Name: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
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.
Name: Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue
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.
Name: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
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.
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.
Name: Sea Of Love
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.
Name: What Women Want
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.
Name: I Am Legend
Running Time (minutes): 101
Description: Robert Neville is a scientist who was unable to stop the spread of the terrible virus that was incurable and man-made. Immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and perhaps the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But he is not alone. Mutant victims of the plague – The Infected – lurk in the shadows… watching Neville’s every move… waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind’s last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But he knows he is outnumbered… and quickly running out of time.
Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga and Charlie Tahan
Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Well, that was weird. I loved the first half, but the second half was really, really disappointing. Suffice it to say I found it all too sentimental and improbable. Also, why didn’t he even try to cure that dog of his? I thought he really liked that dog. Oh, and there’s also a scene where Smith does push-ups and literally pants in the same way over five times. Lame.
James Newton Howard’s score was short, but I really liked what I heard a lot. Some of it reminded me of a piece by Thomas Tallis that I just discovered.
Name: Under The Skin
Running Time (minutes): 108
Description: A female alien comes to Scotland to replace a deceased alien. She drives a van through the roads and streets, seducing lonely men to process their bodies. Soon the emotionless alien sees her human form in a mirror and she experiences the human emotions and feelings, coming to a tragic discovery.
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay
Genres: Drama, Sci-fi, Thriller
Quite good. I never really like ambiguous and unclear stories, but regret that this one didn’t last at least 30 minutes longer: the main character is so intrigueing, especially in the second half, that more screentime would only have made it more thrilling.
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard such an original score. It won’t make for nice listening, but creativity is so rare tin film music these days that I’m already on top of the world if a score isn’t in D minor. I have no idea whether the audio-described track is to blame for this, but the dialogue was really too soft and even unclear at times. I realise that the conversations are utterly unimportant in this film, but if you want to convey the message that they’re irrelevant, just take them out, don’t let them drown in the score and/or sound effects.
The audio description showcased yet again the advantages of good old British audio narration. The describer never failed to come up with synonyms for the heroine: mysterious female, temptress, seductress… Are you reading this, Americans?
Name: A Dangerous Method
Running Time (minutes): 99
Description: Suffering from hysteria, Sabina Spielrein is hospitalised under the care of Dr Carl Jung who has begun using Dr Sigmund Freud’s talking cure with some of his patients. Spielrein’s psychological problems are deeply rooted in her childhood and violent father. She is highly intelligent, however, and hopes to be a doctor, eventually becoming a psychiatrist in her own right. The married Jung and Spielrein eventually become lovers. Jung and Freud develop an almost father-son relationship, with Freud seeing the young Jung as his likely successor as the standard-bearer of his beliefs. A deep rift develops between them when Jung diverges from Freud’s belief that while psychoanalysis can reveal the cause of psychological problems, it cannot cure the patient.
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen
Genres: Biography, Drama, Thriller
Fantastic. Keira Knightley as Miss Spielrein was absolutely terrific – her insane laughter just gave me goosebumps – but one could wonder why Knightley plays her with a Russian accent. Mortensen was equally charismatic.
I originally had misgivings about the score because the only Shore material I knew apart from Lord of the Rings was Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, neither of which interested me in the slightest (and The Hobbit wasn’t stunning either), but this one was perfect, every second was effective through and through. I suppose doubting him for even a second was incredibly stupid. I especially liked the very high violin work accompanying the captions describing Spielrein’s eventual fate.
Name: Gorillas In The Mist
Running Time (minutes): 129
Description: Sigourney Weaver stars as Dian Fossey in this true story about Fossey’s study of gorillas and her efforts to stop the decimation of the endangered apes.
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Bryan Brown and Julie Harris
Genres: Biography, Drama
I liked the first half a lot, apart from the fact that Sigourney Weaver sounded bored yet again. She always speaks like she’s just delivering all her lines to get that paycheck. That didn’t make her interactions with the gorillas any less touching, though, and in the second half, her character became much more interesting and even fascinating and Weaver improved as well: as long as she can act and not just talk, everything is fine. The overall package was very good, but the film does have pacing problems, especially when it comes to Bob and Fossey’s relationship.
This was my very first Maurice Jarre score. I’m not a fan of cheap electronic sounds, certainly not after having watched The Terminator only two days ago, but the score had its nice moments, when she had to let Pucker go, for example, and most particularly the final scene. Having said that, the end credits opened in a way too upbeat manner.
I also liked the fact that the audio-describer didn’t say anything during the Pucker goodbye and waited for the emotional sounds to end before explaining everything.