Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

Name: Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 152
Description: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Okay, I’m late to the party, but only have had access to an audio-described copy for a few days, so finally watched it tonight.

I had such high hopes for this one, given the fact that I really liked The Force Awakens. Back then, it seemed like I was finally going to be able to enjoy this franchise (Revenge of the Sith being the only one I had truly liked). But this? Seriously? I honestly do not understand what all the critical praise is about and still don’t know whether I should think it was good-ish, okay or a travesty. Where to start? There are too many women in the movie. I have absolutely nothing against the opposite sex, but I’ve seen so many ladies playing ‘powerful’ characters recently that it’s become a little absurd. This is exactly why I hate that new diversity obsession: it only works when you treat it naturally, not by forcing it into every single film regardless of the plot. Having said that, I did like Rose a lot and hope to see more of her in Episode 9 (yes, I will still watch that one). On to other problems. There are too many battles. There are too many stupid characters (Holdo and especially Hux). Luke’s lessons with Rey are ridiculous. Wasn’t Yoda dead? Luke’s death makes no sense to me (and blimey, his voice has changed since Episode 6). I wanted more Maz. On the positive side, I found Kylo Ren quite a fascinating character, he just cried a little bit too often. And there were some good jokes throughout the whole thing.

And of course, the score was good. When the soundtrack came out four months ago, I was stupid enough to listen to the whole thing before having seen the movie, determined to experience that ‘this is a new Williams score and it’s absolutely great!’ feeling with everyone else at least once in my lifetime because I wanted to know what that was like and because I still don’t see him scoring Episode 9, sorry. That also meant I read way too many spoilers: Snoke torturing Rey and Luke dying, for instance, though luckily, I didn’t know how stupid that death scene was yet. I liked the first half of the album and hated the second half back then. Now I love the two new main themes (especially Rose’s) more than ever and will revisit the CD as soon as possible. Other highlights included the Canto Bight music and another French horn theme that I can’t give a name for the moment, but Luke and Rey’s theme were placed inappropriately at least twice. The recording sounded massive and gloriously clear and the end credits are way better than the awkward album medley, though, and just as I thought that the final moments of the previous credits suite were Williams’ personal farewell to the franchise, I’d like to think that this one contains the following musical message: Disney, what have you done?

The audio description was good, though a little too extensive. The describer sometimes was a little too passionate during uneventful scenes, but he did stay quiet during the whole credit sequence again (thanks for that). That also meant he announced Carrie Fisher’s title card too soon, but hey, I got ten minutes of Williams music.

And can they please stop making it impossible to rip the audio of these DVDs without glitches?

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Dunkirk

Name: Dunkirk
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: Evacuation of Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, and France, who were cut off and surrounded by the German army from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between May 26-June 04 1940, during the Battle of France in World War II.
Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance
Genres: Action, Drama, History

This will be a very different review from all my previous ones. I can’t say much about the film itself because I had to stop watching after 30 minutes. Why? Simple: because the audio description was made by Americans.

How many more academic papers do we need before these idiots finally realise that audio description DOES NOT WORK and that audio narration DOES WORK? This is a STORY about World War I, so tell me that STORY, don’t give me a dry, emotionless, cold, boring account of fact after fact after fact after fact after fact and don’t speak like Stephen Hawking. And for the love of God, look up the word ‘coherence’ in a dictionary. Why can’t you consistently say when we’re in France, Belgium and England? Oh, right, because there’s no big caption in the movie displaying country names. The best part came when they called some people ‘the taciturn men’. Everybody’s fucking taciturn in that movie! This is the second time that Americans had to go and ruin a critically acclaimed movie. Minority Report became simply incomprehensible and now this one. If you don’t understand that your final text should, above, all be easy to digest and that the viewer shouldn’t have to make a huge effort to be able to understand the basic storyline of a film, find yourself another job.

Having said all this, I must say that the part of the film I watched seemed really very well executed. The depiction of war environments was spot on. I would probably have found it fabulous if I had been allowed to actually immerse myself in the story.

And the score… Well, I’ve heard people bitching about it and worshipping it for four months and will have to join the worshipping crowd. There’s no doubt that this will make for very unentertaining listening, but my God, did it work in this film.

Beauty and the Beast

Name: Beauty And The Beast
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 129
Description: Disney’s animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.
Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
Genres: Family, Fantasy, Musical

I really liked this one. The only slightly confusing plot point for me was the fact that the castle’s objects still had living relatives at the end. The prologue made it sound as if the entire prince/enchantress thing had happened two centuries ago. Loved Emma Thompson wiv ‘er beau’iful Cockney accent. McKellen was great too, though I don’t really find the Gaston character arc very convincing. He turns from a lovable idiot to a villain in, like, two seconds. Lumière queeckly becèm boring az well, but I was really surprised that the ending was so tense. I’ve never seen the original version, but it can’t be better than this one.

On to more important things. THE MUSIC. No words. I just love Alan Menken’s limitlessly romantic scores. The songs were mostly a joy to discover, too, but my absolute favourite remains the one sang by the Beast as Belle leaves the castle. Absolutely terrific. I’ve read a lot of complaints from people who apparently thought Emma Watson was the only actress that was auto-tuned. She definitely isn’t. I’m not a fan of auto-tuning as every song written these days sounds like computerised crying to me, but here, it worked 90% of the time (some horrible edits, though).

And the audio-describer had a hidden agenda. I’ve been told at least five times that Belle was manly, brave and fearless. What is it with political correctness these days? Are they trying to tell youngsters that women are no longer the angels in the home holding it all together to prevent them getting dangerous ideas that no one has anymore? I hope Disney’s next film will show a woman casting a vote during an election, you know, just to make sure we all know women can vote. But at least the narrator didn’t interfere with the end credits (though, come to think of it, these end credits songs are no match for any song or music from the movie, so listening to a list of unimportant names might have been a better alternative).