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Wanted October 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Wanted might not have turned out that huge a huge blockbuster as it seemed poised to be prior to its release – the most probable reasons being that – for our “intelligent” audiences that Salman isn’t the right “Khan” and the production house “BSK” doesn’t exactly rhyme with a certain “YRF”. Never mind because Salman Khan is back and how!

Given the long tally of flops credited to his account – most being inconsequential cameos, the biggest attraction of Wanted is that Salman is really in there all over the place. Wanted is a pretty faithful remake of Pokiri in terms of the plot but it really feels more like some South Indian superstar’s over-the-top masala flick. And that works here quite well because we don’t get to see such stuff nowadays – more likely because there aren’t too many stars around to pull off such a thing; which posits the obvious question to Salman – Why haven’t you done something like this until now? Apart from its leading man, Wanted has almost nothing to offer but then who cares. On the whole, Wanted will obviously draw unfavorable comparisons to Pokiri but Prabhu Dheva’s intentions are pretty clear from scene one – which is unabashed superstar worship.

Salman Khan is definitely having a ball – be it fighting, dancing or romancing. Needless to say I cannot think of any other actor who could manage all this with such elan. Ayesha Takia even in such an insubstantial role is very impressive and her chemistry with Salman is crackling. Prakash Raj actually gets quite a meaty part when compared with the original and he’s a lot of fun. Mahesh Manjrekar is also very effective. Salman Khan seems ready to break into a dance at any moment but barring a couple, Sajid-Wajid’s tracks lack the required steam. The solid action sequences (Vijayan) are definitely the best part of this enterprise.

If you are a fan of Salman, then Wanted is the movie you’ve been waiting for; but if aren’t one then do remember you were warned!

Terminator Salvation May 30, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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The wait has been long but the payoff isn’t exactly what I hoped for.

Unlike the previous films where John Connor is being chased by robots, this time he is doing the chasing. His mission is to save Kyle Reese (his would be or had been dad) while also trying to destroy Skynet. Somewhere in all this, a new character called Marcus Wright also plays an important role.

Despite all the similarities in structure (almost felt like a remake of its predecessor) and flaws, I still enjoyed Terminator 3 because it still played like a Terminator film. The tension, the excitement, characters that you wanted to care for and a little bit of humor – the elements were all there.

But Terminator Salvation is a different film (written by T3 scribes John Brancato and Michael Ferris). It moves away from the formula and tries to tell a different story, though the goal is to still save a human being from the machines. While the tale is fine, the film does not engage us on an emotional level. You don’t really feel connected to the characters or root for them. You sit there and wait to figure out what its all about and thats it.

The visual effects are quite remarkable and that is the real USP of this film but the action, though exciting, isn’t comparable to previous films because you don’t really care much for the protagonists and therefore, there is no real tension.

Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) is fine but doesn’t impress. Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) is the only actor in the film who seems human enough to relate to (as is the little girl). Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club) and Bryce Dallace Howard (The Village) are wasted. Sam Worthington gets the biggest and most interesting part in the film.

Director McG (Charlie’s Angels) succeeds in creating some great visuals but this film lacks soul. If you love the series for the action and visual effects, you might like this a bit. But if you were expecting more from this one, you will be disappointed.

Star Trek May 14, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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While the Wolverine failed to start the summer with a bang, Star Trek makes up for it with its heady mix of action, humor, drama and space mumbo jumbo in what is a thoroughly entertaining reboot/sequel/prequel/requel (you will know what I mean when you see the film).

Now, I am no Trekkie. I have seen a few episodes of the television show when I was younger and found it to be campy fun but I don’t recall much. So, my evaluation of this film is practically comparison free.

What I loved about this film is the way director J J Abrams (M:i:III, Lost) and his writing team (Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who have also written Abrams’ M:i:III, Michael Bay’s Transformers and its upcoming sequel) have managed to reboot the series while still connecting it to the previous installments – a novel idea that is possible only for a series like this one (again, you will know what I mean when you see the film).

The effervescent young cast is impressive. Chris Pine (Just My Luck) makes a charming Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto (Heroes) is effective as Spock. Zoe Saldana (who coincidentally played a Trekkie in The Terminal) plays the xenolinguist Uhura and is involved in a suprising romantic angle.  Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) provides some humorous moments as Scotty. Also featured are Eric Bana (Munich, Hulk) as the evil Captain Nero, John Cho (Harold of the Harold and Kumar movies) as Sulu, Anton Yelchin as Chekov and Karl Urban as Bones. If you’ve been following the buzz, you would also know that the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy, is also part of the film.

There is a lot of action in this film and all of it is very well done. The visual effects are first rate. There are some complaints from the fans about the production design of this film but I did not find it to be particularly inadequate.

If you are scientifically inclined, be warned that the science in this film will not “compute”. Despite the risk of finding some of the material silly, this is an entertainer that you wouldn’t want to avoid unless you are allergic to space adventures. And no, you don’t require any prior knowledge of the series to enjoy this (although a little bit of info can improve the experience).

Kick May 13, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Not quite sure if many folks are being too generous to this film or quite likely my tolerance levels have hit rock bottom. Well, I absolutely hated this film but more importantly I dread hearing that word “Kick” which seemed more painful to me than being at the receiving end of a real one.

Ravi Teja plays a character whose every action (and I mean every single action) in life is solely determined by whether he “gets a kick out of doing it”. So that you do not mistake him for just an adventurous person who likes to takes risks, he takes the pains to remind you in every other scene that whatever he did in the previous scene was only because he “got a kick out of doing it”. Technically, that means atleast for half of the film’s runtime Ravi Teja or someone else is constanly telling you this profound truth in our hero’s life lest you forget. The humor and action constantly compete with each other to disappoint you the most – the former wins for most part until the latter delivers a final blow towards the climax where a seemingly impossible heist is pulled off casually just to remind you that bad action sequences aren’t going away from Tollywood anytime soon.

Ravi Teja, Ileana and director Surender Reddy may have finally have a hit (going by the intial reviews and collections). BTW, this film also marks the Telugu film debut of Shaam who is just about the only likeable thing in this movie. Though I didn’t feel too upbeat about last week’s Veedokkade; in hindsight that seems like a masterpiece now, so rather check that one out if you want to see a flick in a similar genre.

Veedokkade (Ayan) May 4, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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I had seen the promos of the Tamil version during its release a couple of months back and I wasn’t impressed at all – especially with Surya S/o Krishnan still fresh in my mind. However the release of the Telugu version had me excited quite a bit given the glowing reviews and box office success which “Ayan” garnered.

Veedokkade turned out be a mixed bag but still making me wonder why the original ended up being such a huge hit. I found this one to be a better and well-packaged version of the beaten-to-death Telugu action film but apart from that there wasn’t anything to look out for. Director K.V Anand tries to fill in a bit of everything for everyone the result being a product which cannot completely satisfy anyone. Among the everythings the one being talked about most is the action – the much touted “Yamakasi” sequence is the highpoint of the enterprise. Actually, I didn’t know what it was before so for those of you who are wondering about what it might be – well it is the technical name for those awesome foot chase sequences you have seen in the last Bourne and Bond flicks. In this film too it has been wonderfully done and part of the reason I did not like this movie a lot was the result of heightened expectations at the end of this scene.

The most boring parts are the romance (on the brighter side, great to see Tamannaah return to normalcy after Ananda Thandavam) and the surprisingly insipid music by Harris Jayaraj. The background score was quite good nevertheless. This is Surya’s film all the way – from pirating DVDs to smuggling Blood Diamonds, from foot chases in Africa to car chases in Malaysia he seems be having a blast. Prabhu is also impressive in a meaty supporting role. The cinematography is also worthy of mention – especially in the foreign locales.

Veedokkade could have been a smart action flick had K.V Anand concentrated all his energies on the main plot – excising out some of the unnecessary parts would also have achieved that effect to an extent. It still is a pretty good watch provided you do not have lofty expectations.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine May 2, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Wolverine was one of the most interesting characters in the X-Men (movie) universe, apart from Magneto. So, the poor early reviews didn’t dampen my spirit and I marched on to the theater to watch a prequel that is looking to relaunch this series in a different direction.

From the very first scene onwards, this film didn’t feel like an X-Men movie. I hoped that it is only due to the nature and setting of the introduction but I was wrong. So, if you are planning to watch this film, dismiss all expectations about watching another X-Men movie because this one feels very different.

An acclaimed director he may be but Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Rendition) is no Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2: X-Men United) and I don’t think he is an appropriate choice to helm an X-Men movie. Now, the film does have some great locations and a few nicely executed action sequences but it doesn’t work as a whole. Singer did some really cool things with the depiction of the mutants but Hood does nothing of that sort, save for the action.

Hugh Jackman, who really sold us on the Wolverine character in the earlier films, isn’t as impressive here. But I don’t blame him. There isn’t the scope to do that. He isn’t the Wolverine that we’ve come to love. He is just an angry young mutant and that’s about it. Considering that he is a producer as well, maybe he does deserve some of the blame. Liev Schreiber, who gets a considerable amount of screen time, is amply hateworthy as Sabretooth. I liked what I saw of Ryan Reynolds at the beginning of his film but his role is quite limited.

The basic storyline isn’t bad but the screenplay by David Benioff (The Kite Runner) and Skip Woods (Swordfish) doesn’t manage to flesh it out convincingly and the film ends up in no man’s land.  The best part of the film is the manner in which they manage to connect Wolverine’s origin story with the original X-Men series.

Another gripe I have with the film is the use of Deadpool. My interest perked up when I heard about the character and what he could do. It is hard to create great supervillains but with all the powers that Deadpool had, I was hoping for more and was terribly disappointed in the end. Deadpool enters the film really late and goes away quite quickly (and very easily for an indestructible mutant).

While the film isn’t exactly a disaster, it certainly is a disappointment. If you are a huge fan of the series, you will probably watch this anyway. If you’ve seen the other X-Men films and are still mystified about Wolverine’s origin, you should watch this for answers. If your interest in X-Men is only marginal, you can safely skip this one.