Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

Name: Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
Year: 2009
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 153
Description: In the sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and in both wizard and muggle worlds, Lord Voldemort and his henchmen are increasingly active. With vacancies to fill at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore persuades Horace Slughorn back from retirement to become the potions teacher, while Professor Snape receives long-awaited news. Harry Potter, together with Dumbledore, must face treacherous tasks to defeat his evil nemesis.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Mystery

Dumbledore really has some dumb lines here: ‘Could be anything. Most commonplace of objects.’ Oh great, let’s just look for Horcruxes in every dustbin, shall we? ‘You remember the conditions on which I brought you with me?’ What does he think Harry is, a goldfish? Why not cover Voldemort’s past? Oh yes, because Yates wasn’t interested in Voldemort’s past. Yeah, who would care about background information on the villain? Why did we spend so much time with Draco pulling a sheet off a cabinet instead? the Pensive scenes have unnecessary reverb that wasn’t there in Goblet of Fire. Also, Mrs Weasley sounds rather drunk and it’s unrealistic that Harry and Ginny suddenly take a liking to each other from the start of this movie after having ignored one another for such a long time and the ‘give or take a few years’ joke is stupid. I really don’t like Daniel Radcliffe in this one and his awkward girl talk moment with Dumbledore is both ridiculous and inappropriate, but Jim Broadbent is fantastic, Michael Gambon is brilliant, Watson’s emotional scene with Harry is a treat and Alan Rickman is, well, Alan Rickman. There’s too much focus on the teenage romance, though, especially taking into account how endlessly gloomy the previous film was. Are we trying to make amends, Mr Yates? And why does Snape just let Harry off the hook after he curses Malfoy? I do think it’s great that two things are set up in this movie already: Harry being a Horcrux and Snape’s secret affairs with Dumbledore. But what is it with Death Eaters and smoke?

Then, the music. The ‘intricately woven tapestry’ becomes so terribly intricate here that it totally vanishes. Possession is back, but who is being possessed by what/whom now? Dumbledore’s Farewell still makes me shiver (scene and score) while his actual killing is a musically missed opportunity, Hermione’s grief almost makes me want to cry too, the Unbreakable Vow music is spot on and the cave music and Inferi ending is great, though Possession doesn’t add up thematically during that rescue, but never mind. More thematic errors are at play when the liquid luck music suddenly sounds more like Ron and Hermione’s love theme. The Slughorn theme is good and used quite consistently, though, and the Potions class music is as magical as can be, but I can’t help wondering what Patrick Doyle would have done with the romantic cues that were scored by someone who was reminded of European films here. Also, there’s some very clumsy editing going on during the Quidditch try-outs and Mrs Weasley calls ‘Ginny’ twice in the exact same way while Hermione repeatedly cries similarly, but the Quidditch match, itself is great, while Sectumsempra is feeble at first. And I’ll say it yet again: What IS it with Yates and no music? Malfoy/Harry’s duel is unscored and even the scene after Dumbledore’s Farewell has no music! And the end credits are an outrage. Dumbledore just died, show some respect and leave the joyful stuff for romantic comedies, please.

The audio description was mostly good, but they forgot to elaborate on clearly audible sounds, like the Weasleys sleeping, and don’t explain that Dumbledore’s hand is blackened by the ring. Finally, they make one huge mistake by mentioning that Dumbledore’s wand is the Elder Wand and the entire AD track constantly messes with the film volume.

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Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past

Name: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
Year: 2009
Rating: PG-13
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.

The Taking Of Pelham 123

Name: The Taking Of Pelham 123
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: In early afternoon, four armed men hijack a subway train in Manhattan. They stop on a slight incline, decoupling the first car to let the rest of the train coast back. Their leader is Ryder; he connects by phone with Walter Garber, the dispatcher watching that line. Garber is a supervisor temporarily demoted while being investigated for bribery. Ryder demands $10 million within an hour, or he’ll start shooting hostages. He’ll deal only with Garber. The mayor okays the payoff, the news of the hostage situation sends the stock market tumbling and it’s unclear what Ryder really wants or if Garber is part of the deal. Will hostages, kidnappers and negotiators live through this?
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Travolta and Luis Guzmán
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller

The premise is interesting. The actors aren’t. Travolta is cold-blooded and seems to have some religious motivation that isn’t really explained properly, if I recall correctly. And I really dislike Denzel Washington: always that same stoopid accent, always playing the same stoopid cop who isn’t as stoopid as his fellow cops. And then there’s the matter of his wife, who, when he tells her he might be in mortal danger, demands he bring back a bottle of milk from the supermarket. And he can’t just bring any bottle, oh no. She’s very adamant about that. (He just risked his job by paying his daughter’s tuition fees with illegal money, by the way.) So, wives, always remember to irritate your husbands with milk bottles when they are in mortal danger. The ending is rushed and stupid/sentimental/wannabe heroic: it clearly implies that nobody really matters in this film, only its plot does. The characters are just there out of sheer necessity. But… Will the bottle of milk arrive at Denzel Washington’s house safe and sound at the end? Or will the wife have to fetch it herself?

The score is functional, but hardly noticeable.

The Blind Side

Name: The Blind Side
Year: 2009
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 129
Description: Based on the true story of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy who take in a homeless teenage African-American, Michael ‘Big Mike’ Oher. Michael has no idea who his father is and his mother is a drug addict. Michael has had little formal education and few skills to help him learn. Leigh Anne soon takes charge, however, as is her nature, ensuring that the young man has every opportunity to succeed. When he expresses an interest in football, she goes all out to help him, including giving the coach a few ideas on how best to use Michael’s skills. They not only provide him with a loving home, but hire a tutor to help him improve his grades to the point where he would qualify for an NCAA Division I athletic scholarship. Michael Oher was the first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft.
Stars: Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw
Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport

Quite a touching story, although I was far more interested in Leigh Anne than in that stupid boy she chose to help. There should be more people like her in this world. The only scene that really annoyed me was the one where numerous coaches visit their home to visit Michael and she has to call that idiot into the room every single time. You’d think he’d just come out into the hallway whenever the bell rang after three times.

Carter Burwell’s score is functional, but not memorable at all.

District 9

Name: District 9
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 112
Description: In 1982, a massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population, nicknamed “The Prawns,” appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded. The refugee camp where the aliens were located has deteriorated into a militarised ghetto called District 9, where they are confined and exploited in squalor. In 2010, the munitions corporation, Multi-National United, is contracted to forcibly evict the population with operative Wikus van der Merwe in charge. In this operation, Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical and must rely on the help of his only two new Prawn friends.
Stars: Sharlto Copley, David James and Jason Cope
Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Turned it off, way too fast-paced and character-packed. A great premise, no doubt, but just not handled well. The entire thing felt so… crowded, so massively populated by sounds and dialogue that it became overwhelming.