Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Men in Black 3" (2012) - Movie Review

Time travel in films just does not make sense on so many levels because it is a very complex concept and you have to be very careful in making sure that the viewers are not pondering on this too much. When it is presented like a setting for a good story like it did in “Frequency” though not time travel but a rift in that space-time continuum, it worked well and mostly rooting for this father-son relationship both of them trying to save each other. “Men in Black 3” though would please a regular movie goer looking for action with weird creatures and Will Smith trying really hard to crack a joke, it passes as a mediocre presentation.

I barely remember the previous installations but the first one had a good impact on me because of the way Will Smith’s character Agent J gets recruited and him as actor taking us through this unbelievable world hiding right in front of our face. The job that is assigned to these people requires out of the box thinking and a behaviour which brings the man to that spot. Tommy Lee Jones is Agent K, the old man who seem to be sucked out of any form of enjoyment and emotions. With a yapping man like J, he had to be really dry of anything to have seek for something resembling fun. This of course bothers J which forms an underline to the extent in which he would go for rescuing K and a mild basis to the film in the end.

Anyhow, there is yet another alien trying to destroy Earth for universal domination and this time the tool is time travel. Do not get me started on that but the prisoner is dangerous to a next level like all the aliens. What kind of justice system they use to determine punishment for intergalactic crime because a capital punishment in Boris’ case would have saved many lives and a movie. Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from a prison situated in Moon! He or It has an insect within his hand that would spit claw nails at super fast speed. The zest for world domination is another thing to ponder but let us put that aside and see this film for what it is.

Agent K apprehended this man in 1969 and for whatever reason they decided to jail him wherein he got to be outside of Earth and put in a prison that is severely guarded and chained for no movement whatsoever. Might as well have executed him. Did not I say that already? Ok, I will back off on this. He decides to travel back in time and kill Agent K so that the security system K put on Earth would not happen there by Boris’ clan of folks can annihilate Earth 40 years later. He does it which results in change in the future but J is the only who has his memory intact otherwise this would not make sense. He does the crazy thing to travel back and hence the movie.

Will Smith tries either too hard or very little to bring his trademark comedy and punch lines to the film. I was seeing “I, Robot” the other day which was a mediocre film of its own but his lines were delivered with such a serious comedic value. And I remember gracing through the first “Men in Black” and there was such an energy in him to give everything he has. Somehow Smith seems to have been content with himself in delivering Agent J. Tommy Lee Jones has not so much screen time other than staring emotionless for most times. Josh Brolin comes as younger J in 1969 and provide some good laughs in the process. Yet the better character in the film is Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), an alien who could see multidimensional space-time and has some profound insight. I would have love to see more of him.

“Men in Black 3” is not devoid of entertainment for action scenes and jaw dropping stunts but I am getting tired of it unless there is a good foundation for those or at least have some intelligence. The film has one such in the end where Smith’s J uses the time travel to tackle one of the Boris. Aside from that it becomes an exercise and we know how it is going to end.

Barry Sonnenfield who directed the first installment comes back as the director and there is not much to work with. The story is nothing original and the idea of numerous aliens in the Earth has become old news. The characters are which that would bring any film home and here despite the established duos and having Brolin come in to provide an extra run does not work completely well.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" (Language - Hindi) (2011) - Movie Review

Zoya Akhtar’s “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” is what the Bollywood cinema absolutely needed, a mature film. Not a hint of going overboard on obvious emotional explanation and simply treating the audience fairly and importantly with intelligence are the magnificent stellar stroke this movie knocks. It carries good sense of the characters and most of all has the humility. It has good actors playing their part to their true nature and staying within the limits of their director’s tender care. It is not deeply profound nor unnecessarily shallow rather just enough depth to weave its viewers for a pleasant journey for a feel good film that arrives organically.

Kabir (Abhay Deol), Imraan (Farhan Akhtar) and Arjun (Hrithink Roshan) are childhood friends embarking on a tour through Spain to fulfill their pact. Each has to choose an adventure sport that would be kept under the wraps of what it is until the day they actually do it. This is the bachelor party Kabir has planned for himself as we see him propose to his girl friend Natasha (Kalki Koechlin) when the movie begins. Yes there is no way this movie would escape comparison with “Dil Chahta Hai” which strangely was directed by Farhan Akhtar. I think the concept of three is the sizable number to provide enough characterization and revelation. Despite that, the film takes a stand on its own. It provides a different outlook on the well to do upper class. 

Us humans regardless of the social structure are always designated ourselves with our own problems. Money and comfort would eradicate the hedonistic needs of a person but our minds are so spectacular in finding problems. Those problems despite other supposedly real issues are for that person very real. This applies to the everyday life of any human. “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” might appear as three spoiled brats worrying about problems that are insignificant but I think the reason for me to look at it in this manner is due to the nature of good and great films of Indian cinema always took serious issues in the society than a regular human issue especially if the person is a wealthy individual. The problems these young men are facing in their times reflect the nature of Indian economy and more so about the cultural change it is going through. This transition is crucial and in the ultimate fiasco of terrible Bollywood films, this presentation marks great significance than one would generally view.

Thus begins the journey of these three who are not all hunky dory in hitting the road with harmony and celebrations. We instantly find out the cold atmosphere between Arjun and Imraan. Zoya Akhtar does not immediately make it obvious of this strain between these two. Both different in their mannerisms, outlook and character clash on their own techniques in attacking each other. If Imraan is too jovial and knows how to play around with Arjun then Arjun simply shows off his successful career to put Imraan in his place. Kabhir becomes the bridge and the instigator between these two. We are led to believe Kabhir is the truly happy one without issues until part of his issues are revealed. Imraan has a secret agenda of his own and Arjun despite his success is alone. Three of them find a way to make peace with those in this trip.

The resolution is crucial in these kind of films. More than predictability it is the truth in which they imbibe those to themselves and to the audience that becomes convincing in the execution of the story. Imraan realizes that his real father walked out when he was a child and he gets to meet him as Nasiruddin Shah. Their meet is honest and the outcome truthful. Similarly is Arjun’s love interest Katrina Kaif as Laila who might have been just an eye candy yet she becomes a trigger for what Arjun has been missing and not brave enough to embrace.

“Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” has some spellbinding cinematography by Carlos Catalan. There are some cool shots which are enhancements than distractions. It paints this beautiful country on to the next level of colour, cheer and simple peace one expects out of a road trip. The acting though not stellar is respectable. Its characters slightly animated are well within the bounds of flesh and blood. The only qualm I have is that they could have left out the unnecessary song during end credits. The way the film ended is the way it should have been left and somehow Zoya seem to have wanted the audience have a closure, an unnecessary one. The most beautiful films for most of the times are the ones which are left poetically incomplete much as the insightful, moving and genuine poetries the film has. “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” is not alone a simple entertainer but a sensible, cheering and genuine film.

"The Avengers" (2012) - Movie Review

Joss Whedon can deceive you into thinking him as Michael Bay taking cheesy titles, characters and plots but he perfectly knows what he is approaching and attacking in each of his projects. As a mark of a fulfilling director, he is on the side screen smirking at the witty dialogues he made his characters work through. He brings that not alone for laughter in the event of the story but acknowledge some of the ridiculousness each of them holds and act. That worked in his cult TV series "Firefly" and the movie finale of it in "Serenity". Here he has the onus of not alone venturing a blockbuster but has plethora of characters to deal with and weave them equally to provide a sensible story and a thorough entertainment. He does that with a command.

We have had enough of super hero films and it keeps getting worse with one installment after another but it keeps getting better in the hands of skillful directors. Besides the obvious mastery of Christopher Nolan in handling Batman, we have had Jon Favreau with the aid of of cool cat nature of Robert Downey Jr. in his "Iron Man" series has made worth the audience’s time in investing in to these people. Downey Jr. brings that magic out here but he is not the only character to drop splendid lines and steal the show. Every one of them get their day on the screen in most deserving manner and they have fun along the way.

You never hear from this reviewer on saying a film as "wholesome entertainer" but I think here it is because Whedon takes his passion in these people and satiates that side of his palette but then turns around and gives a lengthy and dutifully long action scene in the end to leave audience who came for that. In both these territories he treats with the same passion though the special effects does some complicated scenes and of course destroys Manhattan thoroughly to aid him in succeeding in that.

The story as much as is preposterous carries some value towards it. Loki from the "Thor" is out for the power and the magical mystical and weirdly ridiculous Tesseract is the object he goes for. That currently has been discovered by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) with the SHIELD team along with the sleeping Captain America (Chris Evans). In the process of stealing that material, Loki goes for using magical powers through his scepter to mind wash Jeremy Renner's arrow man and the scientist played by Stellan Starsgard. Hence begins the eventual assembling of the super heroes who have issues of their own.

Edward Norton nor Eric Bana do not show up as Bruce Banner/Hulk rather it is Mark Ruffalo and he is a convincing and mainly depressed man with struggle inside literally for obvious reasons. Then there is Captain America trying to make sense of this new world he awakened and of course our friendly neighborhood narcissistic jerk Tony Stark. We get Chris Helmworth as Thor swinging his hammer and Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow kicking asses. All this assemble chaotically as the story demands but methodically as Whedon lines them up.

The result is a full on funny film in completely serious moment which are ridiculous for its genre. While an artist makes something of his own to quench his inner need to express, there are other artists who can gel their passion along with empathizing with their audience. The latter is Whedon's skill. He precisely knows what the audience are thinking as they watch a particular scene and not alone acknowledge their presence but winks at them. You become a buddy to this presentation and the presenter.

As mentioned earlier, the film has a lengthy and grand action finale that does not overshadow the film's characters. You get a sense of these costumed heroes battling inside and relate to them if you want to. They are flawed, heroic, preposterous but mainly very human. In a movie that is filled with flurry of important characters and fans for each of them, it fulfills with great conviction. "Avengers" is not a profound and deep film as the precedence of recent Nolan's ventures for but it goes beyond the skin just enough to make them stick out and provides a much more tougher entertainment in a blockbuster action film, humor.