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A Christmas Carol November 26, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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I wonder if Charles Dickens’ beloved classic was really suited for a 3-D motion capture adaptation. Except the promising first few minutes, most of what comes after turns out be a rather bland and soul-less rendering of Dickens’ tale.

In recent times, Robert Zemeckis seems to have lost his touch even though we can overlook The Polar Express and Beowulf purely for their technological innovation of a new form of storytelling. Sadly, A Christmal Carol is a pretty late arrival to even get away with the “technology” excuse. Ebenezer Scrooge’s original tale was both bleak and touching (still one of the very few stories I really loved as a kid) and where the film falters mostly is in the latter aspect. Jim Carrey does his best in multiple roles and that’s definitely among the very few things which make this movie watchable.

You might want to watch this if this is your first IMAX-3D flick – or better still wait till December 18th to catch the real biggie.

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State Of Play May 1, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Based on a six-part British television miniseries, this is a complex tale of corporate and political conspiracy. Set in Washington D.C., State of Play tells the story of a journalist, Cal McAffrey, investigating the death of a woman working for a Congressman, Stephen Collins, who also happens to be his friend and roommate from college. While it is made to seem like an accident at first, he and his associate, Della Frye, soon discover that it is a murder and that powerful people are involved. Now, he must uncover the story to save his friend and get over his guilt.

This film seems to be based on some really solid material. The screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan (who wrote The Kingdom), Tony Gilroy (the writer-director of Michael Clayton, Duplicity) and Billy Ray (who co-wrote and directed Breach) is quite an asset. Though it is presented quite competently as a thriller, there is quite an interesting drama bustling underneath that layer. The film hints at some complex relationships without really delving into them. Sad, because they seemed quite potent. The journalistic setting of the film, quite reminiscent of films like All The President’s Men, is what allows it to be a thriller and it certainly makes the film all the more effective. For this part, director Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) sets the stage from the very first scene for an engaging thriller and doesn’t let go till the end.

The film has a cast of brilliant actors. Apart from topliners Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, the film also features the likes of Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn and Jason Bateman. With such a cast, this is a film that was difficult to really avoid. Crowe gets a meaty part and he sinks his teeth into it (and he is a better match for the part than Brad Pitt). Affleck is impressive too. McAdams has a really lovable persona and I’d love to see more of her in roles like these but Robin Wright Penn (soon to be seen without the Penn) is the one that springs a surprise in a role that has limited screen time. Mirren is always a pleasure to watch and she gets a little bit of scope to do her thing unlike, say, a National Treasure: Book of Secrets. I was also quite happy to see Bateman in a role that, for once, doesn’t seem to be an extension of his part in Arrested Development.

This is one of the more watchable thrillers in recent months, Watch it for the actors. Watch it if you enjoy thrillers. Watch it if you like tales of political intrigue.

Beowulf December 14, 2007

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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IMAX 3D comes to the rescue of Robert Zemeckis again. Last time it was “The Polar Express”, which was yet again a bad “Santa Claus + Christmas Spirit” movie. This time with Beowulf the technology improves by leaps and bounds the the content still sucks; simply going by the plot this is the perfect example of a bad B-Monster movie.

Demon Mother’s (Angelina Jolie) purpose in life is to seduce and sleep with every Danish king who would impregnate her with a demon and trouble arises when the grown up demon son causes havoc in the kingdom. The current king (Anthony Hopkins) faced with the monster Grendel summons for the legendary warrior Beowulf (Ray Winstone) who successfully slays Grendel but as everyone else falls into the trap of Demon Mother. Years later, Beowulf’s demon son (a fire spitting dragon) has come back to trouble the kingdom and Beowulf has to confront his “paap ki aulad”.

This film more than anything else serves as a treatise on how to incorporate strategic nudity into one. You get to see Anthony Hopkins drop his robe, the extended fight scene where a naked Beowulf fights Grendal, or Angelina Jolie emerging out of a pool covered with an opaque liquid which mostly drips away but dutifully sticks at the right places.

The 3D work is stunning and in the first few sequences it really hooked me but thanks to the boring plot, you take it for granted and despite some magnificient sequences it didn’t awe me too much. I was seriously waiting for the film to end. Also, the motion capture technology works quite well and even though everyone knows it is an animated movie you end up believing that they are real actors – but not to worry….as John Malkovich and Robin Wright Penn keep appearing on screen periodically on screen and one look at them reminds you that this indeed is an animated movie.

Beowulf is the only mainstream movie to have best exploited the IMAX 3D format (and that experience itself is worth a watch) but if you don’t have access to one….safely skip this one for good.