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We’ve got three new CDs from La-La Land Records heading your way!

First up is the next edition in La-La Land’s Expanded Archival Collection, lets all return to Gotham for this two disc remastered and expanded presentation of Danny Elfman’s magnificent score to the 1992 Warner Bros. motion picture blockbuster Batman Returns, starring Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito, and directed by Tim Burton. Composer Danny Elfman (Batman, Mars Attacks, Wanted, Alice in Wonderland) revisits his iconic theme and expertly weaves it into a sumptuous musical experience, bringing to life the film’s breathtaking action and rich emotional and psychological underpinnings. Produced by Neil S. Bulk, Dan Goldwasser and MV Gerhard and mastered by James Nelson from Shawn Murphy’s first generation three-track digital mixes, this limited edition release features more than 30 minutes of previously unreleased music, including alternate cues. The in-depth, exclusive liner notes are by John Takis and the art direction is by David C. Fein. This release is limited to only 3,500 copies, so get them while you can.

Next up is the world premiere release of acclaimed composer James Horner’s (Aliens, Glory, Titanic, Avatar) score to the 1995 Paramount Pictures feature film Jade, starring David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino and Chazz Palminteri, directed by William Friedkin. Previously unavailable in any format, this release of Horner’s erotically charged, Asian-tinged score finally takes its place in his soundtrack canon of notable 1990’s works. 1995 proved to be an especially successful year for Horner, having released scores to such films as Casper, Braveheart, Apollo 13, Jumanji and Balto. This release of Jade now fills the hole in one of his most important years as a composer! Produced for La-La Land Records by Dan Goldwasser and mastered by Mike Matessino from ½ inch Paramount vault materials, this release contains bonus tracks that include Loreena McKennitt’s “The Mystic’s Dream” and the classical piece “Le Sacre du Printemps,” both of which are featured in the film’s score. Exclusive, in-depth liner notes by Daniel Schweiger feature comments from the film’s director, William Friedkin. Art direction is by Mark Banning.

Finally we have another premiere release from composer John Morris’ (Blazing Saddles, Clue, Young Frankenstein) sumptuous orchestral score to the 1986 Orion Pictures feature flim, Haunted Honeymoon, starring Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner and Dom DeLuise, and directed/co-written by Gene Wilder. Produced by Ford A. Thaxton and digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson, this release finally makes available one of John Morris’ most technically spectacular and evocative scores, that’s brilliantly performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Limited to 1,200 copies, this release features exclusive, in-depth liner notes are by film music writer Jeff Bond.

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Our friends over at La-La Land Records have announced three special releases, available at their booth at this years San Diego’s Comic Con. The first of which is John Debney‘s Predators, which skillfully incorporates Alan Silvestri’s iconic themes from the original Predator film. Next is a special two disc set of Danny Elfman‘s Batman, this a Limited Edition of 5,000 units, and features the previously unreleased film version of Elfman’s score, as well as a remastered presentation of the original 1989 soundtrack score, and never-before-released Bonus Tracks. Last but not least, is a Limited Edition of James Horner‘s Krull, which is limited to only 3,000 units, so act fast! All three recordings will be available at www.lalalandrecords.com on July 27th, after Comic Con, but those of you at the Con will be able to get first dibs. In addition to these premiere releases, there will also be special appearances and signings, as well as great deals on other La-La Land Records soundtracks available at their booth, which is located with the Toy Hungry booth, in space #429.

Guest composers will be stopping by the La-La Land booth to greet fans and sign CDs. Newly Emmy Award nominated composer Bear McCreary (Caprica, Battlestar Galactica, Human Target) will kick things off from 4-5PM on Thursday. Visit the La-La Land gang at Comic-Con to find out who will be appearing to sign autographs and when. Also, be sure to  follow La-La Land Records & Darby’s Secret Stash on Twitter for breaking news at Comic Con, including information about special composer guests and signing times!

“Alice in Wonderland”
a review by Darby O’Gill

It’s time to go back to Wonderland, and to do so you’ll need your Tim Burton 3-D glasses. This version of Alice in Wonderland is not so much a remake, as it is a continuation of the original classic tale. Of course, it’s also told through the eyes of visionary director Tim Burton, and marks his third remake or retelling if you will, of an already existing movie classic. I’m a huge Tim Burton fan, but I’m truly starting to miss the originality of his former moviemaking. It’s true that these remakes embody the essences of an original Burton film, but there is still this underlying familiarity of the original movies or stories on which the work is based. Which is a good thing for a remake to embody, but at this point I would really like to see Burton take me to a place I have never seen before. We don’t have many visionary directors that can do what he is capable of, and it seems like for the last few years we have been getting the “What if…” versions of Tim Burton films. For those of you that are not huge comic book nerds, “What if…” comics, are a Marvel Comics series that takes a classic storyline, like say… Spider-Man. The comics would raise the question, what if Peter Parker’s Uncle hadn’t died? Would he have learned that with great power, comes great responsibility? And that is exactly what we have here, “What if… Tim Burton directed Planet of the Apes?” Sadly, we all now know the answer to that question.

In this version of Alice in Wonderland, we follow a now nineteen year old Alice, who has forgotten all about her original adventures in Wonderland, and finds herself now facing even more grownup decisions than ever before, which could not be better timing, because the creatures of Wonderland (or Underland as they call it) are facing troubles of their own; and only Alice can save them. I think they did a really good job of putting a new spin on a classic tale, while still retaining some moments from the original story. The movie moves at a nice pace, and Tim Burton’s visuals are anything but boring. The special effects are quite amazing, and it managed to do for me what Avatar couldn’t, which was being able sell me on the movie’s world and characters. I was totally submerged in the world of Wonderland. I cared about the characters. I was interested in the story they were telling. And even though I was familiar with the story they were telling, they still managed to take me somewhere new, and give me an environment that was worth caring about. Okay, maybe I’m laying it on a little thick. The story wasn’t that amazing; but if anything, it just proves that James Cameron did not try hard enough to change his Dances with Wolves storyline in Avatar.

Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the Mad Hatter is well… Okay. Look, Johnny Depp is an amazing actor. I think we can all agree on that. But, it seems like when he plays these remake roles for Tim Burton, he tends to go too far. He almost over plays the role. I’m not saying it’s a bad performance by any means, but much like his portrayal of Willy Wonka being almost Michael Jackson-ish, it feels like sometimes less could be more. I feel that these characters already have such a larger than life persona attached to them that Depp is almost trying to harness that imagery by playing them as big as he possibly can, when the truth is playing them slightly smaller, might actually give you the same effect in the end. Anne Hathaway, surprisingly, gives a horrible performance as the White Queen. I’m not quite sure what happened there. I would have to imagine that it was the way Burton wanted the role to be portrayed, but I’m afraid it really didn’t work for me. I found it to be very distracting. I couldn’t keep myself from trying to figure out why she was acting that way. The best I could come up with is that the role of the White Queen most likely would have been the role that Burton’s former fiancé, Lisa Marie, would have played if they were still together. He was most likely directing Hathaway as such, which would possibly explain the uncomfortable nature of her performance in the film. Just a theory. On the better side of the coin, Little Britain’s Matt Lucas gives an amazing performance as both Tweetledee and Tweetledum. And what Tim Burton film would be complete without current fiancé, Helena Bonham Carter? Donning an abnormally large head, inspired by the books original illustrations, Carter plays the hot-tempered Red Queen.

Like I mention at the beginning of this review, Alice in Wonderland is a part of the new and ever growing trend that is 3-D movies. Now, I will admit that this new RealD 3-D system works so much better then those old red and blue glasses ever did. But, it’s still getting a little out of control, if you ask me. I enjoy watching these new 3-D films in the theatre, but once you watch the movie at home, I’m afraid it’s just not quite the same experience. The scenes in which the glasses just add depth are fine, but when things are constantly being pointed at you and there is sadly no 3-D there to enhance it, you truly notice just how lame those stunts make the movie look in the end. Also, the 3-D seems to have a hard time handling fast paced close-up action. Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole was very blurry; and because of the glasses, I felt like I might have missed some really nice moments on the way down. Over all, the movie does a great job of delivering a fun, entertaining, and somewhat curiouser and curiouser night at the movies.

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“9”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Well, it’s official. The machines will kill us all. But at least it’s going to be fun to watch. I truly haven’t seen an animated movie like this in quite sometime. The visuals are mind blowing. You could get lost for hours in the details alone. The story is dark, and the action is intense, but most of all 9 reminds us that even an animated movie can entertain audiences of all ages.

The story of 9 takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, but not one of the future, like you would think, but rather an alternative future of the 1940’s. This was a really smart move on the filmmaker’s part. They could have easily made it all futuristic, but by limiting the technology available at the time (with some artistic license of course); they really give the film a unique look that just adds to its magic. But I digress. The story follows the journey of 9, a mechanical patchwork doll that awakens to find himself in a world seemingly void of life. He quickly discovers he’s not alone and stumbles upon the other eight patchwork dolls that came before him, and together they must face the reawakened doomsday machine that now threatens their very survival. The visuals in this film are outstanding! They really are. I can’t say it enough. Even though Tim Burton was only a producer on this project, his influence can clearly be seen throughout the film. Much like Neill Blomkamp’s District 9Shane Acher’s 9 also stems from an award winning short. It’s great that in this day and age, Hollywood can see the potential in these small shorts, and give the filmmakers a chance to tell their stories properly. It’s hard to believe that this is the same Hollywood that made G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

The voice talent in this film is fantastic, and not just big names for the sake of having big names either. Don’t get me wrong they are big names, but their voices are not only fitting for their characters, but they also work brilliantly as an ensemble, which is hard to pull off in an animated movie. Especially when the voice talent cast doesn’t get to meet each other till the night of the premiere in most cases. And what Tim Burton project would be complete without Danny Elfman? Well, Elfman many not have composed the full score, but he did compose the theme for 9. Which, I have to say is better than nothing. You know, just this past weekend, I was talking about how much Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas just blew me away, and changed the way I thought of animated movies. I’m glad to say that 9 will most likely raise the bar for animated films yet again.

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