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18 reviews in total 
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Better than the First? By: ABBAS H., 18 July 2004

A phenomenal entertainment piece with twists, turns and the occasional hero guessing his purpose. If you like action and a series of heartfelt chuckles than this movie is right for you. Now telling you the plot is a waste of yours and more importantly my time, so lets skip that. The movie offers you two hours of great action and humour. You don't have to be a genius to understand the plot. However if you are a typical " Nobody understands me!" teenager who wants Michael Bay type action - cars and planes blowing up - than go see I, Robot. As usual Toby Maguire, Kirstin Dunst and James Franco deliver more than believable performances that grab your attention and pull you into their characters. There are some flaws but an overall solid film. Spend your ten dollars on this movie and you won't regret it; unless you are an idiot. So sit back, enjoy and decide which one is better. But just in case you lack the proper knowledge let me put your mind - if you have one - at ease. Spiderman2 does in fact edge out the original.

Adventure on the high seas, 1 March 2004

Peg-legs, swordplay, plank walking, ships, cannons and ancient curses. Now that's what a summer movie should be. We start off in the 1700s, give or take a hundred, in an island off - where else - the Caribbean. After 30 minutes of setup and character introduction, the island is attacked by the Black Pearl which takes Elizabeth Swann -the Governor's daughter- prisoner. But this be no random pirate attack. The pirates are victims of an Aztec curse that has left them in a state of undead and need Elizabeth's medallion to break it. The roguish Cap'n Jack Sparrow, former captain of the Black Pearl, sets off after them with Will Turner, his new sidekick. That's basically the movie. Now if you're coming into this expecting an intelligent drama about the dangers of sea life, well, forget it. Pirates is a movie whose sole purpose is to entertain, without insulting your intelligence, and entertain it does. It is one of those rare films that's good and fun, and much credit goes to Johnny Depp. One can only guess as to what compelled him to do away with the conventional Errol Flynn pirate and instead channel Keith Richards with a little PePe Le Pew. Depp is an actor who consistently rises above the script, regardless of the film's quality. The stumbling, slurred deliveries, facial expressions and goatee - things that would be out of place in another movie - only add to the performance because they fit in the context of the film. His performance is funny, eccentric, charismatic, and fully worthy of an Oscar nomination. It's time he got some recognition. Without him this would have been an average movie with a good performance from Geoffery Rush. As the mutinous first mate Barbosa, Rush also provides some humorous moments and has some good exchanges with Depp. Orlando Bloom is Will Turner, a blacksmith, who happens to be the reason for the curse. He holds his own as the movie pirate - looks, thinned mustache, ponytail - and Keira Knightley is even better as the damsel in distress. The production values - set design, costumes, cinematography -are first rate as are the special effects. The film also benefits from a rousing score courtesy of Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer. The movie could have spent more time in the editing room as it sometimes looses momentum. At two hours twenty minutes, it's about half hour too long. The direction is O.K. The battle scenes and sword fights could have been better choreographed. They come off flat and fail to provide any thrills. The only enjoyable one is the last one when Sparrow and Barbosa are moving in and out of the lunar beams. But these are just minor holes in an otherwise solid film. Pirates of the Caribbean is a fun swashbuckler with a good cast and should appeal to all, even if the wind occasionally goes out of its sails

Thirteen (2003)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good, but nothing special, 26 January 2004

Then again, it's not trying to be anything special. Thirteen is (first-time director) Catherine Hardwicke's cautionary tale of a good girl gone bad. The movie was co-written by thirteen year old Nikki Reed and based on her own experiences. But instead of just playing herself, Reed plays the bad girl and Evan Rachel Wood plays Reed. Holly Hunter plays the helpless mother with her own problems. Some people found the hand-held zoom-happy directing nauseating, but it does give the film a documentary feel - as if you're witnessing something real. (It might also have been the result of not having a budget). Although melodramatic and somewhat predictable, what elevates this film above other "afterschool specials" is the acting. First off, Evan Rachel Wood will be a big star. Her work here is in the pantheon of great child actor performances: Haley Joel Osment (Sixth Sense), Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver), Natalie Portman (Leon), and Kirsten Dunst (Interview with a Vampire). Holly Hunter turns in her best work in a decade and both her and Wood will receive Oscar nominations. Nikki Reed is also very good as is most of the supporting cast. Don't watch this film if you're looking for entertainment because there isn't any. This is not a film about teenagers pulling pranks resulting in hilarious situations. It is a simple movie dealing with not so simple issues.

Adventure on the high seas, 26 January 2004

Peg-legs, swordplay, plank walking, ships, cannons and ancient curses. Now that's what a summer movie should be. We start off in the 1700s, give or take a hundred, in an island off - where else - the Caribbean. After 30 minutes of setup and character introduction, the island is attacked by the Black Pearl and Elizabeth Swann, the Governor's daughter, is taken prisoner. But this is not a random pirate attack. The pirates are victims of an Aztec curse that has left them in a state of undead and need Elizabeth's medallion to break it. The roguish Cap'n Jack Sparrow, former captain of the Black Pearl, sets off after them with Will Turner, his new sidekick. That's basically the movie. Now if you're coming into this expecting an intelligent drama about the dangers of sea life, well, forget it. Go see Master and Commander instead. Pirates is a movie whose sole purpose is to entertain - without insulting your intelligence - and that's what it does. It is one of those rare films that's both good and fun, and much credit belongs to Johnny Depp. It is a mystery as to what compelled Depp to do away with the conventional Errol Flynn pirate and instead channel Keith Richards with a little PePe Le Pew. Depp is an actor who consistently rises above the script, regardless of the film's quality. The stumbling, slurred deliveries, facial expressions and goatee - things that would seem out of place in another movie - only add to the performance because they fit in the context of the film. His performance is funny, charismatic, eccentric, and fully worthy of an Oscar nomination. About time he gets some recognition. Without him this would have been a (marginally) bad film with a good performance from Geoffery Rush. As the mutinous first mate Barbosa, Rush also provides some humorous moments and has some good exchanges with Depp. Orlando Bloom is Will Turner, a blacksmith, who happens to be the reason for the curse. He holds his own as the movie pirate - handsome, thinned mustache, ponytail - and Keira Knightley is equally good as the damsel in distress. The production values - set design, costumes, cinematography - are first rate as are the special effects. The movie could have spent more time in the editing room as it sometimes looses momentum. At two hours twenty minutes, it's about half hour too long. The direction is decent but should have been better. The story is well told but drags whenever Depp's not onscreen. The battle scenes and sword fights could have been better choreographed. They come off flat and fail to provide any thrills. The only enjoyable one is the last one when Sparrow and Barbosa are moving in and out of the lunar beams. Pirates of the Caribbean is a fun swashbuckler with a good cast and should appeal to all, even if the wind occasionally goes out of its sails.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dances with Shogun, 17 December 2003

Or is it? Although the theme of an outsider becoming part of a fading culture has been told countless times - most obvious comparison being the superior Dances with Wolves - Edward Zwick's The Last Samurai is a grand and intelligent film that stands on its own. Our tale begins in 1876 where burnt-out Civil War hero, Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), spends his days as an unconvincing drunk. He is approached by two of the Emperor's men who want him to come to Japan and train the military in modern warfare in order to put down a Samurai rebellion. The Samurai are fighting to preserve their culture as well as Japan's from becoming westernized. Eventually Cruise is captured and now has theological discussions with Katsumoto, the Samurai leader. The two men are from opposing cultures but share the same values and Cruise starts understanding who and what the Samurai are. The rest you can guess.

As you watch the story unfold, it becomes obvious that Tom Cruise has thrown himself into this role. He read Civil War diaries, Samurai articles, took martial arts, gained thirty pounds, and grew a beard! He also learned some of the language and studied Bushido, a code of loyalty and sacrifice. So you can't fault his preparation. Yet somehow he still comes off as Tom Cruise. And for this movie that's all you need. Think about it: Who would you rather have leading you into slow motion suicide battles? Tom Cruise or some "character". Cruise looks heroically handsome whether he's pointing a rifle, spinning a sword, getting stabbed, or doing the obligatory putting-on-the-armor scene before the final battle. His co-star, Ken Watanabe, brings a dignified presence to the role of Katsumoto. He is also a wounded man, defending the Samurai code even though he senses the end is near. Watanabe acts with conviction and his performance is worthy of award consideration. The rest of the cast is fine, there are no weak links. The movie's look is authentic and the battles are well choreographed and bloody. But there are some pacing problems and an unnecessarily long drawn-out ending. There is also too much of a been-there done-that feeling that is hard to ignore. The Last Samurai is a thoughtful film - meaning it will flop - but it's not the great epic that it aspires to be.

Baazigar (1993)
9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Star-making turn from Shahrukh!, 24 April 2003

Baazigar is inspired by the Matt Dillon flick A Kiss Before Dying, which itself is a remake of the 1956 near-noir classic of the same name. The film revolves around 2 sisters, Shilpa Shetty and Kajol, and the men that come into their lives. Both men are played by Shahrukh Khan, so you can imagine the complications that will create. The first one's the typical Indian college student: perfect grades, dead father, sick mother......The second one is a race car driver (the cool one). Each has his own reasons for being with the girl and it's these motives and their repercussions that form the crux of the film. Now if you LOVE Bollywood movies, then stay away from this one. There is no happy resolution, or songs in the Swiss Alps, or Designer Clothing for the hero. In fact, the wardrobe and makeup departments seem to be on strike during this movie. But that's really a blessing because the actors' "natural" look complements the film's dark tone. Baazigar is a twisted tale of revenge with much tasteless violence, so you wouldn't want your hero cleaning blood off his GAP shirts every ten minutes (of course we wouldn't have such concerns if Salman had accepted this role). That reminds me, the acting in this movie is ...... well, it varies. The supporting cast doesn't impress: Rakhee's okay, Shetty's pretty weak (as are the two fathers), and the inspector is just sad. ON the other hand, Kajol gives a sincere performance that's a hint of things to come. She breathes life and brings restraint to a character that's usually butchered by over-the-top Indian actresses who substitute crying for acting. She's only 17 or 18 but her confidence and chemistry with the Rukhster are quite evident. But this is Shahrukh's movie. After Salman wisely turned it down, Shahrukh saw this as his big chance and capitalized. From studying for his exams and manipulating Shilpa Shetty, to racking up the body count and bringing down the house with Kaali Kaali Aankhen, the man held nothing back. He was still an actor at this point and played the dual role well. You're always able to tell which character's onscreen. This movie is like Darr - which was released a few months later - in the sense that whether you like it or not has nothing to do with the film itself and everything to do with the lead's performance. The film could have spent more time in the editing room as many portions drag, and some scenes feel flat due to the aforementioned lack of funding. In the end, Baazigar may or may not be good filmaking but it's a must for Shahrukh fans.

Dil Se.. (1998)
3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A case of "What could have been", 12 March 2003

Dil Se is an honest Bollywood attempt at a non-Bollywood movie. The film addresses the terrorist problem in the Kashmir valley with the backdrop of a love story. It shows India's war on terror and the wartime horrors that the Kashmiris endure. Shahrukh is a reporter for All-India Radio. While on-assignment to interview the leader of a terrorist group, he meets Manisha, and it's basically love at first sight - at least for Shahrukh. She doesn't want anything to do with him but Shahrukh can't take a hint. So far it's typical Bollywood, but the film's dark tone suggests something different. But due a weak screenplay, what had the potential to be among India's finest films, ends up as a "good Bollywood movie" - a 5 out of 10. In the first half Shahrukh talks endlessly about how much he loves Manisha from the heart, i.e. 'Dil Se' , but his love is nothing more than intrigue. She keeps ignoring him and even has some of her friends beat him up. Shahrukh is himself for the most part becasue that's all the script calls for. Only in the post-interval portions, like the interrogation and chase sequences, do we get a more intense Shahrukh. Manisha tries her best with the role but her character isn't well drawn out. We never really understand what her character is thinking and there is little logic to her actions. Preity Zinta isn't nervous at all acting opposite Shahrukh in her debut. She has a simple role and goes through it with ease. The director, Mani Ratnam, successfully creates the grim mood of the story and brings a sense of urgency to the last act. The cinematography is excellent and Gulzar's soundtrack is a gem - thoughtful, intelligent, and well-picturised - with Chaiyya Chaiyya being the piece-de-resistance. The film isn't in the same league as Lagaan or Dil Chaata Hai but, compared to Shahrukh films, he hasn't made a better one since. In the end, Dil Se is still one of Bollywood's better efforts with a real plot, real issues, and an ending that will leave you wondering...

4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
WHY?!, 20 January 2003
1/10

No, really Why? After hitting the jackpot with his debut film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Karan Johar just repeated himself with this movie. That movie was about a girl trying to reunite her father with his best friend whereas this one is about a son trying to reunite his brother and father. What was done in 2 1/2 hours the first time, takes over 3 hours this time around Even the actors are just reprising their roles from recent films. Amitabh's good but both he and Shahrukh played these parts in Gurukul (Mohabbatein). Jaya Bhaduri did the same thing in Fiza and here she gets annoying really fast. Kareena Kapoor is annoying from the start and Hirthink just plays Hirthik. That leaves Kajol as the one bright light in this dreadful tale. She creates a new character, pulls off the accent, and doesn't overdo the comic scenes. The soundtrack is nothing to rave about. Johar's direction was not at par with his earlier venture. He directed that funhouse with a sense of speedy escapism which is clearly missing in the Hamlet-inspired sets of this film. Avoid at all costs!

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Thank God for Salman, 20 January 2003

A story of two best friends and the woman who comes between, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was a huge hit that continued the downward spiral of Indian cinema. The success of all these films depends on two things: the performances and the soundtrack. The latter being the more important of the two. Shahrukh plays Rahul. He also played Rahul in Dil to Pagal Hai, Dilwale..., K3G, and Darr and this is the worst of his Rahul performances. You get the feeling that his heart is never really in the film which could be true since he was filming Dil Se at the time. Too bad it flopped. Kajol outshines him with her portrayal of Anjali, the once rejected Tom boy who now has Shahrukh and Salman fighting for her affections. I don't have much to say about Rani except that she holds her own and that's about it. And what of Salman? He steals every scene he's in, nails all the jokes (intentional or not), and his presence more than makes up for his acting. The soundtrack is good. I think the title track was filmed in Scotland, just in case you're wondering. The movie is by no means a must see - quite the opposite actually. But it is a cut above the recent Shahrukh duds like Mohabbatein and K3G as well as all the Hrithik films, so you might want to check it out.

38 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge: A Commentary, 27 December 2002

This was the top Bollywood film of the 90s and after seeing it I really can't think of one that was better. There are some that are just as good but I can't recall seeing one that's better. The story's pretty routine: boy meets girl in Europe, they fall in love, girl is engaged to some other idiot, and the rest writes itself... Sound familiar? Well it wasn't back in '95 (or even if it was it wasn't done as well) and Aditya Chopra's treatment of the story was a big reason for it's success. In every other movie the couple first wants to kill each other before falling in love. But in this movie it's slightly different and more plausible. Shahrukh doesn't want to kill Kahol - I mean Kajol - and she doesn't really hate him either, she just (like the rest of us) is annoyed by the guy. Their situations aren't that far-fetched and their Europe storyline is played out quite realistically (of course the piano scene is an exception). This was the beginning of the "Shahrukh plays Shahrukh era" and, for what it's worth, he hasn't made a better movie or given a better performance since. Sure there are places where he overacts but there are just as many places where he's able to hit all his cues. His comic timing was never better and there was still some sincerity in his eyes, a reminder of the fact that he was still an actor, which has since been replaced by the cockiness of a megastar. This is the movie that shot him to superstardom and put him alongside Aamir and Salman. Kajol is just as good (if not better), and I think after their next movie they'll win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The supporting cast is fine although no one really stands out. There are many moments in the film, most notably in the script, where you might feel a sense of deja vu. But keep in mind that this was the original, it's everything else that's a rehash. Bollywood headed straight for the sewer after this movie with almost all films, many of them starring Shahrukh, copying the same formula. Even at its 3 hour length the movie never drags till after the two-hour mark. I also want to comment on the film's Art Direction because it warrants a mention. Whether it's in Europe, England, or India, the movie has a very natural look to it. Unlike today's big films like Dil To Pagal Hai, or K3G, this movie looks good without trying to look good and I think that's a quality that's been lost on today's films. Too much attention is spent on the look at the expense of the story (if there is one!). The soundtrack of course is a classic, truly one of the all-time bests, with almost every song being a hit. The film won an unprecedented number of awards while breaking many records. There was a feeling that Aditya would follow in his father Yash's footsteps but regrettably the pressure got to him. He followed this up with the dreadful Mohabbatein which was slammed by audiences and critics alike. But so what. His first film was good, and with the current state of Bollywood movies - Devdas anyone? - you really can't get better than this.


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