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Okka Magadu June 3, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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There were a lot of expectations from this film due to the teaming of director YVS Chowdhary (Devadasu, Lahiri Lahiri Lahirilo) with Balakrishna. YVS has delivered a lot of hit films despite critics ripping them apart on the first day and Balakrishna has needed a hit for a long while. I expected a semi-bad film that would work at the box office. But what followed was a major disaster that, apparently, even hardcore Balakrishna fans couldn’t come to terms with.

The writer-director’s decision to rehash Shankar’s Bharateeyudu (Indian) along with various bits from other films is highly appalling. Shankar’s formula has been used successfully in many films but those films weren’t such shameless ripoffs. If you neglect the fact that this is a ripoff, this is just a bad mass flick that is not particularly dreadful (I am sure many Balakrishna fans would have enjoyed certain parts of the film atleast). YVS has definitely tried and this is clearly visible at times (most noticeably, Balakrishna seems to look much better in this film). But his gimmicks just don’t work this time and the bloated expectations wouldn’t have helped either.

For me, the most irritating aspect of this film is the make-up. Yes, it is possible that old people look like that but it is hard to recognize both Balakrishna and Simran and it affects their performances. And neither of them adjust their body language to suit the role (though you could forgive Balakrishna because he is supposed to be some sort of superheroic old man). Mani Sarma’s soundtrack isn’t a chartbuster. A couple of numbers are passable with the title track being the best.

A lot could be written about the defects of this film but I don’t want to. This film isn’t worth watching and I watched it only because I wanted to see what was so bad about it. In the end, I did feel that this was just as bad as other bad films in the genre but not as spectacularly dismal as it was made out to be.

Iron Man May 3, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Everyone is familiar with Superman, Spiderman and Batman. A lesser known superhero from the Marvel universe makes his debut on the silver screen to deliver a rollicking start to the blockbuster season. In making his biggest and best film, director Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura) delivers a thoroughly satisying superhero film.

Tony Stark is a charming, suave ladies man who also happens to be a genius running a weapons company. When he is on a trip to Afghanistan, demonstrating the latest weapon in his arsenal, he is captured by terrorists who want him to replicate it for them. Tony escapes by creating a suit of armor from what is available. When he comes back, Tony decides to put his talent to good use. So he perfects the suit of armor and becomes Iron Man. And then he uncovers an evil villain who he must stop.

It might not seem terribly thrilling the way I’ve summarized it but then it is really the presentation which makes this film what it is. Favreau and his writers (apparently two separate teams – Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby who co-wrote Children of Men and Arthur Marcum & Matthew Hollaway) get the right balance between the story, humor, action, effects and charm. Also, the fact that Iron Man is more a hero with super equipment than super powers makes him more identifiable. Some predictability does creep in but you hardly care when it is so much fun. Favreau finds the right tone to appeal to audiences looking for blockbuster entertainment as well as those looking for more sensible fun. There isn’t a dull moment in this one and though the movie doesn’t have a ton of action you don’t miss it.

And Robert Downey Jr makes you wonder why most superhero movies don’t have an actor of his calibre and at least half his charm. After all they need to be super. Once you see Robert Downey Jr in this role, you can’t imagine anyone else in it. He just hits the correct notes with everything. Gwyneth Paltrow is also a delight in her role as Miss Potts, Stark’s secretary. Both these actors get some superb lines, especially in their scenes together and their banter is great to watch. Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski) and his bald pate suit the role of Obadiah Stane well. Terrence Howard plays a supporting role in preparation for a future as War Machine (and the post-credits sequence hints at the Avengers too).

In the past superhero films have lacked in certain aspects of their appeal for various audiences. Some were too dark for a few folks (Batman Begins), the pacing seemed slow in some (Superman Returns), some just didn’t have enough appeal for those who have grown out of their teens (The Fantastic Four) and some superheroes even cried (Spiderman 3). But this film overcomes such shortcomings to cater to almost everyone with the right blend of the major elements required for an entertaining motion picture. It is exciting and well-paced. It has a lot of humor and some really cool effects (especially those used in depicting Tony’s lab and the design process). There is just enough action and a touch of romance too. With a well-constructed screenplay, a capable helmer behind the screen and talented performers in front of it, this motion picture manages to keep the audiences glued to their seats.

I hadn’t hoped I would enjoy this film even half as much as I did. So, my recommendation is simple. Go and watch it. Soon!

P.S. The sequel comes out Summer 2010.