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In Time February 8, 2012

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi.
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It was a vacant Sunday evening foreboding a whole work week ahead. With nothing much to do (it’s pathetic to start a book on Sunday evening, unless it’s a thriller and you can get into the groove right from page 1! ) , I stumbled upon the sci-fi thriller – In Time .

The movie is set in a dystopian future when the human race is genetically modified to live only 25 years, after which everyone has to earn Time to survive. And like the ultimate scarce resource, Time cannot be created – it can only be transferred from one person to another. So as the cost of living continues to rise, the poor will die (or “time out” early) while the rich can live on till immortality.

Apart from this ingenious sci-fi theme, In Time has a very simple story. Realizing the inequity caused by the rich hoarding time, while the poor live by the hour, Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) along with Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried) goes on a Robin Hood style mission to steal Time from the rich and distribute it to the poor. Armed with a gun, these 2 guys just walk in, robbing bank after bank. That’s it!

The idea to use Time as a currency is novel, giving a fresh dimension to the Hollywood fraternity’s obsession with different ways to destroy the earth (Aliens, Dinosaurs,  Godzilla and 2012! ) But then, for a story to be compelling it’s not just the idea or the scenes. It has to touch some emotional chord, and somehow I missed that soul in the movie. So, while it does remarkably well on the concept and setting, it is quite weak in plot. And the characters simply don’t stand out.

Amanda Seyfried looks stunning; with all her stunts in designer party dresses and high heels (you can hardly recognize her as one of the Mean girls in the 2004 movie). Cillian Murphy has unforgettable haunting (and sometimes mean) blue eyes! He plays a foil to the hero as a Time keeper, the cop out to catch the Time stealers. The performance by Justin Timberlake is OK, his stint in The Social Network, IMO was much more impressive.

But then, it’s not the actor’s fault. The character simply did not have enough meat! It’s like an awesome concept which was developed in a hurry. The writers just didn’t want to put more effort into it, or add complexity to the plot. The producers wanted to package something and send it out fast. And that’s quite sad for a movie that had a potential to become great (like Inception) but turned out to be “just good”.

Will agree with the IMDB rating on this, it’s 6.6 out of 10.

P.S. I don’t know why, but this movie sort of inspired me to read 1984 by George Orwell. That’s now added to my reading list.

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The Adventures of Tintin December 5, 2011

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Classics, Movie Reviews.
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It was the summer of 1995, fifteen years ago. I had just taken membership in a library called the “German club library”. For a small sleepy town like Rourkela, the library was pretty good. Contained around 15-20 racks of fiction books. As a youngster fascinated with fiction, you could read along to all your heart’s desire!

It also had a small sofa, a sort of reading room. And that day, I saw a thirty something uncle (yeah, we called thirty year olds uncle then 😛 ) reading this big, thin book, chuckling and guffawing away in every 2 minute intervals. Curious, I peeked into what was making this person so happy. Aha!!..No wonder..Uncle-ji was reading a Tintin comic. 😀

So that’s Tintin for you. A hilarious, thrilling and engrossing series set in a perfect world where good always triumphs and the villain always ends up behind the bars. The expensive comic, with beautiful glossy print unfolding pages and pages of delightful merriment was a prized possession in my childhood days. Every kid loved them!

Obviously, when the much awaited cinematic version arrived, it was looked forward to with breathless anticipation.

We were not disappointed.

Spielberg has done it again! The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is a dazzling adaptation of the comic series. And in 3D, it seems so real, so remarkably Herge, with the adorable captain Haddock, spunky Snowy and Tintin of course!. The movie actually made me feel lucky – it was like the characters have come alive; walking out of my imagination right in front of my eyes!

Every bit of it keeps you engaged – either you are laughing or you are gaping at what would happen next. With mind numbing stunts, albeit in animation, the Tintin movie is total awesomeness packaged in one deal. Spielberg waited 30 years to make a movie of his favorite character, and every bit of it is worth the wait.

The story involves an inquisitive detective with an extraordinary flair for uncovering mysteries. Tintin gets caught up in curious happenings involving a long lost ship, which begins a roller coaster ride leading to a hidden treasure. For a generation that began its brush with English literature in stories of lost and hidden treasures ( remember Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Hardy boys, and our very own Treasure Island by R.L.Stevenson!), it is the perfect cinematic and visual treat.

The racket goes on and on and on, almost making your head reel. And even towards the end, you feel that there is so much more to go. After so much action, the climax seems to be a bit abrupt – not the director’s mistake; the character of Tintin had so much up his sleeve.

107 minutes of absolute entertainment. It is 9 out of 10 on the awesomeness scale!

Super 8 October 18, 2011

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi.
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It was just another one of those Friday evenings when you are confronted with Life ‘s epic dramas. What to do? Where to go? Which movie to see ?

A search on BookMyShow (That’s the only Movie booking site not blocked in my Office) provided 2 options – “Real Steel” and “Super 8”. An IMDB’s rating of 7.4 and the star power of Steven Spielberg clinched the choice for us. “Super 8” it was!

Now coming to the movie:

Have you ever spent the whole 90 minutes of a movie wondering what the title was all about?. This time I did. Somehow the story didn’t make it very clear and throughout the show, we kept counting for 8 things which would make a Super 8. Missing the first 2 minutes in the start made all the difference, I assume. 😐

Anyways, the whole movie seemed to be a manifestation of Steven Spielberg’s fixation with aliens, and JJ Abrahams’ with cameras (I guess!). It’s like two geniuses put their heads together. Spielberg said “Aliens”. Abrahams nodded ..” Cameras”.. And Whoaaa..We have a movie!!..But unlike Spielberg’s masterpieces of the past, the result here turned out neither very unique nor believable. So it sadly failed to sweep you off your feet.

Set in the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio the story revolves around the lives of 6 kids amidst glimpses of suburban life , parental melodrama and teenage wisecracks.

The beginning set a good tempo for the action to follow. Fast paced, building up tension towards a cinematic climax that simple falls PLOP on the face!

While watching the movie, I somehow had the eerie feeling that the treatment was so Cloverfield like. The invisible unseen alien monster, the camera angles and shooting as a major theme in the story, the characters’ reactions when they realize that their friend Alice(Elle Fanning) has been abducted by the god-knows-what creature stalking the town. It was a Cloverfield “Deja vu”!..

The story leaves many unfinished threads, and as it progresses, becomes lesser and lesser believable . It is almost like once the hidden-for-suspense alien is revealed, the director has set auto-complete on. The audience is simply expected to put two and two together, letting the alien happily fly off back to space. And it’s a happy ending (and lots of question marks) for everyone left behind.

Americans who were kids in 80s and 90s might watch it with a twinge of nostalgia. And it could be a treat for an alien obsessed ET adoring crowd.

But we were disappointed.. 😦

And somehow, the biggest let-down was the IMDB rating. Something between 5 and 6 would have worked just fine.

Cloverfield(2008) May 24, 2009

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi.
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Cloverfield_theatrical_poster

We live in a society that constantly feels the need to be in touch with our past and present – through mobile phones and instant cameras. We film, record and photograph everything, not willing to let go of any bit of our life undocumented. So, what if you are in the middle of a heady celebration, happily recording and then something suddenly goes terribly wrong??… You are caught documenting something catastrophic, and inadvertently – the last moments of your life!!!

Cloverfield is one movie that preys on these innermost subconscious fears, and terrorizes you with the shocking realism with which it has been portrayed. Completely presented through the perspective of a camcorder, it begins with the recording of a farewell party for Robert “Rob” Hawkins. Amidst cheerful flirtations and celebrations, Hudson “Hud” Platt goes around the gathering recording farewell messages for Rob, who is moving to Tokyo for a new job.The upbeat party atmosphere is suddenly shattered by an earthquake rocking the building. Merriment swiftly transforms into paranoia and then panic as we realise that a monster has struck downtown Manhattan, wreaking havoc and “eating people” everywhere. As the military swings into action, it announces a mandatory evacuation of the city, and thousands are seen fleeing the streets. In the middle of all this, Rob realizes that his girlfriend Elizabeth “Beth” McIntyre is stuck in her collapsed apartment, located in the neighborhood where the monster is causing destruction. He is faced with an impossible choice – whether to evacuate to safety or go back and rescue his love. Rob and his friends decide to risk their lives and rescue Beth.This is the turning point of the story – and a beginning of the shock and drama which is about to unfold.

Giant monster movies tend to be usually stereotypical. It will either be a Godzilla or a Frankenstein let loose in a city or some mutated aliens descending from space to annihilate the Earth. There will be gory pictures of the slimy creatures destroying buildings, killing people and crushing cars as they go around spreading mayhem wherever they go. Cloverfield is also a monster movie, but the treatment is different. You don’t see the monster much, but you can feel it there throughout the movie – in the fear it generates in the protagonists of the movie. It strikes you in-the-face, and you feel like you are in the skin of characters, and actually running for your own life!! The suspense is spine chilling, and keeps you frozen to your seat while your mind screams –  “Run.. run.. RUN!!”

Overall, it is a one-of-a-kind thriller with an uncommon experience. To watch the trailer, link here:  http://www.cloverfieldmovie.com/

Rear Window (1954) April 26, 2009

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Rear Window 1954 Movie

A magazine photographer recuperating with broken bones after an accident.. His pretty and perfectionist girlfriend who he feels is too perfect for him.. A bustling neighbourhood in which an array of rear windows open into the lives of all the people living there… This is the setting of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1995 thriller “Rear windows” starring James Stewart as Mr Jeffery and Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont. 

Loneliness, love, lust, anger, desperation – all shades of emotions are available for Mr Jeffery to contemplate upon as he sits whiling away his boredom and waiting for his broken leg to heal. This row of windows becomes his lifeline, and amidst this ennui, he comes across a startling discovery of strange going-ons in the window across his. But haven’t we heard the saying – “Curiosity killed the cat”, and truly enough it landed Jeff in trouble too!!. The sudden disappearance of the wife of his across-the-window neighbour piques his curiosity, and make him suspect that the neighbour has murdered his wife. Jeff briefly toys with the ethical dilemma of “Should we spy at our neighbours?” , but as the plot unravels, he finally vindicates his stand. The rest of the story is a roller coaster ride of how he finally does it.

The main protagonist is a witty young man, with a la Sherlock Holmes kind of detective instinct, and a thirst for excitement that fully engages the audience throughout the film. Grace Kelly as Lisa startles us in the end with her pluck and audacity, making Jeff finally rediscover his lover through this adventure. The movie has its own share of whodunnit moments, and that’s what keeps you riveted to it till the end.The dialogues are crisp, the screenplay commendable, and you can feel a distinct old world charm throughout. Definitely a worth watch film!