Friday, December 24, 2010

Tangled (2010)

This year Walt Disney fruitfully delivers yet another well crafted musical animation ‘Tangled’.

Plot : It all began with a single drop of sunlight falling to the ground & leading to the birth of a mystifying golden flower which had unique abilities to heal the sick & prolong youth when songs were offered to it. An old witch named Gothel witnessed this power & used it to sustain her youth. Years after when one queen of a nearby kingdom falls seriously ill during child birth, the soldiers come across this inexplicable flower & use it for healing their queen, who then gives birth to a beautiful golden haired girl named Rapunzel. However on learning that Rapunzel’s hair still holds the healing abilities of the flower, Gothel kidnaps her & isolates the infant in a tower. Every year the kingdom sends thousand of floating lanterns into the sky wishing for their lost princess to return. Years later when Rapunzel turns eighteen, she insists Gothel to let her go on her birthday to the nearby kingdom & witness the floating lanterns whose reason she is unaware of. Circumstances bring Eugene, a droll thief to the tower who befriends Rapunzel & agrees to accompany her to the royal kingdom. Finally it’s all about the revelation of Rapunzel’s true identity & how she unites with her long lost family.

With superb animation, the characters are well developed. This movie is beautifully choreographed with well tuned songs. Some of the songs were even performed by Mandy Moore herself who also provided the voice over for Rapunzel. Tangled is an entertaining movie with a balanced story, comedy & romance. This three elements have always been the generic theme for all the Disney movies. Look out for Pascal the pet chameleon of Rapunzel & Maximus the royal guard’s lead horse; they were the real show stealers. Tangled has all the ingredients required for a family movie to thrive in the arena. Highly recommended.

My Rating : 8.5/10

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Serenity (2005)

Joss Whedon’s Serenity is not just about special effects; with intricate narrative it’s an engaging science fiction saga. Even though shot with a limited budget, the production design was very impressive.

Plot : In a distant future, mankind has established living colonies at far away star systems. It seems that most of the inner planetary systems were under the control of newly shaped authority called Alliance. The story soon drifts towards a psychic girl named River (Summer Glau) with mysterious powers, who seems to be manipulated by the Alliance to use her as a weapon against those who defy their pledge. After being rescued by her brother Simon (Sean Maher), they take refuge in a mercenary ship Serenity captained by Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Filion), who also happens to be a veteran in a rebellion against the Alliance. Things were going right until River’s mental instability causes the captain to question the safety of his crew, at the same time they are being pursued by an elite assassin who will not stop till he eliminates River, as she carries a treacherous secret which can bring down the alliance power from galactic supremacy.

Apart from the imposing effects, the action infused was top notch, specially the ones displayed by Glau in close quarters combat. The movie ends with an open note making us believe for a possible sequel in the future. Serenity cannot be compared with other science fiction movies like Star Wars etc., still as a stand alone it does great to allure the viewers.

My Rating : 8/10

The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)

Movies involving themes like hijacking needs to be meticulously planned.

Its success depends on the complexity of the sub plots as well as the twists which should be rather difficult to predict. The Taking Of Pelham 123 lacks the beat which is generally anticipated in thrillers.

When four armed men led by a fanatic hijack a New York City subway train, all hell breaks loose. Their demand is simple; ten million dollars needs to be delivered within an hour. Failing the deadline will cause killing of passengers. The mysterious leader behind the hijacking goes with the name Ryder (John Travolta). On the other end, a MTA employee Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) assigned as subway dispatcher is forced to operate as a hostage negotiator when insisted by Ryder. As necessary arrangements are made for delivering the money a chase against time is ensued to save the day from terror.

The plot is simple & predictable. Though started interestingly the later stage fell blunt. Having not seen the original 1974 adaptation it’s somewhat difficult to compare & see which one fared the most. This movie does provide its share of entertainment but its fairly short lived in broad spectrum.

My Rating : 6/10

Alien (1979)

‘In space no one can hear you scream’

This haunting tag was just the beginning of what we know today as epoch of Sci-Fi horror.

Ridley Scott’s Alien is one of the best movies in the entire franchise.
Being the first chapter in the alien saga, it had lots to prove. Three decades have gone by still this movie has never aged. With great production design & riveting story this movie succeeds in taking us to a haunting journey from which there is no escape.

It all began with the intercept of a distress signal from an uncharted planet by a commercial towing spaceship, Nostromo. As the crews descend to investigate further, one of them is attacked by an unknown life form. Once brought back to the ship for examination they soon ascertain it to be a deadly creature which breeds within living hosts. Not understanding the enormity of the situation one after the other gets hunted down. This movie keeps us guessing who could finally getaway from this nightmare alive.

This is the movie which brought Sigourney Weaver to limelight. Scott delivers a believable story with excellent casts. There is a reason why alien succeeds so well in delivering the terror factor. It’s not like the usual horror flicks which are sometimes quite predictable; there are genuine shocking moments which will certainly send chill among the viewers.

In case of the definitive edition, the theatrical version has been remastered with enhanced digital signature. In 2003 a director’s cut was made available; the only difference I found was that couple of minutes being stripped out from its original. It would still be suggested to go for the original theatrical release. Unless seen, it would be difficult to comprehend the reason for considering Alien as cult noir even today.

My Rating : 9/10

Friday, December 17, 2010

Megamind (2010)

Plot : Megamind (Will Ferrell) is a super villain of the fictional Metro City; he likes fighting his arch rival Metro Man (Brad Pitt) who is also the sentinel of the Metro City. Every fight starts with the kidnapping of the beautiful news reporter Roxanne (Tina Fey) & using her as bait to lure Metro Man for the typical fight. One such intension for the show down seems to kill Metro Man. At first, Megamind seems thrilled for finally defeating his archenemy. His happiness however is short lived as he becomes dejected with the truth that without the existence of super hero his life as the supervillain is fruitless. To overcome his solitude he decides to create a superhero so that he could once more take pleasure in the good old days. Things however turn ugly when Megamind’s creation turns to a catastrophe. The story finally folds up to how Megamind deals with the circumstance which would mould him into a new personality he never dreamt of.

Megamind is a simple story of Good Vs Evil. Yet instead of the typical villain, we find a moral fiber that seems to have emotion. With tons of action & nice animation, this movie would appeal to a vast array of viewers. Amid first rate voice over by Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill the soundtrack too seems well tuned. Armed with a smart script & ingenious story, Megamind aptly suits to be tagged as an ideal family film.

My Rating : 7/10

Unstoppable (2010)

Tony Scott is not new in making action thrillers; this fact is relatively evident from his earlier notable titles like The Taking of Pelham 123, Top Gun, Man on Fire etc. Unstoppable is however an unique movie because here the contender is not a person but a rogue freight train.

Plot : Will (Chris Pine) a rookie joins as a conductor, charged with the management of a freight train. His assignment for the day was to assist Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) a veteran engineer. As both these characters get to know more about each other in some other part of Pennsylvania a mishap happens. Due to some erroneous calculation, a freight train led by locomotive 777 sets off to the main track, unmanned with an alarming speed. Since the cargo contained high amount of molten phenol & hazardous material it was required to stop it before it got into a populated area. As various attempts to stop the locomotive fails, it falls to Barnes & Will’s joint endeavor to stop the speeding locomotive with the remote assistance of yardmaster Connie Hopper (Rosario Dawson). So how they team up to stop the train is what this movie all about.

Though inspired from true incident, little bit of dramatization was done for the cinematic effect. This was an action driven story & Scott has been successful in keeping it that way. Just like the locomotive’s startling momentum the narration too brisked in the final stage. This movie would certainly keep most of the audiences at their edge even though we could foresee the possible outcome. With a balanced pace & overall length, Unstoppable succeeds in elevating the heart rate before things are set on to the right track.

My Rating : 8/10

Monday, December 13, 2010

Despicable Me (2010)

Plot : Gru (Steve Carell) is a pushy super villain who always likes to be in the news for his unsurpassed notoriety. Circumstances change when his pride takes a hit on learning that someone has stolen the Pyramid of Giza. For salvaging his lost fame, he comes up with a wild idea of stealing the ‘Moon’. However in this game he has an arch rival named Vector (Jason Segel) who is also in possession of a device which is necessary for his scheme to work. Gru adopts three small girls from an orphanage intending to use them for retrieving the device from Vector’s clasp; unexpectedly the innocence of these girls has a profound effect on him, causing his character to change altogether. So the movie is all about Gru’s transformation as a person.

Universal Pictures & Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me is another triumphant addition to its animated productions. After Toy Story 3 this is the second best animated movie screened this year. It would be impudent if I don’t mention about the army of minions who helped Gru with his scheme. Not only where they funny looking but their vague language added more hilarity. Voice over by Steve Carell & Jason Segel were equally matched with Zimmer & Heitor Pereira's effervescent track. The vast array of inventive gadgets used for duel by Gru & Vector were more enticing than being just eye candy. With lot of humorous moments & great animation this movie aptly suits the viewership of the entire family on any given holiday. Now with the Christmas nearing, if you have not seen this movie yet, give this is a try.

My Rating : 8.5/10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Salt (2010)

Salt is a stylish spy action thriller which should gratify almost every movie enthusiasts. If you thought that Wanted has shown you all the moves of Jolie, then take a closer look at this movie.

Evelyn Salt is a thriving CIA field operative, married to a German arachnologist. Everything appeared perfect when on the day of her wedding anniversary; a Russian renegade named Orlov during cross-examination claims Salt to be a KGB sleeper agent. Her assignment was to kill the visiting Russian president at the time of the funeral ceremonial of the late vice president of the United States. Taken aback by the allegation she runs from the intelligence agency in order to prove her allegiance & to shield the one she loves before the time runs out.

Angelina Jolie nailed the character of Evelyn Salt to perfection. Director Phillip Noyce had taken the right decision for selecting Jolie because no one could have pulled this to such stature.

With a great plot & fast pace this is a kind of movie which we all crave to see once in a while. There are three different versions available for this movie; the theatrical release, unrated director’s cut & the extended unrated cut. Each version provides a substantial change in the story. I found the extended cut far more intriguing than the theatrical release. If you are fascinated with the idea of watching some high octane action crammed thriller, this should definitely suit the purpose.

My Rating : 7.5/10

Skyline (2010)

Special effects alone cannot help in making a movie successful; this is the case for Strause brothersSKYLINE. We have already seen lot of movies based on alien invasion, so it was anticipated to see a bit different approach on this subject.

Plot : Jarrod & Elaine have flown to Los Angeles to attend Jarrod’s best friend Terry’s birthday party. Next day early morning some very bright blue lights starts descending from the sky, whoever looks at them gets completely transfixed & then gets engulfed by an unknown entity. On further investigation Jarrod finds out lot of huge alien crafts hovering over the city & sucking the entire population. Not understanding the complexity of the situation he & his friends try to fight this new nightmare hoping to escape from it.

Even though the movie had an interesting start, many plot holes & less involvement made it weak compared to its peers like Independence Day & other similar type genre. Not much is known about the invasion or the purpose behind it. All that was shown is that not a single soul was spared. Eric Balfour as Jarrod & Scottie Thompson as Elaine were the only two characters who received the utmost screen consideration, rest were just used up as alien fodder. The ending also gave an insinuation for a possible sequel. Some thought on the plot & better perceptive on the character development could have made this experience way much better.

My Rating : 4/10

Friday, December 10, 2010

Leap Year (2010)

There can be various reasons for the romantic comedies to fail at the box office; few of the plausible explanation can be like, lack of chemistry between the two leads or the story itself. From the start Leap Year seemed to be too bland & half way through made it quite predictable, which is usually not a bad thing but here it just did not add up to render satisfaction.

Anna (Amy Adams) happens to be good at helping people in selling their houses; living a fast life in the suburbs of Boston she hopes to marry her long time boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott). When finally Jeremy gifts Anna a pair of diamond earrings instead of a ring she gets anxious. Before she can talk over the issue, he gets off to Ireland for attending a doctor’s conference. On discussion with her father she comes to know about an old Irish custom where a man has to accept proposal made by woman made on a leap day of the year. Armed with this information she decides to fly to Dublin, however bad whether causes her to land at Wales. After various hindrances she finally makes it to the shore of town Dingle. On arrival she gets acquainted with an inn keeper named Declan (Matthew Goode) who agrees to taxi her to Dublin on the payment of €500. Though in the start there happens to be lots of friction with Declan, on their way Anna develops second thoughts which questions her intensions on marrying Jeremy.

Instead of developing the relation between Amy & Declan, too much time is spent on throwing tantrums on each other. So when both of them actually hit the cupid’s chord it really doesn’t look convincing. This is not the kind of movie which will make your heart leap out of exhilaration. As a romantic comedy this movie carries way too surreal plot, which will not work with most of the regular viewers.

My Rating : 4.5/10

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Devil (2010)

After series of failure from M. Night Shyamalan, 'Devil' looms in with some hope but with few thrills this too fades without providing much shock value to its fans.

The movie starts with a person’s suicide from a high rising building which brings in detective Bowden for further inquisition. Bowden seems to be recuperating from alcoholism after getting devastated with the death of his family in a hit & run case, few years back. The scene shortly pans to one of the elevator of that same high rise, on move with its five occupants. The elevator unexpectedly breaks down followed by some inexplicable incidents which gradually makes us believe that one of the occupants might be possessed by a devil. While trying to figure out this chain of events, Bowden discovers that there is much bigger mystery surrounding the trapped occupants.

Even though the movie kicks in with a good start, it fails to keep the same tempo throughout. Except for a few buzz the climax was a kind of downer considering the genre this movie got carted out. The weak plot did not add up to the overall efforts of the casts who tried to give this a credible shot. Short length however saved this movie from complete ruin. Though not repulsive still the hardcore fans of this genre will feel discontented. This is believed to be a part of ‘The Night Chronicles’ trilogy, so hope to see something similar in near future.

Although the movie has been directed by John Erick Dowdle, Shyamalan’s presence in the production shoes was implicit from its production design. Give this a try but don’t expect it to be yet another 'The Omen'.

My Rating : 5/10

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Very few movies are there which influences us in a very intense way. Saving Private Ryan is one of its kinds. Steven Spielberg has redefined the genre of war movies; perhaps no one can ever precede his masterpiece. Watching this movie is worth a lifetime experience. The opening scene pertaining to the Normandy’s beach assault on D-Day 1944 is one of the gruesome footage ever put up on the big screen. No war movies have ever been so accurate to show the mayhem in a discrete style.

The story begins with Second World War’s momentous D-Day invasion, then moves beyond the brutal beach assault & introduces us to a squad of American soldiers under the command of Captain John Miller. This squad of eight embarks into a dangerous mission where they must find a paratrooper named Private James Ryan, whose three brothers were killed in combat. Faced with impossible odds, these men question their orders & try to figure out whether it’s really worth to risk the lives of eight for saving one. Eventually these men seek for their own answers & hope to feat over an uncertain future.

Tom Hanks as Captain John Miller immortalized the character of a rational officer caught under extraordinary circumstances. This was one of his best screen performances since Forrest Gump. Each casts were able to stretch out the characters in a very plausible way, undeniably noteworthy.

It really doesn’t matter the legitimacy of the plot; what really matters is how well it stood in the final act. Armed with John Williams’s poignant tune, this movie serves as a memoir for all those lives lost in the tragic war. This is an epic tale which should be cherished by every movie aficionados.

My Rating : 10/10

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Max Manus (2008) : Norwegian

‘Max Manus’ is a biopic, on the real events of the Norwegian resistance fighter Max Guillermo Manus. After homecoming from the winter war against the Soviets, Max finds his country under the siege of the emerging German Third Reich. Initial attempts against the Nazi regime leads him to his arrest, however his escape to Scotland makes him legendary where he gets trained to carry out various sabotage missions to throttle the German war machine.

The movie exploits various sabotage operations orchestrated by Max & the formation of ‘Oslo Group’. Apart from the good old fashioned action, the movie manages to show his relation with his friend Gregers Gram & with Ida Nikoline who later on becomes his future wife.

Aksel Hennie as Max Manus brought great dynamism to the character, though his antagonist Gestapo commander Siegfried Fehmer enacted by German actor Ken Dunken had been less persuasive. Overall this is a fast paced action adventure with an engrossing storyline. Despite the fact that this is an European production, the technical qualities & visual effects are as par with any of today’s Hollywood makings.

My Rating : 7/10 

Ji Jie Hao : Assembly (2007) : Mandarin

Based on true story, Ji Jie Hao a.k.a ASSEMBLY recounts the Chinese Civil War through the eyes of a captain named Gu Zidi of the People’s Liberation Army, 1948.

The story can be divided into two segments; the first half narrates how under Gu’s command an infantry unit of 46 men from the 9th company was annihilated by the National Revolutionary Army, while defending the south bank of river Wen. Gu’s orders were to fight until the retreat assembly call was charged. Being the only survivor, long after the war some thoughts steamed up making him think that during the heat of battle he might have missed the retreat assembly call which led to the death of his entire company.

Troubled by the past he goes in search of truth & honor when he finds that his entire unit have been listed under Missing In Action even worse some as deserters by the government, instead of honoring them for their untimely sacrifice. Second segment shows how Gu returns to the site of the battle, determined to prove the existence of the 46 men who fought along his side till death.

Viewers familiar with ‘Saving Private Ryan’ & ‘Taegukgi’ will see a similar depiction of war with disturbing images of mayhem.

After thought : Intense battle scenes might make feeble spirit puke, slow pacing.

My Rating : 6.5/10

Flammen & Citronen : Flame & Citron (2008) : Danish

Loosely based on true story, this movie highlights the maneuvers carried out by the elements of the Danish Resistance group during World War II.

Bent Hviid alias ‘Flame’ & Jorgen Schmith alias ‘Citron’ were some of the deadly resistance fighters in the Holger Danske group. They systematically used to exterminate the Danish collaborators as well as high ranking Nazi officials. Things were running fine until Flame got the notion of deception among his own group who seemed to jeopardize everything & stop them from getting their hands on their final target, the dreaded Gestapo Chief Karl Heinz Hoffmann. Situation becomes more intricate when Flame falls for a femme fatale whom he believes to be a double agent.

Even though the story takes place in the backdrop of Second World War, most of the action takes place in small towns. Don’t expect to see a full scale Hollywood extravaganza. This does not follow the typical formula of espionage flicks, so expect to have some unpredictable twists which I found quite appealing. I was not familiar with the casts except few, like Christian Berkel (Der Untergang) & Mads Mikkelsen (Clash Of The Titans) still they did an amazing job to bring life to this nostalgic war noir.

Final Thoughts : Impressive, with intriguing plot

My Rating : 8/10

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Platoon (1986)

Oliver Stone’s ‘Platoon’ gives the first hand understanding on Vietnam War, seen through the eyes of a rookie named Chris Taylor enacted by Charlie Sheen. This is not just a war movie which endorses the heroic efforts of the soldiers against all odds but also carries with it a disturbing interpretation of psychosis in its true essence.

Even a single viewing renders the shades of war hard to evade from the mind. Stone’s personal experience at Vietnam helped him to forge the backdrop of the story. Apart from the unforgiving ambiance & physical exhaustion, our protagonist Taylor witness a budding conflict between his two commanding officers, ruthless Staff Sgt. Barnes & Sgt. Elias, companionate yet idealistic. I would prefer not to give away any further plot details.

Two decades have gone by yet this movie holds a profound connection with each of us who had the privilege to experience it. Tom Berenger as Sgt. Barnes & William Dafoe as Sgt. Elias gave one of their career’s best performances. There were many other prominent actors like Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker etc who were in their emerging stage of movie career. Apart from soothing soundtrack the actions sequences were well choreographed. Few movies of that era had depicted guerilla war fare so convincingly.

This movie does not glorify war, instead leaves it for us to decide its ramification. ‘Platoon’ is uncompromising & will make you depleted by the time credit starts rolling.

My Rating : 9/10

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Taegukgi : The Brotherhood Of War (2004) : Korean

A riveting story of how a family gets devastated during the Korean War in 1950.

We are introduced to a small family of two brothers, Jin-tae, Jin-seok their mother & Jin-tae’s fiancĂ©e Young-shin. Jin-tae worked as a shoeshine who gave up his formal education in order to take care of his younger brother. Their mother managed a small noodle shop with the helping hand of Young-shin. In the early June of ‘50s, South Korea was attacked by North Korea, while trying to leave Seoul; Jin-seok gets drafted into the army. In order to protect him, Jin-tae too gets enlisted. During the course of various battles, from defensive line of Nakdong River to the North Korean capital Pyongyang both the brothers witness the horrors of war. With time Jin-tae atrocious nature alienates him from his younger brother.

Jang Dong-gun as Jin-tae had been an excellent pick by director Kang Je-gyu. His performance as the rough sergeant & caring brother is admirable. Won Bin’s portrayal of the sensitive brother Jin-tae is what brought him to the international eminence. It was not the special effects which made this movie so unique but the stupendous performance by the entire casts.

This movie can go hand in hand with any of today’s big budget Hollywood productions. When it comes to action it was very gruesome & realistic, war movie enthusiasts will be reminded of Spielberg’s masterpiece ‘Saving Private Ryan’. It is not a movie which has any biased message but simple story of people under extraordinary circumstances. It never fails to show the atrocities done by both the nations in the name of war.

It is safe to say Taegukgi a.k.a ‘The Brotherhood of War’ is one of the greatest war movies I have seen. Everyone should be captivated by its sheer power of the tale, even if you leave aside all the special effects. This movie skillfully depicts what war can do to man & how hate can destroy an entire nation. No wonder both the Korean Nations are haunted by their past to this very day.

My Rating : 8.5/10

Enemy At The Gates (2001)

‘Battle of Stalingrad’ is considered to be one of the bloodiest battles fought in the human history. No war tales are complete without bringing into the account of Stalingrad. Since most of the movies have always been made on the European theater, it was really refreshing to see a story which showed the brutal fighting at the eastern front.

The year is 1942, where Nazis are skirmishing against the Russians for the control of the industrial city of Stalingrad. The movie renders the heroic account of Vasily Zaytsev, one of the most decorated snipers during World War II. Due to serious fatalities in the German ranks by the soviet snipers, Major Erwin Konig gets deployed to eliminate Zaytsev in order to lower the morale of the Russian Army. As the fighting intensifies these two men start to wage a private war for courage & honor.

Visually this movie is stunning; the action sequences are vicious & fruitfully bring the memoirs of Stalingrad alive. The pacing is kept slow, as this is a story of duel between two snipers, where endurance is the key to victory. Though director Jean Jacques Annaud has taken some liberty to add fictional elements in the story, his efforts for bringing out the war torn city of Stalingrad is exemplary.

Some of the unforgettable scenes from the movie are the desperate crossing of river Volga under intense firing from German bombers & the suicidal attack of the soviet army towards the German stronghold. If any of you are aware of the famous video game ‘Call of Duty’ back in 2003, some of the scenes of the game were heavily influenced by this movie. Jude Law as Vasily & Ed Harris as Major Konig did justice to these historic characters & intensified the anxiety all through the movie.

How much facts were actually put to use, I will never know but as a war movie ‘Enemy At The Gates’ is definitely recommended.

My Rating : 7/10

WAR Movies : A Retrospect

War has always been an integral part of mankind; we just cannot stay without it.
Early 40’s & late 70’s movies have often exploited this theme & more often romanticized the aspect of war. With time movies became more rational, even aggravated to show the horrors which left behind its mark on the entire generations, who lived through some of the bloodiest conflict known to man.
For years now I had been thinking to spend some time on movies which dealt with this subject, be it the two world wars or as early as the colonial conflicts.
It took some time to make a record of some of the most notable war movies of all time. I have handpicked couple of them & hope it will take an entire month to watch it. There is no self imposed time frame to upload the reviews but hope that after every screening I would be able to share some afterthought.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mystic River (2003)

Very few movies are there which leaves its mark for reminiscence. Clint Eastwood’s ‘Mystic River’ is one of its kinds, beautifully crafted & well oriented drama which deals with the dark aspects of human nature.

It’s a story about three friends, Jimmy, Sean & Dave living in the working class neighborhood of Boston. After an awful tragedy all three of them drift apart. Years after circumstances bring them together when Jimmy’s daughter Katie is found brutally murdered & Dave seems to be the prime suspect. Time has taken its toll; we see all three into different roles, Jimmy as an ex con running an utility store, Dave a blue collar worker & Sean a detective with the Massachusetts State Police, who tries to unfold the mystery behind Katie’s murder.

Tim Robbins as Dave had been terrific, his second best performance since ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. Sean Penn as Jimmy brought the image of the distressed father puffing with vengeance to perfection. Kevin Bacon as Sean rolled between the two to balance the story. Apart from the powerful cast, Eastwood have created a masterpiece of family, friendship & innocence lost. He used everything to make this narrative as gripping as possible. Being a drama the pacing had been kept slow but definitely worthwhile the wait. Give this movie a try, highly recommended.

My Rating : 8/10 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Red (2010)

Very few movies are able to keep the tempo when it serves both as an action movie & a stand alone comedy. ‘Red’ succeeds in delivering both in a great blend.

Plot: Frank Moss (Bruce Willis) has been forcefully retired from the CIA. Being an ex black ops agent, he finds the transition to normal life quite difficult. His peaceful life is soon disrupted by an attack from the hit squad, whom he believes to be field operatives of the CIA. He tries to figure out the reason behind the attack & tries to pull together his old teammates for the final stand.

This movie can boast for putting up some big names from the industry, to name few Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich etc. nevertheless, the strong cast did not overshadow the story. Though the narrative was clear-cut & fairly predictable, still it was quite engaging. John Malkovich acted as the paranoid conspiracy theorist; he provided most of the comic witticism to ease the tension, however the movie did not fall short to show him as one of the most talented operative. Among all the old hands, Helen Mirren’s character ‘Victoria’ was the main attraction, when she finally made an entry.

Overall this movie has a likeable plot & the action sequences are well choreographed. Each cast has been given a chance to shine in their own way & that’s what made the story so alluring.

My Rating : 7/10

The American (2010)

‘The American’ is a crime thriller directed by Anton Corbijn.

The story is based on a hired gun named Jack (George Clooney) who is on the run from some unknown group who wants him dead. After foiling one attempt on his life at Sweden he flees to Rome. After establishing some contact with one of his associate, he moves to small town at Abruzzo (Italy). Remaining part of the story takes place in the town, Castelvecchio Calvisio.

George Clooney delivered a solid performance; the character of ‘Jack’ was properly fleshed out & given us an adequate amount of time to relate with the story. The pacing of the movie had been slow until the last segment where the tensions buildup for the final showdown. Viewers who like fast paced plot might be jaded as this does not have the same spirit of typical thrillers.

Cinematography is quite comparable to the movie like ‘In Bruges’, if you have akin to genre like ‘In Bruges’ then you should like ‘The American’ while the former is having a theme of redemption to some extent, the later is more or less on survival instinct. This movie never seemed to be dragged unnecessarily.

My Rating : 8/10

The Expendables (2010)

‘The Expendables’ is a kind of Bible for the action junkies out there. If your only concern relates to insane action every sporadic moment, then this title aptly suits as picture perfect. Stallone’s wish to cast an array of action old hands from the 80’s & early 90’s is a kind of tribute to those two decades.
The story is quite simple; Barney Moss (Sylvester Stallone) leads a group of mercenaries who are specialized in embarking into precarious missions. Soon enough Moss gets a new offer where he is required to overthrow a ruthless dictator at Vilena (A fictional island in the Caribbean). That’s it. Remaining part of the narrative looks more or less like a filler, providing adequate space to balance the climatic end. Very few action movies are there which emphasis on the plot like the ‘Die Hard’ franchise; the story was predictable as expected, still the plot was weedy compared to Stallone’s other works.

Whatever was lost in the plot had been evenhanded by some high octane action sequences. Very few movies can brag to show case legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Jet Li & many more in one movie. Perhaps most of the movie aficionados will be more interested to see the casts rather than the action. Just like Rambo IV, the action had been quite intense with no restraint from gory images. If you are aware of the mode of Stallone’s work, then you would most likely know that most of the stunts are done by Stallone himself; in fact he did sustain some serious injuries while shooting an action cut along with Steve Austin.

If you are more interested to feel the heat of ‘80s action, then this movie definitely delivers what it promises.

My Rating : 5.5/10

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Call Of Duty : Black Ops (Preview)

One more day left for the most anticipated game of this year. Of course I am talking about ‘Black Ops’ the 7th installment from the Call of Duty series.

This time it’s developed by the Treyarch, personally I really enjoyed their version of ‘COD: World at War’. Very little is known about this game, except the fact that this title is primarily based on the missions undertaken by the black ops operators during the Cold War. From the released trailers so far it looks some of the missions would be surrounding the Vietnam War. It’s pretty exhilarating to know that the development team have ventured into the history related to the Vietnam conflict. I hope some maps would be expanded for the multiplayer campaigns. Treyarch is bringing along the character of ‘Victor Reznov’ (Reference: World at War), so I have no clue whether there is going to be any kind of reference to the other COD series or MW titles to put forward a closed loop.

In the single player campaign we are supposed to take over the role of Special Forces operative Alex Mason & CIA field agent Jason Hudson. Some facts related to the game development is pretty exciting, Treyarch has used the motion capture technology in order to get more realistic facial expression, we have already seen this technology in Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ so we know its going to be big. Veterans from the Cold War have also provided valuable consultation to the development team; I am sure this game is going to be the most realistic & exciting among all its peers.

Hans Zimmer had been behind the soundtrack of the Modern Warfare series, I hope this title will also be able to provide some memorable tracks. Present generation first person shooter based games have become more realistic, thanks to the technological advancement. Let’s just hope that ‘Black Ops’ manages to break the record of ‘Modern Warfare 2’.

Note: Officially going to be released on 9th Nov 2010 for PS3, X360, Wii, PC.

The Social Network (2010)

The latest rave caused by David Fincher’s The Social Network is really something to talk about. Most likely by now you might have heard about this movie, which is based on the establishment of the extensively popular website facebook & which led to a controversial lawsuit. I don’t know how much facts have actually been put up into this movie but surly this one was quite compelling.

Actors amassed for this movie had been perfect & Jesse Eisenberg portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg (Co-founder of facebook) had been flawless; perhaps the best choice made by Fincher. Natural flow of the narrative has made this movie even more appealing. Since this is a character driven movie there is a possibility that Jesse Eisenberg might land up for the Academy Awards Nomination for the best actor. So, if you are addicted to the concept of social networking then definitely you should see this movie to appreciate the stake the initiators had taken to make 'facebook' so accepted across the world today.

My Rating : 8/10 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Book Of Eli (2010)

Yet another movie based on post apocalypse, very much similar to “I Am Legend”.

Nevertheless this movie fails to hit the chord which Will Smith’s movie did in a very artistic way. The main glitch is here not the casting but with the narrative which looked dragged making it tedious. Apart from some sporadic action in pieces this movie does not have much to offer.

The story is based on a nomad named ‘Eli’ who had been traveling for thirty years in post apocalyptic world in search of the West Coast of the United States. It seems a divine voice had instructed him to deliver the last copy of King James version of Bible, which he was in possession of. So how Eli manages to deal with various obstacles to achieve his task is what ultimately this movie brings forth to its viewers.

Denzel Washington as Eli had been a good pick; he managed to provide vigor to the character of Eli, however Gary Oldman antagonistic role as ‘Carnegie’ was rather weak, this had been one of the reasons why the movie felt rather ineffective in delivering the essence of urgency at vital juncture. Mila Kunis (Max Payne) had been provided as a supporting cast & her role had been limited in literal sense as such her character ‘Solara’ had nothing much to add to the story. The soundtrack was quite soothing which did suit the overall surrounding; those who are familiar with ‘Terminator Salvation’ will find a similar cinematography of the desolate mainland.

Whatever actions are presented is pretty much similar to the ‘Resident Evil Franchise’, of course we will not be presented here with the army of the undead; still the sword fight had been quite gritty & realistic. The only part which I felt the movie had been successful in delivering has to do with the climax which I believe many viewers will not see it coming. How the movie is going to work with the masses entirely depends on personal preference.

My Rating : 5/10 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Euphoria

If there is any game which truly deserves to be made into a movie then Modern Warfare 2 aptly suits the tribute.

Being an avid gamer I knew why MW 2 caused a sense of exhilaration when it came out in late 2009.

The disparity between the developers Electronic Arts & Infinity Ward is that even though both of them have provided us with Military based FPS, when it comes to sheer adrenaline pressed story, Infinity Ward evidently comes out as the winner.
 Call of Duty franchise had already earned the appreciation among the gaming communities world wide so it was nothing new that its developers were ready to take the series to the next level. In 2007 we received the first title of Modern Warfare a.k.a COD 4 which had been an instant hit. The changes which had been perceptible had been the graphics which was highly improved from its predecessor as well as the plot line.

November 2009 had created history within the entertainment industry with the launch of Modern Warfare 2. It was not only good as a game but gifted us with an explosive story.

The plotline of MW2 is a direct continuation from COD 4 which seems to happen five years later. After finishing the game it was clear that the mass hysteria was not irrational but this game definitely had something to gossip about. Apart from the most talked about game of the year; it also had its own share of criticism. The most apparent controversy surrounding the game had been inclusive of one particular mission where the player has to take the role of a C.I.A operator & work undercover with Russian terrorists to take part in a mass carnage at the Zakhaev International Airport (Moscow). Infinity Ward did provide an option for the players to skip the mission if there have been a feeling of discontent.

One more downside of this title had been the short length of the single player campaign. The new feature included had been the co-operative mode titled as ‘Special Ops’ where two players can play in a co-operative mode & its far more addictive than the multiplayer mode.

Music had also been great, of course when Hollywood legendary composer Hans Zimmer is in what will you expect, nothing short of a masterpiece, a true ‘Mozart’ of our time.

Fact :
The total revenue from the first day sales in the U.S. & UK was $ 310 Million, which made Modern Warfare 2 as the biggest entertainment launch in history. As of January it has taken over $ 1 Billion in sale.

My Rating : 10/10