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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.

Videsh (Heaven on Earth) March 30, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Punjabi, Reviews.
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The theme of domestic violence isn’t new (and isn’t too exciting either) but with someone like Deepa Mehta at the helm of things one surely does expect something interesting. Watching Deepa’s film turned out to be nowhere close to a “Heaven on Earth” experience for me. It was quite a frustrating film which at times seemed intriguing but never really got me involved.

The source material for this is a play by Girish Karnad called Naagmandala – from which you can infer has got to do something with a “Naag”. It is only towards the latter part of the film that you actually grab the significance of Preity’s monologues about some incomprehensible tale about “Sheshnaag”. Till that point it turns out to be most uninteresting and irritating part of the film. Coming back to the main proceedings I couldn’t really quite understand the cause of the treatment meted out to Chand (Preity Zinta) by her husband Rocky (Vansh Bharadwaj) and mother-in-law (Balinder Johal). Sometimes the reason seems to be plain anger vented out due to their financial condition; at times it is also suggested that Rocky himself is a victim of his seemingly overprotective mother and whatever he does to Chand could be a possible reaction to his own condition. Chand’s sister-in-law also speaks to her in a tone as if she knows the reason for everything happening in that house but never bothers to let it out.

Generally films pose questions without providing an answer but Videsh expects the viewer to come up with the questions as well. The only thing I liked is the way the film is shot. It is set in Canada but all you see is from the point of view of the protagonist i.e her house and her workplace which actually looks quite scary. But I could never really understand the significance of the black and white footage used randomly – initially it seemed like it referred to a relatively happy moment in Chand’s life but that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

Preity Zinta is too good and I must say she was the only reason I could sit through this. Until recently, I’ve never thought her to be a great performer but her last few films have proved otherwise. Vansh Bharadwaj is also excellent. You have to be extremely generous to the film to end up liking it. I tried hard but I couldn’t. Watch it if you have to only for Preity. I still am surprised that Deepa Mehta made such a contrived film like this.