Sunday, July 24, 2011

Age Of Heroes (2011)

Adrian Vitoria’s Age of Heroes depicts the events which led to the formation of British 30th Commando Unit & its first operation in Norway during the eve of World War II.

Plot : The movie starts with the Battle of Dunkirk where a small surviving unit of British soldiers under the command of Corporal Rains tries to find their way to the ongoing Dunkirk evacuation. However being mistaken as deserter by a high ranking British officer, Rains & his unit gets circulated back to military prison for transgression. At prison he befriends an inmate who reveals to be once the member of the lately formed elite forces. Shortly after escaping the prison Rains gets inducted into the commando training program under the vigilance of Major Jones. After enduring the dehumanizing program Rains & his group gets called for their first assignment. The mission was to parachute into occupied Norway; raid & gather intelligence on a German Radar installation which happened to be far advanced than the allied machinery. Yet things never go according to plan; on landing into the enemy territory Jones' unit find themselves against an unforeseen enemy who seems to jeopardize the entire mission.

Taking into consideration the small budget on which this movie was made, the close combat action sequences were quite realistic & gritty. Sean Bean as Major Jones delivered a persuasive role. Other castings with creditable performance were William Houston as Sgt. Mackenzie & Aksel Hennie as Steiner who is also well known for his performance in the Norwegian war biopic Max Manus. Only thing which was sort of downer was the usual portrayal of German soldiers as viscous killers & although their atrocity on civilians were shown to full extent their infantry tactics were displayed imperfectly thus contradicting the historical fact they were bona fide first-rate fighters. I don’t know much about the authenticity of Operation Grendel shown in this film; still as a war movie this might do just well. With limited funding Vitoria’s movie delivers the story but lacks in intensity which is essential for keeping viewers engrossed. 

My Rating : 6.5/10 

Note : This is my 100th Article; I would like this opportunity to extend my thanks to all my readers.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Guns of Navarone (1961)

Based on the novel of the same name by Alistair MacLean, The Guns of Navarone although fictional, the backdrop emphasizes the Dodecanese Campaign of Second World War. During this operation British forces tried to capture the Italian held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea. However things did not materialize as intended & the allies’ attempt to take over the island failed resulting to German annexation.
Plot : Collapse of the allied forces in the campaign lead to the stranding of thousands of British soldiers on the island of Keros in the Aegean Sea. They faced the risk of total annihilation if not rescued. The presence of German radar-directed coastal guns on the nearby island of Navarone made it impossible for the Royal Navy to attempt any kind of rescue operation. Since the German forces have been planning for an offensive operation on Keros it became imperative to save the isolated soldiers. With time running out the allied high command finally comes up with an idea of destroying the Navarone coastal batteries. With the mission authorization it was decided to pick a group of saboteurs who would sail to Navarone & destroy the guns.

The team handpicked for the assignment included Captain Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck) a legendary mountaineer; Andrea Stavrou (Anthony Quinn) a former colonel in the resistance Greek army who had his own agenda to follow Mallory; Corporal Miller (David Niven) although sometimes annoying with his ill-timed jokes he was nonetheless an explosive specialist; Private Brown (Stanley Baker) the communication engineer whose knife fighting skill earned him the nickname as ‘The Butcher of Barcelona’ for killing many in the Spanish Civil War; Private Spyros Pappadimos (James Darren) a Greek-American who was assigned this mission for being a 'born killer' as once stated by the intelligence officer; finally Major Roy Franklin (Anthony Quayle) who was supposed to spearhead the operation.

Amid all the action the moral complexities offered are in fact very reflective; we find some members who find themselves disillusioned with the killings & sometimes even cynical with credibility of the whole mission. When grave injury compels Roy to put Mallory in charge; disparity with Miller on certain ideologies gets well explored which puts forth some ethical issues. Mallory’s gradual leadership effectively shows how war can bring out the best of men under overwhelming situation. The Guns of Navarone is one of the classics of all time which has materialized with years. Even after five decades the story still holds its essence making it one of the finest war movies of that era.

My Rating : 8/10

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) ~ First Look

Finally we get the chance to get some glimpse of the most anticipated movie of 2012. Even though the teaser trailer embraces some of the footage from the earlier two sequels; the final cut looks epic nonetheless. I wish Nolan’s final chapter in the Batman-saga a gratifying finale.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Company Of Heroes (2007) : Video Game

With the dawn of advanced graphics engine, computer games have evolved to make the experience all the more riveting. Relic Entertainment’s Company of Heroes is one of the best strategy games I have ever played. Set during the pinnacle of Second World War you get the chance to command two United States combat units & fight your way across Europe. With incredible graphics & audio Company of Heroes brings the memoirs of front line back to life. Single player campaign offers only the accessibility of the allied infantry, airborne company & armored cavalry support. You don’t get the chance to play the German faction in the campaign however you have the option to control them while playing in skirmish mode.

In-game campaign follows the story of Able Company under the command of Captain John MacKay & his friend Sergeant Joe Conti. At some point you also get the chance to command Fox Company's airborne division. The story starts with Dwight Eisenhower’s ambition undertaking Operation Overlord where your infantry company storms the Omaha beach in Normandy on D-Day, June 6th 1944. Taking cue from Steven Spielberg’s epic movie Saving Private Ryan, the opening scene shows the viciousness of war. Against all odds you are given the objective to neutralize all the contiguous beach German garrisons & some Flak 88s. Just like the extensive first mission rest of the campaign is also pretty much intense. Some of the missions require direct assault like taking of the French town Carentan while others need good preparation before you can send your troops for full frontal attack. Missions like securing port of Cherbourg or capturing Saint Lo requires exhaustive planning. Company of Heroes can be played in four different difficulty settings; depending on your skill you can start with easy approach & later on leveling up to expert mode.

Even if you are new to RTS (Real Time Strategy) games, the campaign offers fair amount of training which helps you to comprehend a range of infantry ground tactics. Unlike other games like Rome Total War you don’t have to micro manage each & every details; instead the game streamlines some of the provisions helpful for finishing the missions. Each campaign maps have territories distinctively marked as Allied or Axis controlled. In order to progress you need a constant supply of manpower, fuel & munitions. Usually when you start any mission you are provided with a forward HQ ~ headquarters along with a squad of engineers. You require these engineers to setup defenses & other military structures which help in providing advanced combat & support units. While exploring the map you would require in capturing & holding strategic points. These carry resource points which help in contributing to your demand. Remember in order to receive a constant flow of resources; all your territories must be well connected. Holding strategic points while playing this game in difficulty mode is like hell. Enemy A.I. swiftly starts capturing the resource points before annihilating your troops. Loss of Forward HQ sometimes also lead to mission failure as you are cut-off from forward infantry & engineer squads supply. Make sure in keeping the base heavily defended from enemy retaliation.

The mechanics of both the allied & enemy A.I. is very impressive. Infantry squad acts decisively when attacked by MG-42 emplacement. They can be used to outflank the enemy post by either suppressive fire or by popping a grenade. When you deploy anti-tank gun units they act accordingly while facing enemy armor. Of course they are not eternal souls & while facing odds you need to balance your squad with mixed weapons especially when facing Panzer IVs & Tiger I tanks. The game also provides some necessary perks; the Commander Selection System. In campaign mode it provides you the opportunity to choose any one upgrade within allied infantry, airborne or armor company. This helps in necessary reinforcements & special upgrades to change the tides of war in your favor. While in skirmish mode if you are playing from German perspective you get the chance to choose any one of the three available doctrines; namely defensive, blitzkrieg & terror.

Visually Company of Heroes looks spectacular provided you have a killer rig to enjoy its potential. Since in-game feature provides option in panning the camera while zooming in or out the entire units look detailed & realistic. Interactive & destructible maps also provide depth which heightens the experience. Imposing symphonic soundtrack also helps in building the pace. Company of Heroes offers lots of challenge however with proper strategy & patience you can master this game. Relic Entertainment has really revolutionized the RTS genre & set its bar of excellence to new heights.

My Rating : 9/10

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TROY (2004)

Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. So we ask ourselves…will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we’re gone…& wonder who we were…how bravely we fought…how fiercely we loved? ~ Odysseus

Inspired by Homer’s ‘The Iliad’, TROY depicts the events which lead to the Trojan War. Wolfgang Petersen often known for his war movie masterpiece Das Boot brings us closer to the Greek mythology. Even though visually overwhelming with epic battle scenes, the movie still had some shortcoming.

With a brief preface we learn, after decades of warfare Agamemnon (Brian Cox), King of Mycenae, has forced most of the realms of Greece into a fragile alliance. However being wearied with years of war his brother Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), King of Sparta settles on to make peace with Troy which remained unvanquished. When Trojan Prince Hector (Eric Bana) & his younger brother Paris (Orlando Bloom) visit Sparta to negotiate peace, Paris falls for the Spartan queen Helen (Diane Kruger) & furtively brings her to Troy. Enraged with Paris’ action, Menelaus swears retribution & seeks for Agamemnon’s support to wage war against Troy. Agamemnon had been scheming for years to conquer Troy; taking brother’s pledge as the liable opportunity, he calls for the largest army from entire Greece to fulfill his lust for power.

However Troy’s history of sturdy defense made her impenetrable from attack, thus it required exceptional leaders to breach her defenses. Generals within Agamemnon’s council ask him to bring Achilles (Brad Pitt) & his Myrmidons warriors to unite the troops for the cause. Achilles was considered to be the greatest warrior ever born yet his contempt for Agamemnon’s rule threatened the alliance & the success of the war’s final outcome.

Even though the running length had just about been 162 minutes, there were certain aspects of the story which required more attention. With several crammed subplots, some of the important characters like Odysseus (Sean Bean) & his relation with Achilles left partly explored. In the end it was Odysseus,King of Ithaca who devised the plan for building the Trojan horse; certainly his role required further importance. As per legends, the Trojan War took nearly ten years, yet it covered a fraction in this movie; a liberty I can acknowledge for the sake of filming constraints. Considering Helen as the significant character in this story, her relation with Paris lacked intensity. Whether Hector’s cousin Briseis (Rose Byrne) was accountable for the mounting conflict in-between Agamemnon & Achilles is still debatable. Apparently such authenticity can never be vouched from mythical fables. When it comes to action, the duel between Hector & Achilles was adequately choreographed yet the battle filmed between the unknown Trojan & Greek warriors needed vitality, earlier seen in Scott’s Gladiator.

Even if this movie falls short in contrast to Braveheart & Gladiator still epic lovers will definitely enjoy TROY. To end with, the story might be little flawed yet worth the time.

My Rating : 7/10

Monday, July 4, 2011

Super 8 (2011)

Super 8 have the constituent essential for a family movie to thrive in the arena. Amid all the special effects it’s the story which makes this movie so unique. J.J. Abrams seems to have mastered the Science Fiction genre just like legendary Steven Spielberg. Believe the hype; this movie actually delivers what others pledge in their teaser trailers. After a long time we get to see a movie which is an instant classic & reminds us the good old days of ‘80s.

Plot : In early ’79, we are introduced to Joe Lamb, a teenage boy living in the small town of Ohio. Lately he lost his mother in a factory accident. His father, deputy sheriff Jackson finds it hard to deal with with the tragedy. Some months later Joe decides to assist his close friend Charles in making a small budget zombie movie. They hire Alice; daughter of Louis who is held accountable by Joe’s father for their family misfortune. While taking shot of a scene with their Super 8 mm at a remote train depot in late night Joe & his friends witness a colossal derailment which looked to be premeditated. From then on strange things starts happening in their small town. Joe inquisitiveness forces him to investigate the bizarre incidents which have caused panic within the generic population of the town. His search leads him to a murky revelation. I will go no further as it ruins the momentum. The less you know the more you all will enjoy.

The real assets in this movie are the group of young artistes. Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb & Elle Fanning as Alice embodies the heart & soul of this movie. Abrams competently exhibit Joe’s love for Alice in a tenderly fashion; often missed in movies these days. Riley Griffiths as Charles brought first-rate intensity to his character thus harmonizing his role along with the supporting casts. Kyle Chandler as Jackson Lamb delivers in a creditable style but ensured not to overshadow Joel’s stupendous performance; in the end it’s Joel who turns out to be the unlikely hero. Michael Giacchino’s poignant score also helped in elevating the story.

Super 8 gives the glimpse of the nostalgic memoirs of early ‘80s classic movies. J.J. Abrams puts across a smart, sci-fi thriller which can be treasured by the entire family on any given day.

My Rating : 8.5/10

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Transformers : Dark Of The Moon (2011)

Michael Bay’s final entry in the Transformer franchise offers a mixed experience. Visually Dark Of The Moon is incredible & the 3D transition looked quite imposing though not radical like Avatar, as many claimed. Well, that’s the good part which is undeniably going to electrify the usual crowd; however there were certain aspects which might be of concern for some. The length of the movie was far too stretched with some cliché dialogue from our human characters.

Plot : It is revealed that the entire Apollo Mission of putting man on Moon was a cover-up meticulously planned by United States, to investigate a cybertronian spacecraft which had crash landed in 1961, on the far side of the moon. The craft known as The Ark carried some valued technology which could have changed the tide of war in Autobots favor & save Cybertron. In the present day as the Autobots helped the NEST Team in search & destroying remaining Decepticons on Earth; Optimus Prime (leader of Autobots) learns about the secret of The Ark. As the Autobots race against time to reach Moon & unfold the anonymity of the crashed cybertronian craft, Decepticon’s crippled leader Megatron devices a scheme with a hideous entity which would plunge the humanity into a new nightmare.

Once more we see Shia LaBeouf reprising the role of Sam Witwicky; teenager caught between the conflicts of the extraterrestrial clans. Novice Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Sam’s new girlfriend Carly is surly a stunner but with limited script she had nothing to do other than being rescued from the cybertronian muddle. Other than known faces from its early sequels John Malkovich as Sam’s eccentric boss & Frances McDormand as the new Secretary of Defense builds up the faces of the human resistance before the Decepticons started their onslaught for a full frontal war on the Chicago city. There are some unforeseen twists still at some parts the story seemed in-coherent & some forced comic relief could have been easily avoided. As mentioned earlier the effects are really good which makes it sensible to watch it in 3D; still the second half is bloated with actions & explosions which might be tedious for some.

Among the Decepticons the new attraction definitely here will be Shockwave & its creepy worm-like cybertronian pet. Transformers 3 have some intense action scenes which would gratify the conventional viewers. This movie is comparable to its predecessor, only this time it comes with more bang than you can truly handle. If you have enjoyed its prior sequels then I don’t see a reason for leaving out this one. This will evoke interest among those who are interested in visceral over the top explosions & blondes in haute couture. I can assure you one thing; Transformers 3 fared much better than Revenge Of The Fallen.

My Rating : 6.5/10