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TVF Pitchers (2015)
Pitcher Perfect !!!
I had only just heard of TVF. I knew they were into making spoof videos. I wasn't aware of what Pitchers is. Or the fact that there was a Permanent Roommates before it.
And then, one morning, I woke up to a post on Facebook. I do not remember whether it was a news article or a post share. All I remember is the content: TVF Pitchers had secured a spot on IMDb's Top 250 TV Shows.
At first I was surprised. When did IMDb start a Top 250 for TV Shows. Even more surprising was the thought that if Pitchers had a place here, then it wasn't a spoof video. It was much more. What was it ? I searched, read and quickly realized what it was; a dream of millions of youngsters waiting to be realized that had come into fruition. And suddenly I saw the possibilities; no longer would we have to wait eagerly for the next season of The Big Bang Theory to begin or no longer would we have to wait for Season 3 of Silicon Valley to start. We could have our own. Indian shows, at par with their American counterparts, using Indian history, culture, memes, jokes and situations Indians could identify with.
I set myself up to watch this. But then I thought, following chronology would be better. And so I started, not with Pitchers but with Permanent Roommates. Saw all 5 episodes and quickly realized, yes, the doors have opened. Of course, the Indian version of 24 had proved it. But this solidified it. The possibilities were now endless.
Then I started watching Pitchers. I started with the first episode. In the first 10 minutes ending with the show's opening (the gang of four walking into a bar), it was already a winner. The production values, cinematography, the catchy opening intro, writing, the analogy with beer (brilliant piece of writing), flawlessly smooth editing, it was all there. Right there. And all in the first 10 minutes.
I thought maybe it'll lose its first episode charm. I was wrong. With each passing episode came sequences and situations that were not only believable and highly identifiable but situations that you actually felt with, connected with and reacted with. From Naveen's speech, to the frustrated software engineer Jeetu's outburst, you not only feel every moment but feel like applauding and clapping with them.
There will be a Permanent Roommates Season 2. There will be a Pitchers, Season 2. There will be more shows. But there can be much more. There can be short films. There can be full fledged 2 hour internet movies (at Hollywood Standards so that we can bid Bollywood goodbye). There can even be a TVF's dedicated channel (if the government allows it that is).
But most importantly, this is the beer for all content that will follow. This is it; this is the spark we all needed to realize that yes, its possible. We don't need TV channels, huge production budgets, lots and lots of crew members to make it happen. We need dedication. And with Pitchers, we've seen that dedication. We've seen that quality. More inspiring than its story-line of four friends creating is a startup, is the fact that TVF created Pitchers.
Hopefully, Pitchers inspires people to create. If not a startup, then perhaps several shows that will take Indian entertainment several steps forward. Of course we have Permanent Roommates. And we have Office Office. And the Indian version of 24 (if at all there are more seasons). And we will always have several other shows. But then, maybe in the distant future, Pitchers will be remembered as the show that started it all. Or the one that changed it all for India.
And this, I feel, is why Pitchers deserves a watch. At least once !!!
The Terminator (1984)
A sci-fi tech-noir classic
This was one of those early movies that drew me in to the world of Hollywood. Of course, when I first watched it, I didn't have much idea about what went behind the scenes when making this movie. But now that I do, my respect for this movie has grown tremendously given what it was able to accomplish on such a low budget with such a small set of characters making what could have easily been a B-movie in the wrong hands seem like a solid sci-fi story ending with an epic feeling of the things to follow.
The movie begins with what is possibly one of the coolest title cards for a 1980s flick with Brad Fiedel's iconic Terminator theme playing in the background as the cast is listed in the form of messages displayed from a computer terminal. This is followed by the Terminator and the human making their appearances from the future into our present, gathering clothes and weapons and heading out in their own respective ways in the search for Sarah Connor, a teenage girl part-timing as a waitress upon whose survival rests humanity's future as both she and us learn later. What follows is a cat and mouse game where the human goes all out to protect her and the Terminator is all out to get her and it won't stop, literally right till the end.
What separates this movie (and its immediate sequel) from the "other" sequels is James Cameron's balancing act who, much like Spielberg, allows the story to take center-stage and drive everything else and has perfect control over the length of sequences, edits, camera cuts and angles. 10 minutes into the movie and you're in, drawn to this world, completely forgetting that the futuristic crafts and landscapes are miniatures with absolutely no chance of being drawn out of this world. While I didn't find the characters to be groundbreaking or as interesting as in other dramas, the plot was extremely well constructed and allowed for some really cool paradoxes that would make for some interesting discussion (would John Conner even exist if he hadn't sent Kyle back in time).
The effects deserve special mention too. It is incredible how much Stan Winston's crew and Fantasy II were able to achieve at the time. All the futuristic scenes, the sequence with the Terminator treating his injuries, the chase sequences and the entire ambitious final act all work and some of them still hold up three decades later. And Brad Fiedel's theme gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, as if signaling an impending apocalypse.
All the actors do well in their respective roles, particularly Arnold who shines in a part that seemed almost tailor made to suit his acting capabilities. But it is Cameron who is truly the star of this endeavor, believing in his project and driving it to execution. Thank God for the success of this movie, which gave us many more masterpieces by Cameron. But then, it was entirely deserving of it. A sci-fi tech-noir classic.
Overall Score: 8.0 / 10.0
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
A little short of the first but a solid entertainer none-the-less
In a way, it was inevitable. The massive expectations from the sequel to the $1.5 billion grossing and incredibly charming Avengers had shot up so high, the movie was bound to disappoint at some level. And at some level it does, though not to the extent that it can be called a grossly underwhelming disappointment as is being hailed by the media and professional critics. The movie does have its moments, it works for the most part, but just falls short of the first one. In the interest of North American viewers who get this flick a week after international viewers, I'll keep this review completely spoiler free while hoping that it doesn't feel too generic.
The movie's plot, no matter how well written, is pretty standard science-fiction stuff: A robot decides that eliminating humans is the best way to achieve worldwide peace and begins by hatching a scheme to start by eliminating humanities saviors first - The Avengers. That two of the Aveners themselves are responsible for its creation could make for an interesting face off between the creator and the creation. Except that it doesn't.
One of the complains I have with this one is that the dialogue didn't feel as sharp as the first one. In The Avengers, Tony Stark for instance had some amazing lines and so did Steve Rogers. And their banter, while pretty interesting, was entirely in character. Here, both characters seem to have lost their wit / charm. Now fans may justify this as a result of what these characters went through in their respective standalone films but I feel the writing has a lot to blame. Stark's dialogue during the Hulk v/s Hulkbuster fight sequence is an example; his lines are so bland and generic that Downey himself could have done better if he had simply improvised.
Something similar applies to the film's humor; while there were sequences of absolute hilarity amongst the characters in the first film, most of the humor falls flat in this one. All these minor squabbles could have been forgotten if the movie had a great plot. But with something like a robot out for human extinction ending in an equally generic save the city standoff make these flaws stand out even more.
Most movies with a mediocre plot manage to compensate for their shortcomings through some spectacular action sequences. This however, is not Age Of Ultron's strong point either. Most of the action is too heavily edited to be able to follow and the ones you can seem like they were designed by the visual effects crew on an ad hoc basis. And its about time Marvel did away with Brian Tyler and brought a different composer to the mix; the only good themes heard in Age Of Ultron are the ones lifted straight from Alan Silvestri's score in The Avengers and Danny Elfman's slightly modified version of Silvestri's Avengers Theme. Compared to the first one's score which was much more memorable, this one's rather forgetful. And despite a 140 minute runtime, a lot of sequences feel rushed. I guess this has to do with Whedon trying his best to give every character his due and should this movie have an extended edition, it would certainly be one to watch out for.
Now that all the negative stuff is out, here are some of the positives. First off is Ultron and Spader's terrific portrayal of the robotic psychopath (that voice) and Whedon's terrific treatment. Despite his rather clichéd mission, Spader and Whedon make Ultron sound utterly convincing and at times, logical when things are viewed from his perspective. He wants to eradicate humanity so its rather obvious to start with the ones who guard it - The Avengers. Also well done are some bits with Thor's hammer and the following which stand out.
- The party sequence. Thor's expression when Rogers tilts the hammer is priceless (Again, the music sucked; they should've kept the one in the trailers)
- The Vision. He's a welcome addition and his sequences are bound to spark fan debates
- The sequence with the city. Some pretty wondrous effects that had the audience gasping
- The mid-credits scene. Its tiny but pretty significant in terms of plot enhancement. And there is no post-credits scene
- Hulk v/s Hulkbuster. Its good in parts, but not entirely
When The Avengers came out back in 2012, the kind of shared universe cross-referencing was a novelty that made it an event. It was as close to comic books as movies could get in terms of continuity. With so many shared universes announced, it seems that this novelty factor has wore off resulting in Age Of Ultron a good movie but not a great one. It is certainly a treat that comic-book fans owe themselves and the comic-book audience has a lot to cheer for. For the casual moviegoer, this will just be another good movie. Regardless, critics be damned and tomato-meter scores aside, this is a movie you should not miss.
I'm heavily conflicted between scoring this with a 7.0 or a 7.5. I'll stick with a 7.0 for now and revisit the rating after subsequent re-viewings !!!
Overall Score: 7.0 / 10.0
Furious Seven (2015)
As a tribute, it works. As a movie, its only average
It's an understatement that the films in this franchise are getting crazier and increasingly unrealistic with each successive installment. And Furious 7 takes that to yet unseen levels. But then, realism never really was an expectation here was there ? The earlier films though, were at least grounded in some level to the extent that you could at least believe what you saw if you stretched your imaginations far enough. This one takes believability to, as Roman would say it, a whole new level.
Sample this: After the events of the previous installment, Owen Shaw's brother, Deckard is out for revenge against Toretto and his crew. To get to them though, he needs to know where they are. So, he breaks into the DSS' headquarters (which looks completely desolated with only Hobbs and Elena working there) and into Hobbs' computer scanning for information on their whereabouts (which, as we were led to believe from the previous installments, were erased with the crew receiving full pardons). He then begins taking them out one by one starting with Hobbs (who Shaw manages to injure badly so as to land him in a hospital) and followed by Han (which connects the franchise to Tokyo Drift) and then Dom and Mia (who barely manage to escape). In the middle of all this, comes a terrorism plot about a certain "Mr.
Nobody "who is after a device codenamed "God's Eye" that can turn any camera into a tracking device of sorts allowing its owner to spy on anyone. A terrorist wants to use it for his personal gains but to do so, he requires the assistance of the device's creator - a hot female hacker named Ramsey who Mr. Nobody wants Dom and his crew to rescue since only she knows where the device is. All of this is of course, carried forward by the franchise's trademark over-the-top and highly unbelievable set of action sequences, fast race cars and even bikini-clad chicks in a scene or two.
The series seems to have settled on a formula of sorts with a silly plot governed by cringe-worthy lines of dialog relying on its action to do the talking not to mention the amount of times the term last / final is used in the franchise (One Last Ride, One Last Mission, etc.). While the set-pieces here are good enough, they lack the awesomeness of the ones in Fast Five and Furious 6 (which is gonna be hard to top with a tank and a plane). The final sequence drags on for so long with actors doing nothing but mouthing search and rescue dialogues amidst heavily inter-cut action I stopped caring about the outcomes of the characters themselves. The fight sequences too seem to have seemingly odd camera angles as if the director of photography ran out of angles to shoot from.
Why then, have I rated this movie a 6 you wonder. That's because it all does come together to create a decent entertainment package. But more importantly, this is largely due to the tribute to Paul Walker at the end that, unexpectedly, feels so heart-wrenching its surprising. After all, its a Fast & Furious movie; it isn't supposed to be this emotional. But the cast give such a fitting send-off to Walker's character in movie it resonates largely with the real life situation. As for the CGI Paul Walker that some people seem to be cringing about, except for some shots in the end, I honestly couldn't make out which shots used his digital double in the film (I did have some guesses but they turned out wrong).
I do believe that a lot of the high praise that the movie is getting has to do with this being Walker's final movie as also to the tribute at the end. Otherwise, its a fairly average action movie with a brainless plot that at times, reminded me of the crazy Bollywood movies that a lot of people criticize. Given the money its making and the fact that this is Universal's most reliable and only huge franchise for now, I won't be surprised if we get one of these every two years for the next decade at the least. Watch it, if nothing else, For Paul !!!
An eye-opening take on religion that every Indian needs to watch
After the Munnabhai movies and 3 Idiots, it is natural to have mammoth expectations from a Rajkumar Hirani. A movie that hits you hard, delivers a strong message and makes the public question some age old conventions and beliefs, that's what his past movies had (some of them in bits and pieces, others in spades). PK though, is the strongest of his efforts on that front.
PK is about Aamir's character (named PK by the public) arriving from a distant planet on earth on a research mission only to have his "remote control" stolen. This remote, is the sole means by which he can summon the spaceship that brought him here to get him back. Without the remote, he is essentially stuck on earth. He slowly starts learning the nuances of earthly culture and language and gradually moves closer towards finding the remote. He also realizes from the public that it is God alone who can help him find it. In the process, he ends up questioning and challenging the religious belief system that India has built involving multiple religions, each with their own set of traditions.
That last part is what hits you hard about PK. The fact that there is only one God, the true God, the one who created us all unlike the many Gods that exist and are worshiped on a daily basis is something worth taking home. Also, by this time, I wouldn't call PK being an alien a spoiler since this is very much clear from the start of the film itself (and in fact, is something that the screenwriter Abhijat Joshi has heavily hinted at in a Plot Summary written by him on IMDb).
Aamir is spot on with his portrayal of PK and one almost feels that he's back in form after the disastrous (but still financially successful) Dhoom: 3. His performance is again going to be a talking point for months to come and perhaps, may even land him the Filmfare yet again. The others complement Aamir well enough especially Anushka, who, despite having considerably fewer films under her belt almost feels like a seasoned performer by now.
But the laurels all go to Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi for the wonderful script and direction; the script has so much material it moves at a break necking speed, never quite running out of events or situations. The crisp editing allows them to pack in a lot of stuff without it taking way too much time. The romance could have been toned down a bit as it was the only part that felt a bit unnecessary but in the end, that is a minor quirk in an otherwise outstanding effort. Shooting in real locations in Delhi such as the Red Fort and even a metro station lends an authenticity to the film that sets can simply not achieve. The music is strictly functional though and unlike the "Give Me Some Sunshine" song in Hirani's 3 Idiots, such a hard hitting number is missing.
For a country like India with an over-surge of religions, languages and traditions that sometimes border on meaninglessness, PK as a movie is an eye-opener. Sure it has its cheesy moments and it may not exactly be a "complex" piece of art in the league of Terrence Mallick or Christopher Nolan movies. But in an industry like Bollywood which is plagued with commercial no-brainers from one Khan after another, PK is not only a strong film, it is a laudable effort. I'd recommend every Indian to watch this film at least once and wake up from the nonsense that is being served in the name of religion to truly realizing what God is all about.
Overall Score: 8.0 / 10
The last of Middle-Earth
In a certain sense, The Battle Of The Five Armies could very well be to The Hobbit series what The Matrix Revolutions was to The Matrix Trilogy. With a battle occupying the center of the film and the title, chances of there being less story to tell abound. And after viewing the movie, I can understand why critics don't really like it.
From a critics' point of view, the movie has all that makes them cringe. It has an overabundance of visual effects in an attempt to recreate the epic battles of Jackson's prior trilogy. It has that clichéd love angle / triangle. It has deaths where every death appears a melodrama in itself. It has more connections to the Lord Of The Rings than you can count, effectively making it as a bridge film rather than a standalone one.
But then, I'm not a critic. And so, despite all of the above being true in a way, I still enjoyed the film. Yes the movie has a lot of visual effects and clichéd moments. But courtesy Jackson, the clichés manage to make an impact and the effects still appear spectacular. And this, in an age where CGI has made it notoriously difficult to please audiences is a great achievement. Yes, the deaths appear melodramatic. But having been with the characters since the last two films, they also touch you. Yes there are connections to the decade old Middle-Earth trilogy. But these connections only deepen the impact of every scene by making you realize what lies ahead.
Jackson was right when he said this film moves almost like a thriller. The editing is tight, the effects are a spectacle (it would be a shame to watch this first on a laptop / desktop and not on a big screen), and the music almost feels like the culmination of a six-film saga that began a decade ago. Howard Shore masterfully mixes different themes connecting this not only to the previous movies but to the Lord Of The Rings movies as well.
It was always my desire to see the first trilogy in theaters, something which I never got to do. With the Hobbit films, I have at least been able to witness Middle-Earth on the big screen. This may very well be Jackson's final foray into Middle-Earth and for this reason alone, if nothing else, it is worth seeing. Now let's hope Warner plans a Lord Of The Rings re-release in 3D.
The birth of an intelligent film-maker
Saucy, eh ? If at all you're familiar with Christopher Nolan's style of film-making, watching this will at once make you realize where it all started. Its also of course possible that it began much before this but since much of that material isn't accessible to the public (save Doodlebug), we'll never really know. For all purposes, Following remains Nolan's feature film debut and it surely is a remarkable achievement.
The story follows Bill, a struggling unemployed writer who takes a liking to following people in hopes of finding material to write about. This liking soon turns into addiction forcing Bill to set rules to allow him to restrain his activities. One of the rules which he ends up breaking, is following the same person twice. The person with whom this rule is broken is Cobb, who soon confronts Bill about being followed. As it turns out, Cobb is a burglar who enjoys robbing people, not for the money, but rather for the sheer pleasure in taking away things that people took for granted; his belief being that it would make them realize what they had. Taken away by Cobb's lifestyle, Bill becomes a partner in his burglaries which is where the trouble begins.
Digging any more into the plot would serve to spoil the complex mystery that Following is. Following has a lot of those narrative structures that would become trademarks of Nolan's directorial style (intercuts, close-up inserts, non-linear editing, multiple chronologies, and so on). Nolan and crew were forced to make certain hard choices to obscure the severely limited budget, one of which was shooting the film in black and white. Of course, the plot was such that these decisions worked the film's favor. The film's incredible naturalism repeatedly comes to mind while watching the film. This is due largely in part to the film being shot hand-held, with scenes filmed in a take or two to save on film stock. The behind the scenes material with the film reveals this and other fascinating details about the film's production such as the crew shooting over weekends due to their jobs on weekdays as a result of which the film took a year to complete.
Despite the low budget, you're always hooked on to Following and that is due largely in part to the film's plot and tight writing (another of Nolan's strengths). Unlike many filmmakers who use lavish editing styles and gimmicky display effects, Nolan's films rely primarily on story and screenplay to get the viewers attention (with the occasional non-linear editing thrown in to really keep the audience alert at all times). Add to it, the intriguing characters which have personalities so distinct it appears Nolan himself followed a handful of people to get the traits right. Jeremy Theobald is as natural as the gullible Bill as Alex Haw is suave in the role of Cobb. And the chemistry between the two is so natural, it makes most of the dialogues they say seem improvised, as though real people were conversing.
Following is a great start for Nolan who has now moved on to bigger, elaborate and definitely better projects. It is a lesson for aspiring filmmakers that even with a limited budget, it is possible to make a feature as interesting, riveting and thrilling as some of the best noirs of the early 40s. While it may not be perfect, most of the limitations it suffers from are largely due to production values rather than plotting and pacing. It is nevertheless, a must watch for anyone who has even the slightest of respect for Christopher Nolan's film-making.
Overall Score: 7.0 / 10
Bang Bang (2014)
A better script would've resulted in lots of more Bang !!!
There's a sequence in the movie where Harleen (Katrina Kaif) has been taken hostage / abducted. Rajveer (Hrithik Roshan) runs frantically to catch up to the bad guys taking her away. However, the bad guys have raced pretty far ahead. Just when all hope seems lost, Rajveer comes across an F1 racing track and spots an F1 car being off-loaded from a truck. The next thing we know, he's driving the F1 car along the streets of Abu Dhabi cutting across cars and traffic until he finally catches up to the bad guys. And this, is the moment where we hear the now famous score from the teaser play in the background.
Yes, Bang Bang does have its moments. And all those moments are in the action sequences. But action is all there is to Bang Bang. You'd think that after the disjointed effort that the Tom Cruise - Cameron Diaz starrer Knight And Day was, the filmmakers would use the opportunity of a remake to make the plot more interesting, connected and a bit meaningful. Turns out they didn't (in fact, with the emphasis on the romantic angle, they've only made it worse). You'd think Bang Bang's editing could be smooth as compared to the chaotic way in which Knight And Day was pieced together. Turns out this is equally chaotic with the film slowing to a crawl in the romantic sequences between Hrithik and Katrina (most of which contain dialogs that come across as highly cliché) and speeding up rapidly in the action sequences so that they're over before you even know it. I guess once a flop, always a flop.
Rather than lifting the plot straightaway from Knight And Day, this official remake gives the plot its own Bollywood spin. Thus, the MacGuffin here is a diamond (Kohinoor) instead of a perpetual energy source and (without getting into spoiler territory), the theme of revenge takes over. Also, the opening sequence has been reworked a bit so that instead of Knight And Day's plane crash, we have Hrithik meeting Katrina via an online dating site. Katrina's character Harleen is a simple bank receptionist who hasn't had fun for most of her life even though she wants to. Desperate to meet her knight in shining armor, she registers with an online dating site for a date with Vickee Kapoor who, the site reports as her perfect match. Of course, Vickee doesn't turn out for the date and Rajveer instead makes an appearance. Smitten by Harleen, he pretends to be Vickee and thus begins one of those drab Bollywood conversations that eventually ends up in the two falling for each other followed by a song and then a fight scene.
And thus begins the chase. Only this one has more romance than action (the action comes and goes pretty quickly even before you notice). Bang Bang suffers from the same problem that most Bollywood action flicks do; while the action looks good for a trailer, it appears disjointed on film so that the jump from one sequence to the next does not appear well connected. Why is the Kohinoor so important ? How does it serve its purpose (as revealed in the end) ? Why is Omar so feared ? Where does he come from ? Now I'm not saying that all these need to be explained exposition style. But in a 150 minute movie, some more detail would have only made things interesting. Add to that the songs which only make you wonder why they were needed in the first place. To serve as promotional material perhaps.
Hrithik does well in a drag script while Katrina irritates for the most part. Whether its her role or her performance, I can't say but she surely makes Cameron Diaz look like a legend. Director Siddharth Anand handles the action sequences decently enough with The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Andy Armstrong serving as action consultant. The film is shot well and while the songs are unnecessary, the music is generally good (both the mainstream and the background music). Salim-Sulaiman seem to have perfected the art of background scoring Bollywood flicks.
One only wishes that more attention had been paid to the story and screenplay. After all, these were the same issues that plagued the original Knight And Day off which this is based. Sadly, those issues plague Bang Bang as well. What we thus get is a well packaged but lame remake of an already lame movie which, with some fine tuning, could have translated well for Bollywood but does not. This is pure high-quality junk.
Overall Score: 5.0 / 10
Man of Steel (2013)
They almost had it !!!
Now I guess a lot of people are simply going to "Disagree" with this review once they see the rating and the heading. After going through a lot of the reviews posted on this recently, I get the trend - you hate this movie even a bit and you have 20% of the audience disagreeing; you love it and 80% agrees with you. While I'm not at the end of either side as my score illustrates, I do believe the movie is slightly disappointing.
This being a Superman movie and the board being filled with Superman fans, lets not even discuss the plot. Instead, I'll straightaway get to the points. To begin with, here's what I liked about the movie:
Action & Effects: As much as the critics will bash it, I'll admit the action in the movie is simply spectacular, very literally of epic proportions and quite out of this world. In fact the trailer of this movie has more action than the whole of Superman Returns and the trailer contains only about 5 - 10% of the action. The best scenes are in the end when you see Superman flying at breakneck speed and slamming Zod - intensely gratifying.
Story & Script (If I understand the term Script correctly): Nolan and Goyer wrote and conceived the story together with Goyer then writing the screenplay. I must admit that this is definitely a very unique take on Superman, the likes of which we've never seen in any Superman movie or comic. The ideas presented are interesting and one plot point gradually leads into the next instead of scenes being forced. And the ending is simply brilliant.
Performances: Shannon as Zod is exceptional. Cavill as Superman is also intense. And both the fathers add their unique paternal touches. Everyone else plays their part convincingly.
Score: Hans Zimmer. That epic score running in the battles scenes. It doesn't get any bigger and better. Enough said.
Now, onto the dislikes:
Zack Snyder: I seriously didn't like his direction. He overuses Zimmer's score, inserts random flashbacks and focuses much more on action when instead he could have given time to characters like the Kents, Perry and Lois (though she does get a lot to do). Although the story had the world "reacting realistically" to Superman's arrival, we rarely get those moments save one or two shots of people staring in the sky reminiscent of standard disaster flicks - meaning, nothing different. I guess Nolan in the chair could have made a huge difference.
Cinematography: The hand-held work, while good enough in the action scenes, totally sucked during character interactions. I mean, when Jonathan is talking to kid Clark, the camera shakes so much to make it "seem real" that it looks like those scenes were shot with a Galaxy SIII with stabilization turned off. I doubt shaking the camera that much was the best way to achieve realism with the 3D making it even worse. Steady camera shots focusing on the actors could have a more powerful effect if not more.
Miscellaneous: Characters rarely get beyond a point (lets hope there's more of that in the sequel). The only exception is Zod who is far far better than what he was in Superman II - and yup, you actually empathize with him. The first meeting of Lois and Clark is not what people would expect and hope for (yet seems to be the only way to progress the story forward it seems). The "realistic" portrayal they were so talking about seems completely lacking as well.
So many hits and yet so many misses. While Man Of Steel is certainly a good movie, it was destined for greatness which it never manages to fully achieves. This, and not the movie, is the reason for my disappointment. Nevertheless, it certainly deserves a watch on the big screen. The action alone is worth it.
Score: 6.5 / 10
Furious 6 (2013)
As if a Tank wasn't enough, they got a Plane too
Fast & Furious over the last few installments has become all about action. And the latest outing takes it a step further. Almost 20% of the movie is comprised of action sequences. And at the expense of action, plot, writing, characters all take a backseat. But no one's complaining. Why ? Because the action makes up for all of it.
Do the above statements sound cliché ??? The movie's plot is full of such silly dialogs so its best ignored in the current context. What works is the action - Lin and his crew bring us some of the most ridiculously outrageous and boldly conceived action sequences. There's an intense chase through London in the initial reels and also a race later on. There's a whole plane take-off-crash sequence towards the end that you've probably got a glimpse of in the trailers. The girls are no slouches either and we see an intense hand-to-hand fight of sorts between Michelle Rodriguez's Letty and Gina Carano's Riley.
But the movie's best sequence is undoubtedly the 10 minute Tank chase across the freeway that involves most of the cast and culminates in a breathtaking "catch" (about which I'd not say any further). The camera cuts like crazy, music is pulsating and that single sequence is probably worth the price of the movie ticket.
Apart from action, Furious 6 doesn't have much going for it. Dialog is standard, at times even silly and predictable, characters are flat, performances are decent. The car chases and night scenes got me so involved, I actually felt a bit strange leaving the theater and coming out into the real world's broad daylight. And the post-credits scene is simply, a treat which makes the next installment in the series worth looking forward to. Suffice it to say that in the end, the movie drifts full circle.
Watch it for the action, and for the action alone. If you expect any sort of character development or family issues like the first installment had, you'll be disappointed. Else, you're in for one hell of a ride.
Score: 7 / 10