Friday, 26 December 2008


A faltering tale of revenge...

Sanjay Singhania (Aamir Khan) is a wealthy business man who falls in love with Kalpana (Asin Thottumkal), an up-and-coming model who's popularity is due to her relationship with Sanjay. But during their courtship disaster strikes when Asin is killed and Sanjay is left with serious brain damage which results in him having short term memory loss, and this makes his revenge a difficult task.

Regardless of what Aamir Khan might profess there is no denying that Ghajini is a remake of Memento, though it is more accurately a remake of a Tamil film by the same name which itself is a remake of Christopher Nolan's masterpiece. The similarities are obvious, from the protagonist's condition of short term memory loss, him searching for his lover's killer, the use of photographs and tattoos to help him remember, amongst others. That said it does attempt to tell its story in a different, more logical, way and this works exceptionally well. The film is divided between the modern day and past, both representing the stories of revenge and romance respectively, and for the majority of the film both do work in unison.

The revenge story is presented well enough but is marred in a few ways. Firstly there are elements which are used to deepen the story but are actually unneeded in the greater scheme of things. Then there are the few questionable dialogue choices which come off as out of place. Lastly the film seems to lose track of its own internal logic. In the final arc of the story, Sanjay's short term memory loss, which occurs every fifteen minutes, is thrown out the window for a good period of time until it's needed for a very contrived introduction into the final duel. Sanjay also develops superhuman-like strength out of completely nowhere resulting in him mowing down man after man with no injury becoming him in any form. It's a strange arc indeed for the film, and for a short while catapults the film out of its reality to some fantasy. That said, the love story is truly excellent. It starts off childish and ruins the mature storytelling of the revenge storyline but once in full swing, the romance becomes more interesting and exciting to watch than any other aspect of the film. Thankfully it is the romance section which ends off the film and it is an amazing ending and truly cements the story's example of undying love, and allows the odd lapse of logic which occurs mere minutes before, to appear as a distant memory.

But as a remake it becomes disheartening to see Aamir Khan use his method acting skills because they ultimately develop into nothing out of the ordinary. This is mainly due to the fact that his skills of method acting are not being used to allow himself to become an original character to make the film more poignant, but because he is developing himself into a persona which has been used before. Nonetheless, Aamir is a wonder to watch and he becomes the perfect example as to why the romance story is superior to that of the revenge. When Aamir's character falls in love with Asin's, it is quite evident. The chemistry they share is a highpoint with both complimenting one another. Asin's Bollywood debut is helped by her work in the Tamil movie industry and she is delightful to watch. Her portrayal as the bubbly, happy-go-lucky Kaplana mimics Kajol's Angali in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Though when Khan portrays his present self, he tends to overact and makes his character far more untamed then he ought to be, even making animal growls at one point. Pradeep Rawat continues his experience at playing villains with a character who truly is without a heart. However he does not receive enough screen time and this is partly to do with the portrayal of Jiah Khan's character Sunita. Sunita is a medical student who is interested in Sanjya's condition. However she is completely irrelevant to the main storyline but her character is forced with integral scenes nonetheless, at some points mimicking Kalpana, not in character but in situational context. While this is a good way to create symbolism, Sunita is far too irritating, and distorts what should be a story about fated lovers and a villain. On top of this, Jiah is not a convincing actress and is out of league in a cast of who know what they have to do.

Other disappointing avenues of the film are the musical and action sequences. The music is not exactly the most memorable but does a decent enough job. However there is one too many sequences and they go to flaw the film. In many respects Ghajini should have most likely gone the route of Sarkar Raj and skipped adding music to the production. Yes this might lower the audience intake but would have helped make the film a cohesive package. Action sequences are sadly misfit at times. This is not because they are bad, but because the director, A.R Murugadoss, makes the scenes and the film as a whole, feel far too much like a Tamil film. Tamil films have their own unique feel to them but it is arguable whether this feel is worthwhile. The action sequences in Ghajini are actually very good if it were not for the constant need to slow the fights down by a few frames. This artistic design does not make the fights any better but in fact make them less dynamic, less aggressive, and ultimately less fun to watch.

There is no sex or nudity and language goes by virtually unheard. Violence is not particularly bloody but is quite intense at times.

Ghajini is a film of many things but it fails to reach its potential of being a truly excellent title. The story has some inconsistencies even though it tells an amazing tale of love and revenge. The acting is likewise very good, but some performances damper the whole affair. Sadly the music lets the film down and the questionable action sequences don't help either. Ghajini will not be the best Aamir Khan film you'll ever see and is definitely not the best Bollywood film for the year, but it is a treat to watch, even if only for the romance.


Screen date: 24 December 2008
Release date: 26 December 2008

Saturday, 20 December 2008


Blood draining...

Moving to Forks, Washington to live with her father, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) becomes interested in the Cullen siblings. One sibling does catch her attention, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), but his quick and apparent mood swings begin to annoy her. After much pushing for information, Bella learns that Edward is a vampire.

Being an adaptation from a novel which has become quite popular among teenagers, mostly female, one would expect the story's translation to hold true to its source material as best as possible. It's hard to believe that it does at all because the story contained in the film is ultimately bland. There is no depth, no complexity to the plot, no intriguing characterizations: just a simple love story which doesn't hold much in terms of credibility. And this is because character motivations are never fully established. While the love Edward and Bella have for one another is easily based on outwards attraction and grows into something meaningful, the haste at which both characters are able to confide in and accept one another is unreasonable. At one point Bella is attracted to Edward, just to have him act cruel to her, then to find out he's a vampire and still place her complete trust in him that he won't harm her. While their love is touching in a Romeo and Juliet sort of way, that does not stop it passing off as completely illogical and idiotic. Still there is a certain quickness to it all that does make for an interesting watch at times for the concept itself is a fascinating one.

The acting doesn't fare any better. Side characters are merely caricatures and the main characters are underdeveloped so it is no wonder that the level of acting is average. Kristen Stewart comes off as far too disinterested in absolutely everything. At first it seems acceptable when she doesn't which to be bothered much by people at school or her father, but when she is somehow madly in love with Edward her monotonic representation remains static. There are times where she attempts to put some life into her character but this is rare. Pattison fares better and seems to get the nervousness of Edward fairly well, and the same applies to when he is intent on saving Bella. But his constant exchanges at love for Bella are not entirely convincing. That is not to say that there is no chemistry between both Stewart and Pattison for there is. It is just not in the form you would expect but more like both are forced to be in love.

From a technical standpoint the direction of the film works at times but the music and special effects do not. Director Catherine Hardwicke has a very unique way in her vision of the novel. Her direction yields a simple naturalness to it, losing the classic constructed feel of most films. It does come across as appealing to watch at times but it does become a bit much by the films end. You'll either enjoy the direction to wish for a more natural feel. Regardless of preference neither would have made the film any better. The music is also another love-hate item. The music selection sounds far too forced, as if trying to capture a certain mood for the film's atmosphere which doesn't work. There's a classical element to it, as if yearning to have a connection to Bram Stoker's Dracula and is nice distraction from the angst feel of the film. Lastly there are the special effects which are noticeably unrealistic. There is a blur given to any vampire character that moves fast, but it looks more like blurred fast forwarding and thus rather unnatural looking.

No vampire film is really all complete without some sexual connotations and violence: both are included in low form. Language is also kept low and nudity is a no-go area considering the target audience.

Twilight is a vampire story which is caught in a midst of smoke. With its average story, average acting, average music but interesting direction, it has neither the cruel seductiveness of Dracula nor the morbid fascination of Interview with the Vampire. With its superficial layering Twilight presumes to be more valuable to modern day teen life then both but, simply put, is not.


Screen date: 19 December 2008
Release date: 19 December 2008

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Delightful tale on love...

When Surinder's (Shakrukh Khan) mentor dies of a heart attack, Surinder is forced to fulfill his mentor's dying wish: to marry his daughter. Surinder complies with his mentor's wishes however the marital bond between himself and Taani (Anushka Sharma) is merely for the sole purpose of allowing Taani a place to live and not one of love. As an introvert, Surinder finds it difficult to express his deep love but finds a solution when Taani joins a dancing competition: transforming himself into Raj, an extrovert and flamboyant man who catches the attention of Taani.

The story gets off to a slow start and steadily gains pace as the film progresses and this greatly mimics how Surinder's life changes from routine to excitement. At heart the film is a simple love story, echoing how Surinder fails to attract the attention of someone he loves and having to become someone he is not in order to do so. There is a nice, simple message to be learnt here and the love story is not entirely clichéd so the film does have a somewhat refreshing take on the ingrained romance tales of Bollywood. This does not however stop the many scenes where Surinder is battling with his love for Taani becoming a little repetitive by the film's end. With a little tighter editing on these parts the film would have also cut a little off its long run time but the film's length is a minor disturbance at best. The film is also fairly humourous, but not quite like Dostana's minute-by-minute comedy. As well the humour does not feel constructed but instead natural giving the context of some scenes a fairly real undertone.

There is a slight mishap on the subtitling for English viewers. There is the odd spelling mistake and there are a few moments where the subtitling makes some comments from a single character appear as if one character begins and another ends of the sentence, when it is evident that is not the case. Sadly the credit sequence lacks subtitles altogether and the credits are important in gaining an understanding into the aftermath of the ending with a monologue. While it can be accumulated as to what is being talked about, the monologue itself is fairly humourous and English viewers will e missing out.

Surprisingly the acting ensemble is stronger than expected with even the minor characters being more than adequate to the job. Of course Shahrukh Khan is as amazing as ever and anyone who thought he might be losing his shine will discover he is not. In the film Khan has to portray two different personalities for the same character as he attempts to live a double-life. His nuances in the shy and uncertain Surinder are heavily contrasted by his performance as the outgoing and hip Raj, and Khan does so with consistency. The biggest surprise is Anushka Sharma. Her debut performance is delightful, full of vigor and, most importantly, believable whether her character is full of joy or sadness. You would be hard pressed to say she was an amateur. In fact she embodies a top notch Bollywood actress with good acting coupled with a natural prowess for dancing. Sharma makes the music sequences she is in far more enjoyable to watch then they ought to be.

That said the music, and accompanying dances, is a slight disappointment. Neither category is bad by any means but they don't reach the optimal level of excitement to truly heighten the love story. But as said Sharma does appear in her element in these sequences and Khan's experience shows through so any sequence with these two dancing together is a worthwhile watch.

There are no sexual connotations, violence and very little use of language, making the film a true family treat.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is an amazing film which tells an equally amazing, albeit simple, story. With stellar acting, especially from newcomer Anushka Sharma who compliments Shahruhk Khan well, and good detail to creating a natural context, it becomes a pity that the film is let down by its musical sequences. They are not bad but not up to par with the rest of the film, and when coupled with other niggles the film is unable to be as moving as it potentially could. Still it's a worthwhile film and not one to be missed.


Screen date: 16 December 2008
Release date: 12 December 2008

Available on Channel24

Friday, 12 December 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still

More an ad than movie...

As an unknown force begins to rapidly make it's way to Earth, the United States government attempts to thwart the object with the help of various well established scientists, one such being Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly). With just over an hour to devise a plan the scientists come up empty handed and are forced to witness the destruction of Washington. Must to their surprise the unknown force slows down and settles on earth with little destruction and is seen in the form of a gigantic sphere. A humanoid figure going by the name Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) leaves the sphere and impresses upon Benson the imminent eradication of humankind.

The opening of the film, set may years before the events which occur in the present time line, is meant to serve as a sort of teaser to the main story. However the opening is not engaging and lacks any form of mystery. The scene itself could have been shorter and better used in the middle arc of the film in the form of a flashback or explanation. This would have cut a few minutes off the run time as the film feels a little too long for almost no reason. As for the story itself, it is quite simplistic. Even with the global warming undertones the film presents there is little to engage audiences on an intellectual level. The story does have some noteworthy moments, such as when it is discovered as to the real reason for Klaatu visit Earth and his role in this plan. But far too little is developed and the film suffers for it. The ending is as well quite contrived and doesn't give the full impact of the environmentalist messages. As such the story feels washed out and more like an an attempt at holding a protest sign then actually going out and physically doing something about the problem at hand.

On the acting front the film delivers a fairly decent effort. Reeve's character is essentially emotionless, and while Reeves himself is not the most talented actor it does feel harsh to say that he was aptly suited for the role when he has shown at times in his career his ability to act. That said, he was aptly suited for a being who could not feel, but merely decipher the world through sheer logic. This is a contrast Connelly's character who is dealing with some emotional situations, especially with the death of her husband. Connelly performs well enough but due to script problems it becomes difficult for her to make the character more believable. The last of the in actors is Jaden Smith. Jaden's character is in a nutshell, a brat. But a brat who does undergo development. Jaden does a pretty decent job with the role but like the previous two actors, the script really falters in allowing the audience to have a connection with the character. Ultimately the characters feel more like tools just to get some theme across. That theme is pretty blatant and materialises into nothing audiences haven't been exposed to before. As such, the plan to replace character involvement for another aspect of the film does falls flat.

From a technical aspect the music does work though it is nothing special. It is perhaps not eerie enough when it should be eerie, or jolted enough in scenes of panic and action. However the CG elements range from good to mediocre. When special effects are added the CG can be quite appealing to the eye, such as the sphere which is used for transportation by the aliens. But the countless CG models used on military helicopters, mainly, is quite bland. While it is not evidently noticeable, praise must be given to the 3D modelers for hiding the bad CG behind an array of smoke and/ or darkness so that the models look more adequate then they ought to. at said, the CG used towards the end of the film is consistently good.

There is no sex, minimal side nudity with is not at the least graphic, minimal language and minimal violence, which involves mainly military procedures.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a film which falters because of its direction. Yes there are factors in the film which don't work but these mainly occur because of the director's approach to the subject matter. The script is not fueled enough to give life to the characters and this becomes an evident difficulty for the actors. The story is far too linear focusing more on tying to masquerade environmentalist messages, instead of trying to intertwine these messages into a story with some substance. Even the CG is a touch-and-go sort of situation. That said the film is not a total failure: it has it's moments. The special effects do look nice at times, and the script does up itself at the rare moment, but it all could have been so much more.


Screen date: 12 December 2008
Release date: 12 December 2008

Saturday, 22 November 2008


An awful tale not saved by a great climax...

As an unsuccessful singer, Deven Yuvvraaj (Salman Khan), has only one desire: to marry his girlfriend Anushka (Katrina Kaif). However Anushka will not be married unless her father, Dr. Banton (Boman Irani) gives his blessing for the union, something he is not willing to do. When Deven's wealthy father dies, he decides to make a contract whereby if he is not a billionaire within 40 days, then he will not marry Anushka. However this proves difficult for Deven when he discovers that all his father's wealth has be given to Deven's brother: Gyanesh (Anil Kapoor), a man with the mental capacity of a child.

There is an interesting story brewing in Yuvvraaj touching upon ides of wealth and family, and individual gain versus the collective. However while the story seems intriguing, especially with its orchestral music backbone, it is simply terribly executed. The script is a shocker and is infested with poor dialogue, poor story advancement, poor characterisations and this results in a mature theme being displayed in the most childish manner. As shown from the start of the film, the overall atmosphere one of immaturity, not because it is important to the context of the story, but because that is how it is being displayed. Even the direction is not great, resulting in some amateur cinematography. One such example is the first musical segment in which Deven is fantasizing about how he will catch the attention of his girlfriend and marry her. In this segment the audience is exposed to Salman Khan flying and Katrina's face being exposed over the sun and sky. It is all rather horribly conceived and does nothing except make a mockery of itself. Did countless love songs in Bollywood films not allow the protagonists to wish themselves off to extravagant locales such as Egypt and Switzerland while making their imagination seem real? These are what is expected of love songs, not some poorly edited scenes you'd expect in a child's programme. And so it becomes difficult to relate to any character because nothing is well executed. However this is not to say that the film's story is entirely bad. There are brief moments throughout that base themselves in the maturity if the film's themes, and the second half picks up on this. Yet it is the final 20 or so minutes that are a wonder to watch, and also shows how pitiful everything before it really is.

Acting is pretty substandard, mainly because of how childish everything everything is and because of how often it is difficult to truly understand a character feelings and actions because their depth is vastly limited. Salman Khan is convincing when he is is in a position to be conniving but his attempts at love are not. Zayed Khan spends most of his time overacting, but when he does get the right balance of emotion he pulls it off well enough. Katrina Kaif has a delightful role and is adequate to her task though it is a pity that she has still received a rather limited role. It'll be interesting when she land a more prominent role in future films. Kaif, like the other actors, are nonetheless eclipsed by the ardent experience of Anil Kapoor with the portrayal of a grown man whose mental growth remains that of a child is really good. The realism he brings to role is a complete contrast to the rest of the cast, albeit Ms. Kaif, and this is perhaps why the others appear so incapable that that are ultimately caricatures. While Kapoor's performance doesn't lift the film from mediocrity it is definitely worth a watch.

The musical score is pretty impressive at times. There are songs which really hit all the right notes and then there are a few others which don't. Regardless the score is not the most accessible which doesn't help the film at all and makes it less inviting. Yet if there is a positive to come out of Yuvvraaj besides Anil Kapoor, it is definitely the music, and thankfully so, or the film would have been one incredible excruciating experience.

Yuvvraaj is a pretty clean film besides some slight language and violent tendencies from various characters.

Yuvvraaj is an important film coming in the final months of the year and it has some big stars to back up the film's much anticipated release. Coming close after the release of Fashion and Dostana, Yuvvraaj had a lot to stand up against, sadly nothing comes together to create a cohesive product. There are major flaws in every aspect of the film, be it the story, the characters, the acting, the general direction: every important component is compromised in some way. Though it has good moments: there are some nice set pieces, Anil Kapoor is stunning to watch and the finale, coupled with a generally good musical score, is excellent. Sadly none of these save the film from being a complete disappointment.


Screen date: 21 November 2008
Release date: 21 November 2008

Available on Channel24

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

A subtle performance with a landmark crescendo...

During World War 2 Bruno (Asa Butterfield), a German of eight years, leads a somewhat sheltered life in the comforts of wealth in Berlin. When Bruno's father (David Thewlis) is promoted to a high ranking officer of the Nazi regime, Bruno and his family have to relocate to his father's new post, which happens to be nearby to a concentration camp. After many frustrating days of boredom Bruno journeys to the concentration camp, thinking it is a farm, and starts up a friendship with Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), a Jewish boy.

From the very start the story is displayed in a very linear and uncomplicated fashion. There is no extravagant storytelling, no attempts to make the story more than it is. However this is not to say that the film is devoid of depth, because it has plenty and can stir up many symbolic and thematic explanations which help enrich the viewing. But the simple process of the story is more the director's attempt in keeping with the innocence of Bruno to help relate the viewer to him. The reason this is perhaps done is because while the film is relatively faithful to the original novel, many details have been altered. One such is the literary device of a process of discovery from the reader into the true context of the story just as Bruno begins to learn more of the real world. As such the film adaptation will inevitably make it more difficult for the viewer to relate to Bruno because we become the out-group to his innocence. The simple storytelling works though it could have been more complex, including many details that were omitted. But the film's crowning moment comes in its final 15 or so minutes in what is a harrowing, emotionally poignant affair, and perhaps one the most draining, yet overwhelmingly crafted endings ever to grace cinema. It alone is worth the admission of seeing this film. Authenticity also becomes a slight problem once again in regards to how the concentration camps would have actually worked, but this is never the point as the film bases itself merely on thematic elements.

The level of acting is not astounding by any means. But it is generally favourable. Each actor and actress seems to aptly suit their respective character, but Butterfield must be commended for doing a great job of making the innocence of his character appear so real. It must be said that none of the characters speak in a German accent though they are portraying Germans. While this seems like a setback, it really is not much of an issue as it does not make the experience any less riveting as it already is, but for those truly adamant on authenticity they might be a little disappointed.

There is no sex, nudity or language. Violence is more figurative then literal as the film's subject matter pertains around a concentration camp. The final scene is haunting though not visually shown. While the PG-13 rating is apt, it is difficult to think that any child at that age could truly comprehend the film's content.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a cinematic wonder which easily deserves a watch from any avid moviegoer. While there are a few niggles, none of which truly affects the overall quality unless you allow it to do so, the film is laden with reasonable acting and story-telling at it's very best with director Mark Herman cementing this with a conclusion so filled with brilliance that it is difficult to think of anything of late that quite matches it. In fact there are few films of late which can even match the cinematic wonder that is The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.


Screen date: 20 November 2008
Release date: 05 December 2008

Available on Channel24

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Quantum of Solace

A disappointing second leg after an amazing start...

Beginning very soon after the events of Casino Royale, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has kidnapped the notorious Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), only to learn that there is a secret organization which has infiltrated various levels of social order around the world. Seeking revenge for the death of Vesper and more information on this organization, Bond goes on a rampage and discovers an interesting connection to philanthropist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric).

Continuing off the intriguing storyline left from Casino Royale, it was expected that Quantum of Solace would continue to showcase quality story telling. With a run time that is 40 minutes less and with more action sequences, it becomes painfully obvious three quarters through the film, that the scriptwriters had no real intention of telling a cohesive story, and even less desire to create any characterization, the most prominent perhaps coming from Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) but even then its only because we knew so little of him from the previous film. All Quantum of Solace ends up showing is that there is indeed a bigger organization of villains. The events which are undertaken in the story are interesting to a point yet instead serves more as a backstage for the side story of Camille (Olga Kurylenko), which itself is very unimportant to the greater scheme of things, though it's nice to see a Bond woman get a more fleshed out story then in previous incarnations. Even the story arc that relates back to Vesper seems unimportant until the films end: it was a major arc going into the film but is somewhat underplayed. Another slight problem comes from scene advancement being inadequate a times. In one scene Bond will have no access to any money, and in the next he'll be driving a new vehicle with a new suit. While this is not exactly what happens, the description is not far off: there are just too many scenes which don't gel logically. But there are a few noteworthy additions to the story. M and Leiter seem more important to the story this time around, M a little too much perhaps. Leiter's character is more ambiguous this time and has a story arc of his own; in fact it should be said that lesser characters are given some story time but neither of them truly affect the plot much. On another positive note there is more humour in the story this time around, especially involving the expected Bond quip after a dispatch. It is just a pity that the film doesn't use up more time to flesh out the story more. However it is very possible that the film is merely a bridge to the third entry. If this is the case, then Quantum of Solace serves it's purpose as the action story that connects the two more story focused entries. However this will only work if the next film brings back the intrigue of Casino Royale and allows for some character development. 

Thankfully the action sequences are bigger and better then those in Casino Royale. While the chase scene feels awfully ripped from the previous film, there is more variety in what is shown, such as the various vehicle scenes. Though at times the action does seem somewhat muted. It looks good most of the time, but it feels like the director is trying to much to make Bond feel like other modern spy flicks, such as the Bourne trilogy, instead of trying to make Bond feel like Bond. So while the many action sequences are fun to watch, they do not help give the film a distinct feel. There is no major problem to the Bourne-like makeover Bond has gotten, especially for the character at this time in his career, as it allows him to come across as more brutal, but this nonetheless takes away from his charm. Even the recently released Taken with Liam Neeson proves more viable at this type of action then James Bond.

Sadly the staple intro sequence of the film is underwhelming, both with its music and animation, which had far too much of Craig holding a gun, but thankfully had the female silhouettes missing from Casino Royale's intro.

On the acting front, Quantum of Solace is adequate. Dench is once again amazing as M, and Craig portrays his Bond well. But aside from the minimal character development his character has towards the end of the film, it is still debatable whether he could pull off a traditional Bond instead of a normal action hero as he is currently doing: problematic since the currently written Bond feels nothing like James Bond, and hasn't developed from his prior outing. Giannini and Wright are as good as they were before. Kurylenko is an interesting addition and her character, Camille, gets a lot of time to be developed as a feasible character in the Bond universe. Her motivations in the story are somewhat clichéd and forced, and Kurylenko is not the best actress for the role, but she does a decent enough effort to make the character passable. Her most intriguing aspect is her somewhat similar situation to Bond. There is a nice scene shared by the two, mimicking a scene between Bond and Vesper a little too much, but it helps develop Bond as still having some form of humanity. Mathieu Amalric as the villain Dominic Greene, is also another decent affair. He is no where near as villainous as Le Chiffre and as such there's little for Amalric to do with the character except play him out as more of a caricature, and in this sense, he succeeds.

There is some sexual content, along with some language and violence. The latter involving vehicle crashes, gun fire and melee combat, but none of which is overly violent.

Quantum of Solace is a fun film to watch but don't expect to hold the same level for depth as Casino Royale. The film is a disappointment since it had so much to expand upon but ultimately doesn't. The action is great, if unoriginal at times, and the acting is solid. But the film fails in the story and character departments, two elements which made Casino Royale so refreshing, though there are a few facets which make Quantum of Solace a better title such as the added humour and extra action sequences. As a standalone, the film does not quite not work, feeling seemingly out of place, but as a bridging film it does, and hopefully it is. But this will only work if the third film can correct the mistakes in this title, either via technique or narrative, and thus allow a potential trilogy to be solidly sound.


Screen date: 19 November 2008
Release date: 21 November 2008

Friday, 14 November 2008


Sexy though not without some smears...

After bumping into each other by accident Kunal (John Abraham), a photographer, and Sameer (Abhishek Bachchan), a nurse, end up wanting to rent the exact same apartment. Due to the limitations that no men are allowed to rent out the apartment, Sameer comes up with an idea that both Kunal and himself pretend to be a gay couple. However while this plan allows them to get the apartment, it proves to be a problem as they both men become interested in their other roommate, Neha (Priyanka Chopra), a gorgeous and intelligent woman who works for a fashion magazine.

The story for Dostana is a combination of unique and unoriginal. While the gay couple idea is not commonplace for Bollywood films, it does share some similarities with a recent Hollywood film. But beyond two guys pretending to be gay, Dostana does very little to differentiate itself from the flock of romance films, and this has to be attributed to post-Interval which is slightly disappointing. The second half of the film is not bad by any means, but the humour, vigour and originality which makes the first half of the film an absolutely wonder to watch becomes dampened somewhat due to the strange change of the leads becoming somewhat childish. Thankfully the musical score, acting and choreography never falter, so the film does have a strong structure throughout.

The characters themselves are very well detailed and the writers have done a good job to distance the characters of Kunal and Sameer while giving them common ground. Where Kunal is immensely handsome with a built body, Sameer's charisma helps him attract the women. This is deepened as the film progresses with both have separate forms of interaction which are easily acknowledged from their specific personalities. Neha is a bit more stereotypical and not quite as complex as would have been hoped. In fact, this could be the films one flaw: a lot of the depth is merely skin deep.

The film begins with a musical segment and a very upbeat one at that. As mentioned, the level of music and choreography never wanes and remains a welcome addition whenever a segment does appear. Dostana also bases itself in humour and a lot of it to boot. While the level of humour dies out in the second half, the quality does not. The majority of the humour is based around the gay relationship and what makes it work so well is the acting. In one scene where both Sameer and Kunal devise a story on how they met, their attempts at acting gay are not exaggerated so as to mock, but done so because of how both Sameer and Kunal think gay people act. Another aspect which makes the humour so much fun is the constancy at which is portrayed.

The acting quality is high as well with excellent performance from the entire cast. Abraham showcases why he is a highly capable actor though there is the rare occasion where he does not feel quite up to par with either Abhishek or Chopra, who are more easily able to gel given their recent pairing in Drona. Abhishek continues to find his peak acting ability when he needs its most and Chopra's continues her wonderful form from Fashion and nears the end of the year on a high note after a few mediocre efforts in Love Story 2050 and God Tussi Great Ho. The supporting cast of Boman Irani, Kiron Kher and Booby Deol compliment the leads with some genuinely good acting, with Irani and Kher adding to the intense humour of the film.

No violence or nudity though sex is a thematic element to the film. Language is minimal in scatological form.

Dostana is a film which wants to break away from the norm but ultimately cannot, and as such the latter arc of the story is a slight disappointment. The story turns into a typical romance after it promised such a unique premise, and the second half lacks the overall strength of the first. Nonetheless, Dostana is a brilliant film which infectious humour and sex appeal, though lacks the ability to truly target its core message.


Screen date: 14 November 2008
Release date: 14 November 2008

Available on Channel24

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Beware Bale, a new Batman Beckons!

A tip from my sister has sparked some new outrageous information regarding the third of Nolan's reinvented Batman trilogy. According to my sister, DC Comics came to the decision with Warner Bros. to have Christian Bale dropped. Who is taking up the cape after Bale? My sister's son. And from what she gathered, the sudden dismissal of Bale was not about the money! Sadly, Bale is going to be missing out on the arrival of the Riddler, who currently has no attached actor, or actress. Yes that's right, alternate early drafts of the script are being written to have the Riddler as a female in case an 'Edwin A. Salt' problem occurs. Here are some pictures she took of the casting event on October 31st:

The exhilaration of getting the role sure shows!

The light is blinding him... he is perfect for the role of the dark knight!

*script spoilers*
"Rachael... you're alive?"

Is... is that a gun?!?!?!?

Apparently Nolan wants a fight sequence where Batman has to adjust his mask during combat... it will add to the "cool factor" so he claims.

Hope you all enjoyed Halloween :)

Monday, 27 October 2008

Max Payne

A painful re-telling...

Working the cold case unit, Max Payne (Mark Wallberg) has undergone a major character change after he was unable to protect his wife and child from being killed in a robbery gone wrong. After Max's former partner, Alex Balder (Donal Logue), finds some evidence off a killed woman leading to the killer of Max's family, Max begins his journey of revenge, assisted by the unlikely source of the murdered woman's sister, Mona Sax (Mila Kunis).

Max Payne is a simple, yet vastly altered, re-telling of a complex story which is one of the first of many problems for the film. There is a basic premise to which holds the film together but the very scenes which tell the story are often disjointed and unrelated to one another. In one scene, Mona is at her home/ office/ hideout place in civilian clothing, only to end up in the very building Max is in so she could save his life. She then promptly leaves. Another being how Max is in the cold case unit, but in the three years since his wife's death he never ever bothered trying to discover what her job entailed: imagine how the rest of the poor sods feel knowing their cases were probably tossed away due to laziness. Things like this occur in the film, and it's very difficult to understand character motivation for most of what's going on. The film goes as far as having a couple of scenes which serve no purpose to the film: they do not expand the story or characters; they do not provide any action; they do not provide any titillation. Simply put, Max Payne feels abstract like it is a part of whole, and it might be safe to assume that a lot got cut out of the film to get a PG-13 rating... in fact a lot should have been cut out or the director has honestly chosen the wrong vocation.

This also results in characters being awkwardly out of place. For starters there are way too many characters for what is meant to be occurring in the film. Characters will appear for an important story advancement moment, say a line or two just to never be seen or heard of again. Even the character of Mona Sax feels vastly underplayed, and could have easily been cut from the film with virtually no bearing on the story whatsoever. The only character with some purpose is Max himself, but that is to be expected. Nevertheless, Kunis brings an interesting seductiveness to Mona, but is never the femme fatale she should be, and Wahlberg gets the lone wolf mood right while never ever really able to capture the grief which haunts Max or the insightful nature of the character either. The former is more difficult when it takes so long for the story to present the death of his wife and child in its entirety. In the end, both are adequate enough to make their characters seem interesting in some fashion. The other main roles are all short lived and definitely not fleshed out enough to have them have a real impact to the film.

Another aspect of the video game original which did not translate well was the action sequences. First off, there is too little action in the film, and it's not a well-rounded affair. There are moments, such as the SWAT shoot off and the finale sequence, especially the start of it which is breathtaking. Sadly there a lack of the staple bullet-time, and even inappropriately used when one man throws himself to his death. One scene with uses the technique is ruined: while Max tries to shoot a man who is firing at him, the director made the terrible mistake of making it appear as if the assailant was blind: it is evident that the bullets being fired land no where near Max.

There is no nudity, though a woman without a top on can be seen from the back. Sex is hinted at but never show or even performed by any characters. Language is kept to a minimal and violence is not gory and hardly bloody.

From bad editing to lack of character development to an action film with little action: one can only wonder how a video game which could so easily be translated to the cinema medium went so wrong. And while it is an adaptation, the film bares little resemblance to the source material's complexity, even nullifying the staple slow motion scenes which was popularized in the Matrix trilogy. Still it is possible that an uncut release can be seen on DVD, and could possibly fill in the many problems of the theatrical run. Nevertheless, Max Payne is not entirely devoid of entertainment, with the actors at least trying to portray their respective characters and some fun action sequences, of the little there was. The post-credit scene hints at a sequel, which should include a new director, and hopefully the sequel will make up for the mishaps of this.


Screen date: 28 October 2008
Release date: 25 October 2008

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Lakeview Terrace

Playing it safe...

Chris (Patrick Wilson) and Lisa (Kerry Washington) Mattson are a married interracial couple who decide to start their new life by settling in a new house. While having a police officer as a next-door neighbor seems like a bonus, it turns out that the police officer, Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), is greatly opposed to Chris and Lisa's interracial relationship. Turner begins to terrorize the Mattson's, forcing Chris to retaliate.

Lakeview Terrace presents a unique concept but decides to portray the story rather simply, and so it is via the characters that the film keeps itself alive. The two most interesting are Chris and Abel who showcase much of the racial tendencies of the film. Chris is married to an African woman, listens to rap music and dedicated to his work and wife. Abel is a very rule orientated man, trying to protect his children from the evils of society. Both Wilson and Jackson portray their respective characters with ease, but neither feel distinguished in doing so. Nonetheless, both have a certain charm which makes for engaging viewing. Washington portrays her character with well, but she lacks the dynamic nature of her male counterparts.

One of the film's greatest strengths, also ends up as one of its greatest flaws: depth. On one hand, Lakeview Terrace pays homage to, and can be well intertexted with John Milton's Paradise Lost. The synopsis and previews simply appear to be about an a police officer harassing his new neighbors, but what director Neil LaBute does so well is to make Abel Turner seem in the right for the first third of the story. The film begins with Turner as he shapes into the film's protagonist, mimicking the appearance of Satan in Paradise Lost. The viewer sympathizes with Turner, like Satan, but as the film progresses, we begin to learn that Turner is very much Milton's Satan - his reasoning becomes perverse and illogical. And like Paradise Lost, the text shifts to Chris and Lisa, who become the Adam and Eve figures. It is this sort of intertextuality which makes Lakeview Terrace a compelling watch especially when it shares many other similarities to the epic poem Paradise Lost.
However the film also lacks the very depth it requires. The race issue is not as hard hitting as it can be: racial tension is perceived from a black perspective and while an interesting view take on events it is still nonetheless not as tangible as racism from a white perspective. There are also two other elements which are underplayed. Abel's police partner Javier (Jay Hernandez), comes across as pivotal somehow but has minimal impact in Abel's favour. The film also has a side plot of the nearby forest fires. While easily metaphorical of tension and the escalation of problems which exist between both Chris and Lisa, and Abel, the fires get way too much attention that the metaphor either becomes too stated, or that the director somehow forgot how to correlate the subplot to the main plot beyond being a means-to-an-end approach.

There is no nudity, but sexual themes do crop up once and a while. Violence is fairly tame while language does appear every once and a while.

Lakeview Terrace is a good film; it is just not a great film. The acting is good; the story is interesting; there is a decent level of social commentary; and is suspenseful. Though nothing ever reaches a level of excellence, with some smaller elements being of a lower caliber to the main. In essence, Lakeview Terrace is the type of film that has easily been simplified as as to appeal to a wider audience which is a great pity since it had all the makings to be a topnotch, thought provoking thriller.


Screen date: 25 October 2008
Release date: 25 October 2008

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Summary that is South Africa

As a South African there has always been one thing I've always hated: South Africa. It all really started with the whole Hansie Cronje debacle and then I no longer supported the national cricket team. But it stems further then that: for all the great scenery that encompasses South Africa, relatively warm weather throughout the entire year, and the whole vibe of Durban, my city, there is also a whole lot of mess. Be it the insane level of crime and violence, the even higher failure rate to lower the levels of crime and violence, the awfully inadequate government with the supposedly next president facing corruption charges.. heck, we don't even have a Starbucks. Regardless I think it's pretty obvious that South Africa is caught up in a flux of dire circumstances.

What you are about to see is a live news broadcast with the financial department (the local currency is doing severely worse then normal compared to foreign markets... no wonder Playstation 3's cost double the price than in America). While funny, I still feel sorry for the humiliation which follows (and you should to), but nothing summaries the instability of the country more then the following video:

Luckily Mr. Nhlanhla Nene took the situation well:
'The wheel came completely off'

Nene chuckled at the thought of the number of people who had watched the 26 second clip. "It was quite embarrassing because you know you can imagine when the millions are watching..."

He said colleagues had teased him about it since.
News24 article

Good on you Mr. Nene, at least something is right in South Africa :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

PS3 DivX Video on Demand compatible sites

So firmware 2.5 brings a new feature to the PS3 which can easily rival Microsoft's Netflix deal: DivX Video on Demand support. However it does not appear to be the easiest feature to use. While you get it working, here are a few sites which appear Divx VoD compatible:

SugarDvd (adult only)
The Movie Library (offers DivX encoded files)

Not much, but it's a start to all curious PS3 owners who wish to have access to a large number of films.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Unexpected fantasy adventure falls short...

Aditya (Abhishek Bachchan) lives with his adoptive parents but is only cared for by his father, with his mother and brother treating him as a subordinate. Unbeknown to Aditya, he is actually part of a lineage of male warriors who protect the universe from demons, and each comes to be known as Drona. He discovers his true identity when he is rescued by Sonia (Priyanka Chopra) after he is attacked by forces from the Demon Riz Raizada (Key Key Menon).

Drona shares may similarities to other films, such as the humble beginnings of Harry Potter, to Lord of the Rings, though most notably with Prince of Persia. With a few name changes and a title change, anyone could have been fooled into thinking Drona was the film adaption of the popular video game series. Nevertheless Drona is the first Bollywood film deal with the realm of fantasy on such a large scale. Earlier this year the science fiction genre got a first with love Story 2050, but where Love Story faltered in ever way, being only watchable due to the fact that it was a science fiction Bollywood film, Drona actually has some substance going for it. The plot is nothing amazing, and fairly simple. Luckily, it doesn't take Drona to the intermission to get into the fantasy realm, but does so rather soon in the film. Though what Drona lacks in story, it makes up for in mythos. The opening, which is done in a comic form, builds up potential for future films as it appears there is so much left to tell in the world of Drona. Regardless of whether you enjoy the film or not, there is definitely hinted at for potential sequels.

The acting side of Drona is not as good as hoped. Jaya Bachchan is underused, and Priyanka Chopra is not entirely up to scratch, though her performance is thankfully better then that from love Story 2050. Abhishek starts off slowly and seems out of sync with his character. He gets better as the film progresses but seems more capable of the silent hero type than the normal everyday person. Whether this is indicative of how well his acting is, is difficult to gather from Drona, but its very possible that his acting skills won't be viewed greatly by the masses even though he definitely has the ability.Though it is Kay Kay Menon who steals the show: his role as the creepy, clownish, and somewhat nervous Riz Raizada is very fun to watch. His character is similar to the likes of Kefka from the popular video game Final Fantasy 6 - he is a villain who seems somewhat maniacal, and Menon plays the part well.

Drona's weakest aspects is definitely its special effects and music. Beyond a few scenes, the CG looks either too cartoon like, or just not well textured. There are however a few gorgeous special effects spotted every once and a while, but for a big budget fantasy film like this, everyone once and a while just does not cut it. The music is also disappointing, though thankfully quite unique to the usual Bollywood selection. There are a select few tracks which are listenable, with the rest being on the forgettable side. One such track also happens to occur during one of the most boring parts of the film making it a very slow preliminary to the final arc of the story.

No sex, nudity or language, Drona does depict some violent acts with a fairly decent amount of sword fighting involving stabbings. While none of the throat slitting occurs on screen the after effects are shown briefly, and blood does make an appearance.

Drona 2 is apparently ready to roll when ever Goldie can get to it., Honestly,he should do a film or two before proceeding with the sequel. The biggest factor in Drona not being as good as it should be is because it is evident that Goldie is still trying to find his feet in the directing world. With some more experience, Drona 2 can shape up to be quite a worthwhile experience. He'll be able to rectify the music selection, special effects and even his own cinematography. It was not everything it was marketed to be, but Drona has created a decent enough mythos for potential sequels. It is not a bad film at all, and a great individual in a flood of clichéd romance offerings.


Screen date: 08 October 2008
Release date: 03 September 2008

Friday, 3 October 2008

Sony at Tokyo Game Show 2008

With the Tokyo Game Show just around the corner, and Nintendo holding a rather impressive conference of their own, all eyes are on Sony: will the PS3 be able to build upon an impressive foundation of upcoming titles? Will Sony be able to answer Nintendo's DS revision, the DSi?

Playstation 3:
If E3 and the Gamers Convention proved one thing, it is that Sony are trying their best to put the PS3 as the console choice for gamers. With some excellent showcases, TGS is the final major convention stop for all companies and Sony will want to end the year with a bang. Though Japan has become a touchy issue for Sony as of late: they lack JRPG's to entice the majority of the Japanese market, and the PS3 has recently been outsold by the Xbox360 in the region for a few weeks straight, due in turn to JRPG releases. Simply put, TGS 2008 will require Sony to showcase a few RPG titles. Now Sony has 11 playable unannounced titles for TGS. How many of these are actual new games, and merely known games receiving their first Japanese release and showcasing, is unknown, though the former is perhaps more desired.

Famitsu has had some information on new titles and in doing so, have probably unveiled some of these announcements for TGS. One title which is bound to get some attention is Demon's Souls, mainly because its an RPG. It seems like a grat synthesis of King's Field, Oblivion and Shadow of the Colossus. Awesome! Though this title is from the same team who created the average Enchanted Arms. Not so Awesome! Another two of the titles come from IREM and Konami. IREM have Spelunker HD (what ever happened to Steambot Chronicles 2?) and Konami's title seem more or likely to be Zone of the Enders 3... or Coded Arms has resurfaced from cancellation (better then nothing I suppose). Either way, whether Demon's Souls and Spelunker HD are part of the unannounced titles, it is difficult to tell, but it leaves Sony with merely nine unknown titles (or eight if you count a possible ZOE3).

Team ICO is bound to break the silence and showcase their new title, and it very much one of the more anticipated moments of the show. This leaves seven titles remaining, but it must be said that these titles will most likely come from Japanese developers. The reason for this is simple: E3 showed off American developed titles, such as God of War 3 and MAG, and the Gamers Convention showed off European developed titles such as the new Singstar's. There is a possibility that the three Cellius projects: Brace Arms, Chain Limit and Second: Season 01 are shown. The apparnetly online-only Tears of Blood could finally be showcased, along with Kurayami from Suda 51 (though this title could be published by EA leaving it as multi platform). If these is the case, that leaves two titles.

There is bound to be a PSN title, but where are the JRPG's? One can only fathom that Sony will do what Nintendo have done at their recent conference and resurrect a sequel to an older IP, the most notable for Sony in the JRPG genre being The Legend of Dragoon. This title is perhaps the most required from Sony as it would show their commitment to the JRPG genre and even allow other developers to follow.

It is difficult to really predict what will be shown because of the flux of titles that were announced for the PS3 but have since fallen off the radar. Whatever the case, Sony has to prove not only that it has the software to compete with Nintendo's recent announcements, but also that it is not going to abandon the RPG scene.

Playstation Portable:
Nintendo's DSi proves quite valuable to Nintendo's handheld efforts, regardless of whether you think its viable for them to release a new revision or not. However there are many moves Sony can make to counteract the euphoria around Nintendo's announcement. Firstly, the DSi is going to debut at 18,900 yen, which is merely 900 yen cheaper then the PSP-3000's debut price of 19,800. With a difference of around $8.5, Sony is now more competitively priced to its rival. While its unlikely, Sony could easily announce at TGS a new price for their handheld, being equated to the DSi. If this were to occur, sales will merely rely upon hardware and software alone, mainly the latter.

The video game representation for both handhelds are pretty impressive, with Sony being most fortunate for a sudden proliferation in third party support from Japanese developers. While it will be key for them to outline many titles, especially the likes of LocoRoco 2 and Patapon 2, and other key titles such as the Final Fantasy's from Square Enix, what could work more in Sony's favour would be to outline upcoming firmware updates. With the DSi, Nintendo has created a more media capable handheld, and Sony could capitalize upon this by showing off software for the PSP's OS.

Much has been expressed about the PSP gaining the addition of direct PSN access. This is of much help to PSP users allowing them to cu the middleman of a PS3 or PC to get content for their PSP. This also highlights Sony's stance for downloadable content for the PSP, however one aspect of Sony's overall strategy is still missing: the numerous downloadable PSP-exclusive PSN titles. Beats was the first, and Sony promised more titles, with a FPS, action and rhythm titles coming. If Sony can demonstrate this feature while showing at least of of these titles (if they even still exist), then the DSi's virtual console support becomes undercut a little, though it is still an important factor of the DSi.

Other features will be important to outline: a PSN ID, friends list and trophy support. These three don't counteract anything about the Dsi, but it gives the PSP a lot more functionality, albeit somewhat trivial in helping hardware sales. Though what could be key in challenging the DSi's new found media capabilities, would be for Sony to prove the rumours of wmv. and avi. support. Such a feature will allow the PSP to be a rather hefty piece of equipment, and the price tag would seem even more justifiable.

The overall point would be for Sony to make the PSP-3000 seem far more important to customers than Nintendo's Dsi. They might not be able to stop what could be amazing DSi sales, but they can easily create doubt in the mind of consumers. And with what looks like hefty support from Japanese develpers, Sony could easily see another PSP boon in Japan for a while, which is required in order to help their market prospects elsewhere.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


Exhilaration with modest substance...

As an ex-government special ops unit, or 'preventer', Bryan (Liam Neeson)is living his retirement years in hope of being more involved in the life of his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). While overprotective, and somewhat paranoid, of his daughter's well-being due to the severity of his past career, Bryan reluctantly allows Kim to travel with a friend to Paris. However the trip proves disastrous as both Kim and her friend are kidnapped by Albanian sex-traffickers.

The story unfolds in a very mechanistic manner and as such also plays out in a linear and expected fashion. This does not make for a lesser story, but it does feel too conservative for the film in its entirety, and the end result is a film which lacks the complexities which the themes explored involve. Still it is entertaining and thankfully never falters, though some events are somewhat out of realism's grasp. By the film's end, Taken has a profound impact due to its subject matter. Nothing is overly explicit and the theme of the sex-trade is not dealt with meticulous realism, but it is captured well enough to make it seem tangible. Half the reason is due to the the directors ability to make the characters appeal on a personal level.

Bryan's concern for his daughter is touching, though perhaps a little overbearing first. But when danger comes to Kim, Bryan no longer appears to have any fault: he was right in his judgement. This is not a problem, but in fact a keen reminder of the role a parent plays in their child's life. Neeson plays the role, for the most part, quite convincingly. He shows some genuine concern, and when faced with the task of an action role, Neeson kicks into gear with a riveting performance. However there are moments where he comes across as mundane, and not totally involved with his character. Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen play adequate supporting roles with both showing believable emotion at the dire and horrifying situation the character Kim finds herself in. Though it must said that Maggie has a very strange way of running that can seem rather bothersome; perhaps that is he way of running, as weird as it looks, or maybe she was an ill choice to play a 17-year old.

While an integral theme is that revolving around the idea of sex, there is none shown in the film. Nudity is also not shown though some women come close. Language is almost non-existent though blasphemy does appear every once and a while. The film is quite strong on violence, though it is neither gory or bloody. Fights involve mainly hand-to-hand combat with a healthy does of gunfire. It is all quite engaging and exciting to watch, with Byran coming across as a more complete and violent version of Jason Bourne or the rebooted James Bond.

As perhaps gathered, the film is not exactly realistic though it is the sort of film which could and deserves to be so if it wishes to rank among the best of cinema. This aside, Taken is a thoroughly enjoyable film with intense action, marred by a few inconsistencies and lack of foresight into the film's overall image.


Screen date: 20 September 2008
Release date: 12 September 2008

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Rock On!!

A new and high point in Bollywood filmmaking...

Starting up a rock band by the name of Magik, four friends have the dream of shooting to stardom with their rock music. When this dream never sees the light of day, the band split and has little contact with each other member. After 10 years, their lives become interwoven once more and the decision is made to attempt to reunite the bonds of the past.

The story is presented in an intriguing fashion jumping from the past to the present at will, but it never becomes distracting. This change goes to compliment the film in many ways. Not only does it make the viewing more interesting, but it helps to better understand the emotional and mental struggles of the main characters. The two most notable are Aditiya (Farhan Akhtar) and Joe (Arjun Rampal), with the former leading a prosperous life as a business man while the latter is barely able to make ends meet. The film is relatively easy to understand throughout but that doesn't mean it lacks the depth. There is a great sense of duality and confliction which arises as the film evolves. However the film can be seen to be a tad optimistic about certain factors of life, though it is nothing detrimental to the film as a whole, especially when the film has some melancholic moments. There is also a factor overlooked in the story: when the band attempts to reunite it appears to have no effect on the busy lives of those involved in the business world, notably Aditiya, with a similar social problem only affecting Joe.

There is a minor problem in regards to the English subtitling whereby spoken English is incorrectly subtitled, at one point even changing what was said entirely, though it was an unimportant scene of dialogue.

On the acting side, the actors perform quite well. Rock On!! marks Akhtar's acting debut after success with script writing and directing, and he adds another skill to his growing list of talents, even that of singing. He is well suited with strong presence next to Rampal who plays a more delicate role. They both play off one another extremely well and the chemistry between both shows whether in normal interaction or when the band is performing on stage. But this is not to say that both remain constant opposites of one another, for both have these subtle moments when they reverse characteristics, but it so dependent on the situation and goes to show the complex structure of the characters themselves, with character development being apparent, though perhaps not as much as one would hope. The remainder of the cast aids both main actors successfully creating a very believable context for the film.

The core highlight of Rock On!! is its musical score. It you enjoyed the snippet provided by the preview then you are bound to enjoy listening to an array of exhilarating track, complimented with a couple of slower pieces which allows for added variety. No matter what track is being played Rock On!! presents one of the most consistent soundtracks to grace a Bollywood film in a while. Also the production values are absolutely amazing for a Bollywood film. Rock on!! does not feel like a foreign Bollywood film at all, with the whole film feeling like a mid-to-high production Hollywood film. This is achieved with some masterful directing by Abhishek Kapoor with every scene, especially when Magick performs their music, seeming well calculated. However this does not stop Kapoor choosing some strange and rather unnecessary direction for certain scenes but this is thankfully very rare.

In what has been an up-and-down year for Bollywood blockbusters, Rock On!! amazingly is able to remain one string above most of the rest. There is very little to fault beyond the simple story and questionable cinematographic decisions. Rock On!! is as complete a package as you would hope for, and for a film which doesn't appear to be as widely acknowledged as other Bollywood blockbusters, Rock On!! is a true delight.


Screen date: 29 August 2008
Release date: 03 September 2008

Friday, 29 August 2008


A little old school, a little modern, though not entirely complete...

Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland) is currently undergoing marital problems with his wife, Amy (Paula Patton), who is not showing much interest in his wellbeing. As an attempt to stabilize his life, Ben lands a job as a nighttime security guard for an abandoned, yet important, department store. However Ben comes across some mysterious circumstances when it appears that the mirrors in the building are reflecting an alternative reality to his own.

The story seems like a simple affair at first: man goes around some dark and mysterious place, discovers something he shouldn't, and all hell breaks loose. For the sake of everyone, the film does attempt to be more then that. Director Alexandre Aja does a good job at meshing both the supernatural elements of the mirrors with the reality of Carson's married life. The former is tense with some some great moments marred by some which are clichéd. The overall result is hardly mixed however, and proves to serve horror in a good dose, and as well has a nice hint of Asian horror. Like the horror, the social elements either work or do not. The conflict between both Ben and Amy seems rooted in reality and can be related to. But the film does little in the beginning arc to help attach the viewer to Ben's social life circumstances and so there are a few scenes which don't quite gel well enough to be entirely believable. The overall story moves at a decent enough pace, slowly bringing to light new point for the viewer. But after the two-thirds mark, the story not only picks up speed but content as well to the point where the last third of the film has enough story to be told in the first two-thirds. The problem is that too much happens towards the end that its difficult to justify cohesion in the films plot. It really needed to be a few minutes longer so that some of the plot could get more fleshing out.

But what is presented, Aja does a great job directing. The cinematography is not exceptional by any means, but is still a wonder to watch. The best of the lot easily goes to the death sequences, with the first being an excellent prologue into the story, and another which is truly numbingly evil: you'll want to keep watching due to its uniqueness but at the same time turn your eyes away. Sadly not all scenes are well thought through, mainly due to the story. The ending, for instance, was rather surprising but apt. However there is no underlying logic to link the events to any tangible truth expressed through Aja's direction. And this is easily the films greatest fault: Aja appears to hope the audience will not question how the film progresses. Even the explanation for the mirrors is still left shrouded, and not because its all expected to be a big mystery, but because Aja does little to use his directional cue to help give more explanation when its needed.

Acting is commendable with a few solid performances but none of them are truly able to be anything but good. Sutherland pulls the film along and is fairly believable throughout as a confused security guard going through marital problems, while having to cope with the mystery that surrounds the mirrors. The only downside is that his performance does, at times, bear a slight resemblance to his role in 24. It's nothing major, and will perhaps only be available to ardent fans of the series. Other characters are minor, though Patton does get a nice little chunk and is adequate enough to support Sutherland, but when the script seems to falter with her character, so does Patton. Thankfully her acting is not unbearable.

No sex, and some slight nudity, the film is loaded with scattered with swearing, though not always hard. The violence does get gory with two particular scenes, shown in the red-band trailer, being excessively so. And the camera lingers on the bodily wounds and accompanied blood. Beyond this there is nothing exceedingly graphics about the scenes, with the worst being the images of people on fire but this is achieved with poor CG and so lessens its effect. In fact, fans of Aja's work will possibly be a tad disappointed that the gore level never reaches his previous efforts, notably The Hills Have Eyes, but that doesn't stop it from being powerful images nonetheless.

Mirrors is very much like a mirror in all honesty. There is the real, tangible film, but then also the diluted image which is created from the reflection: as much as the film seems to promote substance, it inadvertently at times does not. The story is interesting, though inconsistent. The acting is good, though not entirely exclusive. The horror has some excellent moments, though there probably is not enough. Regardless, Mirrors is not a poor excuse for a film. On the contrary, its a good attempt and quite enjoyable. If anything, Mirrors proves an excellent introduction for those who have not accustomed themselves, or are not willing to do so, to the excessive gore of modern horror.


Screen date: 29 August 2008
Release date: 29 August 2008