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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).

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Southland Tales October 22, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Bizzare? Ludicrous? Atrocious? Insane?

I don’t know what sort of adjectives might adequately describe this film. At the very least, it was a very strange and confusing film. But that is a humongous understatement. I’d really want to call it an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions and it should easily fit into a list of the worst movie experiences of my life.

Since I can’t be sure that I even understood the film, there is no point in trying to describe the plot. It starts off looking like someone’s imagination of a distressing future. At one point I felt like the film was trying to be a statement on the current state of the world but maybe not. This long (145 minutes) film has far too many eccentric characters and undecipherable subplots. At the end, I had only questions and no answers. Is this film about terrorism? Is it about mad scientists? Or is it about the time-space continuum/4th dimension or whatever?

There is a scene in the film where an amnesiac Boxer Santaros describes the plot of the screenplay he has written along with his porn star girlfriend. You are almost certain that it is meant to be funny but it isn’t and it actually ends up being the plot of the film that you are watching and it isn’t funny anymore.

Like the aforementioned situation, there are some scenes in this film where you think that the makers are attempting to make you laugh. But you aren’t really sure if that is their intent or even that the scene in question is funny. So, you sit still and wait for a confirmation that never comes.

The most laughable piece of dialogue comes when one character tries explaining what is happening or might happen and talks about the “entire 4th dimension collapsing on itself”. I was laughing all right but I was really feeling bad for myself at the same time.

Enough about me. I wonder what the actors were directed to do and what was going through their minds. Did they understand the script when they signed the film?

The Rock has a bewildered look for the most part. Maybe his expressions were accurate representations of how he felt while acting in this film. He is better off sticking to his action films or comedies. And Sean William Scott gets to paste the same expression of gravitas through both his roles. Justin Timberlake is pretty much trying to look cool and deliver lines in that manner throughout and I couldn’t really figure out how his character featured into the script. For a film that is as befuddling, it has a sizable amount of narration by Timberlake and it doesn’t clarify anything at all.

I couldn’t find anything even remotely interesting in this film. And that makes me wonder who greenlighted this film. Even more perplexing is the fact that it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

My ire should really be directed at writer-director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) but since I don’t understand his vision, I don’t know what to say really. Southland Tales is a disaster not only due to its incomprehensibility but also due to its numerous subplots, confusing tone, its length, lack of cohesion, and more. I’d really like to forget that I ever saw this film but before I embark on that task, I would love to hear from someone who could explain at least parts of this film to me.