Batman V Superman, Dawn Of Justice

Name: Batman V Superman, Dawn Of Justice
Year: 2016
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 151
Description: The general public is concerned over having Superman on their planet and letting the “Dark Knight” – Batman – pursue the streets of Gotham. While this is happening, a power-phobic Batman tries to attack Superman. Meanwhile Superman tries to settle on a decision, and Lex Luthor, the criminal mastermind and millionaire, tries to use his own advantages to fight the “Man of Steel”.
Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Man of Steel… Dawn of Justice… Tired of superhero movies… The titles alone makes me sick.

The whole thing seemed rather disjointed and I quickly lost track of the countless cut-to-blacks. Batman is incredibly stupid in this one and I just find the idea of Superman and him fighting one another ludicrous, especially when the storyline is so absurd that the final battles made me laugh. Oh hang on, now they’re friends, four words by Lois Lane did the trick. The other characters were equally boring, I just didn’t connect with anyone on any level. Even Diane Lane was bleak most of the time. The only interesting character was Amy Adams. Wait, did Superman just fly off again after having been beaten senseless by Batman and did Lois just become unconscious and conscious in, like, three seconds? The ending isn’t bad, it’s just unfortunate that it took two hours, twenty minutes and an idiotic monster before something interesting happened.

Now, the music. It could hardly be worse than Man of Steel. The addition of choir was a nice surprise and I liked some of the other-worldly sound design, a rather playful (but inappropriate) celesta/pizzicato strings piece for Lois and some nice violin solos during one of the bad guy’s monologues. But… Why the hell is it in A minor, again?? Wy is Hans Zimmer still writing (this) music? Granted, his Superman motif was slightly more effective here, but there’s still no room for romance here. Oh, sorry, of course, romance isn’t cool and requires a different key and maybe some woodwinds. Batman’s identity is a bit of a riddle to me as well. At first I wondered why Zimmer’s old material wasn’t used, but then I remembered that Zimmer wanted to give someone else the chance to write his music (enter 2,000 ghostwriters) and of course we can’t have two superheroes have two two-note themes in one film. In other words, Zimmer’s superhero themes got him into trouble because they weren’t well-considered. The new Batman music sounds a bit like Elfman’s version of the theme, which isn’t bad, but here it lacks any kind of heroism, which IS bad. Some Superman theme statements were placed in scenes that didn’t need it and the familiar violin/cello chords were annoying too. And urgh, Wonder Woman’s music is insufferable. Am I supposed to feel awestruck by this woman? This music just makes me hate her, but at least we’re in E minor now. Hello, she lived during World War One, how about some nod to the past, some mysteriousness, some… something else than electric guitars, for crying out loud?

Special kudos to the audio-describer who did his utmost to use many colourful adjectives, which made the ending extremely moving.

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Revolutionary Road

Name: Revolutionary Road
Year: 2008
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: It’s 1955. Frank and April Wheeler, in the seventh year of their marriage, have fallen into a life that appears to most as being perfect. They live in the Connecticut suburbs with two young children. Frank commutes to New York City where he works in an office job while April stays at home as a housewife. But they’re not happy. April has forgone her dream of becoming an actress, and Frank hates his job – one where he places little effort – although he has never figured out what his passion in life is. One day, April suggests that they move to Paris – a city where Frank visited during the war and loved, but where April has never been – as a means to rejuvenate their life. April’s plan: she would be the breadwinner, getting a lucrative secretarial job for one of the major international organizations, while Frank would have free time to find himself and whatever his passion.
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Christopher Fitzgerald
Genres: Drama, Romance

Okay, that was just weird. I certainly liked the premise, but then it started going downhill. It would have been so much better if they’d actually GONE to Paris. This was my first DiCaprio movie that I really didn’t like that much. I did find seeing him reunited with Kate Winslet rather amusing because of Titanic. Kathy Bates was terrible and Michael Shannon was good, but the marital troubles and strife became boring after a while. Yes, the ending is tragic, but by that time I was so disinterested that I could only listen with mild interest.

The score is simplistic, but perfectly appropriate. Thomas Newman’s ability to say as much as possible by writing at little as possible works every single time. The music is stupid.

Quarantaine

Name: Quarantine
Year: 2008
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 89
Description: Television reporter Angela Vidal and her cameraman are assigned to spend the night shift with a Los Angeles Fire Station. After a routine 911 call takes them to a small apartment building, they find police officers already on the scene in response to blood curdling screams coming from one of the apartment units. They soon learn that a woman living in the building has been infected by something unknown. After a few of the residents are viciously attacked, they try to escape with the news crew in tow, only to find that the CDC has quarantined the building. Phones, internet, televisions and cell phone access have been cut-off, and officials are not relaying information to those locked inside. When the quarantine is finally lifted, the only evidence of what took place is the news crew’s videotape.
Stars: Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris and Columbus Short
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Turned it off.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Name: The Amazing Spider-Man
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 136
Description: Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy, and together, they struggle with love, commitment and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Decided to give this a go after totally giving up on the terrible Toby Maguire movies.

Now THIS one was good! No Spider-Man whispering in that tortured voice Toby just can’t seem to drop. Garfield is so much better. Uncle Ben is superior and the villain is credible this time (no more stupid, childish hideous laughing)…

And Horner’s score is absolutely magical. Still wasn’t moved sufficiently when Ben died, but my goodness, this is so much better than Elfman’s perennial, comical, undramatic, annoymous, chaotic crap! What an awesome superhero theme! And the romantic side of the score is equally gripping. A little underplayed, perhaps, but still fifty times better than the feeble attempt Hans Zimmer makes at romance in the sequel, or the attempt Danny Elfman made that I totally forgot.

The Other Woman

Name: The Other Woman
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 109
Description: After discovering her boyfriend is married, Carly Whitten tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on, she realizes they have much in common and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend.
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton
Genres: Comedy, Romance

The summary seemed intrigueing, but the actual film was unbearable.

Stoker

Name: Stoker
Year: 2013
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 99
Description: India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peace of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident, but by the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman), India thinks the void left by her father’s death is finally being filled by his closest bloodline. Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

I liked the first half of the story, even though it quickly dawned on me where this was going to go. The second half was absurd, though. The score is unmemorable.

The best thing about this film was its audio description. It’s always great when narrators focus on camera viewpoints, reflections etc. And this one was even British, which made the approach all the more unique.

Jimmy’s Hall

Name: Jimmy’s Hall
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 109
Description: 1932. Jimmy Gralton is back home in the Irish countryside after ten years of forced exile in the USA. His widowed mother Alice is happy, Jimmy’s friends are happy, all the young people who enjoy dancing and singing are happy. Which is not the case of Father Sheridan, the local priest, nor of the village squire, nor of Dennis O’Keefe, the chief of the fascists. The reason is simple: Jimmy is a socialist activist. So when the “intruder” reopens the village hall, thus enabling the villagers to gather to sing, dance, paint, study or box, they take a dim view of the whole thing. People who think and unite are difficult to manipulate, aren’t they? From that moment on they will use every means possible to get rid of Jimmy and his “dangerous” hall.
Stars: Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Andrew Scott
Genres: Drama, History

It took a while before the film got underway and I only found myself becoming interested towards the end of the first half. Trust intolerant religious fanatics to make things more exciting. I didn’t know all that much about (Northern) Ireland in the 1930s, so from a historic point of view, this movie was very instructive too. In the end, all I can say is that the consequences catholic and protestant bigotry have had in the past still leave me gobsmacked.

The score was sparse and I must admit I didn’t like it at all in the beginning. It didn’t take long before I started comparing this one to Williams’ totally unrelated Far and Away. But as the story unfolded, this shallow underscore started to grow on me and it worked brilliantly during a very intimate moment between two protagonists. During the final moments of the story, I had to acknowledge that the score couldn’t have been more appropriate. And need I say that Irish folk music is just great?

On a side note, it was impressive to hear an English audio-describer pronounce French names flawlessly during the opening credits.

Drive

Name: Drive
Year: 2011
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 100
Description: A mysterious man who has multiple jobs as a garage mechanic, a Hollywood stuntman and a getaway driver seems to be trying to escape his shady past as he falls for his neighbor – whose husband is in prison and who’s looking after her child alone. Meanwhile, his garage mechanic boss is trying to set up a race team using gangland money, which implicates our driver as he is to be used as the race team’s main driver. Our hero gets more than he bargained for when he meets the man who is married to the woman he loves.
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
Genres: Crime, Drama

I was really surprised that the first half was so interesting, as these movies are usually not something I enjoy. I gave this one the benefit of the doubt because Carey Mulligan was in it, who I’ve mostly seen playing enigmatic women of few words and she didn’t disappoint. The second half did. Mafia shoot-outs are boring. The music and score couldn’t have been less captivating either.

A View To A Kill

Name: A View To A Kill
Year: 1985
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 131
Description: James Bond has one more mission. Bond returns from his travels in the USSR with a computer chip. This chip is capable of withstanding a nuclear electromagnetic pulse that would otherwise destroy a normal chip. The chip was created by Zorin Industries, and Bond heads off to investigate its owner, Max Zorin. Zorin may only seem like a innocent guilty man, but is really planning to set off an earthquake in San Andreas which will wipe out all of Silicon Valley. As well as Zorin, Bond must also tackle May Day, n equally menacing companion of Zorin, whilst dragging Stacy Sutton along for the ride.
Stars: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken and Tanya Roberts
Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller

I was going to write that it was rather enjoyable, but then the ending came. First of all, I don’t know whether I have to find Zorin an amusing villain or a tragedy for this franchise. Tanya Roberts quickly became boring too: whenever she spoke, it sounded artificial and her incessant screaming only made things worse. Then there was Grace Jones, whose character really did something totally absurd at the end and who had an extremely unattractive voice too. In the end, the only girl I liked was Jenny Flex, mostly because she wasn’t as annoying as all the others. Roger Moore was as good as ever and Q’s dry humour never ceases to make me laugh, but the final act was so incredibly stupid that even the audio-describer became sarcastic and clearly thought the whole thing was a waste of time.

The score was much more interesting than the film. There was something lively and enthusiastic about it that I really liked, although it needs to be said that the music for Holly Goodhead, Octopussy and now Stacy really sounds extremely similar. But then again, the stories are derivative too and at the end of the day, Barry obviously had a lot of fun scoring a load of rubbish, so no big deal. The title song will probably grow on me too.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Name: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Year: 1986
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: To save Earth from a destructive space probe, Kirk and his fugitive crew go back in time to 20th century Earth to recover two humpback whales, who are the only Earth beings who can respond to it.
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Without a doubt, the best damn Star Trek film so far. Though the premise might be a little far-fetched and Gillian’s faith seems highly improbable, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Light-hearted, good humour and DeForest really shone this time.

And what a fine score. I didn’t know Leonard Rosenman at all, but will be looking out for more of his material from now on. The main theme is fantastic and so incredibly catchy, though its performances were mostly a disaster: the trumpet players were terrible at the beginning of the film and during the end credits, everyone briefly did their own thing. Oh well, I know what I’ll be humming for the next few days and the infinitely superior re-recording by Erich Kunzel will be beamed up to my speakers regularly. There was not a lot of score in the film at all, but surprisingly, the silences really worked well most of the time. The overall package was so refreshing and appropriate: I finally felt like I was part of an adventure in space. Goldsmith’s fanfare for the first film was great, but the rest of that score was endless droning. Horner’s two subsequent entries were droning without adventure. This one, at last, provided some excitement and there was even a nod to Horner towards the end. Not an ideal thing to do, but far better than Horner dropping Goldsmith’s fanfare entirely.

Something very interesting happened in the audio description as well. At about twenty minutes into the story, the narrator suddenly had a bit of extra time and used it to describe Kirk and Spock’s age, clothes and appearance. This might sound like a very straight-forward thing to do, but it’s really nice to hear that the writer(s) thought of this right in the middle of the action. Not everyone does.