Name: Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue
Running Time (minutes): 76
Description: Tinker Bell must team up with a rival fairy to keep their existence a secret from humans.
Stars: Mae Whitman, Lauren Mote, Michael Sheen
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family
Okay, so I guess an explanation is first required as to why I watched this. I still couldn’t watch Star Wars 8 with audio description, didn’t feel like watching yet another James Bond or Star Trek movie, the TV guide was yet again a disaster and I just have a soft spot for orchestral scores, but more on that later. The movie is quite okay, although Lizzy’s father was terrible, his voice work had ‘just pay me already’ written all over it. I really don’t understand why kids’ movies often attract the worst voice actors. Also, if the fairies can’t interact with the humans, what’s the point of holidaying on Earth? Didn’t know there were boy fairies out there either.
Now, the score. I was hoping for a symphonic extravaganza and wasn’t disappointed. It’s been some time since I’ve really enjoyed a soundtrack. Nearly everything was just perfect, but what really took me by surprise is how memorable the fairy-magic theme is: five notes, five little notes… and I believed and was spellbound. It’s definitely as memorable as Williams’ identity for Tinker Bell, just a little more magical and optimistic and less playful. This was my first Joel McNeely score and I’m already looking forward to hearing more of him. I only didn’t like the insertion of the songs: more magical score would have been much more welcome.
I would have liked the audio description to be narrated by a woman (it’s a bit of a girl’s film after all), but I suppose you can’t complain about things like this in a day and age where gender obsessions are being blown out of proportion everywhere. One song was rendered completely incomprehensible by the descriptions too, but then again, he didn’t have much of a choice there. At one point, I also thought he was making things too ‘literary’: when Tinker Bells is teaching Lizzy how to fly, he suddenly called them expert and novice.
Name: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
Running Time (minutes): 100
Description: A bachelor is haunted by the ghosts of his past girlfriends at his younger brother’s wedding.
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Emma Stone
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
I’ve been wanting to watch this one ever since it aired last Halloween, but only got around to doing so now. Really liked it, especially after all the crap I’ve been watching this week. Uncle Wayne’s character doesn’t really make much sense to me and I found it rather hard to like the main character and his stupid accent, but other than that, I really enjoyed the whole thing. Jennifer Garner and Emma Stone are always pleasing to the ear.
The score was very nice too. I just can’t enough of hopelessly optimistic romantic music.
What struck me most about the audio description was how concise all the sentences were and how slowly the narrator spoke, but she could have said way more and did not describe an important kiss and sometimes failed to mention locations.
Name: Under The Skin
Running Time (minutes): 108
Description: A female alien comes to Scotland to replace a deceased alien. She drives a van through the roads and streets, seducing lonely men to process their bodies. Soon the emotionless alien sees her human form in a mirror and she experiences the human emotions and feelings, coming to a tragic discovery.
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay
Genres: Drama, Sci-fi, Thriller
Quite good. I never really like ambiguous and unclear stories, but regret that this one didn’t last at least 30 minutes longer: the main character is so intrigueing, especially in the second half, that more screentime would only have made it more thrilling.
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard such an original score. It won’t make for nice listening, but creativity is so rare tin film music these days that I’m already on top of the world if a score isn’t in D minor. I have no idea whether the audio-described track is to blame for this, but the dialogue was really too soft and even unclear at times. I realise that the conversations are utterly unimportant in this film, but if you want to convey the message that they’re irrelevant, just take them out, don’t let them drown in the score and/or sound effects.
The audio description showcased yet again the advantages of good old British audio narration. The describer never failed to come up with synonyms for the heroine: mysterious female, temptress, seductress… Are you reading this, Americans?
Name: A Dangerous Method
Running Time (minutes): 99
Description: Suffering from hysteria, Sabina Spielrein is hospitalised under the care of Dr Carl Jung who has begun using Dr Sigmund Freud’s talking cure with some of his patients. Spielrein’s psychological problems are deeply rooted in her childhood and violent father. She is highly intelligent, however, and hopes to be a doctor, eventually becoming a psychiatrist in her own right. The married Jung and Spielrein eventually become lovers. Jung and Freud develop an almost father-son relationship, with Freud seeing the young Jung as his likely successor as the standard-bearer of his beliefs. A deep rift develops between them when Jung diverges from Freud’s belief that while psychoanalysis can reveal the cause of psychological problems, it cannot cure the patient.
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen
Genres: Biography, Drama, Thriller
Fantastic. Keira Knightley as Miss Spielrein was absolutely terrific – her insane laughter just gave me goosebumps – but one could wonder why Knightley plays her with a Russian accent. Mortensen was equally charismatic.
I originally had misgivings about the score because the only Shore material I knew apart from Lord of the Rings was Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, neither of which interested me in the slightest (and The Hobbit wasn’t stunning either), but this one was perfect, every second was effective through and through. I suppose doubting him for even a second was incredibly stupid. I especially liked the very high violin work accompanying the captions describing Spielrein’s eventual fate.
Name: Jurassic World
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.
Name: Pride & Prejudice
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: The story is based on Jane Austen’s novel about five sisters – Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia Bennet – in Georgian England. Their lives are turned upside down when a wealthy young man (Mr Bingley) and his best friend (Mr Darcy) arrive in their neighbourhood.
Stars: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen and Brenda Blethyn
Genres: Drama, Romance
LOVED IT. As usual, it took me a few moments to get into the 18th-century politics and multitude of characters (quite confusing at first), but other than that, everything was just perfect. It was amazing how fluent all the actors made Austen’s rather stilted language sound, especially Keira Knightley was absolutely brilliant there (and in all other aspects of her role as well, of course).
A great score, too. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been so touched by a piano performance (Georgiana) and the ball music was lovely too, though it was rather stupid that two characters both played the film’s main theme and the end credits suite lacks passion, energy and exuberance: everyone got married after all.
The surround sound mix could have been more dynamic as well, the rear channels were hardly used.
Name: Night At The Museum
Running Time (minutes): 108
Description: In New York, unemployed and divorced Larry Daley is a complete loser. His son Nick is very disappointed with his father, who is going to be evicted. Larry accepts the job of night watchman in the Museum of Natural History and takes the place of three old security guards that have just retired in order to raise some money and pay his bills. On his first shift, Larry soon realises that everything at the museum is not as it seems, as the statues begin to come to life after the sun sets. The Museum transforms into complete chaos with the inexperienced Larry in charge as he learns that an old Egyptian stone that came to the Museum in 1950 brings these statues to life until dawn. When Larry brings his son to spend a night with him, the three old guards break into the Museum to try to steal the magical stone. Larry organises all the historic characters to help him stop the criminals and save the museum.
Stars: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino and Ricky Gervais
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Great film, except the ‘you rock’ part.
FANTASTIC SCORE! It’s been a long time since an opening cue made me forget all my worries.
Name: You’ve Got Mail
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: This sweet romantic comedy reunites ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. He’s the owner of a bookstore chain; she’s the woman he falls for online. Both are unaware that she runs the little shop his company is trying to shut down.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and Greg Kinnear
Genres: Comedy, Romance
It took me 20 minutes before I started liking it, but once that had happened, it all went really fast. So many things could have gone wrong, but they didn’t. I particularly liked the scene in which Meg Ryan pretends to have a cold and Tom Hanks was just great.
My only negative remark is this: the movie needs more (and a better) score and less songs.
Running Time (minutes): 143
Description: Unable to convince the ruling council of Krypton that their world will destroy itself soon, scientist Jor-El takes drastic measures to preserve the Kryptonian race: He sends his infant son Kal-El to Earth. There, gaining great powers under Earth’s yellow sun, he will become a champion of truth and justice. Raised by the Kents, an elderly farm couple, Clark Kent learns that his abilities must be used for good. The adult Clark travels to Metropolis, where he becomes a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet… and a caped wonder whose amazing feats stun the city: Superman! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, the world’s greatest criminal mind, is plotting the greatest real estate swindle of all time. Can’t even the Man of Steel stop this nefarious scheme?
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman
Genres: Action, Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi
It was such a relief to finally watch a Superman movie in which the characters don’t behave like suicidal zombies. These people were so much better, but I do think that Miss Teschmacher (who calls their girlfriend that, anyway?) was a tad too superficial at the end and found it rather hard to take Lex and co seriously because they made them a little bit too comical. Also, why does Lois not hear that Superman and Kent have the same voice? Do normal people really not pay attention to voices? And finally, the very ending of the film just killed the excellent level of tension that the final battle had caused. But I loved the romance between Clark and Lois and I will embrace this movie with all its faults (very few), because the reboot is just unwatchable crap and compared to this it’s… well, they still need to invent a word to describe that.
Now, the score. Obviously, its themes are greater than great. I especially love how Williams manipulates them for different emotions. The romantic flight is simply glorious and I’m finally convinced that this upbeat Superman theme can work during sad moments as well. I did find the villain music too humorous and Kent’s journey to earth could have used more heroic music. What often really annoys me as well is how Williams can kill an intense and quiet moment by inserting random notes that just don’t need to be there and don’t even belong there, during the moment when Superman is kneeling by Lois’ side during the finale, for instance. Either be romantic or sad, but don’t fill up silences with dissonant, haphazard notes. Finally, some of the sound effects in this movie were too overbearing and Williams should have recorded this score a few years later: it deserves a better sound.
Name: Inside Out
Running Time (minutes): 94
Description: Growing up can be a bumpy road and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
Stars: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
I really liked this one. Fun and airy story and Anger made me laugh more than once. The voice cast was perfect as well, especially in Joy’s case.
Giacchino’s score was better than I expected it to be too. He’s great at portraying happiness and the tense part was wonderful, but he should work on his sad music. It sufficed, but nothing more.
The audio description sounded rather weird in the beginning.