Saturday, February 27, 2016


Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 26th February, 2016
Time : 156 minutes
Director, Writer : Alejandro G Inarritu; Co-Writer : Mark L Smith (based in part on the novel by Michael Punke); Music : Alva Noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto
Starring : Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck

In a nutshell, Jaako raakhe saaiyan, maar sake na koi…

There is nothing much, from a storyline pov, to distinguish this film from a hundred Hindi film revenge plots that have come before this. Yes, it’s gritty, more real, less melodrama – but from a basic story, it’s no different, apart from being excruciatingly slower and far less entertaining.

In the era when Indian tribes still roamed free (and hadn’t yet been butchered by the settlers), Leo DiCaprio works as a guide / tracker for the American’s, who’re out in the cold and wilderness, seeking pelts / trading. Not much is known about his past apart from the fact that he’d lived with some Indians before, had married one of them, lost her (to soldiers) and has a son, Forrest, who accompanies him everywhere.

When their group, led by Domhnall, is attacked by a tribe and flee – they must find their way back through dangerous territory that only he knows. Not the entire group is in agreement on taking that particular route (land vs water), most notably Tom Hardy, who’s quite voluble in his criticism. However, when, in a freak accident, Leo is mauled by a giant grizzly, all equations change and he finds himself, his son, and another boy-trader, Will Poulter, at the mercy of Tom

It’s quite gory, bloody and violent – every blow, every wound is shown in vivid detail. Also the landscape, snow-bound, cold, desolate is beautiful but bleak, almost behaving as another character in the storyline. Leonardo acts very well – not an expression out of place – and is quite convincing as a man preoccupied first with getting better and then consumed by revenge.

It’s not a film for everyone – there is a point or two made somewhere, especially via the Indians who flit in and out of the story – but you don’t know enough about Leo’s character to be cheering for his survival. And without that emotional attachment, the film is like the weather it’s set in – very cold, very bleak.

Gods of Egypt

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 26th February, 2016
Time : 127 minutes
Director : Alex Proyas; Writers : Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless; Music : Marco Beltrami
Starring : Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Geoffrey Rush, Rufus Sewell, Elodie Young, Chadwick Boseman

Basically, it’s about two super-heroes fighting (think Batman vs Superman, Captain America vs Iron Man or even Godzilla vs King Kong) garbed in the cloak of Egyptian mythology.

Gerard Butler (a demi-God himself), slays his brother, the King of Egypt, and blinds his son, Nikolaj, taking away his super powers, sparing him only because of the beautiful Elodie Yung . He then unleashes a reign of terror, warring with and seeking out the other Gods, all under the watchful eye of the Sun God (Ra), Geoffrey Rush, with most mortals condemned to be slaves. However, one couple, Brenton and Courtney, dream of a better after-life and believe freeing Nikolaj to battle with his uncle once more is key to a better future

What follows is great from a special effects point of view but quite insipid from a story or emotion perspective. Nikolaj, as in his role as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, brings a degree of warmth and charisma to his character. Gerard Butler looks and acts sufficiently mean, nasty and ambitious. And Courtney and Brenton as the young slave couple are sufficiently sweet with the latter doing well in his action sequences too.

Egyptian history does continue to hold a strange fascination for the Western world – the success of The Mummy and its sequel are testament to the fact that a good story set in the era of the pyramids can enthrall. However, this film uses the whole mythology bit only as a cloak, just for a bit of local colour – the characters, their ethos, their walk remains unmistakably American and that is it’s biggest failing.

Tere Bin Laden : Dead or Alive

Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 26th February, 2016
Time : 104 minutes
Director, Writer : Abhishek Sharma; Music : Various
Starring : Manish Paul, Pradhuman Singh, Sikandar Kher, Piyush Mishra, Sugandha Garg, Iman Crosson, Chirag Vorah, Rahul Singh, Ali Zafar, The Shetty Sisters – Pooja and Aarti

One of those that fit smack bang in the genre of mindless entertainers. A few laughs, a ridiculous storyline, ordinary acting (apart from ) and cheap production quality characterize the film, though it builds off and references it’s predecessor, the first Tere Bin Laden, quite cleverly

Manish and Pradhuman – director and Osama look alike from the first Tere Bin Laden – want to make a sequel to their film. They first have to convince their producers (the Shetty sisters, appearing as themselves) especially as their star, Ali Zafar (appearing as himself) wants to make it on a much grander scale. Unknowingly, they also attract attention from the mujaheedin leader, Piyush Mishra, who wants to use the look-alike to prove his closeness to Osama (and raise his stature) and also the White House (Iman Crosson is hilarious as Obama – especially in the rap mix when he announces Osama’s death) who through their special agent Sikandar, are looking for proof to convince reporters that Osama was actually killed

What follows borders on the ludicrous and generates only about one laugh per fifteen minutes. However, what is commendable is that it’s clean fun - no vulgarity or jokes on the disabled. A tighter story, like the first one, coupled with a good star, and they could’ve made the tale of the world’s most wanted terrorist so much more entertaining !

Friday, February 12, 2016


Rating : 9/10
Release Date : 12th February, 2016
Time : 107 minutes
Director : Tim Miller; Writers : Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese (based on the character by Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza); Music : Junkie XL (as Tom Holkenborg)
Starring : Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein, TJ Miller, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams, Stan Lee

First, I have an important message for the Indian Censors #CBFC and the sanctimonious prick running it #PahlajNihalani for doing their utmost to ruin the film viewing experience for adult Indian viewers

How do you describe irreverence, zaniness ? Is giving examples the only way ? Because, it isn’t the story or the acting, the action sequences or even the special effects that dazzle you – it’s the humour, wit and craziness dripping from almost every frame, right from the whacky opening credits, that totally bewilders, amuses and suckers you in…

“You're probably thinking "This is a superhero movie, but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kebab." Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero story.”

A man in a red suit, with no opening for the mouth, stalks some bad-ass men hitting their convoy and fighting them with guns, swords, knives and some scathing humour. We then figure out, via flashbacks, it’s Ryan Reynolds, ex-Special Forces. He used to help out common folk as a mercenary with a heart of gold but then met Morena Baccarin, fell for her, and just when things seem to be going fantastically, found out he had cancer. Where, in most films, you’d expect some raw emotion and heavy reliance on violin music, here the jokes don’t stop – even when he’s promised by a Recruiter that he can be cured – and given some super powers – and then is put through extreme pain / torture by Ed Skrein and Gina Carano to let the mutation take effect. Things are not the same anymore and Ryan / Deadpool has a new mission in life !

“I ain't super, and I'm no hero. But when you find out your worst enemy is after your best girl, the time has come to be a fucking superhero.”

They never stop making fun of X-Men, the studio, Wolverine, Hugh Jackman – nothing is sacred – even the venerable Stan Lee makes a guest appearance – as a DJ in a strip club. Karan Soni has a hilarious cameo as an Indian taxi driver and Stefan (as the voice of Colossus) and Brianna (Negasonic Teenage Warhead) are the good guys who help.

From the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time, comes... me!

Moments that particularly stay – the unique way a ceasefire flag is created, the bullet that goes up Main Street, Ed Skrein’s real name and the way it’s spelt out in the finale, Karan taking Mr Dead Pool’s romance advice seriously, and (they deserve another mention) the super opening credits !

"I'm touching myself tonight."

Thank God for films like Guardians of The Galaxy and Deadpool – you get to see the lighter, funnier side of kick-ass superheroes – it’s like all of the action, less of the brooding and a rapid fire non-stop round of jokes. Felt like watching it again as soon as it ended – quite a few jokes I missed out on…

PS : A List Of All The Censor Cuts Below


Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 12th February, 2016
Time : 131 minutes
Director, Writer : Abhishek Kapoor; Co-Writer : Supratik Sen (based on the novel ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens); Music : Hitesh Sonik
Starring : Tabu, Katrina Kaif, Aditya Roy Kapur

Soulful, romantic movies – where the hero and heroine keep expressing their love for each other, revel in deep sighs, leaving things unsaid and meaningful stares - aren’t really my type. Add shades of tragedy to them and usually they’re well nigh unwatchable for me. I went purely for Tabu and some of the visuals and I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s a pretty straight-laced translation of Great Expectations – set in Kashmir. Aditya Roy Kapur, the poor, talented artist / boy, Katrina Kaif, the gorgeous princess and Tabu the mesmeric, heart-broken wealthy ‘Queen’.

Kashmir never looked prettier – the autumn and snowy frames a visual delight (great work by Anay Goswami) ! The music score is super, sets the tone, the song Pashmina especially resonating. Even some of the art Aditya is shown creating is beautiful, breath-taking (some went over my head – the horse, for example - but there were others – the shikara, the black and white drawings - that were stunning). And Tabu works her magic – her look, her eyes and minimal gestures connecting a lot more than her hysterical moments.

I don’t get this kind of love – perhaps the problem is me – the one-sided, never-fading, the kind that lasts for years just on memories. Add to that the rich-poor angle, the bits about Kashmir (the bomb blasts, Indo-Pak relations) and the whole somber, brooding undertone, and you lost me

The main issue with the film though lies in the fact that, despite being only two years apart, Katrina looks like a nearby Cougar Aunty I know when romancing Aditya…and I mean this without in any way demeaning either of the two persons – it’s not that she looks old or anything – just the pair doesn’t work. She’s all grown-up, full-bodied, curvaceous woman while he’s still man-boy-child (with rippled abs, but that doesn’t change anything).

It’s not good for a romance flick, if the lead pair doesn’t click. No ?