Remembering James Horner Blogathon: The Perfect Storm (2000)

The 4th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon is among us between June 21st to 23rd!

Having joined in the last few years, its been quite a joy to look back at all the entries and also being able to discover some of the movies scored by James Horner who has no doubt given life through music in a lot of movies to help enhance each scene and story. After Year 1 doing Once Upon a Forest to Year 2 doing The Spiderwick Chronicles and then last year, tackling The 33, one of his scores, this year is trekking a little back in time but into a more dramatic film to look at the 2000 drama thriller, The Perfect Storm. I’ve only seen this movie once before years ago but I remember it being quite good, so it’ll be nice to revisit it.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

the perfect storm

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, Diane Lane, William Fichtner, John Hawkes, Allen Payne, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Ironside

An unusually intense storm pattern catches some commercial fishermen unaware and puts them in mortal danger. – IMDB

Based on the 1997 non-fiction book of the same name by Sebastian Junger (which I haven’t read), The Perfect Storm is a biographical disaster drama film that portrays the story of a group of commercial fishermen lead by Captain Billy Tyne (George Clooney) who goes out further than the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to the Flemish Cap on a late season fishing expediation due to a poor fishing season to try to get a big catch. However, on their way back, they end up getting caught in the “perfect storm of 1991” where three storms converge to create a deadly weather system.

While The Perfect Storm’s primarily focus is on the crew of Andrea Gail and their loved ones and friends at home waiting for their return, The Perfect Storm of 1991 wasn’t only about one fishing boat but also about the actual storm that also caught other unfortunate souls out at sea and the brave rescue efforts of both the jobs of the Coast Guard and the Air National Guard in these desperate times, risking their safety to save others in need.  Its a story that tells the hard life of fishermen but also the dangers of working in working as rescue crews whether at sea or in the air. In that sense, it did a good job of portraying both of the sides and giving the story a few more layers and angles.

Looking at the cast, it holds some solid efforts. George Clooney plays a main role as the captain who, while isn’t a mean guy, is trying to win back some reputation from having a bad season and the desire to bring back a huge catch to prove his worth. At the same time, close to him is Mark Wahlberg who plays one of the fishermen Bobby who leaves on this last trip to get enough money to get a better life for his family. There’s some other drama and conflicts between some of the crew that propel the story forward in the background especially between William Fichtner’s character Sully and John C. Reilly’s Murph. This is a male-heavy movie however, Diane Lane plays Bobby’s girlfriend. Everyone delivers on their roles pretty well.

The Perfect Storm actually relies heavily on its soundtrack to give that dramatic turn of effects. Some of the scenes are solely the soundtrack and gives it a certain life and atmosphere that gives an idea of whats going on even without any dialogue going about. As with any disaster film, it has a lot of drama to it especially in the face of loss and danger. There’s a beautiful patriotic music in the beginning, adventure and victory comes in through the middle and as the crew enters into the perfect storm and danger ensues, the music also becomes a great piece to bring life to their fight for survival and the tension that builds with each scene and issues that occurs. The power of music and scores is such a strong element in a movie to build up the mood in every situation and for The Perfect Storm, that has to be one of the strongest elements that keeps the movie in check to amplify its emotions.

A huge thanks to Film Music Central for hosting this great blogathon!
Have you seen The Perfect Storm?
Which movie did you love James Horner’s score the most?
Remember to head over to Film Music Central to catch up on the other entries!

The 3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: The 33 (2015)

This post is part of the Remembering James Horner Blogathon hosted by Film Music Central

The 33 (2015)

The 33

Director: Patricia Riggen

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche, Rodrigo Santoro, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mario Casas, Jacob Vargas, Juan Pablo Raba, Oscar Nunez, Tenoch Huerta, Kate Del Castillo, Gabriel Byrne

Based on the real-life event, when a gold and copper mine collapses, it traps 33 miners underground for 69 days. – IMDB

I’m going to be honest that I tend to avoid biographical drama in general. For one, I tend to like my entertainment far from reality and second, I tend to like my entertainment more light and fluffy or something that requires me to suspend belief or whatnot. I do have to admit that I was intrigued by The 33 when it was first released despite the genre that it falls in. The usual idea in these movies especially one based on a traumatic event is the personal stories and the devastation of the situation. The line to draw here it to make it believable and not so manipulative, which for the most part, The 33 does quite well. The stories here do feel rather genuine and while there were 33 men trapped in the mine, the movie focused on a few of them only, while also alternating to the rescue efforts on the surface, showing their families and government and the different faces of who is also pulled into the situation. It is a smart move to make sure that the stories don’t get too shallow and gives at least some characters their own depth and development.

The 33

With that said, there are some familiar faces here. The obvious leader of the pack in the movie and the movie is Antonio Banderas who plays as Mario who naturally is the glue and the one the men trust and is entrusted with the key to the food to ration for everyone. Antonio Banderas does a great job here. While I can’t say that I’ve seen Antonio Banderas in a whole lot of films, this is one that stands out to me especially when I always saw him as the slick and charming man but here is, given the circumstance of the film setting, rugged and devastated. We only get a few men down there with a spotlight, like Mario Casas as Alex Vega who has a pregnant wife to get back to, or Juan Pablo Raba as Dario, a recovering alcholic who spent his life being mad at his sister Mario, played by Juliette Binoche, for abandoning him and trying to find out how to make it work. Then you throw in the Bolivian who adds a bit of a social conflict in the group. In the parts of the 33 men trapped there, its hard to not feel devastated with them especially in the beginning when they don’t know whether anyone is going to save them and going through the roller coaster of emotions of hope and being hopeless and eventually feeling like they can get out. 69 days is a long time and its an honest miracle. I think the downfall of this is that somehow the emotional trauma of these men were never fully explored. However, you can argue that it took away from the emotionally manipulative angle and tried to just keep it real.

On the other hand, the surface characters included names like Juliette Binoche that I mentioned before. It was quite a surprise to see her here as she is a French actress. However, she is her stellar self even in a role like this as a worried sister waiting for her brother to come back. The same goes to Kate Del Castillo that plays Mario’s wife. Its a lot of characters to go through so despite focusing on just a few families, the plot has a hard time focusing on what is important and that takes away from how much we actually get to know these characters because how can we not care because The 33 was an actual thing that happened. Even if we knew the outcome, it still has its significance. However, adding into the surface mix is Rodrigo Santoro, who I’ve seen in a lot of movies in supporting roles as the Minister of Mining. In many ways, it seems his character gets the most development as he proves that he isn’t just talk to particularly Maria. The trials and failures and eureka moments from the surface were almost more devastating than the men that were trapped down there, as I watched the film.

The 33

This is part of the Remembering James Horner Blogathon so its a must to look at the score and it does a fantastic job. James Horner scores the piece knowing exactly when to use the subtle music to accompany the scene but also knowing exactly when to create the tension, the danger and of course, emotion. He does a fine job at it and I do love the score quite a bit.

Overall, The 33 is a sufficient biographical drama. It reflected the dangerous situation that happened, highlighted  the social and political issues as well as the personal and emotional trauma that the whole thing brought up. There are some fantastic performances here that pulled at our heartstrings and it was properly devastating in some parts. The collapse at the beginning f the film was definitely the most effective part of the film as well as the revelation of how to learn from their mistakes. Its a pretty decent film even if its sheer indecision of what issue to focus on made it sometimes less poignant as it should have been.

You can check out my previous two years participation post for:

Once Upon a Forest
The Spiderwick Chronicles

Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Once Upon a Forest (1993)

This is my contributing post for the Remembering James Horner Blogathon hosted by Film Music Central!

James Horner has an impressive list of movies that he has scored the music. As I was deciding what to do a post on, it dawned on me that before a lot of the animated films I’ve seen and loved now, there was Once Upon a Forest. According to my knowledge, it seems this movie isn’t quite widely seen as some other much more popular titles. Plus, its been quite a while since I’ve revisited it. Its been long enough that the last time I saw this, it wasn’t about reviews or looking at in-depth aspects of it. Once Upon a Forest started as just the spontaneous movie that my dad and I picked up randomly at the video store and decided to watch. It ended impressing me quite a bit from what I remember. Right now, I can still remember some specific scenes. This blogathon was the perfect reason to revisit it.

Once Upon a Forest (1993)

Once Upon a Forest

Director: Charles Grosvenor

Voice cast: Michael Crawford, Ben Vereen, Ellen Blain, Benji Gregory, Paige Gosney, Elisabeth Moss, Will Estes

A young mouse, mole and hedgehog risk their lives to find a cure for their badger friend, who’s been poisoned by men.-IMDB

 If I remember correctly, Once Upon a Forest comes out around the same time frame as Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest. I can’t remember exactly when it was. Maybe a year before or something. I think its the reason of why it didn’t get as much exposure. Also, that a lot of people apparently didn’t quite like this as much. Personally, I’d sit through Once Upon a Forest a thousand times instead of Fern Gully. Fern Gully just didn’t impress me much. There was one great thing about it that made it alright and it was voice work by Robin Williams and Tim Curry. You can find the brief review HERE for that. However, we aren’t here for that.

Once Upon a Forest is really a similar story. where a truck accident causes a poison gas leak to kill the meadow that these young animals: a mouse Abigail, a mole Edgar and a hedgehog Russell. They have to step up when their friend, a young badger Michelle runs unexpectedly into her house looking for her parents and gets poisoned. Their mentor and also uncle of Michelle, Cornelius can’t go with them because he needed to take care of Michelle. These three who have never known anything about the human world has to step up and find the herbs in another meadow within two days to save their friend. To me, that is a compelling story. It touches on themes such as environmental care, friendship and teamwork.

Once Upon a Forest

The characters of Once Upon a Time are done very well. The three create a balance that we know will help them in the end when they put their priorities ahead of them. Their shared importance of the friendship of Michelle and determination will be the winning factor here. As they go from learning what “yellow dragons” are and working together to help others in need, they realize their strength in numbers. Actually, these three are relatable as kids because they want to have fun and they want to go off and do their own things and experiment. I think a huge part of childhood is doing that. Abigail is the gutsy one, Edgar is the brain even if not brave and Russell is the one that is somewhere in the middle that keeps the goals in mind. They are charming characters. While not in huge roles, they do cross paths with a preacher crow and that segment and that character was so much fun and possibly one of the scenes that has stuck with me for the longest. It gives it a little change in pace.

Once upon a Forest

Another notable aspect in Once Upon a Forest is the animation. For sure, we aren’t comparing to the detail we have now but even in the year between Fern Gully and this, you can see a notable difference. Once Upon a Forest has some nice detail. Its appealing and captures the atmosphere of the adventure these three are on.

On that note, we can’t get through this review without talking about the music, hence, James Horner. I love talking about music. Adventure movies rely heavily on music. Once Upon a Forest also has a slight musical factor where they do have some songs which are all (maybe except one) that is scored by James Horner. He manages to capture the peace of the meadow, then the danger and the height is fueling the highs and lows of the adventure with fun music. At times, it just sweeps subtly in the background to build the atmosphere.

Once upon a Forest

Once Upon a Forest however is still an animation, possibly geared mostly towards younger kids. There definitely was nostalgia mixed into my current enthusiasm for the movie. Watching it again older, there are obvious flaws to the logic of the characters like even the simple fact of poison gas not having just a boundary of expansion or that it dissipates so fast. However, it is still a simple movie that manages to get their point through in a rather effective, adventurous and fun manner in a run time that never overstays its welcome. Its worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Have you seen Once Upon a Forest? Do you like it?