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No GravatarI recently got the chance to speak with composer Anthony Willis about his work in cinema as well as discuss his work on the Knack 2 soundtrack. Please take a look below.

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JB: How did you first get into composing? Was there any specific thing that inspired you?

AW: I actually grew up singing music as a chorister of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in England, which was a very inspiring time in my life. Windsor Castle is a popular residence for the British Royal Family, and so I was constantly surrounded by some of the world’s greatest choral music.

That experience at Windsor taught me to understand how music in built, and definitely instilled the desire to write my own music! That early training has been of immense value to my life as a composer.

 

JB:  Who are some of your influences as a composer?

AW: There are probably many more than I even realise..I suppose that potentially anything and everything that’s I’ve loved hearing has rubbed off in me in some way..and I have a pretty broad taste for what I like! Alongside my classical background, I’ve always been wowed by artists like Bjork, Sigur Ross, Radiohead, and then of course there’s Eminem.. In terms of film music, I grew up loving the scores of my childhood, Hans Zimmer’s The Lion King and Gladiator. James Horner’s American TaleBraveheart and Titanic. Patrick Doyle’s Henry V & Basil Poledouris’s Free Willy,  Harry Gregson Williams & John Powells Shrek- It seems obvious, but the biggest influencer of a given score is the story for which it’s created. No matter our desires as a composers, we must search to find the best way to bring that to life.

 

JB:  You have composed music for a wide variety of movies, including Despicable Me 2, Rio 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2, as well as The Martian, The Birth of a Nation, and Jason Bourne just to name a few. These are very different films requiring a very different style, so how do you find that different sound needed for each film? Where do you begin the process of composing?

AW: I think most composers really enjoy the variety that each project brings. It’s a chance to turn our hand to something that calls for different musical colours and devices, and the best composers are able to bind these together for each project with a consistent dramatic and musical instinct.

In the case of some of the films you’ve mentioned, because they are sequels, a lot of my involvement has been supporting the lead composer in creating variations and additional material, helping them to produce each cue in the score to the best standard possible. While the overall tone has been established, most sequels will introduce an exciting new element and or characters to the story. And so the challenge is to bring something fresh to the score to support those new elements musically, while making sure that it it feels part of the whole.

Finding the right tone for a new project is always a challenge, and that moment in the film’s creation is a very definitive one. In my experience the director has always had a critical role in that process, helping to steer the score towards it’s target. As a starting point, I’ve always been taught that a great tune, and an interesting set of chords to go with it, is the most impactful way to reach your audience.

 

JB:  What are some of your favourite films to compose for?

AW: I’ve really loved the experiences I’ve had in animation and adventure films. They allow you to really wear your heart on your sleeve in supporting the emotions of the film. The sky is very much the limit. I also love period dramas. They often have such important and timeless messages, and an intriguing sense of location. From a musical point of view, they have a wonderful way of focusing you stylistically, and the results can be very pure and honest.

 

JB:  What is a movie series you would love to work on?

AW: I absolutely love fantasy, adventure and magic, and so I’d love to compose on something like the Chronicles of Narnia. Those stories were so inspiring to me when I was growing up, and as a composer, the musical and dramatic opportunities are as good as they come.

I would also love to score more contemporary dramas. These can offer the opportunity to be quite musically minimal, but incredibly focused emotionally. I saw Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River at Sundance last year and was blown away by his command of that genre.

 

JB:  Moving to your work on Knack 2, I have to ask what interested you in this project?

AW: I was definitely looking for an opportunity to compose on a video game! Knack presented such a great wealth of musical possibilities that it seemed like the perfect project to enter the gaming world. There are adventures, heroics, great locations and environments, mystery.. the kitchen sink!

The developers were looking for a new sound for this second installment, something more akin to an animated movie experience, and so I was delighted to come on board.

 

JB:  How have you found working on composing for video games to be? Its obviously very different from movies, but what has stood out to you the most?

AW; In the case of Knack 2 specifically, the needs of the ‘in game’ music itself, were quite different to a typical film score. The music’s function is largely designed to energize the player, while adapting to their environment as they progress through the levels. The music is therefore very modular in design, there’s no definitive arrangement or sequence in which the music will unfold, and not really an opportunity for extended melodies. However, I really enjoyed this more minimal and percussive approach, which I think brought a more contemporary flare to the score.

That said, in many ways writing the music to Knack 2 was very similar to an animated movie, especially in the creation of themes and scoring of cinematic sequences.

Overall, you want to approach every varying project with your best work, which hopefully will resonate with an audience. In most games, there are upwards of 10 hours of game play experience, and so that offers an even greater opportunity for the audience, in this case player, to interact with the score. There’s a huge support for Video Game music by the gaming community, and perhaps even more pressure to live up to their expectations!

 

JB:  What goes into your process specifically for how you approached the video game music? Any specific influences that you wanted to pay tribute to?

AW: The music team and I started by trying to find some strong musical themes to support Knack and his world. I tend to write themes at the piano, in my head on a walk, or even at the sequencer itself, it depends very much on the situation. It’s so helpful to have these themes established as I approach the cinematic and game play cues. I’ll then try to find the best possible structure and appropriate arrangement for each moment in the game. It’s hard to pin down specific influences as it all gets put in the washing machine, but I grew up loving the music for Zelda, the use of themes, and the way the music supports the mystery and problem solving throughout the game. The Knack 2 score also has a definite nod in places to the classic adventure feel of John Barry.

 

JB:  What are some other video games you would like to work on in terms of composing?

AW: There is such a wealth of video games being developed at the moment we live in an amazing time of innovation. Being able to wake up every day and have a game to work on is a real privilege. I would love to lend my hand to a VR experience, with a lot of space to draw the player in and immerse them emotionally. I would love to work on something like Ori and the Blind Forest. The developers did such an amazing job, together with their composer Gareth Coker, at bringing that world to life. So it might have to be Ori’s distant cousin for me!

 

JB:  Did you enjoy the experience of working on Knack 2?

AW: Absolutely! Like any project it had it’s challenges, but I’m so proud to be attached to the game, and to have been able to make a musical contribution to support Knack. I’d like to make special mention of my producers at Sony Playstation, Peter Scaturro and Keith Leary, who brought me on to the project, expertly guided me through the process, and supported my vision for the score. The whole music team at Playstation and JStudio were wonderful collaborators.

 

JB:  Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Real Otaku Gamer?

AW: Well first of all, thank you for reading and for taking an interest in the Knack 2 score!

If you’d like to hear the score, the full album is available on the PlayStation Network- and will soon be available on itunes!

 

There are some preview tracks available here

 

JB: Thank you again

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 20 Jun, 2017 At 09:56 AM | Categorized As Animation, Comics/Manga, Movie News, News, News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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The hit 1993 animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm will be coming to Blu Ray in a 1080p HD Remaster.

 

Warner Archive announced the release yesterday and fans have been very receptive already.

 

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM(1993) (BD)
NEW 2017 1080p HD REMASTER
Presented in both the original theatrical 16×9 aspect ratio (1.78:1) AND open matte 4×3 (1.37:1) aspect ratio
Run Time 76:00
Subtitles English SDH
DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 Stereo – English
COLOR
BD 50
Theatrical Trailer (HD)

When the city’s most feared gangsters are systematically eliminated, the Caped Crusader is blamed. But prowling the Gotham night is a shadowy new villain, the Phantasm, a sinister figure with some link to Batman’s past. Can the Dark Knight elude the police, capture the Phantasm and clear his own name?

Unmasking the Phantasm is just one of the twists in this dazzling animated feature. Discover revelations about Batman’s past, his archrival the Joker and Batman’s most grueling battle ever — the choice between his love for a beautiful woman and his vow to be the defender of right. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is “a mystery that is genuinely absorbing, suspenseful and moving” (Cincinnati Enquirer).

According to twitter, the release will be next month.
This author remembers seeing the movie in his childhood (not in theatres but some years later) and being absolutely wowed. Seeing it again recently, it truly holds up well. This is a great movie.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 16 Jun, 2017 At 05:19 PM | Categorized As Animation, Comics/Manga, International News, Movie News, News, News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Toei Animation sent out the following

 

Toei Animation gave the world a first-look at its highly-anticipated Mazinger Z feature film at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the largest animation festival in the world. First announced in February with only an image, fans across the globe have waited eagerly for key details on how the big screen will adapt the revered anime series. Now – for the first time since 1974 – Mazinger Z is finally back!

 

With an introduction from Mazinger Z’s original creator, Go Nagai, and producers Ichinao Nagai and Yu Kanemaru, attendees at the Annecy International Film Festival on June 14 were treated to an exclusive look at what the talented team at Toei Animation has been working on these many months. With gasps of surprise and applause from the audience – which included famed director Guillermo Del Toro, who counts the series as a major source of inspiration – three major revelations were revealed.

 

Not An Adaptation, But A Sequel!

The film’s brand-new story takes place ten years after the final episode of the TV series.

 

Complete Synopsis

Humanity was once in danger of its downfall at the hands of the Underground Empire, which was led by the evil scientist Dr. Hell.  Koji Kabuto piloted the super robot Mazinger Z, and with help from his friends at the Photon Power Laboratory, he thwarted Dr. Hell’s evil ambitions and returned peace to the world.

It’s been ten years since then… No longer a pilot, Koji Kabuto has taken after his father and grandfather by starting down the path of the scientist.  He encounters a gigantic structure buried deep beneath Mt. Fuji, along with a mysterious indication of life…

New encounters, new threats, and a new fate await mankind.  The former hero Koji Kabuto has a decision to make about the future: whether to be a god or a demon…

This grand action film depicts the fierce battle fought by the people and Mazinger Z–once again entrusted with the future of mankind!

 

Toshiyuki Watanabe Will Score The Film!

He’s the son of Chumei Watanabe, giant of the Tokusatsu music world, known for being on the front lines of creating opening songs for Showa-era anime and hero shows, including the very Mazinger Z opening theme that Mizuki sings. A composer of music for many movies in his own right, as well as a producer for a variety of artists, ears are open and waiting for the music Toshiyuki Watanabe creates! The torch of “Z” has been passed from father to son!

 

Ichiro Mizuki Joins To Sing The Opening Theme!

The beloved opening theme of the series  returns with a sweeping orchestral version sung by Ichiro Mizuki. After 45 years, everyone’s powered up big bro is coming back to Mazinger Z’s stage.

 

…And Finally!

Previously exclusive only to Annecy attendees, the film’s complete teaser trailer is now available

 

You can see the teaser below

 

Mazinger Z is a beloved series and this new film looks great. Toei is really going all out to make this a tribute to the original and make sure fans and the material are treated with respect. As an anime fan myself, this author is extremely excited by this movie.

Fans should definitely rejoice.

By Cataclysmic Knight On 29 Apr, 2017 At 10:32 PM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews, ROG News, Videos | With 0 Comments

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King for a Day

 

Yesterday, Thursday the 27th I was lucky to be one of the 30,000 to attend AMC’s King for a Day event. Armed with a terrible memory and without any way to take notes, I’ll give you a SPOILER FREE look at King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

I stepped into the theater over half an hour early to find a good quarter of the seats full. Before the movie began, hopeful showgoers were being turned away repeatedly as literally, every seat was full. Comfort be damned, I was hyped for a King Arthur movie by Guy Ritchie with Charlie Hunnam in the titular starring role! The fact they gave out some pretty sweet swag didn’t hurt either.

 

Swag!

 

I went in expecting a humorous, action-packed fantasy movie with some great dialogue and I sure wasn’t let down. What I didn’t expect, however, were the epic twists on the source material – without spoiling anything the movie really handled Arthur and Excalibur well. I thought “Legend of the Sword” was a really lame part of the title originally, but now I realize just how fitting it was. Excalibur is perhaps the most well-known weapon that exists, and it is AWESOME here. It also leads to some truly amazing fight scenes, one of which is easily in my top 5 fight scenes of all time. It’s badass, it’s brilliant and it’s epic! I also really loved the depth given to the Arthurian legends, even the stone from “the sword in the stone” is given a really great twist.

Beyond the action and the great editing/humor, the characters were excellent as well. Arthur is a man who has made his own way – “from nothing comes a king” was a very accurate tagline for the film. I would’ve loved some more Goosefat Bill (Aiden Gillen, Littlefinger on Game of Thrones and Paul Serene in Quantum Break) but I’ll survive. Jude Law was an excellent Vortigern, although the movie could’ve snuck a bit more depth into his character pretty easily. The biggest surprise was Astrid Berges-Frisbey whose character – “The Mage” as she’s credited – was awesome! The rest of the cast was excellent as well, but nothing particularly sticks out in my memory a day later.

I typically don’t like reviewing a movie after only one watch, as hype and surprise can cover up a movie that really isn’t great a second time around. Heck, I typically don’t review movies anyway, but I couldn’t resist with such a surprise hit. Fans of fantasy shouldn’t pass this one up for anything, it was glorious. There were only a few scenes that really benefit from the big screen though, so you won’t really miss out waiting til it hits Redbox/Netflix/disc.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out a trailer for the movie below.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 16 Apr, 2017 At 02:48 PM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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I had to take some time to write this, and I felt waiting a few weeks after seeing it once and then going back, was the best way to go about getting what I needed for the review.

Power Rangers was a show I loved as a kid, I watched it all the time. I watched the various series up to Power Rangers: Time Force, and then fell off. For those who don’t know, Power Rangers used recycled footage from the Japanese series Super Sentai, and spliced in American footage as well to create a new show. It was cheesy, goofy and silly, but fun. It gave many of us a love of Japanese monster movies and rubber suit creatures.

So how does the newest film take on the series hold up? Surprisingly well.

I was very skeptical about the new film and everything I heard about it, but it actually was a great film to watch. The characters actually live up t the line “teenagers with attitude” this time, and they were all properly developed. Especially Billy Cranston, who was played brilliantly by RJ Cyler, in what was the most refreshing depiction of someone on the autism spectrum. He felt accurate and not like a forced attempt at pandering and I can appreciate that immensely.

Even Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa was good, and she was able to switch between hamming it up and being genuinely creepy at times. The only cast member who felt out of place to me was Bryan Cranston as Zordon, as he just didn’t seem right in the role. He is a good actor, but the portrayal was not the best. There was an alternate take on Zordon in this depiction which I liked, but again, I feel Cranston just didn’t pull it off that well.

Now, when it comes to Power Rangers, special effects and monsters are a necessity and the film does both well. The toy versions of Goldar and the Megazord that people saw before the movie, didn’t give the best depiction since they looked far better on screen. The putties actual looked like a real threat in this version as opposed to the TV show.

If I have any complains, its that the product placement felt very forced, like it interrupted the narrative. As well, the rangers took a long time to get into their gear, but that one is more understandable, and the action paid off well.

All in all, this was an amazing movie and a real treat for fans of the series. I loved it and would see it again!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 14 Apr, 2017 At 10:56 AM | Categorized As Movie News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarDisney and Lucasfilm have released the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The film comes out this Holiday and will no doubt be an exciting experience. In this trailer we see Luke Skywalker interact with Rey and scenes of the various characters, showing off some of the conflict that will take place. The trailer ends on a bigger tease for the movie, which leaves us wanting more.

Watch the teaser below.

 

By Kira Nance On 5 Apr, 2017 At 10:03 PM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews, ROG News, Videos | With 0 Comments

No GravatarI have never been a fan of home invasion thrillers, not one bit quite frankly. The whole cat and mouse aspect is played out for me and in my opinion the best stories have already been told, manipulated, and told again… or so I thought. Roughly ten minutes into Hush and my chest is already tight and it will remain so for the duration of this brilliantly intense flick.

*spoilers*

Conceived over dinner, Hush is the brainchild of husband and wife writing team, director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Absentia) and leading lady Katie Siegel (Oculus). Siegel shines as Maddie Young, a deaf novelist who has retreated to the calming seclusion of the woods in hopes of finishing her latest book. Not entirely isolated, plucky neighbor Sara (Samantha Sloyan) pops in for a visit, giving insight as to the inner workings of Maddie’s mind and providing us with a large amount of the film’s mere fifteen minutes of dialogue. Sara’s next appearance is nothing short of nerve-racking when our unnamed killer played by John Gallagher Jr. (The West Wing, 10 Cloverfield Lane) brutally steps into the scene. A quick chat with her sister Max (Emma Graves) via FaceTime further connects us to Maddie and distracts her just long enough for the killer to begin his unnerving game of terror. The killer seems almost invigorated by his curiosity of Maddie, her handicap after all, allows him to employ new methods of psychological torture. Neighbor John (Michael Trucco) enters the story only to provide a sense of false hope to the naive. I feel inclined to note that there is a moment of irony here that I utterly and I suppose morbidly, appreciated. Maddie, despite her handicap or rather thanks to it, exhibits an incredible ability to adapt and displays a will to persevere that is so strong that I almost felt sorry for Gallagher’s character at points.

As expected in a film with such limited dialogue, the sound design plays an important role and Flanagan implements a few creative techniques here. The choice to apply ambient sounds in lieu of complete silence to capture Maddie’s perspective was not just ingenious but fluidly executed. The sound effects or lack thereof, do not distract from the visual storytelling but enhance it. There is no shortage of gore in Hush but it’s not overplayed either, the violence comes at a steady pace and is portrayed in a realistic manner. The plausibility of Hush is really what kept me enthralled. Gallagher captures the air of a killer wonderfully, there’s a twinkle in his eye, a curve of his lips that completely sells the killer’s passion for inducing fear. Siegel is a breath of fresh air in the role of female protagonist, a role that usually leaves me rooting for the bad guy and screaming obscenities at the screen in disgust of repeated bad decisions. Hush takes the home invasion thriller to a whole new level and I look forward to Flanagan and Siegel’s next twisted conception.

*trailer*

By Jonathan Balofsky On 4 Apr, 2017 At 07:54 PM | Categorized As Movie News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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The following was sent out.

New York-based specialty distributor Rialto Pictures and Studiocanal will release Mike Nichols’ groundbreaking THE GRADUATE, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, in new 4K digital prints beginning in April.

The 50 anniversary restoration will have its World Premiere on April 8 at the TCL Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, as a centerpiece event of this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival. The new GRADUATE restoration will then play in over 700 movie theaters nationwide on April 23 and 26, as part of TCM and Fathom Events’ monthly “TCM Big Screen Classics” series.

The new restoration will also screen at this year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna and will be released theatrically and as a special edition Home Entertainment release in all Studiocanal territories (France, Germany, U.K., Australia and New Zealand) throughout the summer.

Hoffman, in his star-making, breakout role, is Benjamin Braddock, the college track star suddenly adrift after graduation, and ripe for seduction by an older, married woman: Bancroft’s coldly calculating friend-of-the-family Mrs. Robinson. When Ben ultimately falls for dream girl Elaine (Katharine Ross), who happens to be the Robinsons’ daughter, it sets up a love triangle like no other in American films up to that time.

Adapted from the Charles Webb novel by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham (which immortalized the word “plastics” in the lexicon of hip expressions), THE GRADUATE was the biggest box office surprise of the decade, nominated for seven Oscars® andwinning for director Nichols’ sophomore effort. The classic “Top 40” score by Simon & Garfunkel started a new, youthful trend in soundtrack music as well.

The Graduate was a groundbreaking film, whose influence is still felt to this very day. It launched careers and has been often imitated but never replicated. It is a true all time classic, and this is an opportunity to see the film in a new way. Or a chance for a new generation to see the film.

Source: PR Email

By Jonathan Balofsky On 24 Mar, 2017 At 03:14 PM | Categorized As Movie News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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The film biopic about Yasuke has gotten its writer. Lionsgate has arranged for Highlander creator Gregory Widen to script Black Samurai. The film is being produced by Michael De Luca and Stephen L’Heureux as a co-production between Solipsist Films and De Luca Productions.

The film based on the historical tale of Yasuke, a historical black samurai who was among the first foreign born samurai  to serve a warlord in Japan. He served under Oda Nobunaga in the mid-1500s, and has been referenced in other historical works and video games as recently as this year.

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By Kira Nance On 17 Mar, 2017 At 10:07 PM | Categorized As Animation, Comics/Manga, International News, Movie News, News, News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarNetflix Japan has released a teaser trailer for Devilman crybaby, a new anime adaptation of Go Nagai’s iconic manga Devilman, said to be coming spring 2018. Known for it’s graphic violence, Nagai’s Devilman has inspired countless adaptations since it’s 1972 debut. In Nagai’s story, we follow Akira Fudo, a pure of heart youth who, embracing the fight fire with fire advice of his best friend Ry? Asuka, willingly integrates with an unlucky demon to prevent an impending resurgence of demons.

To fight a demon, one must become a demon“.

The official Netflix description is as follows:

A demon possesses a boy’s dead body to do evil. But after falling in love with a human girl, he has a change of heart. Based on Go Nagai’s hit manga.”

Directing the new anime is Masaaki Yuasa (Adventure Time, Ping Pong, Mind Games) and he appears to be embracing the Devilman spirit with open arms. Yuasa is well known and respected for his off-model deranged animation as well as his use of Gainax Endings.  Produced by Aniplex and Dynamic Planning (Go Nagai), Devilman will be available in 190 countries/territories, dubbed in 9 languages, with subtitles in 25.

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