Ant-Man

Name: Ant-Man
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 117
Description: Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Yet again, I liked it, though I’m slowly starting to get tired of that repetitive ‘don’t use my great discovery, SHIELD!’ plotline. Also got a little bored with Michael Douglas at the end and I do hope they’ll explain how Ant-Man managed to get out of that subatomic reality thing, but still love the humour.

The score had very nice moments. Didn’t expect Christopher Beck to write such music at all. Some emotional moments could have been better, but the Avengers theme’s cameo was really amusing.

The audio description was great, but sentences like ‘he answers his phone’ really aren’t necessary.

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Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Name: Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 141
Description: When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to the Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for a global adventure.
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

As expected, I liked it. My only minor problems are that some characters evolved just a little too quickly and I had some difficulties remembering why everyone was doing what in the beginning. I might have to adjust my viewing order.

The score was great. Finally a symphonically satisfying musical entry in this franchise. I have to change my mind about Elfman, he’s clearly able to write good music (I’m assuming Tyler wasn’t responsible for anything I liked).

The Good Dinosaur

Name: The Good Dinosaur
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 93
Description: The Good Dinosaur asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In this epic journey into the world of dinosaurs, an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.
Stars: Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Maleah Nipay-Padilla
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Mama? Papa? Mama! Papa! Sorry, I just couldn’t keep watching this. The first Pixar movie I didn’t enjoy. Why is it that animated films always have to have horribly artificial adult voice actors?

The score is pretty original.

Paper Towns

Name: Paper Towns
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 109
Description: Adapted from the bestselling novel by author John Green, Paper Towns is a coming-of-age story centering on Quentin and his enigmatic neighbour Margo, who loved mysteries so much she became one. After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears – leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher. The search leads Quentin and his quick-witted friends on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving. Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship – and true love.
Stars: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams
Genres: Drama, Mystery, Romance

I didn’t really like Cara Delevingne’s character (or accent) and therefore found it really hard to believe why someone would go after a girl who’s so full of herself. Having said that, it was an okay movie, but I don’t understand the entire point of this Margo character at all. Also, is it that easy to skip classes in the USA?

The score was nice and some of the music was really enjoyable.

And the audio description was yet again narrated by the Orange Is The New Black woman.

The Martian

Name: The Martian
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 144
Description: During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring ‘the Martian’ home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.
Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

I really like Kate Mara. Too bad she doesn’t live long in House of Cards. What’s more, I didn’t even mind Matt Damon this time, who I sort of gave up on after wasting two hours watching The Bourne Identity. The story is sort of ‘American’, but who wouldn’t want a happy ending after two hours? For me, there was enough doubt about whether Damon would be rescued or not at first to keep me invested in the story, so it wasn’t all sentimental. The balance between the NASA storyline and the him-on-the-planet storyline was perfect too. If you don’t have at least two storylines, the result is 127 Hours. God knows how I sat through that one.

After watching this film for a second time, I still really like it and was also able to appreciate the score a lot more. It’s nice, airy and very functional, but I somehow wanted it to be a little better. What I did not like was the constant rumble throughout nearly the entire movie. No idea whether this was Harry Gregson-Williams’ doing or the sound effects, but I’m starting to notice this phenomenon in a lot of recently released films: everything has to make your room explode, everything needs to bang, boom and blast and I just can’t reduce the basses, no matter how hard I’ve tried to configure my sound system.

Room

Name: Room
Year: 2015
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 118
Description: Room tells the extraordinary story of Jack, a spirited 5-year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted mother. Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical – they are trapped – confined to a 10-by-10-foot space that Ma has euphemistically named Room. Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack’s curiosity about their situation grows and Ma’s resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world.
Stars: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers
Genres: Drama

The first half of this movie was beyond anything I have ever watched. Harrowing doesn’t even come close to describing it. I don’t think I could have continued watching this had the second half not been a little more light-hearted. The only negative thing I can say about the film is that it does rather weird things with time. Maybe they did that to show the viewer how Jack processes everything, but that didn’t really make sense to me because this is clearly not a children’s story. For example: Ma tells Jack all about Room and then suddenly changes her mind and starts talking about the real world. She wants to escape and they manage it after only two attempts. When Jack talks to the policewoman, I would have thought that Old Nick had already either killed Ma or moved her somewhere else, but he just ran off without Jack and we don’t even see him putting up a fight with the police or Ma. Ma just comes out and that’s it, end of story. I also thought Jack was a little too okay with suddenly being in an entire new world, but am willing to accept that children really do these things and of course the film needed closure.

The score was mostly ambient, but very moving. Composers and directors should do this more: produce ambient music that touches people and tells a story, not just aimless droning that only fills space and can’t survive two seconds on its own.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Name: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 135
Description: 30 years after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Empire, Rey, a scavenger from the planet Jakku, finds a BB-8 droid that knows the whereabouts of the long lost Luke Skywalker. Rey, as well as a rogue stormtrooper and two smugglers, are thrown into the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the daunting legions of the First Order.
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I actually loved it. I’m not quite sure why I like this one so much better than the old trilogy, though. People wrote that it resembled the old ones more than the prequels, so maybe it’s just the old sound that takes most of the enjoyment away for me. The story was great and Han Solo’s death was heartbreaking. Did they really have to kill the only good character of the old films? Why not Leia? She sounded as if she were at death’s door anyway. Here’s hoping she’ll kick the bucket in episode 8. I still don’t understand why all these bad guys insist on wearing voice-distorting masks, or why the dark side seems so much more tempting than the good one. You’d think the Jedi were doing something wrong in their training sessions. But I really liked Maz, so glad she’ll be returning in the next episode.

Writing film scores at the age of 83 is a remarkble feat and Williams is clearly still as good as ever too. Rey’s Theme, the Resistance… All great. And this is probably my favourite Star Wars finale so far.

NOTE: This mini-review was written before Carrie Fisher died. I wasn’t involved in the event, nor am I a psychic.

Jupiter Ascending

Name: Jupiter Ascending
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars, but wakes up to the cold reality of a job, cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine Wise, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
Stars: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Tried to keep watching this because Michael Giacchino’s score wasn’t bad at all, but it was just too boring, too much alien ‘terminology’, hardly any explanations, dull villains…

Jurassic World

Name: Jurassic World
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 124
Description: Jurassic World has been running with great success for more than a decade in the wake of the disaster that haunted the island 22 years ago. The park’s geneticists have once again broken scientific and ethical boundaries in order to raise attendance for the park, now experiencing a decline in happy customers. Convinced that the new attraction will bring in many more people, but having crossed the line once again, the results may be devastating.
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Jurassic Park was great. The Lost World was boring and I only remember one scene from Jurassic Park III. By that time, my mind was made up: you can only make one good film to prove that mankind should not breed dinosaurs, so I thought this one would be the same all over again… and it was, but this time I enjoyed it. There wasn’t a dull moment anywhere, though I’m really starting to wonder how many films they’ll still make that contain a scene in which a man holds out his hand to a woman and the woman bravely walks off on her own. Hollywood, I know perfectly well women are equal to men. You clearly don’t.

Even Giacchino’s score amazed me. This will probably become my favourite Jurassic score after Jurassic Park. I really loved the ‘Christmas-y’ parts and John Williams’ old themes were a joy to hear again as well, though Giacchino’s new theme isn’t memorable (it does work) and as usual, the lack of reverb reduces the excitement dramatically.

Finally, I wish audio-describers would stop narrating the whole end credits. I appreciate the effort and all, but would like to be able to appreciate the end credits suites for these kind of films. If you really want to know who the second-unit director was, go to Wikipedia, that’s what it’s for. The dialogue was also softer than the descriptions.

Bridge Of Spies

Name: Bridge Of Spies
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 142
Description: In the cold war, a lawyer, James B. Donovan, is recruited by the CIA and involved in an intense negotiation mission to release and exchange a CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot, Francis G. Powers, that was arrested alive after his plane was shot down by the Soviet Union during a mission, with a KGB intelligence officer, Rudolf Abel, who was arrested for espionage in the US.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda 2015 Oscar Winner for Best Supporting Actor, Mark Rylance
Genres: Biography, Drama, Thriller

Very moving story. As usual, Tom Hanks’ character was by far my favourite.

Newman’s score is as subtle as ever and it also turns out Shostakovich wrote music I can actually appreciate. Who’d have thunk it?