Remote Control Productions is a company run by film music genius Hans Zimmer and employed there, are some of the greatest musical minds working today. This group of composers and musicians currently supplies Hollywood productions with many of their scores. Lorne Balfe is one such individual and in recent years, he has contributed a good amount of said scores. He has worked on Batman Begins, the Kung Fu Panda films, and Sherlock Holmes, just to name a few. His latest effort is 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, a gritty actioner based on real events and directed by action “auteur” Michael Bay. The score is not only hard-hitting at times for a militaristic thriller but it contains tender moments that perfectly capture the effect war has on one’s mental wellbeing.
The film music industry today is pretty much dominated by Hans Zimmer and his disciples over at Remote Control Productions. This stellar group of artists compose scores for many popular blockbusters today. One of their most recent projects is the Michael Bay-directed true story 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Lorne Balfe wrote the music and it is yet another example of Remote Control’s amazing works. I had the privilege of speaking with Lorne about the film and his association with Hans and Remote Control. Here’s how that conversation went:
When a film franchise comes out with a third installment, one gets a sense that that franchise knows what they’re doing and that they are definitely in the business of making money, not high art. Since 2008, the Kung Fu Panda films have repackaged Shrek in a tasty Chinese coating and passed it off as original animated entertainment and DreamWorks Animation actually did get it right. Jack Black serves as voice actor superstar, accompanied by a who’s who of modern day supportive acting talent. Kung Fu Panda 3 continues to follow the adventures of spiritually-misguided Po, a panda who, through the power of kung fu, teamwork, and friendship sees deeper and realizes his true potential. This is the third film, so expect strong similarities between this installment and the previous two however that’s not saying this is a mediocre film because it really is rather fun and lively, not to mention funny and brimming with strong technical achievements.
In 1995, eclectic film composer Hans Zimmer won an Academy Award for his sensational score to The Lion King. This accolade then saw a new generation of film music and pushed the German maestro into not only fame and fortune in the movie business but made him a household name and saw the birth of new talents which served as proteges of Zimmer and his production company Media Ventures, now known as Remote Control Productions. Zimmer co-composed the first two Kung Fu Panda scores with student and flourishing composer John Powell, albums which contain not just powerful Chinese musical cues but pieces of music that evoke moments of adrenaline-induced action and gorgeous choir. Kung Fu Panda 3 continues to stir deep feelings of inspiration, power, and togetherness and the album is one of Zimmer’s best animated efforts yet, of which there are quite a few (The Lion King, The Prince of Egypt, the Madagascar franchise, Megamind, Rango, The Road to El Dorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, The Simpsons Movie, etc.) One can even say Zimmer has become the “new” John Williams.
The bond between man and dog can be a very special one. It’s a deep bond that is based on mutual respect and in many cases, love. In the new family-friendly drama Max, we are shown how one dog survives and overcomes insurmountable odds and must adjust in an environment he knows nothing about. Acclaimed film composer Trevor Rabin (Armageddon, Remember the Titans) delivers a powerful score for a movie that really doesn’t need much more assistance. Mr. Rabin’s contribution to this picture is sensational and it only adds to its already profound impact. The score he has provided is rich and chockfull of memorable cues.
In the last twenty years, the computer-animated film genre has grown exponentially. Toy Story started things off nicely in 1995 and since then, the movie business has benefited from a bevy of charming tales and brilliant art. The latest computer-animated adventure Minions is taking the world by storm and not only is it a cute film but it features a rather fun soundtrack that, like the film itself, is perfect for both children and adults. Hans Zimmer-student Heitor Pereira is responsible for the film’s score and there are also a couple of popular songs that comprise the vibrant album.
Nostalgia is alive and well in the year 2015. There are numerous film franchises from yesteryear getting the reboot/sequel treatment and this year is seeing this “phenomenon” more than ever before. One such franchise that has recently had new life injected into it is the Australian dystopian adventure film Mad Max. The series began in 1979 with a young Mel Gibson in the lead role and there were two sequels (1981 and 1985). These films saw some very gritty and some very raw action storytelling. Director George Miller has now returned 30 years later to continue the story with Mad Max: Fury Road, a high octane, no holds barred thrill ride that not only has great action and direction but a killer musical score courtesy of Mr. Tom Holkenborg (a.k.a.. Junkie XL).
In the past two decades, the name Hans Zimmer has been synonymous will the blockbuster film. His music manages to capture the very essence and absolute beauty of almost every project he touches and his unique style has served as the backbone for many action and adventure franchises. From his Oscar-winning score to The Lion King to Pearl Harbor to The Dark Knight Trilogy to Pirates of the Caribbean, not to mention a plethora of other notable films, Zimmer is the industry standard for powerful film music. In fact, one can even go so far as to call him the new John Williams. His latest work is featured in the quirky sci-fi actioner Chappie and while it isn’t the man’s best score, it does give a nice wink at synth-heavy soundtracks of yesteryear, most notably Vangelis’ 1982 score for Blade Runner, a film with many similarities to Chappie.
Heroism is something rarely seen in people these days. To sacrifice one’s safety for a greater good is an incredible sacrifice many are unwilling to go through. War is one of those instances when one must step up to the plate and complete their mission. Soldiers know this call and answer it on many occasions. The searing new documentary Above and Beyond tells the incredible true story of a random bunch of men who jeopardized their lives to make sure a struggling nation reached their dream of independence. It is a story that highlights true courage and it is a tale many probably don’t even know about.