The Lord Of The Rings – The Fellowship Of The Ring

Name: The Lord Of The Rings – The Fellowship Of The Ring
Year: 2001
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 178
Description: An ancient Ring thought lost for centuries has been found and through a strange twist in fate has been given to a small Hobbit named Frodo. When Gandalf discovers the ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron, Frodo must make an epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it. However, he does not go alone. He is joined by Gandalf, Legolas the elf, Gimli the Dwarf, Aragorn, Boromir and his three Hobbit friends Merry, Pippin and Samwise. Through mountains, snow, darkness, forests, rivers and plains, facing evil and danger at every corner, the Fellowship of the Ring must go. Their quest to destroy the One Ring is the only hope for the end of the Dark Lord’s reign.
Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama

Every time I watch these films, Frodo gets more annoying. ‘I wish this, I wish that…’ And why is he allowed to take vital decisions regarding the paths they take? Why is he the only person who can destroy this ring? I understand why men can’t do it, but what’s so incredibly unique about this one particular, whining, pathetic little Hobbit? I also wish the filmmakers had relinquished one or two of Tolkien’s archaic phrases, for they sound stilted and shall always make me cringe, whether the birds of yore are returning or to Erebor not. Oh wait, that’s something else. Part of me would have preferred Sean Bean as Aragorn, but then again, he’s such a brilliant Boromir (Vigo’s voice really doesn’t work). Apart from Frodo, everything is mostly great, though, except for the fact that the film doesn’t explain a number of things, like why the Evenstar is such a big deal, why there is an Elvish password on a Dwarf door etc.

The score is of course top-notch, but the mixing of the choir is a big problem, especially in the first half of the film. The choir in the symphony recording (and Belgium’s very own Fine Fleur’s spectacular live performance, for that matter) sounded so much closer, clearer and more vibrant. You barely hear them in this film at times and at one point it’s blatantly obvious that they were recorded separately, not to mention their overused vibrato technique. Nevertheless, the Nazg├╗l music kicks ass and there’s hardly a minute of uninspiring music in the whole film, except perhaps for the end credits: if you write a work of such magnitude, is it really necessary to revert to a cut-and-paste approach?

Long have I desired to watch this motion picture in surround sound as well and this afternoon, the opportunity arose as my companions have temporarily left the residence in which we usually dwell. Surprisingly, it took the film nearly an entire hour before the rear channels were used to their full extent. Also, why on earth did they have to remove that PAL speed-up so clumsily? Now the soundtrack is now full of ‘hiccups’. One does not simply defile Howard Shore’s score like that. ‘Tis a foul and evil thing to do.

The audio-described versions of these films are masterful as well: James O’Hara really loses himself in the story and you can clearly hear he was having the time of his life reading the descriptions put together by this brilliant team.

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Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

Name: Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone
Year: 2001
Rating: G
Running Time (minutes): 152
Description: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first film in the Harry Potter series based on the novels by J.K. Rowling. It is the tale of Harry Potter, an ordinary 11-year-old boy serving as a sort of slave for his aunt and uncle who learns that he is actually a wizard and has been invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is snatched away from his mundane existence by Hagrid, the groundskeeper for Hogwarts, and quickly thrown into a world completely foreign to both him and the viewer. Famous for an incident that happened at his birth, Harry makes friends easily at his new school. He soon finds, however, that the wizarding world is far more dangerous for him than he would have imagined and he quickly learns that not all wizards are ones to be trusted.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Richard Harris
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

It’s been a year since I’ve watched this one and re-discovering it was great. I’ve heard a lot about how it’s a kid’s movie etc., but what surprised me most about it is the sheer magic and enthusiasm it contains. You genuinely feel excited about this new world, it really is an enchanting place. I especially liked Ian Hart this time, though they’re all great overall. How did Harry’s parents get so rich, though, and why is the Sorting order so illogical? The Slytherins are way too evil during Quidditch as well. Middle ground, please.

I knew the score nearly by heart, but my opinion still changed a little. What bothers me most is that the orchestra always seems to be doing way too much during quiet moments. At times, it’s as though Williams seems to forget he’s supposed to be accompanying the action rather than providing it. As one film reviewer famously said, ‘a banging, clanging piece of music that won’t shut up’. Also, I think Williams is focusing too much on the strangeness of the world: Arrival at Hogwarts contains too much dissonance and the Christmas carol sung by the ghosts doesn’t convey a Christmas feeling at all, it’s more of a Halloween thing. But the themes are great and as a stand-alone work, it’s fantastic.

This was the first time that I watched the film with American audio description. The team really did a wonderful job. Miles Neff provides much, much more details than Di Langford, who did the British version. He did interfere with the dialogue once or twice, but as I knew that by heart anyway, I couldn’t care less. I was also a bit confused when he mentioned a ‘half-Muggle boy’ twice, and thought it was Harry, but it turned out to be Seamus, but he finally made me understand the pun in the word ‘Remembral’ and it was interesting to hear him emphasise ‘room’ in ‘common room’ and to hear Flitwick described as ‘a dwarf’ at the start. And need I still add that I loved his descriptions of people’s points of view and camera techniques?

 

A Beautiful Mind

Name: A Beautiful Mind
Year: 2001
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 135
Description: Biopic of the famed mathematician John Nash and his lifelong struggles with his mental health. Nash enrolled as a graduate student at Princeton in 1948 and almost immediately stood out as an odd duck. He devoted himself to finding something unique, a mathematical theorem that would be completely original. He kept to himself for the most part and while he went out for drinks with other students, he spends a lot of time with his roommate, Charles, who eventually becomes his best friend. John is soon a professor at MIT where he meets and eventually marries a graduate student, Alicia. Over time, however, John begins to lose his grip on reality, eventually being institutionalised diagnosed with schizophrenia. As the depths of his imaginary world are revealed, Nash withdraws from society and it’s not until the 1970s that he makes his first foray back into the world of academics, gradually returning to research and teaching. In 1994, John Nash is awarded the Nobel prize in Economics.
Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly
Genres: Biography, Drama

Touching story, though Russell Crowe’s mumbling became rather annoying after a while.

Stunning score, but I didn’t really like how James Horner completely abandoned his wondrous and adventurous music as Nash’s illness progresses, but it’s an understandable choice. And only Horner can tell me how something is terribly wrong with just three piano notes.