Name: The Lord Of The Rings – The Two Towers
Running Time (minutes): 179
Description: Sauron’s forces increase. His allies grow. The Ringwraiths return in an even more frightening form. Saruman’s army of Uruk Hai is ready to launch an assault against Aragorn and the people of Rohan. Yet the Fellowship is broken and Boromir is dead. For the little hope that is left, Frodo and Sam march on into Mordor, unprotected. A number of new allies join with Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Pippin and Merry. And they must defend Rohan and attack Isengard. Yet, while all this is going on, Sauron’s troops mass toward the City of Gondor, for the War of the Ring is about to begin.
Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama
Great film, though I still don’t like Arwen. Saruman was very enjoyable, on the other hand, even more because he stopped singing.
The score is great again, if a little less exciting. Still find it unfortunate the Nazgul music receives different variations and I really don’t like that woman who sings Gollum’s song. Way better end credits suite, though.
The surround sound dynamics were a lot better in this one and the distortion was minimal. There were issues with the volume of the music, though: loud sound effects made it go quieter, but then there were moments where the choir was so overwhelmingly loud that it was almost comical (when Gandalf shows up for the first time, for instance).
Needless to say, the audio description is still fantastic. Way to go, James O’Hara and co.
Name: Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
Running Time (minutes): 161
Description: Forced to spend his summer holidays with his muggle relations, Harry Potter gets a real shock when he gets a surprise visitor: Dobby the house-elf, who warns Harry Potter against returning to Hogwarts, for terrible things are going to happen. Harry decides to ignore Dobby’s warning and continues with his pre-arranged schedule. But at Hogwarts, strange and terrible things are indeed happening: Harry is suddenly hearing mysterious voices from inside the walls, Muggle-born students are being attacked and a message scrawled on the wall in blood puts everyone on his/her guard – ‘The Chamber Of Secrets Has Been Opened. Enemies Of The Heir, Beware’.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
I still like Columbus’ approach. Yes, it’s very faithful to the book, but the pacing is perfect. The amount of time Harry and Ron spend crying ‘AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGHHHHH!’ like demented maniacs is over the top, though. Just stop already. Richard Harris sounds really ill at times in this one and was Lucius really going to kill Harry only because he lost his elf? And why do Harry, Ron and Hermione smash their Polyjuice glasses? Just set them down somewhere. Speaking of that particular part of the plot, both Harry and Ron act incredibly stupid when they’re interrogating Malfoy in disguise, they don’t even try to change their voices. The basilisk makes an awful lot of noise for a giant snake and I had no idea the students all worshipped and loved Hagrid. Just like in the first film, some dialogue suffers from distortion. Do note that I still like this film, it’s just difficult to praise it after watching it for the 125th time.
I’m still re-discovering bits of score, especially towards its ending. The variation on Harry’s Family theme when he is stroking Hermione’s hand in the hospital wing is extremely beautiful and moving. Also loved all the Hedwig’s Theme renditions, although I still don’t really understand the approach/thinking behind Myrtle’s theme and the Chamber of Secrets theme doesn’t appear in the Chamber of Secrets scene. There’s just a tiny little bit too much Harry Potter 1 music throughout the whole film, but then again, 2002 was an insanely busy year for John Williams. The overall volume of the score is a disgrace, but the finale is amazing, Fawkes’ theme is fantastic and Dobby’s happy ending couldn’t have been scored any better.
Miles Neff’s audio description was incredibly detailed again. He did call Percy ‘a teen’ at one point and also seemed to think Mrs Weasley was Harry’s mother (well, in a way she is, really). He talked over some dialogue again, but it’s nice to hear how he does his very best to say as much as he possibly can. He really gives me the feeling that I’m watching these movies myself. It must be pointed out that his text is clearly written for an American audience, but that was incredibly good for my vocabulary.
Name: Ice Age
Running Time (minutes): 81
Description: Back when the Earth was being overrun by glaciers and animals were scurrying to save themselves from the upcoming Ice Age, a stupid sloth named Sid, a woolly mammoth named Manny, a saber-toothed tiger named Diego, and an acorn-loving saber-toothed squirrel named Scrat are forced to become unlikely heroes. The four reluctantly come together when they have to return a human child to its father while braving the deadly elements of the impending Ice Age.
Stars: Denis Leary, John Leguizamo and Ray Romano
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family
It took a while for me to adjust to the voice cast because I was so used to hearing the Flemish voices 10 years ago. Rather good film and surprisingly moving at times.
The score had some nice moments, but overall, it could have been much more.
James O’Hara was as good as ever, though I prefer him narrating action.
Name: The Magdalene Sisters
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: A thoroughly mind-provoking film about 3 young women who, under tragic circumstances, see themselves cast away to a Magdalene Asylum for young women t in 1964. One of many like institutions, the asylums are run like prisons and young girls are forced to do workhouse laundry and hard labour. The asylum, one of many that existed in Theocratic Catholic Ireland, is for supposedly ‘fallen’ women. Here, young girls are imprisoned indefinitely and endure agonizing punishments and a long, harsh working system which leaves them physically drained and mentally damaged. As the girls bond together, it soon becomes clear that the only way out of the Magdalene convent is to escape, but with twisted Sister Bridget running the wing, any chances seem limited…
Stars: Eileen Walsh, Dorothy Duffy and Nora-Jane Noone
Ah, what fun to end a Friday evening with a movie about how religion oppressed mankind… Luckily, the announcement of the expanded Titanic soundtrack was still hovering in the back of my mind, I might not have been able to bear this harrowing story otherwise. Great acting, though.
There was almost no music in the film, but Craig Armstrong’s score was very effective.
And how ironic and sinful that the audio-describer was Scottish.
Name: Catch Me If You Can
Running Time (minutes): 141
Description: An FBI agent tracks down and catches a young con artist who successfully impersonated an airline pilot, doctor, assistant attorney general and history professor, cashing more than $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in 26 countries.
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken
I had already watched this one years ago, but hardly remembered any of it. Nice film, but at times a little disjointed and too fast-paced. The only really problematic aspect was the parents: I just don’t understand the character of his dad and particularly his mum, and I certainly don’t get why Brenda’s father apparently thinks it’s totally cool that his girl marries a shady character when that girl was banished from the house for years. Then Tom Hanks briefly mentions Frank’s dad is dead, his mum just has another child without telling him anything about it… That’s just strange.
The score is great. I just love that “Joy Ride” theme so much.
Name: Far From Heaven
Rating: Made For TV
Running Time (minutes): 107
Description: In 1950s Connecticut, a housewife faces a marital crisis and mounting racial tensions in the outside world.
Stars: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert
Genre: Drama, Romance
How many things can go wrong with a romantic drama starring Julianne Moore? I was always going to like this one, I suppose, but hadn’t expected it to be so moving, emotional and sad. I really enjoyed it, especially after all the crap I’ve been watching lately. My only negative remark is that Moore was at times perhaps a little bit too gushing, too frantic, too desperate, but then again, it was probably part of the act.
This was also my first Elmer Bernstein score and it was gorgeous! There was me thinking no one could beat Patrick Doyle at writing lush, romantic scores. This one was absolutely stunning and heartbreaking.