Monday, January 19, 2015

'I' movie review - Vikram impresses, Shankar doesn't.

'I' was kept under wraps for a long time and people got too curious about the movie. The hype that Shankar's 'I' created might have made the producers some extra bucks, but the viewers are not satisfied. While saying this, let me also add that there were people clapping and cheering  in the auditorium, too. So, let me put it this way. This is and has been always a page for my opinion.

'I' is exhaustively long and most of the times unnecessarily. Shankar tried to spin a beauty and the beast emotion into a revenge thriller. But, it was rarely a thriller. The screenplay and shots were most of the time less than ordinary. Shankar failed to bring in the entertainment value that his revenge thrillers usually use as carriers. Not only was the story very much predictable, till the very end, but little often brings up the viewers interest.

Now, the positives of the movie other than the obvious Vikram, was it's make up and the song locations which was the primary source of expense for the producer. Songs and locations can be understood, but what Shankar has to understand is that unlike his previous ventures with VFX extravaganzas, make up doesn't peak a movie experience for more than a couple of seconds. They make for good photographs, though. People watch the make-up, marvel it, and then go back to the screenplay. Credits are due for the excellent make up done by Weta workshop, but unless you have an extraordinary story to go along with, audience don't get their worth of time.Except for the songs cinematography seemed ordinary. Editor will have to take the blame for the extra length.

Coming to performances, Vikram does what he does best- Act. His local body builder act was not only good for the physique he had to put on, but for the accent and characteristics he infused in it. His little gimmick of imitating Kamal put me in a gleeful excitement. Amy Jackson had to be a model, and nothing much. Santhanam was his usual, but Shankar who used Vivek in these kind of roles before had it more convincing then, with scenes that had a message in comedy scenes. Suresh Gopi made it up in the last for the ordinary role he had otherwise. The rest of the cast just went with the silly script.

The story had a great potential, like all Shankar's socially relevant movies do. But, the was no charisma at all this time. Why so? Is a question to be answered by Shankar alone. He had all the ingredients : music, action, romance, cinematography. But none of it had the punch of his earlier attempts. Nor the emotion.

The music by A R Rahman was on the hit charts for a couple of months now. But personally, I wasn't impressed there either. 'Pookale' stood out for me both in terms of audio and visualization. The stunt department is also another area that dragged their stay on screen. There were quite some fights, but they went on till it bored the normal audiences. I wasn't sure if there was anything that we haven't seen before.

I have always been a huge fan of Shankar for the way he made commercial films : messages, entertainment, technology and great music. He has tried the same thing again, but somewhere the whole thing collapsed equally in every department.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

PK - Hirani is still the king of satirical comedies

PK is funny, full of satires and message loaded. But that was expected of the director whose previous masterpieces included the unparalleled 'MunnaBhai' movies. Then again, he also had the highest grossing movie for the longest time with '3 Idiots'. But I think the ordinary audience who jump into movies like "Happy New Year' didn't know that. Therefore, it started slow in the box office. But for movies like these (of course other than the ardent Aamir followers), there is the scope to grow with the passage of word of mouth. It did just that.

PK questions the idea of god that has grown into a large scale business and a weapon for terrorizing the common man. It questions the pea sized human brain which would believe that a god who sees his creation as children will force upon ideas like jihad and conversions and difficult painstaking rituals. He also questions god men and priests and others who blindly follow them. Everybody in the audience were laughing and nodding every time Hirani creates over the top, but beautiful situations where the main character confronts these so called beliefs, but I am sure, it is out through the next ear the moment they are out of the hall.

Another point Hirani touched upon was a topic that I have always wondered about. His character says that earth is a special place. Things that propagate love and bonding like kiss or even sex has to be very private, but you can openly fight and kill and riot. In a perfect world, that would be something to think about. The former is a very harmless thing, but everybody makes a big hue and cry about those. But riots and fights, which hurt people are always justified with some or the other meaningless means. PK successfully puts out those questions in our minds on to the screen, without too much preaching and lot of fun.

It does go on the melodramatic side, but that is Hirani's strong point and he plays well with it. He got a little sidetracked trying to put in a romantic angle into Aamir's character. But, he gets Aamir to do another role that challenged the actor - this time he performed it without even a blink of an eye, literally. Aamir puts away the debacle of acting in 'Dhoom 3' and reminds us that he is still in the business of quality cinema. Anushka, Saurabh Shukla, Boman Irani and Sushant Singh supported the main character in all possible ways giving way to quite some laughs.

Music was cool, except for the love song in between that Aamir dreams of, which kind of was unnecessary. A little bit of appreciation for the CGI guys too. All in all, a good time pass. But, if someone actually understands the satire and changes, the better the impact of this movie.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hobbit 3 : Battle of five armies has it all...except

Now for those who haven't watched this movie and are following the LOTR and hobbit movies, even lazily, then all you have to read is this : Go, watch it!

Those who have seen the movie can continue and share in my impression about this movie.

It was amazing all the way. Hobbit sequels started off very childishly, expanded its territories in the next and set up the great battle of amazement for the end. All through the movie I was only having a bad feeling; why is this scene(any one for that matter) so short. There's going to be a lot of complaints in here. Spoilers. Why did Smaug die so fast, why was Bolg killed so easily, why Azog wasn't let to live for a few more minutes? Why did this movie have to be just 144 minutes. Well, these are my serious concerns. Knowing Peter Jackson who is famous for making 4 and a half hour movies, deciding to cut out the final hobbit movie into just under two and  a half hour film is outrageous.

Peter Jackson is a master when it comes to heroic action filled epic battles and this time around he did just what he was good at. The movie doesn't waste time to kill of Smaug, which, now i think should have been an apt end to the last movie. The movie does work a lot on Thorin's character inconsistencies, and the moments that leads to the war are all gracefully done. The action sequences that followed and the thrilling war is a master piece. But what was not done gracefully was tying the knots and smoothing the end. It was very abrupt. The war ended very abruptly. He concentrated more on the one on ones, which is sad. We know what Jackson could do with a handful of people and CGI. I wanted more, and I am sure there was more. A lot of scenes from the trailers never made it to the big screen.

There was little Benedict Cumberbatch. There was more of Cate Blanchett, but we could have had more. The action on top of the Necromancer's hideout, was quite the fun, but too short. In the beginning when Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee made their appearances, I really thought Peter has gone the extra mile to tie a few knots linking this to LOTR, but I was so disappointed in the end. There was no Smeagol. There was no Frodo. There was just the mention of Strider. Maybe Peter took some people's complaints of adding more to Hobbit, seriously. But I am one of those who liked what he did with the additions, in the case of the previous two films. But in this one, I would take the other direction. Legolas and Tauriel visiting Angmar, made no sense. Hugo Weaving and Lee was wasted. To an extent even Ian Mckellan was wasted here.

The grand CGI and admirable fight scenes makes this movie a must watch, but from the script side, Peter Jackson did make a lot of sacrifices. Hoping to see a better version when the extended storyline comes out.

PS: Do watch it in the biggest screen you can find. It's worth it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Exodus : Gods(Viewers) and King(Ridley)

Exodus tells the story of Moses and Ramses and how they turned against each other. Well, I didn't put how they grew up together, because the director doesn't waste anytime explaining the back stories. He's more interested in showing the heavy damage that god bring's upon Egypt. Ridley Scott, known for his award winning "Gladiator", and many others, tries to take the 'Michael Bay' road this time with this epic. But sadly, he was not only unable to create a meaningful script out of the very famous story of Moses, but also was unable to capture the audiences' imaginations too.

The story dragged out till the middle, and any excitement, if any, was gathered after the interval when god starts punishing the Egyptians. He filled the big Imax screen, where I saw the movie, with disasters. One after another, Egypt met with plague and suffering, and Scott left no stone upturned to get the maximum result. The bloody river, the humongous crocodiles, the jumpy frogs, and the flies and locusts, filled the screen with dread. But, again sadly, it doesn't remain in your thoughts (Loved the crocodiles, though).

The biggest trump card for him was the red sea scene, and it was promoted with a huge tantrum. This he had to get right, no matter what. He did succeed, and to say that it was less than awesome, would be too much of a scrutiny, but I would take that chance. I believed it could have been done for a better amount of time, and given the viewer more satisfaction than it had already given. He anyways never planned to dwell in the story or give any kind of interpretation, as Mr. Aronofsky did with 'Noah'. His full energy went into making it glorious.

My biggest disappointment was the use of 3D, or rather, the lack of it. There were so many opportunities presented to give a cool 3D experience, but they preferred making it 3D just for the namesake. This film can be seen in 2D with no shortcomings. The large part of the screen was mostly out of focus or rather shoddy on the big screen. There were a couple of imaginative shots by the cinematographer, but for the most part of it, the shots were ordinary. So goes for the edit. There were couple of scenes where you would wonder why the edit is bad.

Nothing special to expect even from the cast, though it is packed with power performers like Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton. Sigourney Weaver was just wasted away in an insignificant role, while Ben Kingsley was given a lot to talk , but not to act. Aaron Paul comes in a new avatar as Joshua.

For people who wants a story, well, as obvious as it is, there is nothing new in this flick about Moses. For those who see more than a story in a film, will get only as much as promised in the trailers. A movie that could be avoided if you feel like it. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

How old are you (2014) - Malayalam Movie Review

'How Old Are You' is a 2014 Malayalam movie directed by Rosshan Andrews which was slated to be the comeback of one of Malayalam's most adored actors, Manju Warrier. If Manju had wished for more, it could not be better than having the story written by the most popular duo of Screenwriting in Malayalam, Sanjay-Bobby.  She is joined by Kunjako, in the role of her husband. 


Manju is Nimmi, a regular housewife with no life other than her husband and kid. She is a lazy government staff  and has high blood pressure because of her present lifestyle. Rosshan Andrews carves up a story about a 'nobody' who realizes her potential and becomes the 'somebody' in a linear storyline with no heavy plot-twisting. The focus therefore lies in how he does that without the tried and tired routines. Rosshan and his team of writers concentrated on several current topics in Kerala, and he did it so carefully, unlike many others, by not swaying away from the scope of the film. Every relevant information was closely knit into the perspective of a working house-maker. Poisonous vegetable markets, bringing up kids in the internet age, role of women in family and society and health took the prime slots in this social drama about women empowerment. He also got to take a dig on the 'highly-opiniated' individuals on Facebook. All this encapsulated in a story that was not much of brain teaser. But, it got his work done.
The film gained much by the popularity of Manju Warrier, and rightly so. This movie paved a way to create more opportunities for women leads who are not in their sixteens. New directors are trying newer and bolder stories with matured women in lead, which reminds me of the malayalam movie industry of the 90's with 'Manichitra Thazhu's Shobana, or 'Kakkothikavile Apoopan Thaadigal's Revathy...Why, Manju in her last movie 'Kannezhuthi Pottum thottu'.
 In here, Manju was not only convincing as the undermined housewife, but she also brings in her charm that would grip your melting hearts during her scenes of confrontation with her husband. Kunjako Boban on the other hand doesn't mind being over shadowed by the protagonist most of the time, but still does justice to his role. Smaller roles of Kanika, Vinay Forrt and Devan were important too. Though stereotypical, Thesni Khan donned the role of the jealous co-worker to viewers satisfaction.
The movie promised to be a engaging social drama on women empowerment and it does just that without being too much conscious about the logic in some places. This movie is not a limelight on intelligent plot creation and suspense, which seems to be the norm for malayalam movies these days, but a simple non-pretentious attempt at bringing the women in the homes to the centre. A lesson in creating a respect towards them. The background music was loud enough and repetitive, but it was jelling with the story. Cinematography is commendable; especially the aerial shots of iron bridge in Willington Island and the Marathon.

I rate the movie a 4/5, and strongly recommend it to viewers.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

'Gotham' pilot review

The 2014 fall TV premiere season has started and the newest and one of the most promising entrant in TV this year is 'Gotham'. It is based on the pre-life in the city of Gotham before Batman incarnates, as in the DC comics. The series had garnered a lot of attention after its announcement due to the huge success of yet another DC based TV show, the 'Arrow'. The pilot was premiered in San Diego Comic con too, where a few fans got the first glimpse of the forthcoming series.

The pilot was rated not so favorably then. Some people felt the series missed the charm of the other DC adaptations. Now as the pilot has been released to viewers, we can now see it for ourselves. The first impression for me was similar, but before you stop reading and concluding about the show, I would like to note that there could be a silver lining in the end. The episode races against time to establish its world. It starts with a couple (exactly a couple) of shots of the city Gotham, and rushes off to bring in the characters of the show. Before you know it, Bruce Wayne's most important turning point in life is over and done with, and there enters the main character of the show, Det. Gordon. Then comes Riddler, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Fish mooney, Gordon's partner Harvey, Alfred, and by the end all the characters have been not just established, but most of their origin stories have been completed. Yes, in just one episode.

Now the silver lining I was talking about was in the realization that what has been promised in the trailers and  other promotions have already been delivered. Now that leaves you with a season full of the 'unknown'. You thought this was all the season was about but, you have mistaken. Obviously now there has to be more, and each of these characters have more important roles to play; some will bring more menace, while some will save the city.

Back to the pilot, if the acting and writing were any indication for the future episodes, I would say without any doubt that this will be the single season of 'Gotham'. An episode that dashes to the finish line has writing so bad, that you could yawn in between certain scenes. The scene where Gordan tells little Wayne that he will capture the killer is one such moment. Gordon's love interest is equally lame, but of course she has secrets of her own(for the sake of the show). So is the background music. Too loud and unnecessary in most parts. For a show of this concept, why hasn't anybody felt concerned for some good music??? The show in great measures lack originality.

The show clearly indicates that it won't be focusing on Wayne or Batman at all. If it had, it wouldn't have messed up the scene where young Batman's parents are murdered. We would have seen why that moment was so life changing for Wayne. It would have touched upon the relation of his with his parents. The pilot doesn't do that, but I hope future episodes do. I have a feeling Det. Gordon wouldn't be able to carry the show on his own for long.

The acting side has also been terrible. The only saving grace according to me was Jada-Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney. Even if her lines were not good enough, she salvaged it from ruining her character. But the same cannot be said of any of the others. I look forward to more from Robin Taylor as Penguin, but bad writing can destroy him too.

But as I mentioned I am ready to give 'Gotham' another chance, and so waiting to get a peek on the next episode. Here it is, the trailer of episode 2 'Selina Kyle'.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

'Crossbones' on NBC seems stale and outdated

The new series that opened on NBC the last week, based on the pirate legend BlackBeard, managed very few good reviews. The content was old, and the making proved to be abysmal. The series named 'CrossBones' seemed to stagger from the very beginning, with the screenplay racing towards an invisible finishing line, gulping up almost enough content that could have made a season worth of stuff on TV. The introductions to the characters were bad, only to be saved the shame, by even worse use of actors. Imagine a man of John Malkovich's demeanour, delivering a threat to someone, and we as audience feel nothing, but ordinary words coming out of a bald man's mouth.

The immediate comparison to Starz 'Black Sails' would make it more difficult for this series. 'Black Sails' achieved the status of moody pirate tale, with plots that delivered its darkness to the audience, unlike 'Crossbones', which linger in a space between comedy and stupidity. The actors are almost pathetic, and nothing they do seems to work.

Its upto the writers now, to change the fate of this new series, else we might not really want it to return again.