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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen June 29, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Guys….what’s with all the Bay-bashing!!! I seriously fail to understand why Michael Bay is assumed to be the edifice on which American Cinema stands. Poor guy just makes his own brand of porn which not surprisingly has a large number of takers – what’s the big deal!

Coming to the movie itself, I must admit I didn’t really enjoy the previous installment as much I as might I have wanted to – the main reason (pretty much the same for everyone else) being the incomprehensible action sequences between the Bots. Revenge of the Fallen doesn’t improve much on that count but paradoxically was more enjoyable since I knew what to expect. To put it very simply, the sequel literally provides “more bang for your buck” when compared to the first one – and nothing else. In recent days, there was a lot written about the scenes shot in the native IMAX format. Most of it is hyperbole – first of all there are just about 6-7 minutes of such footage but since most of the film comprises of similar mayhem, there isn’t anything memorable here. I also felt that the regular IMAX up-conversion work was a little patchy. So, there is nothing you’d lose if you don’t check this one out on an IMAX screen.

Most folks from the previous film are back – John Turturro was a nice surprise though. Michael Bay can never be faulted for the amazing visual effects he employs – even if they don’t have the intended impact on the viewer. After watching the first Transformers movie, I neither had the idea that a sequel was coming nor did I want one to transpire. Though I enjoyed this film too, I would prefer to see Bay stick to making more traditional action explosion flicks.

Unless you are an inveterate member of the Michael Bay Hate Club you would want to watch this one. If it interests you (and as you might know if you have been following stuff about this movie) you do get to see “Nigger robots who can’t read”, “Decepticon testicles” and a “robot humping Megan Fox’s leg”.

Eagle Eye September 27, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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From executive producer Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks studios comes a psychological thriller that you’d wish you never heard of. A fantasy of epic proportions set in something that looks like the real world. A film that assumes you’ve never heard of the term disbelief. A film that crosses the barriers of implausibility and sprints into the depths of stupidity.

The trailer of Eagle Eye has played all summer long in front of almost every film I’ve watched (and it got terribly irritating by the end of the season). At first, it seemed like it might be an enjoyable mindless entertainer. But the makers seem to have focused on only one of those three words. Despite that, the marketing efforts should ensure a much better opening at the box office than it deserves.

Though it is based on a premise similar to that used in films like Cellular and Phone Booth, this film is closer to Bruce Willis starrer Live Free or Die Hard. While highly implausible, I was able to enjoy that film because it didn’t seem to take itself very seriously. And that is the problem with Eagle Eye. There is a single joke in the film if I remember correctly. The film takes itself too seriously when the plot is not even half as acceptable as that of Snakes on a Plane.

Nevertheless, director DJ Caruso (Disturbia) seems to have somehow convinced his actors to believe in this script and act with a straight face. They even seem somewhat earnest, Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa, Love Actually) especially. Shia LaBeouf (Transformers, Indiana Jones IV) is passable while Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III, Gone Baby Gone) and Rosario Dawson (Death Proof, Sin City) get quite forgettable parts.

The film runs on paranoia, an aspect that could actually seem identifiable in current times (a couple of initial scenes do ring true), but it is taken so far that it ends up being very very laughable. The chase/action sequences also turn out to be quite irritating with Caruso using extreme close-ups in conjunction with jerky camera movements and fast editing. He even films some of the stationary scenes this way.

I don’t believe that the fields of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Pattern Recognition will reach the levels of competence that the over imaginative and relatively inexperienced writers of this film (John Glenn, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz, Dan McDermott) foresee in a long long long long time. And therein lies my primary difficulty in being able to accept this crap (even if I was able to ignore all the senselessness). But then everyone is not aware of the current state in these research fields.

If you are looking for a run-of-the-mill thriller with a fantastical plot that you won’t mind believing, Eagle Eye might not be a bad watch. Otherwise, don’t go anywhere near this film.

Disturbia March 2, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Shia LaBeouf (Transformers) plays a teenage version of the kid from Home Alone 3 in a Rear Window style voyeuristic adventure with the neighborhood serial killer suspect. Kale (sounds so much like ‘kill’) is under house arrest and not just figuratively (the reason for the arrest isn’t particularly noteworthy). He has a device attached to the foot that monitors his movements and if he crosses a certain radius around his house, the cops are alerted (and they show up in record time too except, of course, when most necessary). And then his behavior makes his mother turn into a dictator. That means no X-Box, no i-Tunes and even no television (parents can be so harsh nowadays!). So he puts to good use the two pairs of binoculars that he’s got lying around (not to mention the video camera) to spy on everyone around, particularly the newly moved-in neighborhood teen hottie. The hottie befriends him just around the time he starts taking interest in another neighbor, whom he suspects to be a serial killer from Texas. As their love blossoms, the mystery of the strange neighbor unfolds. Is he really a serial killer? Or is it just time to give back the kid his television?

Sarcasm aside, the predictable film does have its share of suspenseful moments and is definitely a much better watch than all those horror movies and torture porn flicks that are releasing with amazing regularity. Shia is watchable, Sarah Roemer provides the eye-candy and Aaron Yoo contributes with comic support. Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix Trilogy) turns mother for this one while David Morse (The Green Mile) is very effective playing the terror suspect and his voice modulation helps.

Anyone who might want to compare this to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window shouldn’t be watching at all. This film isn’t aiming for greatness but it is a reasonable summer suspense thriller aimed at youngsters. The recycled premise is still interesting enough but I just hope that the studios don’t start commissioning sequels due to its box-office success.

Transformers October 22, 2007

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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If you walk into the theatre without knowing that this is a Michael Bay film then you can write a tirade about all that is wrong with this flick. The rest (like me) simply shut their minds, sit back and enjoy the action.

Based on the “Transformers” movies/comics/toys which were quite popular during the eighties (and which I have no clue about), this live action feature is about the war between the Autobots (the good robots) and Decepticons (the bad ones..of course) for a certain cube (something like the ring in LOTR) which is currently lodged in the earth somewhere. The path to this cube is in possession of our regular Hollywood “chosen one” Sam (Shia LaBeouf) who owns his great grandfather’s spectacles which has the map to the cube imprinted on it. And then begins the relentless action.

It would be a gross understatement to say that the visual effects are magnificient. On the flipside, there is so much of action that one fails to appreciate the brilliance of individual sequences. Bay leaves no stone unturned in ensuring this flick to be a blockbuster…especially given that his previous flick The Island was a colossal disaster.

The whole crew seems to have been working full time on the CGI and hence the writing part seems to have been handled by an 8 year old kid. The dialogue is unpretentiously bad. For instance, you lose count of the number of times you hear this phrase – “It’s a matter of national security. People could lose their lives here!” Also, this film is high on action but absoulutely low on thrills. So, it kind of fell a bit short of my expections from what I had seen in the trailers.

Among the cast only Shia LaBeouf stands out. He is quite fun to watch and this film consolidates his reputation as the one of the most promising young stars today. The female cast (Megan Fox and Rachel Taylor) just have to look dumb and hot.

Despite all its imperfections this one is still a must-watch simply for the visuals. What I saw was a limited release IMAX version which apparently has about 10 minutes of additional footage. So, check this out in an IMAX if possible for a better experience.