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?
Name: Guilty At 17
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.
Name: Into The Woods
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.
Name: The Christmas Secret
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.
Name: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Running Time (minutes): 130
Description: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.
Stars: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis
Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Very good story. But Caesar’s speaking abilities are too advanced: at least his ‘no!’ from the first film was impressive because he hardly said more than that in that one.
The score never impressed me: the final cue was horribly anti-climactic, though the end credits music is perfect for announcing a sequel.
Name: The Other Woman
Running Time (minutes): 109
Description: After discovering her boyfriend is married, Carly Whitten tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on, she realizes they have much in common and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend.
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton
Genres: Comedy, Romance
The summary seemed intrigueing, but the actual film was unbearable.
Name: Jimmy’s Hall
Running Time (minutes): 109
Description: 1932. Jimmy Gralton is back home in the Irish countryside after ten years of forced exile in the USA. His widowed mother Alice is happy, Jimmy’s friends are happy, all the young people who enjoy dancing and singing are happy. Which is not the case of Father Sheridan, the local priest, nor of the village squire, nor of Dennis O’Keefe, the chief of the fascists. The reason is simple: Jimmy is a socialist activist. So when the ‘intruder’ reopens the village hall, thus enabling the villagers to gather to sing, dance, paint, study or box, they take a dim view of the whole thing. People who think and unite are difficult to manipulate, aren’t they? From that moment on, they will use every means possible to get rid of Jimmy and his ‘dangerous’ hall.
Stars: Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Andrew Scott
Genres: Drama, History
It took a while before the film got underway and I only found myself becoming interested towards the end of the first half. Trust intolerant religious fanatics to make things more exciting. I didn’t know all that much about (Northern) Ireland in the 1930s, so from a historic point of view, this movie was very instructive too. In the end, all I can say is that the consequences catholic and protestant bigotry have had in the past still leave me gobsmacked.
The score was sparse and I must admit I didn’t like it at all in the beginning. It didn’t take long before I started comparing this one to Williams’ totally unrelated Far and Away. But as the story unfolded, this shallow underscore started to grow on me and it worked brilliantly during a very intimate moment between two protagonists. During the final moments of the story, I had to acknowledge that the score couldn’t have been more appropriate. And need I say that Irish folk music is just great?
On a side note, it was impressive to hear an English audio-describer pronounce French names flawlessly during the opening credits.
Name: This Is Where I Leave You
Running Time (minutes): 103
Description: When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humour, heartache and redemption that only families can provide – driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.
Stars: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda
Genres: Comedy, Drama
So this is the second film I’ve watched in two days, right, and I kinda thought, you know, it’d be sort of okay, ’cause, well, I like watching movies during the evenings and all that, but, get this, it’s really not good at all! Oh my God, the stupid small talk just didn’t end and I totally turned it off after, like, 30 minutes and even Michael Giacchino’s nice score couldn’t even make this thing any better! Can you believe it? Like, what the hell?
Running Time (minutes): 100
Description: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.
Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly
Only one question keeps going through my mind: What was the point of this film? First of all, the premise is just stupid: a man wants to kill a good priest to upset people because he’s been traumatised by bad priests. Other than that, we get lots and lots of meetings between the good priest and random people who mostly have one thing in common: they hate the Church and bother him with that whenever they can. I did feel concerned for the good priest (Brendan Gleeson is terrific), but then he claims he didn’t cry for all the people abused by priests in the past. Doesn’t make any sense to me. Also – spoiler alert! – we’re meant to believe Gleeson did indeed abuse the guy who threatened him. The problem is that just doesn’t work because Gleeson is a way too good-natured priest who can’t possibly have sexually assaulted anyone unless he’s suffering from a mental illness that is never revealed here. The subplot with the daughter was more interesting, though, but nothing beat Orla O’Rourke’s juicy Irish accent and Aidan Gillen was a pleasant surprise.
I’ve always had a bit of a weak spot for Irish folk music. If only the score had been as good as all the background tunes. Not a trace of any Irish instruments, no themes… nothing.
Name: The Maze Runner
Running Time (minutes): 113
Description: Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in “The Glade” for three years, trying to find a way to escape through the Maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note and their world begins to change. There are some great, fast-paced action scenes, particularly those involving the nightmarish Grievers who plague the boys.
Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter
Genres: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Not bad at all, though I don’t understand how people can be stuck in a maze for three years and then hate someone who’s finally willing to do something about it. Also don’t understand how the doctor committed suicide and then survived, but I’ll be interested in the sequel.
The score’s dramatic parts are way better than its brainless action cues.
Also, why in the world does everything need to thump, bang and clang these days? Even when you configure your speakers in such a way that all the low frequencies should be filtered out, half of it still sounds like an earthquake.