Captain America : Civil War – Movie Review


CivilWar_updated

First up let me get one thing out of the way straight away. I am a big Avengers fan and I like Iron Man more than I like Captain America. Now that my personal biases have been put out there, let me go on with my thoughts on Captain America: Civil War below.

Continuing with the events that unfold after Avengers: The Age of Ultron, the movie begins with an action set piece in Lagos, Nigeria where the entire team (sans the Hulk and Hawkeye, but with the addition of The Falcon and The Scarlet Witch) are in pursuit of Rumlow, ex-HYDRA agent who is there to steal a bio-weapon. While the Avengers manage to thwart Rumlow’s mission and save the day, the collateral damage that occurs in the form of civilian deaths sparks worldwide outrage and results in the UN Assembly ratifying what is called The Sakovia Accords. The idea behind this resolution being the establishment of an international governing body to oversee and control the Avengers. This immediately splits the team into two halves – the fors’ and the againsts’ setting in motion the so called Civil War among the Avengers.

While I am not going to talk about the plot and the set pieces in the movie (there are going to be more than enough reviews out there which already talk about it) I am going to focus on a few things which I found particularly interesting about the movie itself.

Firstly, the evolution of Tony Stark over the course of three Iron Man and two Avengers movies is nothing short of mind-blowing. His transformation from a philandering, womanizing, ‘don’t have a care in the world’ playboy to the Avenger is something which I think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has pretty much perfected to the T. And what’s more Robert Downey Jr’s casting in the role is nothing short of a brainwave and a masterstroke rolled into one. RDJ brings such gravitas coupled with impeccable timing when delivering his trademark one-liners that it is impossible for audiences to imagine anybody else playing Iron Man.

Couple this with Steve Rogers’ transformation from a geeky-thin teenager desperately trying to get enlisted in the US Army during WW-II in the first Captain America movie to being the default ‘leader’ and ‘moral compass’ of the Avengers over the course of the rest of the movies in this franchise. As Stark seems to be getting clearer and clearer with what he wants to do with the rest of his life and his ‘powers’, good old Captain America seems to be getting more and more confused as to his role in this new world. Adding to this confusion is the soft spot the Captain has for Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) who seems to be flitting between the good and bad sides in the last couple of movies he has featured in. In fact, the Winter Soldier and his friendship with the Captain is one of the biggest driving forces in this movie as well.

The evolution of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, their entirely opposing points of view on the Sakovian Accords and one mystery man’s actions involving the Winter Soldier; these form the driving forces of this movie. And trust me when I say this, it truly is a treat for all serious fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Avengers in particular.

To me, the most fun part was *****SPOILERS BEGIN*****inclusion of Spider-Man in the proceedings. The entire sequence where he was featured is nothing short of hilarious and heart-warming at the same time. This is how a teenager who suddenly discovers his superpowers would react and unfortunately none of the earlier movies featuring him brought out this aspect. Peppered with a liberal dose of humor, his contribution to one gigantic set piece in this movie remains one of the most fun parts of the movie for me. *****SPOILER END*****

Watch this movie with your family and kids. Even if you don’t quite enjoy the serious parts of the movie, the action set pieces (all of them) more than make up for the same. If you are a fan of the Avengers franchise, then this movie is a ‘must-watch’ for you at any cost; no two ways about that. You have to see this to make any sense of any future Avengers movies, for sure.

Advertisements

24 (Tamil) – Movie Review


24_poster

At the outset let me confess that I like Suriya more than I like Vijay or Ajith for no other reason other than the fact that he remains the perennial underdog in this trinity of the current crop of stars in the Tamil film industry. Yes, his choice of films and roles leave a lot to be desired, but that being said one has to admit that he puts in his 100% effort in all the films he does irrespective of the box office prospects of the film itself.

Now that I have put that disclaimer there right at the top, let me go on to pen down my thoughts about 24. When I first saw the poster of this movie some time ago I was intrigued by the fact that Suriya chose this particular script and theme not only to star in but also to produce the film itself. From the poster itself, it was quite visible that this was one movie which completely went against the grain of the standard masala movies that most Tamil superstars tend to settle down for and was quite ambitious and bold in its attempt to present a story with a sci-fi bent of mind. And believe me when I say this director Vikram Kumar manages not only to deliver a competent sci-fi movie but also manages to keep the audience entertained for most part of the film itself.

I am a reasonably big fan of sci-fi movies and have devoured the Back to the future series of movies made in the ‘80s more than once. Now while this movie also deals with time-travel at the very heart of its story, the fact remains that there are more than a few logical and ‘time-space continuum’ issues and lapses in it. However, given that this probably is the first large scale project in Tamil cinema dealing with time-travel as its subject I have to say that the director has done a commendable job. The best part is that there are absolutely no loose ends and on more occasion than once the director has left little tit-bits here and there which make sense only when the movie ends. Not one scene (at least the ones relating to the time-travel bits) is wasted and the director has ensured that he has made the most of the screen time devoted to the main plot of the film itself.

What is even better is how he has managed to infuse more than a sufficient bit of comedic element into the proceedings without it feeling forced on us. When Mani (Suriya) first discovers he can travel back and forth in time and essentially bend time itself, what ensues for the next ten odd minutes is nothing short of hilarious and how he initially uses his new found abilities make for quite a few amusing moments in the movie.

While acting in a double role is nothing new for Suriya and he has done it more than once in the past, I personally cannot remember a movie in which he has played a negative role. And from his performance in this movie it is quite visible that he enjoys playing such characters quite a bit, and to be honest, he is quite convincing playing the part as well. Of course it helps that the role itself is quite meaty and is well carved out with more than a few nuances. This is not one of those dumb villains whose actions are mostly reactions to the hero’s, but is somebody whose actions drives the script forward and has got the smarts to outwit the hero more than once. I, for one, would love to see Suriya play the villain more often, if possible with other heroes as well. Would make for interesting hero-villain conflicts in my opinion.

All of the above being said, the only loose end or unnecessary aspect that I found in the movie was the inclusion of the romantic angle with Samantha. Yes, Tamil audiences don’t quite accept a movie without songs, and to hear of a movie with AR Rahman in the roster without songs is quite sacrilegious, but my personal opinion was that Samantha and her romance with Suriya did nothing to the movie. It didn’t add anything at all to the proceedings nor did it provide any eye candy (what with Samantha being among the list of heroines I am better off not watching at all). However, in the director’s and AR Rahman’s defense, the songs are really nice and the soundtrack is one which I intend to download sometime soon and enjoy quite a bit (without the visuals, of course).

In a nutshell, this is one summer movie which you must watch and for sure take your children to see as well. Am more than sure the entire family will enjoy this brave, competent and entertaining attempt at popular science fiction.

The Pelican Brief – Movie Review


The_Pelican_BriefThe Pelican Brief (based on a book by the same name authored by John Grisham) starts off with the assassinations of two US Supreme Court justices, and how law student Darby Shaw (played wonderfully well by Julia Roberts) manages to find a connection between the assassinations and a fairly large scale cover-up going up all the way to the President of the United States.

Pretty soon, Darby realizes that she has opened up the veritable Pandora’s Box when all the people related to the case itself and more so, people who she contacts with the legal brief start dying one by one. Her last and final hope is reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington at his dependable best) who has already been contacted by an anonymous source ‘Garcia’ claiming to have information about the assassinations.

What follows in the rest of the movie is whether Darby and Gray manage to bring the perpetrators of the assassinations to justice and whether the larger conspiracy is brought to light of day or not. Suffice to say that for a legal thriller, this movie has quite a bit of the ‘edge of the seat’ type elements to it.

I am ashamed to say this, but the truth is that I have not read even a single John Grisham book and I am assuming that this made me enjoy this movie just a bit more than I would have if I had actually read the book. And even though I haven’t read the book, I am fairly confident that the makers of this movie have done more than quite a competent job of translating the book onto the silver screen itself.

Given that this movie was made all of 23 yrs ago in 1992, it was thoroughly refreshing to see a movie where the characters actually rely upon landline telephones and regular books and encyclopedias to get work done rather than rely on Wikipedia and other random online sources for information. What’s better is to see that Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington have remained at the top of their game all these years, and if not anything, have gotten even better at subtly portraying fairly nuanced and layered characters on screen. Julia Roberts especially outdoes herself in a couple of scenes and I found it hard to believe that she was this good all that time ago as well.

In a nutshell, this movie is a must watch for all John Grisham fans and fans of the legal thriller genre in general.

Edge of Tomorrow – Movie Review


Edge_of_Tomorrow_PosterI have always liked well made sci-fi movies, well made action movies, well made Tom Cruise movies and therefore when all three of them came together in Edge of Tomorrow, it was quite a no brainer that I would immensely enjoy the movie.

The basic premise of the movie is quite simple. Aliens (called Mimics by humans) have invaded Earth and have pretty much taken over most of Continental Europe and are now heading towards England. The United Defense Force, an armed force comprising of armies of the world have now planned a final offensive against the Mimics based on the assumption that Super Soldier Suits that they have developed have the capability to defeat the enemy, as was recently proved by Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) in one of the battles.

Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), an army media liaison (Public Relations) is ordered by the commander of the United Defense Force to get to the front and cover this momentous amphibious assault in France. When he refuses to do so citing lack of any combat experience, he is arrested and knocked out. When he wakes up, he finds himself at a forward operating base in Heathrow as member of a combat squad. One thing leads to another and pretty soon he is airdropped into France as part of the invading forces. Not surprisingly, when he kills a large Mimic, he dies covered in its acid-like blood. But then, he wakes up to find himself at Heathrow again, only that it is the previous morning all over again. He suddenly finds out that he is literally ‘born again’ and the events of the previous day repeat themselves all over again in the same order.

What happens that puts him in this situation, how does he manage to ‘respawn’ again and again whenever he dies, what does he do with this ‘gift’ is what forms the crux of the movie and its narrative. If I give away any more of the plot, I will surely end up spoiling the entire movie experience for you readers.

Playing with the ‘time space continuum’ theory which has somewhat been beaten to death by various sci-fi movies, this narrative however gives it a nicely different twist by putting the same in a loop over and over again. Although viewers will surely know where Major Cage will start over again, the events that lead to the end of the loop make all the difference. Does he manage to end the loop? What will it take for him to end the loop? These are the questions that make the movie worth watching.

Surely a must watch for all Tom Cruise and sci-fi movie fans. For now watch the trailer below.

Tamaar Padaar – Malayalam – Movie Review


tamaarpadaarposterThe first thing that piqued my attention about the movie Tamaar Padaar was its name itself, I mean, how many movies have such catchy names. And the trailer that was shared on Facebook around a month or so ago more than kindled my interest in it. With Baburaj, Chemban Vinod and Prithviraj (who was yet again playing a cop role, but this time with a Thiruvananthapuram accent) showcasing interesting snippets of their characters in the trailer, it was just the question of the movie hitting theater screens for me. There was absolutely no question as to whether I would enjoy it or not.

And the final verdict, yes, the movie is eminently watchable and quite enjoyable as well. Was it mind-blowing, amazing fun, no, but was it watchable and enjoyable, yes.

The first half of the movie chronicles the lives of Jumper Mani (Baburaj) and Tubelight Vasu (Chemban Vinod), two street performers, who although lead separate lives in separate cities, but lead similar lives in that both of them are struggling to make ends meet, love their professions and have more than a reasonable affiliation to their art and to alcohol as well. As fate would have it, they first see each other albeit in quite unnatural ‘avatars’ and immediately develop a liking to each other. Subsequent meetings over drinks result in a situation where they end up entwined into each other, quite literally.

The second half begins well with narrating the birth and early days of ACP Pouran (Prithviraj) in the police department and how he is all eager to make a mark in his first posting with the Intelligence Department. He spots a conspiracy when Mani and Vasu are in the middle of a circus trick bang opposite the Secretariat and this sets in motion the nucleus of the movie, the case of mistaken identity.

What the movie suffers from is the fact that the director chose the linear narrative and tells us the stories of the three protagonists one by one, and this means that while the first third of the movie is all about Baburaj, the second one is all Chemban Vinod and so on. This ends up in too much of a gap between how the first third ends and how the final portion begins. The director would have been better off with parallel narrations of all three stories and could have used some simple techniques to stitch them all together.

What worked well for me in the movie was how a simple case of mistaken identity was used by the director to highlight more than quite a few things that is wrong with how the police department functions, the politician-policeman nexus, and some other things as well. And the use of satire and over-the-top characters as a medium was a masterstroke of debut director Dileesh Nair.

And words cannot do justice to how well Prithviraj has portrayed the role of ACP Pouran. While he uses the Thiruvananthapuram slang, he ensures that nobody is reminded of Rajamanickam, the movie which made this slang and Suraj Venjaramoodu household names across Kerala. Despite the fact that this probably is the fifteenth or twentieth time that Prithviraj has played a cop on screen, there are absolutely no remnants or reminders of any of his earlier avatars as a cop from Kerala Police. He pretty much carries the entire second half of the movie on his shoulders and does a good job of it.

In a nutshell, this movie is surely worth a one time watch, if not for anything, at least to have a good laugh and enjoy Prithviraj in this relatively unusual portrayal of a cop by him.