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The Taking of Pelham 123 August 3, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Director Tony Scott’s remake of the 1974 thriller starring Walter Matthau (titled The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) is a stylish update that introduces the film to a new generation but doesn’t do much else. I watched the original a few years ago and like that film, this is a simple thriller that has nothing special. It is fun while it lasts but isn’t something that will stay with you.

An NYC subway train is hijacked by a group of criminals, the head of which calls himself Ryder. He threatens to kill the passengers unless his demands for a ransom are met within the next hour. A subway dispatcher, Walter Garber, finds himself in the middle of the chaos, negotiating with Ryder. He has to use all his skills to keep Ryder from killing the passengers. But how does Ryder plan to get away with the money? Is he really after the ransom or something bigger?

The major difference between the original and this update is that the actors in the original help raise the film to a higher level while the actors in this one do no such thing. John Travolta’s character is in sharp contrast to Robert Shaw’s in the original. He overdoes his part. His mad man act is quite familiar by now and it irritates more than a little. Denzel Washington is a suitable choice and he plays it right but I’d definitely prefer Walter Matthau any day.

Scott (True Romance, Man on Fire, Deja Vu) and writer Brian Helgeland (L. A. Confidential, Mystic River, Man on Fire) have all the ingredients to make a watchable thriller and they do but this one does not distinguish itself from its predecessor much. Scott adds some more action and a laptop with a webcam and internet connectivity to reflect the time but there isn’t much incentive for viewers who have seen the original to drag themselves to watch this.

This isn’t a film that you’d need to run to the theater to watch but it should make for entertaining viewing on a lazy day at home.

P.S. If you don’t mind watching a film from the seventies, the original is a better choice.

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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.

The Heartbreak Kid October 3, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) is forty and never married. When his longtime girlfriend gets married, he is advised by his father (real-life dad, Jerry Stiller) and his best friend Mac (Rob Corddry) to get hitched soon. He comes across the beautiful Lila (Malin Akerman) who is an environmental researcher and decides to marry her despite his doubts. As the honeymoon in Cabo, Eddie realizes that Lila isn’t the one for him. Meanwhile, he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) and falls in love with her but is somehow unable to tell her the truth about his married life, leading to all sorts of confusion. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

The Heartbreak Kid (releasing this weekend) is a remake of sorts of a 1972 film of the same name that had a screenplay written by Neil Simon (that was in turn based on a short story by Bruce Jay Friedman, called A Change of Plan). The original film is said to based on race and has some social relevance but this one doesn’t. The Farrelly Brothers, who directed and co-wrote this with three other writers (Scot Armstrong, Leslie Dixon and Kevin Barnett), change the setting and tone of the film considerably. Neither is the story outstanding nor is the premise exciting but what makes this predictable film worth a watch is the comedy. The setting is used as a framework to incorporate a number of hilarious situations and unanticipated gags to entertain the audience. The Farrelly brothers have been successful with their previous adult comedies and though this isn’t their best work, the raunchy humor does make a mark for the target audience.

The film is helped further by some capable comedic actors. Ben Stiller does a good job as usual and dad Jerry gets in on the action too. Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III) is very likable as the romantic interest while Malin Akerman gets to do some of the more outrageous scenes. Comedian Carlos Mencia plays Uncle Tito in a fun cameo.

This film is not as funny as There’s Something About Mary or as crazy as Me, Myself and Irene. This is actually a simple romantic comedy, a love triangle that is given an R-rated twist, Farrelly brothers’ style. The film has some solid laughs and it makes the cut for me (I didn’t expect much more) but those expecting a non-stop laugh riot with one gag after another or those looking for an intelligent comedy could be somewhat disappointed.