Friday, April 27, 2012

The Avengers

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 27th April, 2012
Time : 142 minutes
Director, Co-writer : Joss Whedon; Co-Writer : Zak Penn, based on characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ; Music : Alan Silvestri
Starring : Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Gwyneth Paltrow

From the silly, (Tezz in the morning), to a stunning spectacle (Avengers in the afternoon).

Earth is under attack from a God, Loki, son of Odin and brother of Thor. They are after a cube that promises unlimited energy and also acts as a portal to space and some very trigger happy aliens. The Fury feels compelled to call in the now defunct Avengers. Iron Man. Black Widow. Hawkeye. Captain America. Oh and the geeky guy who goes green and grows big when angry.

Thor, the aggrieved brother, joins in. And we have a visual feast as gadgets and fights galore occur at the speed of roughly one per 5 minutes. And about the same frequency for fantastic, furiously funny one-liners.

It is a half baked story. The world invasion seems strangely Manhattan centric. The powers of Loki and his wand waver between insurmountable to eminently beatable. And the council, the fury seem to have powers greater than the president of the USA.

However, all of this is overshadowed by thrills and spills of the ‘shock and awe’ variety. The ship that goes invisible. The fight between Thor and Hulk. The tension between Iron Man & Captain America. The sinuous, sexy style of Black Widow. The cool hammer. The stupendous shield. The wand. The hi-tech arrows.

The moment of the movie was when Loki decides to lecture The Hulk about being a God. Or ‘Hulk, smash’. Or ‘we need a plan of attack ? I have a plan, attack !’

And despite the short amount of time they have per character, they manage to paint an engrossing picture of each, their frailties, skills and make us care for them.

This is boys with toys taken to another level. Its fun, witty, irreverent and we are transported to being kids again, watching with mouth agape as superheros struggle to save our planet.


Rating : 2/10
Release Date : 27th April, 2012
Time : 120 minutes
Director : Priyadarshan; Writers : Robin Bhatt, Aditya Dhar ; Music : Sajid-Wajid
Starring : Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Zayed Khan, Sameera Reddy, Boman Irani, Kangana Ranaut, Phillip Martin Brown, Mohanlal

My sincere advice is to watch Speed, followed by Unstoppable and spare yourself the agony.

The scene is England. Ajay Devgn, for reasons unfathomable plants a bomb on a train. Asks for 10mn ransom. Not clear why. Is assisted by Zayed and Sameera for reason or reasons unknown. Anil Kapoor, who retired the day before from the Counter Terrorism cell, is strangely called back (even though its clearly stated by him from minute one, that this is not a terrorist case). Boman Irani, in charge of train movement, huffs and puffs, trying to save his daughter who's also on the train.
Lots more stupidity occurs. Sentimentality abounds. Race, emotion, Brit v Indian, every trick in the book is used to try and make us care. All in vain. Oh and everyone was shot speaking in English but then I think the producers chickened out and dubbed everything in Hindi, without bothering to reshoot. So even the goras speak Hindi. Flawlessly, and in most cases without an accent.

I regret not obeying my impulse and walking out during the interval. Stayed just so I could write the review. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve walked. What I did was above and beyond the call of duty…(21 gun salute)…Amen…

21 Jump Street

Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 20th April, 2012 (India)
Time : 109 minutes
Director : Phil Lord, Chris Miller; Writer : Michael Bacall, based on the TV Series by Patrick Hasburg, Stephen Cannell ; Music : Alan Menken
Starring : Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Dave Franco, Brie Larson, Ellie Kemper, Dax Flame, IceCube

Two bumbling, mismatched yet complementary cops have to return, undercover, to the scene of their biggest failure and confront their fears. High School.
The premise is well set and apart from the liberal use of invective is pretty enjoyable till it completely falls apart in the last half hour with clich├ęs, implausibility and an almost farcical end ruining the movie in totality.
Channing Tatum exudes charm even in this farce. Dave Franco is pretty slick in the first half but goes downhill character wise post that. Jonah Hill holds his own and Brie Larson is his romantic interest.

High school could be an interesting place to return to with social mores having changed,
more power to the geek and different sets of skills being demanded. However, not in this movie.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mirror Mirror

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 30th March, 2012 (USA)
Time : 106 minutes
Director : Tarsem Singh Dhandhwar; Writer : Jason Keller, Melisa Wallack,; Music : Alan Menken
Starring : Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Nathan Lane, Armie Hammer

There is something magical about transforming an old story, giving its characters a makeover and infusing new life to a tale possibly out of touch with the times.
The writer director team of Jason /Melisa & Tarsem do just that here. Giving Julia, the stepmom / Queen, a wicked sense of humour, Armie, the Prince, some meat to his role and giving Lily, and Snow some much needed spunk.
There are enough weaves and wefts in the otherwise familiar fabric to keep you interested. The dwarves, the townsfolk, the woods and even the Mirror getting a new avatar.

Tarsem, of course, as in all his previous films, imparts a glorious visual delight – the castle, the parties, the costumes, the Queen’s secret lair all are simply stunning and awe-inspiring ! And his Indian touch does come through in at least a couple of occasions
There are a lot of things unexplained. A lot of things which don’t entirely make sense. Wrong potions, magic getting used up, necklaces, spells, etc. At times like these, its best to remember, that this tale after all, is a fairy story and the ending song, helps do that with effortless ease….

Vicky Donor

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 20th April, 2012
Time : 122 minutes
Director : Shoojit Sircar; Writer : Juhi Chaturvedi; Music : Abhishek - Akshay
Starring : Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam, Annu Kapoor, Dolly Ahluwalia, Kamlesh Gill

A laugh a minute first half and a good, pacy, though slightly senti second, work well and ensure mobile phones & side chit chat are forgotten while watching the film.

The true beauty, though, lies in the unusual vocation of its hero, Ayushmann Khurrana, who is a sperm donor and the excellent characters & locations etched around him including,
Dolly : his widowed mother who runs a beauty parlour to support her good for nothing son and sarcastic mother-in-law
Kamlesh : the whiskey swilling grandmom, who dotes on her grandson and is amazingly progressive in her outlook and intake
Yami : yummy bank manager who ends up falling for our hero and the subsequent sparks, inevitable in a union between a Punjabi boy and Bong girl.
Annu Kapoor : the infertility clinic specialist who needs some high quality sperm donors to save himself from bankruptcy and has his heart set on our hero.

The best jokes come from the mother and the grandmom, none more so than during their bonding sessions over drinks late at night. The reaction to the union & the nupitals of our unlikely lead pair also provide great moments of hilarity. And our sperm obsessed doctor, who as it turns out, has a heart of gold, is integral through our film.

The fresh faces really work for the film, make it interesting and engaging, with none of the actors coming with any baggage or preconceived stereotypes. Yami is great in the first half, alluring, mysterious, playing the part of the enigmatic Bengali brilliantly. Annu gives his role a real jolly crack. Ayushmann is very good as the no-nonsense Punjabi boy. And no praise can be high enough for Dolly and Kamlesh.

The soundtrack, thankfully all in the background, lends zip to the film. The ethos of Delhi, its innate crudeness, language, show-off nature and locales are well captured. Whether its by showing the good doctor constantly eating at a chat wallah or Ayushman’s relationship with his terrace neighbor or the private detective handing over his food bills prior to sharing any information or even the assistant doctor at the clinic, who seems to be a fertility specialist on his own…its all excellently done

I like the courage shown by the makers in going for an unusual topic, fresh faces. I like that the marketing of the film stayed focused on its core topic and didn’t deviate too much. I love that the film also stays more or less on course in its entirety on its theme, deviating just slightly in the second half to other topics. It’s a refreshing film, funny, engaging and enjoyable.

PS : liberally laced with Punjabi dialogue, if you’re not comfortable with the language, better to take a translator along…