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  • The Wolverine

    The Wolverine (2013)

    July 31, 2013

    This will once again divide many, as in my opinion, the non-comic book reading fans wouldn't like this as much. I, on the other hand loved it! Very dialogue driven & story based.

    Logan is tested emotionally & physically in this movie, and Jackman is once again in his element, it is as if, he was made to play Wolverine. There is lesser action & special effects compared to recent superhero films, which is refreshing.

    The absence of mutants apart from Wolverine & Viper though is a small letdown. The treatment & ret-conning of The Silver Samurai is also somewhat a bust, as they take a totally different route as opposed to the original source.

    However, I'm pleased by the film on the whole, in fact I would rate this as the best among the 3 superhero films released this year, yes even above Man of Steel.

    Do wait for the credits to roll as the post-credit scene is a doozy. Many who were silent throughout much of the film were cheering and whooping while I let out one too many vulgarities!!

    Overall, I give it a 4.25/5

  • Maryan

    Maryan (2013)

    July 23, 2013

    Maryan - A breathtaking visual & aural experience that is let down by a rather slow, disjointed and overall weak screenplay

    First off, without a shadow of a doubt, I'm going on the record and saying that Dhanush is the best actor of his generation bar none. This film further highlights his acting prowess (which we, the Tamil film audience have grown accustomed to) that began with 'Kadhal Kondein' and continued with superlative performances in 'Pudhupettai', 'Polladhavan', 'Aadukalam', 'Mayakkam Enna', '3' & the recently released 'Raanjhanaa'.

    He carries this film on his fragile shoulders through scenes of joy, love, hate, anger, despair & helplessness. We laugh with him during his fun times and we anguish with him when he suffers.

    The story itself had the potential to be superb (it being based on a true event that saw four Indian oil platform workers abducted and held for ransom in North Africa), however Bharat Bala did not do justice with his extremely weak screenplay.

    This is his Indian feature film debut (having previously directed a short film, a documentary, a foreign film & a few ads and music videos) and it is glaringly evident that he has a long way to go. His screenplay fails to sustain the viewer's attention, to be honest if not for the lead pair, many would not have watched till the end. The pace is extremely slow, which is fine if the scenes are not disjointed, however it feels like there one too many unnecessary scenes. The African villains were poorly conceived as neither were their motives explained nor were they engaging. They were basically cutboard cutouts of continental African caricatures. 'Kadal Rasaa' song felt out of place, the idea was great but could have been explored differently. The notion that a fisherman is at his strongest only in his element, the sea, is fantastic and proves to be the plus point in the climax.

    The lead pair has performed excellently, their chemistry is very prominent. The slow build up of their love is refreshing and funny. Parvathy Menon's acting deserves praise, and she looks great as a village belle. Dhanush really tugs at your heartstrings in certain scenes especially the second half when he is a hostage. That phone call scene will leave you reeling. You will know what I mean when you watch it, I wouldn't want to spoil too much.

    The rest of the cast have been grossly underused except for Jagan & Appukutty. It is a shame to see Salim Kumar's talents wasted as the father of Parvathy's character. After all, he also won the National Award for Best Actor for his heart wrenching performance in 2010 Malayalam film 'Adaminte Makan Abu' (incidentally he was a joint winner with Dhanush that year).

    A.R. Rahman was at his ethereal best as both his songs & background score was pure aural ecstasy. Although all the songs were great, the best was saved for last, as 'Nenjae Ezhu' coupled with an amazing visual spectacle could not be topped by the rest of the songs.

    A big kudos to Mark Koninckx, a Belgian who is pretty well known in his country but whose only previous claim to international fame was the unheralded 2008 Franco-Liberian film 'Johnny Mad Dog'. His framing and angles were evocative. Be it the fishing hamlet that is beautifully hugged by the blue sea or the harsh dry dessert that is both arid & stunning to look at.

    On the surface of it all, this is just a love story that could have been brilliant if it had been supplemented by a better plot twist.

    I give it 3/5, mainly for the lead pair's performance which was complimented superbly by Rahman's magical tunes & Koninckx's visual feast

  • Man of Steel

    Man of Steel (2013)

    June 28, 2013

    The newest silver screen reboot of one of the most popular superheroes of all time has divided fans and critics alike. There does not seem to be a middle ground here. You either loved Man of Steel or you hated it. I absolutely loved it, the reason is because there were logical changes to the source material yet it did not veer far off the tangent.

    Now after the disaster of 2006's Superman Returns, I felt that the Last Son of Krypton just could not be played by anyone but Christopher Reeve, and that Superman II was the last good film in this series. Thankfully, with Christopher Nolan's guidance and David S. Goyer's story (he also wrote the Batman reboot Batman Begins which incidentally is my favourite film of that trilogy), this installment starts off the right step towards what I hope is a Justice League film in the near future.

    The best part of the films was sans-action for me. The lengthy prologue scenes on Krypton (hugely influenced by similar scenes in 1978's Superman) were fantastic; the repartee between Jor-El & Zod was great. It showed that both of them ultimately strove for the same goal yet had diametrically opposite routes to get there.

    The film then delves in a Nolan-esque non-linear narrative with constant flashbacks. The flashbacks were also a good way of showing Clark's childhood instead of having an origins prologue that included Clark's beginning on Earth. In fact, the scene of Clark first discovering his powers in his elementary classroom was one of my favourite scenes of the film, with the child actor really portraying how a kid who thought he was normal was actually different. More than any other Superman film since the 1978 one, Man of Steel reminds us over & over that Superman isn't human, yet the Clark Kent in him is as human as us.

    The action scenes were somewhat repetitive, but I liked it nevertheless. It also made me wonder, if Zack Snyder could be the right man for a Dragon Ball Z reboot because of the fight scenes in the air!

    Snyder's touch is very apparent in those action scenes where Faora & Nam-Ek first wrecked Smallville in the battle with Superman before General Zod & Superman literally crushed Metropolis into a heap of rubble. This is derivative in all superhero films of this era i.e. New York was destroyed in The Avengers. Now, Zod unleashing his World Engine to terraform Earth into a new Krypton and in doing so destroys much of what is in its way; is totally understandable as he is a villain. Why Snyder in all his wisdom decided to allow Superman to annihilate Metropolis in the guise of battling Zod is a puzzle to me. It was not needed; perhaps something different could have been done. The ending was not a big surprise to me, as Superman has killed before in the comics & even in Superman II, and in that scene, it can be clearly seen how much it pained him to resort to that. It may be, that this was the act that made Superman swore off killing his enemies in the first place.

    The absence of John Williams's signature Superman theme was somewhat alleviated by Hans Zimmer's fantastic uplifting score. His new theme was great and the score throughout the film was fantastic.

    Henry Cavill shines as Kal-El, showing his struggle between his real self and his shadow on Earth, he also looked the part when he first donned the cape too. It is only as Clark Kent where he falls slightly short of emulating the amusing antics of Christopher Reeve or even the small town charm of Tom Welling. Since it's his first outing and we didn't really see Clark Kent that much, I'll give it a pass (hell it was thoroughly better than Brandon Routh).

    Michael Shannon is suitably cast as General Zod, menacing in his stare and steadfast in his aim to see Krypton be born again. Russell Crowe & Kevin Costner played their father figure roles fantastically well surpassing their counterparts from previous iterations. It was strange to see Goyer dispensing away with the canonical death of Pa Kent (he died of a heart attack in all previous adaptations) instead going for a more harrowing death scene, which I'm sure shaped Clark's psyche. Amy Adams needs to convince me that she can be a Lois Lane, while Diane Lane did well as Ma Kent.

    I loved the fact that they took a different direction with regards to his costume, the Fortress of Solitude and the 'S' symbol. It is not as if they deviated totally, as the costume (Kryptonian Armor) has appeared in The New 52 comic series while the 'S' being the House of El sigil appeared in the Superman: Birthright comic series. I also loved the easter eggs that littered the film, hinting at the future of this series, and maybe even a Justice League film in the making. The most prominent seems to hint that the sequel's villain will be Superman's arch nemesis, Lex Luthor. This included the Lexcorp logo appearing on the top of tower, a Lexcorp truck drops Clark off at the barn, the side of a tanker bearing a Lexcorp logo during final fight between Zod & Superman and the appearance of a Lexcorp construction site.

    Those that hinted at a broader Justice League were the Wayne Industries logo on the satellite when Superman & Zod battle in outer space, the empty pod in the Fortress of Solitude that hinted that it could be Kara Zor-El aka Super Girl who was the first to arrive on Earth, the presence of Captain Farris who shares the same name as Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern's girlfriend & finally Dr. Emil Hamilton who would go on to head S.T.A.R Labs (which will be instrumental in the creation of Cyborg).

    On the whole, this is not for those that loved Iron Man 3 which was witty & charming. Man of Steel was moody, cerebral & very intense and that was what made it great for me. It was a triumphant return to the silver screen for Kal El, and I hope this is the beginning of wonderful journey for future DC films.

  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

    May 23, 2013

    Star Trek Into Darkness was the kickstart that I needed for the summer film season, especially after the underwhelming Iron Man 3. JJ Abrams second outing started off with a bang, the initial sequence was breathtaking, considering that I watched it unfold in glorious IMAX 3D (and I hate 3D, wanted to watch it in IMAX 2D, but my cinema only showed the film in IMAX 3D)!!

    And the fun did not stop there, as the film continuously thrilled me with its fantastic action sequences and humour. The CGI was amazing as is expected from the geniuses at ILM. At times, I was wowed by what I was watching, the volcano scene, the bombing of Section 31 & the Vengeance crashing. The music was a major plus point for me, I was humming the theme (Enterprising Young Men) as I walked out of the cinema.

    JJ Abrams does a solid job yet again, he does not disappoint. The screenplay though might irk some longtime Trekkies due to its similarity with The Wrath of Khan, in fact some might even consider it a poor rehash. I am not a big Trekkie, in fact I have only watched Abrams' 2009 reboot & a few episodes of The Next Generation, so I loved how this film was handled in terms of storyline. It had some socio-political undertones which mirrors our current state of affairs.

    Moving on to the cast, for me, Benedict Cumberbatch was head & shoulders above the rest, playing his character with ease and menace. Zachary Quito was excellent as well, with Spock showing a wider range of emotion. The rest were adequately used as each had their individual story arcs fully fleshed out. Plus I also loved the new look of the Klingons on their planet, here's hoping we get them as villains for the 3rd film.

    I would give this a high rating as I thoroughly enjoyed, best movie of the year thus far for me.

  • Iron Man 3

    Iron Man 3 (2013)

    May 04, 2013

    Now that most of you have probably watched Iron Man 3, I can safely give my review of this film. Do take note, that there are Spoilers ahead for those who have not watched it yet. I'm reviewing this both as a comicbook/animation fan, so my views will be based on that.

    First off, let me put this out there, Iron Man 3 is in my opinion the worst of all the films released thus far as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Let me tell you why, this film left the Marvel fan in me utterly disappointed at the direction it took.

    I walked into the cinema hall fully enthused about Iron Man 3. The ingredients to make it an amazing movie were all there. Post The Avengers, our hopes with regards to superhero films have definitely been increased. What more, that this, the 3rd of the Iron Man series, had Shane Black helming it. He is of course famous for being the screenwriter of several buddy cop films like "Lethal Weapon" and its sequel, "Last Action Hero" as well as good story based films like "The Long Kiss Goodnight" & "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"

    This would be the film where we finally meet Iron Man's nemesis, The Mandarin. Bear in mind, Iron Man's rogue gallery isn't really great when you compare it with the rest of the Marvel superheroes, however if there was one villain that I wanted to see adapted onto the big screen for Iron Man, it was most definitely The Mandarin. Especially since, we had a pretty poor villain in Whiplash & Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2 (which wasn't a bad film, but it was rather underwhelming). The promos & posters had me pumped about Black's interpretation of this famed villain. When Ben Kingsley was announced as the man to play The Mandarin, my enthusiasm rose tenfold. I thought this could be the best villain we've had since Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight".

    Iron Man 3 however failed to live up to its expectations. Although I enjoyed the first half of the film, doubts started creeping as soon as Eiffel 65's annoying "Blue Da Ba Dee" started playing at the beginning. I mean remember how Iron Man started? AC/DC's "Back in Black" booming through as the US Air Force convoy drove through Afghanistan and ending with Black Sabbath's classic "Iron Man" as the credits rolled. Then in Iron Man 2, Tony Stark sky-diving off the plane as AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill" accompanied him. The film then ended with Stark and Rhodey being presented with medals as yet again AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" plays. Brian Tyler who wrote the soundtrack for Iron Man 3 is a far cry from Ramin Djawadi or Tom Morello who composed for Iron Man & Iron Man 2 respectively.

    Yet, I still harboured hope. It was going well, the action sequences were top notch yet again. The attack on his mansion was great. Seeing the new suit in action was fantastic as well, now that Tony Stark is able to remotely control the Mark 42 suit via the microchip implants he has injected himself with. I was even ok with him then losing his suits and having to go MacGyver in rural Tennessee.

    However, I lost all interest in the film as soon as the so-called twist occurred. The reveal of The Mandarin as nothing more than an actor hired to play the part, absolutely deflated me. The Mandarin is Iron Man's arch nemesis as I stated earlier. He is The Joker to Batman, General Zod to Superman, The Green Goblin to Spiderman & Sabretooth to Wolverine. It was a total cop-out, a middle finger to all the fans of Iron Man.

    The reveal that Aldrich Killian is the man behind The Mandarin was ridiculous as it totally butchered the pre-established continuity from the first two Iron Man films. The Mandarin in the comics wields a mystical power in his ten rings, which in Iron Man 1 & 2 had a presence via the terrorist unit called The Ten Rings. I am fine with removing certain aspects that would seem out of place ala what Nolan did for his Dark Knight Trilogy. Having Trevor Slattery, a drunk, dope addicted & washed up Cockney accented actor from Croydon, South London (who ridiculously cheers when Liverpool score against Chelsea, what the hell was that about?) play a role created specifically for Killian to control the war on terror was bordering on stupidity. Killian is a minor character in the Extremis comics so why elevate him to another in the line of techno-terrorists like Obadiah Stane (Iron Man) or Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2)?

    Up to that point, I must say that Ben Kingsley simply stole the show as The Mandarin. His vocal inflections, menacing stare and a believe that he was meting out justice; all of that was great. Then, that twist happened, and I sighed out lout in the cinema.

    Moving on to the rest of the characters, I really wanted to see the Iron Patriot (who is actually Harry Osborn aka The New Goblin, in the comics, but since all Spiderman characters belonged to Sony, they changed it here). James Rhodes was reduced to bit-part character here which is sad considering the calibre of Don Cheadle.

    Gwyneth Paltrow took on a heavier role, in fact we got to see a glimpse of Rescue (Pepper Potts in Iron Man Armour) which was ok, although having her infected with the Extremis virus was a tad much. The Extremis soldiers were minor characters in the comics, but it was nice to see Eric Savin (Coldblood), Jack Taggert (Firepower) & Ellen Brandt even if they were adapted for this storyline and are never called by their alter-egos.

    Aldrich Killian was played pretty well by Guy Pearce, but him having the dragon tattoos and breathing fire was confusing. Was he supposed to Fin Fang Foom? Or Firebrand? And why would they make him the founder of Advanced Idea Mechanics? We all know that AIM is an offshoot of HYDRA, so why not have that in the new Captain America movie? If would have been great to see Baron Wolfgang, Baron Zemo & MODOK!

    Robert Downey Jr, meanwhile, excelled as Tony Stark. Indeed, it is the role he was born for. He shows good emotion as he suffers from PTSD from the Chitauri invasion (slight forced but I was still ok with it). The comedy throughout the film was up to the mark, and we got to see some buddy cop humour between Stark & Rhodey. As for the end, I did not like the fact that Tony had his chest arc reactor removed. What does this mean for Iron Man in The Avengers sequel? The post-credit scene although slightly funny was absolutely irrelevant to setting up or teasing Phase 2 of the MCU.

    The few things I liked about Iron Man 3 were as said earlier, the action sequences and some minor easter eggs/cameos like Dr Yinsen (from the first film) & Dr Wu Chen Lu (who would go on to be Radioactive Man in the comics, which could have nicely segued into the Ant Man film since they're archenemies), mentioning of Roxxon Energy Corp & seeing the Iron Legion in action (the different types of Iron Man armour in the climax fight).

    On the whole, I would give this nothing more than a 6.5 out of 10. And to quote Nolan (blasphemy I know, but I'm a fan of both DC & Marvel, sue me), The Mandarin was the villain that we fans deserved, but not the one that Shane Black gave us. Instead, we got a derisory, fire-breathing Extremis infused maniac.

  • Oblivion

    Oblivion (2013)

    April 17, 2013

    Visually stunning and nothing more. Parts of the story make you stop and wonder, "Now where have I seen that before", Tom Cruise is his usual overacting self, the rest of the cast including Morgan Freeman are forgettable. Watch this only if you're a Cruise fan and an extra RM10 to spare.

  • Paradesi

    Paradesi (2013)

    March 29, 2013

    A brilliant film yet again from Bala & team. He takes us on a journey of hardship through the eyes of tea plantation slave workers in pre-independence India. As always, the characters are great and fleshed out, often making us, the audience, feel part of the suffering. All the actors & extras are great. Camerawork was fantastic with its sepia tones. G.V.P's music was a massive letdown, Isaignani's touch was sorely missing. The only minus points would be the rather wooden, 2 dimensional characterization of the Britishers and the unnecessary proselytizing song towards the end. The film ends rather abruptly, but it does so to show the never-ending lives of these workers. Based on the 1969 novel Red Tea, this is in my opinion Bala's best work since Sethu.

  • Olympus Has Fallen

    Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

    March 25, 2013

    All out action flick with very low substance and a simple screenplay. I found myself thoroughly entertained. The only thing missing was Jack Bauer or John McClane, but Butler did a decent job!

  • Django Unchained

    Django Unchained (2012)

    January 10, 2013

    As usual, Tarantino comes up trumps with his take on Antebellum-era of USA. Di Caprio steals the show with his over-the-top portrayal of slave owner Calvin Candie. Samuel L Jackson and Christoph Waltz portray their roles well while Foxx & Washington are adequate. The action sequence as it is with all his films, are slow-mo and all gore style of John Woo ie unlimited bullets & unlimited blood. The film is peppered with comedic moments and is definitely a must watch!

  • Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom

    Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom (2012)

    January 10, 2013

    Interesting story told in a very simple yet entertaining way!! Kudos to the team of newcomers!

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