I have created a 20 question survey and I would be very grateful if you could participate. It shouldn't take more than 3 minutes. The first page has general score questions and the second has composer specific questions. Once a satisfactory number of responses have been recorded, I will share the results which I believe will be quite interesting.
With the recent release of the Jurassic Park score, I decided to rewatch the trilogy. It has been a while since I've listened to TLW's OST from start to finish so I'd forgotten how crazy that microedit in Rescuing Sarah is. That heroic fanfare, the bells when the T-Rexes appear and the subsequent drama on the strings is arguably the best part of the whole cue.
When producing an OST, I can understand excluding entire cues (not that I agree with it) but chopping up a cue to omit one minute or less is crazy especially when that omitted music contains some of the cue's best parts or any thematic material. That Rescuing Sarah microedit is especially puzzling because the moment at which the edit is made (2:12) isn't a natural edit point because the cut music flows very coherenty with the uncut music. It is a single coherent cue recorded as such (8m2).
So, what do you think are the worst microedits JW has made?
I attended a John Williams concert in Dublin on Thursday. All the old favourites were played with the noticeable exception of Jaws and the Imperial March. I didn't take the programme with me so I can't remember the exact order of the music, but I do remember that the first 3 or 4 pieces were little known scores to the general public. These include the 10 minute overture from The Cowboys (great performance), JFK (wasn't impressed by the opening trumpet solo performance), Memoirs of a Geisha and the 1941 march (again great energetic performance). The next piece was ET which got a great cheer at the end from the audience, presumably because it was the first piece most of them recognised.
Schlinder's List and Close Encounters finished the first half. The second half saw a succession of classics from Superman, Raiders, Jurassic Park and the four movement suite from The Phantom Menace (sans choir for DOTF, but it sounded great). It was also great to hear Lincoln and War Horse live also, but I would have also liked to have heard Tintin. Luke's theme formed the encore. A good evening, but it was a pity David Brophy wasn't conducting. He usually conducts score concerts in Dublin and he always tells little anecdotes or factoids about each score.
My eavesdropping of people's conversations about John Williams was hilarious. I overheard the following gems:
"JW has won 23 Oscars"
"JW is nominated for at least two Oscars every year"
"My favourite JW theme is The Great Escape"
"Spielberg hired JW for Jaws because he was impressed with his music for the shower scene from Psycho"
"I'm surprised he doesn't play his guitar in more of his scores"
Anticipation and hype can be very dangerous to fans of a movie franchise. The Lord of the Rings trilogy rightfully holds its place as a modern classic, hailed by critics and beloved by fans. Nine years after audiences were enthralled by the adventures of Frodo, middle earth returns to our screens in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but unfortunately, major franchises often have difficultly after prolonged absences (The Phantom Menace, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Does The Hobbit fall into these traps?
It is important to mention early that anyone expecting to see a fourth Lord of the Rings movie is going to be disappointed. Although undoubtedly set in middle earth, the tone of this story differs considerably from the original trilogy. The constant undercurrent of darkness pervading throughout LOTR is not to be found here. Although this new quest is filled with danger and hair-raising moments, the tone is much more adventurous. This tonal shift is no more apparent than during the first act in The Shire. Viewer beware – there is plenty of dwarf slapstick and singing before the adventure begins.
When Bilbo finally leaves The Shire and begins his unexpected journey, the faults of the movie start to reveal themselves. Firstly, this new fellowship is simply not engaging. While it is certainly a thrill to see Gandalf The Grey guiding a company of warriors again, the dwarfs themselves are extremely interchangeable. They are almost as anonymous as a pack of orcs and are only identified by a single characteristic (the old one, the fat one, the one with the Newcastle accent, the one with the Irish accent). It is difficult to empathise with such one-note characters and consequently their skirmishes with orcs and goblins have little emotional engagement (as opposed to the brilliant Bridge of Kazad-Dum scene from Fellowship).
Bilbo is basically a passenger for most of the journey, so the driving force of the movie is the leader of the dwarves, Thorin and his desire to return to his home Erebor. Sadly, Thorin is a boringly bland character who doesn’t even approach the charisma and magnetism of Aragorn (indeed, even Gimli seems positively electric when compared to Thorin). These shortcomings are not helped by indulgent editing – there is absolutely no reason for this movie to be 2 hours 45 minutes long. Had Jackson trimmed the fat, edited it down to about 2 hours and saved the rest for a DVD special edition, the result would have been a far leaner and more engrossing fantasy. Boredom should have no place in middle earth but its presence here is as disconcerting to the viewer as Sauron’s gaze was to Frodo.
Ironically for a movie of such epic proportions, the best scenes are when older characters are simply talking. Firstly, a well written council meeting between Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel and Elrond has a welcome air of familiarity even if Gandalf hasn’t quite developed into the powerful wizard he’ll become. Secondly, Gollum’s riddles in the dark with Bilbo is the highlight of the movie and reminds us just how talented Andy Serkis is. Speaking of Bilbo, Martin Freeman was clearly born to play the younger version of Ian Holm, and it is difficult to fault his performance. The action scenes are passable and well directed but suffer from the lack of engaging characters as mentioned before. A fight between our heroes with goblins tries to recapture the spectacle of the Moria battle from Fellowship but becomes too gimmicky. The climatic forest battle is exciting but the audiences’ attention span may have been truly spent by the time we reach it.
The New Zealand scenery looks stunning and the photography takes full advantage of the clarify of high definition. You can almost see the different shades of green on a single leaf of grass or the moonlight reflecting off individual crystal clear raindrops during a storm. More controversial however is the use of 48 FPS. It may take time for your eyes to adjust to this new frame rate, and its ill effects are most noticeable during sudden broad movements in the foreground. Complaints that the image is moving slightly too fast are likely to be a common criticism.
The biggest failure is the lack of emotional depth. To be fair, this can be sourced to the original novel and perhaps comparisons to The Lord of the Rings are unfair because they are different tales, but every movie despite its scale or scope requires some level of emotional envolvement. The most touching scene actually revolves around Gandalf’s friendship with Galadriel. The movie is not as bad as it could have been, but it isn’t as good as it should have been. I suspect splitting the story into three movies has hindered this opening chapter of the new trilogy, and hopefully things will improve next year. Occasionally entertaining but often disappointing. 3/5