Despicable Me

Name: Despicable Me
Year: 2010
Rating: G
Running Time (minutes): 95
Description: In a happy suburban neighbourhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbours, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, we discover Gru, planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. (Yes, the moon.) Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. The world’s greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith and Agnes.
Stars: Steve Carell, Jason Segel and Russell Brand
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Liked it a lot, though I lost interest during the last 10 minutes. Also, the newsreader at the beginning is rather bland.

The score was excellent.


Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Name: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 146
Description: Voldemort’s power is growing stronger. He now has control over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to finish Dumbledore’s work and find the rest of the Horcruxes to defeat the Dark Lord. But little hope remains for the trio and the rest of the wizarding world, so everything they do must go as planned.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

I really liked it this time! Way better than how I remembered it. Quite intense, fast-paced and mostly well-acted. A few issues remain, however: Radcliffe really sucks. Apparently he doesn’t only have the same expression on his face throughout the entire film (thank you for that observation, mother), he mostly sounds the same as well: moody and bitter. No matter where they are, no matter what they’re doing, he’s always sulking! If you don’t like playing Harry anymore, just stop playing Harry! Also, Yates implies so much but tells us so little: Mundungus Fletcher isn’t handled properly, Dumbledore’s backstory is a complete mess (but maybe that was a deliberate decision), same goes for Harry’s animosity towards Kreacher and Scrimgeour (but then again, he hates everyone, so…) And if Harry hears all the Horcruxes in the final two films, why not in Chamber of Secrets? Did he go and see an ear doctor in the meantime? When the Weasleys are preparing the wedding, you clearly hear dialogue from HP5 and why is it so important to name the two Death Eaters who attack them in the cafĂ©? Hermione mispronounces ‘Muffliato’, but her overall performance, as usual, is fantastic.

Desplat’s score really impressed me this time. Not only did he bring back the magic, he created lots of memorable themes, though their meaning isn’t always clear to me. Even Hermione has a theme in this score. Only the synthetic bass makes my head ache, my room vibrate and my housemates ask what the hell is going on. I still don’t like the thematic break with the previous scores either: Dobby already has a theme, use it. This is a particular problem here because so much of the score actually sounds like John Williams music. Yates also still doesn’t really know how to handle music (Ron Splinched, Hermione crying over Ron’s departure etc. are unscored, which totally kills the scenes for me, but maybe the images speak for themselves). There can’t be a reason why Yates decided to strip the music playing when the trio are on their way to Lovegood of all its magic, though. It just sounds terrible now.

The surround sound is glorious in this film. Every channel is used to its full extent. It must be pointed out, however, that the entire movie suffers from extremely dynamic range, which might scare you to death in a cinema and certainly isn’t nice when you’re at home. Some of the great music is also barely audible.

The audio description was good, but Di Langford explains too much: I know Hagrid is a giant, that Pettigrew’s nickname is Wormtail and that a Thestral is a winged horse (and is Voldemort really The Dark Lord?) At other times, she didn’t explain unclear sounds. They also repeatedly muted background dialogue during the narration, which I didn’t really like.

Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue

Name: Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue
Year: 2010
Rating: G
Running Time (minutes): 76
Description: Tinker Bell must team up with a rival fairy to keep their existence a secret from humans.
Stars: Mae Whitman, Lauren Mote, Michael Sheen
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family

Okay, so I guess an explanation is first required as to why I watched this. I still couldn’t watch Star Wars 8 with audio description, didn’t feel like watching yet another James Bond or Star Trek movie, the TV guide was yet again a disaster and I just have a soft spot for orchestral scores, but more on that later. The movie is quite okay, although Lizzy’s father was terrible, his voice work had ‘just pay me already’ written all over it. I really don’t understand why kids’ movies often attract the worst voice actors. Also, if the fairies can’t interact with the humans, what’s the point of holidaying on Earth? Didn’t know there were boy fairies out there either.

Now, the score. I was hoping for a symphonic extravaganza and wasn’t disappointed. It’s been some time since I’ve really enjoyed a soundtrack. Nearly everything was just perfect, but what really took me by surprise is how memorable the fairy-magic theme is: five notes, five little notes… and I believed and was spellbound. It’s definitely as memorable as Williams’ identity for Tinker Bell, just a little more magical and optimistic and less playful. This was my first Joel McNeely score and I’m already looking forward to hearing more of him. I only didn’t like the insertion of the songs: more magical score would have been much more welcome.

I would have liked the audio description to be narrated by a woman (it’s a bit of a girl’s film after all), but I suppose you can’t complain about things like this in a day and age where gender obsessions are being blown out of proportion everywhere. One song was rendered completely incomprehensible by the descriptions too, but then again, he didn’t have much of a choice there. At one point, I also thought he was making things too ‘literary’: when Tinker Bells is teaching Lizzy how to fly, he suddenly called them expert and novice.

The Back-Up Plan

Name: The Back-Up Plan
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: Zoe’s a woman who has a hard time letting anyone into her life. She has a habit of pushing people away when they get close. She also wants to have a baby, but because she has no man in her life decides to be artificially inseminated. Shortly after having the procedure, she meets a guy named Stan whom she connects with. But she’s still afraid to let him in and when she tells him about her pregnancy, thinking he would bail, he sticks with her.
Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin and Michaela Watkins
Genres: Comedy, Romance

The story was okayish.

The score was great, especially the first cues.


Name: Inception
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 148
Description: Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back, but only if he can accomplish the impossible- inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page
Genres: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

This is the third time I’ve watched it and I still really like it, though there are some minor ‘plot holes’:
1. How on earth can Arthur forget to check whether Fischer’s subconscious has been militarised? That’s just not credible.
2. Everyone clearly knows Cobb’s having some serious problems, but they follow him blindly nevertheless and only ask questions when it’s too late.
3. When Fischer gets killed in level 3, why does Cobb need Ariadne to remind him he can still go after him in Limbo? He’s been doing this stuff for years.
4. How is Fischer not going to remember anything from these wild dreams?
5. Finally, it seems absurd that Cobb, Fischer and Saito will be able to lead normal lives again after having been stuck in Limbo for so long.
Other than that, great film. Tom Hardy is as good as always, the hotel room scene still moved me, but I somehow had the impression that Watanabe’s English speaking skills had deteriorated since The Last Samurai. Also, in the hotel, Cobb says, “Do you feel that?” twice to Fischer.

Hans Zimmer’s score is still one of my favourites. Finally, he tried something new. I love the fact that some instruments almost make you drift to sleep. My only problem with the score is that the meaning of the ‘totem theme’ still isn’t clear to me because it’s used liberally throughout the entire movie, or maybe that’s just Zimmer showing off with his themes (which are great). Some chase material did cause some unwelcome associations with the Lannister theme from Game of Thrones and I absolutely hate those abrupt brass ‘stingers’, but there are some great moments to be found here, including the van pursuit music and even an ambient cue that accompanies a conversation about breaking into someone’s mind.

The sound mix is too heavily focused on the front speakers and if anyone can help me find a way to remove all that annoying rumbling from today’s blockbusters, please come forward. Even if I activate all the ‘remove low frequencies’ settings, lots of things still sound like earthquakes.

The ending is also quite ambivalent, audio description-wise. The narrator says the totem keeps spinning, while lots of other people have told me it definitely stops moving.

How To Train Your Dragon

Name: How To Train Your Dragon
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 98
Description: Long ago up North on the Island of Berk, the young Viking, Hiccup, wants to join his town’s fight against the dragons that continually raid their town. However, his macho father and village leader, Stoik the Vast, will not allow his small, clumsy, but inventive son to do so. Regardless, Hiccup ventures out into battle and downs a mysterious Night Fury dragon with his invention, but can’t bring himself to kill it. Instead, Hiccup and the dragon, whom he dubs Toothless, begin a friendship that would open up both their worlds as the observant boy learns that his people have misjudged the species. But even as the two each take flight in their own way, they find that they must fight the destructive ignorance plaguing their world.
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy

The story is not bad at all, but why am I even talking about the plot when the score was so incredibly amazing?

John Powell has surprised me lots of times, but this was just incredible. Fantastic main theme, terrific action music, stunningly beautiful and dazzling orchestration. Even if the movie had been the most terrible thing ever made, I’d still have kept watching. Let’s get that soundtrack.

Eat Pray Love

Name: Eat Pray Love
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 133
Description: Liz Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having – a husband, a house, a successful career – yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy, the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali.
Stars: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins
Genres: Drama, Romance

Well, I suppose it was all right. Why does Julia Roberts always star in bad or mediocre movies, though?

The biggest problem this film had was pacing. She wants to go to Italy: bam, she’s in Italy. She crowdfunds for a poor lady: bam, the lady gets $18,000, no questions asked, happy happy happy. Also, I didn’t really get her love troubles. Guy number one wants to study so she ditches him, guy number two does something I don’t even know that upsets her, guy number three has a cute Spanish accent, proposes, is rejected and later accepted…? I did like Richard Jenkins – Groceries is a really funny nickname to give to someone – and he moved me more than anyone else. But what I want to know is how Roberts finds Americans all over the globe in no time and, the more pressing matter, how she funds her entire trip when she clearly isn’t working.

The score was okay. I liked how it changed every time she travels to another country.

Overall, it’s a mediocre movie and if you just want to empty your mind on a Friday night, it’ll do the job.

Rabbit Hole

Name: Rabbit Hole
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 91
Description: Becca and Howie Corbett are a happily married couple whose perfect world is forever changed when their young son, Danny, is killed by a car. Becca, an executive-turned-stay-at-home mother, tries to redefine her existence in a surreal landscape of well-meaning family and friends. Painful, poignant, and often funny, Becca’s experiences lead her to find solace in a mysterious relationship with a troubled young comic-book artist, Jason – the teenage driver of the car that killed Danny. Becca’s fixation with Jason pulls her away from memories of Danny, while Howie immerses himself in the past, seeking refuge in outsiders who offer him something Becca is unable to give. The Corbetts, both adrift, make surprising and dangerous choices as they choose a path that will determine their fate.
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest
Genres: Drama

Here’s a question. When a TV guide provides a summary of the film they’re gonna broadcast, what is its purpose? Do they want you to watch the film, or do they want to tell people who can’t watch what it’s all about? This summary literally told me EVERYTHING except for the fact that the father briefly uses drugs and that the mother mocks a child’s toy! So I can’t really say whether it’s good or bad or a mediocre film, only that this was the first Nicole Kidman movie I watched in which she didn’t overact and I don’t like feel-good endings.

The score is subtle, but sufficient.

The audio describer had an extremely pleasant voice.