Tag Archives: Star Wars

Star Wars Day: A Newman Hope

Iz had her first glimpse of Star Wars today in the shape of the first fight between Jango Fett and Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones which was being shown as part of the Star Wars Marathon on Sky Movies.

“He can fly!” Iz exclaimed with a sense of wonder, as she saw Fett blast off with his jet pack.

She gasped as she saw Kenobi’s lightsaber crackle into life fighting off volley after volley of laser blaster.

dusterShe may have only stopped for that scene but she’ll be back for the rest of the series, hopefully just in time for The Force Awakens. They’ve been on a loop for much of the day on Sky and although we’ve been packing boxes and spring cleaning that didn’t stop us getting involved, I even had a purple feather duster er just like Mace Windu. Note C3P0 and R2 in the background.

photoPerhaps inspired by her travels to a galaxy far, far away Iz could be found drawing her own set of aliens that wouldn’t look out of place in the Cantina Bar, the force is strong with this one.

Star Wars: these aren’t the actors you are looking for

photoIt’s more a case of The X-Wing Factor this weekend as there is a host of open casting calls for Star Wars Episode VII, the hotly anticipated return of Star Wars.

Many will see it just like The X-Factor,  a new hope for them them if you will, and someone will be lucky just like Luke Skywalker in that first (look I’m not having any of that George Lucas revisionist nonsense, Star Wars is the first film not the ruddy fourth) film day dreaming of a better life as he looks on as two suns set.

Well, I’m sorry Isabelle this time round it won’t be you even if you do sleep with a (slightly furry) lightsabre under you pillow or deploy any of your Jedi mind tricks as they are after someone slightly older as they are casting teens.

Still, fear not Iz there is always the sequels to these sequels and I’m sure that the force will be with you…always!

Stars in Their Iz: Star Wars

401745-nien_nunbYou’d have to have been languishing under a large rock (which I presume Luke would try to levitate at some point) in the mystical swamps of the Dagobah System not to have heard about the new Star Wars trilogy of films after they moved to Disney.

It was also announced that there would be a couple of standalone films in the series, focussing on the early years of Han Solo and one Bobba Fett.

landoIt’s a shame that they don’t want to do one on Nien Nunb, Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot from Return of the Jedi, as Isabelle would be the perfect match!

Of course it was once rumoured that there would be a Han and Greedo film but it was decided that the Han one would shoot first.

The Force is with them: Disney buy Lucasfilm and are set to return to the Jedi in 2015

With the news of the Walt Disney Company buying up Lucasfilm and announcing a brand new Star Wars trilogy it would appear that as Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker at the end of the original Star Wars, and in turn us the audience, ‘the force will be with you…always’. How right the old bearded fella was.
 
You’ve got to feel at least a little bit sorry for all those folk who have only just shelled out for Star Wars (yet again) when it was released on bluray.
 
You’d almost be forgiven for thinking that someone was playing some serious Jedi mind tricks when the news was first unleashed. It was more a case of what Disney? rather than Walt Disney when it was announced last night of the sale of Lucasfilm to the house of mouse for 4.5 billion dollars.
 
That’s more than enough money to fill a sarlacc pit. And that’s not all, laugh it up fuzzball, as Disney then went on to announce that it was slating a new Star Wars for 2015 release, followed by two more after that with Lucas on board as Creative Consultant.
 
As Darth Vader might say: whhhhhhaaaaat!!!
 
Unsurprisingly, that news sent much of the internet and social media into something of a spin and attracted more postings and comments quicker than a death star with its tractor beam on full power.
 
So, was the move by Lucas and Disney right?
 
Certainly, if the stock exchange were open I’d love to see the impact on the Disney share price.
 
They have amassed quite an Empire now, if you’ll pardon the pun, with Marvel, the classic Disney back catalogue, Pixar, and not forgetting The Muppets, all now part of their ranks.
 
Strike them down and they will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine
 
It’s all a far cry from the late 70s when everyone was attempting to jump onto the Star Wars band wagon, Disney itself adding The Black Hole into the mix, which did just that in terms of box office takings, disappeared into a black hole. Other similar sci-fi and fantasy fare from Disney, such as Dragonslayer, Tron and even the animated The Black Cauldron – all with Star Wars undertones in one way or another – all tanked.
 
Certainly its offerings under the Marvel banner, such as The Avengers, have all struck CP30 coloured gold, as did The Muppets reboot, a franchise harking from the late 70s that had also lost its way.
 
But then we come to Disney’s John Carter from earlier this year. In theme and feel it was very much pitched as a Star Wars adventure for a new generation. The till receipts suggested otherwise and it was last seen heading not to Mars but straight into the mouth of that very same Disney black hole.
 
Disney might have a slippery Hoth glacier to climb with fans expectations, but Lucas himself has left the franchise in something of a state and to be fair the quality control rot had been there since…well, a long time ago. You only have to look as far as the Star Wars Holiday Special, The Battle for Endor and Caravan of Courage and of course multiple elements from the prequels, which, rather fittingly, were a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes as Lucas couldn’t see the woods – or should that be words – for the trees.
 
That was the past, so what of the future?

Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels must be sat somewhere waiting for their phones to ring, and who can blame them.
 
In some way shape or form it would be nice if there was a passing of the baton, or should that be lightsaber, from elements of the old cast to the new one. Perhaps even David Prowse might see a way back of sorts, after he and Lucas had a major falling out.
 
It may all be set a long time ago but the reality is that 2015 is not far, far away which suggests that the studio is already some way down the Episode 7 road.
 
Perhaps it will be direct continuation based on the critically and commercially well-received Timothy Zahn novels with followed the Star Wars children as it were.
 
Who knows, Harrison Ford may even get his wish and have Han Solo killed off, just as he wanted in Return.

The purchase of Lucasfilm also raises a multitude of exciting questions and possibilities.
 
What does this mean for the much mooted Star Wars TV series?
 
Does this purchase also include LucasArts and could that mean a Monkey Island film in the not too distant future?
 
For that matter, with Marvel and Lucasfilm under one mouse eared roof could a Howard the Duck reboot be on the cards. I’m not saying it should, just asking.
 
The Henson and Lucas link could of course mean a belated Labyrinth sequel could be a possibility. It has been a long time since the original but look at Tron Legacy and The Dark Crystal follow up is already in the works.
 
Does the Lucasfilm sale have any impact on that other Lucas series, Indiana Jones?
 
The possibilities for related rides etc will be endless at the already well established global Disney parks. It could even be something that emulates the success of the Harry Potter Tour.
 
One other thing, will filming, like it did for the original trilogy, return to the UK?
 
We won’t even mention Jar Jar.

The Return of the Jedi and other characters

Disney might now well be running the bucket of bolts that is star wars but you can be sure, despite the clunky prequels, that this first new film will be no goofy movie (that was Phantom) and that this new trilogy will make the jump to box office lightspeed on, surely, May 4th 2015.
 
Even if it will be without that Alfred Newman 20th Century Fox fanfare, something which has become as synonymous with the franchise as that word crawl, but then moving studios hasn’t done Bond any harm.

Independence Day

It’s over an astounding 15 years since giant shadows cascaded across our cinema screens and Independence Day was unleashed upon the world. In that time it’s been easy to deride this sci-fi epic but as alien invasions go they have never looked so stunning. In fact, it’s fair to say that any alien invasion movie since (or before for that matter) cannot fail to be compared.

Essentially it’s very much War of the Worlds meets Irvin Allen-esque menagerie of characters – mostly cardboard – but played by a host of recognisable actors. So far so Earthquake or The Towering Inferno with aliens, and like those films the main leads are oh so engaging, in this case Bill, Will and Jeff (essentially the same character as he played in Jurassic Park). But, to be fair, as witty as we find Mr Smith exclaiming he is going to “whoop ETs ass”, what we’ve really paid our money for is to see the wanton death and destruction.

And boy, does it deliver that in spades, especially with perhaps the most iconic shot of 90s cinema, the obliteration of the White House. Of course, shots such as that and the destruction of several other buildings take on a whole new meaning in this post 9/11 world.

ID4 was uber American gung ho. It was a different time with a different President. Post Iraq and post 9/11 it’s a world that, rather ironically, looks completely alien. It’s as if it was a much simpler time ‘back then’. And although some of the dialogue (thank you Mr Smith) was trite in places you can’t deny the power and force of the President’s speech before the final (Star Wars-esque) run at one of the saucers.

Sure, we had seen giant saucers before, most notably in V some 12 years earlier, but never with such foreboding and with such aplomb, what with the giant clouds and those introductory shadows, Emmerich doing for UFOs what Spielberg did for sharks and not showing the audience until he absolutely had to, ramping up that alien fear factor to 11. The music is a bravo score by David Arnold, in his pre Bond days and hot off scoring duties from another Emmerich sci-fi epic, Stargate.

Just like those 70s disaster movies that it so perfectly emulates, the film also has that nice old skool Hollywood feel to it as the special effects were still very much in the early days of digital effects so many of the memorable moments, such as the White House exploding and fire raging through the city were done as practical effects so look real because, well, they were.

Far from a perfect film, with its clichés galore and film lore of dog evading certain death (that leap in the tunnel is great though) it is pretty much the perfect example of a summer blockbuster. It’s dumb, but dumb with style, but plenty of fun. Certainly compared to some of the efforts we’ve seen in recent years it could even be argued it’s not even that dumb.

Some of the characters are weak in places but there are so many of them, or they are snuffed out so soon, that it doesn’t really matter. Some of the jumps in logic defy, well logic, but it all works together, it all gels and above all else it makes you come out of a screening feeling that little bit more alive. No pun intended, but even after all these years, and numerous films filled with digital pokery, the film is still, rather fittingly, a huge visual feast of a blast that provides plenty of bang(s) for your buck.

Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich tried pretty much the same trick with Godzilla a couple of years later, but this time round the lightning in the bottle just couldn’t be recaptured, so it was certainly more than about hurling cash at the screen in the form of impressive special effects.

The marketing campaign was also something of a masterstroke, almost preparing us as if there were an actual alien invasion, with great posters and trailer campaign (with great use of Hans Zimmer’s score from Crimson Tide), complete with the destruction of the White House first being unleashed on an unsuspecting audience during the Super Bowl. Now, that’s how to grab attention!

There’s long been a mooted ID42 and post Iraq, post 9/11, post Transformers and Emmerich’s other disaster epics, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, it would certainly be interesting to see what they did next and if any of the original characters were involved. Certainly it would need a return from Smith, Paxton (as President obviously now retired) and Goldblum.

The sequel might not be invading theatres anytime soon but the 3D version of Independence Day (duck at that fire truck rolling through the air) is scheduled to set the world – along with box office tills – on fire sometime next year. Technically that’s ID43D then!

The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour has sets appeal Part 3

It’s the final part of our Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour experience and there might not be a Potter gold at the end of this trilogy, but there is the gift shop and more behind the scenes magic to be enjoyed…

As we stepped out into the sunshine, we took a few moments to take in the views of full size versions of the Knight bus (which Isabelle was rather obsessed with and was hard to get her off the back of it), the Weasley’s car and Hagrid’s motorbike and side car, all of which you could get in and have your photos taken in or next to…so obviously we did and it of course would have been rude not to.

This was great as back in Studio J there was the opportunity to have photos of yourselves sat on a broomstick whizzing through London or sat in the Ford Anglia car veering out of the way of the Hogwarts Express for the princely sum of £12. We might have done it if the queue time wasn’t an hour and Isabelle wasn’t getting a bit niggly.

Isabelle clearly enjoyed driving the car, with me in the driving seat (most of the time) on Hagrid’s motorbike and side car, trying to evoke more of a feeling of Indiana Jones and Henry Jones Sr from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade than say Wallace and Gromit or (even worse) Olive and Arthur from On the Buses! Isabelle did get a little bit stuck/lost in her seat but was quite comfy all the same!

 

 

 

Before embarking on previous said images outside and indeed inside vehicles (calming gritting teeth to queue jumpers I might add – I nearly gave them a lashing of my parcel tongue but thought better of it save for the rather loud PG comment or two) we enjoyed a cup of Butterbeer between us, which at nearly £3 I’m glad we did share.

It was somewhat disappointing that it came in a plastic cup and not in a small tankard that you could keep for a couple of quid extra, I’m sure it isn’t served as such in Florida’s Wizarding World of Harry potter, the only other place in the world where Butterbeer is served. And the taste, not to be all Jilly Gooldon, but it was one part melted werthers original meets cream soda, something of an acquired taste and rather sweet, even for me, but no doubt everyone who passes through will give it the taste test.

In that same outdoor area you also found a couple of other structures, including the exterior of the Dursley’s Privet Drive, filmed in an actual street for the first film but recreated on set for all instalments after that, the crooked house and part of the great bridge that connects Hogwarts.

Note Isabelle hanging onto the door knocker!

Round the edges of this area are some of the memorable chess pieces that formed the battle at the end of the first film that nearly saw poor old Ron meet his maker, it’s a shame they are hid in the shadows and not set up on an actual giant chess board or something.

It was then back inside to the Creature Workshop which showed you some of the models, animatronics and general FX magic that went into creating the menageries of creatures and beings that we encountered along with Harry. It was certainly odd coming face to face (or should that be head to head) with Nearly Headless Nick’s head, which I guess in many ways would actually make him Really Headless Nick!

His head could be found with shelves of others that could have easily looked macabre but for me was one of the highlights of the Tour, having seen such similar things from the makings of everything from Star Wars to Labyrinth and the Stan Winston Creature Workshop, it was great to see some of these creatures up close and personal.

It was also nice to see that even in this world of CGI there was still plenty of room for physical effects and creatures and that it wasn’t all just done inside of a computer and that the world still cried out for giant spiders and snake heads.

I don’t recall seeing the rather intriguing Shark Man (top right corner of the image on the right)  before though, who reminded somewhat of that awful Craig T Nelson starring Peter Benchley miniseries, The Creature, about a half man, half shark. As bad as it sounds.

The sheer quality and detail of work on display soon cleared that thought from my mind, with some amazing work, especially the life-size figures of Harry and Dobby, which made it look as if they were in some sort of cryogenic stasis.

It was at this point that Isabelle went exploring on her own and I had to chase her up Dyagon Alley, there’s a phrase you don’t find yourself using every day! We returned with Sarah in tow to see the range of shops and all they had to offer, alas you can only walk past them and they aren’t actually selling goods but this recreation is gift enough.

Passing through the shops I thought that we’d find ourselves back in the Harry Potter shop but to my delight we came across a wonderful display of concept art for creatures and locations, followed by some really rather intricate model work in paper that has to be seen to be believed.

If nothing else, after this tour you can really appreciate why the credits for such films are so long as there are just so many (until now) unsung heroes who are working on each and every single aspect of the film creating plans and drawings for buildings as if they were for real, which after they had weaved their magic, very often were.

Hogwarts is where our tour began, in The Great Hall, and Hogwarts is where our Tour ended, with a model of the castle that the word model doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.

It was a giant of a model that was used in background and really was astounding in its sheer scale, detail and delight it raised in everyone who saw it. Each side as impressive as the next as you walked round it through the changing light of day into night and the end of our adventure at the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour.

VERDICT

Now, to be honest, it is something of an obvious statement, but, if you don’t like the behind the scenes film making process of films or don’t like Harry Potter (you can be a fan of either or, it helps if you are both, it really doesn’t help if you are neither) then this probably isn’t the place for you, certainly not at those ticket prices. But then, you wouldn’t pay upwards in price of what individual tickets cost to go and see a band if you didn’t like their output would you? I think it is the same here really.

Did we buy the guidebook, yes, did we go for the audio tour, no, because we thought we had spent enough, knew enough about Potter and also those on the audio tour kept t on getting in the ruddy way moving Walking Dead like from one ‘press the next button spot’ to another. I’m sure it was very good and informative but we felt we knew enough without needing to hear the Potter patter.

We paid £28 per adult ticket and Isabelle was under 4 so she was free (I see us going to see so much stuff before she is 4 I can tell you!). All in all, for us, we thought it was great value for money and a magical day out for Muggles everywhere.

We were there for over three hours, which would have been longer if we were on our own but was enough with Isabelle, and talking of which, after her long and exciting day she was soon fast asleep, all hufflepuffed out!

Darth Becomes Him

It was announced over the weekend that George Lucas has effectively ‘banned’ Darth Vader actor, David Prowse, from attending official Star Wars events due to his alleged ‘burning of bridges’ with Lucas Film, whatever that means. I, however, was lucky enough to use my Jedi mind tricks on the sprightly, then, 74 year old last year as I interviewed him about his life and career that started a long time ago…  

Darth Becomes Him

Even 30 years after it catapulted the former body-builder turned actor, David Prowse AKA Darth Vader, to international fame, he is still feeling ‘the force’ of the Star Wars effect, which takes him all over the world.

Last year saw him go from the Disney Star Wars Weekend in Orlando to Knoxville, Mexico, France, Glasgow and even on a Norwegian cruise ship! Prowse, said of his fans, no matter where his travels take him, that they are absolute Star Wars nuts!

Dave said: “It’s Incredible that a role I played 30 years ago has left such a lasting impression on people. In Japan the reaction was amazing, it’s almost as if they thought we were Gods. The first time I went there the committee sent to meet me were all on the floor bowing on their hands and knees.”

So why does he think that Star Wars continues to grip the imagination and captivate both generations old and new alike? He says: “They have very likable characters, really good villains and all done in a fantastic space setting that we’d never seen done quite so well or like this before. First and foremost though is was a good story that was helped by some really good actors like Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness and of course the then up-and-coming Harrison Ford. I guess you could say it was like capturing lightning in a bottle as everything just seemed to gel in that first movie.”

That first movie was of course Star Wars back in 1977, but for many the stand-out of the original trilogy has always been the darker second-act of The Empire Strikes Back, a film which is a favourite of David’s as well.

“We of course did the follow-up and I think that the Director, Irvin Kershner, did a wonderful job and was a much better director than George Lucas. I’ve always said it’s been the adult version, theme-wise, of Star Wars and is much better for it.”

Of course Prowse is so much more than just Darth Vader, his CV reads like a list of some of the best and most influential British TV from the 70s including:
Morecambe and Wise, Benny Hill, Dr Who, Callan, Space 1999, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, all of which is featured in his talk and show. And although we all know the man can shake a mean lightsaber he also got to have a go at Shakespeare with ‘As You Like It’. David said: “I’ve had a fantastically varied career with everything from A Clockwork Orange for Stanley Kubrick and Jabberwocky with Terry Gilliam and even three horror films for Hammer.”

David may have batted for the Dark Side from the late 70s onwards but he was also just as well known as another iconic-figure that people of a certain age still have a fondness for, The Green Cross Code Man.

David said: “I loved every minute of the 14 years of that job, meeting young people and just making a real difference. It’s one thing to entertain people but quite another to help save their lives.”

Dave did 15 television commercials and visited over 2,000 schools, speaking to half a million children. The Green Cross Code Man campaign was so successful that it is estimated that it saved thousands of lives and reduced the accident rate by half. It’s still a message passed down to children of those who originally saw it which David thinks is great but is sorry that there has never really been anything to take its place.

So, for arguments sake if Dave Prowse had both a Green Cross code Man outfit and Darth Vader costume and there was a fire, which one would he save first? Dave laughed and said: “From a money point of view it would have to be the Vader one as it would be worth thousands.”

The man from Krypton factor

But David nearly completed the 70s icon hat trick as he was close to securing the cape of none-other than Superman himself. David explained how he nearly landed the then most sought-after film role in the world that the cream of Hollywood was after, from Robert Redford to Warren Beatty. David said: “I went for the role of Superman and they said everything was just right, the build, the height, the only thing that went against me was that they said they couldn’t have someone not American playing the Man of Steel, so ultimately I lost out to Chris Reeve.”

It’s almost an irony then that some 30 years later we have, the also very American, Batman played by Welsh boyo, Christian Bale. Obviously David and his physique must have made quite an impression as some six weeks away from filming the first Superman in 1978 he was asked to help bulk up Christopher Reeve by 40lbs in that short time. Prowse certainly kept his end of the bargain as website IMDB reports that Reeve worked out so much during the making of the film that the travelling matte shots of him flying, taken at the beginning of the shoot, did not match the later shots so had to be redone.

Star Wars-bler

Following in the Sci-Fi footsteps of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, Prowse has also been turning his hand to singing, but thankfully it sounds as if there are no Shatner-esque Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or highly-illogical Ballad of Bilbo Baggins atrocities here. David elaborated on how he went from Star Wars to star wars-bler.

He said: “I’ve been having singing lessons for a while and it’s always something I’ve been interested in as I was in the school choir years and years ago and then I stopped for years. I found my voice again when I was on a cruise liner and got very pally with the singers and dancers and I said to one of the main singers I’d love to be able to stand up and do what he does.”

David added: “He suggested I found a singing teacher, which is exactly what I did and ended up with an operatic tenor who told me as I was a base-baritone, and if he’d had me ten years ago then I’d be doing opera now.”

Not bad for a man who famously had his voice dubbed by another actor! David is even working with a jazz-pianist in America and are hoping to put an album together, which could end up on the Cantina Bar juke-box.

Jumping back to Star Trek, David has heard great things about the new JJ Abrams’ reboot, so if you can reboot and replace one actor for another who would he feel could fill his boots as Darth Vader if the original Star Wars ever got remade? “Me, of course”, he said.

Part-man, part-machine

In many ways Darth Vader, being part-man, part-machine, could be described as a latter-day Frankenstein’s Monster, rather fitting then that Prowse got to play Mary Shelley’s creation on two occasions, The Horror of Frankenstein and The Monster From Hell, the latter featuring Peter Cushing, who he would of course go on to feature with in Star Wars and Director of Christopher Lee’s Dracula, Terence Fisher, who Prowse describes as “just being a very nice, benign old man who was lovely to work with. He wasn’t very well at the time as he was just getting over a car accident but it was a great experience and you couldn’t wish for anyone nicer, and of course the same went for Peter Cushing, and we became great friends there after.”

Cushing had some boots made for his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, but they weren’t very comfortable so he spent much of the time with his grey outfit on and his carpet slippers.

In stark contrast to Cushing, Prowse had a very different foot problem as they couldn’t find any boots big enough for him so he supplied his own motorcycle boots, black of course. David added: “I also supplied my own motorcycle gloves, as I’ve got big hands, and also my own cod-piece, which came from a boxing-gymnasium I took over. I think those three pieces are on the original model as they never gave me them back, so they must be worth an absolute fortune now.”

So a piece of David Prowse will always be a piece of Darth Vader, quite literally and it seems that he made the right decision all those years ago when given a Yoda style choice by George Lucas and choose wisely he must.

David said: “Due to my height, George gave me the choice of playing either Chewbacca or Darth Vader. I said to George I wanted to play the bad guy and George pondered my choice. I told him that for me everyone remembered James Bond but not the actor who played him, but they always remember the villain. The villain makes the movie and a movie is only as good as its villain.”

He continued: “I said, just think of the characters like Odd Job or Goldfinger, you never forget a great villain and people will never forget Darth Vader. George just smiles and said ‘I think you might be right there – you just made a great decision’.”

It’s a crying shame then that Prowse was not able to reprise his role in the final instalment of the second trilogy, The Revenge of the Sith, where Anakin Skywalker first becomes Vader. It’s something that still disappoints, both David and fans alike. He said: “I let it be known that I was free and available for the role and I think it would have been a fitting end for the films for them to come full circle but I guess it just wasn’t to be.”

For many fans when, perhaps arguably the most significant moment in Star Wars history, man became machine and was unveiled Frankenstein like it felt like it was some bloke in a suit pretending to be David Prowse, pretending to be Darth Vader, which didn’t have the same impact, it wasn’t Vader proper, it was just a masquer-Vader.

Batons Beyond the Stars

In space no one can hear you scream, that’s because there is no sound. But when you think of your favourite science-fiction films and what makes them so special it’s rather ironic then that one of the things that stays with you forever is the music.

Sure, there’ll be other factors: favourite scenes or memorable dialogue, but the music is the life and soul of the movie. They say that you can’t make a great movie without a great script but equally the right piece of music can elevate a good movie, or scene, to greatness.

I spoke to movie soundtrack enthusiast, Mike Copping, a member of the John Barry Appreciation Society from its inception, who was first bitten by the movie soundtrack bug, aged ten, viewing the sci-fi tinged Bond-movie You Only Live Twice in 1967, scored by Barry, about what he considers the five greatest sci-fi movie scores of all time.

The following list is chronological and takes in several notable mentions along the way so lets (tap, tap, tap) strike up the orchestra for the greatest movie sci-fi soundtracks of all time.

Saying that purists will ‘wrap him in the mouth’ for not saying King Kong (1933), which saw composer Max Steiner arguably define the modern film score, Mike plumbs for fellow German composer, Franz Waxman.

He said: “Waxman holds equal claim to laying down the template to what we recognise as the modern film score as he was working at pretty much the same time on a wide range of films, so I’m going to have to say The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as my first entry.”

“I see the score for the James Whale directed movie as a far more accomplished piece that works better with the film, is melodic and for me is the first really truly memorable, influential science fiction/ horror score that I would hold in that esteem, over and above Kong.”

There is no question for Mike in his second choice, Bernard Herrmann’s score for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Hermann is mostly associated with his collaboration with Hitchcock and his fantasy scores for Jason and the Argonauts, and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.

Copping said: “A lot of people might pick Louis and Bebe Barron’s Forbidden Planet but if you listen to that away from the film, ‘Planet’ sounds like beeps and electronics noises, whereas ‘Still’ is a properly orchestrated score in the traditional sense, but what makes it groundbreaking is the melodic way it uses the Theremin, an electronic instrument, as an evocative, other worldly voice, which was the first time it had been used that way.”

Mike continued: “It’s a hugely influential score that is heavily imitated, fantastically constructed and is just wonderful, unlike the entirely forgettable remake, which doesn’t hold a candle to or honour the original in any way.”

Sticking with ‘Earth’ for his third choice is Jerry Goldsmith’s landmark score for Planet of the Apes (1968), which Mike lists as being groundbreaking.

He said: “Again it is a hugely influential score that has been copied ever since (elements cropping up in his later score for Alien) and features some wonderful experimentation and is outstanding as it works dramatically, sounds alien and other worldly and to this day people think he used electronics, but it was all done acoustically, and still sounds fresh 41 years later.”

Goldsmith was Oscar-nominated for his outstanding work but bagged his only golden statue for the creepy chorals of The Omen (1976), which Copping, along with many people see as a huge injustice and a failing of the Academy.

As an honourable mention Mike also suggests Goldsmith’s Alien (1979). He says: “It works so well in the film and contributes to that terrible unease that you get whilst you are watching it, which is just disturbing, although not as disturbing as Director Ridley Scott’s treatment of it, something he would do to Goldsmith several year’s later on the fantasy movie, Legend, which also deserves a mention.”

The US print of Legend saw Goldsmith’s score excised completely and featured totally new music by Tangerine Dream, whilst the longer European cut retained the superior Goldsmith score.

Fittingly, the fourth is with Mike on his penultimate choice. He said: “Star Wars arrived in 1977, roughly a decade after ‘Apes’ and during that period pop songs had wormed their way into films and become a marketing tool.”

“So when Star Wars came along it blew (rather like an operational deathstar) everyone away, it did more than underscore the film, it reastablished the traditional symphonic score, something virtually unheard of at the time, as a viable entity that could sell very well in its own right if it was the right film and Star Wars just happened to encompass all that.”

“It’s a beautifully orchestrated and complex score that is thematically structured; it’s just wonderful stuff and heralded the return of the composer as artist. For Williams, it was a triumph.”

The composer honed his craft on Irwin Allen sci-fi TV epics laying the groundwork for his development. Mike enthused: “If you listen to his TV scores for ‘Lost in Space’, ‘Land of the Giants’ or ‘Time Tunnel’ you can hear hints of the shape of things to come. He had a great training ground in writing the most outlandish things, so Star Wars was just so fitting, cementing his position, one that he hasn’t lost since.”

From 77 to 82 Williams had such a prolific period, encompassing Star Wars, Close Encounters, Superman, The Fury, Raiders, Empire and E.T. Encounters is something that Mike prefers listening to rather than Star Wars. He said: “It almost surpasses Star Wars. The idea that aliens were communicating via music, which is a pretty universal thing from an emotional level, I thought was just great. Williams took that idea and ran with that five note theme.”

Mike’s final choice takes us to the final frontier which sees us back with Jerry Goldsmith and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

He asserts: “This is one of the finest scores written for film, let alone for science-fiction. The early sequence where the Klingon ships are taken out by the approaching alien entity is fantastic scoring.”

“That kind of instrumentation and barbaric quality in the music instantly conveys Klingon culture and at the same time drives the sequence adding immeasurably, just what Goldsmith did best. The main theme is also one of the best ever, being so successful that Trek creator Roddenberry used it as the title music for The Next Generation.”

Goldsmith revisited the Trek movie franchise several times, but for Mike he never bettered that original score, which he said: “Is beautifully constructed, melodically driven, incredibly evocative and helps save the rather leaden pacing in the second part of the film.”

If there was one moment that stands out where vision and music work perfectly with one another, it would be the scene where Scotty first shows off the Enterprise to Kirk, and the audience, from a shuttle craft.

Mike concludes: “The cue, just called The Enterprise, sustains its entire length and is just a superb example of what Goldsmith did with his music, he’s sorely missed.”

Have your orchestral soundtrack hunting manoeuvres left you in the dark?

Unlikely to find much beyond ‘songs inspired by the movie’ albums in the high street try the following for limited editions and new releases.

Intrada

Film Score Monthly

Varese Sarabande

eBay is also worth a look, but be warned as there are plenty of bootleg copies out there as well as bargains so be sure to read the description.