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A Journey of True Courage and Breathtaking Adventure
Well, I was in two minds to watch the Hobbit. One, I was not sure if this would have the thrills and adventure like the Lord of the Rings trilogy but it is still being directed by Peter Jackson. Considering the latter, I went ahead and can say now that this is one truly exciting movie with adventures probably better than in the LOTR movies.
Splendid CGI as can be expected showcasing nature and mythical housing colonies that's like heaven on earth, delightful cinematography, master direction and endearing acting especially from Martin Freeman as the vulnerable yet the very courageous Bilbo, Ian McKellan as wizard Gandalf and Andy Serkis who's still unbelievable as the funny, evil Gollum.
The end was bit of a let-down. Maybe it's because I found everything else about the movie breath-taking and found the last few scenes just not measuring up. Revealing anything else could be a spoiler. Also, why can't Hollywood think of something different than leaving the climax of a movie with the usual eye-opener, I mean literally ;)
Verdict: Still a sheer entertainment with an inspiring touch.
La horde (2009)
Obscure Zombie Movie that Kicks Ass...
Whoa! This is one quite unknown zombie movie which surpassed my expectations.
What starts out as a typically vengeance drama between two warring groups(cops vs gangsters) in a run-down apartment takes an unexpected turn when they both least expect it. We don't get to know how the people result in zombies. Mostly, the movie revolves around the survivors who would have finished each other off if not for the undead...
First rate acting by everybody. Yves Pignot as one of the crazy, trigger-happy apartment tenants is a powerhouse! Eriq Ebouaney as Markudi, the head of the gangsta mob also impresses with his intensity and searing eyes.
What is quite creepy here are not the zombies, its the clash between the lead characters and how the zombies are really not cruel as these people. They are just hungry...
Watch out for the violence, it's quite graphic.
Of course, sometimes the scenes don't make sense - where did these zombies come from, how did they become zombies, how come they get up only when our survivors just tiptoe by.. :)
Verdict: A claustrophobic yet very engaging drama. This's one movie, zombie or not, that hooks you whole.
Life of Pi (2012)
The Bold and Beautiful Movie of Pi
If the movie about Life of Pi is so good that it showcased the nature, sea, sunny sky and starry nights even more colorful than what I could imagine in my dreams, then I wonder how I would have visualized them if I'd just read the book. Maybe not as much. That's how mesmerising the visuals are here.
And to top that is Ang Lee's sense of direction that is so artistic.
Amidst all this beauty are some classy performances too by all the cast especially some unforgettable acting from Suraj Sharma(younger Pi), Irrfan Khan(older Pi), Tabu(Pi's mother) and Adil Hussain(Pi's father). What also left me with a proud feeling is Shravanthi Sainath(Pi's love, Anandi) who is trained in the classical Bharathanatyam by the dance school run by my cousin in Chennai(India).
I think Ang has a gift of choosing the right actors for his characters like Suraj Sharma. Suraj is a natural and can create a big impact in cinema.
I did feel a bit let down by some shots captured in the very beginning of the movie. It did look dull and ordinary but soon, the camera makes a U turn and captures everything with a breathtaking touch. Equally exquisite are the visual effects which's clearly among the best seen in cinema.
Verdict: It's a must see. Either if you're a fan of the book, Ang Lee's films, just want to be entertained or seek inspiration from a story beautifully told.
Zombi 2 (1979)
Vintage Zombies :-)
I quite liked these zombies of the seventies :D
What I appreciate about this flick is the effort taken to make a good story around the dead walking the earth. Many zombie flicks today are just high on effects and low on simple story telling.
I guess the best performance is easily Richard Johnson as Dr David Menard. He is what makes the movie really watchable. And also where there's zombies, there should be some hot ladies too =) Olga Karlatos is simply sizzling as Menard's emotionally overdrawn wife and also Auretta Gay (a captain's wife) in a very bold avatar.
The zombies in particular look menacing however there are couple of bloopers where we sometimes see them attacking quickly while they generally move around slower than a tortoise :)
Ya there are more than enough gory scenes but which you wouldn't mind much as that's what you'd expect anyway here... :p
Verdict: Interesting, watchable zombie fest of the 70s.
The Dark Dulquer Rises :)
Theevram is a well-packaged crime drama that primarily scores due to it's music and also an intense performance from Dulquer Salman.
Dulquer Salman is just few films young yet has already begun carrying a movie on his shoulder. There's no doubt acting is in the genes and this can easily be seen in the emotional scenes conveyed effortlessly by him. Shikha Nair as his wife is another promising, upcoming actor. She's exuberant and provides the sunny side in this otherwise dark story. The other important supporting actors are also impressive here like the veteran Sreenivasan who excels as the cop Alexander, Vishnu Raghav as Harsha's buddy Dr.Roy, Riya Saira as Dr.Roy's love and also Vinay Forrt as Alexander's assistant, Ramachandran. This is a debut movie for Shikha Nair and Anu Raghavan(in a negative role as an auto driver) however, both portray their characters with lots of confidence on screen.
The music is another pillar of strength for this move beside Dulquer. The background score and all the songs have a catchy, engaging tunes and my personal favs are the theme song Mannake sung by the music director Roby and also the positive, cheery Innariyathe by Vineeth Srinivasan and Shweta Mohan.
For a debut direction, what Roopesh Peethambaran has done is commendable and it's a really pleasant surprise to know that he was the junior Mohanlal in Sphadikam :) I felt the camera-work could have been a notch higher, especially in the beginning scenes which should have actually left a scorching pace for the rest of the movie to follow. And although, the story in general made for an absorbing view, I wished the ending had the same sense of impact that we felt when Dulquer first shows up on screen.
The film has its share of violent scenes, so I wouldn't recommend this a safe viewing for kids.
Verdict: A treat for Dulquer fans. Another angry young man rises in Malayalam cinema :)
Don't Go in the House (1979)
The Jekyll & Hyde Of His House...
A quite spooky movie.
I think what creeps you in the movie is not the house, although it seems that's the central character here. It's actually Dan Grimaldi as Donald who essays the role of a man tormented by his scarred past down to the t. Besides him, the only other significant characters are Robert Osth as his work buddy Bobby and Ralph Bowman as Father Gerritty.
The house looks eerie only on the outside. That's a minus but can be forgiven thanks to Dan who brings the fear alive by moving effortlessly between being crazy, scared and vicious.
One aspect which looked so out of the place are the bodies of the dead. They are supposed to look badly burnt instead it seemed as though someone just dumped lots of dark mud on 'em!
Verdict: Still an engaging movie to watch, especially with lights off and alone at home...
Ustad Hotel (2012)
The Hotel that Feeds Your Stomach and Heart
It's really a wonderful feeling when you set to watch a movie with average expectation and it then blows your mind away :) Without doubt, Ustad Hotel is one of the most endearing movies I've seen and is also now one of my all-time favs in Malayalam cinema. Everything about it including the acting, direction, music & visuals are so impressive.
Dulquer Salmaan is excellent as Feyzee, the aspiring chef. So is Thilakan for whom I cannot praise as he's beyond all that. Thank God, one of his last movies gave him such a meaty, beautiful role. And of course there the other actors too like Nithya Menen(refreshing), Siddique as Dulquer's father and lot of supporting cast who are naturally convincing.
There are some socially relevant messages in the movie that truly hits home without making us feel bored or patronized. That's how any movie should be, which entertains & enlightens!
I'm assuming there could be some minor plot holes which I missed, therefore the 9/10. lol...
Verdict: Definitely, one of the best movies of 2012 and in my opinion, a must watch.
When Out of Body Experience Goes Horriby Wrong....
Insidious was quite a creepy movie, indeed.
The plus factors are the music, some truly scary scenes, the performances(at least of the creepy characters, lol) and the direction.
Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert and Rose Byrne as Josh's wife are convincing as a harried couple struggling to get their child back who's trapped in another dimension and also brave weird, spooky happenings in their house. I also liked Lin Shaye who does a stupendous act as a paranormal activity investigator.
It was an average ending though. There's a twist which viewers may not expect but I just felt the turn of events in the end could have been trimmed. It dragged a bit.
Verdict: Still quite creepy. Better than movies like the 2005 Amityville Horror!
Asl plz (2011)
Age, Sex, Location, pls!!!
Interesting concept and also well-captured by the director. Even the title seems apt for the story.
The actors Trilok and Sandhya do their bit quite well and the music fits well with the drama.
More importantly, the message about the dangers of online chatting is also effectively brought out. Would like to see more such meaningful short stories by the makers.
Probably they could have chosen better locations. Maybe that could have helped garner more hits in Youtube, hehe.
Still, this is a well-intended and well-done short movie.
Autopsy: A Love Story (2002)
From Morgue With Love :)
A quite striking movie with a subtle horror touch.
When I started off watching Autopsy, the expectations were low. But I must say if this movie was made with a pretty high-figure budget with the same director, it would have done much, much better commercially.
I really liked the direction, the way the plot moves and the performances especially that of Joe Estevez as the corrupt morgue doctor Dale Brodsky. He's truly an actor and I felt he resembled the Sheens. So it was a pleasant surprise when I read later that he's the younger bro of Martin Sheen :) The other fellow who lifts the movie with his sincere performance is John Scott Mills as Charlie Bickle, the morgue worker. Dina Osmussen as Jane Doe is pretty and also acts fairly.
Well, there were couple of bloopers which could have been avoided. One of the dead bodies who has eyes open began to shed a tear when the camera panned on her face for a long while :) Another horror(not a compliment) was the makeup on the dead faces! I guess they tried within whatever budget they had.
Verdict: Still a good effort. One of the better B-grade horror movies I've seen.