X-Men: Days of Future Past

Let me start by saying that X-Men: Days of Future Past brings together arguably the biggest star cast we have seen in a long time. Though only a few of them get to do substantial work with their characters but I am not complaining. Why would I? How often do we get to see James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, with Patric Stewart & Ian McKellen? Add to that Jennifer Lawrence & Ellen Page, Top all that up with Hugh Jackman and Peter Dinklage. Wow! With a cast like that, one needs to do just a little more to make people scream. This film does a lot more.

The film takes no time in getting down to business and starts right away filling the screen with mutants both old and new. You see Blink who makes portals to move around (reminded me of Portal, the amazing game from Valve), Colossus, Kitty, Ice Man etc. The first fight sequence itself gives you a glimpse of what to expect from the rest of the film, and let me tell you what follows is spectacular.

The action sequences are top notch and extremely well choreographed. A few scenes mix humor with action which is actually signature for all Marvel Studio films (this film has Marvel characters but has not been made under Marvel Studios, read more here: Marvel Redefines Synergies). The highest point of the film comes thanks to the introduction of a new kick-ass mutant called Quick Silver. As the name suggests, Quick Silver is very fast and [SPOILER ALERT BEGINS] interestingly he is the son of Magneto. This fact is not revealed in this film, only a small hint is dropped to suggest the same. [SPOILER ALERT ENDS] The scene takes place in slow motion and shows the speed at which Quick Silver sees the world around him. The background score complements the scene really well and the entire sequence leaves you laughing and awestruck at the same time. It deserves all the claps it got during the screening.  The narrative is interesting for most part though I would have loved a little more detail and background on the current time/present day happenings.

James McAvoy & Michael Fassbender are superb once again as younger versions of Prof. X & Magneto. As always Hugh Jackman lives and breathes like Wolverine and I can’t imagine what it will be like after this as this could very well be Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine. Lets hope he sticks around for the next sequel in 2016. Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique is totally in her elements and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) is breath taking as the central negative character but it is his future creations The Sentinels that are so much worse, inducing fear of life even in the most powerful mutants.

I would have really liked to see more of Ellen Page & Ian McKellen but as I mentioned before the film does not delve into the present day details and so these brilliant people do not get to show their class. The climax of the film is a little underplayed for my liking. I would have loved an all out smash & bang but the film settles for something safe on this front. It also resets the X-Men world in very interesting ways which can serve as fountainhead for new stories for next several years.

Overall, the X-Men: Days of Future Past is probably the best X-Men installment that we have seen and it surely is not a film that you would like to miss. A word of caution for the people who have not seen some of the previous films in the franchise. It would be a little difficult to link the events with past films which is not essential but it does elevate the experience. Having said that the film still has the potential to keep your attention throughout the 2 hrs even if it is your first X-Men film.

Rating: 4/5

P.S. The 3D version of the film offers absolutely nothing so i would suggest watching this one in 2D. Also, stick around for the end credits scene at the very end! You will be rewarded with a bonus first look at the next movie’s villain. And, if you are an X-Men fan, you know it is gonna be one hell of  a ride!

Not so Amazing Spider-Man 2

Here we are, exactly 10 years after Spider-Man 2, witnessing The Amazing Spider-Man 2. For me, Spider-Man 2 was really the highest point for superhero films till Nolan came along and showed a different side to this genre with The Batman trilogy. So it is safe to say that the highest point was way out of reach for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, even in it’s second try.

I had written about the level of involvement Marvel Studio has with Spider-Man films in Marvel Redefines Synergies and it shows in The Amazing Spider-Man series. The issue I had with the first Amazing Spider-Man was that there wasn’t a good enough story to tell. Over here however that is not the problem as in a complete contrast, we are given an overdose. The story telling is extremely convoluted and over loaded with sub plots. It would be an achievement to remember all the plot lines after coming out, even then I will try and give it a shot. There is some secret about Peter’s father, then there is the obvious love story, there is Electro, and Aunt May trying to forget Uncle Ben, then there is Harry Osborn (Peter Parker’s long lost friend). Oh and yeah, there is also lot of screen time given to Peter Parker’s guilt trips about breaking his promise. I mean c’mon, is this a superhero flick or what?

The previous Spider-Man versions scored hugely on the strength of its central character backed by fresh writing. I feel bad in saying this but Andrew Garfield is possibly one of the biggest problems with the film. He is not able to portray the character convincingly & seems even more out of place then the first film. The writing is uninspiring & tries to throw in too many witty lines but fails to get the smiles. Another strength of the older films was the superbly choreographed action sequences. I mean the sequence with Spidey & Doc Ock fighting on a moving train was just spectacular. We don’t see anything like that this time around. Yes the special effects are right up there. But then wouldn’t they be for any film that comes 10 years later? The villains too are poorly conceived and suffer from lack of character development. This is actually a huge problem because 1) villains are the life lines of such films (remember Green Goblin & Doc Ock) & 2) This in spite of taking the entire first half to get a back story in place for them.

Fortunately there is something in the film that is truly amazing and that is Emma Stone. She is sweet, charming, witty & natural. It is only because of her that we see some chemistry on screen as she overshadows Andrew in every single scene. She is the reason why the second climax (there are actually 3 of them!) hits you and stays with you. Sadly that cannot be said about anything else. Overall a total drag. Watch it only if you must.

Stars: 2/5

 

Man of Steel Movie Review: Man of Steel Is Very Brittle

superman

The most awaited film this summer is finally here and what an anti-climax it has turned out to be. I am rather mad because I have actually traveled 800 Kms and spent 3000 bucks to watch this film in English in a quality 3D theatre. It reminds me so much of The Amazing Spiderman which had so much promise and turned out to be a huge let down. Man Of Steel also falls in the same category. It is a super disappointment because of the no. of years we have been waiting for someone to do justice to this incredible superhero. We all had hoped that this wait was over with  Man of Steel as names like Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder were behind it. Not to be. Continue reading “Man of Steel Movie Review: Man of Steel Is Very Brittle”

Table No. 21 – Heartfelt Climax Makes It Worthy

“If you have the power to do something bad, does not mean that you should do it”

The year 2013 kicks off at the theaters with Table No 21, totally opposite to how the year ended in December with no brainers like Khiladi 786 & SOS, . Though films like Table No 21 mite not be ideal entertainment for most people (Judging by the business done by 786 & SOS) it is a film that should be seen for the right reasons. The promos of Table No 21 were excellent in maintaining the suspense of the film and even though the film itself does not touch any new heights in the thriller genre, it is surely packs a punch.

The film is about a couple (Rajeev Khandelwal & Tena Desae) who win a free trip to Fiji in some contest and have a great few days before they are approached by Khan (Paresh Rawal) who is the host of an online game show called Table No 21. What happens after that is something I cannot share without giving away the suspense so people will have to watch it.

The film suffers from a lot of problems like unreal dialogues, some extremely weird and shabby camerawork, a weak screenplay that takes too long for the suspense to build up. The script had the potential to become a big winner but unfortunately the inherent flaws never let it peak except in the end. Even then I recommend this film because it is a welcome in comparison to crap that gets made in the name masala entertainers. The high point of the film is its climax that takes you by surprise and hits you extremely hard. All the actors performed really well which is no surprise from  Rajeev Khandelwal in addition to Paresh Rawal who is just world class.

It can be said that the film is built solely to shock you with the climax but what the ending brings out is a message that needs to be seen, heard, acknowledged and acted upon.

“If you have the power to do something bad, does not mean that you should”

 Rating: 3/5

Chicken Khurana is Delicious

The last few years have offered a lot of quirky small budget films that hit the mark on most counts. Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana falls in the same bracket of Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye in terms of flavor and treatment. The film is about Khurana family and centers around the recipe of Chicken dish that only Daarji (Vinod Nagpal) knew how to make. Omi (Kunal Kapoor), a runaway, returns home from London due to money problems and is looking to get easy cash. When he gets back he is welcomed by most members of the family without pondering over the way he ran away. He reconnects with Harman (Huma Qureshi), his childhood fling who is mad as hell since he never called in the last so many years. Whether he manages to get hold of the recipe for Chicken Khurana or not is a question best left unanswered.

A film is also like a dish but a much difficult one to perfect. Even stalwarts can sometimes add more salt or spices and it loses the flavor that people long for. Keeping the same thought, Luv Shuv gets every ingredient spot on just like Khosla and Oye Lucky. If there is any problem, it lies in the the right amount of ingredient which is also crucial. The cast of the film is pitch perfect, I cannot think of anyone else who could play the role of Daarji and Titu Mama better than Vinod Nagpal and Rajesh Sharma. The other supporting characters also fit their roles perfectly. Huma Qureshi who was praised for her debut performance in Gangs Of Wasseypur 1&2 shows her range and is so believable as Harman. She adds the much needed spark to the romantic track of the film. Kunal Kapoor is effective but not memorable. Music of the film is no less than any cast member, it is very much a member of the film and would really be incomplete without it. Amit Trivedi yet again composes a score which carries the film instead of a selection of songs that fill in the gaps.

The film offers many delightful moments, none more than the ‘Kachcha Scene‘ which is hilarious. Dialogues are humorous throughout and Titu Mama gets the best lines. Art direction & costume are perfect. So what is that one ingredient that is little less than perfect? The script. It is a little too simple to captivate the audience for the entire duration of the film. The supporting track of romance is good but apart from that there is nothing else to support the track of the mysterious recipe.

On the whole, Luc Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana is delicious enough and a dish which should be tasted by all cinema lovers, whether you are vegetarian or not. It boasts of a dream cast, ample humor and great music to keep you company without staring at your watch, maybe just a little glance.

Rating: 3.25/5

Heroine – High Budget Boredom

Today I am sure of my strange equation with films made my Mr. Madhur Bhandarkar. I don’t think he likes me very much. I did not go to the cinemas to watch Chandni Bar or Page 3 and they turned out to be fabulous films. Post that I went to watch Traffic Signal hoping for another hard hitting film but I was so wrong. So next time logic got the better of me and I did not go to watch Fashion, which once again turned out to be an excellent film. Hope you guys are with me so far. In the morning I made up my mind (even though it was a last minute decision mostly coz I had nothing better to pass my time with) & went to watch Heroine, Madhur Bhandarkar’s take on a Bollywood superstar. As most of you would have understood, History repeated itself and bit me once again. Heroine is a painful watch with hardly anything new or even improved.

It starts of with one of Kareena’s most hard hitting looks from the film, tears rolling down her eyes, smudged makeup, red nose (a common site) going to the police station. However, I don’t think I can pinpoint where the film goes from there because it goes all over the place. The script has nothing new in it and everything feels like a dejavu of previous Bhandarkar films. On top of that my belief that Hindi cinema is also following the footsteps of Hollywood in coming up with edgy screenplays has been smashed. The screenplay of  Heroine is one of the worst I have seen in a long time. The film appears to be a series of broken down incidents with hardly anything holding them together.

I understand that controversies are a part and parcel of today’s creative industry but that does not mean Madhur Bhandarkar can just pick up any damn thing from the past, mix it up and put in front of us. The detailing that we saw in Chandni Bar, Page 3 & somewhat in Fashion has vanished altogether. What has replaced it is stereotyping of the highest order. Each and every character from the film either looks like a caricature of sorts (almost as if they are acting in a spoof ) or the characters are highly stereotyped, right from fashion designers to gossip columnists. You know you have got it all wrong when the audience starts laughing to scenes that have normal conversations with no humor. Music of Heroine also lets it down as there is nothing worth taking home here. Add to that the substandard artwork. Don’t make a film when you can’t shoot a simple scene inside a moving car without using effects on the outside. The set put up for the award function was a big joke.

There were only 3 good things about the film. One is Kareena Kapoor and even though she is extra-ordinary as the crazy, possessive, manipulative & vulnerable superstar, her performance is not enough to save the film that is surrounded by such mediocrity. The other two positive things about the film are the trailers of Talaash & Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khuraana. I had a blast while these trailers were playing.

 

Rating – 1.5/5

 

Review: Gangs of Wasseypur – Brilliance Redefined & Cult Allover

I had spent the past few weeks reading all the rave reviews GOW was getting from Cannes and Sydney. It was selected for the Directors Fortnight at Cannes and got a standing ovation at the Sydney Film Festival. It finally released in India today and the hype surrounding the film is so much that this should turn out to be the biggest commercial success of Anurag Kashyap’s career. Let me just congratulate  the makers of the film for some excellent promotions especially the team behind the PR of the film. They went all out and made sure that there was Wasseypur everywhere. It is commendable because some people didn’t even know that the Shahid Priyanka starrer Teri Meri Kahani was also releasing on the same day. GOW out did Teri Meri Kahani without the presence of any stars whatsoever. Hats Off.

The film that has just been released is part 1 of the two part revenge saga, the second part releasing around the end of July. It starts of with the title track of Kyuki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi which serves as a timeline, as well as a beautiful contrast to what follows. Part 1 is a flashback of birth and growth of Sardar Khan and how he seeks to avenge his father’s death. The detailing is top notch and full marks for art direction as well as makeup. There isn’t a single scene where you feel something is out of place, whether its the fight scene outside the coal mine, the butcher colony (wow) or anything else. Each and every thing in the frame belongs there and nothing missing. Dialogues are one of the highlights as they give the film many memorable moments.  Manoj Bajpayee’s defense of being caught cheating by a pregnant wife or the wife’s encouragement to sleep with a prostitute are some of these moments. Sneha Khanwalker is another star whose original score for the film outshines even her award winning work in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.  All songs are in the background but what they give to the film is unmatched.

There is so much brilliance in GOW right from the titles which are marvelous to the final scene of part 1 which is To Die For with Bihar ke Lala playing in the back. This scene has the stamp of cinematic brilliance all over it and I can watch it over and over again. Its not possible for you to get it out of your mind. There are many other scenes which make you take notice of the fact that you are watching a Anurag Kashyap Film. All the actors are in fine form especially Manoj Bajpayee who gives one of the finest performances of his career. Another actor to watch out for is debutant  Huma Qureshi who has amazing screen presence and charm. Her Rayban look & “Permission leni chahiye” scene is excellent.

The film however is not perfect, it builds pace and intensity but then comes along a scene which is just not of the same level and the intensity just goes down. This happens often enough to be pointed out and is almost like a sinewave. So a couple of things that d not go for the film are its editing and screenplay as the film could have easily been shorter and much more swift.

All said and done Gangs of Wasseypur is one of the finest gangster films of all time and is a must watch for all the people who love quality cinema. The high point at which the film ends makes you go crazy and craving for part 2. The final shot of the gun dropping and firing on its own is the best possible sign off the film could have had. Its got Cult written all over it.

Rating: 4/5