Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Iron Man 2

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 26th April, 2010
Time : 124 minutes
Director : Jon Favreau; Writer : Justin Theroux, Stan Lee (Marvel comics);
Starring : Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Jon Favreau, Don Cheadle, Samuel L Jackson

The kookiness of Robert Downey Jr and the sassiness of Scarlett Johannson, best exemplified by her black leather outfit, save this film from becoming robotic and regressive.

I haven’t seen Iron Man1, so for me the story starts afresh here. Its about Robert Downey Jr, billionaire, a man who’s invented these iron suits, that any man can step inside and become a superhero / war machine aka Iron Man. You can fly, fire guns, missiles, be impervious to bullets etc etc. He’s become a one many army who protects the country, putting people who previously supplied to the US Army, like Hammer Industries, almost out of business.

However, there are three issues in paradise. One, is that he has to wear this power source (don’t know why, guess it was explained in part1) and this is becoming toxic, bringing him closer to death. Second, the US Senate, instigated by the Hammer CEO, a wonderfully shallow performance by Sam Rockwell, is out to try and appropriate the suits on the grounds of safety. And third is that a brilliant disgraced Russian scientist, Mickey Rourke, who’s seeking revenge against Robert’s family, is out to get him.

The stunts in the beginning are quite exceptional. The Monaco Grand Prix sequence, in particular, is breathtaking for its imagination and execution. However, once the novelty had worn off, it got a bit repetitive towards the end, with grand finale actually not materializing / getting over in a jiffy. The grand battle between Robert and Rourke was actually a bit of let down after a pretty good build up.

The humour, Robert’s relationship with his uptight, newly crowned CEO, Gwyneth and his buddy Don Cheadle were good fun, as were his interactions with Scarlett, a woman he cant quite figure out. One sequence, where Scarlett and Jon Favreau enter a building and have to combat the security guards is also really good, both for its comic quality and slickness (a la Matrix) of action. Robert Downey seems to really have come into his own now, revelling in the freedom of roles like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, giving them a wonderful whackiness, a refreshing outlook in otherwise strait-jacketed linear movies.

This one is not going to stay with you but its enjoyable, its great fun for kids or those boys who still love their toys…

Badmaash Company

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 7th May, 2010
Time : 144 minutes
Director & Writer : Parmeet Sethi; Music : Pritam
Starring : Shahid Kapoor, Anushka, Meiyang Chang, Vir Das, Pawan Malhotra, Anupam Kher

A movie of two halves, the first being breezy and at times even likeable but the second becoming inexplicably sentimental and slow. Overall, when you left the hall you weren’t quite sure of what you saw and what to make of it

A tale of four friends, with Shahid being the brains of the group, the guy who came up with the big ideas which would get them rich quickly. His girlfriend Anushka, is the designated eye candy (does a decent job of it as well) while Meiyang and Vir are the designated sidekicks. Shahid doesn’t agree with his father’s philosophy of working diligently in one firm for 25 years and cannot wait to start his own business. He comes up with a great idea for his first venture, gets seed capital from his America based uncle (Pawan Malhotra) and he and his friends are off and running. When the idea runs its course, he decides to move to USA and they begin trying new ideas even there. Will they be successful, will they be able to stay together, will they still remain as single minded in pursuit of the same wealth are some of the questions / developments of the second half.

Its interesting as a premise, raises some pertinent questions which are relevant to the generation of today. But strangely it doesn’t connect and here I blame the character development. Its hard to understand how a character like Shahid changes, one moment walking out of his father’s house because of a difference in their philosophy towards life, the other craving his blessing. One day chasing wealth single-mindedly, the other craving respect (izzat ki roti). One day being amiable, breezy but the other becoming irritable, cranky when things go wrong. I wish all this had been explained more clearly, that we could’ve made the journey along with Shahid and felt the same way. But here we are informed about the trip rather than invited to share the ride.

The first idea that Shahid comes up with is truly great, everything seems very realistic, no one gets hurt. However, the other ones, in USA, are not so clean, here there is an element of dishonesty, they swindle people. And there are other things which happen which aren’t so real. The language, clothes and behaviour of the four doesn’t match the era they’re shown to be living in. There are issues raised like the ‘God Complex’ which are just lightly brought up, not delved into in any detail (for a more interesting film touching on this topic watch Malice). Anushka’s & Shahid’s relationship is also not truly explained. The one character who remains consistent is Vir, so if anyone connects, its him.

I found it interesting that YRF made this film after Rocket Singh. Both touched upon pretty relevant themes for today’s youth, both encourage entrepreneurs, self-made destiny, friendship etc and are far removed from some of the recent fluffy films from the same stable. However, I don’t think in this one they got the balance between fun and work right. Which, by the way, is another interesting potential topic for a film…

Hum Tum Aur Ghost

Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 26th March, 2010
Time : 128 minutes
Director & Writer : Kabeer Kaushik; Music : Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy
Starring : Arshad Warsi, Dia Mirza, Sandhya Mridul, Boman Irani, Shernaz Patel, Zehra Naqvi, Javed Sheikh

An interesting plot line, similar to Ghost Town / Sixth Sense, of a man who see’s ghosts and decides to help them fulfil their unfinished tasks, is dialled up with full Bollywood-style drama, tears and emotion, to leave you feeling very unsure about the film we see.

Arshad Warsi, fashion photographer is doing well in his job and is happily ‘engaged’ to Dia Mirza, despite her father’s objections. All is well in paradise except for one tiny problem. When alone, he can hear voices. In his house. On the street. Everywhere. Forcing him to sleep on railway or street benches and hit the bottle really hard. Soon the ghosts, led by Boman Irani, get more forward and appear in front of him, imploring him to do their unfinished tasks and put them out of their limbo existence. Arshad’s assistant, Sandhya Mridul, believes him and actually helps him in his tasks. Dia and his psychiatrist, Shernaz Patel, firmly believe there is an issue with the upstairs wiring.

It should be very easy to convince dis-believers that you can see ghosts. So there is an obvious flaw in the film as Arshad never resorts to that. Keeping that aside, the film may have worked if they’d kept it light and easy (a la Ghost Town). With the kind of tasks he gets, all dripping with soppiness, mushiness, it almost shoots itself in the foot. Even the whole romantic track, between Dia and Arshad, apart from repeated ‘I love you’s’, there is never any conversation between them, its never explained why. There are still some good comic moments (the bank scene stood out). But far and few in between. Which, like the ghosts, leaves us kind of in the middle of nowhere.

Dia looks lovely in the film, don’t think I’ve ever seen her look better. Boman is extremely polished. Arshad perhaps got his look wrong a bit, slightly ruffian-ish, complete with a stubble and earrings. Didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the characters.

Kabeer Kaushik, after the magnificient Sehar and an ordinary Chamku, disappoints. The film is shot in London (don’t understand why), has an unusual storyline, but not enough conviction behind it to stick single-mindedly to it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 21st May, 2010
Time : 130 minutes
Director & Co-writer : Anurag Basu; Writers : Robin Bhatt, Akarsh Khurana, Rakesh Roshan; Music : Rajesh Roshan
Starring : Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut, Nick Brown, Kabir Bedi, Yuri Suri

Some lovely scenery, an even more lovely Barbara Mori (dressed in appropriate clothing throughout the film) and a good looking hero cannot mask an extremely weak, formulaic & flawed storyline that fails to sustain your interest throughout the film

Hrithik is a dance teacher in Vegas. Chasing money, riches. Even does green card marriages with female immigrants to make an extra buck. Has the good fortune to have an extremely rich heiress, Kangana, fall head over heels for him. And the family accepts him unconditionally as well. All is smooth till Kangana’s brash and brutal brother arrives on the scene, with his fiancée, Barbara Mori. And she & Hrithik cant keep their eyes of each other. They run away with the family hot on their heels, and, well, what follows is too predictable to elaborate.

I'd always been told that love is blind. Didnt know it was foolish as well. Hrithik / Barbara, even if they wanted to elope, did everything pretty much the worst way possible, almost wilfully putting themselves and their well wishers in harms way. The editing didnt work as well, I found the flashbacks / intercut with reality distracting. What does work is the cinematography, with some lovely landscapes, beautiful parts of Mexico / USA hitherto unseen in Indian cinema (for whom USA has pretty much meant New York and autumn leaves).

Why with all the resources at their disposal we couldn’t get a better story really baffles me. If you watch the promo’s and the song videos, you’ve literally seen all the fun moments between the lead pair. Why, when you have a lead pair with good chemistry, you’re not showing them having fun, interacting, sparking off each other is again beyond me. Instead we get to see them trapped in one incredible situation after another, some silly stunts, some blown up cars, a raging, vengeful brother who’s almost psychotic. And that, pretty much, is that….

There was a very apt ad before the film, which showed classic sequences like the ‘dhal gaya din, ho gayi raat’ song and the ‘maine pyaar kiya’ pigeon sequence and then asks us to abandon the age old formulae and go for something new, like Vivel soap. Wish the makers of Kites had done that as well, in terms of the story they used…

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : June, 2009
Time : 131 minutes
Director : Kathryn Bigelow; Writer : Mark Boal;
Starring : Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Sayegh

Its tense, edge of the seat stuff as we follow the adventures of a bomb disposal squad in Iraq. Well etched characters and almost surreal situations with any Iraqi, even the most innocuous ones being potential villains, make sure the film is a good cinematic experience. But I’m not quite sure what the point of it was…hence the low rating…

We follow a particular disposal squad, comprising 3 people, who’re part of the Bravo battalion and more importantly they have a 100 odd days to go till their rotation ie the date they will be sent back home. The master blaster or the one who has to go and actually defuse the bomb is killed in the first mission that we watch. His replacement, James, is as different to him as is possible. Sanborn, who’s African-American and very efficient at what he does and Eldridge, who is tortured by thoughts of death, are the other two members.
Together they face various situations like having to defuse a dilapidated car, loaded with explosives, parked in front of an office or facing deadly sniper fire in the middle of the desert or encountering an abandoned building which is used to ‘manufacture’ body bombs. Will they make it to their rotation date ? Will their vastly different personalities be able to work together ? These seem to be the overall plot points in the film.

James is an adrenalin rush seeking redneck. He doesn’t follow protocol, prefers to work using his hands than relying on the robot, on occasion will take off his body armor suit while defusing a bomb (if I die, I want to die comfortable) or his headphones (especially if disagreeing with whats being said to him). He thinks nothing of attempting to find the people who set off a bomb by chasing them into the night or trying to be an amateur detective while chasing Beckham (a cute little sub-plot). In short, he’s nothing like his predecessor or Sanborn, who were / are very organized and play by the rules. Their third member, Eldridge, is struggling to cope with the war, is seeking medical / psychiatric help and is easily unnerved by the kind of situations he encounters. James is the most chilled out of the three. He doesn’t think too much about death, about what he does. He is by no means dumb but just not the type to think beyond what he does or what his gut tells him to do.

The film has some key messages. 1. All war is bad. 2. The war in Iraq, against local insurgents, was a particularly bad one. 3. Americans are not regarded as saviours of Iraq by the Iraqi’s but hated by them (unlike what CNN wants us to believe). 4. Maybe, just maybe, if you want to survive the war without any mental scars, you have to be an adrenalin rush seeking junkie like James.
Since the first three messages were already known, didn’t need a film to tell me those, the only one message relevant to this film is the fourth one. And I’m not sure I agree with that. Am not sure if salvation lies in putting yourself in danger at every given opportunity. So in a nutshell, I didn’t quite see the point of the film but enjoyed watching it…

Saturday, May 01, 2010


Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 30th April, 2010
Time : 155 minutes
Directors & Co-Writer : Sajid Khan; Writers : Milap Zhaveri, Vibha Singh; Music : Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Starring : Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Arjun Rampal, Deepika Padukone, Lara Dutta, Boman Irani, Lilette Dubey, Jiah Khan, Chunkey Pandey, Randhir Kapoor, Malika Arora Khan

It’s a fine line between a goofy comedy and mindless slapstick degenerating into a farce. To my profound regret, I found this film more the latter than the former.

Akshay is a loser. He’s born unlucky and brings bad luck to all around him (including his girlfriend, Malaika who leaves him for the same reason). The only person who still tolerates him is his childhood friend, Ritesh, who works in a casino in London and is married to a co-employee, Lara Datta. Akshay’s luck seems to have turned when he marries the rich casino owner’s daughter, Jiah. But then enter Deepika Padukone, Arjun Rampal, Boman Irani to play even more gags and set things up for a grand finale.

Logic is happily ignored through the film but then you walk into the hall with that expectation. I didnt laugh loudly at all throughout but can admit to being in the minority in the audience. I found most of the jokes either slapstick or too contrived or really clichéd, oft-repeated situations. A husband snuggling into his bed and finding a man instead of his woman, an elder seeing two men in compromising situations and jumping to the assumption they’re gay, a web of lies where two friends have to pretend to be with each others girlfriends / spouses…these have all been seen before and have been done nearly to death. There is a serious lack of new thought in the film, with rehashing old gags being the name of the game.

What it relies on to pull it through though is sheer star power. The combined looks of Deepika and Lara (along with small cameo’s by Jiah and Malaika) doing enough on the glamour quotient, especially thanks to the ultra skimpy clothing donned by all of the above.
And on the male side as well, we have Akshay, Riteish and Arjun, all of whom also find plenty of opportunity to dress up as well as parade topless. Boman, Lilette were wasted in roles which didn’t use any of their acting talents but reduced them to loud caricatures.

Sajid begins the film by paying homage to the likes of Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra and Hrishikesh Mukherjee but then delivers a film that does justice to neither. This may do well commercially but is loud, slapstick and mindless at best and insipid, clichéd and distinctly unfunny at worst. Watch at your own peril.