Friday, 31 August 2012

Hit And Run (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Caught!

1.5/5 Stars

‘Hit And Run’ is a film about a young man, Yul Perrkins/Charles Bronson running away from his murky past, who is trying to start a new life with his girlfriend Annie Bean. Currently in a witness protection program, there are a few aspects of his past that is girlfriend is unaware of. Enter the horrific criminal, Alex Dmitri!

It’s mildly entertaining in patches. The problem is that these patches are too few and far in between. Predictable plot, lacklustre dialogue and a cringe-worthy Bradley Cooper!

A young couple, Charles Bronson (Dax Shepard) and Annie Bean (Kristen Bell), are leading a hassle-free life. Charles, a former abettor in bank robberies, is in a Witness Protection program and Annie teaches at a college. Charles is assigned a clumsy United States Marshal, Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold), for protection. Things are going fine until Annie has to give a job interview for the post of heading a department at a college in Los Angeles. She has to relocate and Charles, who has been hiding the truth from her all along about his real identity, faces a dilemma. After much deliberation, he agrees to drive his girlfriend to LA. Problems arise when Annie’s suspecting ex-boyfriend Gil Rathbinn (Michael Rosenbaum) is anguished at the prospect of losing his former lady love and gets Charles’ old accomplice Alex Dmitri (Bradley Cooper) to know about his whereabouts. What follow is a sequence of car chases, gunshots, kidnappings, confrontations, accidents and eventually, justice is meted out to everyone concerned. The plot, albeit good, wasn’t done justice to from the writers and the actors.

Kristen Bell was just about passable in the film. Else, Dax Shepard, Michael Rosenbaum, Bradley Cooper and the rest of the supporting cast, just amble away on the screen without much purpose. Some of the dialogues are bizarre and totally out-of-place. Even the chemistry between the lead couple (also dating in real life) is bland.

The car-chases have been shot excellently. There are a couple of slow-motion shots which look brilliant on the big screen. The score is amusing, to say the least. There’s a scene in which a police vehicle catches the Marshal Gil’s car for speeding and you have a song playing in the background (sounding like a typical 80s Bollywood number). And, you’re left flabbergasted. Director David Palmer and Dax Shepard (now you know!), deliver bad writing and extract poor performances from the cast.

Would you want to watch Bradley Cooper, with golden braided hair, hamming away to badly-written dialogue? No! (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Campaign (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – The Muck Stops Here!

3.5/5 Stars

Incumbent Congressman Cam Brady is set to win yet another term at the office unopposed. Till, two businessmen, the Motch brothers, seize the opportunity to place their man, Marty Huggins, against Brady. The battle begins over who will conquer the North Carolina district.

Exceptional dialogue, amazing performances and great concept! This is not just a raunchy comedy, nor is it merely a political drama. It’s a mix of both!

Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is the unopposed candidate for the 2012 elections in North Carolina district. Posing as a typical politician, Cam is shown to be a womanizer, a high-handed leader, a maverick, and just an arrogant go-getter. He beds cheerleaders, women supporters, competitors’ wives, and is silly enough to let it out in the public as well. He also tends to give the same speeches everywhere, no matter what the context is or who the addressees are. Despite all this, Cam is a favourite with the voters.

The Motch Brothers, Glenn Motch (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd), have a plan of setting up a huge plot in one of the districts of North Carolina, where the employees will not be Americans, but Chinese. This will be done so that the Motch brothers don’t have to spend a penny on the shipping costs and products can be made within the American territory. However, this method of ‘insourcing’, as the Motch brothers call it, is nothing but injustice being meted out to the Americans. They ask one of their influential friends, Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), to convince his naïve son Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) to stand up against Cam Brady during the elections.

Now, Marty is a bit on the clumsier side. He is not well groomed, neither is he well-spoken. He and his family, along with wife Mitzi Huggins (Sarah Baker) and kids, spend time indulging in food fights, playing childish games, not taking themselves too seriously, hence, leading a hassle-free life.
It would have been quite a big ask to get the extremely gullible Marty to stand up to the ‘strong-haired, handsome, well-groomed and charming’ Cam Brady. So, the Motch brothers hire the super-smart Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to become Marty’s campaign manager. So, the Huggins family undergoes a big makeover to ‘fit’ into the political circle. There’s mud-slinging, sleeping around, ugly altercations and a lot of political skirmish among the two rivals to decide who the winner is. The concept is terrific, backed with wonderful performances.

The performances are amazing. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, in particular, are mind-blowing. Even though they play rivals in the film, the chemistry in their skirmishes, lights up the screen. Will Ferrell is the arrogant politician, who refuses to bow down to the clumsy nobody, played by Zach. One sleeps with the other’s wife. The other gets the former’s son to call him ‘Dad’. Hilarious gags all around, justified by brilliant acting. Even the supporting cast, comprising John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox, Sarah Baker and Dylan McDermott, is absolutely amazing in their respective roles.

The casting is perfect, but the writing is even better. The scenes couldn’t have played out better than they did, thanks to brilliant writing by Shawn Harwell and Chris Henchy. Some of the one-liners, anecdotes and jokes do leave you a bit dumbfounded, but you end up guffawing anyway. Often, the jokes border on the ridiculous, but the effortlessness of the cast is what pulls off the punches. You don’t need too much effort in comedy when you have Zach Galifianakis of ‘The Hangover’ fame. Director Jay Roach, who has directed films such as ‘Meet The Fockers’, ‘Meet The Parents’ and ‘Dinner For Schmucks’, gives yet another laugh-riot!

Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferell, are phenomenal. 'R' rated, but funny nevertheless. (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

Shark Night 3D (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Unintentionally Funny, But You Still Won’t Laugh

0.5/5 Stars

Bunch of college students pack their swimwear and head to one of their friend’s lake house for a weekend getaway. Problem - The Lake is infested with deadly sharks. Be it the acting, story, screenplay, graphics or the dialogues – everything was juvenile about the film, notwithstanding the actors themselves. Better than ‘Piranha 3DD’, but even that film isn’t a ‘benchmark’ so to speak!

7 college friends Nick (Dustin Milligan), Dennis Crim (Chris Carmack), Beth (Katharine McPhee), Gordon (Joel David Moore), Malik (Sinqua Walls), Maya (Alyssa Diaz) and Sara Palski (Sara Paxton) head to Sara’s lake house in the Louisiana Gulf for a weekend getaway. The girls are looking forward to have a wild time, while the guys want to get laid. However, they don’t know that the lake adjoining the house is infested with deadly sharks. Malik, for instance, gets his arm ripped off while he is water skiing. The group soon realizes that there’s not one but fifteen species of sharks moving around in the lake. Malik’s girlfriend, Maya, gets killed by a shark and many such incidents follow. With their lone boat destroyed, while the group was trying to get away from the sharks, and no phone signals, will the group get out of the place alive?

This is the sensible and more realistic part of the story. The second half, of course, offers insanity in various doses. The characters are very predictable. You have the typical nerd, the lover boy, the Casanova, the desperate guy, and three gorgeous girls. Even the casting was quite clichéd, and the acting followed suit. The performances were forgettable, mildly put. The ‘stars’ of the film try too hard to emote. You would’ve still forgiven them for their performances had there not been that one ‘after-credits’ song. If you do watch the film, don’t miss this song. It appears after the credits.

The story was just a trifle better than the other ‘deadly sea animal against ‘hip’ collegians’ sagas, but that is no consolation. There is more story, for instance, than skin-show or blood-and-gore. However, the acting department falls short miserably. Even the dialogues are lazily written. There is a big twist in the second half, but then it’s followed by even more bizarre twists. The director David R. Ellis promises a ‘watchable’ film in the first half, but leaves us shell-shocked with the inexplicable end. There’s a rap song in the end, which is 10 times more ridiculous than the rest of the film put together.

If the indications haven’t been strong enough, here it is, you’re better off staying away from the ‘Shark Night 3D’. (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Expendables 2 (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Reminiscent Of 80s Action Blockbusters

3.5/5 Stars

Mr. Church reunites the Expendables for what should be an easy mission, but when one of their men is killed; their quest for revenge takes them to a mine in erstwhile Soviet Union.

Exciting action sequences, great humour, fantastic cameos and a thrilling storyline renders ‘The Expendables 2’ better than the first part.

The Expendables, namely, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Toll Road (Randy Couture), along with the new entrant Bill the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and an able Yin Yang (Jet Li), rescue Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a Chinese billionaire from a dingy dungeon in Nepal. Bill expresses his desire to leave the crew and settle down with his girlfriend in France. However, on the team’s next mission, they are accompanied by a female mercenary Maggie (Nan Yu), at the behest of Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to retrieve an item from a plane that was shot down in Albania. Bill loses his life to the antagonist Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Jean Vilain along with his right-hand man Hector (Scott Adkins) seized the item (a computer containing a blueprint to an abandoned Soviet Union mine which stores five tonnes of plutonium) from the Expendables. To avenge the death of their young team-mate and to prevent the shift in the world order, the team sets out to travel to the mines.

Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham share amazing chemistry in the film. The action sequences performed by them in tandem, the harmless banter and the occasional tiffs add a lot of lustre to the story. The cameos in 'The Expendables 2' are quite a few in numbers; exceptional scenes involving mega stars such as Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and the incredibly funny super-human Chuck Norris. Liam Hemsworth packs a punch in his small, yet significant role. Jean-Claude Van Damme looks menacing as the antagonist. His final duel with Stallone is action-packed to the hilt. The members of the supporting cast including Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture are amazing as the rest of the team. Nan Yu stands out as the lone female mercenary in the film. She plays a prominent role in the storyline and does a great job in the action sequences as well. Scott Adkins too plays an important role as the antagonist and leaves a mark.  Overall, the line-up for this film is absolutely stellar.

The opening 15 minutes of the film display magnificent action, a great background score, marvellous cinematography and to top-it-up, the combined charisma of this all-star cast. Countless gun shots, knife-fights, fist scuffles, bombings and yet, there are a few humane moments in the film. The crisp editing and the relatively short duration (100 minutes) serve the purpose as you don't find a lull moment at all. The film stars in most technical departments. Be it the editing (Todd E. Miller), cinematography (Shelly Johnson) or the music (Brian Tyler) department, the film comes up trumps visually abled with great sound. Director Simon West amalgamates wonderful action with a decent storyline. Turns out, this movie fares better than the first part!

The film is not cinematic brilliance, but the best part is that it doesn’t even pretend to be one. Go watch, have fun! (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002) Review by Shivom Oza – The Word ‘Legend’ Is Aptly Put

4/5 Stars

‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ is a historic biographical film about Bhagat Singh, a freedom fighter who fought for the independence of India. Directed by Rajkumar Santoshi and starring Ajay Devgn, the film went on to bag 2 National Awards; National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, and National Film Award for Best Actor.

Emphatic performances by the cast, inspiring score by A.R. Rahman, faultless script (thanks to the guidance of Kultar Singh, younger brother of Bhagat Singh who last met him when he was 12), immaculate direction and the encompassing patriotic fervour make this film a must-watch.
Bhagat Singh (Ajay Devgn), as a child, witnessed countless atrocities inflicted on Indians by the British rulers, who had initially visited the country as traders under the guise of the East India Company, but ended up taking over. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, ordered by General Dyer, which led to the massacre of thousands of innocent men, women and children, had a deep impact on young Bhagat. He lost his faith in Mahatma Gandhi (Surendra Rajan), from whom he was greatly inspired, after he called off the Non-Cooperation Movement following the Chauri-Chaura incident. Bhagat grows up, aspiring to become a revolutionary, starting to pick up fights with the ‘Whites’ or the ‘Goras’.

Brought up in a protected household, Bhagat’s father Kishan Singh (Raj Babbar) and mother Vidyavati K. Singh (Farida Jalal), expect him to settle down in life. They want him to marry Mannewali (Amrita Rao) and handle the family dairy business. However, Bhagat believes that he is already married to the country and that getting freedom is his topmost priority.

 So, along with Sukhdev (Sushant Singh) and his other friends, he joins Hindustan Republican Association (a party formed to fight against the British’s tyranny). Along the way, he is joined by Chandrashekhar Azad (Akhilendra Mishra), Lala Lajpat Rai (Sitaram Panchal), Bhaswar Chatterjee (B.K.Dutt) and others to fight against the British and at the same time, compete with the Mahatma Gandhi-Jawahar Lal Nehru (Saurabh Dubey) led Indian National Congress for national prominence.
The story, apart from being the most accurate account of events, has been put on the screen brilliantly. Yes, the plot had its melodramatic moments, but nothing so over-the-top that it got cringe-worthy. Bhagat’s childhood scenes could have been more expressive, but thankfully, the filmmakers decided to do away with anything that would undermine the ‘legendary statuses of the freedom fighters.

The casting couldn’t have been better. Every historical figure (known/unknown) looked their part. The lesser-known freedom fighters such as Bhagwati Charan Vora, Durga Bhabhi, Gaya Prasad, B.K Dutt and the others were immaculately portrayed. Sushant Singh gives an emphatic performance in the film as the passionate Sukhdev. The scenes where he takes on the Britishers are very well written and excellently performed. He does justice to the scenes involving light hearted banter as well as the impassioned speeches. An actor par excellence, truly. Akhilendra Mishra, who plays Chandrashekhar Azad, also completely fits the part. Other freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi (Surendra Rajan), Jawahar Lal Nehru (Saurabh Dubey), Ram Prasad Bismil (Ganesh Yadav) and Subhash Chandra Bose (Kenneth Desai) looked and sounded so much like the revolutionaries that they played. These characters remind you of the freedom fighters, and that’s what serves the purpose.

D. Santosh, who plays Shiviram Hari Rajguru, is a phenomenal actor. Having showed his mettle in the recent ‘Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year’, the actor has always delivered firepower performances in films such as ‘Khakee’ and this one. The supporting cast, including Farida Jalal, Raj Babbar and Amrita Rao, deliver fine, understated performances.

The selection of actors for playing foreigners did leave a lot to be desired. Even the dubbing for the foreign artistes wasn’t neatly done. This is one blip in an otherwise great film.

Lastly, Ajay Devgn, as Bhagat Singh, delivers one of his career-best performances in the film. His character goes through many ups and downs in the film. He had to play, a reticent young man, a shy behind-the-scenes revolutionary, an introspective reader, an impassioned orator, an influencer, an aggressor, a hard-hearted freedom fighter and a martyr in the same film. Ajay’s performance takes you back to the 1920s and the 1930s and makes you feel like you’re a part of the movement.
The film hardly falters anywhere, technically. As already mentioned, the screenwriting has been undertaken brilliantly. A hint of sepia is prominent throughout the film to give it the ‘old-world’ feel and it works well. Brilliant writing by Anjum Rajabali, Piyush Mishra and Ranjit Kapoor, along with able direction by Rajkumar Santoshi not only makes this film historically precise but extremely entertaining as well. The court-room scenes are funny, inspiring and emotional at the same time, which reflect wonderfully on the excellence of the performances. The editing by V.N Mayekar is precise. He does leave the film a little too long at 2 and a half hours but then, that was the norm during the early 2000s. Nitin Chandrakant Desai, the art director, wonderfully recreates the 1920-1930 India. Cinematography (K.V. Anand) too, is finely executed.

The music of the film, composed by A.R.Rahman, is wonderful. Songs such as ‘Pagdi Sambhal Jatta’, ‘Mera Rang De Basanti’, ‘Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna’ and the absolutely mind-blowing opening credits with ‘Shora So Pahchaniye’, raise the film-viewing experience by quite a few notches.
Rajkumar Santoshi makes a well-intentioned, well-presented film. Extracting wonderful performances, magical music and developing a hard-hitting script, Santoshi excels and how!
This film does not preach, it proclaims. Go Watch! (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

Friday, 10 August 2012

Overtime (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Pointless

0.5/5 Stars

‘Overtime’ is about a young girl Khushi, who dreams of becoming a heroine someday but is currently making ends meet by working as a ‘high profile’ sex worker.

This film does not deserve a review, let alone a viewing. Abysmal acting, cringe-inducing dialogues and a senseless story, make this film a must-NOT watch.

Khushi (Swati Sharma) is a young girl, living in Mumbai, harbouring aspirations of becoming a film actress someday. However, difficult circumstances force her to become a call-girl, colloquially called ‘Overtime’, who beds well-off, middle-aged men for money. Having been manipulated and used by a corrupt politician Aatre (Satish Kaushik), builder Sawant (Yashpal Sharma) and his secretary Liza (Arzoo Govitrikar), architect Rajeev (Zakir Hussain) and film co-ordinator Shankar aka ‘Shanky’ (Vijay Raaz), Khushi gets embroiled in this big, bad world of sex, exploitation, debauchery and corruption. Khushi’s emotions keep getting manoeuvred by various people, including her ‘best friend’, who calls her ‘Thoku’ at one point and cajoles her to make that one last deal, which will sort her for 6 months.

The plot is pointless. There’s no entertainment (intentional/unintentional), no social message, no sensible dialog, only hamming. The presenters/models on television shopping shows possess more acting skills than the new faces in this almost 2-hour long bore. Well-known actors such as Satish Kaushik, Yashpal Sharma, Zakir Hussain and Vijay Raaz display their absolute lack of judgement by agreeing to become a part of this sleaze-fest.

There is no continuity. Vijay Raaz sports a short crop in his first appearance and subsequently long-haired in the remaining scenes. Actors are shown wearing the same clothes over multiple days. The opening credits look like they’ve been shot by a handy cam by an amateur student filmmaker. The music is forgettable. What were the makers thinking?

You would rather go ‘overtime’ at your workplace every day than watch ‘Overtime’. (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – That Is India Too!

2.5/5 Stars

Watching the film without having an idea about its theme and message would not serve the purpose. ‘Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan’ (Alms for a Blind Horse) is a Punjabi film (subtitled in English), based on a Jnanpeeth-award-winning novel of the same name by Gurdial Singh. The film “tries to bring to screen the effect that years of subordination can bring to struggling masses in the face of events spinning beyond their control” (in the words of the debutante director Gurvinder Singh). In a nutshell, it portrays the problems faced by the Indian farmers and landlords on the outskirts of Punjab.

Having watched this film only after watching a one-minute-long trailer, it did seem very random. One does feel that the film is devoid of any basic premise, hence making it difficult to enliven enough interest for almost 120 minutes. However, it would be advisable for those watching this film to read a bit about the theme and the concept to understand the film better.

Set in a village on the outskirts of Bathinda in Punjab, where people are trying hard to make peace with their existence, the film revolves around a Dalit family. The head of the family, the Father (Mal Singh), is a silent spectator to the various occurrences happening around him. The landlord has apparently sold his plots to an industry that has demolished the house of one of the villagers. Mal Singh’s character joins the community in demand for justice for the trouble family. His son Melu Singh (Samuel John) is a cycle-rickshaw puller who is participating in a strike by his union. The strike turns violent and Melu gets seriously injured. All along, Melu along with his friends are unsure about their existence and their future. They find solace in their drunken conversations during the night when they get to vent out their ‘unheard’ grievances.

Back at the village, the atmosphere is tense, with the police randomly arresting a farmer, gunshots being heard in the night, the apathetic condition of the farmers and their families and just, the solemnity and the eerie silence of the place itself. There’s a recurrent scene in the film featuring a man asking for alms, crying out ‘Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan Do’. The title of the film, just like this appeal, is metaphorical and is left to your interpretation of who the blind horse is. The plot is meandering, but in retrospective, that is the condition of most people living in the rural areas of the country.

The principal cast of the film (Mal Singh, Samuel John, Serbjeet Kaur who play the daughter Dayalo, Dharminder Kaur who play the Mother and Emmanuel Singh who plays Melu’s brother-in-law) is brilliant. All of them effortlessly portray the pathos that was required of their characters. Mal Singh doesn’t have much dialogue but he leaves a lasting impression only on the strength of the body language. That is no mean feat! Melu Singh is impressive in his short, yet significant role. Emmanuel Singh too, does a fine job.

Being a Punjabi film, one would feel a bit alienated from the characters owing to the language barrier. However, the performances are such that you don’t have to religiously follow the subtitles to understand what the characters are trying to convey. That truly is a remarkable achievement.

The film shines in three departments; cinematography (Satya Rai Nagpaul), music (Catherine Lamb) and the production design (Pankaj Dhimaan). The film could have done with a voice-over or some text about the condition of the farmers and other villagers in Punjab, at the start or the end so that the viewer could relate the sequences to the issue at hand. The cause on which the film is based is a serious one. Hence, if the makers thought that they’d do away with a concrete plot, they could have concentrated more on the issue and enlightened the audiences about the same. Director Gurvinder Singh picks up a brilliant subject. However, the basic plot is a bit of a let-down.

All said and done, the film is very different from other ‘issue-based’ films. There’s a great deal of subtext. The viewer would need to ‘read between the lines’ to really understand the basic essence of the film. (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

The Bourne Legacy (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Action Packed With Little Substance

2.5/5 Stars

With a new protagonist in Jeremy Renner, this is the fourth film in the Bourne film franchise.

There’s a lot of action on display here. Sadly, not much substance!

The film takes place during the same time as the climax of the third Bourne film, ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’. Jason Bourne’s (Matt Damon) public exposure at the end of that film had its repercussions. This action sparked an outrage that threatened to burn down years of research and development into building of efficient spies and warriors. Following Jason Bourne’s dismemberment of Operation Blackbriar, the CIA tries to do away with their other black ops programs as well, which also includes the execution of their field agents. At the helm of this termination operation is ret. Colonel Eric Byer, the director of a black-line agency, NRAG (National Research Assay Group). Byer, responsible for building the various programs, feels threatened as the CIA fails to contain Bourne, and that Treadstone’s fall will expose the close working relationship between two of his chief medical directors.

Hence, he has to sacrifice Outcome. Contrary to CIA’s Treadstone, Outcome agents have been developed and trained by the Department of Defense. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is one of six agents in the Outcome. Cross escapes from being executed and, with the help of an Outcome scientist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), sets out to expose the crimes of his superiors.

There are flaws in the plot of every action film. However, the plot itself should be engaging enough for the viewers to ignore the plot holes. There is no real ‘antagonist’ in the film. Edward Norton’s character would qualify as one, but then his character isn’t menacing enough. The film, despite having multiple side-tracks, fails to substantiate a basic premise. During the major part of the first half, the film shuffles between several places such as Chicago, Moscow, Pakistan, and Seoul etc.  There is a glimmer of hope just before the mid-way mark, when Dr. Marta Shearing is attacked by assassins pretending to be investigators, as a part of the clearing-up operation by the CIA. One does feel that the battle-lines have been drawn. However, nothing really happens henceforth. Just a whole lot of action!

The performances by the cast are terrific. Usually, you do find mainstream popular actors sleepwalking through ‘espionage’ films but there’s serious talent on display here. Jeremy Renner of ‘The Avengers’ fame impresses and how! He is intimidating while doing action and subversive while doing drama notwithstanding the marvelous screen presence. One does miss Matt Damon in a Bourne film, but Jeremy is a worthy replacement. Despite the intense looks and the brooding eyes, the actor has got the swagger to pull off an engaging performance. 

Academy-award-winning actress Rachel Weisz too, is spot-on with her acting. Her character was not very well written but Rachel does do justice even with the limited opportunity. 

Edward Norton is just brilliant. No matter what film he does, he has this amazing ability to look and sound convincing for any character that he portrays. His ‘antagonist’ act could have been more menacing but that would be the shortcoming of the writers and not the actor. Stupendous line-up!

With such brilliant performances, one wonders why the film went haywire. It’s the lackluster writing that lets the film down. No matter how many breathtaking action sequences you fill in a film, you do need a basic and understandable plot to make it work. Writers Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy fail to retain the soul of the previous Bourne films. Director Tony Gilroy has packed the film with picturesque locations, mind-blowing action and superlative performances, but he could have done better with a well-defined story line.

Watch it for the amazing performances by the cast (Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton) and the exceptional visuals (action and cinematography)! Nothing much else on offer here! (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

Friday, 3 August 2012

Total Recall (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Arnie’s Version Was Better

2.5/5 Stars

Based on the film ‘Total Recall’ (1990) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘Total Recall’ is yet another adaptation of the 1966 short story ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’ by Philip K. Dick.

Chemical warfare in the 21st century has left most of the Earth uninhabited. The world is left with two hemispheres which provide living space; The United Federation of Britain and the Colony. Living in the Colony is Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell), a worker at a factory who is suffering from ghastly nightmares.  Discontent with his living condition, he visits Rekall, a company that entrenches in its customers artificial memories of the lives they would aspire to lead. However, McClane (John Cho), an employee at Rekall finds out that Quaid is actually a spy. As he is about interrogate Quaid, an armed SWAT team shoot and kill McClane and the other Rekall employees. Armed with renewed strength and vigour, Quaid manages to kill each of those 10 SWAT members. He returns horrified back to his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), who reveals that she’s a secret agent and that they haven’t been married for seven years as Quaid really thinks.  It is revealed that Quaid is in fact, Hauser, a secret agent. Hauser finds out that his best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) is actually a UFB agent and that a woman named Melina (Jessica Biel), who he also sees in his recurring nightmares, is his true love. In the midst of his identity crises he’s pulled into a war between the nations, spurred by the evil Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Henceforth, the film is a frame-by-frame copy of the 1990 film. And if you haven’t, you would be better off watching that one than the 2012 version.

Colin Farrell is decent as agent Hauser. He does act better than Schwarzenegger did in the original. However, one cannot replace the intimidating screen presence of Arnie. Arnie’s 1990 version still stands tall, for he not only played the confused factory worker and the vengeful agent Hauser to perfection, but he also brought a lot of life to his character by his charismatic demeanour. Farrell lacks that spunk. Kate Beckinsale, the antagonist Lori, is present throughout the film contrary to the original. She is the menacing, spiteful, gorgeous woman on a mission to kill Hauser. Beckinsale looks and plays her part well. Having already been directed by Len Wiseman (also her husband) in the two Underworld films, the spotlight is clearly on Beckinsale and she delivers. Jessica Biel plays Melina, Hauser’s true love. She looks good and puts in an earnest performances but her character hardly had any depth or prominence through the film. Jessica looks confused through the film and hence, fails to enliven enough interest.

The film does score in the technical department, thanks to technology. The makers give this films a stylized makeover with the massive sets, picturesque setting of a futuristic world et al. The production design by Patrick Tatopoulos and the art direction helmed by Patrick Bannister, give this film an ethereal look. Visually, the film is very appealing. However, as far as the writing goes, the makers should have retained the lighter moments from the previous film. The film features a three-breasted-woman at one instant, hardly invoking any guffaws. The film was too grim with hardly any hilarious or uplifting moments. Even the action sequences got yawn-inducing after a point of time. The half-an-hour long final battle between the sparring teams gets too repetitive with continuous gun-shots and endless leaps.

Over all, the film is average fare. The production design is amazing, with state-of-the-art sets backed with impressive cinematography. However, with patchy plot and performances, the film fails to engage the viewer through its 2-hour-long screenplay.

Like it is said about all remakes, they should be best left alone. Why tamper with something that is already so good? The filmmakers did have an excellent opportunity of using the current technology in the film while retaining the inherent charm of the film. However, the film is quite a let-down. (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Step Up Revolution (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Must Watch For The Dance Aficionados!

3/5 Stars

The fourth film in the ‘Step Up’ franchise is quite different from the previous films. Firstly, there is no competition among two rival dance groups (thankfully). Secondly, the film balances the dances and the story equally, which is a welcome change from the third film ‘Step Up 3D’. Most importantly, this film did not focus on one particular dance form. It kind of, was an amalgamation of many dance forms which ends up looking magnificent on the screen. Lastly, there is a bit of social message embedded in the film.

The film, overall, is a very good one. Far cry from the recently released ‘StreetDance 2’, the film boasts of breathtaking choreography, exceptional performances and some very interesting concepts in terms of the setting. Needless 3D, as always, but the film in itself is visually appealing. Dance aficionados should definitely go for it. As for the others, it’s an enjoyable 1 hour 30-odd minute ride. Go for it!

Emily Anderson (Kathryn McCormick), the daughter of a business tycoon, Bill Anderson (Peter Gallagher), arrives in Miami to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional dancer. She falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), who along with being a waiter at one of Bill Anderson’s hotel, also leads a dance crew in setting up unique and grand flash mobs. His crew, the MOB, which he co-founded with Eddie (Misha Gabriel), wants to win a contest on YouTube, for which they have to notch up 10 million hits for their uploaded video.

This aspect is what was most interesting about the film. So far, most dance films have focused on a ‘David v/s Goliath’ kind of battle between an underdog dance crew and the ‘intimidating’ defending champions of a dance competition. However, ‘Step Up Revolution’ is indeed more about revolution than competition. The story is as predictable as the previous films. You know the underdogs are going to win the day in the end. However, at least this film tries to do it differently.

Now, Bill Anderson wants to destroy the MOB’s neighborhood, which forms a large chunk of Miami’s working class, and build a large hotel. In order to fight for what is right, the MOB joined by Bill’s daughter Emily take it upon themselves to fight for the people of Miami and the flash mobs soon turn into orchestrated and choreographed protestations. Their dance imbibes a revolutionary fervor and soon, all of these goalless dancers, have a cause to fight for.

However, besides Sean, no one else in the crew is aware of Emily’s family background. Hell breaks loose once they do get to know that they have amongst them the daughter of their nemesis.

The performances (dance as well as acting) are phenomenal. This film was on par with ‘Step Up’ and ‘Step Up 2: The Streets’, in terms of the story, the concept and the execution. Kathryn McCormick looks ravishing throughout the film. Her dances were brilliant, and so was her acting but her screen presence is astounding. A participant of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, this is Kathryn’s first film as the protagonist. You will hear a lot more of her in the years to come. The leading man, Ryan Guzman, is also quite good. His character did not have a lot of depth, or maybe the actor couldn’t pull off the dramatic bit well. However, his dance was amazing, and in such a film, the acting prowess could be neglected a trifle.  The supporting role of Eddie played by Misha Gabriel was more impactful. There are cameos by Mia Michaels, Mari Koda, and the charming Robert ‘Moose’ Alexander III, Adam Sevani. The dance performances are exceptional. Every flash mob is based on a unique concept. For instance, there’s a flash mob in the film, which is bang in the middle of an ‘elitist’ art exhibition, another at a dining room and one, even, at the lobby of a hotel. A lot of thinking seems to have gone in the choreography of these dance pieces. All of them looked absolutely stunning on the big screen. Even the choice of the music was more diverse this time around, and was not confined to one particular genre. The 3D is a bit of a dampener but then, these are the times we live in. If possible, catch the film in 2D.

The music by Aaron Zigman was brilliant backed with beautiful cinematography by Karsten Gopinath. The director, Scott Speer, does well to move away from the predictable ‘dance film’ routine and try something different.
The film ‘Step Up Revolution’ is not really a revolutionary dance-based film but it certainly is a small step forward in the right direction. If you’re remotely into dance, go watch this film. (First Posted in MSN)

Shivom Oza