Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

Name: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 138
Description: After a lonely summer in Privet Drive, Harry returns to a Hogwarts full of ill-fortune. Few of the students and parents believe him or Dumbledore that Voldemort is really back. The Ministry has decided to step in by appointing a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher that proves to be the nastiest person Harry has ever encountered. Harry also can’t help stealing glances at the beautiful Cho Chang. To top it off are dreams that Harry can’t explain and a mystery behind something Voldemort is searching for. With these many things, Harry begins one of his toughest years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

And so the violent decline of the franchise begins. The story is mostly told rather well. I especially liked the humour this time, particularly the fireworks scene. A few things really bother me, though: it is mentioned that Cho betrayed the DA because of Veritaserum. So why did Harry forget all about her in the film world? Did he just decide over the summer she was totally useless or what? But wait, the team talked to a bereavement counsellor, so it’s all good. Also, the prophecy plot really is handled extremely clumsily, a terrible mistake given its importance. But wait, the centaurs have their own language, so it’s all good. At times, I didn’t really like Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Radcliffe and even Emma Watson’s performances. There’s just something dark, something… depressing and raw about this film that I can’t appreciate.

And the score… Hooper’s work really annoyed me. He clearly feels very comfortable writing upbeat music (most of it is very nice too), which is kind of problematic if you’re working with a director who doesn’t seem to understand words such as joy, emotion and happiness and if you’re doing a story that’s anything but amusing. Someone once wrote that Hooper’s music ‘fills space’. I think that’s a huge compliment. At times, his music is just completely counterintuitive: Harry’s expulsion from Hogwarts receives comical music, the flight sequence is scored in such a way you’d think Harry and co were going on a little holiday, the DA meetings sound like a playground get-together… What’s more, Hooper seems unable, or unwilling, to use the full power his orchestra could unleash, it’s all so superficial and simple. Yates really, really doesn’t understand the function of music either, no matter its mood. So much stuff that has musical potential is left unscored, maybe because they realised Hooper just wasn’t up to the task: Harry sulking at the Dursleys’, Harry seeing Voldemort at the station (and as Hermione is looking concerned, cheerful Hedwig’s Theme variations kick in!), Harry being rushed to Dumbledore after the snake vision, DUMBLEDORE AND VOLDEMORT DUELLING… And then about this so-called possession idea. It’s introduced during Harry’s final vision. Great setup of a theme. Williams, Doyle and Desplat’s themes all registered immediately when I first watched the films, but Hooper’s possession idea never did. Granted, Possession isn’t bad at all, but its setup is the huge problem. He also completely forgets to include Umbridge’s theme, which underplays her dangerous side by the way, in key moments. Why? Why did WB approve Hooper? Or Yates for that matter? And what happened to all the previous themes of this franchise that could be used here? No, Hedwig’s theme isn’t the only thing written for this series… Or are the characters too ‘different’ for them?

Di Langford described some actions before they happened again, but what was a bit more annoying was how she kept her information about the Occlumency lessons deliberately vague: ‘happy and terrifying memories’… Overall, not bad at all, though.


The Nanny Diaries

Name: The Nanny Diaries
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: After graduating from Montclair State, New Jersey Girl Annie can’t make up her mind about what to do with her life. After saving a little boy from being run over in the park, she is quickly employed as a nanny for a rich Upper East Side couple. Mr X is occupied with his business, Mrs X loves shopping and none of them really likes to spend time with their little boy Grayer. Annie quickly learns that she has more than her hands full with taking care of him. Her busy schedule doesn’t give her much spare time. Mrs X fired her last nanny because she was dating and that gives Annie problems when Harvard Hottie who lives in the same building asks her out on a date.
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

That is the second time I’ve had to turn off a boring movie because British Sky Broadcasting’s audio-describer, Jo Stevens, says way too little.


Name: Enchanted
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
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.

I Am Legend

Name: I Am Legend
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
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: Next
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 96
Description: Las Vegas showroom magician Chris Johnson has a secret which torments him: he can see a few minutes into the future. Sick of the examinations he underwent as a child and the interest of the government and medical establishment in his power, he lies low under an assumed name in Vegas, performing cheap tricks and living off small-time gambling ‘winnings’. But when a terrorist group threatens to detonate a nuclear device in Los Angeles, government agent Callie Ferris must use all her wiles to capture Cris and convince him to help her stop the cataclysm.
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel
Genres: Action, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Meh. Didn’t know there were French terrorists who had a grudge against the US for no particular reason whatsoever. I really did like the twist at the end, though.

The score was at times functional and at times very effective.

National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets

Name: National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 124
Description: While Ben Gates is presenting new information about John Wilkes Booth and the 18 pages missing from Booth’s diary, a man by the name of Mitch Wilkinson stands up and presents a missing page of John Wilkes Booth’s diary. Thomas Gates, Ben’s great-grandfather, is mentioned on the page. It shows that Ben’s great-grandfather was a co-conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s murder. When doing more research, the conspiracy takes Ben, Abigail Chase, and Riley Poole to Buckingham Palace (which they break into). They discover a plank that has early Native American writing on it. The plank has only one symbol that Patrick Gates can identify. The symbol is Cibola meaning the City of Gold. In order to define the rest, they have to go to Ben’s mother, Patrick’s divorced wife. After 32 years it brings back old arguments.
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha
Genres: Action, Adventure, Mystery

I had forgotten almost everything about it so enjoyed it, even though lots of it is ridiculous.

The two themes of the score are literally the same as the beginning of Luke and Leia’s theme in Star Wars 6 and the Back to the Future theme that opens the end credits in the first film. The electric guitar is out of place too.

Becoming Jane

Name: Becoming Jane
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 120
Description: The year is 1795 and young Jane Austen is a feisty 20-year-old and emerging writer who already sees a world beyond class and commerce, beyond pride and prejudice, and dreams of doing what was then nearly unthinkable – marrying for love. Naturally, her parents are searching for a wealthy, well-appointed husband to assure their daughter’s future social standing. They are eyeing Mr Wisley, nephew to the very formidable, not to mention very rich, local aristocrat Lady Gresham, as a prospective match. But when Jane meets the roguish and decidedly non-aristocratic Tom Lefroy, sparks soon fly along with the sharp repartee. His intellect and arrogance raise her ire – then knock her head over heels. Now, the couple, whose flirtation flies in the face of the sense and sensibility of the age, is faced with a terrible dilemma. If they attempt to marry, they will risk everything that matters – family, friends and fortune.
Stars: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy and Julie Walters
Genres: Biography, Drama, Romance

I especially liked the first half, but then gradually became tired of the endless, pained and strained romantic conversations filled with elevated language, not to mention the endless ‘I’ll marry him, I won’t marry him’ plotline. Anne Hathaway’s British accent was nearly perfect, but for me, the absolute highlight was Julie Walters’ angry outburst, although Maggie Smith was as good as ever too. Ultimately, I would have enjoyed it more had it been a bit shorter. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom: at least the subtitles taught me how some of Austen’s annoying and repetitive vocabulary can be translated to contemporary Dutch (pleasing, agreeable, etc.) That will help me perfect my own Pride and Prejudice translation.

There was something curious going on with the score. The composer was obviously inspired by scenes that required energetic and romantic music, but at times, he seemed a bit lost. In one of the first scenes, for example, he gets the general tone and mood of the music right, but it lacks enthusiasm. That problem persists during crucial moments of the story, like Jane kissing her lover. Most of the sad parts were handled well, but even these passages occasionally didn’t work for me. What I did like, however, was how the music was used in one particular ballroom scene: as Jane aimlessly wandered through the dancing crowd, the score could only be heard on one channel, but the moment she spotted her lover, the dance music suddenly became louder and was then spread over all the channels.

The audio description had one rather big problem: characters and locations weren’t properly described. Especially with a Jane Austen story, you really need to identify characters as soon as possible. Luckily, 90% of all the information was conveyed through the story, but still, it doesn’t make sense to mess up introductions and places like that, you have to explain who is with whom and where.

The Heartbreak Kid

Name: The Heartbreak Kid
Year: 2007
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 116
Description: A newlywed man who believes he’s just gotten hitched to the perfect woman encounters another lady on his honeymoon.
Stars: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman
Genre: Comedy, Romance

It was pleasant enough in the beginning, if a little fast-paced, but then it became shallow and extremely unrealistic: you don’t marry a girl you’ve been seeing for eight weeks only to discover right after the ceremony that she is not the one, irritating, unemployed, too stupid to understand that jobs pay, that inhabitate and fishes are not words, that she never mentioned the fact her previous boyfriend mugged her during their first meeting, that she used to be on drugs, that she snores like hell, always sings when the radio is on, is allergic to everything, wants to have sex around the clock, is bipolar, a know-it-all… (Yes, I made this list while watching the film and that was the most enjoyable part of the whole movie experience.) The subsequent banter with the second wife-to-be was cringe-worthy as well and if your wife was the biggest mistake of your life, lying to your second one about the fact that you’re still stuck with the first one isn’t really the best plan either. Some nice jokes were scattered throughout all this rubbish, though, mainly courtesy of… the Mexicans. Overall, it was all so bad that it really became insufferable, so I turned it off.

The music was better, but the score was as shallow as the story.

The audio description wasn’t that good either. British Sky Broadcasting didn’t really make too much of an effort for this one: very concise descriptions, some important things like a mugging were not described at all and, worst of all, the descriptions themselves tended to be rather repetitive. ‘Eddie and Lila kiss on a beach. Eddie and Lila kiss on the Golden Gate Bridge.’ The narrator also sounded quite bored, but who could blame her when she’s only got boring material to work with?

Ballet Shoes

Name: Ballet Shoes
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 90
Description: Set in Thirties London, Ballet Shoes tells a tale of orphans Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil, who are adopted by an eccentric explorer, Gum, and raised as sisters by his selfless niece. The story revolves around each girl’s struggle to fulfil her dreams: Pauline longs to be an actress, Petrova yearns to be an aviator and Posy seems born to be a ballerina. But when Gum disappears, the money runs out – and the girls have a fight on their hands. They struggle to balance personal ambition with the need to survive physically, emotionally and financially.
Stars: Emma Watson, Yasmin Paige and Lucy Boynton
Genres: Drama, Family

Not bad, I suppose, though there’s definitely a feel-good element in it that I don’t really like. This was also the first time that I watched Emma Watson in something unrelated to Harry Potter and she was by far the best main actress and the most interesting character. I find Watson especially powerful whenever she needs to deliver emotional lines and it’s quite clear to me that Harry Potter didn’t let her blossom sufficiently.

I really didn’t like all the music and the score was utterly unmemorable and extremely short.


Name: Fracture
Year: 2007
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 113
Description: Wealthy, brilliant, and meticulous Ted Crawford, a structural engineer in Los Angeles, shoots his wife and entraps her lover. He signs a confession; at the arraignment, he asserts his rights to represent himself and asks the court to move immediately to trial. The prosecutor is Willy Beachum, a hotshot who’s soon to join a fancy civil-law firm, told by everyone it’s an open and shut case. Crawford sees Beachum’s weakness, the hairline fracture of his character: Willy’s a winner. The engineer sets in motion a clockwork crime with all the objects moving in ways he predicts.
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling and David Strathairn
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery

Pretty great! Excellent story, effective though unmemorable score. And blimey, the audio describer had a glorious Oxford accent.