Saturday, November 15, 2008

Drona Kidnapped by Hari Puttar?

Okay, the title of the post would have been of relevance a month ago, but those were the latest movies I could write a review upon. So, like the last month, the movies are listed in reverse chronological order of their release dates except where there is a series or movies based on the same book and like.

Parenthesis after the release date contains the country it was first released, if the movie was/is not released in India. Mentioned alongside the title in brackets is the IMDB rating at the time of writing this post, if the movie features in the top 250 list. The last column contains a rating I would give them on a scale of 10.

Title (IMDB Rank) Release (Country) Rating /10  


Hello 10-Oct-08 6 /10  
Good treatment of the book. The movie adds or subtracts nothing. If you liked One Night at Call Centre, you would like Hello. If you didn't, you wouldn't. I found Five Point Someone quite gripping but Chetan Bhagat's second venture was rather mediocre. If you thought the first one was far-fetched, which I believe was not, this one is much more. If you haven't read the book, you might like this short movie based on a few friends in a rather empty call centre office. Acting wise it is okay with Arbaaz, Sharman Joshi and Sharat Saxena playing their usual roles, and Gul Panag, for a change, a slightly glamorous character.

Drona 2-Oct-08 3 /10  
Drona, for me, was shattered expectations. The starcast, the promos, the publicity, all seemed promising. But it turned out to be a superhero who is slow and dumb, portly and bearded, stoic and expressionless. The movie is slow paced, almost as if shot entirely in slow-motion, everyone takes ages to understand and react. The plot has one bit from Indian mythology, the treatment of the yet-to-become-superhero from Harry Porter, action sequences from Mummy and Torque, and has almost no substance. The only bit of attempted comedy is clichéd and boring. Abhishek and mommy's jobs were done easy by director Goldie; they had to carry the same stupefied expression throughout. Kay Kay is more comical and stupid than terrifying, this is perhaps his worst ever performance. The only good thing was the great locales, and the sexy, smoke-eyed bodyguard in Priyanka Chopra, whose character was a bit nimbler. The open end hints at a sequel, and I shudder at the thought of it.

Kidnap 2-Oct-08 4 /10  
The promos show you the nouveau physiques of the kidnapper and the kidnapee. And the kidnapee's bikini in which she gets kidnapped underwater. That is it to this Kidnap. The recently-turned-adult Minissha is kidnapped, and the über-rich father Sanjay Dutt is asked for odd errands in return. What follows is a series of phone calls and some supposedly confusing clues that fail to scintillate, and changes of one-after-other mini-dresses for Minissha in captivity. Irfan looks better in this non-chocolaty-role, but cannot act and deliver dialogues properly; his pout comes in the way. The storyline is rather bleak and predictable and music short-lived.

Hari Puttar 26-Sep-08 3 /10  
Home Alone the Indian way. Even the title is not original. Saurabh Shukla's getup had glimpses of the great Rubeus Hagrid. I love kid movies but I doubt if children would like this. The movie had no substance at all. The jokes are poor and at times improper for a younger audience the movies targets. Swini Khera looked quite dumb after her remarkable performance in Cheeni Kum, the other two kids are hopeless, and the elders didn't have much on-screen time.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 12-Sep-08 7 /10  
Also known as Journey 3-D, this would definitely have looked amazing on 3-D. True to the name, the movie is about a journey, a weekend trip to the centre of the earth by a volcanologist, his nephew, and a beautiful mountain guide. The movie is more of special effects and thrills and striking visuals, and is like an amusement park more than an adaptation of the serious eponymous 1864 classic by Jules Verne. The book and notes on it by the scientist's late brother are used for the journey, similar to the notes by Arne Saknussem in the book. The major incidents are picked up from the book, though very little care is paid to explain the scientific facts as there. The cast is only three people for the entire movie except the first and the last 5 minutes; the Icelandic beauty Anita Briem looked gorgeous though she did not have much else to do. The roller coaster and other rides do not let you feel time passing by. The witty one-liners add a welcome lace of humour. Overall, a good watch, but do not expect the science and math that were an integral part of the Jules Verne novel.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 16-Dec-59 (USA) 7 /10  
This one is the original movie based on the book by Jules Verne, and is quite a good adaptation. There are a few changes of course, but the movie stays close to the idea. The movie has quite a depth compared to the contemporary Brendan Fraser counterpart, and tries to explain things and make sense rather than being just a visual treat. The interior of the earth is depicted in quite a detail, and the special effects are commendable for a movie of the 50's. The journey takes them almost a year, and that is the core part of the movie, as opposed to the three minutes of free fall in the younger movie. Excellent use of imagery and light gives an eerie and frightening touch. The performances are good but you easily notice the differences between two movies half a century apart. Overall, an interesting watch if you haven't read the book.

Death Race 22-Aug-08 (USA) 8 /10  
2012. The US economy has crippled, unemployment and crime are on the rise, and private corporations run prisons for profit. Terminal Island is one such prison, and Death Race is broadcasted live on the internet and viewership charged. The cars are highly modified, the drivers are convicts, and the rules are simple: there are no rules; win and win your freedom, or die trying. Such a plot calls for high action and thrill, scheming and conspiracy, courage and intelligence in a fight against the authorities. The movie is like a modern Gladiator, the heavy metal armours replaced by tank-like cars, and swords and maces by machine guns and force fields, but slaves fight and kill each other to entertain the masses. At times it looks like a video game. A few killings are quite violent and gory. Jason Statham's abs would make the Shahrukhs shy. His role was energetic and powerful like the one in Transporter. The Mustangs and the Dodge Rams and the Jaguars and the Porsches are amazing, and the 18-wheeler Dreadnought breathtaking. Overall, a fast-paced adrenalin-pumping thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout.

Tropic Thunder 13-Aug-08 (USA) 3 /10  
Tropic Thunder is the story of filming of a war movie Tropic Thunder wherein pampered lead actors are dropped in the middle of the jungle with hidden cameras so that the movie can be shot guerrilla-style. Very soon the director dies in a landmine, and the cast are caught by a heroin-producer-gang and it is quite some while before they realise they are in the real and not the reel world. The movie failed to humour me at all, the action scenes are quite realistic and grand, and therefore, again, do not create humour. Some of the comedy attempted is by means of people getting killed or their limbs getting cut off, disgusting things like eating bats. Probably the producer-director-writer-actor Ben Stiller could never make up his mind whether he wanted to make a satire or a mockery of war movies or a slapstick comedy or simply a drama. I fail to understand how could this comedy lacking totally in wit be on the top of box office for three weekends.

Hancock 11-Jul-08 9 /10  
Superheroes are smart, fast, attired in sleek dresses and masks, and generally live under cover. Hancock is just the opposite: dirty, unkempt, smelly, and lazy, dressed in baggies, and sleeps on a roadside bench. But he helps innocent people and fights crime, is disliked by police and authorities. Extremely powerful, completely scratch-resistant, doesn't even budge when a locomotive hits him at full speed. Flies without wings or webs. Blows up a house when sneezes. Leaving apart all these superhero traits, what is most exciting about Hancock is his history and the chemistry of his existence. The last third becomes all the more interesting, also because of a bigger surprise, and the end is satisfying. The movie is proper masala: emotion, comedy, drama, and obviously action, perhaps the reason for such a high rating from my Indian palate.

Ramchand Pakistani 10-Jul-08 6 /10  
My first Pakistani film. Didn't seem any different than Indian movies. Not even the language. So, the movie is a good adaptation of a true story, that of a seven-year-old and his father who accidentally venture into the Indian side of the border and are held prisoners, and the wife-mother fights for survival. Provides a counter-view of the oft-used topic in Indian cinema. Good screenplay, realistic acting, rich emotion and drama, is what Ramchand Pakistani offers. Though it gets a bit slow at times, and the only Indian actress Nandita Das did not live up to the expectations. The kid who played the young Ramchand did an appreciable job. The movie was showcased in India in the CINEFAN festival in India even before it was released in Pakistan.

Ek Chalees ki Last Local 18-May-07 8 /10  
The movie begins with a romantic angle but turns out into a dark, quirky, slapstick comedy with quite some gore, unnecessary violence, crude and cheap jokes and expletives, sick characters and a somewhat incredulous storyline. I still give an 8 to the debutante writer-director Sanjay Khanduri for giving Bollywood a pulp fiction in the true sense. Bollywood has grown up in time, and while this one will not be taken well with the family knd of audience, it is good that people are trying out things. Another thing Khanduri should be commended is the real-time narrative, set in a night between the last local train in the night at 1:40 am to the first in the morning at 4:10 am, 150 minutes packed in 143. So much happens in that short period, and it still does not drag at any point. Watch it for crude humour, shooting-without-talking, and a few interesting plot twists, and of course good acting by Abhay Deol.

28 days Later 1-Nov-02 (UK) 8 /10  
The London metropolis. Silent. Devastated. Empty. Nary a soul. These are the most intriguing and brilliantly shot scenes when the protagonist wakes up after his coma 28 days hence his road accident, and discovers Britain is evacuated. Perplexed at the vacant city, he soon realises he is not alone. His company is zombie-like people who are infected with a 'Rage' virus and are out to infect anyone who doesn't have it. This interesting but unimaginable idea is not the only thing that makes this movie good. The entire treatment of the savage zombies and the rage, the escape and fight by the uninfected few, the always crowded London locales completely empty, the ever-suspenseful ascending background score, all make up this one an interesting watch.

28 Weeks Later 6-May-07 (UK) 7 /10  
I like it when the sequels are named so intelligently, and are made just because they have an original movie and an interesting name for the sequel, but the sequel still does well. 28 Weeks Later follows the sequel-can-never-be-as-good-as-the-original axiom, but it is only slightly below, even though the idea was no longer novel. This was gorier, had less of logic, and was predictable at times, even though it was the story of a family rather than an entire populace in general. The best part of the movie is the very good background score that sort of intensifies the suspense and thrill. The epilogue hints at another sequel.

Julie 23-Jul-04 5 /10  
I did not quite get whether Julie was intended to be a hot movie like Jism or a thought-provoking one like Chandni Bar. Perhaps it was tried to have the best of both. And there is where it failed. Julie is a prostitute falling in love with a business czar and standing against the society, in a wide and reaching-the-masses fashion. No doubt a bold movie but a decent plot is lacking. The story of she becoming a prostitute is what we've heard and seen many times, and the latter part of the story goes almost in fast forward. The motive of her daring act to feature on live TV was inexplicable. Neha Dhupia showed more skin than she acted, and Priyanshu Chatterjee was dumb as ever. Some bold dialogues are added that are aimed to hit hard but they fail to, because of the way they are delivered. Some changes to the plot and a decent direction and concentration less on skin-show could have improved the movie considerably.

The Animal 21-Mar-01 (USA) 6 /10  
Okay flick. A weird, inexplicable, incredulous concept that gives the cop Rob Schneider animal powers. He outruns horses, beats dogs in chasing Frisbees, chases cats, and dances like dolphins. His animal powers help him in his duties as a policeman at times. Whether his newfound celebrity continues can be found by watching the film. The antics are good, the 'animal's' girlfriend Colleen Haskell beautiful and mature enough for her only movie, and the storyline comical though nonsensical. The combination of so many animal powers in one human is good for a thought-experiment, but the movie has simply too much of it. Enjoyable without the brains. I missed Jim Carrey and his facial expressions for the role of Marvin.

Cube 9-Sep-97 (Canada) 8 /10  
This Canadian film is all about cubes. Seven people caught in a huge labyrinth of cubes try to figure their way out. I had disposed off the film after the first scene where an inmate reaches a particular cubical room and is cut into small cubes that fall apart one by one by a huge dicer that swings from the ceiling. When I later took up the film 7 years later, I found it interesting, puzzle-like, where the prisoners use a lot of mathematics and logic to understand the mechanism of the cubes and save themselves from deadly traps set up in some of the cubes. And not gory apart from that first scene. The film appeals because of its Kafkaesque settings, not much is explained about the cubes; how did those people reach there, and nothing about the outside world. The people discover there are 17,576 such cubes, and, with the help of numbers at each door on each side of the cube and colour of the cube, and some more interesting observations, they try to reach out, following power struggles and clashes among themselves. Overall, a gripping, horrifying watch puzzled with riddles and logic and math. Interesting.

Hypercube 29-Jul-02 (Canada) 7 /10  
What else could the sequel have been called? Add another dimension to the 3-D cube, and make a movie out of it. The extra dimension makes things more complicated, abstract, and somewhat weird. The tagline says it as a new dimension in fear, though I did not feel so. While the Cube gave a surreal feel, and was based on logic, science and mathematics, the Hypercube gives a perplexing feel, and anything defying laws of science is added as a part of the fourth-dimension: horizontal gravity, slower and faster passing of times for different people, parallel universes and moving of people and objects between them, an expanding tesseract that cuts anything like blades that occupies the same space/time as it. There was a single cube this time, which existed in multiple times and parallel universes and kept interacting with itself. Also, this cube is brightly lit, and the characters have colourful dresses compared to the dark cubes and prison robes in the first one. This reduces the terror but overall the movie is too complex to watch and comprehend even for someone who studied science at college.

Cube Zero 15-Oct-04 (Canada) 5 /10  
Since a cube in five dimensions was impossible to create even on the computer, a prequel of the original Cube was made, in an attempt to explain some mechanisms of the working of the Cubes and the life of people controlling them. A lot of detail is given on how people enter the cube, why do they not remember anything, how the traps operate, how are people killed inside, and what happens to their remains. This film is more gruesome than both of the others in the series, has deadlier traps, and gives faces and names to unknowns that control it all, or was supposed to be an experiment gone wrong. While this aspect is more horrifying, it sort of makes the first one diminutive in effect. Cube Zero does not explain everything clearly though, and does not give any explanation for the Hypercube. Perhaps that was too surreal, else you could have expected a Cube One-Point-Five sometime soon.

Twelve Monkeys (# 183) 27-Dec-95 (USA) 10 /10  
The best time travel movie I've seen so far. I generally find Bruce Willis a better actor but Brad Pitt overdid him in this one, not that Willis did not act well. The plot is intriguing, oscillating between past, present and future, and has quite an element of abstractness in the storyline that keeps you glued. A new paradox or rather, a new form of time travel paradox is depicted: an attempt to find the cause is the actual cause. No sooner than this is realised than every piece of the jigsaw falls into place. The various small subplots make quite sense and no single shot seems unnecessary or out of place. No next-century gadgets or computers working with sounds at animations. I could not help getting amused at a news channel covering the story of a child fallen into and stuck halfway in a borewell, a la Prince and several other children who've followed him in India. Anyways, a movie worth spending two hours of complete attention. The movie ranks # 183 on IMDB; I would place it in the top 20 in my list.

La Jetée 1962 (France) 8 /10  
La Jetée is credited in Twelve Monkeys as the inspiration. While the adaptation is a real good one, the original is almost a piece of art. Constructed entirely through black and white still photography, this 26-minute French film has a post-World War III plot, and one of the earliest time-travel movies. The movie has no dialogues, only a French narration and therefore still photos with English subtitles was like reading a comic book with a background score. The plot becomes quite abstract due to the brevity, and is elaborated much better in Twelve Monkeys. Quite a few things are left unexplained and to the imagination of the audience. This is where Twelve Monkeys scores over this; the plot is still very intriguing and abstract though elaborate, and of course a motion picture is more expressive against a still-photo-film.

Vertigo (# 41) 9-May-58 (USA) 9 /10  
This quinquagenarian Hitchcock classic is a delight to watch. The intriguing thriller revolves around a retired detective afflicted with acrophobia, who falls in love with the woman he is hired to tail. That this is just a part of a very large scheme is revealed towards the last third in a shocking twist. And the way the mystery unfurls and the protagonist goes into and comes out of his shell again at the revelation. The black and white winter scenes in high winds give an eerie feel, and the crisp dialogues and the long silent scenes add to the mystery. Oscar winner James Stewart looks almost like Sherlock Holmes in his investigation, and the gorgeous Kim Novak looks beautiful in all her getups.


8 comments:

Roli said...

oops!!! itna bada blog... arre.. abhi thoda ruko bhaai... These were the first thought that came into my mind also ki shayad ye pehle vala movie blog hi extended hoga but its a brand new... :)

hmmm, its a good one... hamein yahan lagta hai ki hamne almost sari latest movies dekh li hain, par abhi bhi hancock types kuch movies bachi hui hain, infact Drona to dekhne ka mann hi nahinhua to vo bhi bachi hui hai... ab dekhte hain...

Indigo said...

Death Race and Hancock are good, Twelve Monkeys and Vertigo are my all time favourites, but I differ on Tropic Thunder. I liked the movie, did you watch it completely and did you understand it? It was quite funny.

Did you type this long post also with one hand?

ashes said...

Roli:

Arre nahi bhai...inme se kaafi saare reviews to pehle hi likh chuka tha, abhi compile karke daalein hain bas.

Hancock to bahut purani ho gayi hai...don't watch Drona, in fact, though I watch all movies, I would not suggest any movie I rated less than equal to 5.

ashes said...

Indigo:

Thanks. Yeah, I did not understand the jokes in Tropic Thunder.

A part of it yes, but as I said above, I had already done a few movies before the last two posts.

Amiya Shrivastava said...

I am skipping this post as it's again a review compilation ..I'll revisit this on need basis... nevertheless, it's certainly a useful post..

..anyway..I watched SAW and SAW V ..and I liked former better than the latter...

ashes said...

Amiya:

Yes you can skip this. These reviews are more for myself, and maybe as a reference for someone. You might read the movies you want to. Very soon I'll be moving all these to a dedicated blog.

I never saw the SAW movies for fear of the extreme gore and grotesqueness.

Anonymous said...

Ailaa, itne saare movies k baare main likh dala....how you manage to see so many movies....so much patience....ohhhh toh ghar main bait k yahi kiya hai in your wound healing chhutti :)

accha lekha hai...mujhe movies dekhne ki zaroorat hi nahi aapka blog padh liya karungee...it will save my time too :P...aur pakaooo movie se bhi bach jaungee :)

ashes said...

Anonymous:

:) Watching one movie a day is not difficult if you don't watch TV. And patience nahi chahiye hota zyaada...agar computer par dekh rahe ho aur movie pakau lagne lage to window chhoti ho jaati hai uski :)

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