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Terminator Salvation May 30, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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The wait has been long but the payoff isn’t exactly what I hoped for.

Unlike the previous films where John Connor is being chased by robots, this time he is doing the chasing. His mission is to save Kyle Reese (his would be or had been dad) while also trying to destroy Skynet. Somewhere in all this, a new character called Marcus Wright also plays an important role.

Despite all the similarities in structure (almost felt like a remake of its predecessor) and flaws, I still enjoyed Terminator 3 because it still played like a Terminator film. The tension, the excitement, characters that you wanted to care for and a little bit of humor – the elements were all there.

But Terminator Salvation is a different film (written by T3 scribes John Brancato and Michael Ferris). It moves away from the formula and tries to tell a different story, though the goal is to still save a human being from the machines. While the tale is fine, the film does not engage us on an emotional level. You don’t really feel connected to the characters or root for them. You sit there and wait to figure out what its all about and thats it.

The visual effects are quite remarkable and that is the real USP of this film but the action, though exciting, isn’t comparable to previous films because you don’t really care much for the protagonists and therefore, there is no real tension.

Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) is fine but doesn’t impress. Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) is the only actor in the film who seems human enough to relate to (as is the little girl). Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club) and Bryce Dallace Howard (The Village) are wasted. Sam Worthington gets the biggest and most interesting part in the film.

Director McG (Charlie’s Angels) succeeds in creating some great visuals but this film lacks soul. If you love the series for the action and visual effects, you might like this a bit. But if you were expecting more from this one, you will be disappointed.

WALL·E June 28, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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A small minority of films manage to put a smile on my face from beginning to end. When I say smile, it isn’t due to the funny events on screen but due to the sheer joy that I experience from everything put out on the screen. This is one such film.

Richly detailed and exceedingly inventive, Pixar delivers another gem (I’d say it belongs in Pixar’s top 3 and that is saying a lot, considering the studio’s lossless streak). It is these two qualities that set this film apart from the numerous animated films looking to make the audience laugh and generate quick bucks (chubby talking animals with questionable ass-kicking abilities anyone?).

WALL·E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is a trash compacting robot that is stuck on a wasteland called Earth (in the future, of course). There seems to be no life on the planet anymore but he is still going about his job along with his faithful friend, a cockroach. EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) is dropped off on the planet one day and his existence is mundane no more. WALL·E longs for company and he succeeds in befriending her (now why did we presume that EVE is a she?). He also wishes to hold EVE’s hand (that’s what happens when a robot gets to watch the same romantic musical everyday). However, an unexpected gesture triggers an event that will change WALL·E’s life. Why did EVE come to Earth? What happens to WALL·E? Will he unite with EVE? What is in store for Earth?

During the initial parts of the film, the post-apocalyptic premise, the protagonist with a single companion and the limited dialogue reminded me of last year’s I Am Legend. But this film is such a contrasting experience.

The animation is just brilliant here. Writer-Director Andrew Stanton (who directed Finding Nemo and wrote multiple Pixar films in the past) and his team do a terrific job in creating a superb amalgamation of form and content. You can see the thought and effort put into every scene (instead of doing something on the lines of “let’s bump his head against the wall and bring on the laughs”). Whether it is the look of the film, the design of the robots (EVE seems like something that Apple might make), the attempts to convey their emotions, the imagination of the future or the understanding of a lonely mind longing for company, the creators do a splendid job with every aspect.

A gentleman in the audience told me that the film was “juvenile yet genius”. An animated film with robots in love can seem just as stupid as a film about a rat who becomes a chef but the premise or plot do not constitute a film. There is so much more to a film and this is where the genius comes in and overpowers the juvenile. Before anyone starts worrying, let me say that the chick flick aspects of this film may be loved by one particular demographic but it puts a smile on the faces of the others too.

Stanton creates a lovable character in WALL·E. A character that you can take home with you instead of a “funny” one that you laugh at and forget. Creating characters that the audience can connect with has been a strong aspect in Pixar’s films (and is generally not as strong in a majority of the others in the genre). It is a wonder here that the audience is able to connect with a robot that has limited capability for expression and almost none for speech (and yet you can’t forget him saying EVE-a, sounds that were apparently created by sound designer Ben Burtt). The lack of dialogue for a large part of the film provides a considerable challenge in terms of appealing to everyone in the target audience. However, when the filmmakers intend to make good films and are allowed to focus on creative aspects instead of the economical viability, such decisions aren’t hard to make. And the result is definitely worthy of the effort.

This animated film caters more to adults than children, who may miss out on some of the detail and could get bogged down by the lack of dialogue for extended periods and limited slapstick. Nevertheless, this is highly recommended for everyone.

The customary animated short preceding this film is called Presto. Presto is a magician’s rabbit who troubles his master in the middle of an act as the guy forgets to feed him his carrot. Don’t be late or you’ll miss it.