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

Splice (2010)

‘Splice’ can be illustrated as an ideal science fiction thriller.

For those who are wondering the meaning of ‘Splice’, it refers to the scientific process where fragments of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) from different organisms are combined to form a recombinant DNA.

The story centers on a scientist couple Clive & Elsa, who have pulled off some amount of eminence for effectively splicing DNA, which helped them to create new species. In order to push further the scientific limits they urge with the pharmaceutical company who funds their research N.E.R.D (Nucleic Exchange Research & Development) to let them do splicing of the human DNA but their request is put down, instead the company insists them to extract some protein from the already created species so that they can create some medicine which might help for the company’s financial stock.

As you might have already presumed, they naturally go ahead with the splicing and create a new type of hybrid which is half human and half animal; Elsa lovingly names it as ‘DREN’, nerd spelled backwards. From here onwards the story swiftly shifts & shows what risks they start to face which brings into question the scientific morality, ultimately their love for crossing the boundaries brings colossal horror from which they have no escape. I would prefer not to reveal anything more on the plot.

Adrien Brody & Sarah Polly are just great as the genetic engineers but the real show-stopper is Delphine Chaneac, who brings intensity to the character of ‘Dren’.

The best part of this movie is some erratic moments which in these days’ movies fail to deliver typically in case of horror genre. Overall this has a great narrative powered by impressive acting which will certainly keep you at the edge of your seat.

My Rating : 8/10