Posts Tagged ‘2009’

Director: P.J.Hogan

Cast: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Kyrsten Ritter

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Rebecca Bloomwood (Fisher) is a clumsy girl who funds her designer wardrobe with her credit cards and dreams of writing for the ‘Alette’, a Vogue-like glamorous magazine. But the only job Becky can fake her way into is at a financial magazine called ‘Successful Saving’. So successful are her jargon-free columns that she lands a TV spot and the love of her charmingly rich, but hard working boss Luke Brandon (Dancy). Based on Sophie Kinsella’s best selling novels, Confessions of a Shopaholic is designed to appeal to people who simply were born to shop and enjoy spending money without considering those disastrous consequences.

Isla Fisher is luminescent. She is incapable of making a bad movie good but she makes it entertaining to watch anyway. Dancy does his level best in a thankless role. Ritter gives a decent performance as Rebecca’s roommate. The film’s supporting performances are mostly a mixed bag, partially owing to the cast and partially owing to not being given much to do.

This brainless chick flick reinforces the worst stereotypes. Trying to disguise itself as a cautionary tale on the perils of conspicuous consumption, it fixates so much on materialistic cravings that it ends up doing just the opposite. The problem is that filmmaker P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend’s Wedding) spends so much time glorifying everything Gucci and Prada that by the time the film gets down to moralizing it feels misguided and vacant. It has moments of fizz and fun as it seesaws to the inevitable happy ending, but it is no more than a laugh-free time waster.

Directors: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen

Cast: Bruce Dickinson, Janick Gers, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrian, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith

Iron Maiden has been one of the most successful and influential bands on the heavy metal scene over the years and are still going strong more than thirty years later.

Like all good ‘rockumentaries’, Flight 666 is one for both the band’s fans and music lovers in general. Directed by Sam Dunn and Scot McFayden (Global Metal), this film is an access-all-areas look at Iron Maiden during an ambitious world tour. Last year the band embarked on their largest tour yet labeled the ‘Somewhere Back In Time’. Equipped with their own customised plane called ‘Ed Force One’ which contained their entire stage show and tour equipment, full touring crew and piloted by Bruce Dickinson (lead singer), the band flew across the globe in forty-five days, playing in thirteen countries to over half a million fans in only the first leg of their tour.

The tour kicked off in Mumbai. And if you were at that concert and you watch this film, you are sure to get goosebumps! And with each venue they jump, the number of fans only gets bigger. Another interesting aspect this film captures is the craziness of Iron Maiden fans and the lengths they would go to just to make it to a show (wait till the band visit South America!). The film shows you just how inspirational and influential the band has been in so many people’s lives around the world. The most interesting part of the film comes when somewhere in South America you see an interview of a priest who has 162 Iron Maiden tattoos on his body and is known as ‘Father Iron Maiden’ within his flock!

The concert footage in this film is some of the best out there and the songs will keep your feet tapping over the entire length of the film. Up The Irons!

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, and Ayelet Zurer

After a rather tasteless adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, director Ron Howard reunites with Tom Hanks for more international intrigue. This time around with a lot more action and less boredom. Some bizarre plot points aside, Angels & Demons is a decent thrilling ride through the breathtaking Rome.

The movie begins with the death of the Pope and the gathering of the College of Cardinals to select the next Pontiff. However, before this happens, four of the most revered Cardinals are kidnapped and message left in their place. This leads the Church to turn to Langdon, a man with the knowledge of symbology that could help them track down those responsible. It turns out to be the return of the Illuminati, a scientific sect following Galileo that were hunted and killed by the Catholic Church. The Illuminati says that a cardinal will die every hour, and then at midnight Vatican City will be destroyed from an explosion from ‘antimatter’ stolen from CERN, a Swiss scientific facility. With the help of camerlengo Patrick McKenna (McGregor), acting church leader until there’s a new Pope, and particle physicist Vittoria Vetra (Zurer), Langdon must race against time to save the Catholic Church.

With a cast of award winning actors, Ron Howard does a good job of directing a story that was easier to follow than The Da Vinci Code. Though not quite as expressionless as his first attempt as Robert Langdon, the considerable talents of Tom Hanks largely go to waste once again in this film, as his role is not fleshed out. Zurer’s character does little more than follow Hanks around from scene to scene and translate Latin and Italian for him. Ewan McGregor delivers a convincing performance as the quiet but knowledgeable Camerlengo.

Very talkative in the first half, the film picks up as we get into the latter stages. The plot thickens as our hero deduces the clues that no one else can see. The funny scene where Vittoria tears a page out of Galileo’s book in the Vatican Archives will make you yelp. Even notable is when after a description of Pius IX’s “Great Castration” of Vatican City male statues; Langdon is asked if he is anti-Catholic. Slyly, he retorts, “No. I’m anti-vandalism.”

Overall, Angels & Demons is an entertainer. The interesting blend of facts and fiction makes the plot engaging. While the direction may not stand out, the cinematography is extraordinary as we travel through the picture perfect Vatican and Rome. A piece of advice: Go without expectations and you will be thoroughly entertained.

Director: David Yates

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Gambon, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Jim Broadbent, Tom Felton and Alan Rickman

Following the success of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix director David Yates returns at the helm, directing the sixth installment of the series. The mix of comedy, romance, drama, and adventure into one, makes it marvelous and great fun to watch. It might just be the best Harry Potter film yet.

The film kicks off with a dizzying sequence where the Death Eaters attack central London resulting in the crashing of the Millennium Bridge into Thames. Then on, the main plot focus is Dumbledore (Gambon) luring former potions professor Horace Slughorn (Broadbent) back to Hogwarts so Harry (Radcliffe) can dislodge a key clue regarding the Dark Lord from the professor’s resistant mind. Slughorn taught Tom Riddle, who transformed into Lord Voldemort, and only he knows critical information crucial to unlocking the Dark Lord’s defenses. Meanwhile Draco Malfoy (Felton) is experimenting with a Vanishing Cabinet in Hogwarts’ attic while Professor Severus Snape (Rickman) makes an unbreakable vow.

Once back at Hogwarts in the sixth year, Harry finds a book on potions that has copious handwritten notes by ‘The Half Blood Prince’, which he uses. Harry’s newfound ‘skill’ at potion making draws the attention of professor Slughorn. There’s also a subplot where Harry along with his pals for eternity, Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson), are in battle with a powerful force – teenage hormones.

The acting in this film than in the earlier ones is better in quality because of the maturity of all the actors in the film. Grint shows a keen sense of comic timing as Ron. Especially the scene where he consumes the love potion is hilarious. She looks wiser Beautiful Watson engagingly deepens her version of Hermione. But best of all is Radcliffe playing Harry as he delivers the best performance so far playing this character. Gambon does solid work in the vital role of Dumbledore, as he injects humanity to the character. The pick of the acting is Broadbent’s performance as it holds the film together beautifully.

David Yates does a stylish and ingenious job with the direction as several scenes stand out in this film. Watch out for the scene when Dumbledore and Harry travel together into the caves in search of a secret. The CGI work is stellar and the sequence looks magnificent visually. The cinematography sets the tone for the whole movie right from the start, and turns the series in an even darker direction.

Die-hard fans of the books will surely complain about some deletions, especially the showdown of the good and evil in the climax, which has been cut down from a major portion in the novel to only a few minutes worth of screen time. But you will realise that this is a difficult book to adapt as it is setting up a platform for the action packed final chapter of the series which will be made into two films.

This film combines a lot of genres and makes the film feel more real and more magnificent than the others. And when it ends, you just can’t wait for the next two to release.

Director: Michael Mann

Cast: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, and Billy Crudup

“We’re havin’ too good a time today, we ain’t thinking about tomorrow”. This line and the film that follows, places John Dillinger firmly within context and gives you a better idea of who this man was, what he was up against and why he became an icon during the Great Depression.

Set in 1933 against the backdrop of the Great Depression Public Enemies follows the legendary crook John Dillinger (Depp), a man who stole millions from banks and eluded capture in the process. This film largely chronicles the attempts to bring Dillinger to justice by a newly formed FBI whilst also throws light on the gangster’s romance with Billie Frechette (Cotillard). J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI (Crudup) quickly mobilizes to address the Dillinger’s mayhem at large in the country’s heartland. He appoints morally sound Melvin Purvis (Bale) to run his Chicago office. Purvis and his crew inexorably put the screws on, just as the city’s organized crime syndicate becomes annoyed by the FBI scrutiny aroused by Dillinger and other reckless gangsters.

Director Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice) does not waste any time warming up as he throws you right into the action from the very beginning of the film. The depiction of 1930’s America is near perfect in this film. The shaky camera work might make some audiences dizzy but works perfectly for the story as it puts you right in the middle of the chase sequences and shootout scenes. The best example of this is the shootout scene at the house where Dillinger is holed up.

Depp controls the screen pretty much throughout the film and delivers a cold and intense performance. He portrays Dillinger’s two key characteristics; charm and menace with panache. Look out for the scene where Dillinger enters the police station fearlessly and goes into the ‘Dillinger Investigations’ department going unnoticed by cops. Bale on the other hand is too stiff throughout the movie barring the climax, which makes his performance average. But both of them put together as adversaries works great for the film.

One problem that Public Enemies suffers from is the lack of character depth in many of the characters. At times, it seems as if you are expected to know and understand the characters before watching the film because it is a real life story. But apart from these minor glitches, Public Enemies makes a great watch packed with some good performances and action sequences.

Director: McG

Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin

Terminator Salvation is an all out action flick lacking soul due to its brittle storyline. But it will not satisfy the die-hard franchise fans looking for a worthy sequel to the first two films after the mishap that was Terminator 3. This installment of Terminator is all style and no substance.

The story opens in 2003 with death-row inmate, Marcus Wright (Worthington), agreeing to surrender his body to Cyberdyne systems for experimentation after execution. In 2018, the war between the small patches of human survivors and the machine army wages on. John Connor (Bale) is now the spiritual leader of the Resistance.  Following a botched mission Connor loses his entire unit and somehow activates Marcus. Later, Kyle Reese (Yelchin), the soon-to-be time traveling father of John Connor and some young man who inadvertently saves Marcus from an attack is abducted and taken to Skynet headquarters with thousands of other human slaves. Connor knows that he must rescue Reese. But as one would expect, not everyone and everything is, as it seems.

As a summer blockbuster, Terminator Salvation is striking. Director McG does a good job of keeping the action tight and breathtaking. There are several excellent action sequences in this film, and all of them are handled with panache. Probably the best thing about the film is the use of the variety of Terminators ranging from T-600s to T-800s.

But the big problem the film faces is that it lacks focus. The movie moves into a new area of storytelling in this universe created by James Cameron, and looks confused with the story it really wants to tell. The script is the real culprit here. Agreed, there are some mind blowing CGI action sequences in this film, which make it an out and out action blockbuster. But without a core storyline, everything falls flat.

Christian Bale is the biggest downer in this film. His role is not fleshed out enough to portray him as the messiah of the Resistance that he is supposed to be. He is just seen irritatingly shouting in the microphone transmitter throughout the film. On the plus side Sam Worthington does a wonderful job as Marcus Wright trying to find salvation and redeem himself.

The film does not resolve any issues brought up by the storyline, clearly keeping it’s options open for a sequel. But at the end of it all, you will realise that perhaps it is better if the franchise is terminated. Watch it for the action sequences.

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a painstakingly long, over-the-top, noisy, and brainless sequel to the 2007 blockbuster Transformers. In his second outing on this franchise, Michael Bay (Armageddon) makes a film which is devoid of a story and inetersting plot developments.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen picks up two years after the first film. Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) is out of high school and heading off to college. After Optimus Prime destroyed the ‘All Spark’ in the previous movie, the Decepticons have to find the source of energy that will keep their race alive. The information about the location of the vital piece of this energy source is in Sam’s head, and Decepticons would have to kidnap him to get this information. Now Megatron and Starscream are coming back to Earth with force for another epic battle with humans, who forged an alliance with Optimus Prime and his team of Autobots. Now, it is in Sam and Optimus’s hands to save the planet. Miakela (Fox) and Agent Simmons (Turturro) join the Autobots and the US Marines in  the battle against the Decepticons.

LaBeouf delivers an average performance reprising his role as Sam. And it looks like Fox was casted in this film only as eye candy as there is not even an iota of acting portrayed by her. Even the robots look more expressive than her in the film. Turturro comes as a relief delivering a good performance as the obsessed Agent Simmons.

Bay has gone too far and is over indulgent this time around. Throughout the film, you will not question his ability to give you some top notch CGI action and gut wrenching explosions. But only that, does not give you a comprehensive movie. This film fails to deliver in an engaging manner, which makes it a failure. Yet, you will be blown by the CGI action, which makes it watchable, once.

Director: John Woo

Cast: Fengyi Zhang, Wang Ning, Yong You, Chang Chen, Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro

Action maestro John Woo returns with Red Cliff, a spectacular recreation of the legendary Battle of Red Cliff. This is the most expensive Chinese language film ever made and packs some outstanding action sequences, which will be etched your minds for some time to come.

The film opens in 208 AD at a time when China was divided into three warring states. Ambitious Prime Minister Cao Cao (Zhang) seeks permission from Han dynasty Emperor Xian (Ning) to take on Liu Bei (You) and Sun Quan (Chen) in the south and west of the country, sending 800,000 soldiers for the task. In retaliation, Liu’s strategist Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro) proposes a diplomatic mission to negotiate an alliance with Sun Quan, the young ruler of Wu. The Commander in charge of Wu’s army is none other than Zhou Yu (Leung). Together, the two alliances come to an agreement to fight off Cao Cao who is in the meantime on his way with his naval and land troops to kick off the Battle of Red Cliff.

Leung’s performance is the strongest in the film; he is an expert martial artist and a good actor. The complexity of the character and intelligence of Zhou Yu portrayed by him is remarkable. Kaneshiro is brilliant as Liang as he appears calm and cool at all times, just like the characteristics of his character.

Woo has balanced action and drama very well in this film. The dramatic scenes and character developments are brilliant. During action the film goes into full throttle. Cleverly building the battle and action, the scenes are memorable. The journey from the introduction of characters each revealing them in detail, to the forming of strategies to stop the invasion is like a roller coaster ride. The concluding Battle of Red Cliff – with shots of 1000-strong invading ships will blow you away. This nail-biting climatic battle scene is like a movie in itself.

With the epic Red Cliff, Woo has incorporated art into war. Watch it for its elaborate battle scenes. Ending with all guns blazing, it is easily one of the best action films out there in recent times. Red Cliff is a thorough entertainer that is not to be missed!

Director: J.J.Abrams

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, and Leonard Nimoy

Star Trek as a franchise was getting old and desperately needed revitalizing.  Thankfully, that’s exactly what director J.J. Abrams has provided. He has managed to do so in a manner, which will please the cinematic standards of current audiences. Tributes to the original films and TV series, ranging from offhanded references to exact lines of dialogue will please the Trekkies. It is as successful a reboot of the franchise as anyone could have asked for, and it opens up a plethora of possibilities for the future.

James Tiberius Kirk (Pine) is persuaded to join Starfleet after a chance meeting with Captain Christopher Pike (Greenwood) of the new starship USS Enterprise. Meanwhile, the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock (Quinto) is trying to find his path between human ways and Vulcan values. Kirk and Spock both end up on the bridge of the Enterprise with other crewmembers. They are joined in time by engineer Scotty (Pegg) and a visitor from the future, Spock Prime (Nimoy). Then emerges a tremendous Romulan mining ship from 150 years in the future.  The pilot, Nero is here to exact his revenge on one Mr. Spock, by forcing Spock to witness the destruction of his two worlds, Vulcan and Earth. This pushes the duo of Kirk and Spock to battle Nero before he initiates the irreversible destruction.

You are thrown in to the action head on with lasers, explosions and crashes. The plot unwinds with lots of technically superb action shots. Chris Pine very ably captures the essence of James T. Kirk without aping the legendary Will Shatner. Zachary Quinto looks impressive as Spock and plays the role with a darker shade than his predecessor. Even the rest of the new actors fill the shoes of the old cast impressively. The pick of the actors is Simon Pegg with his comedy amidst all the action. The most memorable scene in the film comes when Kirk takes over as the captain of the ship.

The time travel story of Star Trek is a prequel and a sequel to the other films in the series, which is brilliant. It creates a new timeline, but one that still recognizes the former feats of the Enterprise crew. This will please the Trekkies and will simultaneously allow outsiders to join in the action. All in all Star Trek is an action packed ride as it treads in a new direction without forgetting its roots. Watch it!

Director: Todd Phillips

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha and Heather Graham

The Hangover is one of the funniest films released in the past few years. It is an incredible comedy filled with bizarre situations and whacked out characters. With constant laughter and chaos being thrown at you, it is not only a great comedy but also pretty intriguing ‘mystery’.

Doug (Bartha) is about to get married, so his best buddies Phil (Cooper) and Stu (Helms) decide to throw him a bachelor party in Las Vegas or Sin City as they call it. Doug’s fiancée’s odd and often ‘pant-less’ brother Alan (Galifianakis) tags along too. To kick things off, they go up to the roof of their hotel and do shots of Jagermeister, a highly potent drink. After a wild night partying it up Phil, Stu and Alan wake up to a trashed villa, a chicken, a baby in the closet and a gigantic tiger in the bathroom. They can’t remember a single thing about the evening. Oh, and Doug is missing. They spend the next day and a half trying to piece together exactly what happened during their long blackout in search of their about-to-get-married buddy Doug.

The key to the success of this film is the cast. All the performances blend with each other perfectly generating a terrific chemistry on screen. A special mention to Galifianakis as he steals the show playing the wide-eyed, slightly retarded man-child who’s up for anything. His speech of inviting the other guys to his ‘Wolf pack of one’ is extremely funny and to watch out for!

Fresh surprises keep coming as the story moves along bringing some crude, some stupid and some witty laughs. With the unpredictable plot twists; the jokes come so quick that you have little time to question what is happening. It stumbles occasionally, especially in the third act, when some of the lesser characters try too hard. But those are forgivable sins, considering how hilarious and entertaining the rest of the movie is.

All in all, The Hangover is an innovative path that a comedy has taken. There are some questions unanswered in the end, but you won’t care since the rest of it is so good. Watch it with your buddies. This is one of those movies that is not to be missed. A piece of advice: Wait for the end credits to roll.