Composer James Newton Howard (Batman Begins, Sixth Sense, The Fugitive) has helmed his fair share of action films, but none as daunting as director Peter Jackson's gargantuan remake of King Kong. Not only was he rescoring the life and death of one of cinema's most beloved icons; he had to do it in less than two months. Longtime Jackson collaborator Howard Shore, who took home an Oscar for his work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, left Kong in a flurry of "creative differences" with the director, scoring just over an hour of material. Keeping that fact in mind, Howard's compositions are nothing short of remarkable. While they lack Shore's epic scope and his myriad of complex and highly melodic character cues, Howard manages to pinch-hit his way through with the confidence of a starting player. Using the Depression era as a launching pad, he deftly whips jazz motifs, thunderous brass sections, and wistful choirs into a stew of "silver screen"-meets-"blue screen" harmony that may not yield any memorable themes, but manages to illuminate the film's terror, humanity, and tragedy with irrefutable professionalism.
Certain settings have long been a common element in British mystery and detective fiction: the quaint village; the country manor; the seaside resort; the streets of London. More than simply providing background, physical setting–in particular the city of London and the British seashore–takes on an added dimension, in a sense becoming a player in the mysteries, one that symbolizes, intensifies, and illuminates aspects of the British mystery novel.
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