Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman V Superman : Dawn of Justice

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 25th March, 2016
Time : 151 minutes
Director : Zack Snyder; Writers : Chris Terrio, David S Goyer based on characters created by Bob Kane / Bill Finger (Batman) and Jerry Siegel / Joey Shuster (Superman); Music : Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL
Starring : Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishburne, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane. Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey

Everyone is very angry in this film – for reasons known or unknown

The people of Gotham are not sure they want the Batman (Ben Affleck) patrolling the streets anymore.
The people of Metropolis are very sure they don’t want Superman (Henry Cavill) to be running amok – especially after an incident in Africa, which results in a lot of collateral damage and inspires a Senate hearing, led by Holly Hunter.

For some reason, Batman is furious at Superman – ostensibly for having led the aliens to Earth. For reasons even harder to decipher, Superman / Clark Kent is angry at Batman and warns him to stop answering calls from citizens for help. And finally, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is angry at everyone and on his own trip – here, we aren’t even given any reasons as to why a billionaire, owner of a vast business empire – is so obsessed with Superman and Batman.

The only one who wears a smile for most of the film, is the mysterious Gal Gadot – who has a knack for turning up at the right place at the right time – and is as keen on examining Lex Luthor as Ben Affleck is…but what’s her secret ?

It’s all very dark, very grim and very angry. The action is good, the film moves along at a good pace, Batman in particular, has a few new tricks up his sleeve, but nothing awe-inspiring overall, nothing which really stays with you. I found Henry Cavill to be very serious, too somber in his portrayal of the Man of Steel - had the same issue in his earlier film too. And the same applied to Affleck’s Batman – was just simmering with too much rage to be caring enough about his city’s citizens.

This film smacked of DC Comics making a full-on attempt to catch up with the success of Marvel Comics. Even copying part of their formulae, trying to bring their marquee characters together. As kids, one of the aspects that intrigued us about these super-heroes was how they would square off against each other. Batman Vs Superman takes that thought quite literally, and if you take aside the heavy-duty special effects, comes across as quite kiddish on the whole.

Rocky Handsome

Rating : 5 /10
Release Date : 25th March, 2016
Time : 126 minutes
Director : Nishikant Kamat; Co-Writer : Ritesh Shah, based on the Korean film ‘The Man From Nowhere’; Music : Various
Starring : John Abraham, Nishikant Kamat, Diya Chalwad, Kazu Patrick Tang, Sharad Kelkar, Nathalia Kaur, Shruti Haasan

Some great action – mostly fist and knife fights – and an unflinching performance by John Abraham in the title role, cannot paper over the cracks in the storyline / the predictability of it all. There is nothing you haven’t already seen – drugs, women, child kidnapping and organ trafficking – it’s only just gorier…

John runs a pawn shop in Goa. He’s seen better days, as seen by images of him cavorting around with Shruti Haasan in Seychelles. Now, as a neighbor, he has a druggie nightclub dancer, Anna, who doesn’t like the fact that her seven year old daughter, Diya, is getting friendly with him. Anna, though does something stupid – tries to steal drugs from the mafia. That too at a time when the cops, led by Sharad Kelkar, are putting the squeeze on all the rackets in Goa. This places her life and that of her daughter at risk, especially from the owner of the drugs, Nishikant Kamat and his henchmen, including Patrick Tang – with only Rocky to try and save them.

Most of the gangsters in the film prefer not to carry guns – going for a knife, an axe or even just heavy rods instead – which makes it easy for Rocky, who walloped a room full of cops in 3 minutes, to pick them off one by one. The best sequences involve Tang (who’s worked in films like District B13 and Ong-bak) squaring off one on one with John – those are a visual treat, very slickly done and a great watch.

There is too little of any emotion, though, to make the film rise above mediocrity. Something about the editing (quite disjointed), the way the characters are shown (very uni-dimensional), the way they interact (in terse monosyllabic sentences) that makes for very detached viewing. John is very good – expressions, physique, fluidity of movement – but the others don’t match up. The villains, in particular, come across as caricatures – including, to an extent, Nishikant, who happens to be the sanest of the lot.

It’s an ‘A’ film thanks to the extreme violence, gore shown – and most of it occurs in the dark, in the shadows. You care about the child and her safety, quite naturally – but no character really connects or touches you. Would recommend only for fans of John or the action genre.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921)

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 18th March, 2016
Time : 140 minutes
Director, Writer : Shakun Batra; Co-Writer : Ayesha Devitre Dhillon; Music : Various
Starring : Rishi Kapoor, Rajat Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Fawad Khan, Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt, Sukant Goel, Fahim Shaikh

A sensational first half – witty, crazy, natural, superb dialogues, a fast-moving script, great characters, fabulous acting – followed by a second half, which goes in a different direction to what I would’ve preferred. Am not a fan of solving things via tears, melodrama, sorrow – perhaps there is another way, but our directors / writers have yet to get there. Anyways, should be grateful it doesn’t go awry – just in a different direction…

Rajat Kapoor and Ratna Pathak Shah live in idyllic Coonoor but argue like all married couples do, over things that most married couples do. Their sons, Fawad and Sidharth, live in UK and US respectively, are used to seeing their parents argue and also have their own unsettled issues. Fawad’s a successful author, his parent’s pet while Sid is still looking to find his vocation and has a huge chip on his shoulder about not being loved as much as his elder brother. However, what is fascinating is that, while all this may sound sad, morbid, the first half is anything but. Thanks to their grandfather, Rishi Kapoor (I want to grow old like him !) and Alia, who is the wild, zany one in a nearby tea estate.

Rishi Kapoor is endearing and full of life – so much so that he practices falling dead, just for kicks. Other pastimes include watching porn, smoking, weed, shooting his grandkids dead and making sure the hospital staff don’t forget him (the scenes with the nurse were excellent). Alia is always pulling someone’s leg – first Sid, then Fawad fall for her pranks and she ensures she always remains happy, sunny despite all around her

The stage is then set for the family drama to heat up in the second half, as secrets tumble out, things come to a head…

It’s been a long time since I saw such beautifully etched characters and crisp, natural dialogues in a Hindi film. The performances were fabulous – Rajat, Rishi were brilliant and Fawad, Alia, Sidharth also display their acting chops – both the men, especially, successfully put to bed all the unfair, unwarranted criticism that they’re just good looking boys who can’t act. Ratna is very good too, doing justice to the role given – her character is not someone who I would be fond of but can understand. Special mention of Sukant Goel who also shines through in a small role, as Sid’s best friend.

The film does hold a mirror up to how most of us live our lives, mired in our first world problems. Unhappiness, we discover, can be caused by so many factors – parental expectations, striving for approval, success, distrust, money issues, the search for love – all can prove to be so corrosive. But equally, isn’t it upto us to simplify things, to chart out our own course – to stop blaming others for our problems. Because, in the end, don’t we all just want to be happy ?