Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

That time is here. The time that everyone had been waiting for with bated breath. The most anticipated film of all time, perhaps, is finally here. The Dark Knight Rises, the final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise delivers exactly what it promised to. Following up with the popularity of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, two of the most famous Batman films of all time, it was promised to be the epic conclusion to the Batman legend and it has been epic none-the-less. Now, to begin with, The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) is not a Batman film that portrays him as a superhero vigilante but it shows a more vulnerable side of Batman where he’s more flesh and blood and has his own weaknesses.

Disclaimer: The following section may have some spoilers, to avoid that, skip to ’The Verdict’ section below.

The Plot:
TDKR begins 8 years after Harvey Dent’s death and when Batman takes the fall for his crimes. Dent is celebrated as a hero in Gotham city on the anniversary of his death, oblivious to the truth about him, and so is how he put all of Gotham’s scum behind bars. Batman hasn’t shown up in the last 8 years and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Batman’s alter ego, has also been in a self-imposed solitary confinement in the Wayne Manor. Wayne looks visibly weaker, walks with a stick and is still mourning the loss of his childhood sweetheart Rachael Dawes (who dies in the Dark Knight.) Bruce Wayne spots Selina Kyle (Anne Hathway), a thief, in his house who steals his mother’s pearl necklace and his fingerprints and leave before his eyes. Meanwhile, Daggett (Ben Madelsohn), a businessman who has his eyes on the Wayne Enterprises, hires Bane to do the needful, but Bane has a plan of his own, and that is to fulfil Ra’s Al Ghul’s destiny to destroy Gotham.
Wayne enterprises is crumbling after having invested huge sums into Miranda Tate’s(Marion Cotillard) ‘clean energy project’ but that had been shut down when Wayne and Fox had learnt that their reactor can be used as a nuclear weapon too. Due to the diminished profits of Wayne enterprises, the charitable donations to the public of Gotham have also stopped, and Gotham is virtually staring into the eyes of its doom. Officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who has deduced Batman’s identity, and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) implore Bruce Wayne to return as the Batman, but Alfred (Michael Caine), his mentor and butler feels otherwise. He thinks that Bruce is neither physically, nor mentally ready to be the symbol he had wanted to and Alfred eventually gives up on him while Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman). Bane launches an attack on Gotham’s stock-exchange, bankrupting Wayne. Wayne, meanwhile returns as the Batman, makes Tate the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, restarts the clean energy project and asks Kyle (Catwoman) to help him get to Bane.
Bane, whose face is covered with a gas mask to ease pain from old injuries, is the only villain who is physically more dominating than the Batman. He breaks Batman’s back, captures him and wrecks havoc on Gotham. Gotham is under siege as Bane turns the energy reactor into a nuclear bomb, traps the whole of Gotham’s police force under-ground and cuts it off from the rest of the world. Now, it’s up to Wayne to get back on his feet, escape Bane’s prison, turn the thief, Kyle, into an ally and save Gotham with the help of Blake and Gordon. Although he’s in for a shock as he finds out that there’s someone other than Bane who’s pulling the strings here.

The Verdict:

Bane, Batman, Catwoman

It would not be appropriate to compare The Dark Knight Rises with The Dark Knight or Batman Begins as it is a completely different story. Given the fact that nobody can replicate or even come close to what Heath Ledger did with his character Joker in TDK, TDK Rises does not concentrate upon one character or a villain. It is less of a Batman story and more of Bruce Wayne’s. With an ensemble star-studded cast, Nolan manages to justify the presence of each character to the hilt, even-though none of the actors get a major screen time, other than Bale. Also, the pasts and stories of each of them, might get a too much to handle if you’re not a Batman fan.

Christian Bale delivers a first rate performance as the broken, self loathing Bruce Wayne and the new spirited Batman. Anne Hathway, is probably the sexiest Catwoman ever and slips comfortably into the role. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are as good as ever as Alfred and Fox and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate looks ravishing. Now what’s disappointing about TDKR is that an actor like Tom Hardy is almost wasted as Bane. With his face covered with a gas mask, he has very little scope of performance with his eyes. Bane’s voice is a bit too ‘robotic’ in its feel and Hardy’s face is just seen for a split second in a flashback scene. Gary Oldman is at his usual best.
Hans Zimmer’s music adds to this visual extravaganza the aura of an epic borrowing it’s essence from Batman Begins.

The Legacy:
TDKR is true to its comic book characters and story. Especially the scene where Bane breaks Batman’s back. Batman is a symbol who only comes out at the night, and Nolan had taken care of this fact in his previous two films, but what is astonishing, here, is that the whole climax scene of TDKR unfolds during the daytime.
Tumbler, the Batmobile that Batman had been using in the last two films of Nolan’s franchise, falls into the hands of Bane’s crew and Batman gets the Bat, a new aviator mobile, whose autopilot, is a problem. And Nolan makes it a point to give some added moments of thrills to the Bat through his dialogs. Also, the Catwoman is great with the Bat-mo-bike.

Yes, Christopher Nolan Does it again and does it in style. He ends the greatest Batman movie with the grandiose ending it truly deserved. I would recommend you watch Batman Begins before going for TDKR for a better understanding of the final instalment and it would also help if you didn’t take Joker along with you to the movie hall.

My Rating: 4/5
And I would recommend that you go watch it twice.

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Movie Review: Shanghai

Shanghai

For an ad-film maker, serious film making does not come easy. Or let me rephrase that, according to popular belief, the abundance of a sense of humor in ad-film makers makes them graduate naturally to comedy and Dibakar Banerjee has been a big contributor to this belief with his previous films. While Dibakar Bannerjee has treated sensitive issues and real life stories with a touch of humor till now, he makes an out an out politico-drama with Shanghai. (Excuse me for not using the word thriller with the description of the genre of the film.) Based on the novel Z, Shanghai is a film that is based in an unnamed city in an unnamed state of India where, as it is in the rest of India, politics is the dirtiest and darkest of ditches. Dibakar treads on the sensitive line of morality and sense of duty in his characters who battle the scum of politicians and bureaucracy and sugar-coated threats to their lives and careers.

The Plot:
A fictional town in India is on the path of progress when a part of the town, Bharatnagar, is set to be converted into a business park, called the IBP (International Business Park), backed by the CM of the state and other powerful politicos. On the eve of the launch of this project, a celebrated social activist, Dr. Ahmedi (Prosenjit Chatterjee) is run over by a speeding truck after delivering a speech opposing the IBP project. While Ahmedi lands in the hospital, the Vice Chairman of IBP, IAS officer T.A. Krishnan (Abhay Deol) is appointed to lead the CM’s enquiry commission into the matter of the alleged accident of Dr. Ahmedi. Krishnan crosses path with a Ahmedi’s ex-student Shalini Sahai (Kalki Koechlin) and a videographer (and part time pornographer) Jogi Parmar (Emraan Hashmi) during the course of his investigation. Jogi’s boss finds some evidence against the CM in the accident of Ahmedi. As Krishnan dig deeper into the case, he finds himself caught in a web of corrupt policemen and politicians all dancing to the tunes of the CM herself. The rest of the story revolves around how the three protagonists follow the path of truth against all odds.

The Verdict:
Dibakar Bannerjee departs from his usual humoristic style and embraces reality with a pinch of salt. What is best about the film is that all the actors deliver fine performances and look perfectly fit for their characters. The most surprising element is Emraan Hashmi, it’s his only second film that I have watched and I was glad to see the stained-tooth desi videographer, with a visible paunch, rather than a serial kisser. Abhay Deol fumbles with his South Indian accent, at times, but looks good in his part as an IAS officer bound to his career and as usual delivers a fine performance. Kalki, hits the right chord too. Her diction of Hindi is getting better with every film and she has a strong screen presence to add to her character each time. Prasenjit Chatterjee delivers an earnest performance with his role as Dr. Ahmedi but the one person who steals the show here, is Farooq Sheikh as Kaul, the Principal Secretary to the CM. Also, not to forget, the spot on performance by Pitobash Tripathy as Bhagu, a goon, working for the party.

What I felt missing in the film was a concrete conclusion after a very strong climax. Also, a few sub-plots have been left unconcluded, I feel. Also, though the film runs for just over 2 hours, yet the film is slow at times. The music is good and well paced and adds a lot of intensity to the beautiful cinematography in the limited scope of a small city. Watch it to face reality, watch it for the fine performances but above all, watch it for the sheer honesty with which the film is made. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best political drama’s so far.

My Rating: 3.25/5

Movie Review: Don 2

Don 2

It’s been less than an hour since I watched Don 2 and I feel it’s my duty to save you from the torture I went through. One of the most anticipated and eagerly awaited film of the year, Don 2 is a let down in more respects than one. Not only does the film move at a sluggishly slow pace, but it also draws futile inspirations from films like Oceans 11, Mission: Impossible series and also from TV shows like Prison Break. The inspirations are not too well drawn, and look like a misfit in the story.

Don 2 is the sequel of the Farhan Akhtar directed Don, itself a remake of the 1978 classic Don, starring Amitabh Bachchan. Don 2 stars Shah Rukh Khan in the iconic role of Don, the under-world baddie. The story begins five years after where its prequel left, the escape of Don from the hands of the Interpol. After having conquered the Asian drug under-world, Don now sets his eyes on the European underworld and wants to become the European drug-lord. Unfortunately for him, the reigning European drug dealers want him dead. Don surrenders himself to the Interpol in Malaysia where he meets his nemesis Vardhan (Boman Irani), in the prison. While Vardhan and Don get into a scuff in the jail, Don convinces Vardhan that he surrendered only to break him out of prison and in return he would require his services in a future heist he is planning. Unfortunately enough that was a lie and as the film progresses, you never find any reason for Vardhan to be present in the team pulling off the heist. Don hires Sameer Ali (Kunal Kapoor), a computer hacker to break into the DZB, Zurich to rob the printing plates of the Euro currency notes. Don blackmails the Vice President of DZB in to give him the code to the vault where the plates are kept. When the VP hires an assassin, Jabbar, to kill Don, he effortlessly turns him into his accomplice. The rest of the film revolves around Roma (Priyanka Chopra) and Mallik (Om Puri), chasing Don and Don and his team pulling off the heist and how painlessly Don manages to escape scot-free from the hands of the Interpol and the European Police.

Don 2 is a film that defies logic. Reason evades the chain of sequence of events. Why Don enters a building and then winches down a rope from its roof to lose a tail of assassins pursuing him on foot, still remains a mystery. Don 2 not only suffers from sloppy writing, which seems to be an epidemic these days in Indian film-makers, but it also is the victim of a confused plot. Farhan Akhtar, it seems could not make up his mind whether to show the sparks of love between Roma and Don or to let Don have a new girlfriend (Lara Dutta), so he settled for both. Also, among cross-fires and blowing grenades too much dialogue-baazi and time is wasted in the incongruous love-hate chat between the two. The role and character of Arjun, Roma’s colleague in the Interpol, raring to ask her out, feels unimaginably uncomfortable in the bottomless character that he is shoved into. Don, who had been relentlessly killing people until more than half the film suddenly develops a soft corner for the hostages that he had decided to leave inside the vault with Vardhan and Jabbar. When Don explains how he pulled off the heist, it almost feels that he did not plan only the heist but scripted the arrival of the police and their actions as well.

What percolates onto the screen isn’t Don as a character, but Shah Rukh Khan, the actor, playing Don. What is painful is that Shah Rukh grunts his dialogs rather than delivering them. There is a fair bit of arrogance in the way he portrays the character and his performance graph consistently dips as the film progresses. Priyanka and Lara unfortunately have very less scope of performance in the mini-roles that they appear in. Kunal Kapoor delivers an earnest performance and looks good on-screen too. Both Boman and Om Puri have short roles but consistently carry forward from where they left in Don.

Apart from an under-written script, Farhan Akhtar has probably made the most forward film ever  in India. The film is shot in a Hollywood style, using tungsten and sepia frames appropriately. The car chases and action sequences are beautifully shot but unfortunately lack the edge-of-the-seat feel you would expect from them. The film in one word has Shah Rukh Khan written all over it but that, precisely seems to be the biggest mistake. What’s most enjoyable is the 5-odd minute walk on by non other than Hrithik Roshan and long after he is gone, you feel he, probably, should have been the one playing Don.

My Rating: 2.25/5

I would have given 2.5 but lack of clarity of thought on the part of the writers urged me rate down to 2.25. Watch it if you are a die-hard SRK fan, but I do not assure you to be entertained.

Movie Review: Warrior

A few reviews ago, Sudeep said that every review may not be a recommendation. Anubhav said that I should try not to divulge too many facts in a review. Bullshitting both these advises, I write this. Warrior! A film, a journey, a feeling. 2 hours and 20 minutes, utilized to the fullest. It is a shame though that this film did not even hit the theaters in India.

Warrior

If I may say, Warrior is by far one of the best films of 2011 and the best ever on contact sports. While films like Karate Kid and Never Back Down were ‘good films’ on underdog victories in martial arts or fight sports, but Warrior is different. Warrior comes with an emotional baggage that has nothing to do with impressing a girl or fighting her ex-boyfriend. Warrior is a film based on Mixed Martial Arts, a sport without many rules, and with last man standing, seemingly, as the only way of winning a bout. Warrior is a story of a dysfunctional family of Mixed Martial Arts wrestlers. When a wall street investor announces a five million dollar world heavy-weight competition in Mixed Martial Arts, Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) comes looking for his dad after 14 years only to train with him for the competition. Tommy’s older brother, Brenden Conlon (Joel Edgerton), now a physics professor and father of two, must also take part in the same competition and must win it in order to pay the mortgage on his house and keep his family afloat. Both Tommy and Brenden hate their father (Nick Nolte), who was a violent alcoholic, for deserting his family when they needed him the most.

Tommy gets into the competition riding the popularity of a YouTube video of him beating a famous wrestler while Brenden manages to fill in for an injured wrestler. But the story isn’t this simple. Tommy needs the money to support his brother-in-arms’ family and the brothers hate each other too. Now who wins and how is for you to find out but every punch and kick has more to it than meets the eye.

Tom Hardy in the role of fierce ring animal and fighter is impeccable. He possesses at the moment probably the most chiseled body in Hollywood and if he has done this with Warrior, I just can’t wait to see him as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. The only thing that could have been better for Hardy’s character is that it could perhaps have a little more depth to it, hence the scope for performance is limited. What Tommy’s character lacks, Brenden’s character makes up for in leaps and bounds. Joel Edgerton has given the performance of a lifetime. Both as an ageing wrestler and as a struggling husband and father. Nick Notle playing their father gives a sympathetic performance and his remorse as a failed father deserves an applause. One particular scene that I liked was between Edgerton and Notle in which Edgerton confronts his father for for coming to his house and says ‘unless your hands are working, you could have always called.’

The film has great cinematography and it moves at a rather quick pace in order to create the necessary build up. Fights have been choreographed so well that you almost feel the pain of the actors when watching them. The final gush of an elder brother’s love leaves you speechless and one can easily think that there’s ten minutes of story left when the film ends leaving you begging for more. Its thumbs-up form my side for director Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior. If you miss it, then you’ve missed the best Martial Arts movie in recent time.

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Old Adventures of the New Sherlock Holmes

Hello again! I’m back after a long time and with more masala to keep you hooked to your TV sets! Being a huge Sherlock Holmes fan since my early childhood and having read the whole Sherlock Holmes collection, I thought to myself how better can a BBC TV series be after a super stylish, tight film by Guy Ritchie? Well, surprise surprise! Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat catch me thinking on the wrong foot. While Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes would have been over a hundred years old now, this Sherlock Holmes is young, even in 2010!

Sherlock is an adaptation of Doyle’s works in the 21st century and a good adaptation indeed. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Sherlock Holmes, a charismatic, highly functional,laconic consultant detective, a job that he claims, is created and performed by him alone. While Holmes shines in his new character, a guy who prefers to text (SMS) rather than make calls, the character of Dr. Watson, an ex-army doctor and Holmes’ room-mate and side-kick, who writes a blog about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, fails to impress. Not only is Dr. Watson’s character underwritten, but he also misses the acumen and efficacy of the original character by Doyle, despite an earnest performance by Martin Freeman.

Sherlock makes a good impression right from the moment he is introduced to Dr. Watson and the audiences, and their first conversation is as impressive as in the original work, but Watson and Holmes lack the chemistry that Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were able to create on-screen in the Guy Ritchie feature. Doyle’s Inspector Lestrade of the Scotland Yard is now Detective Inspector Lestrade, but unlike the original, almost everyone hates Holmes here. The cases that Holmes works on are similar to the ones in the short stories, though little variations are very intelligently fitted in as they are set in modern times. Holmes and Watson are shown living at 221B Bakers street (the legendary address used by Doyle in his works too), as tenants in Mrs. Hudson’s house, now a modern flat is missing the very famous ‘rocking chair’ that Holmes used to sit on while contemplating a case. A surprise element here is that of Sherlock’s elder brother, Mycroft, who now occupies  high post in the British Govt. and calls himself the arch enemy of Sherlock.

Cumberbatch delivers an remarkable performance and shows deep understanding of the character. Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson is good but he does not have much to count upon with a poor script in his hands. Rupert Graves is just about manages to be OK as DI Lestrade, while Una Stubs delivers an honest performance as Mrs. Hudson, Holmes and Watson;s landlady.  The three episode season 1 of the show ends with Holmes coming face-to-face with his biggest enemy, Prof. Moriarty and is left open ended to leave the audiences thirsty for the next season scheduled to premier sometime in 2012.

The direction is spotless and the series uses the same music as that in the Guy Ritchie film and is very well woven into the plot and conducted perfectly to get the right effect to the audience. The show grows onto you like a climber vine and you just cannot shudder to even move throughout the length of the 90-odd minute running episodes. All in all, Sherlock is a must-watch; a one of a kind series that takes TV detective shows to a whole new level! A 4/5 from my side to the show and a word of immediate recommendation, specially to Sherlock Holmes fans who could’t get enough of him on the Big Screen.

For More info, visit:

IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1475582/

Adios!

Yours Truly!

Inception Through My Eyes

They say, in India, when you start something new, always start with the name of God. God isn’t exactly an entity I believe in much. I pray sometimes, but to no effect. And He, if He exists that is, is as ignorant towards me. So who is it, whose merit deserves a mention in my first blog post.  Baba Ramdev? Well tried Babaji, but I guess the newspapers have written enough about you, your current affairs and your tryst with black money. Then who? Nadal? So what if he won again. Nothing new in that. And as an Indian Citizen I know writing about cricket does not matter because every reader is a fan, a historian, a commentator, a coach- an Indian in short. So lets move to my favourite topic then – FILMS.

Now here I guess I have too many options. Hollywood or Bollywood (Oops! Sorry Mr. Bachchan, Hindi Film Industry I should say). Actor or director. Wait! Yes! Director… Let me see… James Camaron? What’s he done in the recent past? Avatar! Yes, but I haven’t watched it yet. What do I write! Anurag Kashyap? Or rather I should wait for Shaitaan’s reviews first. Ridley Scott? Yes I did watch Body of Lies a few days ago. Or how about Nolan? Yeah. He is the one. Its almost an year since I watched Inception. Though a review at this point in time seems absurd. But none-the-less, someone said, ‘Better late than Never.’ Okay. Let me call it a tribute then to Inception. Here is Inception, through my eyes.

Christopher Nolan this time comes forth with a visual extravaganza that is set to scintillate every nerve of your body and that leaves you demanding for more. Nolan rightly delivers what is expected of a director of his stature after the success of his previous films Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Memento (I’m purposely not mentioning Following, Insomnia or The Prestige due to they not being considered commercial films by many) . This time Nolan comes up with a film about Dreams (no not the big city dreams of a small city girl Yash Raj pot-boiler). Nor about people living their dreams but about people living in their dreams. Dreams as he calls it are ‘the most resilient parasite’ and Inception sucks the blood out of your face as it completely bowls you over in the first 5 minutes itself. As the movie begins with a dream within a dream, Inception demands the viewers’ attention right from the first minute of the film to its 149th running minute. Shot in 6 different countries with a rumoured mega budget of over $200 million, Inception is worth every penny that one spends at the box office.

Inception is a sci-fi psychological-heist thriller which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, a man who can get into any person’s dreams and thus can steal any kind of personal or secret information from the man’s sub-conscience. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Arthur, Dom’s associate who is perfect in his job. The film begins with Saito (played by Ken Watanabe) taking an audition of Dom and Arthur and their crew. But it turns out that they fail as Dom’s dead wife Mal (played by Marrion Cottilard) keeps mysteriously appearing in his sub-conscience. Arthur and Dom leave Saito before he actually comes out of his dream. They are about to escape when Saito again meets them and offers them a job of not stealing someone’s ideas but to plant one. While Arthur insists that such a thing is not possible Dom agrees to the job in return of getting his hand cleared of all criminal charges that he faces in the US and which is why he cannot return to see his young kids.

Saito needs Dom to plant the idea in Robert Fischer Jr.(Cillian Murphy)’s head to breaking up his father’s business empire so that Saito can take over the entire energy business of the world. Now Dom needs a crew of an architect to design the world of their dreams, a thief who can frisk stuff as easily as he can take up some one’s identity and a chemist who can keep the shared dreamers sufficiently sedated till their job is done. Dom finds an architect in Adriane (Ellen Page) who is recommended by Dom’s father (played by Michael Caine), a forger Eames (Tom Hardy) and the chemist Yusuf (played by Dileep Rao). Now Dom and his crew along with Saito manage to get Fischer into slumber and pass into a triple levelled dream to plant the idea of breaking up his father’s empire. En route to their final destination they end up straightening the strained relationship between Fischer and his father and also bringing to light the motives of his Godfather and his father’s friend Peter Browning (Tom Berenger). Dom and his crew end up in a four levelled dream totally unplanned and thus Adriane also helps him solve the mystery of his dead wife’s presence in his sub-conscience. Dom and his crew are successful in their endeavour and Dom returns a free man; but Nolan leaves the story open ended, not showing whether the world that Dom returns to finally is the real world or that of a dream.

Leonardo DiCaprio steals the show all the way with an awe inspiring performance. Joseph Gordan-Levitt in the role of Arthur is brilliant and Cillian Murphy leaves a good impression. Nolan succeeds in deceiving the audience in a maze of dreams within dreams and hardly does one realise the need to munch pop corn or even flutter an eye lid. The only thing that seems odd is that all characters in the movie seem to be too easy about the concept of shared dreaming and understand the twisting chain of events with hardly any effort. The VFx used in the film are first rate especially the scene in which one half of the city of Paris closes like a lid on the other half. Joseph Gordon’s zero gravity sequence does raise an appreciating murmur amongst the crowd and after a long time we get to watch a film with pin drop silence in the crowd and claps after the end of the show. Not sure as to how many awards does Inception bag but it surely has won the hearts of millions across the globe and is set to do well in India too. With a strong script, impeccable execution and flawless cinematography, Inception is by far the most entertaining film of this year till now.

My rating 4/5 and a word of recommendation to watch the movie.

So here I am at the end of my first blog post. For those who read the whole of it, either I salute your patience, or your love for Inception. For those who slept half way, well I guess I was successful in atleast achieving that.  And for those who got bored just after the introduction and skipped to this paragraph straight away, it tells me how much you love me and it was very sweet of you just to open a link I shared. So I’ll be back soon since I have nothing to do here at my training site. And I can’t watch a movie in office as I forgot my headphones again at home.

Adios!

Yours Truly!