Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1

Abala Naari Jennifer NirupaRoy Lawrence

one star

Mini Review:

The trailer shows you ALL the action there is in the movie. The movie is tears, tears, and more tears. It's awful to see Jennifer Lawrence cry, 'Mera Peeta Aayega. Jaroor Aayega!'

Main Review:

Every time Jennifer Nirupa Roy Lawrence cried for her 'Peeta! Peeta!' my stomach rumbled for Falafel.

Why was I distracted?

One. There was very little action in this movie, we only saw aftermath of the action. Never did one imagine that one wished to see an entire district being firebombed. You were shown a townsquare full of skulls and bones. You are shown more rubble than buildings coming down. No. Wait. There's a chance to take on the Capitol's army. And you hold your breath. At last, some action. But noooooooo! Tactics say wait. No point telling them we are armed. Hide...You hunger for action. And there is none.

Two. The clothes. The clothes. I understood why Effie Trinket complains about it too. Revolution is bad for fashion. Everyone wears military green shapeless jumpsuits. Revolution always means boring clothes. At least Expendables and Van Damme movies make up for lack of clothes by lots of action. But as I said, there's no action here. And the fact that Jennifer wears the Hawkeye costume doesn't help.

Three. The tears. So many tears, Jennifer Lawrence sounds more all the Bollywood moms and Sati Savitris rolled into one. Remember Madhuri Dixit bawling over Jackie Shroff, refusing to believe he died in the fire? Or Hema Malini's 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan... Main Naachoongi!' Jennifer allowing herself to be the mascot of the revolution felt exactly like that! Each time she steeled herself for Peeta, you can hear Hindi dialog loop in the background, 'Naari Apni Suhaag Ki Raksha Ke Liye Durga Ban Sakti Hai!' Alas. There is no Durga-Kali type action.

Four. I broke my choodiyaan on the deewar with this one (white folk will facepalm and bang their head on the walls). The sheer predictability of the events. It's frustrating to know that the stupid sister and her cat could endanger lives. Of course, they are going to be missing when the warning sirens blare and everyone is scrambling to escape to safety. I wish Jennifer had given the daft sister Kaan Ke Neeche for endangering lives. I wish Stephen King had stepped in as director and introduced us to Vampire cat (she fed on the barbecued flesh of those people firebombed, remember?) who feasts on everyone in the gigantic bunkers. I'm not even getting into how predictable the raid of the tribute centre is. The vampire cat is so much of a better idea. The movie would have been less of a yawnfest.

Five. Yes. You'll feel Nirupa Roy regaining eyesight at the Sai Baba temple is better plotted than Peeta is brainwashed crap. And watching Jennifer Lawrence in a Fab India kurta and lyrca churidar (aka her hospital outfit) is hardly going to make young men buy tickets to this movie. Also you will be so numbed, you'll not want to know (or care) how peasants who had nothing to eat and were being supervised by Stormtroopers managed to build so deep into the Earth. Where did their food come from. Who manufactured their ghastly jumpsuits, Whatevs!

Again. This is a yawnfest. They have tried to milk the hunger games cow, and mocked at our collective intelligence. Wait for the final film. Here, you don't even want to say, 'Ro Mat Jenny, Sab Kuch Theek Ho Jaayega!'

Review: Penguins Of Madagascar

Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private RULE!

3 stars

Mini Review:

It's a kiddies film with grown up lines. While the kids enjoy the mad, practically impossible on-screen action, the grown ups will guffaw at the maddest writing and visual gags that keep getting sillier and funnier. These are 91 minutes well-spent!

Main Review:

Come on! Admit that you could not deal with the friendship forever thing with the lion and the zebra and that inter species love thing between the hippo and the giraffe by the third film. I was. And I loved, loved, loved the penguins who were crazy and clever and yes, crazy and clever...

So do the people who gave the penguins a standalone movie. And what a great decision that is!

So 'Smile and wave, boys. Just smile and wave!'

It starts out like a Herzog crew 'filming under difficult conditions' and snowballs out of Antarctica to New York and travels frenetically everywhere from Brazil to Venice to Shanghai and more.

It rains puns, of course, but there are cinematic tropes that will keep you chuckling. Everything from sticking together as a team, to the James Bondish Medusa Ray aimed at helpless creatures to gut feelings, the writing is great fun: 

'Always listen to your gut!' 
'Sorry Skipper! That's anatomically impossible'

The politically incorrect reference to The North Wind is also reduced to 'No one breaks wind!'

Yes, yes! The lines are silly. But when you can imagine Penguins being in 'an observation mode' you can laugh at Private the penguin wearing a mermaid costume...

The villains, the rival team, the putting others before self could have been mawkish, but it's penguins we are talking about! They have surplus cuteness!

No. More. Spoilers.

Go watch the film. If you are embarrassed of being the lone grown up in a supposedly kiddie flick, rent a kid from the neighbor or a relative and walk into the theatre, head held high. But watch the film. Buy a penguin plushy to cuddle. 

Then smile and wave. Smile and wave.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Happy Ending

RomCom That Starts Happy, Ends Blah

2 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

Everyone wants to be Hugh Grant. Saif Ali Khan comes close. This close but the filmmakers want it to be a satire too, and that's where it fails. But it's way better than some of the romantic comedies thrown our way.

Main Review:

So Saif wants is almost Hugh Grant. And this movie has its moments too. But in its desperate need to 'not be a rom-com' because 'guys' wrote it and it was meant to be 'satirical', it falls flat. 

As a Rom-Com, it works because there is cool role reversal. And Saif does a pretty good job as a Runaway Bride. The fact that we have seen many, many movies about the writer's block and how the crusty writer falls in love with someone who simply breezes into his life, clueless about love does not matter as long as it is put in a different, more relatable setting. 

Hugh Grant himself falls for his lyricist in Music And Lyrics. He also does the Casanova thing and falls for lemme-have-a-quick-romp-and-leave Andie Mac Dowell in Four Weddings And A Funeral. So this movie has a tried and tested Rom-Com thing. It's just that it is not romantic enough for us to suddenly believe Saif changing his ways. 

If it is a satire, the movie needed to be much smarter than it is. The inner 'Yogi' (what a terrific character created! Sometimes Slob, sometimes SriSri!) needed to play a bigger part. 

Govinda - so awesome - is on a roll! Had there been more to him we could have had an enjoyable trip (a sharper, smarter version of Main Khiladi Tu Anadi).

The supporting cast is immensely likeable. Ranvir Shorey as Saif's best friend has some of the funniest lines and his comic timing is good.

Preity Zinta's character has been carelessly created. A hot ex girlfriend who is teen bachhon ki maa could have been so much fun, but we see her drinking chai. Blah!

Kalki Koechlin gets the best role. But we've seen that before too (reminded me of Seinfeld's girl with that annoying laugh).

Also, I loved the way it does not try too hard to speak Hindi. The urban English and Hindi mix works just fine.

Just saying that 'it's a satire on the process of writing cinema' doesn't wash. Had there been no subtitles, the writers would have perhaps given us a better romance. This is so in-between two things, sometimes it's a yawn or a groan.

I like romances, I do. And everyone loves satire. But this one tries so hard it sort of falls flat. Neither is it an honest to god romance, nor is it a satire. And you do wonder how Saif and Ranvir disable the tracking software on the phone when they believe breaking the laptop is the only way to delete a video from the computer...

Having cringed at things like that, the movie was still an immensely enjoyable watch. 

(One star for SriSri Saif, One for Govinda and the half for the supporting cast) 

Review: Dumb And Dumber To

So clever this movie!

3 stars

Mini Review:

Farrelly Brothers are cleverer than you think. This time Harry and Lloyd are reunited for a road trip that subtly spoofs everything from TED talks to the army to beloved movie tropes without ever shouting 'spoof'! You might not laugh out loud, but you will chuckle and grin through the movie!

Main Review:

That Jim Carrey is a genius, everyone knows. That Jeff Daniels can stand his own when pitched with Jim Carrey is truly awesome. And the two together take us through everything we thought was dear to us at the movies. No! Let me correct that. They bulldoze through (unwittingly, or so you're made to feel) so many things we know and love: cinema tropes, family values, our ideas on love and tragedy and still manage to surprise us every time they 'push bush'. 

This time Harry and Lloyd take a road trip to seek out Harry's daughter... And we trip on fireworks, tattoos, trains...

The comic timing is impeccable, although you do want to turn away from the sight of Jim Carrey swallowing the sausage, or guffaw cautiously when Harry discovers that he's adopted, or what Harry's cat does to the birds...

The Farrelly brothers poke at every holy cow that bleeding heart Americans hold dear. They are equally mean to people with physical disabilities as well as...

I remember hating the original. Maybe I need to watch it again to appreciate the humor that has made this a top grosser in the US. You better watch the movie and let me know that I'm right in saying, 'After watching this movie, you will not be able to post a smiley without chuckling...'

Review: The Equalizer

Action Flicks Ki Bhelpuri

Not Jhakaas!
1/2 star

Mini Review: 

If you've watched Steven Segal, John Claude Van Damme movies, then you've seen this movie. The original TV series with Edward Woodward is still brilliant after all these years. 

Main Review:

Why Denzelbhaiyya, why? Kaikoo itta faltu 'dekho kitta noir hai' fillum mein role liya?

When a movie deliberately tries to look more mysterious than it is, when the Raashians are more Russian than the onion domed church is, when every scene is more predictable than 'Mere Karan Arjun Aayenge'... you wonder if there were any merit in taking a glue gun and pausing the film and leaving... 

But we grin and bear it because we realize that even Under Siege series was so much better than what's happening on the screen. You begin rolling your eyes and don't stop. They copy microwave bomb, they copy knife stabbing, heck they even kill the baddies with a nail gun...

Am yawning with every word. The movie is so bad.

It tries to ride on the success of the tv show with the same name, but as an ex FBI guy who solves cases for people who have all the odds stacked against them (hence 'equalizer'), Edward Woodward is so much better than Denzel (the action here is more vicious, and it suits Washington better). You can watch the tv show on You Tube, why waste your time on bad guys killed by Rambo in First Blood (yes yes, they even copied Rambo style killing with 'available stuff', only here he has hammers and barbed wires and nail guns...)

Watch it when it appears on tv, and you cannot deal with a hysterical Sandhya bhabi in a police uniform in Diya Aur Bati Hum...

(the half star is for the screenwriter who references the books shown in the movie)

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Review: Interstellar

Inter-Not-So Stellar!

2 and 1/2 stars

Mini Preview:

Bollywoodization of Hollywood is now complete! What could have been 2014: A Space Odyssey is Premwale Planet Le Jayenge. 

Main Review:

(If you love Nolan unconditionally, go watch the film in IMAX for the sheer size of the vision of the man. But if you are a fan of space adventure movies, someone who spots anomalies a mile away, read on!)

The movie begins with 'Nitrogen increased in the atmosphere and crops died of the blight...'
and the primary science student so long buried under movies like Batman Begins and Inception awakens and says, 'Hold on! Isn't there already more Nitrogen in the air than oxygen?' 

And then your mind races because you remember how peeing on grandpa's farm was okay because extra nitrogen in the soil from the uric acid in your pee was supposed to make beans grow like crazy, not kill crops...

But fangirl inside stomps on primary school science student saying, 'IT"S NOLAN! SHUT UP!' 

And you stop wondering how they have clean water coming out from dusty taps and wait to plunge into fabulous space-scapes you saw in the trailer.

'Oi! Yeh kya hua! Indian Drone kahan se aaya?' 

I don't realise that I've said it aloud because Nolan fan sitting to the left of me says, 'Just like Bane emerged from a hole in Rajasthan.' and another jaded fan to the right of me says, 'They just want to unnecessarily market the film to India. They forget we are all Nolan worshippers here!' 

But wait! Cooper and his daughter arrive at NORAD gates? (Just like one loves the appearance of Stan Lee in the comic movies, I love to spot details like that on the sign on the fence) Erm... But the story is set in the midwest, is it not? And Norad tracks Santa (besides other things) from El Paso (Texas) and from Alaska, no?

But that's NASA they say, and I wonder, why is it secret? Looks like hundreds work there! Where did all those people park? Where did those people live? How come the facility looks so derelict if so many people were working there? 


I do. But can't help wonder how the government had money to send so many manned crafts in search of life, when Wall-e the movie had advanced robot probes like EVA doing the same job years ago?

Why wasn't science growing food in covered domes and people living like The Simpsons movie dome to keep dust out?

And why hadn't people adapted to living in basements and windowless houses to keep the dust out instead of letting dust layer laptops and plates and... 


So Cooper is going to save the world by leaving it... 

But not without one token black guy, one white guy (who was it? everyone on screen was talking so much, explaining so much, I wanted to fast forward to some action!), a cool robot TARS, and yes, a saucer eyed female passenger (Ann Hathaway). And you know rightaway that the two men are going to die in this inter-galactic adventure and at least one because of the woman. And who was going to betray the cause? That's the basic Hollywood formula movie, no? How was Nolan is going to make this work?

And you want to know what Ann Hathaway is really doing on this mission because she's just doing pretend science work. She pulls out those cylinders filled with human dna from freezers to check them and puts them back. 

Who chose the DNA donors? Why is she checking them so often? Do their numbers increase and decrease? Is there fear that they might mutate in space as though Jurassic Park was meeting Alien meeting Predator? And why only people DNA? Why are they not carrying seeds and water and stuff people might need on the new planet?


Oh yes! There's the Zimmer organ score. There are the awesome frozen clouds... And a question. Do planets survive so near the black hole? Why aren't they being sucked in? How powerful is their gravity (or centrifuge?) that keeps them in orbit around the black hole when everything else is being sucked in? What does a hole in the sky look like from the surface of the planet? Does the black hole rise and set like out moon which makes the tides? And why are the tides not being sucked into the black hole?

How come the spacecraft that lands in water seem to land in just half a foot of water, but people seem to be waist deep in it? How come they walk/wade through the water so confidently, as though they know the ground beneath the water is even and not potholed or filled with space crocodiles or space piranhas?


And then comes the facepalm moment that turns Nolan the God into Nolan the wannabe Yash Chopra/Karan Johar. 

Teary eyed Ann Hathaway suggests,'Love transcends space and time.' 

(I missed the gobbledegook science because I started laughing and the movie flashbacked a la Karan Johar as Nolan fans killed me with popcorn bullets.)

The Flashback:

Cooper leaves home: Mere bacchon to tumhare hawale karta hoon and daughter says, 'Tussi na jaao!'

You can imagine John Lithgow wishing for Alzheimers like Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes instead of the task of bringing up brats. 

'I promise I will be back!' is not said like The Terminator, but watching Cooper wanting to go back and save his family was too Karan Johar. And Karan Johar does the 'It's all about the family' with so much ease.

Even the surprise cameo star spouts fake science about parental love and says something like 'Evolution has not transcended that one barrier...'

Parental Love was stopping humans from evolving into higher beings? What?

Here's where you wish all the corn in the movie, and not just what's in the field had been torched by Jessica Chastain, because clearly Nolan was too busy putting his larger than IMAX vision on to the screen to care how horribly melodramatic his story was turning out to be...

And yes, the Bollywoodization does not end. You can almost hear Cooper say, 'Sab kuch theek ho jaayega. Ab main aa gaya hoon.'

Then there's more love. More family. And the discovery that the black monolith in 2014: A Space Odyssey is actually made of cheesecake.

P.S. What is in the steel flask Cooper carries every time he leaves home? 

Friday, November 07, 2014

Review: The Shaukeens

Three Creep Alert! 

4 Thappad!
1 Big Hug!

Mini Review:

Seeing Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor and Piyush Mishra ogle and vie to cop a feel of young girls is worse than finding yourself face down in someone else's puke. Thank god Akshay Kumar was added to save the film.

Main Review:

One tight slap each to the three older actors who ride this one snigger story about three older men who haven't had any for years and to TIGMANSHU DHULIA who wrote this crap. (Feminists would want to slap the writer harder for making their inability to have had sex sound like it was the women's fault!)

When Hollywood tried to laugh at randy old men in movie like Last Vegas, it was bad enough. Even having Morgan Freeman did not help their case. Why does Bollywood think Piyush Mishra's mouth thing, Anupam Kher's 'i'm in a zone' thing or Annu Kapoor's sing a song thing will work?

I had gone prepared with puke bags, but the sleazefest did not happen. The bile sort of stops short of rising up and making you hurl, the story is that pathetic. You cringe when each of the men ogles at Lisa Hayden, trying to cop a feel every time, but you'll find yourself numbed at the sheer stupidity of this endeavor.

Thankfully, there's Akshay Kumar. He appears as a jaded action star and offers us some respite from the lasciviousness of the three idiots. That Akshay Kumar can laugh at a caricature of himself is an act worthy of a true star. The funniest shot of the film though is when Dimple appears briefly (as herself) and after denying Akshay Kumar's admission of 'alcoholism' is seen drinking from a hip flask herself!

In a country where 2 year olds are raped, this movie about randy men just doesn't sit lightly. But the stupidity is so vast, everything else just fades...

Don't waste your time. Better yet, just slap the next old man in Ray Bans who is ogling at women in the park.

Review: BIG Hero 6

Big laughs! Big Fun! And Big Learning!

3 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

A kid with a robot? What's not to like?! Disney has created a superb new animation technique that makes Big Hero 6 look jaw-droppingly like a live action, real movie. It's a fabulous world of robots, superheros, kids, super villains and action! Lots of action! Plus, it makes being brainy so coooool!

Main Review:

Why should we be happy with Chhota Bheem? And Doraemon? Give your kids a taste of this superbly animated Big Hero 6 that has everything your kids will love about animation and more.

You will love how it turns up the cool quotient of brainy kids. Imagine kids wanting to go to a school that teaches robotics! And the movie does this very cleverly. So cleverly, even I wished it.

Set in a cool city called San Fransokyo which brings us the best of the two cities (imagine cherry blossoms and trams in the same frame!) and yes, our little hero is Asian! Actually, I loved the seamless colorlessness of the group. Hiro Hamada, his older brother Tadashi are living with an aunt who sounds appropriately white. And there's a token black guy Wasabi too. But the others... All nerds! They make studying look like fun! Who'd have thunk chemistry would be so colorful? Or physics?

At almost two hours the movie feels a little long for the little kids, but the older ones will have non-stop fun. There is no time to settle down and eat popcorn. Your eyes will be riveted to the screen.

Disney developed this really cool technology in order to keep your attention and boy, it works! As all superhero movies go, you can tell that a franchise is on its way, but this time I did not feel terribly manipulated. I am happy to watch the next couple of movies with these six!

Don't settle for the same ole drivel on kids tv that keeps your kids occupied while you check your mail. Watch Big Hero 6 and become the hero in your kid's life.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Reveiw: Nightcrawler

He infests the night. He is the night!

4 stars!

Mini Review:

It's a sharp commentary on the state of our media today. You'll never be able to watch TV news without thinking of the Nightcrawler ever again! Superbly written and fabulously performed!

Main Review:

From Donnie Darko to Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal's journey has been spectacular, to say the least. And in this film, he's so, so good that each time he speaks, you feel an ice cube dipped in arsenic traveling down your spine.

Nightcrawler takes us to the footage eat footage world of the freelance video news gatherer and drags us through the muddy moral line.

But wait, saying any more would be offering you spoilers.

What you need to do is brace yourself for some of the most venomous writing which is delivered impeccably by Jake Gyllenhaal who literally carries the film on his shoulder. He is what opportunity makes him. He's a media star that shines in misfortune. 

Never has a screenplay been so riveting in showing the downward spiral of a man who thrives on misfortune...

Never have you wanted the protagonist to fail so bad...

It's a guarantee, though. You will never again watch TV news without wondering if the tv camera was being held by the Nightcrawler...


Watch it. It's brilliant.