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Wanted July 3, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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6 comments

What a rush!

Sexy. Supercool. Awesome. Funtastic. These may be apt one-word descriptions for this film.

Pointless. Also another apt description.

Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch) delivers an extremely stylish, visually inventive action thriller. Wanted is the tale of a nobody who finds out that he is the son of a dreaded assassin. He is recruited by the Fraternity, a secret organization of assassins founded a thousand years ago, to kill a rogue assassin who murdered his father. After gruelling training sessions, he is finally ready for the job. But is he really ready? What surprises await him (and us)? Can he complete the job?

Frankly, I knew I was going to love this film after the first chase sequence. And if anyone is not having fun by that point, chances are that they will not enjoy this film.

This film is full of sensational (not to mention impossible) action sequences that have been composed brilliantly and executed even more skillfully. The action choreographer, the visual effects team and the director deserve all the praise they can get. Bekmambetov’s ingenuity is visible throughout the film and this film could have been a big dud without him.

James McAvoy (Atonement, The Chronicles of Narnia) hardly struck me as an action hero but he delivers. He makes a smooth transition from an accountant to an assassin, making both of them believable. Angelina Jolie makes this film even more sexier than it already is and it is always wonderful to watch Morgan Freeman.

The film isn’t for everyone though. Remember, it is based on a graphic novel series (written by Mark Millar with art by J. G. Jones) and there can be a lot of things that could be considered silly (if bending bullets seems preposterous, wait till you hear about the ridiculous Loom of Fate). But this film doesn’t intend to be realistic and Bekmambetov makes sure that you realise the film’s distate for the laws of nature in the first ten minutes.

The film may have scant respect for logic but it does have enough in its plot to keep your mind occupied. It may be incessantly violent but it has been made with great imagination. It may be a wet dream for guys who lust for sexy action films but it is also art. It may not find favor with everyone but it will make money and it will be imitated. It may be construed by some as an inconsequential forget-me-soon summer movie but it is not and it will stay with me for a long time.

Those who want something “sensible” can go elsewhere but those who feel low on adrenaline should definitely watch this.

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Kung Fu Panda June 10, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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2 comments

In the near future, we will be inundated with animated films. You will see funny gangster films. Then there will be comical disaster flicks. After that it will be the turn of hilarious scary movies followed by sidesplitting torture porn. And the characters in all these films will obviously be talking animals.

Right now, it is the turn of the animated kung fu comedy. The animals are totally unnecessary except, of course, that they are needed to bring in the target audience and they certainly will.

The setting is new for animated films but the premise is very old. Po (the Panda) doesn’t want to join the family noodle-making business. Instead he dreams of becoming a kung fu master. Due to a surprising turn of events, Po is selected as the dragon warrior who will be “the one” to thwart the greatest threat to their town. Obviously he isn’t “fit” enough for the job and has no clue what he is doing. But as you can guess, he will get the job done in the end.

Despite the mostly positive reviews by critics, I didn’t warm to the film immediately. It felt like more of the same. Nothing novel or funny enough to get me hooked. But as the film progressed it did get better (particularly, after the Panda’s training session began) and it finally ended up entertaining me just enough to keep me from swearing off animated films for a while. I might have actually enjoyed a live action version of this film more (it is easier for a real human to put a smile on my face).

The best part of the film is the action. A few superbly choreographed and brilliantly animated action sequences provide the primary reason to watch this film. It isn’t easy for action to make the right impact in an animated film but the the technical team gets it right in this one and their work is praiseworthy. A major strength of many animated films, the voice cast in this film also is terrific. The best work is for the primary characters voiced by Jack Black (Po), Dustin Hoffman (Mater Shifu) and Ian McShane (Tai Lung). The others in the cast like Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan and Seth Rogen don’t get enough scope to impress.

If you’ve got kids, you are probably going to have to watch this film anyway and the kids will love it. If you are one of those who hasn’t yet had enough of the talking animal movies, you should love this one too. For those who might look for entertainment with more adult appeal, this film doesn’t have too much.