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Surrogates October 14, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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The first question which comes to my mind is this – Unless you are completely paralyzed from head to toe or you are trying to save the world from “The Matrix” why would you want to be plugged to a chair for most part of your existence while a made-to-order surrogate robot actually lives out your life in the big bad world.

Apart from experiencing brief nostalgic feelings about “losing touch with one’s humanity” it is suggested (or rather assumed) that having a good looking surrogate is anyone’s natural choice. More laughably the first shot of the film shows a news report mentioning that once “surrogates” have become common the rates of “crime and racism” have fallen by 100% and 99% (who’s that unfortunate 1%?) respectively. The actual news report also should have had one more line “Mortality rate climbs 100% due to lifestyle diseases caused by being stuck to a chair for entire life”.

Also, except for the benefit of not getting physically hurt what is it that stops human controlled surrogates from commiting “crimes and racism” (even to that mysterious 1%). In fact when the “human” Bruce Willis has to step out in the real world (after his surrogate is destroyed), everyone around warns him how dangerous it is for humans to be out in the world of surrogates (maybe these adventure seeking “humans” constitute those 1% ). I don’t think I actually saw a child in the movie except in a photo and a brief glimpse of a pregnant “human” (thankfully no surrogates here).

If you’ve read till here and still want to watch the film then stop right there because I am giving away the ending now. SPOILER ALERT: Bruce Willis saves the world one more time. Humanity is free to get out of their chairs only to be greeted by the creepy sight of an equal number of disconnected surrogates lying on the street – which I presume they’ll have the spend the rest of their lifetimes cleaning up. Thank Bruce for that!!!

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Knowing July 10, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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A time capsule containing illustrations about the future imagined by school children is buried into the ground in 1959 only to be taken out 50 years later. This whole idea is the brainchild of a certain kid called Lucinda (Lara Robinson) who also contributes to the capsule by rambling a continuous series of numbers on a piece of paper until the paper runs out. It doesn’t matter that her paper and pen are taken away for she finds an alternative to complete her series of numbers. Now Lucinda seems to be a pretty disturbed child and the more disturbing thing for the viewer is that she creepily resembles Rose Byrne (who she grows up to be). Until I looked up for the actress’ name who played young Lucinda, I thought it was some kind of a CGI trick.

Coming back to our story, when the time capsule is finally taken out that piece of paper ends up with John’s (Nicholas Cage) son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury). Now John somehow figures out that those numbers are a list of disasters (along with the number of casualties and geographic coordinates of the location) which have occurred in the past 50 years and as well predict some in the future. Meanwhile his son is also having some “Whisper People” as visitors at regular intervals. Who are these “Whisper People”?, What happens when the numbers end?, Why am I even watching this film? – are a few questions which you expect to be answered when the film ends.

The nice thing about “Knowing” is that it doesn’t wait till the end to deliver a crappy twist which is supposed to answer all your questions. In the first half of the movie itself you do get to know in which direction this film is heading. Like in every bad Sci-Fi movie when things tend to become too intriguing and inexplicable – Hollywood writers invariably bring certain entities (you know who) into the picture; “Knowing” isn’t any different and by now you should be able to guess who those “Whisper People” could be.

Even if you had no clue about where the film is going, watching Nicholas Cage in yet another of those “sleepwalk with an earnestly puzzled look” roles gives a hint of what you should expect. Rose Byrne is surprisingly quite irritating. The visual effects – especially the two major “disaster” scenes are quite nicely done. Alex Proyas’ last film “I, Robot” was one of the most interesting Sci-Fi films in recent times – which makes “Knowing” an even bigger disappointment. Like any good or bad film in this genre it is nevertheless interesting to watch though the payoff at the end is a downer.

Star Trek May 14, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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While the Wolverine failed to start the summer with a bang, Star Trek makes up for it with its heady mix of action, humor, drama and space mumbo jumbo in what is a thoroughly entertaining reboot/sequel/prequel/requel (you will know what I mean when you see the film).

Now, I am no Trekkie. I have seen a few episodes of the television show when I was younger and found it to be campy fun but I don’t recall much. So, my evaluation of this film is practically comparison free.

What I loved about this film is the way director J J Abrams (M:i:III, Lost) and his writing team (Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who have also written Abrams’ M:i:III, Michael Bay’s Transformers and its upcoming sequel) have managed to reboot the series while still connecting it to the previous installments – a novel idea that is possible only for a series like this one (again, you will know what I mean when you see the film).

The effervescent young cast is impressive. Chris Pine (Just My Luck) makes a charming Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto (Heroes) is effective as Spock. Zoe Saldana (who coincidentally played a Trekkie in The Terminal) plays the xenolinguist Uhura and is involved in a suprising romantic angle.  Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) provides some humorous moments as Scotty. Also featured are Eric Bana (Munich, Hulk) as the evil Captain Nero, John Cho (Harold of the Harold and Kumar movies) as Sulu, Anton Yelchin as Chekov and Karl Urban as Bones. If you’ve been following the buzz, you would also know that the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy, is also part of the film.

There is a lot of action in this film and all of it is very well done. The visual effects are first rate. There are some complaints from the fans about the production design of this film but I did not find it to be particularly inadequate.

If you are scientifically inclined, be warned that the science in this film will not “compute”. Despite the risk of finding some of the material silly, this is an entertainer that you wouldn’t want to avoid unless you are allergic to space adventures. And no, you don’t require any prior knowledge of the series to enjoy this (although a little bit of info can improve the experience).

Love Story 2050 July 7, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Ladies and Gentlemen…..take note – Harry Baweja has set a new benchmark for cinematic realism. Just a couple of instances if you find it hard to believe me. There’s a scene where the time machine takes off for the year 2050. But it’s not just Harman and gang which takes off….you yourself feel that you’ve lived through 42 years on your seat until that scene finally comes. Also, towards the end our hero is supposed to come back to the time machine before a certain deadline so that he’s safely returned to the present otherwise he’s supposed to actually grow 42 years older. A significant proportion of the audience seem to have felt the same would happen to them also and not convinced that Harman would make it in time, they started to leave the auditorium hurriedly.

In between those two events unfortunately you get to see what is undoubtedly most flawless VFX work ever accomplished in Indian Cinema. I said unfortunately only because I feel sorry for those guys at Prime Focus and Weta Digital whose effort in all probability will remain unseeen by those it was intended for. They can thank Harry Baweja for this. It really takes lot of imagination to make such an uneventful and boring film when the theme you are dealing with it time travel and reincarnation. In fact this film is so boring that you won’t even know it is about time travel and reincarnation unless you knew beforehand.

Here is Love Story 2050 compressed for you so you can avoid a trip to the theatre. Guy love girl…girl love guy (repeat cycle till 5 minutes before interval). Then girl die…guy remember girl say she want to travel to “Mumbai 2050”. Guy get brilliant idea that girl will reborn in “Mumbai 2050” and he start time travel to “Mumbai 2050” (Simultaneous, Harry Baweja start throwing 60 crore in drain). “Mumbai 2050” largely consist firangs and rule by gay fashion designers and their creation. Guy find red hair girl who look exactly like her 2008 girl. Finally, red hair girl remember 2008 duet (really nice tune by Anu Malik) and 2008 personal diary and decide to come back 2008. Story End (Simultaneous, Harry Baweja also stop throwing money in drain).

Harman Baweja has to live with being called a Hrithik clone for a while. He does show promise and it is unfair to judge him based on this film….but check out his “Milo na Milo” moves. Priyanka is borderline irritating (more to do with her 2050 costumes). The only time when you actually smile during the movie is when Harman says “I don’t need luck, I have love”. It’s funny because when Daddy Baweja might have thought of that line, he never would have guessed how wrong it would prove for him. Watch this one only if you want to show some solidarity with the VFX team.