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In 1968, visionary director Stanley Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey, breaking the boundaries of the visuals that were possible given the technology of that time.

Eleven years later, another forward thinker, Ridley Scott (who makes no secret about being a Kubrick fan) made Alien, which crossed over from science-fiction thriller to horror territory, creating not just the creepiest extra-terrestrial ever, but a whole new template for movie buffs and film makers to geek out over.

If you've watched and liked these two movies, this should be a cakewalk.

Synopsis
Close to the beginning of Earth's history, a strange humanoid giant stands at the mouth of a waterfall and commits some seriously messed up suicide by drinking some sort of germy substance. His disintegrating body falls into the water, and a few surviving strands of DNA give way to the fancy opening credits.

Cut to the 2080's - a jump that rivals the flash forward in Kubrick's 2001 - where two scientists Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) discover some ancient cave paintings that point them towards the stars in the search for answers to life's big question.

One last fast-forward to 2093, and the same scientists are on board the starship Prometheus. Along with the crew are Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a representative of the private company that sponsored the trip, and David (Michael Fassbender), the world's first perfect android. They soon arrive on the planet indicated by the star system in the cave paintings, a place with a curiously Earth-like environment, and with what appears to be a massive tomb. And that's when everything goes horribly wrong.

The good:
It's hard to say much about the pros and cons of this movie without giving away spoilers, but even if you've just seen the trailers, you can tell that the visuals rock. This is one of the few movies where the use of 3D is actually justified. Ridley Scott has created a visual feast that manages to capture the larger-than-life canvas and themes of the story. The casting has also been perfect, with each actor delivering just what the role demanded of them.

Noomi Rapace brings her trademark toughness, Charlize Theron is sexy and sinister, and Michael Fassbender is impeccable as always. The plot avoids entering cheesy territory by providing a cutesy explanation for the larger questions, and although it echoes the developments in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it emerges from it with a hopeful, rather than a bleak outlook about humanity. There are also plenty of subtle references that will keep the film geeks and theorists busy.



The bad:
The movie has way too much going on for the casual viewer to keep track of, and there's more subtext than actual action, which is what elicited complaints about the 'holes' in the plot. The film demands active engagement, and you'll have to do some work connecting the dots, or leave feeling unsatisfied. While the two lead characters played off each other very well, the secondary characters could have been better fleshed out. The biggest flaw, however, is the pacing. With so much to pack into such a short amount of time, you get the feeling of being rushed along instead of being allowed to savour it. This further adds to the sentiment about plot-holes and cardboard characters.

Verdict:
As mentioned above, if you liked 2001 and Alien, you'll enjoy this. The good mostly outweighs the bad - for the serious viewer. If you prefer something easier on the synapses and packed with decent visuals and action, you're better off watching something else, like The Avengers.




 
 
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Over the last few years, Marvel has released one superhero blockbuster after another and if viewed correctly, all those movies, be it the Iron Man movies or the Captain America flick last year, were just overlong trailers that came to a head in The Avengers. Now, before we go into the review, one simple fact about the movie must be made clear: Joss Whedon. The Geek Who Made It Big. The Avengers, in many respect, works because it was made by someone who grew up dreaming about The Avengers in the wee hours of the night. And it shows in the movie.

Whedon's credentials, ranging from Buffy to Firefly all in some respect help in shaping this movie. The characterisation that made Buffy famous, the banter among disparate individuals that made Firefly amazing can all be found here.

The Avengers picks off where all those previous movies left off. We are shown how those characters, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers et al, have all been getting on with their lives after the events of their respective movies. In other ensemble movies, this is the part where a lot of writers and directors get carried away. In an effort to showcase the lives of the characters, either in a humorous or dramatic light, they take up too much of the screen time to actually do justice to the story at hand. Whedon avoids this pitfall by using dialogue more than anything else. Small visual vignettes are offered to the viewer that manage to succinctly describe whatever activity, say, Tony Stark was involved in when he wasn't encased in metal (he builds a tower, names it after himself).

Most of you by now have probably already seen the trailers and/or heard enough about the movie to know its basic storyline. Loki, villain from Thor, shows up on Earth following his estranged adopted brother. The reason behind his appearance is not simple revenge but the acquisition of a certain glowing cube called The Tesseract. Loki manages to get a hold of it and because this cube is so unnaturally powerful that the Avengers must assemble to stop him before he does all manner of heinous things.

And that is another thing that the movie has; clichés aplenty. We've all seen “oh-no-that-dude-with-the-weird-hair-is-going-to-destroy-the-world-because-he-just-can't-love movies. Every year, at least one big name director tries to come up with a newer, novel way of ending it all.

Thankfully, Whedon, if anything is aware of the clichés he's playing with and he doesn't try to artfully manoeuvre around them by adding layers of rationalisation and sophistry. He takes them, uses them and he uses them well. You have the band of superpowered individuals who can't get along, check; you have the crazy idealistic villain, check; you have the moment that brings them all together, check. They're all there except they don't feel like Legos strewn on the ground with jarring edges waiting to be stepped on.

Whedon makes the pieces fit and Downey Jr and the Hulk keep the funnies coming. Watch this movie if you like things blowing up.

Best Quote: “Dr. Banner, your work is unparalleled. And I'm a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.” - Tony Stark

Interesting Fact: Samuel L. Jackson was not allowed to improvise the lines. Robert Downey Jr. was. Go figure.

Similar Movies: Those George Clooney movies about robbing people. Animated Avengers Movies. A Clockwork Orange (ensemble cast, cooperating to do uh… things).





 

Warrior

06/24/2013

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"WARRIOR” is a movie which brings together aspects of family, love and the passion for fighting into a heart-breaking masterpiece. The Academy Award nominated movie started a buzz amongst people even before its release in September 2011. The story separately portrays the lives of two brothers: Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) fourteen years after they left their abusive alcoholic father's home.

Tommy, a reserved and bitter Marine, visits his father Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) to see that he had given up his past habits and converted to Christianity. Tommy seeks his help to train for the SPARTA, the biggest mixed martial arts tournament in history.

On the other side, Brendan is a high school physics teacher, married with two kids. His family was facing huge financial crisis and he decided to wrestle in a small parking-lot fight and win some money for his family. When the school heard of this, though, they suspended him and without a choice, Brendan turned to his friend, Frank, to train him for the SPARTA.

Rising actor Tom Hardy's brilliant acting as Tommy, a brawny man bulldozing his way through life is especially captivating. And Edgerton plays the more emotional older brother. These actors take their roles far beyond any stereotypes. Nolte plays the father very well and was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting role.

The thing about this movie is that it blasts our ideas of these buffed wrestlers always being macho. It also shows all these stories in such a touching way, that you can't help but feel emotional. The movie did very well amongst critics, with 85% positive reviews.

Warrior suffers from some clichés and seems to fall under the shadow of The Fighter, its more famed counterpart. But what sets it apart is the direct rivalry between the brothers who go head to head in a caged arena.

Who will like this? Pretty much everyone, whether they enjoy wrestling or not, but can deal with some violence and darker scenes. Also, we get to see Tom Hardy in action before “Dark Knight Rises.”

If you like this, you will like:

The Fighter (2010): A biographical story about welterweight boxer Micky Ward and his rise to championship, with brilliant acting by Christian Bale as his addicted brother.

Cinderella Man (2005): Also a biographical story, based on the life of James Braddock, a washed up boxer who came back to become a champion and the inspiration of a nation during the Great Depression.




 
 
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No matter what the world thinks of magic, it is a dying art. The bizarre clothes, the plump rabbits peeking out of top hats, the pretty assistants smiling as they go under the blade to get themselves cut into half; all these are parts of an extinct world. Movies are often made about these fading cultures and they always turn out to be melancholic, and The Illusionist seems no different when you hear the plot for the first time. It is not the Edward Norton movie from 2006; it's the French adaptation of the comic master Jacques Tati's screenplay.

The Illusionist (French: L'Illusionniste) is set in 1959, where the protagonist, a middle-aged vagabond magician performs his somewhat outdated tricks to a set of reluctant audience. Between his searches for jobs from one theatre to another, he gets the call to perform in a small village out in Scotland, which he enthusiastically takes. During his stint in Scotland, he meets a young urchin girl, who is still naive enough to believe that magic is real. As the magician leaves for Edinburgh, the girl follows him and he takes the role of a stand-in parent. He lets her stay with him and buys her whatever small luxury he can afford with his unpredictable income. Somewhere along the line between paying bills and imploring for jobs, the magic runs out of him, but not for the girl, and then the illusion begins.

The Illusionist is roughly like a silent movie; people don't really talk, there's music all the time and the characters speak in a jumble of languages that we can barely understand. The movie has brilliant graphics - every single scene is a piece of art, from the grey yet cheerful Scottish scenes to the whimsical hotel in Edinburgh - the world of The Illusionist is unlike anything we are used to seeing. The movie could've been depressing, but director Sylvain Chomet did his magic and it turned out to be an enchanting work, with great music and a bittersweet story.

RS verdict: 8/10


 
 
 
 
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Katherin Bigelow made it big in 2009 when The Hurt Locker won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She returns in 2012 with another Best Picture nominated feature: Zero Dark Thirty. An edge of the seat action thriller, it would be a great film even without the label that it is actually a dramatisation of real events. Zero Dark Thirty is the story of CIA operations spanning over a decade that finally resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden.
The film centers on Maya, who is a rookie field agent at the beginning. As the film progresses in leaps, sometimes skipping years at a time, Maya becomes tougher and tougher. The transformation of the lead character is very noticeable. But this movie is not about character development. Zero Dark Thirty is a modern spy film. This is what cold war spy thrillers have evolved into: gritty, realistic and no-holds-barred. Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart. Scenes of torture and violence are plentiful. Exaggeration is minimal in this movie: the soundtrack is minimal, the special effects are compact and the dialogue is cliché-free.
The story unravels in deliberately a slow fashion, much like the cautious opening of confidential intelligence dossiers. The characters are grounded in reality; they never seem larger than life. As the hunt for Bin Laden (“UBL” in CIA lingo) intensifies, stifles and finally escalates, Maya’s obsession consumes you.
The fateful night time raid in Abottabad is portrayed masterfully. From the helicopter crash to the nervous crowd control, the whole operation is one breathless joyride. Silence is used as a very powerful sound effect in Zero Dark Thirty: the lack of background music sets a foreboding mood.
Watch Zero Dark Thirty. You will not be disappointed. You will get a glimpse at the complexities of our reality: the politics, the madness and the sheer incredulity of the world we live in. Argo may have won Best Picture at the Oscars, but it would not have been wasted on Zero Dark Thirty either.


 
 
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Tom Cruise is back as Agent Ethan Hunt. The fourth film of the series (and the first not to mention what number it is in the title) is, well, for lack of a more descriptive word, it's a ride.

Mission Impossible 4 has Cruise and his star studded team including Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner, chasing a dangerous terrorist named Hendricks before he starts a nuclear war. He gains access to Russian nuclear launch codes and an attempt to stop him at the Kremlin ends in disaster with half the complex being blown sky high and the IMF [Impossible Mission Force, not the International Monetary Fund] being blamed. As Ethan Hunt escapes the Russian police and is picked up by the Secretary of Defence, he learns that the President has issued Ghost Protocol and that the entire IMF has been disavowed. This means no backup, no support. His team is not of his choice anymore. As they are attacked, Jeremy Renner's character latches onto Hunt and joins the team. Undaunted, our heroes move to Dubai and later Mumbai to stop the certain catastrophes that Hendricks will otherwise cause.

Let's start with the bad. The really huge absence from this movie was the presence of a good villain. Don't get me wrong, Michael Nyqvist is decent as the delusional Hendricks but he's no Philip Seymour Hoffman. The best part of MI3 was probably how intense and personal the conflict between the villain and the hero was. Hoffman was merciless and cold. Nyqvist just couldn't pull off the super villain character. In fact, the female assassin Moreau, beautiful, heartless, devoid of compassion, would have been a better leading villain. Hendricks might have performed better but the script did not allow too many points of interaction between Hunt and him for it to work.

The story is simpler, more linear than MI3, which is a disappointment. The departure of J. J. Abrams from the helm also added uncertainty but Brad Bird proved that he can deliver in a live action movie. The best part of any MI movie is the stunts and holy crap, are there some awesome stunts. From the now trademarked jumping off the building, to jumping down a parking garage, jumping into a fan shaft and jumping onto a train and just generally jumping a lot, the stunts are fantastic. They're on a whole new level from the last movie. The movie is very fast moving and the audience is kept entertained all throughout.

 The new team is the other great bit. Simon Pegg, from the success of his cameo as “behind-the-desk” techie Benji Dunn has a much bigger role this time around and is the cause of much of the humour throughout the movie. Jeremy Renner is immense as William Brandt and it's no doubt he's being touted the heir to the franchise if Cruise calls it quits. The girl, Paula Patton, is solid as well. Anil Kapoor is in the film. The Indian billionaire playboy is written as an idiot and Kapoor does well with his small cameo role.

Ghost Protocol isn't a movie you watch to be intrigued. It's almost the perfect popcorn movie. Go and watch it . It's Worth it. A solid 7/10



 
 
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Hugh Jackman put away his claws and the latex for 'Real Steel', the movie which revolves around boxing…with robots. This movie has a real 'rocky' feeling to it, tinged with a little father-son element in quite a new perspective. Father Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) was a low-profile boxer about to hit it big after repeated failures when the whole world stops caring about human boxing and moves on to robot boxing. Apparently, it's more intense and involves much more money; you know how the mob works. So the 'in-thing' evolves to robot boxing and Charlie takes a bite out of the cake and starts fighting with his own robots, making small money and barely living. Estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) comes into the picture and the father-son part of the movie kicks in, with Charlie initially reluctantly partnering up with son. They come across a junkyard robot (literally) and put it together, have some fun, spend some quality time and kick metal butt.

That is basically the gist of the movie. Like the streets of London with traffic, Real Steal is packed up to the brim full of clichés, so much so that it overflows a little. Yet, this movie seems to pull itself up and cross the finish line to make the cut. Why? The characters are well played, Hugh Jackman dishes out acting which, in this writer's opinion, could be said to be more than decent. The boxing scenes are pretty damn epic as one can imagine; if you are having trouble imagining, then think about Megatron versus Optimus Prime scaled down to 8 feet, without the guns and ability to talk, but being controlled by humans and just kicking the inanimate bolts(and nuts) out of each other. CGI plays a good role and the soundtrack gets the viewer pumped, if at least a little. The most surprising thing about the movie is that it comes from the director who brought us Night at the Museum. This makes the movie quite great.

All in all, no matter how clichéd, the film proves enjoyable and entertaining. If you're looking for a fun one and a half hours get Real Steel.





 
 
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The first Sherlock Holmes movie, although entertaining was a disappointment to the fans. The sequel followed the footsteps of its predecessor and continued to portray the world's most brilliant detective as an action hero. Once you watch the movie, you'll realise that Guy Ritchie has succeeded in creating another James Bond, only the protagonist in this film has a sidekick.

The story commences in 1891 with rising hostility between France and Germany and a series of bombings in both nations that have escalated the antagonism. These explosions, however, are caused by none other than the infamous Professor Moriarty but Holmes is the only one who actually believes in that theory. So it's up to him to stop this evil menace.

Meanwhile, Watson gets married but guess who intervenes in his honeymoon? Yup, Holmes shows up, pushes Mrs. Watson off the carriage and uses some really unusual (even for him) and disturbing means (you'll know what I mean when you see the movie) to persuade Watson to join him for one last investigation.

The movie deviates from the usual S.H. character but it's insanely entertaining. Many fans may not appreciate the changes in Holmes' personality but these changes made the movie continuous and not a single minute it will bore you.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were phenomenal in portraying the legendary duo and Jared Harris played Moriarty perfectly. The whole movie is intense, action packed and hilarious but a little less slow motion fighting and psychological combat would have been appreciated.

Though the movie redefines Sherlock Holmes, it does so in a good way. After watching it in 3D and spending 14 dollars, I can say my money wasn't wasted. But really, 3D had nothing to do with it!