Name: The Martian
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 like Kate Mara and didn’t even mind Matt Damon. The ending is indeed sort of American, but who wouldn’t want a happy ending after two hours? For me there was some doubt about whether Damon would be rescued or not. As for the second half, I thought it was a nice balance between the NASA storyline and the him-on-the-planet storyline. If you don’t have at least two storylines, the result is ‘127 hours’. God knows how I sat through that one.
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: A drama that tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes, they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalized and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality – their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Maud was one such foot soldier. The story of her fight for dignity is as gripping and visceral as any thriller, it is also heart-breaking and inspirational.
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter
Genres: Biography, Drama, History
‘VOTES FOR WOMEN!’
I was looking forward to this one from the start because I absolutely loved the chapter about this fascinating movement in my UK Culture lectures. Overall, the film was great. I liked how they managed to put so many little details of the actual fight for suffrage into it: setting pillar boxes on fire, throwing stones, breaking windows, force-feeding etc., and then of course the great finale with Emily Davison jumping in front of the king’s horse. That was Desplat’s score highlight as well.
Two tiny remarks: the ending is rather rushed, I don’t understand why it didn’t last longer. They could have included the fact that suffragettes helped in the war and demanded the vote for that, but the war was never mentioned at all. And the score could have been much more.
Name: Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens
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.
The story was great and I’m not quite sure why I like this one so much better than the old trilogy. 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. 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 amazing and Williams is clearly still as good as ever too. Rey’s Theme, the Reistance… All great themes. And this is probably my favourite Star Wars finale so far.
NOTE: The first version of this mini-review was written before Carrie Fisher died. I wasn’t involved in that event either, by the way.
Running Time (minutes): 105
Description: A girl named Ella (Cinderella) has the purest heart living in a cruel world filled with evil stepsisters and an evil stepmother out to ruin Ella’s life. Ella comes one with her pure heart when she meets the prince and dances her way to a better life with glass shoes, and a little help from her fairy godmother, of course.
Stars: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden
Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy
Felt like an idiot watching it (age issues, you know) but nothing beats Patrick Doyle’s gorgeous score in glorious 5.1 surround sound: magic it was.
Everything dramatically slows down after the ball, which was rather rushed, but at least my mind is empty now and that was all I was expecting. Helena Bonham Carter exceded my expetations as well: something in her voice doesn’t agree with me, I had preferred Julie Walters to be the fairy godmother and I just keep thinking of Bellatrix every time I hear her. Lily James is too bland and her ‘I forgive you’ to the stepmother is laughable and unconvincing. Stellan Skarsgård was as good as always and Holliday Grainger is one nasty piece of work (that’s a compliment).