Jupiter Ascending

Name: Jupiter Ascending
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars, but wakes up to the cold reality of a job, cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine Wise, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
Stars: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Tried to keep watching this because Michael Giacchino’s score wasn’t bad at all, but it was just too boring, too much alien ‘terminology’, hardly any explanations, dull villains…

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Jurassic World

Name: Jurassic World
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 124
Description: Jurassic World has been running with great success for more than a decade in the wake of the disaster that haunted the island 22 years ago. The park’s geneticists have once again broken scientific and ethical boundaries in order to raise attendance for the park, now experiencing a decline in happy customers. Convinced that the new attraction will bring in many more people, but having crossed the line once again, the results may be devastating.
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Jurassic Park was great. The Lost World was boring and I only remember one scene from Jurassic Park III. By that time, my mind was made up: you can only make one good film to prove that mankind should not breed dinosaurs, so I thought this one would be the same all over again… and it was, but this time I enjoyed it. There wasn’t a dull moment anywhere, though I’m really starting to wonder how many films they’ll still make that contain a scene in which a man holds out his hand to a woman and the woman bravely walks off on her own. Hollywood, I know perfectly well women are equal to men. You clearly don’t.

Even Giacchino’s score amazed me. This will probably become my favourite Jurassic score after Jurassic Park. I really loved the ‘Christmas-y’ parts and John Williams’ old themes were a joy to hear again as well, though Giacchino’s new theme isn’t memorable (it does work) and as usual, the lack of reverb reduces the excitement dramatically.

Finally, I wish audio-describers would stop narrating the whole end credits. I appreciate the effort and all, but would like to be able to appreciate the end credits suites for these kind of films. If you really want to know who the second-unit director was, go to Wikipedia, that’s what it’s for. The dialogue was also softer than the descriptions.

The Back-Up Plan

Name: The Back-Up Plan
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: Zoe’s a woman who has a hard time letting anyone into her life. She has a habit of pushing people away when they get close. She also wants to have a baby, but because she has no man in her life decides to be artificially inseminated. Shortly after having the procedure, she meets a guy named Stan whom she connects with. But she’s still afraid to let him in and when she tells him about her pregnancy, thinking he would bail, he sticks with her.
Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin and Michaela Watkins
Genres: Comedy, Romance

The story was okayish.

The score was great, especially the first cues.

Divergent

Name: Divergent
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 139
Description: Set in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into five factions that each represent a different virtue, teenagers have to decide if they want to stay in their faction or switch to another – for the rest of their lives. Tris Prior makes a choice that surprises everyone. Then Tris and her fellow faction-members have to live through a highly competitive initiation process to live out the choice they have made. They must undergo extreme physical and intense psychological tests, that transform them all. But Tris has a secret that she is Divergent, which means she doesn’t fit into any one group. If anyone knew, it would mean a certain death. As she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, this secret might help her save the people she loves… or it might destroy her.
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent… What is it that people like about teenagers fighting each other in dystopian societies?

The first half was all right, though I quickly became tired of the countless scenes in which Four stalked Tris. I got bored during the second half, but have to admit that the third act really surprised me pleasantly, though some of it was predictable and I do think that the movie was too fast-paced and that they were trying to put too much into it. Some parts were rather cheesy as well, but I guess that if the boys got Maze Runner, the girls deserved Divergent.

Tom Holkenborg’s score was all right and I especially liked the non-action parts. Why can’t that guy just use his proper name, though? Does he think Junkie XL sounds so much better or will using nicknames be the next phase in the hype surrounding Hans Zimmer’s associates?

Shame

Name: Shame
Year: 2011
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 101
Description: Brandon is a 30-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon’s world spirals out of control. From director Steve McQueen (Hunger), Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and James Badge Dale
Genres: Drama

What in the name of God was THAT? The main character should have been locked up from the start and basically spends the entire film… well, not even sure what to say, working out whether he’s straight or gay (or at times an animal…)…? As usual, Carey Mulligan’s character was intrigueing and, again as usual, she did a great job, though she did sound rather weird trying to speak American. It took 40 minutes before anything actually happened in this film. Never again.

The score serves its purpose, but that’s all. The Bach source music really worked.

Pride & Prejudice

Name: Pride & Prejudice
Year: 2005
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: The story is based on Jane Austen’s novel about five sisters – Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia Bennet – in Georgian England. Their lives are turned upside down when a wealthy young man (Mr Bingley) and his best friend (Mr Darcy) arrive in their neighbourhood.
Stars: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen and Brenda Blethyn
Genres: Drama, Romance

LOVED IT. As usual, it took me a few moments to get into the 18th-century politics and multitude of characters (quite confusing at first), but other than that, everything was just perfect. It was amazing how fluent all the actors made Austen’s rather stilted language sound, especially Keira Knightley was absolutely brilliant there (and in all other aspects of her role as well, of course).

A great score, too. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been so touched by a piano performance (Georgiana) and the ball music was lovely too, though it was rather stupid that two characters both played the film’s main theme and the end credits suite lacks passion, energy and exuberance: everyone got married after all.

The surround sound mix could have been more dynamic as well, the rear channels were hardly used.

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Name: Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
Year: 2006
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 91
Description: Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth, Diego the saber-toothed tiger, and the hapless prehistoric squirrel/rat known as Scrat are still together and enjoying the perks of their now melting world. Manny may be ready to start a family, but nobody has seen another mammoth for a long time; Manny thinks he may be the last one. That is, until he miraculously finds Ellie, the only female mammoth left in the world. Their only problems: They can’t stand each other – and Ellie somehow thinks she’s a possum! Ellie comes with some excess baggage in the form of her two possum ‘brothers’ – Crash and Eddie, a couple of daredevil pranksters and cocky, loud-mouthed troublemakers. Manny, Sid and Diego quickly learn that the warming climate has one major drawback: A huge glacial dam holding off oceans of water is about to break, threatening the entire valley. The only chance of survival lies at the other end of the valley…
Stars: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary
Genres: Animation, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Pretty entertaining, though I definitely liked the first half better. There’s also something curious going on with Ray Romano. Apart from him being kind of a bad voice actor, I could have sworn I knew him from at least two other movies, but then I found out he wasn’t involved in Stuart Little and Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure at all. Generic voice, I guess. Denis Leary, on the other hand, is really good.

Musically, things are on track this time with yet another exuberant John Powell score. What a great composer. Really liked the main theme and, well, pretty much the whole score.

This was the first time that the PAL speed-up was made so blatantly obvious: James O’Hara’s voice sounded unnaturally high. He was great as usual, though, except for the fact that I wouldn’t use the word ‘sextet’ in a children’s story. Oh well, he’s still one of the best audio-describers I know.

Anger Management

Name: Anger Management
Year: 2003
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: Mild-mannered, timid businessman Dave Buznik, who works for a pet clothing company out of New York City, has got an abrasive boss named Mr Frank Head, who frequently takes credit for his work and steps on him in return. He’s got a loving girlfriend, Linda, whose best friend is her condescending college ex, Andrew. But when a misunderstanding aboard an airplane goes haywire, Dave is ordered by the court to undergo anger management therapy at the hands of specialist Dr Buddy Rydell, who is an unpredictable, psychopathic character. As the relationship between Dave and Buddy becomes more tense, the unorthodox treatment wreaks havoc in Dave’s life and Buddy might be the only one who can save him from a problem he recognizes right away in his patient that could only get worse.
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler and Marisa Tomei
Genres: Comedy

Turned it off after 20 minutes. What a stupid film.

Larry Crowne

Name: Larry Crowne
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 92
Description: Until he was downsized, affable, amiable Larry Crowne was a superstar team leader at the big-box company where he’s worked since his time in the Navy. Underwater on his mortgage and unclear on what to do with his suddenly free days, Larry heads to his local college to start over. There he becomes part of a colourful community of outcasts, also-rans and the overlooked all trying to find a better future for themselves… often moving around town in a herd of scooters. In his public-speaking class, Larry develops an unexpected crush on his teacher, Mercedes Tainot, who has lost as much passion for teaching as she has for her husband. The simple guy who has every reason to think his life has stalled will come to learn an unexpected lesson: when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might discover your reason to live.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Sarah Mahoney
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Not great, but certainly not bad either. Yes, it was corny at times, but when Julia Roberts and especially Tom Hanks are the main actors, I really can’t care too much about that. Even though Hanks trying to act cool was rather irritating, he remains one of my favourite actors because he’s just so versatile. He delivers every line perfectly. George Takei made me laugh several times and Julia Roberts ‘under the influence of the demon rum’ was quite entertaining too.

I really, really liked most of the songs and the score perfectly suited them as well, though it took an awful long time before I heard any of James Newton Howard’s music.

The Taking Of Pelham 123

Name: The Taking Of Pelham 123
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: In early afternoon, four armed men hijack a subway train in Manhattan. They stop on a slight incline, decoupling the first car to let the rest of the train coast back. Their leader is Ryder; he connects by phone with Walter Garber, the dispatcher watching that line. Garber is a supervisor temporarily demoted while being investigated for bribery. Ryder demands $10 million within an hour, or he’ll start shooting hostages. He’ll deal only with Garber. The mayor okays the payoff, the news of the hostage situation sends the stock market tumbling and it’s unclear what Ryder really wants or if Garber is part of the deal. Will hostages, kidnappers and negotiators live through this?
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Travolta and Luis Guzmán
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller

The premise is interesting. The actors aren’t. Travolta is cold-blooded and seems to have some religious motivation that isn’t really explained properly, if I recall correctly. And I really dislike Denzel Washington: always that same stoopid accent, always playing the same stoopid cop who isn’t as stoopid as his fellow cops. And then there’s the matter of his wife, who, when he tells her he might be in mortal danger, demands he bring back a bottle of milk from the supermarket. And he can’t just bring any bottle, oh no. She’s very adamant about that. (He just risked his job by paying his daughter’s tuition fees with illegal money, by the way.) So, wives, always remember to irritate your husbands with milk bottles when they are in mortal danger. The ending is rushed and stupid/sentimental/wannabe heroic: it clearly implies that nobody really matters in this film, only its plot does. The characters are just there out of sheer necessity. But… Will the bottle of milk arrive at Denzel Washington’s house safe and sound at the end? Or will the wife have to fetch it herself?

The score is functional, but hardly noticeable.