The Pirate Fairy

Name: The Pirate Fairy
Year: 2014
Rating: G
Running Time (minutes): 78
Description: When a misunderstood dust-keeper fairy named Zarina steals Pixie Hollow’s all-important Blue Pixie Dust and flies away to join forces with the pirates of Skull Rock, Tinker Bell and her fairy friends must embark on the adventure of a lifetime to return it to its rightful place. However, in the midst of their pursuit of Zarina, Tink’s world is turned upside down. She and her friends find that their respective talents have been switched and they have to race against time to retrieve the Blue Pixie Dust and return home to save Pixie Hollow.
Stars: Mae Whitman, Christina Hendricks, Tom Hiddleston
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

This one was much better than its predecessor, but I still don’t like Vidia and didn’t like James either (really original, a British villain in an American movie).

As usual, I mostly watched it for the score and this time I wasn’t disappointed. Not quite as magical as The Great Fairy Rescue, but overall still nice, though the opening song is horrible. I am really impressed at the way Joel McNeely manages to twist his themes to fit so many different purposes, however, and it’s truly refreshing to hear such an orchestral spectacle.

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Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb

Name: Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 98
Description: At the Museum of Natural History, there’s new exhibits being unveiled. Larry Daley, who manages the night exhibit because the exhibits come to life because of the Tablet of Ahkmenrah, is in charge of the presentation. But when the exhibits go wild, Larry finds himself in trouble. He learns that the Tablet is corroding, so he does some research and learns that Cecil, the former museum guard, was at the site when the Tablet was discovered. He tells Larry that they were warned that if they removed it, could mean the end. Larry realizes it means the end of magic. He talks to Ahkmenrah, who says that he doesn’t know anything. Only his father, the Pharoah, knows the Tablet’s secrets. He learns that the Pharoah was sent to the London museum. So he convinces Dr McPhee, the museum curator, to help send him to London. He goes and takes Ahkmenrah with him, but some of the others, like Teddy Roosevelt, Attila, Octavius and Jedediah come with him.
Stars: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family

I really don’t understand why these movies were such critical failures. They’re not special, but still a lot of fun, though the first two were better than this one. This final entry is all right, but I don’t like the Nikki and knight subplots. I do kind of want spin-offs with Rebel Wilson and Laa now.

This is undoubtedly Alan Silvestri’s best NATM score, although I found the sad moments disappointingly shallow.

Guardians Of The Galaxy

Name: Guardians Of The Galaxy
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 121
Description: After stealing a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space, Peter Quill from Earth is now the main target of a manhunt led by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser. To help fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill creates a team of space heroes known as the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to save the world.
Stars: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Quite good, unsurprisingly. I didn’t like Gamora, there’s just a little too much bromance and Peter’s jokes didn’t always work, but other than that, great.

The score’s main theme was fantastic, but Gamora’s near-death was handled pretty badly. Loved the songs.

Cake

Name: Cake
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 102
Description: The acerbic, hilarious Claire Bennett becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group. As she uncovers the details of Nina’s suicide and develops a poignant relationship with Nina’s husband, she also grapples with her own, very raw personal tragedy.
Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick
Genres: Drama

I was going to say I really liked it, but lost interest during the last quarter of an hour. I did like Jennifer Aniston a lot and the story was certainly not bad, though I disliked the dead woman being ‘alive’. I also actually liked hearing Spanish for the first time in a very long time.

The score wasn’t special, but pleasant enough.

The audio description was good, but I don’t understand why everyone is suddenly saying things like ‘she is stood in her room’. The collocation ‘motherly economy’, on the other hand, will be remembered.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Name: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 136
Description: For Steve Rogers, awakening after decades of suspended animation involves more than catching up on pop culture; it also means that this old school idealist must face a world of subtler threats and difficult moral complexities. That becomes clear when Director Nick Fury is killed by the mysterious assassin, the Winter Soldier, but not before warning Rogers that SHIELD has been subverted by its enemies. When Rogers acts on Fury’s warning to trust no one there, he is branded as a traitor by the organization. Now a fugitive, Captain America must get to the bottom of this deadly mystery with the help of the Black Widow and his new friend, The Falcon. However, the battle will be costly for the Sentinel of Liberty, with Rogers finding enemies where he least expects them while learning that the Winter Soldier looks disturbingly familiar.
Stars: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

I’ll never ever read the IMDB summaries of any Marvel film from now on. You do not include huge spoilers if you want people to go and watch the films. And that film was just amazing. I can’t believe how complex the entire universe is becoming, how Marvel keeps making one great film after another while DC basically died with Man of Steel… Loved the dynamic between Cap and Natasha and am very glad she finally got a bigger role. The balance between drama and humour is great, I care about all the protagonists… It’s just fantastic.

The score could be better, though. There are some nice moments to be heard, but the action material is too Zimmer-inspired. I suppose that by now I should just stop hoping for thematic continuity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The situation in this score is really absurd, starting out with the Cap theme and then abandoning it altogether.

But to end on a positive note, the audio description was narrated by a Brit. Not the most passionate Brit, but it couldn’t be worse than that robotic American from Captain America: The First Avenger.

Interstellar

Name: Interstellar
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 169
Description: In the near future, Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen its lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race.
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain
Genres: Adventure, Sci-Fi

Well, that was amazing. I watched a romantic comedy with McConaughey last week and here, too, his accent kind of diminishes his character’s credibility for me. Mackenzie Foy and Michael Caine were fantastic, though, and Foy in particular. On the negative side, there’s too much science in it and I didn’t understand half of it, but once you accept that, it’s a rollercoaster from beginning to end. My brother is studying physics and assures me that you can’t possibly travel back in time, only to the future. The message that Cooper sends to his dad in space where he literally says ‘my wife says I should let you go so I’m letting you go’ is just rushed and stupid and I would have liked Murph to be a little younger at the end. Other than that, great, great story.

Now, the score. I’m currently going through an anti-Zimmer phase for several reasons. First of all, I felt I already knew everything about this score before having heard one single note because the hype was, yet again, completely out-of-control. How many times did I hear that story about Nolan not telling Zimmer it was about space travel and how he only knew about the father-daughter thing and blah blah blah. Then I had the opportunity to hear Zimmer rape Interstellar at his live show with guitars, guitars and guitars (after all, the populace cannot be expected to listen to organs, can they?) Also, Zimmer’s basic technique for tackling scenes bothers me: he sometimes has great ideas, but repeats them again and again and again without ever actually going anywhere with them. Now, this score undoubtedly has a few magnificent moments of stunning virtuosity and some quieter, emotional moments receive perfect, gentle piano music, but other such moments are scored insufficiently and it would all be so much more exciting if Zimmer had sometimes used another key. Having said all that, 90% of the music worked in the film and if Nolan refuses to let Zimmer watch his movies, I can’t blame him for not composing music for individual moments.

I watched this movie using cheap headphones, but still some scenes sounded like earthquakes. What is it with today’s movies and bass? Some of the low frequencies even distorted the dialogue and there were a few extreme volume changes too.

The Orange Is The New Black narrator did the audio description again, but I got so swept up in this movie that I didn’t even notice her after a while, something that has never happened before. She did, however, introduce the characters rather badly in the beginning.

Divergent

Name: Divergent
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 139
Description: Set in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into five factions that each represent a different virtue, teenagers have to decide if they want to stay in their faction or switch to another – for the rest of their lives. Tris Prior makes a choice that surprises everyone. Then Tris and her fellow faction-members have to live through a highly competitive initiation process to live out the choice they have made. They must undergo extreme physical and intense psychological tests, that transform them all. But Tris has a secret that she is Divergent, which means she doesn’t fit into any one group. If anyone knew, it would mean a certain death. As she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, this secret might help her save the people she loves… or it might destroy her.
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent… What is it that people like about teenagers fighting each other in dystopian societies?

The first half was all right, though I quickly became tired of the countless scenes in which Four stalked Tris. I got bored during the second half, but have to admit that the third act really surprised me pleasantly, though some of it was predictable and I do think that the movie was too fast-paced and that they were trying to put too much into it. Some parts were rather cheesy as well, but I guess that if the boys got Maze Runner, the girls deserved Divergent.

Tom Holkenborg’s score was all right and I especially liked the non-action parts. Why can’t that guy just use his proper name, though? Does he think Junkie XL sounds so much better or will using nicknames be the next phase in the hype surrounding Hans Zimmer’s associates?

Guilty At 17

Name: Guilty At 17
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 90
Description: When 17-year-old Traci is lured into believing one of her friends was sexually assaulted by a teacher, she makes the mistake of lying to support the girl’s story and is consumed with guilt when the teacher then commits suicide. But this is just the beginning. Caught up in a web of deceit, Traci befriends and confides in a female teacher that’s more connected to the scam than Traci realises, putting the girl in serious danger.
Stars: Erin Sanders, Alex Paxton-Beesley, Catherine Dent
Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

I didn’t want to watch this at first, but there was nothing else on. Where to start? First, the movie is way too short to tell its story. That also means any plot summary gives half of it away. Second, that story is just stupid. At first, I thought it was rather contemporary, for want of a better word, but then it unfolded and I suppose the biggest problem was that every single character does one absurd thing after another. Really, if you want to research how characters in movies should not behave, watch this one. They reacted inappropriately, acted inappropriately and even had conversations that you either just don’t have in real life or that you just conduct totally differently. And the way those teenagers spoke, urgh. American English at its worst.

The score wasn’t bad at all. Well, it wasn’t great either, but hey, it wasn’t in D minor, so I should be on top of the world. Underscoring emotional scenes with rock music doesn’t really work for me, only the very last song did.

Into The Woods

Name: Into The Woods
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 125
Description: Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel – all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Musical

I’d had enough after ten minutes.

The Christmas Secret

Name: The Christmas Secret
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 74
Description: While her life is falling apart, single mum Christine finds a magical family heirloom that leads to love and good fortune during Christmas.
Stars: Bethany Joy Lenz, John Reardon, Susan Hogan
Genres: Drama, Family, Romance

Terribly sentimental, way too predictable. Also some awkward scene transitions.

But a nice score.