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X-Men Origins: Wolverine May 2, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Wolverine was one of the most interesting characters in the X-Men (movie) universe, apart from Magneto. So, the poor early reviews didn’t dampen my spirit and I marched on to the theater to watch a prequel that is looking to relaunch this series in a different direction.

From the very first scene onwards, this film didn’t feel like an X-Men movie. I hoped that it is only due to the nature and setting of the introduction but I was wrong. So, if you are planning to watch this film, dismiss all expectations about watching another X-Men movie because this one feels very different.

An acclaimed director he may be but Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Rendition) is no Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2: X-Men United) and I don’t think he is an appropriate choice to helm an X-Men movie. Now, the film does have some great locations and a few nicely executed action sequences but it doesn’t work as a whole. Singer did some really cool things with the depiction of the mutants but Hood does nothing of that sort, save for the action.

Hugh Jackman, who really sold us on the Wolverine character in the earlier films, isn’t as impressive here. But I don’t blame him. There isn’t the scope to do that. He isn’t the Wolverine that we’ve come to love. He is just an angry young mutant and that’s about it. Considering that he is a producer as well, maybe he does deserve some of the blame. Liev Schreiber, who gets a considerable amount of screen time, is amply hateworthy as Sabretooth. I liked what I saw of Ryan Reynolds at the beginning of his film but his role is quite limited.

The basic storyline isn’t bad but the screenplay by David Benioff (The Kite Runner) and Skip Woods (Swordfish) doesn’t manage to flesh it out convincingly and the film ends up in no man’s land.  The best part of the film is the manner in which they manage to connect Wolverine’s origin story with the original X-Men series.

Another gripe I have with the film is the use of Deadpool. My interest perked up when I heard about the character and what he could do. It is hard to create great supervillains but with all the powers that Deadpool had, I was hoping for more and was terribly disappointed in the end. Deadpool enters the film really late and goes away quite quickly (and very easily for an indestructible mutant).

While the film isn’t exactly a disaster, it certainly is a disappointment. If you are a huge fan of the series, you will probably watch this anyway. If you’ve seen the other X-Men films and are still mystified about Wolverine’s origin, you should watch this for answers. If your interest in X-Men is only marginal, you can safely skip this one.

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Hellboy II: The Golden Army August 3, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Once upon a time, there was a war between humans and some sort of mythical creatures. An unstoppable Golden Army of mechanical soldiers was created to destroy the humans. However, before this decimation occurs, a truce is formed and the army is sent to cold storage. Humans live in the cities and the creatures roam the forests. But the humans forget their duties and piss off Prince Nuada. He comes out of exile to destroy mankind by invoking the Golden Army. His twin sister disagrees and runs away with a part of the crown needed to take control of the army. Since Nuada surfaces somewhere around present day New York, Hellboy and his friends are laced with the task of stopping him and his Golden Army.

The premise isn’t particularly interesting (not to mentioned the flawed culmination) and the script isn’t a gem either but what pulls this film through is the vision of writer-director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth). He picks out a story that allows him to stay true to the Hellboy mythology but also provides him with the scope to fill the film with wondrous visuals.

The strongpoint of both Hellboy movies is the exploration of the characters and their conflicts with an undercurrent of humor. The scenes depicting the humanlike aspects of these paranormal crime fighting creatures works really well in both films. Hellboy, Liz, Abe and even the newly introduced Klaus kept me happy. The conflict for these supercreatures is still the same. They are trying to fit into the world they inhabit and help but despite their efforts humans continue to reject them.

If you are put off by weird creatures, crazy insects and a lot of gunk, you might not like the Hellboy universe. Otherwise, I believe this is a worthy successor (in fact, it is a bit better) to Hellboy and will be liked by most of those who enjoyed the original.

P.S. Some critics have pointed out that the plot of this film is quite similar to that of the third film in the Mummy series that released this weekend. Judging by the savage reviews of that film, this would be a much better watch.

Wanted July 3, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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What a rush!

Sexy. Supercool. Awesome. Funtastic. These may be apt one-word descriptions for this film.

Pointless. Also another apt description.

Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch) delivers an extremely stylish, visually inventive action thriller. Wanted is the tale of a nobody who finds out that he is the son of a dreaded assassin. He is recruited by the Fraternity, a secret organization of assassins founded a thousand years ago, to kill a rogue assassin who murdered his father. After gruelling training sessions, he is finally ready for the job. But is he really ready? What surprises await him (and us)? Can he complete the job?

Frankly, I knew I was going to love this film after the first chase sequence. And if anyone is not having fun by that point, chances are that they will not enjoy this film.

This film is full of sensational (not to mention impossible) action sequences that have been composed brilliantly and executed even more skillfully. The action choreographer, the visual effects team and the director deserve all the praise they can get. Bekmambetov’s ingenuity is visible throughout the film and this film could have been a big dud without him.

James McAvoy (Atonement, The Chronicles of Narnia) hardly struck me as an action hero but he delivers. He makes a smooth transition from an accountant to an assassin, making both of them believable. Angelina Jolie makes this film even more sexier than it already is and it is always wonderful to watch Morgan Freeman.

The film isn’t for everyone though. Remember, it is based on a graphic novel series (written by Mark Millar with art by J. G. Jones) and there can be a lot of things that could be considered silly (if bending bullets seems preposterous, wait till you hear about the ridiculous Loom of Fate). But this film doesn’t intend to be realistic and Bekmambetov makes sure that you realise the film’s distate for the laws of nature in the first ten minutes.

The film may have scant respect for logic but it does have enough in its plot to keep your mind occupied. It may be incessantly violent but it has been made with great imagination. It may be a wet dream for guys who lust for sexy action films but it is also art. It may not find favor with everyone but it will make money and it will be imitated. It may be construed by some as an inconsequential forget-me-soon summer movie but it is not and it will stay with me for a long time.

Those who want something “sensible” can go elsewhere but those who feel low on adrenaline should definitely watch this.