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Blue October 19, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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250 feet deep lies the secret of Blue….100 minutes is what it takes to convince Sanjay Dutt to lead a quest to find that…18 minutes is what it takes for you to realize why Sanju Baba was being so difficult.

In the film, whenever anyone mentions the buried treasure in Sanju’s presence he automatically has these series of flashes about a wrecked ship and skeletons. Writer-Director Anthony D’Souza assumes that those flashes are enough to keep one awake and curious for most of the movie’s duration. Needless to say, the action sequences as well as the underwater stuff for all their finesse are extremely unexciting.

Even if you excuse the lame script, there is something fundamentally wrong here – it’s not just the buried treasure which is underwater….the overall energy levels of everyone and everything in the movie also seem buried 250 feet in the deep. You instantly know this because 1) Zayed Khan and Katrina Kaif actually outshine everyone else in a multistarrer film 2) Lara Dutta in a bikini has just about the same sex appeal as an overweight Sanjay Dutt in a diving suit. (To add to Sanju’s woes he is made to fight on land wearing that thing). 3) You pray that Akshay Kumar actually switches back to doing one of his monotonous comedy films.

After last year’s Love Story 2050, comes another film where you have to observe a two minute silence in solidarity with the technical crew. A.R Rahman’s compositions are somehow salvaged mostly because the most energetic ones appear during the opening title sequence and the end credits. The buried treasure was unlucky enough to be found by the team of Blue – you could escape the same fate if you haven’t ventured out to watch this one.

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Ghajini January 4, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Nobody needs a review to decide whether to watch the biggest blockbuster of the year or not. But for those who haven’t yet seen this yet, it would do good to set your expectations right especially you have seen the original. If you haven’t seen the original then still please don’t go in expecting in some masterpiece like what it is made out to be.

Ghajini is more like a Bollywood viewer’s initiation into the world of South Indian action cinema. Thanks to the hype around this flick, everyone by now should atleast be aware of the plot – an anterograde amnesiac on a revenge mission – to be precise. Right from the title sequence, Ghajini for most part is a faithful scene-to-scene, dialogue-to-dialogue reproduction of the original. In fact for the portions not featuring Aamir Khan and Jiah Khan, they could actually have reused footage from the Tamil version and still no one would have noticed. What seemed to have worked well especially here are the action sequences. One section of the audience (presumably the exclusive Bollywood viewers) kept getting visibly excited whenever Aamir screams ala Sunny Deol and bashes up multiple guys at once. Those who didn’t seem too excited (including me) were (probably) thinking – ok…now we have to start getting used to this in Hindi too!!!

Aamir Khan – playing an action hero after a long time is great as long as he is bashing up people. When compared to Surya, he goes over the top sometimes – especially when he screams in anger. Surya was a lot more consistent in maintaining that bewildered and confused look throughout. But I couldn’t come to grips with loverboy Aamir (especially in comparison with Surya). Maybe he’s too old for this now and most importantly his styling for this part is hard to digest. He is supposed to be the CEO of a huge firm and he is dressed like a cross between a waiter, a bouncer and a bodyguard. It looks all the more ridiculous in those scenes when he is surrounded by his assistants all dressed in dapper suits. Asin again successfully reprises the part which really made her career down south. It’s one of those extremely crowd pleasing roles which still hold appeal on repeat viewing. Jiah Khan and Pradeep Rawat are alright.

In what is probably his most prolific year, A.R Rahman comes up with another successful score – though this would be of lesser significance when you compare it with his other soundtracks earlier in the year. Not sure if he actually did the background score because during the climactic sequences the theme which you get to hear sounds very familiar. The picturization of the songs is excellent nevertheless. There was also this huge thing about Aamir Khan rewriting the climax of the original for this one. If you go in expecting some drastic change/twist you’ll be sorely disappointed. It’s just been simplified to do away with the villain playing a dual role here.

Honestly, I was bored for most part as there is absolutely nothing in it to hold the interest of those who have the Telugu/Tamil version still fresh in their minds. For first timers planning to watch this, Aamir Khan playing the tough-as-nails 8-pack action hero should be good enough reason not to miss it.

Quantum of Solace November 10, 2008

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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The final frame of Casino Royale hinted that Bond would return to his more traditional ways after a much welcome “reboot”. I was a bit apprehensive about that happening for I never was a fan of James Bond….my kind of agent is more of a Bourne or Hunt. Quantum of Solace has Bond turn starker and darker and that’s reason number one why it appealed to me instantly. But the same reason seems to have further alienated old time fans who despite being forced to acknowledge the awesomeness of Daniel Craig have nevertheless expressed their displeasure towards this flick.

QOS is (almost) a sequel to Casino Royale for Bond is still unable to get over the betrayal and subsequent death of Vesper (Eva Green). His current mission is to nab Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) – who heads a big business called Greene Planet and is part of a shady organization named Quantum – currently involved in staging a military coup in Bolivia with the objective of taking over the country’s natural resources. Since everything to do with Vesper was linked to this organization, Bond’s motivations are different than what his boss M (Judi Dench) wants them to be. There is also Camille (Olga Kurylenko) who has her own axe to grind with the leader of the coup.

In the midst of all this Bond gets to do practically every kind of action sequence you’d expect to find in a film (and not to forget – he ain’t taking any prisoners). There are car chases, bike chases, boat chases, plane chases, foot chases and some cool hand-to-hand combat thrown in. The building-to-building foot chase was the pick of the lot – it seems to have been inspired a bit from The Bourne Ultimatum. But here the shaky camera moves took away some of the zing. I had a tough time trying to figure out what was happening during the action scenes. Still, it won’t make you fail to notice the brilliant and elaborate stunt work (a majority of them CGI free). There isn’t much happening plot-wise so it is mostly the action which drives this one.

Marc Forster – who has handled diverse genres before tries his hand at his first full-fledged all out actioner. Though as a sequel it isn’t as engaging compared to its predecessor, this one’s still a treat for action junkies. The climax action piece and the title sequence are the only things which I found below my expectations. Daniel Craig floored everyone with his previous outing as Bond and here he takes the character to a new level. Just go and watch him set the screen on fire. Olga Kurylenko is quite good too but the same can’t be said about the other lady (Gemma Aterton). Mathieu Amalric’s plays the typical French villain you might have seen umpteen times.

The franchise seems to be poised really well at this juncture leaving everyone speculating in which direction it’ll be headed next. But as long as I get to see Craig as Bond (and maybe Paul Haggis writing it) it doesn’t really matter.

Vantage Point March 31, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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8 Strangers
8 Viewpoints
1 Big Unconvincing Gimmick

The American President is at an anti-terror summit. What better place for terrorists to strike? So they do. Now the filmmakers want to tell us who did it and why but they are quite bored with a straight narrative. So they decide to show the events unfolding through the eyes of 8 different people.

There are some eminently watchable players in Dennis Quaid (In Good Company, The Day After Tomorrow, Traffic), Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Sigourney Weaver (The Village, Ghost Busters) and William Hurt (Syriana, A History of Violence). The excellent cast, apart from the promotions, were instrumental in making this film a box office success even if these actors didn’t need to do much more than sleepwalk through this and take their large paychecks to the bank when they woke up.

The main drawback of this film is its narrative. The implausibility is a given, so I won’t dwell on that. The story is taken forward with each retelling and it is fine but at the end of it all, one question remains. Was there a need for these (far too many but thankfully less than eight) replays? Does each viewpoint really provide something novel? The answer is a resounding NO. You could easily recut the film and make it complete without losing much (it would be a tad shorter too).

The Rashomon style retelling will always be interesting; no matter how many times it is reused. But it isn’t used the right way here (meaning it had no real purpose). If you were to take out that gimmick from this film, it is your average action thriller. The good thing is that they do manage to put this together well enough. Director Pete Travis makes sure that the action is slick (the chase scene towards the end is noteworthy). Barry Levy’s first screenplay does have some reasonably interesting parts like the viewpoint of the television crew. But then there are also some laughable or uninteresting, unnecessary twists and the assassination is made to seem far too easy at an event attended by the who’s who of the World’s premiers. Remote-controlled? Come on!

If you are expecting nothing more than a slick action thriller that helps you pass time, this might not disappoint. Expect anything more and it certainly will.