The blog of Amon Warmann: Film journalist.

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Interview | Harry Gregson-Williams Talks The Martian

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There are few composers working today who are as prolific as Harry Gregson-Williams. A veteran of over 20 years, his impressive career spans television, video games, and films such as the Shrek and The Chronicles of Narnia franchises.

Last August we were invited to the world famous Abbey Road Studios where Gregson-Williams was finishing up his score for The Martian, Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated fall blockbuster. We were lucky enough to see 15 minutes of footage set to his musical cues, with the quickly catchy theme being employed in interesting ways. The finished product is sure to be a memorable addition to both Scott’s filmography and Gregson-Williams’ discography.

Before that aural treat, we had the opportunity to sit down with Gregson-Williams, and during the course of our illuminating tête-à-tête the composer talks about working with the Scott brothers, the process of creating a score, and why working on franchises can be tricky. Have a read below.

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Film Review | 99 Homes

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★★★★☆

Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield make for an unlikely yet compelling duo in Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, a powerful two-hander of a thriller that loses none of its impact despite its heavy-handed nature.

After a tone-setting tracking shot which features the body of an evictee who shot himself during the course of a foreclosure we meet Dennis Nash (Garfield, sans Spidey spandex for the first time since 2010), a construction worker whose trade has been hit hard by the financial crisis. With bills mounting up and no money to pay them with, it’s not long before ruthless real-estate broker Rick Carver (Shannon) is knocking at Nash’s door and evicting him, his Mother (Laura Dern) and his young son (Noah Lomax) out of their home. Desperate to get his family out of their now squalid accommodations, Nash reluctantly accepts an offer to work for the very man who evicted him in the first place.

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Film Review | Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

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★★☆☆☆

Near the end of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the sequel to Wes Ball’s decent YA adaptation The Maze Runner, the main character declares “I’m tired of running”. It’s a telling piece of dialogue that can be applied to this overlong sequel, which is sorely lacking in the necessary character and narrative legwork. It makes for the worst kind of middle chapter; one that you have to watch, but isn’t really all that compelling.

We immediately rejoin Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scoledario) and the other Gladers who are now being transported to a remote complex following their escape from the maze. While his compatriots are all too happy with finally having hot showers, a bed, and more provided by the shifty man in charge Janson (Game of Thrones’ Aiden Gillen), Thomas is instantly suspicious of their new surroundings. It isn’t long before his instincts are proved correct, and the film’s best scene sees Thomas and the Gladers escaping the underground facility, emerging into the desolate and unforgiving Scorch.

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Film Review | American Ultra

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★★★½☆

Things start simply enough in Nima Nourizadeh’s American Ultra as we meet Mike (Jesse Eisenberg), an unmotivated stoner who works at his local cash and carry and lives with the girl of his dreams Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). Their lives are turned upside down when it comes to light that Mike is actually a highly trained sleeper agent created by the CIA, who have just targeted him for termination. To survive against deadly government assassins led by power mad agent Yates (Topher Grace), Mike must put his newly discovered set of skills to good use.

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Film Review | Straight Outta Compton

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★★★★★

When discussing the distinguished pantheon of hip hop greats, it would be impossible not to mention N.W.A. Their 1988 debut album Straight Outta Compton – which features the incendiary anthem ‘F**k tha Police’, a statement track which feels sadly timely given recent stateside events – had an unquantifiable impact on the evolution of hip-hop. As such, you’d be hard pressed to find worthier subjects for the music biopic treatment, and in translating their story to the big screen director F. Gary Gray has produced a fittingly raw and powerful film.

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Film Review | The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

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★★★½☆

2015 has been a great year for spies at the multiplex. Not only have the movies been entertaining, they have all offered different takes on the espionage genre. Kingsman: The Secret Service brought back the cool gadgets: Spy was a hilarious comedy: and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation set the bar high for action. Enter Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: based on the spy-fi NBC TV series (which aired from 1964 to 1968), it has all the stylistic elements you’d expect from the director, benefitting more from the chemistry of its cast than its storytelling or action.

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Interview | Nat Wolff & John Green Discuss Paper Towns

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Paper Towns is the second of John Green’s highly popular books to get the silver screen treatment. The first to make the jump to celluloid was the 2014 hit The Fault in Our Stars, in which Nat Wolff played the blind friend to Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort’s lead characters. Whereas that was more of a supporting role, Paper Towns sees Wolff graduate to leading man status and his talents are all the better displayed for it.

I took part in a roundtable discussion ahead of the movie’s UK release, and while Green spoke of comparisons to John Hughes, Wolff discussed who he’d like to work with in future and how the Pokémon theme song found its way into the film. It’s all been transcribed for your reading pleasure below.

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