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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Barfi (2012)


Director: Anurag Basu
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Ileana D’cruz, Priyanka Chopra

Barfi Film
Cinematography is the clear winner in Barfi—each and every frame is soothingly mesmerizing. Be it the fireflies in soap bubble, Jhilmil trailing Barfi mimicking his moves or the simple motion of lilliputian Darjeeling train, it is all sheer perfection—work of pure art. Music compliments the camera work equally, though, slight influence of 'Amelie' in it can’t be denied. Through some of the scenes, director seem to be paying homage to some great works of cinema, e.g., 'City Lights'.  

Ileana couldn't have wished for a better launch pad in Bollywood (I believe it is her first). Priyanka Chopra's research/effort for portraying the character of an autistic is quite evident in her body language. And, best of them all is indeed Ranbir Kapoor with his Chaplinesque antics!

First half is fantastic imparting loads of vitality and energy, but second half seemed a bit dragging with slight overdose of music and abstract shots. The length of the film and little too much melodrama, for my liking, will keep me from a re-watch. All in all, a must watch experience.

7.5/10

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vlad Tepes (1979/80, Romanian)

Director: Doru Nastase
Cast: Stefan Sileanu
Genre: History, War

Born in 1431, Vlad the Impaler is one of the most intriguing figures in medieval history—more so for his title of ‘Count Dracula’ on which Bram Stoker based his famous novel.

Romania of oldKnown for his unmatched tyranny and stories that cropped up around it, Vlad turned into a legend for the world. Yet, no accurate account of Vlad the Impaler exists. If some brand him a downright sadist tyrant, then others respect him as a hero/leader who brought together a warring nation (Wallachia of old, merged into modern Romania now) against the mighty Turkish forces.


This film shows the heroic/patriotic/eccentric side of Vlad who ultimately, like a dark knight, took the fall for his country. He did all the dirty work—used the cruelest of methods to reform the nation that was being eaten away from the inside by power hungry Boyars (a Romanian rank of aristocracy), defied the Church, and rid the country of thieves, beggars, smugglers, and money launders. 

In six years of his reign, he made his country so free of corruption that it is said a gold cup openly kept in the middle of town won’t be touched by anyone. He has been shown as a devout Christian too and his ultimate goal was same as of the Church. However, their methods to achieve the eventual goal were poles apart—Church insisted on using ‘love’ whereas Vlad used ‘fear’ highhandedly. 

He used his same fear tactics in defeating an overwhelmingly large army of Ottoman Empire’s Sultan. For a win/country, he was someone who would set aside morality and ethics. This is exactly what he did to the immense Turkish army—poisoned all water wells in outskirt villages, hit the depleted enemies with surprise attacks at night, instilled more fear in them by festering their path with impaled dead carcasses of murdered enemy soldiers—and got the psychological edge. The thirsty/hungry army couldn’t take this anymore, Sultan realized this man’s horrors know no limit and he, eventually, decided to cut short his campaign.  

‘Vlad Tepes’ (tepes means spikes and his nick name came from the fact that Vlad use to impale the criminals on spikes as punishment) shows the first half of Vlad’s life, rather a part of it as his childhood hasn’t been shown but only referenced once, briefly. The second half of his life, his recapturing of throne, and ultimate death haven’t been dealt with in the film.      

I am not a qualified historian to judge the authenticity of the film but it seems like a very honest effort—one that shatters many previously held false beliefs.

And finally some trivia! Vlad’s father was Count Dracul and in Romanian added ‘a’ meant ‘son of’. Hence, he came to be known as Count Dracula.

This film had been in my watch list for a while and what I saw really enhanced my experience of world cinema. Highly recommended, specifically to history buffs. Do watch out for Stefan Sileanu, he gives a powerful performance as the Count.  

8/10

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Chris Nolan does it again, nails third Batman film in a row and every single person involved—cast and crew—chips in. Comparisons with previous films are bound to happen and TDKR, of course, hasn’t bettered the prequels but considering how sequels usually run out of steam, this is a pretty neat wrap up of the franchise.    

Dark Knight RisesTom Hardy’s Bane looked epic—a massive improvement from the mindless thug of earlier ‘Batman and Robin’ film. Here, he is rightly portrayed as a superior physical and intellectual match for Bats and takes him through a journey full of ‘pain’. However, the impact that ‘fear’ and ‘chaos’ left in the minds of audience in ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’, respectively, is not matched again. Bane starts off as a fearsome leader but seemed more like a puppet by the end. This should have been avoided; he is an intelligent fellow, a thinking person, and would have fared better if portrayed as an equal partner instead.   
  
Anne Hathway looked pretty damn hot as Catwoman. Looks apart, her role wasn’t as meaty as that of Michelle Pfeiffer though she does well in what little she had. Pfeiffer was her own Catwoman, crazy and wild, and still remains the act to beat. Michael Caine, as Alfred, is again a pillar of strength for Batman even in his leaving him, and he is the reason we get to see something completely unexpected in a restaurant in Florence! Caine delivers again in a significant short role. Morgan Freeman too has a short role but there isn’t same scope for him as in previous film though he had to be in it. Marion Cotillard has an eventful role as Miranda. As for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, we all know he is the guy to look out for.         

Overall, TDKR is a complete package with thoughtful references to previous films. But unlike ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ there aren’t many dialogues or sequences that stand out and will remain with you forever. 

One thing that Nolan does in the film for Batman (and for the ardent fans who have been praying for it forever!) is give him the ending he fully deserves. In DC universe it is very hard, almost impossible, to accomplish but in a film you can just leave it at the happy ending. Take a bow Chris Nolan. Thank you from heart’s bottom :)

Chris Nolan is well known to leave subtle clues for the audience. The sequence where Blake and Batman rescue the trapped policemen is quite exciting; it drops the audience first hint toward the eventual ultimate! 

One sequence in the film left me a bit unsettled, perhaps, Nolan did it on purpose. In DC universe Batman restores himself—after Bane’s plundering—by supernatural means, and it still took him years. In the film, his healing process has been sped up dramatically. Once Batman breaks out of the holed-in jail (Jodhpur fort, where the shooting for film started) camera does steal a glance on some greenish, small pond quite close to the underground jail; most likely, Lazarus pit but nothing conclusive is shown. In comics, ‘Lazarus pit’ is a secret Batman has kept from most, so, probably that is the reason Nolan choose not to be explicit about it in the film either. Instead, he drops a few hints for the comic book purists instead of showing use of magic so late in the franchise. Unlike, say, Wolverine; Batman has no super-healing even though he possesses a will of steel, I am sill assuming, some essence of Lazarus pit use to seep into the water/food supply of the underground prison inmates.     

The film concludes as it should have. Clearly, Nolan didn’t ended the film in this manner to ensure a future safety-measure for himself but if ever—highly unlikely—he runs into a bad patch then you know where he can start up again, along with Gordon-Joseph Levitt!  

Finally the trailers! The Campaign trailer looked extremely promising, hilarious actually, with Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis locking horns—two of current generation’s comedy superheroes. Just hoping, trailer dialogues aren’t the only ones that tickle your funny bone.  
Man of Steel trailer didn’t showcase as much but we do get to see the Supes in air once more, in almost full glory! My favorite flying of Supes, till date, still remains the one where Superman turns the time backwards to save Lois, please jog my memory for any other!

I’ll definitely watch TDKR again on my laptop with headphones plugged in; helps me feel a film more intimately!

8.2/10

Friday, July 6, 2012

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone

Plot: Midlife crisis for a longtime couple.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” is delightful film—like a breath of fresh air of late. Steve Carell has become one of the best of current actors when it comes to romantic comedies. He simply lights up the screen with his presence. 

Crazy Stupid LoveThe film won’t offer you anything new but there are humorous, little family-twists that keep it ‘fun’ all the way. Carell and Ryan Gosling form up a dashing wingman combo. Julianne Moore is well familiar with the genre and gives a neat performance along with all the other actors. She looked beautiful as ever, and even young and sensational Emma Stone doesn’t overshadow her on-screen. As always, Marisa Tomei is loud and cheerful and poses up nicely for the film’s poster! She seem to have come an altogether different route since ‘Untamed Heart’ with Christian Slater, looked so promising and pretty there; but now it seems she’ll only play the second leads. Kevin Bacon, after the intense villainy in X-Men First Class, enjoys the film in a short role as a punching bag!

Overall, "Crazy, Stupid, Love." is a kind of film that will brighten your day even when down in the dumps.

7.8/10

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone
Genre: Superhero

Plot: Your friendly neighborhood super hero is back. Again!

Amazing Spider-Man
First things first, 3d is best ever you might have seen thus far, even the dim lightning scenes rendered perfectly which isn’t usually the case with most 3d films.

Amazing Spider-Man starts with a young Parker playing with his father. From there onwards, back story of Spider-Man has been told well and explains a lot why Spidey is the way he is. He is usually considered a geek who is perplexed with his love-life and saddened by the death of his Uncle. But this films shows, even before he was a superhero he was a boy of solid beliefs—beliefs that were instilled in him during his upbringing. His disappointments that he always curled inside had more to do than just girls. Untimely death of his parents and the hole they left in Peter Parker’s life has all been brought to us, explicitly, from behind the curtains.

Be it film or comicbook, Spider-Man of late took a back seat to X-Men and Avengers franchise. The reboot didn’t make much sense to many but it did to Marc Webb and the crew, and I am very happy for that!

Spider-Man, like many other superheroes, is driven by love for his family and friends and they, along with his beliefs, are his actual strength. Marc Webb does a good job in making sure action and special effects don’t overshadow these basic human tendencies.     

The chemistry between Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) is the USP of the film—even though they lack the ‘famous kiss.’ They look adorable as a couple, seem made for each and emit some sort of instant freshness—something that was missing in earlier Spidey films. The scene where both are clearly eager to go out but none can say it out is simply too good!

Andrew Garfield with his antics does light up the screen. Emma Stone (unlike Kristen Dunst) complements him equally. She does so with her prettiness, trademark Gwen Stacy looks and a neat performance—surely an up and coming actress. For female protagonists, she is a breath of fresh air for Spider Man films.

Amazing Spider-Man remains right on track when it comes to character development and some of the most influential scenes from previous Spidey flicks have been executed alright—Uncle Ben’s death has been rightly toned down a bit, to be in line with this slightly different Peter Parker who has already experienced the suffering of losing loved ones, so he doesn’t blow his cork as frantically this time.    

However, Tobey Maguire is one tough act to follow and as a superhero film Amazing Spider-Man lags behind its predecessor. A superhero flick must guarantee, never-before like, brilliant action sequences and even though it has some good action scenes, like the one where Spidey is saving people on bridge or the one where crane workers are helping him out, these are no match to the intensity of awe-inspiring sequences from Sam Raimi’s versions. E.g., Spider Man’s efforts to stop the train headed toward a certain death of all the passengers.        

A few things, perhaps in an attempt to be a distinct, seemed hasty and awkward. The scene where Spider man simply tells the boy’s father that he is ‘Spider-man’ lacked glitz. Are Parker and Gwen already getting together again? You are definitely going to miss the words "Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man"!

Webb has given us a decent first reboot film but he needs to take it all to level-next in upcoming sequel—action being an uncharted territory, he has his task cut out.

A real good theater watch.

7.5/10
   
P.S., going in with zero expectations did help and free popcorn plus cold-drink was an additional perk!


The Flowers of War (2011, Chinese)


Director: Yimou Zhang

Flowers of War
Set in 1937 during hte 2nd Sino-Japanese war--with the 'rape of Nanking' at its full intensity--Flowers of War focuses on a group of young girls, some prostitutes, last few surviving Chinese soldiers resisting the Japanese invasion, an adopted orphaned boy, and an American Mortician disguised as a priest. All sheltering in and around a Convent declared as protected. 

It is another good film by Yimou Zhang but not in the same league as 'Hero' or 'House of Flying Daggers' and seemed a little over stretched. For its length, it could have thrown some light on the circumstance of war-weary, frustrated Japanese soldier as well, instead of just showcasing them as an army from hell--a war film covering both the opposing sides automatically becomes that more special.

Feats of valor aren't uncommon in face of adversity, be it the prostitutes, Major Li or young George they all look like some actual Chinese who stood tall in the gruesome war and made sacrifices for their home. But, an American priest didn't make much sense--not that Christian Bale didn't do justice to his role. This would have still been alright had the director been some American, however, coming from an A-list Chinese director/writer/author, this is bizarre. All the other characters in the film are very believable and it actually seems an account of some real event, except the American priest character messes it a bit.       

The trademark Yimou Zhang cinematography is on display again, he indeed is a very special director. The way he plays with colors and camera is simply exemplary--breaking of glass, shattering of window, the resulting sounds, the reflection of light; he combines such miniscule things in a well-knit detailed sequence, like only he can, and presents it on-screen as some masterpiece of art. You, as an audience, are only left gaping over his marvel. What more, the man makes a bomb blast look like some celebration of sorts and yet highlight the pain and trauma within (more specifically, Major’s death scene). 

A good watch.
7.2/10

Friday, June 15, 2012

Delicatessen (1991, French)

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
Genre: Black Comedy

Plot: A dystopian future where people aren’t evil as such, instead, they are what circumstances make them. The good still prevails, though.
Delicatessen-Delicacy (French)


French do know how to make engrossing films on a shoe string budget. Innovative set design and coloring—with a slight orangish tinge—does give it a very rare post apocalyptic look and feel. 

Delicatessen is indeed a cult film—actually, homage to Terry Gilliam! So, if you enjoyed Monty Python’s satire you’ll enjoy this too.  

7.4/10

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Sci-fi
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Prometheus
Toward Origin
Plot: It is not where and how Alien/Aliens began, it is where and how everything began.

Prometheus starts with a well thought out Earth seeding scene that is later on corroborated by another DNA matching scene. As is the case with a Ridley Scott film, it isn’t aliens dancing onscreen all the time but the slow-paced narrations builds it toward an expected epic climax and the haunting visual grandeur keeps you glued in. However, the climax never picks up and rather disappoints—from what we know universe started with a big-bang, so expecting a few little bangs while unraveling the mystery of the‘Origin’ isn’t being too farfetched.



The plot ‘engineered humans’ is something I used to think about a lot in my childhood and the film/plot raising the same questions excited me a lot. Prometheus does arouse interest and curiosity but choosing not to answer any questions leaves someone like me wanting for more and dissatisfied—we understand the plot; we know the plot and can relate to it being kind of unmanageable due to its sheer extraneousness but from someone like Ridley Scott we expect a few answers. Though he does try to uncover a few layers but leaves it at that…which is justified in case there’s a sequel in offing. 

Would have loved to see more of Guy Pearce in that TED talk and Michael Fassbander from the pre release viral videos—those were some things I was hoping to see more of! Noomi Rapace does a fine job, especially with her British accent, and some of the best scenes from the film cast her fighting for survival—automated surgery scene being one. Charlize Theron has hardly anything to do, her character seemed forced at times—that’s two forgettable roles in a row for someone as capable as her.

Ridley confirms Prometheus isn’t exactly a prequel to Alien/Aliens but you we do get to see a somewhat similar alien in the escape pod.

Sadly, a onetime watch from Ridley Scott, though you may watch it again for its visual brilliance, neat special effects and state of the art future gadgetry/equipments; plus, the effort in scoping out those Alien world-like locales is totally worthwhile.

Personally, I would enjoy a movie with Prometheus’s pace more on my laptop with headphones plugged in instead of a theatre watch. Primary reason for that: idiotic chatterboxes who either don’t understand a film or are not into a particular genre but instead of leaving the theater they carry on their with incessant gossips, mobile talks and mocking. Agreed, a film doesn’t always have to be intelligent and cinema is actually more about entertainment. So to such blockheads I request, go watch a ‘Dude Where’s My Car’ or a ‘Tashan’ and be happy about it.   
 
7/10

Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (2004, Chinese)

Director: Lu Chuan
Cast: Duobuji, Liang Qi, Xueying Zhao 
Genre: True Story

Kekexili_Mountain Patrol
In early 90s 'Poaching' forced  the Tibetan antelope population to the brink of extinction. Concerned, some localites out of their own efforts, formed a group to protect this endangered species—Mountain Patrol.

The following dialogue beautifully sums-up the entire film: "In Kekexili, each step maybe the first human imprint ever made on that spot since the world began". These were the words of a Chinese geologist who later disappeared in the harsh vastness of Kekexili. Set in a location as exotic as it gets this film is also a true story--an irresistible combination for those into the genre.

First thing that strikes you about the movie is its genuine treatment; shot in somewhat a documentary style. It doesn't seem as if Chuan is directing a film rather he is a part of it, completely immersed in its conception--physically and as well as mentally. The actors are usually amateurs who have done a commendable job and are also very believable as the real patrol members--the group photo at the end of film reasserts this statement.

Here, you get to see the real physical effort that goes into low-budget film-making without stunt doubles or special effects. Traversing through the great Tibetan Plateau, running around for shots and thin oxygen definitely took its toll on the crew and the actors, and that has been captured onscreen too. Some scenes stand out for their authenticity, like the one where a patrol member chases after the poacher on foot. This is simply devoid of any acting--you see the scene and feel the exhaustion of both the characters.

This film is actually a part of National Geographic world films and has been critically acclaimed by the nature/animal lovers and cinema lovers alike.
National Geographic says, "Mountain Patrol: Kekexili is a film inspired by a people's remarkable mission surrounding the illegal Tibetan antelope poaching in the region of Kekexili, the largest animal reserve in China. The story is brought to the screen with great detail by director Lu Chuan. Set against the exquisite backdrop of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Chuan tells the tale of brave local Tibetans who face death and starvation to save the endangered antelope herds from a band of ruthless hunters."

In all, Mountain Patrol is a very accurate account of coming to existence of biggest Chinese animal reserve.

The film concludes telling us:

"Gayu, the journalist, returned to Beijing. His reports shook the nation. Four patrol members were arrested for selling antelope pelts but later released due to the public support-as patrol was helpless and unsupported in harsh conditions. Chinese government declared Kekexili a national nature reserve."
Indeed, a film that had to be made.

8/10

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Never Cry Wolf (1983)

Director: Carroll Ballard
Cast: Charles Martin Smith

Plot: Biologist Tyler (Smith) has his task cut out—his organization has him sent to the Arctic wilderness for researching the reason of decline in Caribou’s population. Most likely, Canis Lupus (wolf) is the culprit.    

Never Cry Wolf
Never Cry Wolf is pure bliss. Set in the majestic Arctic, it literally gives you the feel of walking in the air. Essence of uncorrupted nature has been captured onscreen like never before. There are hardly any artificial sounds used in the film and background score used is very minimal. The majestic silence of Arctic is broken only by the chirping of crickets and howling of either wind or Canis Lupus (Arkmanon in Inuit).

When Tyler first lands in Arctic, the sheer vastness scares him a bit. Loneliness is in abundance. But once Tyler starts gelling with the nature, the solitude turns to peace and he doesn’t want anyone or anything to shake up his serenity.   


There are few other interesting characters in the movie:
  • The curious white wolf George who lets Tyler into his territory. The initial encounters of the two are very engaging and set the right tone for entire film.  
  •  An aged Inuit Ootek who teaches Tyler the ways of the wild and how to imbibe its soul within oneself (something which is later shown in more detail in 2003 film "Snow Walker").
  • Rosie and Mike: both are consumed by greed and sell out the nature. Though Mike’s actions are somewhat justifiable as he has responsibilities.  
The screenplay compliments the plot so well. The opening shot with an excited Tyler’s narrative of his journeying toward his childhood dream, and then, the sudden change in tone after the magnitude of situation sinks into him as he ponders over what he’s is actually  attempting—simply top notch. Apart from Tyler’s encounter with the wolf there are some other scenes that give you a good laugh, especially the ones involving Arctic’s omnipresent rodents. No real spoilers ahead but the expressions on Tyler and Mice in a lunch scene are unbeatable!  

Never Cry Wolf was one of the first Touchstone pictures and played a huge part in establishing the successful production house we see today. Beautifully narrated, breathtaking, attracting and holding interest as if by a spell; this film is based on Farley Mowat's autobiographical, albeit controversial, best-selling book about his life among Arctic wolves.

The film concludes with an old Inuit song:

"I think over again my small adventures, my fears.
Those small ones that seemed so big.
For all the vital things I had to get and to reach.
And yet there is only one great thing, the only thing:
To live to see the great day that dawns,
and the light that fills the world."

8.3/10

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Way Back (2010)

Director: Peter Weir
Genre: Adventure
Cast: Jim Sturgess Ed Harris, Colin Farrel, Saoirse Ronan

The Way BackPlot: Story of a few prisoners’ 4000 mile long arduous escape journey from a Siberian Gulag—a forced labor camp during WWII.

‘The Way Back’ is an epic in respect of its content. Stalin/Russia and Hitler/Nazi are at war, and World War II is the backdrop, any foreigner in Siberia is suspected as a spy; be it Polish, Latvian or American, and is sent to the dreaded Gulag. Prisoners are put through tough labor and, like most forced WWII camps, are underfed. The jail is considered as unbreakable not because of its sentries or barbed wire but because there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Any escapee will either get lost in the extreme and wild Siberian vastness or freeze to death in sub-zero temperatures.

Yet, some escapees attempt this impossible—a freedom-walk from Siberia to India. Conditions for survival are adverse and nature is at its utmost fury. In their mammoth journey escapees chart the depths of snow-covered Cedar forest, measure the length of magnificent Lake Baikal, survive the hunger/thirst of Mongolian desert and ultimately face the grand Himalayas. All through this, they brave the bone chilling tempests of Siberia, sandstorms of Gobi desert, unending nothingness of Tibetan plateaus, and above all, leaving behind their loved ones. Down and out and at the limit of physical exhaustion, their will power and burning desire to reach someone keeps them going. Eventually, the epic journey concludes in Sikkim, India.

The film beautifully portrays some very tender sentiments. Mr. Smith (Harris) comes back from almost dead because of his son. The group’s natural leader Janusz (Sturgess) must wait till Poland’s freedom in 1989 to reunite with his estranged wife who actually gave him away under severe torture. Janusz wants to let her know she is forgiven and deserves peace. With the help of some moving, black&white collages, he is shown to have waited 50 years to meet his wife.
 
It is a visually striking piece of film-making and vastness of plot can’t be covered in a mere 2 hours, which is primarily the reason why some scenes are a bit hurried and beautiful sequences end prematurely when you are craving for more in-depth detailing. Nonetheless this film is a must watch for its sheer multifariousness. When it comes to nature it doesn’t get more diverse and exotic than this movie.  

The film is directed well. An extra hour or so would have given screenplay, along with direction, ample breathing space. Acting is only a second fiddle here, still some sequences like Valka (Farrell) not quitting on mother Russia and risking imprisonment, death scenes of the characters, especially Irena, do touch you. Makeup is simply unbelievable, no surprises it was nominated for Academy in the category.      

Set in 1939 ‘The Way Back’ is based on the novel ‘The Long Walk’ which has been claimed as an account of true events by some world war survivors and veterans. Director, though, maintains it is only a story.    

Any nature lovers or hard core trekkers must do themselves a favor and watch it immediately!

8/10  

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Junior, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders

Plot: Earth's mightiest heroes must come together to save the planet from an unrelenting evil.

Avengers delivers what it promised--a high octane showdown involving a horde of superheroes. It culminates together the previous Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk movies.

Great to see such perfect 3d treatment. Perhaps the only non-animated movie (barring Avatar) where 3d hasn't messed a single frame. Joss Whedon shrewdly avoids many dim lighting shots and the few that are there have been done very well.

The Avengers - Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hawk Eye, Iron Man, HulkThe camera work simply bowls you over and the much talked about tracking shot is unparalleled awesomeNESS! Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawk Eye, all together, standing tall against the evil which is about to end the world--you simply don't want that thrilling shot to end! Another brilliant piece of camera work is the 'aerial shot' of Thor and Captain America together.

The film is full of some epic scenes, the epic-est of them all being 'Captain America taking the mountain shattering blow of Thor's legendary Mj├Âlnir on his indestructible shield.'
 
Funniest was, without a shadow of doubt, the Green monster smashing a demi-God! Loki was K.O.ed like a bug! Iron Man is also at his arrogant, charming best. Black Widow looks hot as ever--especially for a 60 year old woman! Her interrogation scenes, using sort of reserve psychology, are clear winners for the film. Captain America takes a while to get going but comes up trumps in the second half once he takes charge and starts commanding/strategizing his Avengers against the Chitauri invasion.
Another top scene: Iron Man makes his usual grand entrance with AC/DC 'shoot to thrill playing' (again)!! The tin man is the only show-off one wants to watch again and again!

Cobie Smulders starts off well in her role as S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Hill and may get meatier part in sequel with Coulson gone now (though he may not be entirely gone!).

For a good vs. evil film to be deemed as classic, equal magnitude for both works well and should ideally be the case . Here, the Villainy/evil sucks; compelled Hawkeye looked more vicious then Loki and co. No point in comparing the villainy/evil with DC's Joker even Marvel comics produced better movie villains in 'Iron Man' and 'X-Men First Class' and for that reason these two still remain way better screen adaptation. One may argue 'Avengers' movie is not about villain but heroes assembling, even in that regards the animated 'Ultimate Avengers' did much better job. After putting in millions of bucks in the movie what baffled me most was the fact that they couldn't find a little girl who could speak Hindi without a foreign accent! Could have taken a tip from Boyle on this!

Overall 'Avengers' is a good summer blockbuster that blends action and laughter with backstories and provides a spectacle that gets your adrenaline pumping but could have done little more than having Michael Bay-like flying/jumping alien invaders being chopped like dead meat.

Thanos in end credits (villain from Silver Surfer and Iron Man animated cartoons) seems like a very valid reason for Avengers to reassemble!

7.7/10

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)

Director: Gary Ross
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci

Plot: In a dystopian future, a boy and a girl from each 12 subjugated districts must compete in an annual tournament and only one victorious may walk out alive.

The Hunger Games (2012)When I first heard of ‘The Hunger Games’ the obvious question popped up in my mind—is it a ‘Battle Royale’ rip-off? I haven’t read any of the books but seen both the movies and can say there are similarities. However, underlying theme and treatment of both is quite different. To begin with, Hunger Games is PG unlike Battle Royale.

Battle Royale is a sheer slasher and it captures the gory details of violence and fear that violence instills—especially in someone as young as fifteen—far better than Hunger Games, whereas, Hunger Games is superior when it comes to character development, screenplay, and especially grandeur.

As compared to an in-your-face BR, HG is a more thorough and complete movie that grows on you. The idea of using flashback scenes—loaf of bread, coal mine blast—in HR proves to be a winner and gives the viewer (even without reading the book) enough insights into actual story development.

Now, this doesn’t mean HG is better than BR or vice-versa. BR was perfect as it was and requires no one to even bother about the novel, but HG does need a backstory. In fact, in terms of direction and overall acting BR is slightly ahead of HG. Even after so many years the expressions, shrieks and trauma of fifteen year olds from BR are still vivid with me.

Seeing Jennifer Lawrence first in ‘Winter’s Bone’, I did predict an Oscar nomination for her. And since Winter’s Bone her stature in films has been growing all the time. Here again, she delivers a power-packed performance.  

Found some interesting BR vs. HG discussions here:

A good watch.

7.5/10
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