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Greek Gods 101 April 7, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Articles, English, Movies, Reviews.
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It’s just three months into the year and we already have a couple of flicks based on Greek Gods. Are they the new successors to vampires and zombies? The box office performances of both have been encouraging but the films themselves haven’t found much appreciation to establish a genre.

The first one – Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief has (justifiably) been labeled as Harry Potter’s poor cousin. The HP films have set such high standards for fantasy flicks featuring teenagers that it is tough to watch any film in the genre without comparing it to the former. The Lightning Thief is definitely a well made film with the right mix of action, humor and VFX yet not great enough to warrant sequels (they are definitely being planned for sure). I’ve always found the Greek pantheon of deities extremely confusing. But they are a staple part of pop culture – especially in film and literature, so a film like this was to me a perfect initiation into that world.

Watching Clash of the Titans earlier this week, I felt quite at home with the characters but the film itself turned out be a bland CGI extravaganza. Even earlier, the promos didn’t excite me – I was just drawn in due to the hype surrounding it. The local posters were embellished with the funny sounding “From the Hero of Avatar” tag-line which nevertheless seemed to have been successful in drawing huge crowds. I watched the 2-D version but I don’t think I missed much….since the 3D post-conversion process has drawn huge flak from prominent folks recently.

Between the two films, I’d easily pick Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief over Clash of the Titans. In any case, if you’ve seen the trailer of COTT you’ve pretty much seen the entire movie.

Avatar 3D December 19, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Cinema means different things to different people. For some, it is about the story. For some, it is about entertainment. For some, it is about technique. For me, it is about the imagination. It is about the effective translation of a vision. And ultimately, it is about the experience.

As far as imagination and experience goes, Avatar is an unparalleled accomplishment. Writer-Director James Cameron (Titanic, Terminator 2) creates a new world that makes the best use of the new technology that he has helped pioneer over the last decade. Pandora (the alien world created for this film) is a masterpiece that sells 3D like nothing ever has in the past.

After Titanic, Cameron once again takes a story with universal appeal  (not to mention the social relevance) and mounts it on a gigantic scale. Cameron immerses you in this new world and the technology is never really at the forefront (except in the logical part of your brain that might tell you it is make-believe). I didn’t really know how involved I was in the film till Pandora was attacked and the pain felt almost tangible.

With motion capture, it is always hard to assess an actor’s performance but it seems much easier with Avatar. Zoe Saldaña (Star Trek) is only seen in her Na’vi (the inhabitants of Pandora) form and stands out as Neytiri. Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation) plays an able Jake Sully.

It goes without saying that this is an experience that no one should miss. If you are planning to watch this and you are not aware of the technology behind it, my sincere request would be to read a little bit about it to allow yourself to really appreciate a mammoth achievement in filmmaking. And try your best to watch it in IMAX 3D.

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.