The Man With The Golden Gun

Name: The Man With The Golden Gun
Year: 1974
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 125
Description: Scaramanga is a hitman who charges a million dollars per job. He becomes linked to the death of a scientist working on a powerful solar cell, and James Bond is called in to investigate. As he tracks down Scaramanga, he realises that he is highly respected by the killer, but will this prove to be an advantage in the final showdown?
Stars: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland
Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Best Bond film I’ve watched so far! Liked the interaction between Moore and the Bond girls a lot.

The score had its moments.

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

Name: Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows
Year: 2011
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 129
Description: Sherlock Holmes and his longtime trusted associate, Doctor Watson, take on their arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, with the help of Holmes’s older brother Mycroft Holmes and a gypsy named Sim.
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Jared Harris
Genres: Action, Adventure, Crime

I still like this one better than its predecessor. The story is much better and Robert Downey Jr never disappoints. Nor do Stephen Fry and Kelly Reilly, for that matter.

As for the score, I’m currently craving everything non-D minor. The themes are great, as usual, but watching this one after The Force Awakens was a rude awakening.

I decided to watch it on my 5.1 speakers for the first time, and what a great idea that was. Why is it that everything always needs to pound and thump like crazy these days? Even if Hans Zimmer isn’t doing it, trust the special effects to take over. I had to turn down the volume of the trout scene because apparently torturing someone is now accompanied by lots of rumbling that would probably alert the whole of London. Surprised the neighbours aren’t asking me for explanations yet.

Inception

Name: Inception
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 148
Description: Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back, but only if he can accomplish the impossible- inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page
Genres: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

This is the third time I’ve watched it and I still really like it, though there are some minor ‘plot holes’:
1. How on earth can Arthur forget to check whether Fischer’s subconscious has been militarised? That’s just not credible.
2. Everyone clearly knows Cobb’s having some serious problems, but they follow him blindly nevertheless and only ask questions when it’s too late.
3. When Fischer gets killed in level 3, why does Cobb need Ariadne to remind him he can still go after him in Limbo? He’s been doing this stuff for years.
4. How is Fischer not going to remember anything from these wild dreams?
5. Finally, it seems absurd that Cobb, Fischer and Saito will be able to lead normal lives again after having been stuck in Limbo for so long.
Other than that, great film. Tom Hardy is as good as always, the hotel room scene still moved me, but I somehow had the impression that Watanabe’s English speaking skills had deteriorated since The Last Samurai. Also, in the hotel, Cobb says, “Do you feel that?” twice to Fischer.

Hans Zimmer’s score is still one of my favourites. Finally, he tried something new. I love the fact that some instruments almost make you drift to sleep. My only problem with the score is that the meaning of the ‘totem theme’ still isn’t clear to me because it’s used liberally throughout the entire movie, or maybe that’s just Zimmer showing off with his themes (which are great). Some chase material did cause some unwelcome associations with the Lannister theme from Game of Thrones and I absolutely hate those abrupt brass ‘stingers’, but there are some great moments to be found here, including the van pursuit music and even an ambient cue that accompanies a conversation about breaking into someone’s mind.

The sound mix is too heavily focused on the front speakers and if anyone can help me find a way to remove all that annoying rumbling from today’s blockbusters, please come forward. Even if I activate all the ‘remove low frequencies’ settings, lots of things still sound like earthquakes.

The ending is also quite ambivalent, audio description-wise. The narrator says the totem keeps spinning, while lots of other people have told me it definitely stops moving.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Name: The Amazing Spider-Man
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 136
Description: Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy, and together, they struggle with love, commitment and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Decided to give this a go after totally giving up on the terrible Toby Maguire movies.

Now THIS one was good! No Spider-Man whispering in that tortured voice Toby just can’t seem to drop. Garfield is so much better. Uncle Ben is superior and the villain is credible this time (no more stupid, childish hideous laughing)…

And Horner’s score is absolutely magical. Still wasn’t moved sufficiently when Ben died, but my goodness, this is so much better than Elfman’s perennial, comical, undramatic, annoymous, chaotic crap! What an awesome superhero theme! And the romantic side of the score is equally gripping. A little underplayed, perhaps, but still fifty times better than the feeble attempt Hans Zimmer makes at romance in the sequel, or the attempt Danny Elfman made that I totally forgot.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Name: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Year: 1986
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: To save Earth from a destructive space probe, Kirk and his fugitive crew go back in time to 20th century Earth to recover two humpback whales, who are the only Earth beings who can respond to it.
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Without a doubt, the best damn Star Trek film so far. Though the premise might be a little far-fetched and Gillian’s faith seems highly improbable, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Light-hearted, good humour and DeForest really shone this time.

And what a fine score. I didn’t know Leonard Rosenman at all, but will be looking out for more of his material from now on. The main theme is fantastic and so incredibly catchy, though its performances were mostly a disaster: the trumpet players were terrible at the beginning of the film and during the end credits, everyone briefly did their own thing. Oh well, I know what I’ll be humming for the next few days and the infinitely superior re-recording by Erich Kunzel will be beamed up to my speakers regularly. There was not a lot of score in the film at all, but surprisingly, the silences really worked well most of the time. The overall package was so refreshing and appropriate: I finally felt like I was part of an adventure in space. Goldsmith’s fanfare for the first film was great, but the rest of that score was endless droning. Horner’s two subsequent entries were droning without adventure. This one, at last, provided some excitement and there was even a nod to Horner towards the end. Not an ideal thing to do, but far better than Horner dropping Goldsmith’s fanfare entirely.

Something very interesting happened in the audio description as well. At about twenty minutes into the story, the narrator suddenly had a bit of extra time and used it to describe Kirk and Spock’s age, clothes and appearance. This might sound like a very straight-forward thing to do, but it’s really nice to hear that the writer(s) thought of this right in the middle of the action. Not everyone does.

Far And Away

Name: Far And Away
Year: 1992
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 140
Description: A young man leaves Ireland with his landlord’s daughter after some trouble with her father and they dream of owning land at the big giveaway in Oklahoma, ca. 1893.
Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Thomas Gibson
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance

When I first watched this film, I loved it. When I watched it again last year, I really liked it. Now I like it. I’m not sure whether that’s because it’s an okayish film or because I’m just a person who either passionately loves or hates something in the beginning. But anyway…

The story is certainly not bad and I particularly liked Mr Christie this time. Nicole Kidman delivers a few lines in a really heartbreaking way, especially at the end, but she does tend to overact during her angry passages and her ‘modern’ behaviour rather annoyed me now. Also, it’s really weird that at one point she has a cold, but when they then enter a house and have a romantic private moment a few seconds later, she suddenly doesn’t sound ill anymore. And I’m not really a Tom Cruise fan either (Joseph urgently needs to listen to more music because the only song he seems to know is ‘her beautiful eyes’… too). Oh well. The Irish accents were still chocolate to my ears.

John Williams’ score is obviously top-notch. It’s probably one of the reasons I liked this movie so much in the first place. The main themes are as memorable as any JW material and the orchestra accompanies the action/events brilliantly. At one point, for instance, Williams literally brings the ensemble to a halt at the very moment Shannon finally sort of confesses she’d like to live with Joseph and the effect is breathtaking. And then there’s that moment Joseph walks away increasingly quickly and Williams begins to chase him off with a theme that plays ever faster, a theme that literally wants to drive him back to his roots in Ireland. And then I’m not even talking about how he distorts themes to depict both joy and disaster. I’m still not really sure what all the themes stand for, but I’ve been way too busy worshipping this composer like a God to care and might soon have to start buying his vinyls to decorate the walls… And before I forget, the end credits need mentioning: instead of Williams’ wonderful suite, we first get an Enya song that is totally unrelated to all the music that came before it and contains a really awkward transition too. Why? Why truncate Williams’ wonderful musical summary to make room for such trash? Finally, Williams unwittingly made a pretty grave scene really funny: when Mr Christie’s house is being destroyed, he inserts a few French horn notes that are exactly the same as Howard Shore’s Gondor theme for Lord of the Rings. Once you realise that, the scene becomes hilarious.

This was the first time I watched the film in surround sound. I’d bought the DVD because the audio-described version interfered too much with the wonderful score… and wasted two euros in the process, but at least I won’t have to work in a chicken factory to earn them back. The track is extremely undynamic. You NEVER hear the rear channels at all throughout the entire movie and the sound mix is rather off at times too: beautiful music is drowned out by unnecessary loud cheering, but at least the front speakers are used to their full extent.

Presumed Innocent

Name: Presumed Innocent
Year: 1990
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: After his former girlfriend is killed and he becomes the prime suspect, D.A. Rusty Sabich goes on a search to find the real killer and finds out he/she may be closer to him than he thinks.
Stars: Harrison Ford, Raul Julia and Greta Scacchi
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Not sure what I could write about this film. The main characters and actors are brilliant. Harrison Ford is of course amazing. I also don’t know who I liked better, Bonnie Bedelia (wife) or Greta Scacchi (lover). In the end, both were equally charismatic. The funny thing is that, very early on, I suddenly suspected how it was going to end. But then I was also sure I had it completely wrong and yet it turned out I had been right all along.

Even though John Williams wrote the score, I initially had some misgivings. The first cue sounded so… uncomplicated: how could such a simplistic theme be appropriate for this movie? But then, the story unfolded and of course Williams had completely nailed it again. The only negative remarks I can still give is that there’s a real lack of resemblance between the extremely adequate main theme and the optimistic music towards the ending. Also, Williams handled a sex scene in a way I wasn’t expecting and it didn’t really work for me.

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).

How To Train Your Dragon

Name: How To Train Your Dragon
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 98
Description: Long ago up North on the Island of Berk, the young Viking, Hiccup, wants to join his town’s fight against the dragons that continually raid their town. However, his macho father and village leader, Stoik the Vast, will not allow his small, clumsy, but inventive son to do so. Regardless, Hiccup ventures out into battle and downs a mysterious Night Fury dragon with his invention, but can’t bring himself to kill it. Instead, Hiccup and the dragon, whom he dubs Toothless, begin a friendship that would open up both their worlds as the observant boy learns that his people have misjudged the species. But even as the two each take flight in their own way, they find that they must fight the destructive ignorance plaguing their world.
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy

The story is not bad at all, but why am I even talking about the plot when the score was so incredibly amazing?

John Powell has surprised me lots of times, but this was just incredible. Fantastic main theme, terrific action music, stunningly beautiful and dazzling orchestration. Even if the movie had been the most terrible thing ever made, I’d still have kept watching. Let’s get that soundtrack.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Name: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Year: 2016
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 123
Description: Holding a mysterious leather suitcase in his hand, Newt Scamander, a young activist wizard from England visits New York while he is on his way to Arizona. Inside his expanding suitcase hides a wide array of diverse, magical creatures that exist among us, ranging from tiny, twig-like ones, to majestic and humongous ones. It is the middle of the 20s and times are troubled since the already fragile equilibrium of secrecy between the unseen world of wizards and the ordinary or “No-Maj” people that the MACUSA Congress struggles to maintain is at risk of being unsettled. In the meantime, the voices against wizardry keep growing with daily protests led by Mary Lou Barebone and fuelled by the increasing disasters ascribed to a dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald. At the same time, by a twist of fate, Newt’s precious suitcase will be switched with the identical one of an aspiring No-Maj baker, Jacob Kowalski, while demoted Auror Tina Goldstein arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard.
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

I finally got around to watching this with audio description. When I watched it in the cinema with my family and without AD in November, I liked it. Now I love it. The story is excellent. My only tiny remark would be that I have some questions about the whole Obliviation plot at the end, but I won’t say more, only that this film is so good that I’m almost prepared to forgive David Yates’s less enchanting entries in the Harry Potter series.

James Newton Howard’s music is absolutely brilliant. If you want a fantastic film score and are wondering where to find it, seek no further. What I truly liked about this one is that, for the first time since Goblet of Fire, we’re finally getting some magical music again. The MACUSA theme is glorious, the creatures receive stunning musical identities and then I haven’t even mentioned Newt’s heroic theme. I only don’t understand why Hedwig’s Theme randomly appears when they enter a zoo, or why the magic theme completely disappears after the suitcase scene.

One final note about the audio description: Although it was very nice to finally listen to it, it affected the volume of the music too much. Example: Tina and Newt arrive at the American Ministry for Magic while the enchanting music builds and builds, but the dazzling orchestral spectacle that follows gets completely lost in the mix. Oh well, I’ll just have to watch it without AD one day.