Yes Man

Name: Yes Man
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 104
Description: Carl Allen is at a standstill. No future… Until the day he enrolls into a personal development program based on a very simple idea: say yes to everything! Carl discovers with amazement the magical power of ‘Yes’ and sees his professional and romantic life turned upside down overnight: an unexpected promotion and a new girlfriend. But he’ll soon discover that better can be good’s enemy and that all opportunities shouldn’t be taken.
Stars: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel and Bradley Cooper
Genres: Comedy, Romance

Not… bad. I liked how they used the Harry Potter 1 soundtrack during the Potter party. That’s about it.

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Braveheart

Name: Braveheart
Year: 1995
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 177
Description: William Wallace is a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks, who wishes to inherit the crown of Scotland for himself. When he was a young boy, William Wallace’s father and brother, along with many others, lost their lives trying to free Scotland. Once he loses another of his loved ones, William Wallace begins his long quest to make Scotland free once and for all, along with the assistance of Robert the Bruce.
Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau and Patrick McGoohan
Genres: Action, Biography, Drama, History, War

Slightly too long, but good all the same. I did become tired of Gibson always riding on and shouting to, his horse whenever he was angry (pretty much all the time). His second love interest didn’t convince me either. Ironically, I first watched this film a week before the Scottish independence referendum took place (are we biased, Flemish TV?) and suddenly felt a lot more sympathetic towards their cause until I later found out that this movie was wildly historically inaccurate.

I loved the score and can’t understand why people even bother criticising James Horner’s self-referencing tactics or inappropriate instruments. As long as the score works, which it did, there’s no problem for me.

The audio description was decent, but I would have preferred more intonation during the ‘he cuts her throat’ bit, which was also announced too early.

 

Johnny English

Name: Johnny English
Year: 2003
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 88
Description: Rowan plays the eponymous lead character in a spoof spy thriller. During the course of the story, we follow our hero as he attempts to single-handedly save the country from falling into the hands of a despot.
Stars: Rowan Atkinson, John Malkovich and Natalie Imbruglia
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Not bad, though I found it too absurd and it definitely shouldn’t have lasted longer. I understand that they’re trying to mock James Bond films, but there has to be a limit. I liked Natalie Imbruglia.

And I liked all the music.

Guardians Of The Galaxy

Name: Guardians Of The Galaxy
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 121
Description: After stealing a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space, Peter Quill from Earth is now the main target of a manhunt led by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser. To help fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill creates a team of space heroes known as the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to save the world.
Stars: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Quite good, unsurprisingly. I didn’t like Gamora, there’s just a little too much bromance and Peter’s jokes didn’t always work, but other than that, great.

The score’s main theme was fantastic, but Gamora’s near-death was handled pretty badly. Loved the songs.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Name: Harry Potter 8 The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Year: 2011
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 130
Description: The final chapter begins as Harry, Ron and Hermione continue their quest of finding and destroying the Dark Lord’s three remaining Horcruxes, the magical items responsible for his immortality. But as the mystical Deathly Hallows are uncovered and Voldemort finds out about their mission, the biggest battle begins and life as they know it will never be the same again.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Story-wise, things are all right, but the Deathly Hallows plot remains elusive and I still don’t understand why Harry keeps trusting Dumbledore. How did Dumbledore get the Resurrection Stone anyway, did he buy it in a local shop? Also, a much more glaring mistake occurs in the flashback sequence: we hear Trelawney’s prophecy about Pettigrew returning to Voldemort instead of the one where she is predicting Harry’s birth. Then again, Thompson delivered that prophecy much more dramatic in 3 and it sounds pretty good mixed with Desplat’s music as well. Ollivander’s ability to measure wands without any tool remains a mystery as well. What I do love about this film is that the opening scenes clearly tell you that this is it, the end, and that you’d better get reayd for an epic finale. Yates finally uses the Harry-Voldemort vision bond to its full extent. I didn’t even mind Daniel Radcliffe this time, but I don’t understand how Aberforth got rid of the Death Eaters and Voldemort definitely says more in Parseltongue than the subtitles reveal. The film version of Ginny isn’t really my thing either and the way the Pensieve just floats towards Harry is cheesy. I don’t understand why Harry is so upset by Snape and Lily’s identical Patronus either. Snape’s death is extremely moving, however: I’ll never forget hearing his last line for the very first time and even today, Fred’s death made me shiver, as did the memory sequence. Ralph Fiennes is terrifyingly awesome, but at times I felt sorry for him, which doesn’t make sense because Yates seemed to be so intent on presenting him as an empty villain.

Desplat’s score was a pleasant rediscovery as well, though I missed the trio’s/mission’s theme: its few references, though sometimes very effective, were not enough and the disappearance of the villain theme is stupid too, now it’s just a generic action motif. On the other hand, there’s plenty of fantastic music to be heard here (Gringots espace, the procession and statues scene), that these are only minor issues, but Giving Voldmeort’s end no theme is a total disgrace and, no, using an old Williams cue during the epilogue is not enough. The thematic opportunities in this entire franchise were uncountable and nearly all of them were simply ignored. The overall package for this one sounds too different from Part 1 too, as if its aim is to please the masses rather than showcase Desplat’s abilities and intelligence: some renditions of the overused Hedwig’s theme are masterful. And, again, I hate those unscored moments that should have been scored, especially the scene after Voldemort’s death sounds raw and unfinished and, for the love of God, whoever would not score the trio’s goodbye after the memory sequence? At least, the sound mix was glorious.

Di Langford explained that Harry is about to speak to Griphook when he says ‘Griphook’ two seconds afterwards. And I know that Imperio is a spell and that Dean Thomas is a student, thank you. You don’t announce an alarm before it’s activated either and she mentions that Molly Weasley helps conjure the protective shield around Hogwarts. I’m not against that idea, but her voice is most definitely not Julie Walters’. And of course, some sounds were described in advance.

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.

The Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King

Name: The Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King
Year: 2003
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 201
Description: While Frodo and Sam continue to approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, unaware of the path Gollum is leading them to, the former Fellowship aid Rohan and Gondor in a great battle in the Pelennor Fields, Minas Tirith and the Black Gates as Sauron wages his last war against Middle Earth.
Stars: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen and Ian McKellen
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama

Why are Frodo and Bilbo leaving the Shire? Are they going to some sort of paradise or is it supposed to be a euphemism for suicide/dying or… what is it? When are we getting a sequel about Sam and Rosie’s children? And is it me, or do the Mordor armies chant ‘Azog!’ at one point? I really like the ‘long has he foreseen this doom’ guy in Gondor and loved Gollum as he finally acquired the Ring. Shelob’s sound effects are masterful and Pippin is annoying when he shouts/screams. Speaking of shouting, why haven’t I turned off Annie Lennox’s song yet? Aragorn’s voice still irritates me a bit as well and he has severe problems pronouncing ‘Mordor’ and ‘Isildur’s’. And a very special thank you to Legolas for explaining what a diversion is. What a dumb moment. I mean, what was the point, to teach the populace the meaning of the word ‘diversion’ or to explain one final time what the plan was, to make sure they got it?

This score was horribly mistreated in the film. It all felt so raw and chopped up. Especially the first half of the film contains too many unscored scenes. Also, why does Shore always start distorting/changing/getting very creative with his themes after having done the exact opposite with them during the previous entry? For instance, Rohan receives excellent variations throughout this entire score, but not in The Two Towers. It’s still my least favourite LOTR score, though there are plenty of moments filled with Middle Earth greatness (yeah, you take that, Desolation of Smaug and Battle of the Five Armies) and satisfying thematic continuity and conclusions (also take that, The Hobbit), though I still want more Nazgul choir à la Fellowship of the Ring, no matter all Doug Adams’ explanations for its absence. Oh, and if you’re looking for a nice moment to stop the film and take a little break, do it just before the epic Ringwraiths choir kicks in during the siege of Gondor. Works splendidly.

The overall volume and surround sound was really extraordinary this time, even scary at times. At other times, there was still a ridiculous focus on the choir, while at other moments you could hardly hear the music at all and the track had some distortion again.

Cake

Name: Cake
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 102
Description: The acerbic, hilarious Claire Bennett becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group. As she uncovers the details of Nina’s suicide and develops a poignant relationship with Nina’s husband, she also grapples with her own, very raw personal tragedy.
Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick
Genres: Drama

I was going to say I really liked it, but lost interest during the last quarter of an hour. I did like Jennifer Aniston a lot and the story was certainly not bad, though I disliked the dead woman being ‘alive’. I also actually liked hearing Spanish for the first time in a very long time.

The score wasn’t special, but pleasant enough.

The audio description was good, but I don’t understand why everyone is suddenly saying things like ‘she is stood in her room’. The collocation ‘motherly economy’, on the other hand, will be remembered.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Name: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 146
Description: Voldemort’s power is growing stronger. He now has control over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to finish Dumbledore’s work and find the rest of the Horcruxes to defeat the Dark Lord. But little hope remains for the trio and the rest of the wizarding world, so everything they do must go as planned.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

I really liked it this time! Way better than how I remembered it. Quite intense, fast-paced and mostly well-acted. A few issues remain, however: Radcliffe really sucks. Apparently he doesn’t only have the same expression on his face throughout the entire film (thank you for that observation, mother), he mostly sounds the same as well: moody and bitter. No matter where they are, no matter what they’re doing, he’s always sulking! If you don’t like playing Harry anymore, just stop playing Harry! Also, Yates implies so much but tells us so little: Mundungus Fletcher isn’t handled properly, Dumbledore’s backstory is a complete mess (but maybe that was a deliberate decision), same goes for Harry’s animosity towards Kreacher and Scrimgeour (but then again, he hates everyone, so…) And if Harry hears all the Horcruxes in the final two films, why not in Chamber of Secrets? Did he go and see an ear doctor in the meantime? When the Weasleys are preparing the wedding, you clearly hear dialogue from HP5 and why is it so important to name the two Death Eaters who attack them in the café? Hermione mispronounces ‘Muffliato’, but her overall performance, as usual, is fantastic.

Desplat’s score really impressed me this time. Not only did he bring back the magic, he created lots of memorable themes, though their meaning isn’t always clear to me. Even Hermione has a theme in this score. Only the synthetic bass makes my head ache, my room vibrate and my housemates ask what the hell is going on. I still don’t like the thematic break with the previous scores either: Dobby already has a theme, use it. This is a particular problem here because so much of the score actually sounds like John Williams music. Yates also still doesn’t really know how to handle music (Ron Splinched, Hermione crying over Ron’s departure etc. are unscored, which totally kills the scenes for me, but maybe the images speak for themselves). There can’t be a reason why Yates decided to strip the music playing when the trio are on their way to Lovegood of all its magic, though. It just sounds terrible now.

The surround sound is glorious in this film. Every channel is used to its full extent. It must be pointed out, however, that the entire movie suffers from extremely dynamic range, which might scare you to death in a cinema and certainly isn’t nice when you’re at home. Some of the great music is also barely audible.

The audio description was good, but Di Langford explains too much: I know Hagrid is a giant, that Pettigrew’s nickname is Wormtail and that a Thestral is a winged horse (and is Voldemort really The Dark Lord?) At other times, she didn’t explain unclear sounds. They also repeatedly muted background dialogue during the narration, which I didn’t really like.

War Of The Worlds

Name: War Of The Worlds
Year: 2005
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 116
Description: Ray Ferrier is a divorced dockworker and less-than-perfect father. When his ex-wife and her new husband drop off his teenage son Robbie and young daughter Rachel for a rare weekend visit, a strange and powerful lightning storm suddenly touches down. What follows is the extraordinary battle for the future of humankind through the eyes of one American family fighting to survive it in this contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells’ seminal classic sci-fi thriller.
Stars: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama

Okay-ish, but I had expected it to be much better. The only character I liked in this film was the woman trying to take Rachel with her. Don’t know who I dislike more, Rachel or the boy.

The score was mostly appropriate and I especially loved the ethereal choir when that woman wanted to protect Rachel. The finale is totally misscored, though, unless a family reunion needs to be a gloomy affair.