Captain America: The First Avenger

Name: Captain America: The First Avenger
Year: 2011
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 124
Description: It is 1942, America has entered World War II and sickly but determined Steve Rogers is frustrated at being rejected yet again for military service. Everything changes when Dr Erksine recruits him for the secret Project Rebirth. Proving his extraordinary courage, wits and conscience, Rogers undergoes the experiment and his weak body is suddenly enhanced into the maximum human potential. When Dr. Erksine is then immediately assassinated by an agent of Nazi Germany’s head of its secret HYDRA research department, Johann Schmidt aka the Red Skull, Rogers is left as a unique man who is initially misused as a propaganda mascot. However, when his comrades need him, Rogers goes on a successful adventure that truly makes him Captain America and his war against Schmidt begins.
Stars: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving and Samuel L. Jackson
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-fi

Not really a fan of these predictable, patriotic movies, but enjoyed it all the same, especially the second half. I found the love story between Carter and Captain America rather forced, but really liked Tommy Lee Jones’ performance and character, not to mention the final scene before the credits.

The score also became much more interesting in the second half and its main theme is quite functional. It’s so good to hear composers switch from major t minor and not just stick to minor all the time. The march during the credits was absolutely fantastic, but the final conversation between Carter and Captain America could have been more.

The Dutch subtitles were way too concise and even contained a few wrong translations.

Also, thank you for giving us yet another audio described track narrated by a man who’s clearly desperately yearning for another job, America. He never mentions his name at the end, so for all I know, it might as well be a computer. If his superiors make him sound bored, they should resign. If he himself just can’t help being apathetic, allow him to look for another job and look for some true patriots to read these things. It’s so irritating to try and become interested in (final) battles when you have to rely on a guy who just doesn’t give a damn.

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The Incredible Hulk

Name: The Incredible Hulk
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 112
Description: Dr Bruce Banner, thanks to a gamma ray experiment gone wrong, transforms into a giant green-skinned hulk whenever his pulse rate gets too high. Meanwhile, a soldier uses the same technology to become an evil version of the original.
Stars: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

At long last, I have begun to catch up on my Marvel movies. At least they’re consistently good, unlike the DC ones. What mostly surprises me now is how little happened in the first half, but after that, I really began to feel for the Hulk’s character and predicament. Liv Tyler was too bland and Tim Roth’s character was rather stupid, but I loved Tim Blake Nelson.

The score was not special or memorable, but the overall package was really nice, especially the non-action material. Scores like these are proof that superhero music can still be decent in this day and age.

Miles Neff did the audio description. I always find it t rather amusing and cute how passionate he becomes when narrating action scenes, but even though it sometimes makes me laugh, his intonation works brilliantly most of the time. I also liked how he seemed ‘surprised’ by all the cameos. And of course, his descriptions of the camera viewpoints were most welcome, as always.

The Nanny Diaries

Name: The Nanny Diaries
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: After graduating from Montclair State, New Jersey Girl Annie can’t make up her mind about what to do with her life. After saving a little boy from being run over in the park, she is quickly employed as a nanny for a rich Upper East Side couple. Mr X is occupied with his business, Mrs X loves shopping and none of them really likes to spend time with their little boy Grayer. Annie quickly learns that she has more than her hands full with taking care of him. Her busy schedule doesn’t give her much spare time. Mrs X fired her last nanny because she was dating and that gives Annie problems when Harvard Hottie who lives in the same building asks her out on a date.
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

That is the second time I’ve had to turn off a boring movie because British Sky Broadcasting’s audio-describer, Jo Stevens, says way too little.

Interstellar

Name: Interstellar
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 169
Description: In the near future, Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen its lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race.
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain
Genres: Adventure, Sci-Fi

Well, that was amazing. I watched a romantic comedy with McConaughey last week and here, too, his accent kind of diminishes his character’s credibility for me. Mackenzie Foy and Michael Caine were fantastic, though, and Foy in particular. On the negative side, there’s too much science in it and I didn’t understand half of it, but once you accept that, it’s a rollercoaster from beginning to end. My brother is studying physics and assures me that you can’t possibly travel back in time, only to the future. The message that Cooper sends to his dad in space where he literally says ‘my wife says I should let you go so I’m letting you go’ is just rushed and stupid and I would have liked Murph to be a little younger at the end. Other than that, great, great story.

Now, the score. I’m currently going through an anti-Zimmer phase for several reasons. First of all, I felt I already knew everything about this score before having heard one single note because the hype was, yet again, completely out-of-control. How many times did I hear that story about Nolan not telling Zimmer it was about space travel and how he only knew about the father-daughter thing and blah blah blah. Then I had the opportunity to hear Zimmer rape Interstellar at his live show with guitars, guitars and guitars (after all, the populace cannot be expected to listen to organs, can they?) Also, Zimmer’s basic technique for tackling scenes bothers me: he sometimes has great ideas, but repeats them again and again and again without ever actually going anywhere with them. Now, this score undoubtedly has a few magnificent moments of stunning virtuosity and some quieter, emotional moments receive perfect, gentle piano music, but other such moments are scored insufficiently and it would all be so much more exciting if Zimmer had sometimes used another key. Having said all that, 90% of the music worked in the film and if Nolan refuses to let Zimmer watch his movies, I can’t blame him for not composing music for individual moments.

I watched this movie using cheap headphones, but still some scenes sounded like earthquakes. What is it with today’s movies and bass? Some of the low frequencies even distorted the dialogue and there were a few extreme volume changes too.

The Orange Is The New Black narrator did the audio description again, but I got so swept up in this movie that I didn’t even notice her after a while, something that has never happened before. She did, however, introduce the characters rather badly in the beginning.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Name: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Year: 2011
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 158
Description: This English-language adaptation of the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson follows a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist as he investigates the disappearance of a wealthy patriarch’s niece from 40 years ago. He is aided by the pierced, tattooed, punk computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander. As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined.
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery

It was good, but not perfect. I found that the introduction to some characters, including Salander’s, were executed rather hastily and her brief relationship with the journalist seemed forced. Also really don’t understand why it was never explained why Martin needed all the Bible crap to kill his victims and one character in particular, Salander’s second guardian, made a rather unreal impression on me too. I’m not saying I didn’t feel for what happened to her (those scenes were terribly vivid), or that I don’t believe such people exist, but this guy just went from good to bad to good too quickly. Finally, I don’t understand why the whole money transfer thing at the end was necessary. And before I forget, the Scandinavian accents still annoy me. Speak English or Swedish, for heaven’s sake. In other better news, Robin Wright was, of course, great.

The score was mostly unobtrusive, but really out of place, especially during the romantic scenes. Oh, orchestra, where art thou?

The audio description was read by the Orange Is The New Black narrator. I don’t have anything against the woman, but I’ve just ‘encountered’ her too much over the past few weeks.

Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue

Name: Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue
Year: 2010
Rating: G
Running Time (minutes): 76
Description: Tinker Bell must team up with a rival fairy to keep their existence a secret from humans.
Stars: Mae Whitman, Lauren Mote, Michael Sheen
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family

Okay, so I guess an explanation is first required as to why I watched this. I still couldn’t watch Star Wars 8 with audio description, didn’t feel like watching yet another James Bond or Star Trek movie, the TV guide was yet again a disaster and I just have a soft spot for orchestral scores, but more on that later. The movie is quite okay, although Lizzy’s father was terrible, his voice work had ‘just pay me already’ written all over it. I really don’t understand why kids’ movies often attract the worst voice actors. Also, if the fairies can’t interact with the humans, what’s the point of holidaying on Earth? Didn’t know there were boy fairies out there either.

Now, the score. I was hoping for a symphonic extravaganza and wasn’t disappointed. It’s been some time since I’ve really enjoyed a soundtrack. Nearly everything was just perfect, but what really took me by surprise is how memorable the fairy-magic theme is: five notes, five little notes… and I believed and was spellbound. It’s definitely as memorable as Williams’ identity for Tinker Bell, just a little more magical and optimistic and less playful. This was my first Joel McNeely score and I’m already looking forward to hearing more of him. I only didn’t like the insertion of the songs: more magical score would have been much more welcome.

I would have liked the audio description to be narrated by a woman (it’s a bit of a girl’s film after all), but I suppose you can’t complain about things like this in a day and age where gender obsessions are being blown out of proportion everywhere. One song was rendered completely incomprehensible by the descriptions too, but then again, he didn’t have much of a choice there. At one point, I also thought he was making things too ‘literary’: when Tinker Bells is teaching Lizzy how to fly, he suddenly called them expert and novice.

Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past

Name: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
Year: 2009
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 100
Description: A bachelor is haunted by the ghosts of his past girlfriends at his younger brother’s wedding.
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Emma Stone
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

I’ve been wanting to watch this one ever since it aired last Halloween, but only got around to doing so now. Really liked it, especially after all the crap I’ve been watching this week. Uncle Wayne’s character doesn’t really make much sense to me and I found it rather hard to like the main character and his stupid accent, but other than that, I really enjoyed the whole thing. Jennifer Garner and Emma Stone are always pleasing to the ear.

The score was very nice too. I just can’t enough of hopelessly optimistic romantic music.

What struck me most about the audio description was how concise all the sentences were and how slowly the narrator spoke, but she could have said way more and did not describe an important kiss and sometimes failed to mention locations.

Enchanted

Name: Enchanted
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 107
Description: The beautiful princess Giselle is banished by an evil queen from her magical, musical animated land and finds herself in the gritty reality of the streets of modern-day Manhattan. Shocked by this strange new environment that doesn’t operate on a ‘happily ever after’ basis, Giselle is now adrift in a chaotic world badly in need of enchantment. But when Giselle begins to fall in love with a charmingly flawed divorce lawyer who has come to her aid – even though she is already promised to a perfect fairy tale prince back home – she has to wonder: Can a storybook view of romance survive in the real world?
Stars: Amy Adams, Susan Sarandon and James Marsden
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Good grief, I’m really bad at choosing films this week. I basically rather liked everyone (for want of a better word) but the stupid prince and princess. You disappoint me, Amy Adams. Also, the entire movie is based on a really flawed plot: the queen wants to ban the princess from the kingdom because she doesn’t want her to be the queen, but the thing is, she won’t become queen until after the old hag has died. And even if she’s right and I’m wrong, I’m sure this happy place has a fine solution for that situation. One more thing: I HATE people breaking into song in absurd situations. It’s clear that Disney just wants to make fun of itself here, but it’s just too much.

Even Alan Menken’s score didn’t live up to my expectations. I guess I was hoping for too much after Hunchback of Notre Dame and Beauty and the Beast. It wasn’t bad at all, though, just… not Hunchback of Notre Dame, but good enough for me to listen to the soundtrack in a few days.

The audio description wasn’t perfect either, some things weren’t explained properly in the beginning.

Sea Of Love

Name: Sea Of Love
Year: 1989
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 113
Description: Frank Keller is a New York detective investigating a case of a serial killer who finds the victims through the lonely-hearts column in newspapers. Keller falls in love with Helen, the main suspect in the case.
Stars: Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin and John Goodman
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery

I couldn’t watch for more than 20 minutes because there was a problem with the subtitles, but it seemed boring anyway.

What Women Want

Name: What Women Want
Year: 2000
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: Nick, a somewhat chauvinistic advertising exec hot shot, has his life turned haywire when a fluke accident enables him to hear what women think. At first, all he wants to do is rid himself of this curse, until a wacky psychologist shows him that this could be used to his advantage! His first target is Darcy McGuire, the very woman that got the promotion he wanted. But just as his plan is beginning to work, love gets in the way…
Stars: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt and Marisa Tomei
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

Wow, glad I didn’t sacrifice an entire evening for this one. Turned it off after wondering for 20 minutes why all the women loved such a stupid character. And I still don’t like Helen Hunt.