Saturday, March 28, 2015


Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 20th March, 2015
Time : 105 minutes
Director : Kenneth Branagh; Writer : Chris Weitz, based on the fairy story; Music : Patrick Doyle
Starring : Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Derek Jacobi, Stellan Skarsgard, Nonso Anozie, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Chaplin, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Hayley Atwell

This one failed as a live action film for me – for being too straight-forward a retelling of the fairy tale, without any of the whacky characters, the double-meaning jokes, or the fantastic layers that usually accompany Disney / Pixar films

This is simply the vanilla version of a classic. With quite a few girlie touches. A heroine, Lily James, who believes in the world not as it is but it should be. Who believes in magic. Who’s motto, given by her dying mother, Hayley, is “To have courage and to be kind”. Who strives to do the same even when Cate Blanchett, the step-mother, with her two dumb daughters, Sophie and Holliday, move in and treat her like a servant girl after her father, Ben Chaplin’s death, after they fire the staff, to economize.

There is something interesting at least about the Prince, Richard Madden, and the sub-plot about his struggle with his father, Derek Jacobi, the King around whom he should marry. Stellan Skarsgard, the Royal Duke, has some vested interests, while Nonso Anozie, a Captain, has the Prince’s best interests at heart. And then, one thing leads to another, there is the Royal Ball, Helena Bonham Carter makes a brief appearance as a fairy Godmother and all is as we know it…

The music is nothing to write home about either, though the sets are sumptuous and nice. This one is more for mothers and daughters, with an age limit of around twelve-thirteen for the latter. They make the fairy story come alive with great visuals but fail to add any other perspective or interpretation to the classic. Perhaps we’ve been spoilt with the earlier animated and live versions of the tales, but surely isn’t that what we expect from such films ?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gunman / Run All Night

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 27th March, 2015
Time : 115 minutes
Director : Pierre Morel; Writer : Don MacPherson, based on the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette; Music : Marco Beltrami
Starring : Sean Penn, Jasmine Trinca, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Idris Elba, Mark Rylance

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 27th March, 2015
Time : 114 minutes
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra; Writer : Brad Ingelsby; Music : Junkie XL
Starring : Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Boyd Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Genesis Rodriguez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Common, Aubrey Joseph

Two men try to protect loved ones. And themselves. From someone more powerful, in a position to do them great harm. And, in both cases, it’s a friend turned foe. One is directed by the director of Taken, while the other looks like his handiwork as well...

In Gunman, its Sean Penn, trying to protect former girlf-friend, Jasmine Trinca. Up against someone he thought was a friend. The setting is Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. And then moves to London and Barcelona.

In Run All Night, its Liam Neeson, doing a very familiar turn, trying to protect his son, Joel Kinnaman and his family. From best friend turned enemy, Ed Harris. And the setting remains New York, for most parts the seedier side…

The ensemble cast is excellent in both – Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance and Idris Elba in the former. And Boyd Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Genesis Rodriguez, Common and Vincent D’Onofrio in the latter.

Both are variants of one man against the rest of the world. Very filmy. Very slick. Feature good action. But stretch credibility more than a little. While Gunman has very little by way of sentiment – its more impersonal in some ways, the greater enemy is large, anonymous and faceless – and its protagonist is a gun for hire trying to turn over a new leaf. Run All Night has much more in terms of human emotion – a father trying to win over an angry son, a hired killer struggling to cope with the advancing years and nightmares of his victims.

While the pace doesn’t really flag and the stunts don’t stop, it’s the predictability of both, the fact that we seem to be dealing with superheroes, just without a cape, that drags the overall film down. Both are watchable, but just about once…and perhaps on TV…