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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Score Season #19
by Richard Jack Smith

Below are more soundtrack reviews of recent and archival releases -- with a poem for each one. 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six, 2014) I see the cover art for a new Spider-Man soundtrack and it’s exciting. It makes me think, “Perhaps Zimmer will get it right this time.” As a fan, the soullessness behind The Amazing Spider-Man 2 conceals greater talents. Listening to “My Enemy” and “Sum Total,” weeping soon follows. Also, “Ground Rules” comes across as pleasant yet ephemeral. If there was a great theme to be heard, no problem. Alas.

A poem for dear old Spidey:

Such mill run bluster

Unworthy of Custer.

Seeking to tempt

All the while unkempt.


Heard it done better

From me they’ll receive a letter.

Emotional line hidden

Who are they kidding?

The Black Stallion (Carmine Coppola and Shirley Walker, 1979) **** Curious that The Black Stallion holds a lesser reputation than the sequel score. I guess some believe Georges Delerue to be the greater talent compared to Carmine Coppola. Regardless, the latter’s work surprised me. Whatever charges were levelled at the orchestra in terms of their performance seem unfounded. Overall, I got swept away by how Coppola musically moulded the story.

Another little poem:

That trusty medallion

Engraved with The Black Stallion.

Such music matters

in a culture pre-occupied with splatters.

The Golden Child (John Barry, 1986) ** This might sound strange, yet I forgive the makers of The Golden Child for not using all of John Barry’s score. Just to be clear, I enjoyed specific moments. However, it’s not exactly tailored to Eddie Murphy’s “Chosen One.” In fact, it’s difficult to pin down exactly where it might fit. Perhaps When Harry Met Sally in a space age setting. For example, those sultry saxophones left me jelly-legged for a while.

Time for a different rhyme:

Enchantment on the stave

John Barry knew how to behave.

The Golden Child bore his stamp

As a floating, microscopic lamp.


A feeling that lasts for a beat

No mean feat.

An echo chamber most hearty

It’s time to party.


Those highlights are mere glimmers

The rest requiring heavy duty trimmers.

Ideas which The Specialist found

For The Golden Child appear unsound.

Ran (Toru Takemitsu, 1985) *** Only a poem this time:

A theme for all wars.

Lifting barriers between shores.

“Hell’s Picture Scroll”

Conveys heavenly toll.


Toru Takemitsu was unique

A view from the peak.

Ran might be his line

On warriors that slay and dine.


Such a motif for war

As something he actually saw.

Active, imaginative and reactive

Forever proactive.


Ran bore likeness to King Lear

For this, the price was dear.

With unforgettable music wrought

That’s why I bought.

Sometimes a Great Notion (Henry Mancini, 1970) *** Another poem:

Sometimes a Great Notion

The song about devotion.

Nicely it plays

As sunny silhouette stays.


Consider this a smidge

While getting refreshments from fridge.

Sometimes simplicity sings

As conquering kings.


Let it grow

Like the gathering of snow.

Of workers and the log camp

Loose change tempts the tramp.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (David Shire, 1974) ** Time for that rhyme:

A reputation rather high

Coldness descends, heavy sigh.

David Shire spun a web.

Unhooked and pleb.


“Money Montage” employed for snooker

Such frenzy, where’s the bazooka?

Personally I would not buy

Something so adequate and shy.

Toy Soldiers (Robert Folk, 1991) **** Whether as a boy or adult, the guilty pleasures behind Toy Soldiers -- both film and soundtrack -- remain pure. Imagine if you could bottle that first impression, let it sit for a while and then experience the magic all over again. By any standards, composer Robert Folk rocks the speaker system. Also, he achieves a level of variety and nuance in order to transcend genres. Therefore, Toy Soldiers could be classified as a romantic spectacle, patriotic and raw which delivers the juice at 100% proof.

Onwards and upwards with a poem:

Toy Soldiers a symbol of youth

Other genre picks remain uncouth.

Their music creaks

to enhance shrieks.


Yet Robert Folk works hard

to remove such lard.

I believe it’s a classic

Not to mention fantastic.


Toy Soldiers should belong

With the collective strong.

An action-packed fortitude

Delivers pathos and attitude.


With Dublin Symphony Orchestra in tow

Book my place near the front row.

The Yakuza (Dave Grusin, 1974) **** For composer Dave Grusin, The Yakuza represents a defining moment. It’s a transcendent experience which allows Japanese music to feel accessible rather than distant. Specifically, I love the sumptuous piano behind “Scrapbook Montage/Scrapbook Epilogue.” Here Grusin expresses deep empathy for his subject. These warriors value love, honour and ancestral legacy. By contrast, there’s cold, brittle percussion running alongside such comforting woodwinds. Overall, the entire score comes across as first-rate, especially “Breather/Final Assault” and “The Big Fight.”

A poem to honour the occasion:

Authentic as sculptor’s clay

Relief on a cold-hearted day.

The Yakuza made it seem

That coffee must have cream.


Those shiver inducing hits

Planted between the lighter bits.

Dave Grusin I humbly thank

You can take that to the bank.

Yellow Rock (Randy Miller, 2011) **** Talk about revisionist, Randy Miller’s Yellow Rock sends Marco Beltrami’s 3:10 to Yuma to the sandy, tumbleweed depths of perdition. Here’s why:

3:10 to Yuma stumbled badly

Not quite making it sadly.

But thanks to Randy Miller

Yellow Rock is killer.


Woodwinds quite superb

They rarely disturb.

A melody befitting the great Michael Biehn

Thus we remain keen.


With percussion so sly,

We cannot walk on by.

A distant Indian call

Determined to smash the wall.


And how Jeff Beal’s Appaloosa

Couldn’t make Be-Bop-A-Lula.

As you listen to “The Gold Mine,”

Let those invisible forces shine.


Truly inspired drumming

I shall keep on humming.



The White Dawn (Henry Mancini, 1974) ***** There’s a sense of dynamic purity behind The White Dawn. Woodwind lovers can rejoice because there are moments in which the flute reigns supreme. Overall, every track proves its worth.

Last but not least, a poem:

Those expecting corny

Have taken the wrong journey.

The White Dawn feels proud

Taming the wild and lifting the shroud.


The unknown could share a tale

Like sights beheld by a whale.

Head deeper into the ice

Be consumed by intellectual lice.


Feel like exploring a tomb?

There’s always room.

Perhaps unable to convert

At a certain point we revert.


No shadows here

Melody given the all clear.

Winds that brutally chant

Impression longer than rant.


Path to the heart most gentle

Bridges mended by sentinel.

As the ancient diary

Evokes needs basic and primary.


It might be a mirage

That defines icy visage.

Those spacious, yet haunting echoes

Like a lonely writer’s prose.

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