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There are many aspects to film which are more important to some people than others. For me, the score is one of the most vital parts to a film. If a movie doesn’t have a score I enjoy, it is already on the back-step. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy films that have scores I am not particularly fond of, it’s just that there is a greater chance of me enjoying the movie if it does. A great score is a work of art in itself, and I find it a great shame if someone doesn’t get to experience some of these brilliant creations due to the films themselves not being well received. When a movie gets average to bad reviews, you tend to find most people will give the film a miss, or put it nearer the bottom of their watchlist, and if they do go and see it, the lack of enjoyment of the movie can sometime taint the score itself. This is why I have come up with the top 10 film scores which have been tarnished by the film’s themselves, allowing these incredible scores to get the credit they deserve!
(Not in any ranking order.)
1. Need For Speed - Nathan Furst
Need for Speed was certainly not a film which was received well critically or generally. I was a fan of this film itself, but accepted the extreme amount of cheese within this picture and the aspects of god awful acting. The thing which managed to carry the enjoyment of this film for me was it’s brilliant score by Nathan Furst. The Need for Speed score has a brilliant melody which is carried throughout many of the tracks but tweaked in ways to fit the mood of the scene, which works perfectly. So even though some of the emotion was lost in the poor acting, Furst’s score managed to pick that up.
IMDb Audience Score: 6.5
Metascore: 39
Standout Track: Pete’s Death
2. Mission: Impossible II - Hans Zimmer
As many of our readers will be aware, we are huge fans of Hans Zimmer. Zimmer has a brilliant way of rescuing films from being complete disasters. Zimmer has a great talent of blending the modern ways of making music with classical methods, in turn, creating a signature sound. One film which has been heavily criticised for its extremely cheesy acting and over dramatised action is Mission: Impossible II. After the success of MI:I no one expected MI:II to go down the route it did, which was pretty much the exact opposite to its former film. With plenty being wrong with this picture, such as the slow-motion shot of two cars locking side-by-side and start to swirl off a cliff as both lead actors look dramatically in each others eyes, Zimmer’s score is certainly not one of those issue.
IMDb Audience Score: 6.1
Metascore: 59
Standout Track: Injection
3. Tron: Legacy - Daft Punk
It’s not often we get an album from Daft Punk. They are the Daniel Day Lewis of the music world, so when it was announced that they were doing the score for Tron: Legacy, like many, I was over the moon, and even though the score lived up to expectation, the movie did not. Many found it to be bland and lacked real depth. This could have been a level of the expectations being too high, but with The Grid having limitless possibilities, they definitely could have been more adventurous. Many people had serious gripes that Daft Punk’s score was snubbed at the Grammy’s and I cannot help but wonder if the film had been good, would they have won? I think so.
IMDb Audience Score: 6.8
Metascore: 49
Standout Track: Adagio for TRON
4. Transformers: The Last Knight - Steve Jablonsky
It seems when anyone wants to refer to a film that lacks quality, Transformers is mentioned, with this certainly being the case for Transformers: The Last Knight. This film is a bombastic mess with a over convoluted storyline. There is no doubting that this film is a disaster, but the even though, on the whole, there is no saving this film, Steve Jablonsky’s score is nothing short of a masterpiece. Honestly, Jablonsky has pulled out some incredible pieces of music for this franchise, but there is no doubt that his best work is found within this score. Every time I listen to it, I get goosebumps. Its heart-warming, heroic and captures everything good about Transformers.
IMDb Audience Score: 5.2
Metascore: 27
Standout Track: Sacrifice
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Hans Zimmer
As mentioned above, Zimmer has a great skill at saving films and if it wasn't for his score in Amazing Spider-Man 2, I think, critically, it would have been a disaster. On the whole the audience had mix reviews on this film, with me falling into the positive side of this camp. That being said, Zimmer’s score is a huge part of this for me. Zimmer captures the heroic side of Spider-Man brilliantly but where he truly stood out in this film for me is capturing the romance between Peter and Gwen. Even though this film wasn’t the best, I felt the love between Peter and Gwen was great and only made better with Zimmer’s touching music.
IMDb Audience Score: 6.6
Metascore: 53
Standout Track: I Chose You
6. Thor: The Dark World - Brian Tyler
Marvel have produced a truck load of films now, with most of them being received extremely well, however, it hasn’t been a smooth ride the whole way, there has been some bumps on the journey, with Thor: The Dark World being one of those humps. Weirdly though, one of my gripes with the MCU is that they lack real standout scores, with them all being very similar, so it is strange for one of the not so well received films to have one of the best scores in the franchise. What Brian Tyler produced for this film is a true superhero score. Just listening to it makes you want to pop on a cape and go find someone to save, which is probably why Marvel used it as their fanfare for the whole of Phase 2 of the MCU.
IMDb Audience Score: 7.0
Metascore: 54
Standout Track: Thor: The Dark World
7. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - Daniel Pemberton
I have mentioned many unpopular films in this article, but King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has to be the worst of the lot. I am a big Guy Ritchie fan, so I had no idea what happened to him when he made this film. Not only was the acting awful, but the visuals were a disaster, the lack of attention to detail with the period it is set in was alarming and cinematography was a mess. This really was not a film that Ritchie will want to remember, but for the composer, Daniel Pemberton, this is a score he won’t want to forget. Pemberton has created a score which is like nothing I have heard before. It is extremely experimental, adding things like heavy breathing to carry the rhythm on some of the tracks. It truly is something special. Pemberton is slowly getting to the point of being one of my favourite composers if he keeps up the form he is on.
IMDb Audience Score: 6.8
Metascore: 41
Standout Track: The Born King
8. Fast & Furious - Brian Tyler
Even though the Fast & Furious franchise is one of the biggest in cinema today, it certainly isn't without its faults. After the god awful Tokyo Drift, the Fast franchise went back to basics bringing back the original characters in Fast & Furious. Even though it was good to see the familiar faces back, it is nearer the bottom of the list when it comes to the quality throughout the franchise. However, it wasn’t all bad, it had introduced some running themes for the franchise which we can relate to today. Brian Tyler is great at creating these memorable hooks, which is what he manages to do for Fast & Furious.
IMDb Audience Score: 6.6
Metascore: 46
Standout Track: Letty
9. The Incredible Hulk - Craig Armstrong
As mentioned above for Thor: The Dark World, even though Marvel has had incredible success, it isn’t without its speed bumps, with The Incredible Hulk being the biggest bump of all. I am a huge fan of this film. It is one of my favourite films of the MCU, but I can confidently say I am of a small group of people when it comes to this opinion. There is, however, one thing I would like to think most people would agree with me on and that is the heart-wrenching score with Craig Armstrong created for this film. Armstrong really captures the tragic life Bruce leads and is massively deserving of being in this top 10.
IMDb Audience Score: 6.8
Metascore: 61
Standout Track: Bruce And Betty
10. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Like Marvel, Star Wars is a huge success and one of, if not, the biggest franchises in cinema history, but again, like Marvel it isn’t without its low points with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace being one of them. Even though TPM wasn’t received particularly well and let a lot of people down, John Williams did not let the team down and managed to extend on his almost near perfect score with some incredible addition. Not only did Williams bring back his infamous Star Wars score from the original trilogy, he managed to create some unforgettable tracks which has easily joined the incredible backlog of Star Wars themes. For Williams to be able to accomplish this only highlights that he truly is the best composer to ever live.
IMDb Audience Score: 6.5
Metascore: 51
Standout Track: Duel of the Fates
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The constant battle between DC and Marvel has been an argument that has existed for what feels like the length of time, but it has excelled massively, of late, when Marvel created it’s Cinematic Universe 10 years ago. Marvel has without-a-doubt created a money making machine within cinema today, so why is it that Warner Bros. have struggled to get their DC Universe off the ground, especially when they have had huge advantages over Marvel? Such as owning all the heroes within DC Comics as well as having, arguably, two of the most popular heroes, of all time, within this catalogue - Superman and Batman.
So why is it that DC are struggling to recreate the success Marvel are currently enjoying? For me the answer is simple; Marvel have never focused on competition, they do not worry themselves with beating anyone, and nor do they let failure sway them off course. They simply focus on providing their fans with the best and truest experience as possible. Some may think Marvel have had an easy ride with every film they have released being a success. This isn’t exactly true. Sure, Marvel have never turned out a flop, unlike DC, but they certainly had a bit of a rocky start to their journey. Iron Man was a brilliant film, and a great first step towards their overall goal, but their 2nd film The Incredible Hulk was not extremely well received, and nor was their follow-up to Iron Man. With the release of the first Thor movie, they were back on track, and even though Captain America seemed slightly rushed, it was still a point in the right direction. What kept their success going, was the message they were conveying behind these films, and this message is what people were on board with. Marvel then went on to release the first Avengers movie, and, in turn, introducing a whole new concept of movie making, changing cinema forever.
The question I imagine a lot of people ask is that - it was clear the concept Marvel were heading towards, why did WB take so long to get their universe off the ground? Well in 2008 when Iron Man was released, WB had released The Dark Knight, the gold standard off moviemaking, and arguably the best superhero film ever made. WB had Christopher Nolan in the bank. At this point Marvel were small fry compared to the mighty Nolan, and with a 3rd Batman in the pipeline, what did they have to worry about. Little did they know, that when the 3rd Batman was released, The Dark Knight Rises, Marvel would go ahead and break box office records with Avengers, putting DC behind by 4 whole years!
Due to The Dark Knight Rises being Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan’s last Batman film, this left WB with nothing but the view of Marvel’s incredible success. WB, of course, wanted a piece of this cake, and by rights should have been able to do it better, as they had no hold-backs like Marvel, as I mentioned earlier. Sadly, unlike Marvel, WB put their business hats before their creativity which has forever been their downfall (I say this, but they did get off to a good start in my opinion, just clearly not theirs). To kick-off their Universe, WB chose to launch it with my favourite hero, Superman. I doubt this would have been their first choice, but with it being so soon after the end of the incredibly successful Dark Knight Trilogy, Batman needed time to settle before recasting. So there came Man of Steel, the first film of the DCEU. It certainly was a rocky start, but was mostly well received by fans and has matured very well. MoS went on to gross $668m, over 100 million more than the first Iron Man, but sadly this was not good enough for WB. They have seen the success of which Marvel had now reached and weren’t happy with what they’re 2nd most popular superhero had earned them, forgetting the fact the last Superman film, Superman Returns, was an absolute disaster, so it was always fighting a losing battle.
With Marvel now onto phase 2 of their Cinematic Universe and WB with their business hats on, the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) went down a path it was not going to come back from. This path being Batman v Superman. BvS was created in order to jump several steps in WB universe building, introducing a whole new Batman, played by Ben Affleck, as well as introducing a new Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot. Even though I am a fan of this film, I cannot doubt the mess of which it has caused within the DCEU. Marvel took time to build each character before merging them together, it allowed you to understand these heroes as individuals, therefore it not being required within the team up film, allowing the film to focus on the story rather than the character building, as it would be near impossible to do so with some many big names. WB wanted to give it a crack though, and obviously failed miserably, critically and financially.
Sadly this downward trajectory kept on going and couldn’t be saved by the glimmer of hope which was Wonder Woman’s standalone film. The release of Suicide Squad and Justice League took DC to an all time low and now seems like the refresh button is being hit. Hopefully with the recent success of Aquaman and Joker shaping up to be something special, WB can hope for a bright future for DC, but sadly, they will forever be sat in Marvel’s shadow.
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As Christmas gets closer, it seemed logical to pick a scene from yet another Christmas film to add to our Scene of the Week segment. When I try to think of my favourite Christmas movie, I always come to choosing Home Alone. Home Alone is a film that really captures the Christmas spirit and is the movie I looked forward to watching every year. Not only is the film funny, it is extremely heart-warming, which is portrayed brilliantly in the scene where Kevin McCallister’s Mom finally returns back from Paris, Christmas morning, to be reunited with her son who was accidentally left behind.
There are probably more people who have seen Home Alone, than not, but to put it quickly, Home Alone stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an 8 year old boy who is accidentally left at home, by his family as they go on holiday to paris, a couple of days before Christmas. Due to extended family going on this trip the number of heads to count are many, and with a chain of unfortunate events, like a storm cutting out the electricity, resetting their alarming clock, in turn making them rush to the airport, the leaving a family member behind became somewhat plausible. As Kevin lives at home alone, he find himself having to defend his home from two extremely funny but stupid thieves trying to rob thier his home. This became the premise for the film, whilst the mom works her way back to Kevin. As the film comes to an end, and Kevin has got the thieves arrested, He wakes up Christmas day, expecting his family to be home. When he realises that no one has yet returned, you see Kevin come to the realisation that he may never see his family again. At this point the door open, revealing his tiresome mom, leading me to my Scene of the Week….
Kevin has given up hope on ever seeing his mom again, so he slowly goes back to bed. As Kevin makes his way upstairs the front door opens up behind him revealing his mom. Kevin’s Mom shouts his name, prompting Kevin to turn around and come sprinting back down the stairs. Whilst Kevin makes his journey back downstairs, his Mom looks around at the decorated house and absorbs the maturity of her 8 year old. As Kevin reaches the bottom of the stairs and turns the corner looking for his parent, she appears behind him and gasps with happiness as she sees her child in one piece. Kevin turns round but gives his mom a cold look, prompting her to apologise for leaving him behind, but Kevin is just fooling with her, soon giving her a huge grin allowing the pair to forgive each other and hug it out, capturing that mother/son bond. To add to this joyful moment, the rest of the family arrive home minutes after, with the dad joking that they got home the same time as the mom because they waited for the next flight, unlike the distressed mother desperately trying to get home by any means necessary.
This scene is an extremely emotional one, but not much happens, which is why the score was vital to express this heartwarming moment. The person tasked with do so, was the legendary, and best film composer who has ever lived, Mr John Williams. Williams has composed countless recognisable scores, with Home Alone being nearer the top of the list. The song played during this scene is called “Mom Returns and Finale”. This track really captures Home Alone, and takes me back to this scene every time I listen to it. Home Alone is a great Christmas film, made perfect by Williams’ unbelievable talent.
It really doesn’t get much better than Home Alone, when it come to Christmas films. It has everything you would want at Christmas. I could have picked so many different scenes from this timeless classic, but this scene really does capture everything that is great about the film and sums up the meaning of Christmas.
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For this week’s SotW, I’ve decided to go with a Christmas-themed scene, as the biggest day of the year is fast approaching! Now, when it comes to scenes from Christmas films, there’s no shortage of classic moments, and I consider the one I have chosen to be right up there, purely from an acting point of view. The scene comes from Love Actually, and it is immediately after Emma Thompson discovers some devastating news regarding her husband.
The story preceding this scene, with regard to Thompson’s Karen and her husband Harry, played by the late, great Alan Rickman, is that Harry’s much-younger secretary has taken a fancy to him, and probably his money, and has attempted to turn his head on more than one occasion. Karen recognised the threat of the secretary at the office Christmas party, and warned Harry to ‘be careful there’.
This brings me to this week’s SotW. Karen finds a necklace in her husband’s pocket, and gets extremely excited as he has broken his annual tradition of a new scarf for her! Later on, when the family are all sat around the tree, agreeing to open only one present in advance of Christmas Day, Karen picks what she thinks is the necklace box, only to find it is a CD box of similar size, containing a Joni Mitchell album, Both Sides Now. She is devastated, and takes herself away from the family for a moment, and this is where Thompson works her magic.
The title track from the album plays alongside this scene with devastating relevance. Thompson tries her hardest to console herself, looking around the bedroom in time with the camera doing the same, picking up glimpses of various memorabilia, most notably the various photos of her and her family, looking as happy as families do. Also, at the same time, the camera flashes to the younger secretary trying her new necklace on, looking into the camera as if it were a mirror. It’s brilliantly shot, as you get the full sense of devastation from the secretary, the soundtrack, and the brilliant Emma Thompson. She doesn’t say a word, Joni Mitchell does the talking, and Thompson’s Karen slowly breaks down as she takes in the severity of the betrayal. She initially looks around, comforting herself with little rubs of the wrists, then ends up bawling her eyes out as you’d expect. Finally, after pulling herself together, she has a little tug at the bedsheet, as if it wasn’t quite made properly, in what seems a desperate attempt to take her mind of it with normality. It’s excellent to watch, as well as heart-wrenching.
Coming back to the soundtrack, Joni Mitchell’s lyrics ring so very true:
I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all
As it’s played, you feel it directly from the point of view of Thompson’s Karen, and, as previously stated, the entire recipe is absolutely perfect in both its execution and brilliance.
While I can appreciate the choice this week is something of a curveball, I feel it’s deserving of the utmost recognition, because, not only is Love Actually a more modern Christmas classic, this scene in particular is so brilliant for the very opposite reasons we’d associate with Christmas, which is equally as powerful, and equally as difficult to execute. Enjoy it below.
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The Back to the Future Trilogy is up there with some of the best trilogies of all time. Films that use time travel as it’s premise can get very confusing and usually end up bombing, but not Back to the Future. These films make time travel easy to understand whilst keeping that element of complexity we all love about this fictional invention. This is highlighted perfectly in the the end of Part II / opening of Part III, which is why I have chosen this moment as my Scene of the Week.
What makes this scene so special is that is starts where Back to the Future Part I ends, in the 50’s, with scientist Doc Brown just about managing to send Marty McFly back home to the future he has come from. Due to certain events of Part II, we see McFly back in the 50’s as he was sent back again soon after he had arrived back from this era. With the time machine which Part II Marty came in being sent back in time to the 1800’s by accident, Marty finds himself stranded in the 1950’s. Thankfully Marty is familiar with this era, due to being sent back there before, therefore he goes to meet the young Doc Brown, where he originally left him in Part I, creating this brilliant scene which merges two scenes from two films…
As mentioned before, the scene starts with a familiar site, of Doc sending Part I Marty back to the future. The scene is exactly how we saw it in the first film. We see Doc struggling to connect two wires together to channel a lightning strike into the time travelling DeLorean which is carrying Marty, allowing him to be sent home. Just as the DeLorean hits the critical speed of 88mph, Doc manages to connect the cables, channeling enough energy into the car sending it successfully through time. Doc, relieved with the success, celebrates in the street, in between the iconic fiery tyre tread-marks, with a slow version of the iconic Alan Silvestri theme playing in the background. This scene alone is incredible, but it is made that much better when we see Marty from Part II come running round the corner behind Doc, with the unforgettable chimes played as Marty is revealed. As Silvestri's score picks up into the version we all know and love, Marty grabs Doc and spins him round. Doc, at first is confused by what he sees, but comes to quickly enough and screams in Marty’s face. “Okay. Okay! Relax, Doc! It's me! It's Marty!” yells the teenager. “No! It can't be! I just sent you back to the future.” cries Doc, leading Marty into a the goosebump providing quote - “I know. You did send me back to the future, but I'm back. I'm back from the future.” Allowing Doc to reply with his iconic saying “Great Scott!” just before fainting.
Like many of the scenes we review here at Life of Films, there is always an iconic score making it that much better. When it comes to Back to the Future, the music doesn’t get anymore iconic. Alan Silvestri, the composer, has done many memorable scores, but Back to the Future is without-a-doubt his best work, with the main theme being used for this perfect scene. Like John Williams Superman theme, Silvestri’s theme for this trilogy will live on forever.
This incredible scene is certainly complex, but what makes it so great is how well it is put together, making it incredibly easy for the audience to understand. This is the running theme for the Back to the Future, which is why it is so successful. It is clearly made with the audience in mind, and that is why it triumphs. The films aren’t trying to impress, they are just taking the viewers on an incredible journey, which many, like myself, want to ride time and time again.
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Welcoming another scene to our Scene of the Week, and it’s one from one of the greatest films of all time, and a moment which no one has ever forgotten - the death of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Not only did this scene make a mark on cinema history, it is one that has stuck with me. I will never forget the first time I saw it and the feeling I had during this emotional moment. It was unexpected, sad and left me, and I imagine many others, speechless, which is why this was an easy choice for this week’s segment.
With the group of mythical creature, known as The Fellowship of the Ring, well into their mission to destroy the powerful ring and end the war for Middle Earth, they hit a snag, which forces them to enter the Mines of Moria. As they work their way through, they draw attention to themselves causing them to run for their lives as they are chased by goblins and the fire beast known as a Balrog. The Fellowship manages to reach the end of the mines, but Gandalf fears that the Balrog will not stop, therefore turning round on the bridge leading them to their exit, to cast a spell. “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” yells Gandalf whilst he casts his magic. As the Balrog attempts to pursue The Fellowship, the bridge collapses sending the beast into the black abyss. With the beast defeated, a relieved Gandalf turns round to follow his team to the exit, but out of nowhere a fiery whip enters out of the darkness to grab the wizard’s leg. The Balrog wants to bring Gandalf with him. As we see Gandalf slip, he grabs on the edge, holding onto dear life. Looking over at his concerned friends he shouts to them “Fly you fools” and proceeds to let go, leading me into my favourite part of this scene…
Once Gandalf let’s go, the entire scene shifts from this epic masterpiece, to a very emotionally driven moment. Peter Jackson, the director, captures the devastation that has hit The Fellowship perfectly. The scene goes into a slow motion, which is how it feels for all of us when we are completely shocked. Frodo’s scream in despair as he sees a almost family-like member die, is drawn out and echoes through the scene, adding to this heart-wrenching moment. The incredible score by Howard Shore starts, which is extremely emotive all by itself. But the one thing which is a highlight for me within this scene, is Aragorn’s reaction. Viggo Mortensen’s acting here is breathtaking. Even though he doesn't say anything, the look of disbelief which he portrays is phenomenal. Aragorn is the leader of the Fellowship, they all look up to him, and in this moment you can tell he feels he has let his team down.
As the Fellowship enter the light of the outside and have reached safety, they all react in ways you would all imagine them to. Gimli tries to get back in and save someone he clearly knows has died, therefore, having to be held back, portraying this fiery Dwarf mentality. Legolas, being an elf, therefore in tune with everyone’s emotions, is stood there looking overwhelmed with what has just happened. All The Hobbits are in bits, as they are emotional creatures, leaving Boromir, the soldier who is used to death, consoling his friends as they mourn. As mentioned previously, Aragorn is the highlight of this scene, with this also being shown in how he is still acting the leader, telling everyone that they must keep moving else they will not be safe, due to Orcs coming out at nightfall, leaving them vulnerable. The complete shift in emotion from this character to what he was like in the cave to outside is perfect, providing us with incredible depth of character. We know he is devastated by what has happened, but it has not taking him away from the mission and the safety of everyone else. Aragorn's arc is all about him becoming a leader, a king, and this small snippet speaks bucket loads about his potential.
With the scene coming to a close, we see Aragorn looking around for Frodo, until he spots him walking away from the group. “FRODO” Aragorn shouts, trying to call him back. The camera pans to Frodo and zooms in on his head. Frodo turns around to look at Aragorn, with a tear running down his face, highlighting the fact Frodo wasn’t really sure what he was getting himself into, until now.
As mentioned before, the score was composed by Howard Shore, with the song played during this scene being “The Bridge of Khazad Dum”. The scene, though incredibly well directed, would not have the weight it has without this piece of music. It is perfectly emotional, and has been used in many other films and trailers since, such as The Man of Steel teaser trailer. It is an absolute masterpiece, and takes me back to this breathtaking scene every time I listen to it.
So there we have it, my review on one of the most memorable moments in cinema history. Gandalf is an iconic character, played by a superb actor in Ian McKellen. I feel most of the time deaths in films never give the characters the justice they deserve, but this certainly wasn't the case for Gandalf. I get emotional every time I watch this moment as it is nothing short of perfection.
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In this week’s Scene of the Week, I’m going to look back on what was a childhood classic for me, as well as for a whole generation, and that classic is The Lion King. There are several scenes that could’ve made the cut here, and they’d include vibes that are comedic, musical and heart-wrenching. My choice this week comes in the form of the latter. I’ve chosen the moment Simba, the young lion cub and rightful heir to the throne, finds his father Mufasa, who has just been thrown from a cliff face into a stampede of wildebeest by his own brother, Scar.
Before I get to the emotional stuff, I’ll address the extremely distinct voices that go with the characters. Firstly, Mufasa, who is voiced by the velvet James Earl Jones. As I’m sure we are all aware, he also voiced Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as in various appearances since. Jones has a voice that is instantly recognisable to most, and is an absolute joy to listen to, whether he is scolding an Imperial employee, or offering his lion cub son some fatherly words of wisdom. The next famous chords lent to a character in The Lion King belong to Mr Jeremy Irons, who voices the treacherous brother of Mufasa, Scar. Scar has lofty dreams, and is a polar opposite to his brother, as he will defy anyone to realise those dreams, including his own kin, which is precisely what happens. Other recognisable voices in the film, but not in this scene, belong to Rowan Atkinson and Whoopi Goldberg, who voice Zazu and Shenzi respectively.
The scene starts in the most desolate manner, with a single remaining wildebeest kicking up dust and dirt as it gallops off to catch its family, and we are then greeted by the most feared sight, which is that of the silhouette of Mufasa’s body lying still on the ground, and at this point we are essentially seeing what Simba is seeing, discovering the painful truth in tandem. The shot then pans to Simba, the look on his face perfectly displaying how the viewer feels. He then approaches his Dad, hesitant at first, before saying “Dad? Dad come on… You gotta get up. Dad? We gotta go home”, and, for me, you can hear in his voice that he already knows the truth, that his father is gone. It’s a truly painful 30 seconds or so to watch, and even now, at 30 years old, as I watch it back to refresh for this piece, I really struggle to hold back tears and make it through, it is that powerful. It’s Simba’s childish voice, full of innocence, hoping beyond hope that his Dad will wake, coupled with yet another iconic piece by Hans Zimmer, that really get to me here. Zimmer’s work on the entire Lion King score is nothing short of mesmeric, but this particular piece is especially powerful, coupled perfectly with what unfolds before your eyes. The piece is abruptly titled Mufasa Dies, and it is one that is not easy to listen to, but this certainly doesn’t detract from its beauty.
Following Simba’s heartbreaking discovery, we see Scar emerge from the dust, settling from the aforementioned stampede. As viewers, we are in the position of knowing what Scar has done, but Simba is none the wiser. So when Simba sees him, he is yearning for guidance, and this is all part of Scar’s plan. He apportions the blame to a young, naive Simba, telling him that it is his fault the his father is gone, and Simba is distraught. Scar then delivers the iconic, later-pivotal, line “Run away, Simba. Run. Run away, and never return”. As Simba takes his uncle’s advice and disappears, Scar coldly instructs his Hyena henchmen to “Kill him”.
This scene is a crucial moment in Simba’s life, and therefore the rest of the film. It’s so perfectly put across, in vocals, visuals and score. I have rarely seen such a perfect amalgamation, and it is part of the reason The Lion King will remain a classic forever. Check it out below.
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Another week down, and another week closer to christmas, meaning another Scene of the Week, with this week being in aid of the up-and-coming release, Creed II. The scene I have chosen is one that gets me at the back of the throat everytime, the moment Rocky finally overcomes Apollo Creed in Rocky II and executes his winning speech perfectly.
Rocky II isn’t everyone’s favourite Rocky but it is certainly up there with the better films of the saga. In Rocky I we see Rocky go the distance with the World Boxing Champ, Apollo Creed, but doesn't actually win. Due to Creed feeling embarrassed that this amatuer boxer, Rocky, took him to a points tie-breaker, he challenges Rocky to a re-match which Rocky accepts, and in the end, wins, leading me on to this week’s scene…
With both boxers fighting for the win in the last round, completely exhausted, they both collide, throwing the pair to the ground. Due to both of the boxers being absolutely drained of energy, both struggling to get up within the 10 seconds they have to rise. Just as the referee calls the number 10, Rocky manages to reach his feet, seeing Creed fall back down to his. As Rocky stands up to get the win, the final bell is rung, and the incredible overture by Bill Conti is played, instantly capturing the emotional nature of the film. Barely being able to stand Rocky is handed the belt, he breaks into his speech which is superbly delivered.
“Excuse me. I can't believe this has happened. I can't. And I just wanna say thanks to Apollo for fighting me. Apollo. I wanna thank Mickey, for training me. “ Rocky tirelessly says down the mic, with blood gushing from his face. As Rocky goes to continue his speech a fan calls out to him, “We love ya Rock” with the Italian Stallion replying in the way we all expect “Yeah I love yous too”. I love this little bit, as it really sums up Rocky, that he’s just such a kind guy, and brings a different side to boxing. Rock then proceeds with his speech, “I just also wanna thank God. Except for my kid bein' born, this is the greatest night in the history of my life. I just wanna say one thing to my wife who's home: YO, ADRIAN! I DID IT!” the screen jumps to Adrian, crying with pure happiness, the music from Bill Conti reaches it climax, in turn, creating one of the most heart warming endings in cinema.
As mentioned before, the score is composed by Bill Conti, of which he has created countless classics for the Rocky saga, with the track Overture, played in this scene, being one of the highlights. Everytime I listen to it, it brings me back to this scene, and the bags of uplifting emotions it makes you feel.
There are so many little details to this scene which I love, such as once the bell rings, and Rocky wins you see him collapse into a member of his team, only cementing that exhaustion he is feeling and in parallel to this you see Creed being picked up off the ground. Or when Micky, his trainer, hugs him right at the end, highlighting the more father/son relationship they have.
The Rocky saga is one of a kind. The character himself is one of the most relatable, nicest and genuine on screen and I for one cannot get enough of him. There’s an honesty to these films which people love, that they have managed to capture within Creed as well. This scene represents this perfectly and is one I will never get bored of. I hope Creed II keeps this theme going, and I am sure it will as long as Sylvester Stallone is a part of them.
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This week in our Scene of the Week feature, we again turn our attention to another impeccable Christopher Nolan-helmed moment, and it comes from The Dark Knight Rises. TDKR is a funny one, in terms of wider opinion. The vast majority of people think highly of it, but there is a fair share of not-so-sure, even dislike, out there. We at Life of Films are unashamedly large fans of Nolan’s body of work and directorial style, so naturally we’re in the former camp. The scene I have picked from TDKR is Batman’s first appearance.
The story up until this point in the film, as far as the public are concerned, is that it has been eight years since the death of Harvey Dent, and that Batman was responsible for killing him and has been in hiding ever since, and only a handful of people know that this is simply a cover up for Dent/Two Face’s murder spree and descent into madness.
With that in mind, the scene upon Batman’s return is one of mixed emotion. There’s an amazing introduction to his initial appearance, followed by a brief moment of sympathy from the viewer towards Batman. Firstly, we see the police involved in a chase through a tunnel with Bane and his henchmen, who have just robbed the stock exchange, and have taken some members of the public hostage on the back of their motorcycles in order to shield them from gunfire and facilitate their escape. As the police tail the bikes, the tunnel’s lights begin to dim sequentially in the mirror of one of the police cars. In the cruiser, we see two cops, one older, one younger. The younger asks “What’s going on with the lights?”, and the older cop ignores this question in amazement, simply saying “It can’t be!”, followed by “Boy you are in for a show tonight, son!”, and this is where we see the lights come back on, and Batman zoom past a goon’s bike, taking him out in the process. The way it is shot is fantastic; we see Batman enter the shot at speed from the left hand side of the frame, and completely wipe the thug out, before coming to a skidding stop, where he then reaches down for his EMP gun, taking out another bike engine with an accuracy like he’d never been away! Batman then continues to tail the lead two bikes, one of them being Bane, before Bane peels away, allowing Batman to draw the attention of the police while he makes his get away. Batman stays on the remaining bike, outfoxing him by taking a shortcut, removing the hostage with his grapple gun, and has the Batpod upend him. This is the moment the brief pang of sympathy comes in, and it’s brief for a reason. Batman has thwarted the chase in signature style, but we then remember the all-important cover up, and that the police actually want Batman’s head. We see choppers, patrol cars, the works, all close in on Batman and he’s seemingly trapped. It’s a sad moment because of how heroic and self-sacrificial he is from the previous instalments. But that doesn’t last long, because in true Batman style, he’s out of there in a flash, utilising the ramp of a truck as his getaway route.
This scene wouldn’t be complete without Han Zimmer’s genius all over it. Along with John Williams, Zimmer is our favourite composer, as he brings a signature style to any genre he covers, which is commendable to say the least. Throughout this scene, the score is of the utmost importance; from Batman’s return as the lights come back on, to when we see the police close in on Batman, the score plays a huge part in drawing feelings from you as a viewer, alongside what is actually happening. For me, it is of particular quality when the police close in as it heightens that aforementioned feeling of sympathy, almost serving as a punch to the stomach, that Batman is technically the enemy here, but in a perverse, selfless way. It’s gutting. But then the score equally serves to pick you right back up again, as he makes the entire police force look like fools and makes his way out with ease.
This isn’t the first scene we’ve chosen for SotW that Nolan is responsible for, and I’d imagine it won’t be the last. With so much quality coming from one man’s directorial vision and execution, it’s difficult to choose the best, but we’ll have good fun trying! Enjoy the scene below.
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Kick-Ass is a film that goes under many peoples radar, but is, without a doubt, the film which put Matthew Vaughn on the map. Kick-Ass is a very radical twist on the superhero genre, with very adult themes and an extremely realistic approach. I am a huge fan of this film, as it really rings home the inner nerd in me, making it, in a weird way, very relatable. Kick-Ass has many memorable scenes, but none of them really compare to the whacky but inspiring scene, where Hit-Girl, saves her father, aka Big Daddy, which is why I have chosen this to be my Scene of the Week.
The scene starts with Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace-Moretz) presumed dead, and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Kick Ass captured by the villain of the films, Frank D’Amico’s, henchmen’ With D’Amico wanting to make a point, he airs the execution of both of the heroes over the internet, to make sure that he never has the issue of “super heroes” again. As the whole of America watch, with Kick-Ass and Big Daddy about to be killed, we hear Kick-Ass voice narrate over the scene whilst being tortured, only helping to build more of the tension as they are both about to die. “Even with my metal plates and my fucked up nerve endings, I gotta tell you, that hurt! But not half as much as the idea of leaving everything behind. Katie, my dad, Todd and Marty... and all the things I'd never do. Like learn to drive or see what me and Katie's kids would look like or find out what happened on "Lost". And if you're reassuring yourself that I'm going to make it through this since I'm talking to you now, quit being such a smart-ass! Hell dude, you never seen "Sin City"? "Sunset Boulevard"? "American Beauty"?” states Kick-Ass just before they are about to be burnt alive. As one of the henchmen slowly walk up behind them with a lighter in his hand, ready to ignite the heroes, he is shot in the head by the presumed dead Hit-Girl…
Hit-Girl proceeds to take out all of the lights, leaving the entire gang blinded, seeing her switch to night-vision, as we watch this little girl take on an entire gang of men, like they are nothing. In pure panic a henchman sets Big Daddy on fire with the lighter that was held by the leader prior, therefore lighting up the room, giving away Hit-Girl’s position a way. To aid in her attack, whilst burning, Big Daddy screams to Hit-Girl code, saying things such as “Now switch to Kryptonite!” triggering Hit-Girl to add a strobing flashlight attachment to her gun which blinds the criminals in front of her as she shoots them. The fact Big Daddy is burning alive, but still trying to aid his daughter is an incredible representation of the love he has for his 10 year-old girl. That even though he is going through the worst pain ever, he is still only thinking about her safety. She then uses that strobing light as a decoy as she places it on a shelf, making everyone shoot at that whilst she sneaks up behind them to finish them all off.
This scene would not be half of what it is without the for the extraordinary score by John Murphy. There are two tracks played during, that link together perfectly. There’s “Nightvision” and then there’s “Strobe”. What is perfect about the music in this scene is that it captures the epicness of the moment, as this young girl destroys a professional gang of mobsters, as well as there being this strong undercurrent of sadness and emotion as her father is essentially dying whilst she is kicking ass trying to save him. It’s really a piece of music that gives you goosebumps.
I have watched this scene countless times and never get bored. It doesn’t get any more heroic than this moment, and it’s all done by a little girl no older than 10 years old. It’s very strange, but in a fascinating way, which is the theme for Kick-Ass throughout, making this scene perfect, and, in turn, making the director, Matthew Vaughn, a favourite of mine.
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