Saturday, 28 September 2013

Film Review - Prisoners

 A Must-Watch Taut Thriller

Film: Prisoners
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Duration: 2 hrs 33 mins
Rating: * * * *

After making waves around the globe with Incendies (2010), director Denis Villenueve offers us yet another film that gives a lot to write home about. Prisoners is an intense film, even though it is on the longer side, it gets you hook, line and sinker. It gives you the same feeling when you read a highly engrossing novel, which you wish would never end.
Credit should be given to writer Aaron Guzikowski for the taut screenplay and of course director Villenueve who has been consistently making good films for the last decade or so.

Prisoners goes way beyond the usual action thrillers. It also deals with morality, predicament and guilt. Hugh Jackman plays Dover and one fine day, during a small celebration with friends, his young daughter goes missing. In fact his friend’s (Terence Howard) daughter has also vanished when the two were playing together. A young man who was sitting in an R.V. near the house is picked up as a suspect but he claims innocence and it turns out that he also has the I.Q of a ‘ten year old’. A bright police detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned the case and though there is no evidence against the suspect, Dover is convinced he is the culprit and has kidnapped the two girls.

Slowly, it all starts to get murkier as sex offenders are rounded up and the suspense starts building up   While it is largely the personal story of a father in desperate search of his daughter, the film throws in a lot of questions about what is right and wrong and what any individual would have done in that situation. And that is where Villenueve’s brilliance comes in as a director. When you think it is all said and done, he pulls the plug at the end with great precision.

There are times when you like the good guy and hate the suspected bad guy and moments later, it is the other way round. There is no absolute good or bad, such is the nature of man.

Excellently shot by veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins, the atmosphere adds to the effect. Prisoners is also a triumph for its actors. Melissa Leo as the aunt and Maria Bello as the grieving mother are aptly cast. Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman both have delivered a remarkable performance. It’ll be surprising if an Oscar nomination doesn’t come there way.

 In toto, this film is not to be missed.

Film Review - Elysium

Present Day Sci-Fi Tale

Film: Elysium
Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Duration: 1 hr 49 mins
Rating: * * * 1 / 2

Director Neill Blomkamp made a super debut with District 9 which surely ranks in the list of greatest science fiction films of all time. Much like that film, while Elysium appears to be more ‘sci-fi’ on the outside, it also raises questions about the present day society and tackles political themes as well.

The story is set the future but as Blomkamp said in an interview, “This isn't science fiction. This is today. This is now."

Set in 2154 where the earth is ravaged and the rich people have moved to a space habitat called Elysium, which is swanky, spotlessly clean and disease free. The earth meanwhile is exactly the opposite and those who don’t have the wealthy resources to go to Elysium are stuck here.

Jodie Foster plays a ruthless Secretary of Defense who is planning a coup to over throw the president  on Elysium. Max (Matt Damon) works for at a factory and gets exposed to radiation, A robot very matter of factly tells him that he will die in five days.

But Max knows there is a way out – he can be treated on Elysium and hence takes help from a non official source. A mercenary (Sharlto Copley) has the mission to finish off Max who manages to ‘download’ some vital information.

Visually, Elysium looks stunning, the science fiction elements and the futuristic designs are innovative.While there is plenty of action, towards the end the film gravitates towards being a Hollywood actioner but the foundation laid earlier, gives it an edge. It is that ‘extra’ which Elysium has to offer in terms of socio-political issues that it raises which makes it a cut about the rest.

Jodie Foster is convincing as the calm and power hungry lady, you wouldn’t want to be near such a character. Matt Damon has done plenty of action films and as always, he is on the money. Sharlto Copley is a very good actor who has not been seen much after District 9, although we’ll see him soon the remake of Oldboy.

So here’s another film that is eminently worth your time and money.

Film Review - One Direction:This Is Us

For Teeny Boppers Only

Film: One Direction: This Is Us (documentary feature)
Cast: Niall Horan, Zayn Mallik, Liam Payne
Directed by: Morgon Spurlock
Duration:  1 hr 32 mins
Rating: * 1 / 2

I must confess that I had never heard any song by One Direction before watching this documentary. I also learnt that like most boy bands, their following is primarily among teenage girls and since I’m neither a teenager nor a girl, the fame of this British boy band had escaped me.
Directed by Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame), it traces the origins of the band (The X factor) and they were mentored by Simon Cowell, who is also a co-producer of the documentary.
For a band that doesn’t write or compose their own songs, you have to give it to them for being so popular. But then you wouldn’t expect teenage boys who don’t know how far Japan is from Australia to really write songs. As for their fame (they are also compared to the Beatles) as Cowell himself says “I don’t know why they are so popular!” Well, the Beatles become popular because they wrote and sang songs which are still going strong half a century later. One Direction recreates love songs that appeal only to certain sections. A doctor also explains why girls like boy bands, it all got to do with chemicals released by the brain.   
Sure, fans of the band (read adolescent girls) will enjoy seeing them on the big screen. Men will have to wait longer till Metallica’s Through The Never releases in India.  Meanwhile, thanks but no thank you for the music here.

Film Review Warning

All At Sea

Film: Warning
Cast: Varun Sharma, Manjari Fadnis, Santosh Barmola
Directed by: Gurmeet Singh
Duration: 1 hr 40 mins
Rating: * 1 / 2

            Warning is the kind of film that has an interesting premise but when you see a bunch of people hopelessly stuck in water, in middle of the sea and a song starts in the background to evoke sympathy for them, you know the film makers don’t deserve commiserations for making a mess of a film. In fact, 20 odd minutes later, the situation remains the same and the same song starts again, you want the travesty to come to an end, asap.
            A group of friends go on a yacht somewhere near Fiji. They all get into the water for a swim but the problem is they cannot get back on the yacht because the ladder is not there. They try to hang around, one of them gets a heart attack another one just dies and then the sharks start coming. I was hoping the shark would quickly devour a few of them.
            Neither the screenplay nor the direction helps the cause, once they are stranded, there is precious little that happens. Watch this film at your risk, don’t say you were not warned!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Film Review - The Lunchbox

A Fabulously Sumptuous Treat

Film: The Lunchbox
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddique
Directed by: Ritesh Batra
Duration: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: *  *  *  *  *

The protagonist in The Lunchbox wistfully laments “We forget things if we have no one to tell them to” Truer words were never spoken. Directed by Ritesh Batra, the film has several moments, dialogues and scenes where nothing is said but yet it stays with you long after the film is over. It’s time to uncork a bottle of champagne and celebrate one of the best films you’ll ever get to see.

 Moreover, it is so heartening to see that films like these are being made and are reaching out to the audiences. Here’s more power to the spirit of independent films and things can only get better if the likes of Karan Johar add their voice to it. Viva!

The film touches upon on love, loneliness, nostalgia, longing and which better city than Mumbai to tell the story. Mr. Fernandes (Irrfan, super brilliant) is an accountant who is on the verge of retirement. He lives all alone, leads a lonely life and his wife is long gone. In another part of the city, we have Ila (Nimrat Kaur, excellent) who is trying to bring the spark back in her marriage. With considerable help from her neighbor who is heard not seen (the distinct voice of Bharti Acherekar), she cooks a dabba (tiffin) for her husband.

The problem is, instead of going to her husband, the tiffin lands on Mr. Fernandes table. Gradually, the two start interacting by sending letters to each other in the tiffin. A trainee accountant (Nawazuddin Siddique) joins his office and the joy those letters bring in his life makes Mr.Fernandes a more friendly man. Even the neighborhood kids start liking, not that he was a person otherwise, he was just more reserved.

There are strange and simple things in life that can make one happy to the extent of changing his or her personality.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Mathilukal (Walls, 1989) was about a jailed man who falls in love with a lady in the next compound but never meets but here Batra uses the city to tell a story that is more than about just two individuals.

In one of his epistles, he tells Ila that he has been offered a vertical burial plot – “I’ve spent my life standing in trains and buses and now I will have to stand even when I’m dead.” he laments. And what could be a better description of the city –“There are too many people and everyone wants what the other has” he says.

Virtually every scene in the film offers more than just what is shown or said. And it is not a serious film all the way, take the dabbawallah scene where he argues with the Ila that even Harvard university came to see them and so did English royalty!

On the technical front, it is exquisitely shot by Michael Simmonds with razor sharp editing by John Lyons. Nimrat Kaur as the housewife has delivered an extra ordinary performance. She has captured all the nuances of her character with precision. You would expect Nawazuddin Siddique to nail it and of course he does. Irrfan Khan however dishes out more than you expect. His performance is in the league of the best you have ever seen on the silver screen.

Do what you please but don’t miss The Lunchbox.

Film Review - Phata Poster Nikhla Hero

Old But Not Gold

Film: Phata Poster Nikhla Hero
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz
Directed by: Raj Kumar Santoshi
Duration: 2 hrs 26 mins
Rating: * *

Once upon a time in Mumbai and the rest of India, Raj Kumar Santoshi was a name to reckon with. He did serious films (Damini, Ghayal) and comedy (Andaz Apna Apna) with equal ease. But like most of our directors of that era he has lost his touch. And mind you, that era was only about 20 years ago, many Hollywood directors (Ron Howard for instance) are still going strong for a longer period now. But that is a subject for another day.

Phata Poster Nikhla Hero looks like a film of the 70’s and 80’s – very little logic, lots of melodrama, plenty of songs and a climax that looks like it was written using the Andaz Apna Apna template.

Shahid Kapoor plays Vishwas, a young man who aspires to become a film hero from childhood. But his mother (Padmini Kolhapure) is hell bent on him joining the police force. Am pretty sure even politicians are not so determined to get their children in politics.

So the actor comes to Mumbai and wears the police uniform for a photo shoot. A girl (Ileana D’Cruz) on the streets thinks that he is actually a cop and he kinda likes it that way. He lands a role in a film but when mommy comes to town to see him, he again pretends to be a police officer which leads to more confusion and all that jazz.

The villain is called Napoleon and his sinister project is called white elephant, pretty much like the budget of this film. There is the odd funny line but it all gets negated by silly scenes like “maa ki operation ke liye Rs.10 lakh chahiye”.

Shahid Kapoor tries his best and keeps it lively. Salman Khan also shows up and he wants to go to Raj Kumar Santoshi’s house to audition for Andaz Apna Apna Part 2. If at all that film is realized, I hope Santoshi can do much better than what he has done here. 

Film Review - Rush

Need For Speed

Film: Rush
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Ron Howard
Duration: 2 hrs
Rating: *  *  *  *

 If you are a racing or Formula 1 fan, you’ll be ecstatic after watching Rush. If you don’t care about cars and Formula 1, the chances are that you will still be euphoric, because this Ron Howard film well and truly stands out. The director has been making films and some good ones at that, for more than four decades now and this effort deserves applause.

For sports fans, the rivalry of James Hunt and Niki Lauda is legendary. Most may not have heard about it so try not to do a Google or Wikipedia search, instead watch the film first.  

Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl, the ill fated soldier who falls in love in Inglorious Basterds) comes from a rich family but is disowned by his father. He wants to be racer, but his family is against it. He has a steely determination and discipline though to make it to the top. James Hunt (Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth) on the other hand is talented, occasionally reckless and loves all the good things in life, particularly women.

They both competed for the top spot in F1 racing and that real life story is about tragedy, guts and glory.

Howard and his writer Peter Morgan have got all the facts rights, as we know them. There is no shying away from mentioning names or even talking disparagingly about well known company brands.

Extremely well shot by Oscar winning cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire) the race scenes and especially during the climax I noticed more more than a handful of people literally on the edge of the seats

The film is a triumph of storytelling and it has everything in good measure. Daniel Bruhl as Niki is spot on and ditto with Chris Hemsworth in a more memorable performance.

Rush is certainly one of the best films from Hollywood this year.  Go for it!

Film Review - 2 Guns

Lightweight Action Comedy
Film: 2 Guns
Cast: Denzil Washington, Mark Wahlberg
Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur
Duration: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating; * * *
           Most of the action films from Hollywood lately have been disappointing or terrible, R.I. P.D being a case in point. From that point of view, 2 Guns is a fairly enjoyable action comedy with solid chemistry between the two lead actors.

            Denzil Washington plays Bobby, an officer for the drug enforcement agency and Mark Wahlberg is Stig, a naval intelligence official. They are both trying to bust a drug lord except that they don’t know each others identity and the fact that the other is also an undercover agent.
          They even break into a banks locker but then it all starts getting complicated and they are hounded. A lady agent (Paula Patton) is also involved in the scheme of things as the two agents try to clear their name.

            It is pretty much harmless entertainment. Denzil Washington and Mark Wahlberg liven the proceedings with a few wise cracks. The film is adapted from a comic book so you wouldn’t expect something terribly serious but a decent time at the movies.

Film Review - Malavita

Married To The Mob
Film: Malavita (The Family)
Cast: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer
Directed by: Luc Besson
Duration: 1 hr 51 mins
Rating: *  *  1 / 2

            The film has three big names associated with – Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in the acting department and Martin Scorsese as the producer. You would expect something spectacular from this collaboration but unfortunately that is not to be. Malavita aka The Family directed by Luc Besson turns out to be a very ordinary affair and those three names could have well been substituted with some Tom, Dick and Jane and that would have made little difference to film. 

           De Niro and Pfeiffer play a couple that has moved with their family to France under the witness protection program. They are the Manzonis, he was a gangster but now they have a new name, Blake. She is bored of moving from one place to another while he has discovered a new passion, to write his memoirs. Their kids go to school and have the usual troubles - the son is bullied by other kids while the daughter falls in love with a young man.  

            Meanwhile the mob is looking for the gangster all over the world and the climax is very predictable. Pfeiffer and De Niro are always a treat to watch but the film on the whole, as very little going in its favor.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Film Review - Grand Masti


The Grand Disaster

Film : Grand Masti

Cast : Riteish Deshmukh, Viveik Oberoi, Aftab Shivdasani, Manjiri Fadnavis, Cleavages

Directed by: Indra Kumar

Duration: 2 hrs 10 mins

Rating: Not Possible

Grand Masti marks a new low in the annals of Hindi cinema. While the genre of adult or sex comedies is virtually nonexistent, mostly it is vulgarity and extremely low brow humor that passes off as a ‘comedy’.

While the predecessor Masti was no great shakes it was not as harmful as this one directed by Indra Kumar. There is no part of the male and female anatomy that remains unexplored in this travesty of a film. Since there is no evidence of any intelligence, on second thoughts the one part that has little to do with the film is the brain.

So the three friends are married and settled but there is little spice in their life. Riteish Deskhmukh and his wife spend time looking after their baby, Viveik Oberoi’s wife is too busy with work and Aftab’s wife is busy looking after her family. The three decide to go for their college reunion, their college is called SLUTS which is actually an acronym and that is the least offensive of all jokes.  And there are those old jokes like Rose, Mary , Marlowe which are repeated a zillion times.

Forget any double entendre, this one goes straight for the jugular and to call the gags crude, is to put it very lightly.  The women have precious little to do but to be a part of it and show plenty of skin. Not since Baywatch have women’s bosoms received so much attention, that too on the big screen.

There is no story, logic or sense here.  One of the characters has a potion with which “mard aur aurat ek dusre ki taraf aakarshit hone lagenge” (men and women will start getting attracted to each other) and he promptly mixes it in a soup.  Even teenagers don’t discuss birds and the bees the way the men talk here.     
The only silver lining on the very very dark cloud is the fact that the censor board has allowed things that we haven’t heard or seen before.  Let’s hope they are equally or more liberal in the future with regards to many other things.

In an interview, Sonalee Kulkarni, one of the actresses of the film said that it was her dream to work with director Indra Kumar. Clearly her ambitions are not very high.  

Bottomline – Avoid this film like bubonic plague. 

(Published in The Navhind Times on 15th Sept 2013)

Film Review - Grown Ups 2

                                  Men Will be Boys
Film: Grown Ups 2
Cast: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Duration: 1 hr 31 mins
Rating:  *

If you think that Hollywood is better at making comedies, then think again. Grown Ups 2 directed by  Dennis Dugan is a  senseless,  plot less  film that is anything but funny and it plummets to new depths when it comes to lazy writing.

Grown Ups  was just about passable but the success has prompted the film makers to make this sequel hoping that people will come to watch it and get the cash registers ringing.  But with puerile jokes about puking and farting this one never rises above the ordinary.

Lenny (Adam Sandler) is living with his wife (Salma Hayek) and kids and his friends, played by Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade are also around. There is absolutely no story here to speak of, just a few incidents and silly jokes are thrown in together.

Taylor Lautner of Twilight fame plays a juvenile and a rather terrible character, like most of them. While Adam Sandler has his own fan following him, chances are, even they won’t be able to digest these proceedings easily.  So, Grown Ups 2 is meant for anyone but grown ups and at 91 minutes this film is about 88 minutes too long.

(Published in The Navhind Times on 15th Sept 2013)

Film Review - John Day


                    Revenge is His                 

Film: John Day
Cast: Nasseruddin Shah, Randeep Hooda
Directed by: Ahishor Solomon
Duration: 2 hrs 5 mins
Rating: * *

John Day is a film that starts off with a promise but by the end, it fritters it away. If one were to trace a graph, it would be like a parabola. It goes up, up for a while and then the slide starts. It has an interesting premise albeit inspired by the Spanish film Box 507 (2002) but output is not very satisfactory.
Nasseruddin Shah plays the title role of John Day, a bank manager with permed hair trying to overcome grief in his personal life. His young daughter died a couple of years back under mysterious circumstances and his wife (Shernaz Patel) is grieving even more. While he is taken hostage during a bank robbery, it throws some clues about his daughter’s death. Day saab then takes up the full time job of investigating the matter.

The other main character is a police guy (Randeep Hooda) a very angry young man. Among other tragedies in his childhood, he was molested by a priest and as a result he is so bitter. As a cop though, he is running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.

While the film keeps you reasonably interested in the first half, it still moves like a driver on a highway who refuses to move into top gear. The plot which tries to be too smart for its own good falls apart considerably, later.     

The characterization is not very assuring – yes John Day is avenging his daughter’s death but the manner in which he goes about it lacks conviction.  Same with the cop, he is a vicious guy, doesn’t show much respect for his girlfriend yet he loves her a lot and she likes to drink like a fish. Then there is lot of violence, tongues are bitten off and heads are beaten to pulp.

Though director Ahishor Solomon has lifted the story, the attempt is to do something different but it turns out  to be gravely flawed. There are no songs but Sandeep Chowta’s background score goes into overdrive at times. And what was the point of the rendition of Silent Night used during that long and pointless chase sequence?

Vipin Sharma as the investigating police officer has his moments. Randeep Hooda does full justice and makes the best of his role. Nasseruddin Shah as we know can hardly put a foot wrong and delivers yet another remarkable performance. But the rest of John Day is not in the same league.

Film Review - Horror Story


      And Then There Were None

Film: Horror Story
Cast: Karan Kundra, Nandini Vaid, Nishant Malkani
Directed by: Ayush Rana
Duration: 1 hr 32 mins
Rating: * *

From Producer Vikram Bhatt who has asserted himself as a horror film specialist comes Horror Story, featuring a bunch of debutants.  This particular genre has become incapable of throwing up any surprises, it is perennially old wine in old bottle. Occasionally, the label varies.

This time it is a bunch of young men and women, seven of them in all, who in the middle of the night decide to go to an abandoned hotel which is supposedly haunted. Needless to say, their IQ is on the lower side. After having a few drinks, they land up at a rather spooky hotel which was a mental asylum once upon a time. As it always happens when anyone enters a haunted place (in films only), the door shuts automatically. This is a hotel where, neither can you check out any time you like, nor can you ever leave.

Their ordeal begins when they start hearing strange sounds and the not so friendly ghost also makes an appearance. Even though the move by the youngsters is ultra idiotic and you have no sympathy for them, it keeps you partly interested.  Towards the end it goes down the familiar terrain except that this time they mumble some chant like ‘configurato spiritus…’ instead of  the usual Hanuman chalisa. They could have well repeated Citius Altius Fortius and probably it would have had the same effect on the spirit.

The background score is jarring most of the time and when the director has to resort to sounds and loud bangs instead of visuals, it becomes a case of been there seen that.

The debutants have done a decent job, I don’t see how other actors could have added value to the film.  Only and only if you are a die hard fan of horror films, this horror story is worth a glance.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Film review Shuddh Desi Romance

Love Me Do   

 Film: Shuddh Desi Romance
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeta Chopra, Vaani Kapoor
Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Duration: 2 hrs 15mins
Rating: * * * 1 / 2

            Director Maneesh Sharma who gave us the eminently likable Band Baaja Baraat, returns to his familiar terrain of weddings, once again. The result is a film that breaks new barriers and goes into this uncharted territory of unconventional romances. For years, we’ve been fed with the staple diet of the same old formula when it comes to romantic films and romcoms, but this one dares to be different, very different and that’s a good reason to celebrate Shuddh Desi Romance.             
Good writers in Bollywood are as rare as good politicians in the country at the moment. Jaideep Sahni (Company, Chak De, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Rocket Singh) belongs to this rare breed of writers and he has pulled it off yet again by writing the story, screenplay, lyrics and the dialogues. The scenes are well crafted, the characterization is superb- it was most heartening to see the women characters stand out, usually they get a raw deal in films but here there is no typical portrayal of them and after Gangs of Wasseypur (which was long time ago), for the first time I’ve seen women on an equal footing as the men. Bravo, way to go Jaideep Sahni.
Cut to Jaipur then and meet the tourist guide Raghuram Sitaram (Sushant Singh) but he prefers to be called just Raghu. He is about to get married to Tara (Vaani Kapoor) but being a commitment phobic guy he dumps her at the altar, or rather the mandap, as it is in this case. Before you can say runaway groom, he falls for Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra), attraction becomes mutual and there is much more to it.
Tara is back on the scene and our Raghu is kind of caught between Scylla and Charybdis but in a far more positive way than that Odysseus had to face. Rishi Kapoor plays an elderly man trying to put some sense in the young man’s head. 
 Post the intermission or bathroom break as it is referred to in the film, it is not as scintillating as it was in the first half. But yet the triangular love story is several notches above the flaky Jawaanis, Deewanis and what have you. Relationships as we know them, have changed considerably over the years, something that Saini’s screenplay acknowledges very well and something that our other films never really focused on. While it doesn’t provide answers, it raises some questions about the institution of marriage or rather the lack of it.
On the flip side, there was no particular need for those scenes where the actors look into the camera and address the audience. In an otherwise well crafted film that was an aberration.
Manu Anands cinematography captures the colors and essence Jaipur including a couple of shots that have the wow factor. On the acting front, Rishi Kapoor is a delight to watch as always. Considering it is her debut, Vaani Kapoor is quite impressive. Sushant Singh Rajput delivers a good performance and shares a good chemistry with the ladies. But the one who really knocks it out of the park here is Parineeti Chopra. This is the best performance by an actress I’ve seen in 2013. For her savoir faire and many other good things, you should pay a visit to this Shuddh Desi Romance.

Film Review - Zanjeer

Zanjeer-Saw Massacre

Film: Zanjeer

Cast: Ramcharan, Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt

Directed by: Apoorva Lakhia

Duration: 2 hrs 10 mins

Rating: *

I can understand Fermat's last theorem but why on earth was this film remade, remains a mystery. But then when remakes of films like Agneepath can cross Rs.100 crores, I guess the temptation for producers is too hard to resist, creativity be damned.

There are few films that hit the bottom of the barrel on just about every count and Apoorva Lakhia’s Zanjeer is one of them. For cine fans, Prakash Mehra’s film holds a special place and this remake is nothing but sacrilegious. Lakhia tries to do a Rohit Shetty but fails.

It opens with the James Bond like credits and we are introduced to Vijay (Ramcharan) who has been transferred umpteen times, his new posting is in Mumbai where he takes on the oil mafia run by Teja (Prakash Raj). Like Robert De Niro did in The Untouchables (1987), he calmly kills one of his men at the dinner table. ‘Chicken aur chicks are the two meaows of my life’ so he says. I don’t quite know what that means. His moll is Mona (Mahie Gill) and at one stage he tells her “Mona darling, apna mooh sirf ek cheez ke liye hi khola karo”. I think everyone knows what that means.

Sanjay Dutt plays Sher Khan the pathan and once again, Dutt makes his entry in slow motion. He should be in the Guinness book of world records for the maximum number of intro shots in slow motion.            
 Priyanka Chopra is a NRI girl who witnesses a murder. She has come from New York for her friend’s wedding, whom she met on Facebook and has never met in real life before. I always knew spending too much time on FB can get you in trouble.

A lot of dissection can be done as to how bad this film is but that will be a waste of your time and mine. You might want to know about Ramcharan, the Telugu star who makes his Hindi debut. Well, lets just say he is like Clint Eastwood, with expressions of wood. As for Priyanka Chopra, this has to be the worst performance of the year by an acclaimed actress.  

A dubbed version of this film called Chialo Kaxlaug will also be released in China. Probably it is India’s way of getting even with the Chinese after the recent developments on the border. 

Film Review - Riddick

On a Distant Planet


Film: Riddick

Cast: Vin Diese, Karl Urban

Directed by: David Twohy

Duration: 2 hrs

Rating: * *  1 / 2

             After Pitch Black (2000) and Chronicles of Riddick (2004) we have the latest installment simply titled Riddick. Pitch Black had elevated Vin Diesel into fame but because Chronicles didn’t do well at the box office, the new film took considerable time before it could go on the floors.
Riddick doesn’t offer anything spectacular, it is more of a tried and tested formula. The landscapes of the planet where the story is based look impressive but it’s the story that’s leaves a little more to be desired.
Set on a distant planet, the principal character is Riddick (Diesel) who is all alone and has to fend of various animals, dog like beasts first and then the more deadly scorpion like creatures.

When he sees a storm approaching, he presses the emergency button from an abandoned station which brings two spaceships; one of them has a group of bounty hunters. Since Riddick is a fugitive he can’t approach them and hence has to put up a clandestine fight. Some of those parts are adventurous initially and repetitive later.

There are a few connections with Pitch Black, like William Johns the leader of one of the rescue ship wanting to know what happened to his son, who appeared in the previous installment.

The first half hour or slow moves at scorpions pace since Riddick is all alone and all he has to do is fight the creatures. It picks up pace when the space ships arrive but then again the climax drags on and on. The problem with making sequels is that it should also appeal to people who haven’t sent the previous films and unfortunately Riddick doesn’t score too many points there. This one is meant for die hard sci-fi fans.