Name: Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
Running Time (minutes): 91
Description: Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth, Diego the saber-toothed tiger, and the hapless prehistoric squirrel/rat known as Scrat are still together and enjoying the perks of their now melting world. Manny may be ready to start a family, but nobody has seen another mammoth for a long time; Manny thinks he may be the last one. That is, until he miraculously finds Ellie, the only female mammoth left in the world. Their only problems: They can’t stand each other – and Ellie somehow thinks she’s a possum! Ellie comes with some excess baggage in the form of her two possum ‘brothers’ – Crash and Eddie, a couple of daredevil pranksters and cocky, loud-mouthed troublemakers. Manny, Sid and Diego quickly learn that the warming climate has one major drawback: A huge glacial dam holding off oceans of water is about to break, threatening the entire valley. The only chance of survival lies at the other end of the valley…
Stars: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary
Genres: Animation, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance
Pretty entertaining, though I definitely liked the first half better. There’s also something curious going on with Ray Romano. Apart from him being kind of a bad voice actor, I could have sworn I knew him from at least two other movies, but then I found out he wasn’t involved in Stuart Little and Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure at all. Generic voice, I guess. Denis Leary, on the other hand, is really good.
Musically, things are on track this time with yet another exuberant John Powell score. What a great composer. Really liked the main theme and, well, pretty much the whole score.
This was the first time that the PAL speed-up was made so blatantly obvious: James O’Hara’s voice sounded unnaturally high. He was great as usual, though, except for the fact that I wouldn’t use the word ‘sextet’ in a children’s story. Oh well, he’s still one of the best audio-describers I know.
Name: Night At The Museum
Running Time (minutes): 108
Description: In New York, unemployed and divorced Larry Daley is a complete loser. His son Nick is very disappointed with his father, who is going to be evicted. Larry accepts the job of night watchman in the Museum of Natural History and takes the place of three old security guards that have just retired in order to raise some money and pay his bills. On his first shift, Larry soon realises that everything at the museum is not as it seems, as the statues begin to come to life after the sun sets. The Museum transforms into complete chaos with the inexperienced Larry in charge as he learns that an old Egyptian stone that came to the Museum in 1950 brings these statues to life until dawn. When Larry brings his son to spend a night with him, the three old guards break into the Museum to try to steal the magical stone. Larry organises all the historic characters to help him stop the criminals and save the museum.
Stars: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino and Ricky Gervais
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Great film, except the ‘you rock’ part.
FANTASTIC SCORE! It’s been a long time since an opening cue made me forget all my worries.
Name: The Holiday
Running Time (minutes): 138
Description: Two women troubled with guy problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.
Stars: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law
Genre: Comedy, Romance
I really liked the first 40 minutes or so, but as the story progressed, I became kind of tired of it and when the children entered, I really became tired of it. I don’t like Cameron Diaz and even Kate Winslet became boring.
Hans Zimmer’s score was definitely the reason I kept watching this feel-good film. I’ve heard better romantic scores, but I’ve most certainly heard worse ones too. This score was so exuberant at times that it made me laugh and its limitless happiness was quite infectious. I also liked how they talked about film music in this movie, though Ennio Morricone’s name was pronounced quite badly. The songs were mostly great too.
And finally, I wish audio-describers would stop saying things before they happened, in this case a woman hitting a man and something else I already forgot.
Running Time (minutes): 98
Description: It is New Year’s Eve and over 2,000 passengers and crew are ringing in the New Year aboard the huge cruise ship Poseidon on the open sea in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. A small group of survivors find themselves unlikely allies in a battle for their lives. Preferring to test the odds alone, career gambler Dylan Johns ignores captain’s orders to wait below for possible rescue and sets out to find his own way to safety. What begins as a solo mission soon draws others, as Dylan is followed by a desperate father searching for his daughter and her fiancée – a young couple who hours before couldn’t summon the courage to tell him they were engaged and now face much graver challenges. Along the way they are joined by a single mother and her wise-beyond-his-years son, an anxious stowaway and a despondent fellow passenger who boarded the ship not sure he wanted to live, but now knows he doesn’t want to die…
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Kurt Russell and Emmy Rossum
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Why did I even give this a chance? Because Rotten Tomatoes said it was stupid. Well, it is, I turned it off after 30 minutes. Just couldn’t get emotionally attached to any of the characters, including a stupid woman calling her boy sweetie all the damn time.
The score was generic and the opening sounded an awful lot like like Pirates of the Caribbean and King Arthur.
Name: The Illusionist
Running Time (minutes): 110
Description: In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.
Stars: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance
The first half was quite captivating, but then I started to lose interest because it became rather tedious. It’s also quite annoying that the film was set in Vienna, but that everyone spoke English with a German accent. Just speak German or English. The ending was rushed and turned out exactly the way I expected it to.
I only knew one score by Philip Glass, Notes On A Scandal, and that one was quite boring. This one, however, was really interesting and effective, orchestral with a nice main theme and quite enjoyable to listen to.
The audio description was written and narrated by Tony Cook. I had only heard him once before in Fracture. His delicious, refined British accent makes whatever he describes worth listening to and even improves the quality of the material he’s tackling. During the second half of the film, the descriptions were timed badly, but that was entirely the broadcaster’s fault.
Running Time (minutes): 105
Description: With his family held for ransom, the head security executive for a global bank is commanded to loot his own business for millions in order to ensure his wife and children’s safety. He then faces the demanding task of thwarting the kidnapper’s grand scheme, which makes him look guilty of embezzlement.
Stars: Harrison Ford, Virginia Madsen and Paul Bettany
Genres: Crime, Thriller
This was my back-up plan in case District 9 wouldn’t be good. But how could it be bad with such high approval ratings? Well, I was tired of it after 20 minutes, you can only have so many characters, fast-paced transitions and sound effects before they overwhelm you. So I watched this one instead, which was surprisingly good, though I sometimes grew tired of Ford’s incessant grumbling and rambling, but other than that, entertaining enough.
This is the first time Alexander Desplat’s score only interested me for two minutes.
It’s amazing to me that the audio-describers went out of their way to use two voices: one for the film and one for credits. An effort not worth this film, but a nice gesture all the same.
Name: The Devil Wears Prada
Running Time (minutes): 109
Description: In New York, the simple and naive just-graduated in journalism Andrea Sachs is hired to work as the second assistant of the powerful and sophisticated Miranda Priestly, the ruthless and merciless executive of the Runway fashion magazine. Andrea dreams to become a journalist and faces the opportunity as a temporary professional challenge. The first assistant Emily advises Andrea about the behaviour and preferences of their cruel boss and the stylist Nigel helps Andrea to dress more adequately for the environment. Andrea changes her attitude and behaviour, affecting her private life and the relationship with her boyfriend Nate, her family and friends. In the end, Andrea learns that life is made of choices.
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Adrian Grenier
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
I can only bear stupid characters for 30 minutes, sorry.
Name: United 93
Running Time (minutes): 111
Description: On September 11th, 2001, two American Airlines and two United Airlines domestic U.S. flights are hijacked by terrorists. After the collision of two planes against the World Trade Center and one against the Pentagon, the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 decide to struggle against the four terrorists to take back control of the airplane.
Stars: David Alan Basche, Olivia Thirlby and Liza Colón-Zayas
Genres: Crime, Drama, History
Films like this just make me nervous, so I turned it off after 30 minutes. And those 30 minutes were rather long-winded. Also, a relative is about to take a plane tomorrow, so it might not have been perfect timing. Why do stories like this need to be filmed, anyway? Was the event itself not tragic enough?
I have no idea why John Powell got attached to this project either. The score I heard was extremely sparse and ambient. He can do better.
Running Time (minutes): 143
Description: 4 interlocking stories all connected by a single gun all converge at the end and reveal a complex and tragic story of the lives of humanity around the world and how we truly aren’t all that different. In Morocco, a troubled married couple are on vacation trying to work out their differences. Meanwhile, a Moroccan herder buys a rifle for his sons so they can keep the jackals away from his herd. A girl in Japan dealing with rejection, the death of her mother, the emotional distance of her father, her own self-consciousness and a disability among many other issues, deals with modern life in the enormous metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. Then, on the opposite side of the world, the married couple’s Mexican nanny takes the couple’s 2 children with her to her son’s wedding in Mexico, only to come into trouble on the return trip.
Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael García Bernal
Very, very moving indeed.
The score only became interesting after two hours, other than that, loads of missed opportunities.
The people involved in the audio description must have been shattered too. I think it would be hard to find a film that needed/contained more explanations than this one.