t convince me enough that I am watching Walt himself rather than Hanks playing him. Still, the charm of the movie as a whole as well as Thompson’s performance knock this film out of the park. (You should probably bring tissues to this one as well.)
I had a self-imposed boycott on Tom Cruise’s films for quite a long time, but since lifting it for 2011’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (my review) he has quickly become one of my favorite actors. His performance here is great, as is Andrea Riseborough’s performance as his partner, but it’s the themes and questions raised by the film that bring Oblivion so far to the top of my list. Themes of asking questions, seeking answers, and the thirst for knowledge vs. the fear of knowledge are brought to the forefront, and, for some reason, it really resonated with me. The script is smart, Tom Cruise is as great as ever, and the score by M83 is energetic and fun, in the same vein as Daft Punk’s score for TRON: Legacy (my review), which was directed by the same man, Joseph Kosinski. This film not only shows off Tom Cruise’s continuing capabilities as an action star, but his talents as a dramatic actor as well.
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
As far as book-to-film adaptations go, 2012’s The Hunger Games (my review) was one of the best I’d seen, but it still had problems. Director Gary Ross’ replacement by Francis Lawrence for the second film seemed worrying at first, but it seemed to pay off. Not only is Catching Fire a better film than the first one, but it’s also a better adaptation of its book counterpart, which is hard to believe. In fact, if I may be so bold, I think that I enjoyed the film more than the book, at least as far as the opening scenes involving the Victory Tour go, which I know is probably blasphemy. Jennifer Lawrence is surely one of the best actresses out there today as evidenced by her continued terrific performance as Katniss Everdeen. The stakes of this film are higher than in the first, and the character development is even better than the already-good character development of the first film. The shaky-cam is gone in favor of better choreographed action scenes, and, in fact, nearly every aspect of the first film is improved upon this time around. This is an excellent film whether you’ve read the books or not.
If you didn’t catch this film in theaters, I’m sorry. You missed out. Maybe they’ll bring it back for a few extra showings before the Academy Awards, in which case you should buy a ticket as soon as they’re available. Though this film is great all-around, from the performance of Sandra Bullock to the music by Steven Price to the brilliant visuals of space, the real thrill comes from the thrill of total immersion. You seem to experience everything that Bullock’s character experiences, from spinning around in the vacuum of space to the rush of being trapped in a shower of incoming deadly space debris. The theater experience makes an already-great film even better by involving the audience fully in the action and atmosphere – or lack thereof – of space.
1. The Way, Way Back
I love, love, love this film. Love it. I caught an early screening about a month before it reached theaters and subsequently paid to see it twice more. I purchased it on Blu-Ray the day it became available and have watched it three times more since then, and I have yet to tire of it. The Way, Way Back is a coming-of-age film about Duncan, played by Liam James, who is the most perfectly, believably awkward person I’ve ever seen onscreen, which is exactly how his character should be. The growth of his character throughout the film is equally fun and touching, contrasted by Steve Carell’s portrayal of Duncan’s awful stepfather, a role refreshingly atypical of Carell’s usual fare. However, the standout performance in this film is that of Sam Rockwell as Owen, a local waterpark owner who befriends Duncan and helps him to make his summer one of the best of his life. Rockwell brings many laugh-out-loud moments, but he also brings the most poignant moments of the film. The moral is great, and the ride is a great one. I don’t think I could possibly over-recommend this movie.
Well, there you have it. Do you agree or disagree with my list? What were your favorite films of 2013? Sound off in the comments – I’d love to hear your opinions.
Here’s to 2014 – another great year for movies!
Leave a comment | tags: 12 years a slave, academy award for best actor, academy award for best actress, academy award for best original song, Academy Awards, Aladdin, alfonso cuaron, american hustle, andrea riseborough, andrew wiggin, animation, anna, asa butterfield, barkhad abdi, battle room, Beauty and the Beast, best original song, brian tyler, captain phillips, captain richard phillips, catching fire, chiwetel ejiofor, chris hemsworth, christopher eccleston, colin farrell, daft punk, Disney, disney animation, elsa, emily watson, emma thompson, ender wiggin, ender's game, francis lawrence, frozen, gary ross, geoffrey rush, george clooney, gravity, her, idina menzel, inside llewyn davis, jennifer lawrence, John Williams, joseph kosinski, josh gad, josh hutcherson, katniss everdeen, kristen bell, let it go, liam james, liesel meminger, loki, m83, maersk alabama, malekith, markus zusak, Mary Poppins, maya rudolph, mission impossible, mission impossible: ghost protocol, moviebyte, musical, oblivion, olaf the snowman, orson scott card, Oscars, p. l. travers, peeta mellark, pl travers, richard phillips, sam rockwell, sandra bullock, saving mr. banks, slavery, solomon northup, Somalia, somalian pirates, sophie nélisse, steve carell, steve mcqueen, steven price, the book thief, The Hunger Games, the hunger games: catching fire, the lion king, the moviebyte podcast, the secret life of walter mitty, the way way back, the wolf of wall street, Thor, thor the dark world, tom cruise, tom hanks, tom hiddleston, top ten, top ten 2013, top ten films, top ten movies, travers goff, tron legacy, twelve years a slave, victory tour, walt disney | posted in Books, Entertainment, Film, Film Reviews, Movies, Music, Scores
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.
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
MPAA: PG-13 – for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content
1 Comment | tags: brian tyler, Captain America, Captain America: The First Avenger, chris hemsworth, christopher eccleston, darcy lewis, dark elf, erik selvig, heimdall, idris elba, Iron Man, iron man 3, Jack Sparrow, jaimie alexander, jane foster, Johnny Depp, kat dennings, loki, malekith, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, mcu, natalie portman, nine realms, patrick doyle, Pirates of the Caribbean, ray stevenson, rdj, robert downey jr, sif, Stellan Skarsgård, tadanobu asano, The Avengers, Thor, thor the dark world, tom hiddleston, Tony Stark, zachary levi | posted in 4, Entertainment, Film, Film Reviews, Movies, Music, Scores
When I first saw the trailer for this film over the summer, I thought it was a strange pairing…Ron Howard and race cars? I mean, this is the same guy who directed Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and The Da Vinci Code – none of which are even remotely related to the idea of racing. I was initially skeptical, but I withheld judgement, and I actually started to become excited for the film the closer it got to release. I’m by no means a fan of racing, but the trailers made it look to be more of a drama than anything, which intrigued me. After all, aren’t the best sports films less about sports and more about characters (i.e. Moneyball, The Sandlot, Rocky, etc.)? Thankfully, the trailers didn’t false advertise – Rush is definitely a drama, and an inspiring one at that.
Rush is based on the true story of the rivalry between Formula One drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) in the 1970s. Both actors give compelling performances, and the contrast between the two of them and what pushes them to do their best is fantastic. Lauda’s “drive,” if you will, is love for his wife and for the sport itself, whereas Hunt’s drive is the thirst for fame and recognition. Lauda has an abrasive personality, and Hunt is well-liked, but despite these character differences it’s hard to not root for both drivers throughout the film; it’s almost as if you would have been disappointed by the outcome no matter who had won. It’s the conviction that Brühl and Hemsworth bring the roles that make both characters so lovable in their own way. I should also mention that at no point in the film did I think to myself, “wow, Thor looks so weird driving a race car!” So that’s a plus for Hemsworth.
The emotional stakes of the film are also high; the car crash that nearly takes Lauda’s life is painful to watch, and Lauda’s subsequent difficult recovery is heart-wrenching, especially as we watch him try to put on his racing helmet for the first time after the crash. Olivia Wilde briefly appears in the film as Hunt’s wife Suzy Miller, but she literally has two and a half scenes before her character is finished onscreen, which is a shame because it seems like a waste of talent. Alexandra Maria Lara as Lauda’s wife Marlene Knaus is a new face for me, but not an unwelcome one – her sweet disposition and pretty smile provide a nice contrast to Lauda’s considerably less attractive physique, which makes the pair’s relationship all the more endearing.
The racing as seen in the film never bored me or made me uninterested, which is a testament to the actors’ abilities to draw me in and make a subject that I’m not interested in engrossing. The color scheme of both the race cars as they flash by and of the film as a whole is vibrant and exciting, especially when paired with composer Hans Zimmer’s equally exciting score. Zimmer’s music is an incredible asset to the film, combining the action of the racing with the drama of the characters; the main theme is adapted throughout the film to alternately “drive” forward (sorry, couldn’t resist making the joke again…) or to sit back and bring a little more weight to the scene at hand. I think I say it with the release of every new Zimmer score, but he is definitely improving with age.
I certainly have my complaints, however. For starters, the film’s biggest issue is that it often seems like it is trying to be overly profound, as if the screenwriter sat in front of his computer thinking to himself, “hmmm, what can I say in this scene that is really deep and intellectual-sounding?” As a result, many lines seem forced, with the best example I can think of being one heard in many of the film’s trailers, said by Hemsworth’s character: “Don’t go to men who are willing to kill themselves driving in circles looking for normality.” Perhaps it’s just the way that Hemsworth says the line, but it just seems completely unnecessary. My other complaint is with the ending, though I’m quickly changing my mind about it. In my initial opinion, it was too anti-climactic, which is a problem often associated with real-life films, especially after such incredible climaxes as the final race. However, what I love about the ending is that it truly highlights the contrast between the two leads. Lauda has matured quite a bit in his journey, but Hunt is still the same person he always has been, a difference that shows the contrast between the drivers’ motivations. So the ending isn’t awful, and the fact that it ends on a quiet note closes out the dramatic nature of the film nicely.
Anyway, I really liked this movie. It’s absorbing all the way through, and the performances of the two leads, especially Brühl, are wonderful. It’s not a perfect film, but it is an enjoyable one that is also brilliantly inspiring. Even if you’re not a racing fan, Rush is worth checking out.
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
MPAA: R – for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use
Leave a comment | tags: a beautiful mind, alexandra maria lara, apollo 13, avengers, chris hemsworth, daniel brühl, formula one, Hans Zimmer, james hunt, marlene knaus, moneyball, niki lauda, olivia wilde, Rocky, ron howard, rush, suzy miller, the da vinci code, the sandlot, Thor | posted in 4, Entertainment, Film, Film Reviews, Movies, Music, Scores
I never saw Thor in theaters when it first came out because I wasn’t interested in it. In fact, I didn’t see it until the day before The Avengers was released, and I only watched it then so that I could fully understand the new movie. I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would.
I’ll start off with what I didn’t like. I didn’t like Darcy. Yes, she had some funny lines, but that seemed to be her only purpose. I think it would have worked perfectly fine if that character didn’t exist…Dr. Selvig and Jane Foster would have been a fine team on their own. I also didn’t care much for Jane Foster. I’ve always thought how weird a movie this was for Natalie Portman to appear in, and it’s that sensation of seeing the actress from Black Swan in a science-fiction film with gods that makes me just dislike the character a little bit. Aside from this being a weird movie for Portman, I felt like the relationship between her character and Thor was rushed and forced. Not enough time went by for them to fall in love with each other, so the emotional goodbye toward the end and Thor’s love for her just seemed irrational to me.
I did like Chris Hemsworth as Thor, though, despite the fact that I don’t like the character all that much. In the same way that Robert Downey, Jr., IS Tony Stark, Hemsworth seems to be Thor; it’s just an instance of perfect casting. I also really enjoyed Tom Hiddleston as Loki. This was the first film I had ever seen Hiddleston (I have since seen him in The Avengers and War Horse), and it was a great first impression. He portrayed a brilliantly conflicted character turned villain, and he improves the character even further in The Avengers. Yes, Hiddleston and Hemsworth are definitely the best parts of this film.
Overall, I enjoyed this film, but it just doesn’t match the quality shown by Iron Man before it or Captain America: The First Avenger after it. I would definitely place it ahead of The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, though. It’s a fun film, and it’s different from any of the other Marvel films (the ones leading up to The Avengers, I mean) because it’s the first one to introduce sci-fi elements.
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
MPAA: PG-13 – for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence
6 Comments | tags: Captain America, chris hemsworth, Iron Man, ironman, loki, natalie portman, The Avengers, Thor, tom hiddleston | posted in 3.5, Film Reviews
When I first learned of this film in the year or two before its release, I kind of ignored it; traditionally, I’m not a huge superhero movie fan, with Batman being an exception. But as time went by and the final Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers were released, I had a revelation: five superheroes from five completely different movies (plus two extra heroes who were mixed in) were going to be on the big screen together in the same film AT THE SAME TIME. I realized how incredible that was and instantly became a time bomb, ticking away the time as the release grew closer and closer. And it didn’t disappoint.
The Avengers succeeds in just about every possible way a film can succeed. The characters were likable and believable despite their unbelievable abilities, the villain was fantastic, and the script was fun and smart. Tony Stark is back as Robert Downey, Jr. – wait…strike that, reverse it – with hilarious one-liners, Chris Hemsworth as Thor is a better character than he was in his own movie, Chris Evans returns as a fantastically conflicted Captain America, and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is ten times the villain he was in Thor.
I’m not going to delve too far into the movie, but there is one thing that I DO have to talk about: The Hulk. After two previous films based around the character that were mediocre at best, The Avengers finally got our big angry green guy right. Joss Whedon was smart enough to make Banner/Hulk not someone who tries to avoid being angry but instead someone who embraces his anger and has fun with it. There are three extremely satisfying moments with the Hulk: when he first transforms in NYC, when he punches Thor, and when he smashes Loki. Mark Ruffalo also might be my favorite Bruce Banner so far, which is an added bonus. The Hulk just might have been the best character in this film.
So, how good is this film? Let me put it this way – I’ve seen it four times, and I have friends who have seen it more times than that. I could ramble on and on about how great this film was, but I’ll let you see it and decide for yourselves. Everything about this movie is great; if you don’t enjoy it at least a little bit, you must not like fun very much. Go check it out!
Rating: 5 (out of 5)
MPAA: PG-13 – for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference
7 Comments | tags: black widow, Captain America, chris evans, chris hemsworth, hawkeye, hulk, Iron Man, ironman, jeremy renner, joss whedon, loki, mark ruffalo, rdj, robert downey jr, scarlett johansson, The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, tom hiddleston | posted in 5, Entertainment, Film, Film Reviews, Movies
I was fully prepared to listen to Craig Armstrong’s score to the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk and give it a bad review, but things didn’t go according to plan. When I first acquired this soundtrack about a month or so ago, I was pretty unimpressed, listening to it just for the sake of listening to it. Nothing stood out to me, nothing was terribly memorable; it was just pretty lackluster, in my opinion. However, once again, listening to it from the perspective of someone about to write a review on it completely changed my opinion.
First, let me say this: as a whole, this score IS pretty forgettable. But it’s not because it’s a forgettable score, if that makes sense. It’s because there’s not a catchy main theme that stands out. Right now, at this very moment, I could sing to you the theme songs for Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers, but I wouldn’t be able to sing you a single bit of music from The Incredible Hulk, despite the fact that the main theme for the film is heard throughout the score. It’s a shame, really, that the main theme isn’t something iconic or catchy because it’s darned good.
The Incredible Hulk’s score is full of emotion, exploring the inner conflict of Bruce/The Hulk in tracks like “Bruce Can’t Stay” and “I Can’t”, as well as the relationships between various characters in the film. These tracks are rather helpfully given titles that identify the people: “Ross and Blonsky”, “Hulk and Betty”, and “Bruce and Betty”. This score is also filled with action, from the incredibly exciting “Favela Escape” to “Abomination Alley” to “Harlem Brawl”.
Where Armstrong fails is in composing a theme that, like the character, would be instantly recognizable to everyone who heard it. He sacrifices memorability for content, which is of higher quality than the film itself. As I said, it’s a shame, but it’s also a blessing. I’d personally prefer an overall awesome score with a non-memorable melody than an awful score with an awesome theme. What are my favorite tracks, you ask? “Favela Escape”, “Bruce Can’t Stay”, “Bruce Must Do It”, “Are They Dead?”, and “Hulk Smash” stand out to me as particularly awesome.
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- “The Arctic” (2:47)
- “Main Title” (2:39)
- “Rocinha Favela” (3:11)
- “A Drop of Blood” (1:35)
- “The Flower” (2:49)
- “Ross’ Team” (1:33)
- “Mr. Blue” (1:03)
- “Favela Escape” (3:35)
- “It Was Banner” (1:32)
- “That Is the Target” (5:34)
- “Bruce Goes Home” (1:25)
- “Ross and Blonsky” (3:15)
- “Return to Culver University” (2:39)
- “The Lab” (1:17)
- “Reunion” (3:37)
- “The Data/The Vial” (1:20)
- “They’re Here” (3:07)
- “Give Him Everything You’ve Got” (6:08)
- “Bruce Can’t Stay” (1:54)
- “First Injection” (1:03)
- “Is It Safe?” (1:07)
- “Hulk Theme” (3:59)
- “Saved from the Flames” (0:53)
- “Grotto” (2:53)
- “Arrival at the Motel” (1:48)
- “I Can’t” (2:15)
- “Abomination Alley” (3:56)
- “Bruce Found” (2:52)
- “Bruce Looks for the Data”(1:05)
- “NYC Cab Ride” (1:17)
- “The Mirror” (1:17)
- “Sterns’ Lab” (4:17)
- “Bruce Darted” (3:00)
- “I Want It, I Need It” (1:36)
- “Blonsky Transforms” (1:16)
- “Bruce Must Do It” (2:11)
- “Harlem Brawl” (3:51)
- “Are They Dead?” (2:40)
- “Hulk Smash” (2:25)
- “Hulk and Betty” (1:50)
- “A Tear” (1:01)
- “Who’s We?” (0:56)
- “The Necklace” (1:44)
- “Bruce and Betty” (5:06)
- “Hulk Theme (End Credits)” (3:59)
Total Length: app. 112 min.
Amazon Album Link
Notes: This album is not available on iTunes, so I have provided the link to the album on Amazon.com above. Also, I own the 2-disc version of this album. For a condensed version available for mp3 download, click here.
3 Comments | tags: Captain America, Craig Armstrong, Iron Man, Marvel, Soundtrack of the Day, soundtrackoftheday, The Avengers, The Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Thor | posted in 4, Entertainment, Film, Movies, Music, Scores, Soundtrack Reviews