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THE PRAISE:

ARBITRAGE- Cliff Martinez

"Between this cast and the conviction [writer-director Nicholas] Jarecki brings to the table, the film feels incredibly accomplished for a first feature, demonstrating production values on par with those of full-blown studio pics, including crisp lensing by Yorick Le Saux ('I Am Love') and a tense tonal score from Cliff Martinez ('Drive')."

Peter DeBruge, Variety

ANNA KARENINA - Dario Marianelli

"But the film itself is the very opposite of stagy. The camera hurtles through the scenery as if in hungry pursuit; the lush colors of the upholstery and the costumes pulsate with feeling; the music (by Dario Marianelli) howls and sighs and the performances are fresh, energetic and alive. Compressing the important events of Tolstoy’s thousand pages into an impressively swift two hours and change, Mr. Wright turns a sweeping epic into a frantic and sublime opera."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

BEING FLYNN - Badly Drawn Boy [Damon Gough]

"Pic gets much of its humanity from Badly Drawn Boy's unconventional, string-driven score."

Peter DeBruge, Variety

BEL AMI - Lakshman Joseph de Saram, Rachel Portman

"Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, theater veterans making their first feature, succeed at capturing the affluence and experimentation in Belle Époque France, if not in generating dramatic momentum. Amid the salons and soirees, the persuasive newsroom clamor and 'love nest' afternoons, the score by Lakshman Joseph de Saram and Rachel Portman helps to emphasize the spiritedness of the milieu, even as the characters grow increasingly cynical and callous. Intriguing political aspects of the story involving military designs on Morocco and the influence of the media would have more resonance if the human drama had more heft."

Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times

CHASING MAVERICKS - Chad Fischer

"Topnotch tech package is distinguished by Bill Pope’s clean lensing, Ida Random’s production design and Sophie de Rakoff’s costumes, while Chad Fischer’s score and Andrea von Foerster’s ‘90s-centric soundtrack dramatically enhance the action."

Justin Chang, Variety

CHICKEN WITH PLUMS - Olivier Bernet

"Oliver Bernet's score matches the near perfect balance."

Jay Weissberg, Variety

CLOUD ATLAS - Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek

"Visually vivid, with an aching score co-written by Tykwer, ‘Cloud Atlas’ celebrates a liberation cosmology."

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

THE COMEDY - Rick Alverson, Champ Bennett

"[Writer-director-composer Rick] Alverson’s unfussy filmmaking breathes quiet assurance, as Mark Schwartzbard’s HD lensing and a deftly underplayed synth score (by Alverson and Champ Bennett) invite the viewer into a contemplative state."

Justin Change, Variety

COMPLIANCE - Heather McIntosh

"Adam Stone’s widescreen lensing makes expert use of the pic's sparse locations, while Heather McIntosh’s surging orchestral score imbues the banal horror of the proceedings with a genuinely tragic dimension."

Justin Chang, Variety

CONTRABAND - Clinton Shorter

"It helps that composer Clinton Shorter ('District 9') keeps the beat pulsing while cinematographer Barry Ackroyd ('The Hurt Locker') has the cameras flying as the chasing and the dodging unfolds."

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - Hans Zimmer

"'The Dark Knight Rises' borrows key elements from several famed comic-book storylines, most notably 'Knightfall,' in which Bane crippled Batman in a fight, and Frank Miller’s 'The Dark Knight Returns,' in which an aging Batman was forced out of retirement, his body creaking and groaning. But the movie is ultimately less devoted to loving homage and hero worship than to completing the story that started in 2005’s 'Batman Begins.' Nolan co-opts the superhero genre: He plays by its rules and delivers some extraordinary set pieces, many of them done with old-school practical effects instead of CGI. More than an hour of the film was shot with IMAX cameras, to sensational effect, because Nolan understands showmanship and spectacle, and he uses Hans Zimmer’s rousing, restless score to exhilarating effect. Nestled inside this brooding, dark picture is a mandate to entertain."

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

DREDD - Paul Leonard-Morgan

"Director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle creates an evocative dirty-neon future world. Paul Leonard-Morgan's thumping techno soundtrack is thrilling. And Urban manages to give a credibly wry performance using little more than his gravelly, imitation-Eastwood voice -- and his chin."

Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly

ELENA - Philip Glass

"Though it unfolds patiently and methodically, 'Elena' pulses with tremendous tension as the stakes increase -- a terrific Philip Glass score helps in that department -- and a couple of sharp, surprising turns in the final minutes catapult the film in an unexpected direction. It’s an austere Russian drama with shades of Hitchcock."

Scott Tobias, The Onion

FOOTNOTE - Amit Poznansky

"Exqusitively assembled, with a pointedly grand musical score to emphasize the titanic (and at times hilarious) nature of filial duty, 'Footnote' is itself a perfect little piece of Talmud, full of text, commentary, and colorful argument."

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

FOR GREATER GLORY - James Horner

"Dean Wright, who directed 'For Greater Glory' from a screenplay by Michael Love, was the visual effects wizard behind the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. This movie, which was filmed on many of the actual sites of the conflict, is impressively spacious. The expansive scale and brisk but unhurried editing keep 'For Greater Glory' from stumbling over itself and becoming a bloated, grandiose exhibition of righteous saber rattling. The symphonic score by James Horner confers an inspirational mood that is uplifting without being syrupy."

Stephen Holden, New York Times

HAYWIRE - David Holmes

"In spite of the pulsing David Holmes score at his disposal, Soderbergh drops all but the raw sound of pummeling from the fights, a masterstroke that Carano's dexterity makes possible."

Scott Tobias, The Onion

THE INNKEEPERS - Jeff Grace

"There's nothing at all campy or in-jokey about 'The Innkeeper [sic] '; one might say West is deadly seriously [sic] throughout. But composer Jeff Grace's shrewdly moody music -- which greatly enhances the sense of mounting dread in the pic's second half -- has strong hints of Bernard Herrmann's classic scores for Alfred Hitchcock, suggesting that, like many other makers of thrillers, West sees nothing wrong with an occasional allusion to the Master of Suspense."

Joe Leydon, Variety

JOHN CARTER - Michael Giacchino

"The Pixar touch is evident in the precision of the visual detail and in the wit and energy of Michael Giacchino’s score, but the quality control that has been exercised over this project also has a curiously undermining effect. The movie eagerly sells itself as semitrashy, almost-campy fun, but it is so lavish and fussy that you can’t help thinking that it wants to be taken seriously, and therefore you laugh at, rather than with, its mock sublimity."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

KILL LIST - Jim Williams

"What happens next is brutal and bloody and utterly unnerving, thanks in no small measure to Jim Williams's brilliant score, which is filled with strings so taut, they sound like screams you might hear in the distance and decide (quite sensibly) to ignore."

Chuck Wilson, L.A. Weekly

KILLING THEM SOFTLY - Marc Streitenfeld

"Composer Marc Streitenfeld weaves a rich, at times discordant tapestry out of piano, ambient music and Depression-era songs like 'It's Only a Paper Moon.'"

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

A LATE QUARTET - Angelo Badalamenti

"The music itself is heart-wrenching, the esteemed Brentano String Quartet playing the Opus excerpts and the film’s composer, Angelo Badalamenti, creating a score that complements Beethoven in remarkable ways."

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

LAWLESS - Nick Cave, Warren Ellis

"Cherry on top is an inventive score composed by Cave and Warren Ellis, and performed by the Bootleggers, a lineup that includes Bad Seed Martyn Casey and Groove Armada's George Vjestic; together, they deliver an insinuating hillbilly-punk sound that's neither period pastiche nor anachronism, but something deliciously other.  A cover of Lou Reed's 'White Light/White Heat,' sung by bluegrass singer Ralph Stanley, reps one of several highlights. Integrated seamlessly with the sound design and editing, the music feels completely integral to the film's impressive total effect."

Leslie Felperin, Variety

LIFE OF PI - Mychael Danna

"At all times, the film, shot by Claudio Miranda and with production design by David Gropman, is ravishing to look at, and the 3D work is discreetly powerful. Mychael Danna composed the emotionally fluent score."

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

LINCOLN - John Williams

"Expectations for 'Lincoln' could not possibly have been higher, and I’m inclined to think that Spielberg’s biggest challenge in making it lay in overcoming his own worst impulses. It could so easily have turned into sweeping oratory, montages of Civil War dead and a slow-motion assassination scene in Ford’s Theatre, all set to a keening John Williams violin score. ('Lincoln' does in fact have a score by Williams, but it’s effective and rarely obtrusive.)"

Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

LOLA VERSUS - Fall on Your Sword

"Working with a bigger budget allows for a great hipster score by Fall on Your Sword and lovely lensing from gifted Swedish d.p. Jakob Ihre."

Peter Debruge, Variety

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS - RZA, Howard Drossin

"The score from RZA and Howard Drossin is wonderful, with touches of Ennio Morricone and found sound, even if the film’s reliance on anachronistic soundtrack music from Isaac Hayes and Kanye West can distract."

Andrew Barker, Variety

THE MASTER - Jonny Greenwood

"Our minds sometimes play tricks on us, substituting invention for memory. Movies turn this lapse into a principle, manufacturing collective fantasies that are often more vivid, more real, than what actually happened. 'The Master,' unfolding in the anxious, movie-saturated years just after World War II,  is not a work of history in the literal or even the conventionally literary sense. The strange and complicated story it has to tell exists beyond the reach of doubt or verification. The cumulative artifice on display is beautiful -- camera movements that elicit an involuntary gasp, passages in Jonny Greenwood’s score that raise the hair on the back of your neck, feats of acting that defy comprehension -- but all of it has been marshaled in the pursuit of a new kind of cinematic truth. This is a movie that defies understanding even as it compels reverent, astonished belief."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

MOONRISE KINGDOM - Alexandre Desplat

"The musical choices, with Randall Poster as music supervisor, and original music by Alexandre Desplat, are so inventive they become their own musical force."

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

NOBODY WALKS - Fall on Your Sword

"With such a limited scope, the story could easily have been improvised on camera over a long weekend at a friend’s Hollywood home with ho budget or production values, but [writer director Ry] Russo-Young has graduated beyond her scrappy mumblecore-based roots. Instead, ‘Nobody Walks’ looks and sounds great, beautifully lit and lensed by Christopher Blauvelt, assisted by a hip/hypnotic score from Fall on Your Sword (a band co-founded by former LCD Soundsystem guitarist Phil Mossman) and professionally cut together by accomplished doc editor John Walker. In other words, 'Nobody Walks' feels like a real movie."

Peter DeBruge, Variety

NORWEGIAN WOOD - Jonny Greenwood

"Individual scenes are hermetic dreamscapes of piercing beauty, with Jonny Greenwood's extraordinary score an essential ingredient."

Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN - Geoff Zanelli

"Propelled by Geoff Zanelli’s stirring score, which blends folk instruments with human voices and natural sounds, Hedges’ treatment of the supernatural is easy to accept, and these interruptions help to put the pic’s magical realism in perspective."

Peter Debruge, Variety

THE RAID: REDEMPTION - Mike Shinoda, Joseph Trapanese

"Though the incredibly choreographed fighting sequences (which highlight the Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat) threaten to get monotonous about two-thirds of the way through, the story has enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, not to mention a brilliant, pulsating score (one of the best of the year)."

David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle

RED HOOK SUMMER - Bruce Hornsby

“'Red Hook Summer,' like most of Mr. Lee’s films, has a prominent musical soundtrack that underscores the editorial tone of the screenplay, written by Mr. Lee with James McBride. Its binding ingredient is the sturdy, gospel-tinged piano of Bruce Hornsby, while Enoch’s services are lifted by performances of a strong gospel choir directed by Jim Davis."

Stephen Holden, New York Times

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS - Alexandre Desplat

"Composer Alexandre Desplat really gets a workout here, dextrously blanketing the film with ever-changing tempos and motifs to suit the moment and propel the action."

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

RUBY SPARKS - Nick Urata

"The most distinctive craft element is the music, blending classical selections with Nick Urata’s arpeggio-heavy score to produce dramtic, often frenzied accompaniment for Calvin’s turmoil."

Justin Chang, Variety

SAFE - Mark Mothersbaugh

"Showing unexpected chops as an action choreographer, [writer-director Boaz] Yakin often reaches the bloody sweet spot where mayhem becomes indistinguishable from slapstick. He also salutes classic Hollywood by playing down the usual B-movie rap and techno in favor of a moody orchestral score by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh."

Mark Jenkins, Washington Post

SINISTER - Christopher Young

"Still, a tip of the hat to sound designers Marc Aramian and Dane Davis, who concocted a static-filled, scratchy old music-loop aural milieu for this spookiness. The silent movies are chillingly scored with their effects and Christopher Young's music."

Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

SISTER - John Parish

"Capturing the action with her trademark documentary-style eye, [cinematographer Agnes] Godard uses a handheld camera to keep us forever at our young hero’s side, isolating him against the crowded carefree world of skiers on holiday, as well as the grimier underbelly of the workers who serve them. Editor Quettier keeps things tight for the most part, although the movie’s middle and closing sections seem to lag at a few points. Thankfully, a moody guitar score from P.J. Harvey producer John Parish helps keep things in line."

Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter

SKYFALL - Thomas Newman

"Thomas Newman's first-rate score, to my mind the best since the days of John Berry [sic], is the cherry on top."

Glenn Kenny, MSN.com

TRISHNA - Shigeru Umebauashi

"Even the music, which mixes [Amit] Trivedi’s songs with a beautiful original score by Shigeru Umebayashi (composer for Wong Kar-Wai and Zhang Yimou), reinforces the helmer’s unique approach to the material."

Peter DeBruge, Variety

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE - Marco Beltrami

"The conspicuous newcomer to Eastwood's team, composer Marco Beltrami, turns in a good, low-key score, in keeping with the aspirations and qualities of the film."

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

THE WELL-DIGGER’S DAUGHTER - Alexandre Desplat

"There’s some striking imagery -- late-afternoon sunlight peeking through wheat stalks, a quiet stream running through the French countryside, bright interiors -- an an airy, evocative score courtesy of Alexandre Desplat, but the characters’ dealings with one another (whether romantic, businesslike or otherwise) are too routine to live up to the formal elements encasing them."

Michael Nordine, L.A. Weekly

WON’T BACK DOWN - Marcelo Zarvos

"Inexplicably color-timed to look like a horror movie, the high contrast footage tries to suggest a level of grit otherwise missing from the material -- sometimes in direct contrast with d.p. Roman Osin’s elegant long takes and Marcelo Zarvos’ stirring score."

Peter Debruge, Variety

WRECK-IT-RALPH - Henry Jackman

"The vintage gaming influences permeate every aspect of the production, from the 8-bit Disney logo that opens the film to Henry Jackman's dynamic score, which supplies a different sound for each world while tipping its hat to Koji Kondo and the composers of classic Namco and Nintendo themes."

Peter Debruge, Variety

ZERO DARK THIRTY - Alexandre Desplat

"There's no riding off into the sunset once the mission is complete, no swell of inspirational music; Alexandre Desplat's score is suitably understated, too. Just a few heartfelt hugs and some tears, all of them hard-earned."

Christy Lemire, Associated Press


THE PANS:

ACT OF VALOR - Nathan Furst

"These are serious, highly trained individuals forced to deliver drippingly sentimental narration and to exchange manly but meaningful glances while weeping violins egg them on."

Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN - James Horner

"Marc Webb, best known for directing the inventive indie rom-com '(500) Days of Summer,' again proves adept at capturing the emotional currents between characters, especially the young and love-struck Peter and Gwen. And he handles the action sequences with clarity and graceful pacing, especially when Spidey is whooshing over Sixth Avenue with a gorgeously choreographed assist from a squadron of friendly crane operators. (Still, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' suffers from its share of overkill, not only in its running time but in James Horner’s bombastic, assaultive musical score. Enough already.)"

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

THE APPARITION - tomandandy

"The effects are as generic as the cookie-cutter mission revival house the film is set in. The soundtrack, by tomandandy, is a sort of cinematic spooky house music -- overly insistent and incessant."

Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

THE AVENGERS - Alan Silvestri

“When 'Iron Man' clicked with audiences four summers ago, the reasons were both clear and refreshing: Downey and Gwyneth Paltrow, who returns here, had unusually potent comic chemistry, and although director Jon Favreau (one of the producers on 'The Avengers') wasn't a genius at staging action, he knew how to establish a tone and stick to it. So does Whedon, though I surely do wish someone other than Alan Silvestri had composed the music; this stuff is so generic, the movie would actually be better off with no music and someone in voiceover merely saying 'And here we'll have some stirring triumphal nonsense like the stuff you heard three scenes ago.' Little matter, at least to the box office."

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

BATTLESHIP - Steve Jablonsky

"There's a shred of 'Starship Troopers'-like political commentary about humanity needlessly provoking an enemy that has no interest in it, but any such thoughts are blasted away in a hail of metal spaceballs and a Steve Jablonsky score (featuring producer Rick Rubin and guitarist Tom Morello) that sounds like 'Inception' dropped down a flight of stairs."

Scott Tobias, The Onion

BEL AMI - Lakshman Joseph de Saram, Rachel Portman

"'Bel Ami' is the first feature from co-directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, better known for over three decades of stage work with their international theater company, Cheek by Jowl. The film’s extremely professional and a little hesitant, and it leans much too hard on a swooning score by Rachel Portman and Lakshman Joseph de Saram. Aural wallpaper, the music overwhelms the movie without ever filling the hole where a scoundrel should be."

Ty Burr, Boston Globe

THE BOURNE LEGACY - James Newton Howard

"Besides, 'The Bourne Legacy' isn’t the sort of picture that takes risks, other than to see just how loud James Newton Howard’s score can go without causing permanent deafness in the audience."

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

CHASING MAVERICKS - Chad Fischer

"Screenwriter Kario Salem delivers an endless supply of obstacles, without satisfactorily resolving any of them. Jay’s mom (Elisabeth Shue) is a drunken layabout; his dad disappeared years ago. His crush (Leven Rambin) is enigmatically distant; his best friend (Devin Crittenden) buys drugs from the local bully (Taylor Handley). And Frosty has his own issues, which his adoring wife (Abigail Spencer) tries to repair by encouraging him to mentor Jay. If you’re not sure how to respond to all this drama, Chad Fischer’s score will guide you."

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY - Benoit Jutras

"Benoit Sutras' [sic] score doesn't help matters; it is the bland, elevator-style world music variety. The sudden arrival of glorious Beatles songs in remixed surround sound like 'Octopus's Garden,' 'Glass Onion' and 'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite' jars us out of our premature golden slumbers."

Howard Cohen, Miami Herald

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY - Lucas Vidal

"The generic score, courtesy of composer Lucas Vidal ('The Raven'), is unremarkably ever-present, albeit frequently drowned out by the screeching tires and crunching metal offered by a busy foley department."

Charles Gant, Variety

COMPLIANCE - Heather McIntosh

"Also of interest is the way that [writer-director Craig] Zobel's chosen to make the manager quite remarkably frumpy while the victim Becky is almost hallucination-worthy attractive, and that he stokes the mutual resentment potentially inherent in this dynamic right from the start. These little touches (not to mention an arty string-quartet-then-chamber-ensemble music score that seems to make a point of being exactly the type of music that none of the film's lumpen characters might never be caught dead listening to), aside from testing the credulity of this specific scenario, are sufficient to make one suspect the good faith of the filmmaker himself, and to wonder to what extent he's using the 'inspired by true events' tag as a get-out-of-jail-free card with respect to his perspective on the characters in the film."

Glenn Kenny, MSN

DAMSELS IN DISTRESS - Mark Suozzo, Adam Schlesinger

"The musical score, by Mark Suozzo and Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), evokes a bad television movie from the 1980s, and its deployment is as haphazard as the pacing and juxtaposition of the scenes."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - Hans Zimmer

"At over two hours and 40 minutes long, with repeated scenes of bone-crunching violence and a maddeningly unrelenting percussive score by Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises is something of an ordeal to sit through."

Dana Stevens, Slate.com

DARK TIDE - Mark Sayfritz

"'Dark Tide' too quickly loses sight of the human drama and becomes a pseudodocumentary. Instead of an authoritative voice-over, characters who can hardly be distinguished from one another because of their goggles and scuba suits yell in semidarkness, their voices obscured by a pounding musical soundtrack. It is often impossible to figure out what’s going on."

Stephen Holden, New York Times

THE DETAILS - tomandandy

"An unexpectedly light follow-up to filmmaker Jacob Aaron Estes’s fine and disturbing 2004 drama 'Mean Creek,' 'The Details' wears its quirky heart on its sleeve, signaling (and smirking at) its own silliness, at every opportunity, with an intrusively antic score that makes everything sound like a giant joke."

Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post

THE EXPENDABLES 2 - Brian Tyler

"The high volume of deafening explosions necessitatated a great daeal of distractingly post-dubbed dialogue, also forced to compete with a hemorrhaging score and an insistently nostalgic soundtrack of ‘60s and ‘70s tunes."

Justin Chang, Variety

THE EYE OF THE STORM - Paul Grabowsky

"In those flashbacks, which reveal the crux of the conflict between mother and daughter, jazzy music by Branford Marsalis accurately suggests emotional turbulence.  But it feels out of kilter with the rest of the film, during which Paul Grabowsky's twee score serves mostly to cover embarrassing silences."

Russell Edwards, Variety

HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN [TV] - Javier Navarrete

"At first glance, Clive Owen seems like an inspired choice to play Hemingway, but he's reduced to snarl and swagger.  Then again, virtually every choice by director Philip Kaufman proves questionable, from the deadening use of grainy footage meant to approximate old newsreels to the over-the-top score composed by Javier Navarrete."

Brian Lowry, Variety

HERE COMES THE BOOM - Rupert Gregson-Williams

"Tech credits are first rate, although Rupert Gregson-Williams’ music is used in rather ham-fisted fashion.  But no one should approach ‘Here Comes the Boom’ expecting subtlety."

John Anderson, Variety

HITCHCOCK - Danny Elfman

"Pic manages a reasonable evocation of late ‘50s/early ‘60s Hollywood but still looks somewhat underrealized, and the occasional use of Bernard Herrmann’s screeching violins only accentuates the blandness of the film’s main score."

Justin Chang, Variety

HOPE SPRINGS - Theodore Shapiro

"Well, hey, come for the possibility of a naughty group grope and a sex comedy artificially sweetened by a gummy, chirpy soundtrack of directional mood music and easy-listening songs.  But stay for the silences in the exquisitely painful, realistic therapy sessions."

Lisa Scharzbaum, Entertainment Weely

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME - Michael Andrews

"It’s a crazy day, and the Duplasses, aided by the sometimes forced jauntiness of Michael Andrews’s musical score, make it seem at once wildly farcical and fairly ordinary."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

JOHN CARTER - Michael Giacchino

"The movie begs a strong, unifying musical theme, but the best that Michael Giacchino can muster is a vaguely 'Lawrence of Arabia'-sounding score, while the designs of everything from Martian cities to alien life forms lack the visionary qualities that lodge in one's imagination, much less spark toy sales and theme-park attendance."

Peter DeBruge, Variety

LOCKOUT - Alexandre Azaria

"'Why don't we just kill that lunatic?' one of the escapees asks the reflective Scot leader-escapee. The audience might as well just say it along with him: 'Because he's my brother.' Yeah, yeah, we know, but of course the orchestral score by Alexandre Azaria has to hammer it home with a three-chord flourish that the makers of Universal horror films of the '40s might have rejected as too obvious."

Glenn Kenny, MSN.com

MEN IN BLACK 3 - Danny Elfman

"For the first 20 minutes or so, nothing special is going on, and it seems that 'Men in Black 3' will be content to spin its wheels and collect its money en route through the usual overscaled action set pieces toward a superloud, planet-saving final showdown. The music sounds less like a score by Danny Elfman than like a score by Danny Elfman's smartphone app, and it carries dreadful intimations of forced fun. But even as the movie carefully fulfills its blockbuster imperatives -- with chases and explosions and elaborately contrived plot twists -- it swerves into some marvelously silly, unexpectedly witty and genuinely fresh territory. Go figure."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

ONE FOR THE MONEY - Deborah Lurie

"Not long ago it would have been possible to convey the bland, lazy, pedestrian qualities of this picture -- its lackadaisical pacing, by-the-numbers performances, irritating music and drab visual texture -- by likening it to a made-for-TV movie or an episode of a series on basic cable. But nowadays that would be praise, and movies like this must set their own standard for mediocrity."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

RED TAILS - Terence Blanchard

"The main subplot finds the aces courting local bombshells in the Sicilian countryside (it seems that racism was absent in idyllic Allied Italy) to which composer Terrence Blanchard – who's done some exciting work with Spike Lee -- brings the light touch of sighing accordions. (The snare-rolling score for the air battles is similarly ham-fisted, but the sound design, which can take on the psychedelic quality of the Transformers franchise, is among the film's few strengths.)"

Forrest Wickman, Slate.com

SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN - Dario Marianelli

"What's left is the love story, which waltzes along with the schmaltzy score by Dario Marianelli."

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNSTMAN - James Newton Howard

"After an overwrought beginning -- during which drops of blood fall to the snow with a crash, and James Newton Howard’s score roars and howls like Wagner with a stubbed toe -- the movie comes down to earth and springs to life when Mr. Hemsworth shows up. His huntsman, like the dwarfs, is a gruff human presence in a world that might otherwise have been too airily and abstractly fantastical."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

A THOUSAND WORDS - John Debney

"Sure, there are cheap sex gags and broad slapstick routines, but the movie seems sincere about its self-help-book moral. Sincere, yet too conventional to experience its own spiritual breakthrough. When a transformed Jack asks Caroline to listen to the silence, what the audience hears is not silence but syrupy movie music. Even when 'A Thousand Words' is counseling us to just be quiet and in the moment, it can't just be quiet and in the moment."

Mark Jenkins, Washington Post

TOTAL RECALL - Harry Gregson-Williams

"The sci-fi-tinged flick set in the near future has the hurtling action of a summer blockbuster. It has chases. It rides on the rapport of gunfire and an incessant score meant to get the adrenaline pumping."

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

WAR OF THE BUTTONS - Philippe Rombi

"But despite its darker themes, [director Christophe] Barratier coats 'The War of the Buttons' in his typical gloss, draining it of any sense of danger, authentic emotion, or spontaneous humor with his blandly composed images, cookie-cutter period detail, (berets and baguettes galore), and pandering score."

Jon Frosch, L.A. Weekly

THE WOMAN IN BLACK - Marco Beltrami

"Halfway through 'The Woman in Black' comes a long sequence -- at least 15 minutes, possibly more -- in which Daniel Radcliffe spends a night alone inside a haunted house. Doors slam shut. Inanimate objects move ever so slightly. Dark corners seem to harbor monsters. Mostly, though, director James Watkins ('Eden Lake') resorts to loud stingers and noises on the soundtrack to frighten you. This movie must set some sort of record for the number of times in which the musical score suddenly BLASTS from the speakers, jolting you out of your chair."

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

THE WORDS - Marcelo Zarvos

"'The Words' has no sense of humor or of its own ridiculousness, so its abundant laughs are strictly unintentional. The film is too egregiously, aggressively stupid to be pretentious, even as its overbearing score attempts to give depth and urgency to material no classier than a florid primetime soap opera. With its spiraling story structure, 'The Words' is a Russian nesting doll of unredeemable histrionics, untethered to anything remotely resembling plausible human behavior or honest emotion. "

Nathan Rabin, The Onion

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Ground Control to Marcelo Zarvos
Score Restore: The Abyss
Das Wunderbare Caldera
Band of Sisters
The Venezuelan Connection
Marco Beltrami Giveth
Sin City: A Score to Kill For
Wong's Turn: 2014 Fall Preview
Ear of the Month Contest
Torn Pages: An Anonymous Exclusive
Today in Film Score History:
September 2
Alex Heffes born (1971)
Armando Trovajoli born (1917)
Clifton Parker died (1989)
Hugo Montenegro born (1925)
Steve Porcaro born (1957)
Tadeusz Baird died (1981)
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