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Since 1990, has John Williams ever scored a bad movie, and how did his score impact the film?


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With one important exception: The Star Wars movies because John Williams Star Wars music is it's own genre.

 

Also, since 1990.

 

John Williams heightens any movie he works on, some say he breathes life into films. He has also worked on some of the most successful and well-regarded movies or all time. 

 

But what about the bad movies he scored? What's that list look like? And how did his score impact those movies? Did he knock it out of the ballpark? Did his music heighten the movie? Did he *GASP* write a bad score?!

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Sabrina is pretty dang boring and honestly everything about that movie just feels slightly off, including the score in context.  But I adore listening to the OST as its own thing.

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@StuSabrina is a great score, continue on this path and I'll remove you from my Facebook friends (yes I know, we are not friends on FB). :P

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The terminal isn't a bad film. Just goes on and on . However the score is great. Very enjoyable to listen too. I don't think JW has ever written a bad score! One or two can be a bit boring. Rosewood doesn't do a lot for me yet, but only listened to it a couple of times. 

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7 hours ago, artguy360 said:

But what about the bad movies he scored? What's that list look like? 

 

Hook (1991)

Far and Away (1992)
Home Alone 2

Amistad (1997)

Stepmom (1998)

The Patriot (2000)

Attack of the Clones (2002)

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

The Book Thief (2013)

The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

 

...i couldn't bring myself to strike SW from the list.

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Fact speaking since 1990... I don't think John Williams ever scored a bad movie at the level of 60s and 70s UFOs like "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home" and "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing", etc. I think in these cases, John Williams was simply not the best (and sometimes first) choice for scoring these movies, period.

 

After the 80s, following success, Williams had the luxury to say "no" to bad projects.

 

But but but... I agree that, for a reason or another, since 1990, some scores didn’t get the attention they deserved at the time of their release (if I can put it that way).

 

I found three. 

 

- Always (1990), who always was a favourite among some fans, especially those working at Disneyland. Williams liked the main theme of this score enough to have re-recorded it for the Spielberg-Williams collaboration albums project. Now, it have a 2nd chance to shine with its recent expansion.

- Stanley & Iris (1990), a romantic score for a romantic movie... it's often the perfect recipe for oblivion! The Theme and End Credits made their way to some compilations over the years, but not much... Like Always, the expansion gave this score a 2nd chance to be (re)-discovered, at our greatest satisfaction.

- Rosewood (1997), I think this movie had distribution problem, not because it's bad, but because its subject is very hard... anyway I remember I had difficulties to find it on the web to be able to watch it for the first time. However, the theme found its way on the Greatest Hits from 1969-1999 compilation, and it's was well deserved. The 2013 expansion was also welcome.

 

That's all. In all other cases where Williams scored an "ordinary" movie after 1990 (and there are many), his score always was recognized and indeed elevated the movie.

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31 minutes ago, publicist said:

 

Hook (1991)

Far and Away (1992)

Amistad (1997)

Stepmom (1998)

The Patriot (2000)

Attack of the Clones (2002)

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

The Book Thief (2013)

The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

 

...i couldn't bring myself to strike SW from the list.

I would add Home Alone 2 to the list, but remove Tintin.

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58 minutes ago, publicist said:

Hook (1991)

Far and Away (1992)
Home Alone 2

Amistad (1997)

Stepmom (1998)

The Patriot (2000)

Attack of the Clones (2002)

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

The Book Thief (2013)

The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

 

All the movies on this list were commercial successes (although the results of Far and Away were a bit disappointing).

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3 hours ago, Bespin said:

All the movies on this list were commercial successes (although the results of Far and Away were a bit disappointing).

 

So were Transformers 1-5 and Date Movie. And still they all are, for different reasons, pretty bad.

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I know, but your list don't make sense!

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Attack of the Clones and KotCS would be my top two.

 

I think the score elevated some scenes in the latter, but the former... no. I think AotC is a mostly boring score for (and caused by) a terrible film.

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There are a number of films with issues, but not an outright bad one within that time frame, IMO. I find qualities in all of the films he's scored since 1990. But I suppose I could list some of the ones with 'issues' of various kinds: FAR & AWAY, INDY 4, THE BOOK THIEF, THE BFG, STAR WARS 9.

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16 minutes ago, Bespin said:

I know, but your list don't make sense!

 

It absolutely does, if your frame of reference for bad movies goes beyond Ed-Wood-style incompetence. Some of them i just reject for ideological reasons, i. e. The Patriot or the casual 'they all look alike' racism of the polished coffee table book that is 'Memoirs'.

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The only film I tried to watch and couldn't even finish was JFK, made it maybe 10 minutes in. The ones I hated/thought were bad were JP:TLW, AotC, RotS and TROS.

 

9 minutes ago, publicist said:

or the casual 'they all look alike' racism of the polished coffee table book that is 'Memoirs'.

I don't necessarily disagree about the casual racism aspect but why doesn't anyone bitch about english, scottish, welsh, irish, australian, american, hell, danish, swedish, german, whatever people all playing each other? Isn't it a different kind of racism, "we big good whites can deal with it, but we gotta protect these poor weak others"? Anyway, IMO it's not enough of a reason to write the entire thing off as bad. Them all speaking English and what the script devolves into by the end are better ones.

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If Tom Cruise can play an Irish Thug in a movie (or a tall vampire in another one), why can't a chinese actress play a japanese woman? I'm not really in that cancel culture movement which commands it absolutely needs a gay actor to portray a gay man in a movie.

 

These false debates tries to kill Art.

 

But Art is Art and don't follow any rule.

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Like i said, this is not really the issue, it's just cherry-picking of the obvious social warrior bigotries.

 

Stereotyping and casual racism in movies are a complex and delicate affair, a dance involving race, artistic license, gender, and ethics vs. profit. That most will dismiss it out of hand is just license to do it again.

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5 hours ago, publicist said:

Hook (1991)

Far and Away (1992)
Home Alone 2

Amistad (1997)

Stepmom (1998)

The Patriot (2000)

Attack of the Clones (2002)

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

The Book Thief (2013)

The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

 

...i couldn't bring myself to strike SW from the list.

 

Fair list, never got around to Far and Away, Stepmom, or The Book Thief though. Hook and Home Alone 2, I saw them young enough to still be able to grade them on a curve. Spielberg's worst movies as a group, I can't totally dismiss outright. I don't really go less than 5/10 with him. 

 

Angela's Ashes would be near the bottom of this era for me tbh. I watched Rosewood in the last year and actually was somewhat impressed. Not a great movie but has stuff going for it. 

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14 minutes ago, mrbellamy said:

Angela's Ashes would be near the bottom of this era for me tbh.

 

I saw that but don't remember anything about it. Though i like Williams' modal, Vaughan-Williams-tinged score on it's own, i felt he completely missed the point and atmosphere of the story. Seen through the eyes of a child, which is what AA is all about, being all adagio and elegiac just doesn't cut it. The choice of the piano as lead solo for a story about the poor, an instrument culturally attached to the higher social strata and elegant drawing rooms, confirms a certain detachment on JW's part.

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25 minutes ago, publicist said:

The choice of the piano as lead solo for a story about the poor, an instrument culturally attached to the higher social strata and elegant drawing rooms, confirms a certain detachment on JW's part.

 

So you'd prefer a cheap triangle instead.

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2 hours ago, Thor said:

There are a number of films with issues, but not an outright bad one within that time frame, IMO. I find qualities in all of the films he's scored since 1990. But I suppose I could list some of the ones with 'issues' of various kinds: FAR & AWAY, INDY 4, THE BOOK THIEF, THE BFG, STAR WARS 9.

The Rise of Skywalker has issues? I doubt that Williams scored a worse movie in his whole career.

 

 

 

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re: TROS…after TFA, I don’t know how JW actually sat down and spent his time working out timings and sync points…hours of work a day… to footage he knew would be changing daily up until the release date. Exhausting. 
 

 

1 minute ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

Is it good? 

FE514BA5-E768-4196-AE70-A229FC9885BF.gif
 

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4 minutes ago, mrbellamy said:

 

giphy.gif?cid=790b7611c2cfc81bd646fcc31c

 

For a long while I've been wondering:

  1. Does George Lucas have struma?
  2. Does George Lucas use a wig?

That's all, thanks.

 

1 minute ago, MikeH said:

I don’t know how JW actually sat down and spent his time working out timings and sync points…hours of work a day… to footage he knew would be changing daily up until the release date. Exhausting. 

 

His work ethics is simply too good.

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As much as I love the score for The Patriot (and crave its C&C edition), I still think the movie is quite terrible. Anyway, JW's music at least make the movie slightly less awful. 

 

On the other hand, not even JW himself could save the abomination called Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as much as he tried.

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20 hours ago, Corellian2019 said:

I nominate The Terminal....

....and BFG!

4 hours ago, Edmilson said:

As much as I love the score for The Patriot (and crave its C&C edition), I still think the movie is quite terrible. Anyway, JW's music at least make the movie slightly less awful. 

 

On the other hand, not even JW himself could save the abomination called Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as much as he tried.

Man, you just can't stop bashing SKULL, can you?😒 Its almost like a vendetta!

 

But, I agree THE PATRIOT is terrible

 

6 hours ago, GerateWohl said:

The Rise of Skywalker has issues? I doubt that Williams scored a worse movie in his whole career.

 

 

 

It's worse than ROTJ and TPM?!😳

6 hours ago, MikeH said:

D7932936-B6F0-4334-98B0-6D36616379D0.gif

THE BFG...why Steven?

WHY?!!!!!!##😵

 

 

.....and Tintin!

Why, I ask you !?

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I nominate AI.  The flim is choppy, borderline incoherent, and dumb (in the sense of thinking it has some grand message, but in fact does not--at least one that hadn't been done--and done better--by 50 sci-fi tv episodes prior).  However, the score is superb, so much so that it really brings out the patheticness of the movie.  Ohhhhh, Rouge City...give me a break.  

 

All of this IMHO, of course.  

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Of the film's Williams scored from 1990 I haven't seen Stanley and Iris, Presumed Innocent, JFK, Nixon, Rosewood, Seven Years in Tibet, Memoirs of a Geisha and The Book Thief, so can't comment on the quality of them. For some of the others the biggest problem with them is they're just fine, not completely bad but not really good either. So if it's just the film's we're talking about, the top 5 mediocre for me would be

 

Sleepers

Stepmom

Angela's Ashes

Lincoln

Amistad

 

Not sure that Williams has ever done a bad score, his work always seems to be exactly what the film needs, just sometimes (especially in the case of the prequel/sequel trilogy's) the film itself isn't able to meet the quality of the score.

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Sleepers isn't a bad film, but it does have one of my least favorite JW dramatic scores. When I watch the movie, I can't help but feel that his sound is just the wrong fit for the movie. It was one of the only times I can recall where I heard a JW score for the first time with the film and immediately felt like the music didn't fit the film. I haven't listened to the music outside of the film enough to have a deeper opinion of it.

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38 minutes ago, artguy360 said:

Sleepers isn't a bad film, but it does have one of my least favorite JW dramatic scores. When I watch the movie, I can't help but feel that his sound is just the wrong fit for the movie. It was one of the only times I can recall where I heard a JW score for the first time with the film and immediately felt like the music didn't fit the film. I haven't listened to the music outside of the film enough to have a deeper opinion of it.

I like the score for Sleepers just fine, hhhmm maybe it's not so much the film isn't able to live up to the score, but as you said Williams was a wrong fit for it.

 

What would your list look like?

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5 hours ago, bruce marshall said:

It's worse than ROTJ and TPM?!😳

Yes!

5 hours ago, bruce marshall said:

....and BFG!

BFG was quite ok as a kids movie. Only issue I had with it was the inconsistency. The fart humor is funny for five or six year old kids, but the part with the nightmares and the children eating giants is too scary for those.

But I enjoyed the visuals and 3D effects in the cinema a lot. And I like the music.

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16 hours ago, Bespin said:

I'm not really in that cancel culture movement which commands it absolutely needs a gay actor to portray a gay man in a movie.

 

I actually enjoy when gay or bi or lesbian actors play gay or bi or lesbian characters, as a lesbian. It's just not 100% mandatory in all cases.

14 hours ago, GerateWohl said:

The Rise of Skywalker has issues? I doubt that Williams scored a worse movie in his whole career.

 

i also don't consider the force awakens good either. and the middle one tries but sandwiched like that well that's going to suck

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12 hours ago, bruce marshall said:

Man, you just can't stop bashing SKULL, can you?😒 Its almost like a vendetta!

 

Well, this is a thread about bad movies JW scored, so its inclusion here is warranted.

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I made an effort to list three "ordinary" (I never said bad) movies, JW didn't really could save with his score. It has been extremely rare since the 1990s. I found objectively only three.

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On 21/05/2022 at 2:20 PM, publicist said:

Hook (1991)

Far and Away (1992)
Home Alone 2

Amistad (1997)

Stepmom (1998)

The Patriot (2000)

Attack of the Clones (2002)

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

The Book Thief (2013)

The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

 

...i couldn't bring myself to strike SW from the list.

Why Amistad? It is one of Spielberg's best, despite his usual stylistic exaggeration. Take Rosewood instead, that was a clichéd and racist garbage movie. Besides I don't think that The Patriot lives up to the promise of its title and director (which is of course a good thing).

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Seven Years in Tibet is a pretty awful film, which is doubly unfortunate, as the book it is based on is quite fascinating and the score, on album, is one of my all time favorites. But the film, not only is totally dramatically inert and has an horrendous lead performance, it also treats its terrific score very badly, with hardly any chances to shine

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