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7 reviews in total 
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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A Fair Premise that Should have died with the late great Andy Whitfield, 25 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I decided to give this review two stars as an amalgamation of the two different series (new one coming out today) associated with it. In the first season/series, Andy Whitfield plays the titular character with enough machismo and inventiveness to make you truly care for the character. In addition, Nick Tarabay, Viva Bianca, John Hannah and Lucy Lawless make for very interesting and three-dimensional villains, all in it for themselves, but all also displaying truly human feelings of shame, pride, and even compassion. In addition, the various other gladiators have their own various issues with one another or with their owners. In all truth, the series is full of all the nudity, sex, and gratuitous violence that one can stomach and much much more. That aside, there is plenty of character and plot development to recommend a watch. Also, in addition to the messy arena deaths many of the gladiators one becomes familiar with succumb to, the treachery of the villains ends many lives as well, and one manages to care for most of the even relatively minor characters and feel the impact of their passing.

Unfortunately, after the first season was filmed, Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with the cancer that eventually took his life. The producers released the fairly decent Gods of the Arena series, introducing Gannicus and a fairly new set of characters that did a decent job of keeping the continuity of the series going as well as adding some depth.

The next step in the series, unfortunately, is the one that proverbially broke the camel's back. For starter's, and before I start bashing any actor in particular, it should be pointed out that by this point the series has taken a drastic turn, as we are no longer operating in arenas or at the House of Batiatus, but instead in the open and with actual battles with Romans. This change of scenery, rather than adding a fresh new look for the franchise, instead makes all the fleeing and running very repetitive and boring. In addition, Glaber makes a very poor substitute for John Hannah's ambitious Batiatusn as a villain.

Finally, most of the characters from the original series are, by this point, either played by a different actor (unavoidably in the case of Spartacus) or dead at this point of time, and all the new main characters (Meera especially in this case) are one-dimensional and played very poorly. In addition, there are only so many times the new Spartacus can deliver the same speech and expect it to make any effect on the audience. By the end of the season, I was fully rooting for the Romans to get rid of Spartacus' band.

If you want to take a chance on this series, I would strongly recommend the first season as well as the entertaining Gods of the Arena. You will be best served avoiding everything after that.

Darr (1993)
Shahrukh as Villain=Masti every Time, 16 January 2013

Sure, it "borrows" ideas from Psycho fairly liberally, and by now it's effects are fairly cheesy, but still, Darr is a great film to watch by any standard.

Darr is one of those rare Yash Chopra films (and the beginning of the great association of Shahrukh Khan with Yash Raj films) that brings violence and the more obsessive type of love into the picture of your typical Bollywood romance. The action scenes are few and far between, and yet this is one of the darkest and bloodiest Hindi films of the early 90's.

Shahrukh Khan assays the role of stuttering stalker Rahul Mehra pursuing the lovely Kiran (Juhi Chawla), who is already engaged to the dull as dishwater, but very sane and predictable Sunil Malhotra (Sunny Deol). All of this feels very basic on paper, but on reality the combination of these three characters is dynamite on screen.

Unintentionally I am sure (no one would intentionally portray themselves as a bore when they are supposed to be the hero of the film), Sunny Deol is in great part to thank for the magic that is Darr. While Shahrukh takes to the obsessive and yet very sympathetic victim with aplomb, Deol's performance as the tired and somewhat old (even back then) Sunil is one that really drives you into Shahrukh's arms right from the first frame.

In an odd twist of logic the character played by Sunny (Deol has been a fine actor in other films so this is not an attack on his character) almost forces the viewer to take Shahrukh Khan's point of view when it comes to Kiran. What exactly does she see in her husband-to-be? Other than fiscal stability, it does not seem that Sunil brings much to the table. In consequence, despite the admittedly awful things that Rahul does throughout the film, in a very eerie and disconcerting way, one begins to cheer for Shahrukh's character to not only win the girl, but also to triumph over Sunil in every way possible.

Such a powerful emotional impulse is bound to be given credit, and I have to give it where it is due. Just to make sure that Juhi Chawla is not left out, I do have to mention that, as in her previous work such as Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Juhi gives a star performance as the cute if somewhat vapid college student and object of Rahul's desire.

I strongly recommend anyone to watch this film, even if they are not entirely familiar with Bollywood. It is definitely worth a viewing if only to test and see if you can manage to completely hate the villain in this piece. It is a challenge I admittedly failed at miserably.

Baazigar (1993)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Shocking for its Time and Still A Good Film Today, 16 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Baazigar can correctly be regarded as a classic of Hindi cinema for three major reasons. The primary reason that Baazigar works so well as a movie is that the expectation for Hindi films, especially romances as this one first appears to be, is for the good guy to beat up the bad guys, and yet Shah Rukh Khan here assays a malevolently likable character who steals the scene as well as our hearts, all while playing a psychotic killer. In all fairness, Shahrukh's Ajay Varma is given a fairly sympathetic back story to not completely dehumanize him, and yet the victims of his aggression often seem to be innocent and unaware of his background. Secondarily, the performance by Kajol as the younger sister of Shahrukh's first victim is so heartfelt and genuine that you could swear that she had been acting for decades. In addition, her chemistry with Shahrukh Khan's character leaves the viewer in the unenviable position of wishing the best for these star-crossed lovers even while fully knowing the evil that Ajay has done and plans yet to do to Kajol's Priya. Finally, the action and fight scenes depicted in the film, while definitely cheesy by todays much more bloated standards, are all fairly well choreographed to give true emotion. Unlike the Dabaangs and Rowdy Rathore's of today, where visual effects create super-humans out of corrupt cops and serve primarily to distort the laws of physics, Abbas-Mustan have managed to capture so much raw emotion through the fight scenes on a very personal level. This is not to say that Baazigar is without faults. Despite the wonderful acting by both Shahrukh Khan and Kajol, we are never quite sure (and this actually may be a strength instead of a weakness, but that is up to interpretation) what Ajay's intentions are for Priya, or whether, after learning about his true character (and so much more within the last 10 minutes of the film), Priya still loves Ajay in the end. Also, while much of the acting is good, some of Shahrukh's scenes, especially this early in his career, are fairly hammy and overdone. In addition, Shilpa Shetty's portrayal of the classic abla naari, while decently portrayed, does very little to garner support for her character. All in all, if you are looking for a pure emotional roller coaster of a film, Baazigar is definitely up your alley. Just be ready for what you are getting into, as some of those emotions will be very dark.

Not Too Bad, 15 January 2013

While SOS is not a great film by any means, or even a film that I will likely watch again, it is not as bad as some of the reviewers have been portraying it. For starters, this is a purely masala entertainment film, meant more for the masses than the critics. As such it has a very simple plot and does not concern itself overly much with a theme. In this review I will first go over the parts of the film which struck home and then elucidate some points of contention. Firstly, and I have been wanting to point this out for awhile, I am glad that we are finally seeing Sanjay Dutt in roles that are appropriate for him. As a looming and brooding antagonist, Sanjay shines far better than in the sleazy avatar he has been adhering to of late. He is much better in more honest roles where he is not chasing women young enough to be his granddaughters. Ajay Devgan, who is by no means great in everything that he does, does a superb job in this film and really hits the comedy spot on in most of the scenes, though his love affair with Sonakshi's character seems to be at best a little stretched. As far as Sonakshi goes, she reprises the basic role she portrays in all of her admittedly short list of films up to date and mostly just has events play out around her instead of having much that is extremely important to do. This has the positive effect of me not being able to say anything very bad about her character's portrayal in the film. The supporting cast, including especially the ever bubbly Juhi Chawla all do a superb job of keeping the comedy going, though the action scenes suffer from the staleness of the one hundred guys going at one hero routine that we have all come to know and (not) love. On the negative side, the story drags a lot in many parts, and most of the comedy has been sucked out of the script by the second half of the film, leading to some boredom through the second half. In addition, there is a lack of romance in the romance scenes (partly because there are so few to know that a romance should be developing) and far too much repetitive action to really enjoy. In the end, however, the film accomplishes what it seeks out to do in giving the audience a simple and mostly family-friendly story to enjoy for two and a half hours. Good for a watch though don't be surprised if you do not remember much of the movie after a few days.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
This Cannot be From the Director of Hum Tum, 15 January 2013

The only truly decent thing to say about Teri Meri Kahaani is that the lead actors performed their roles well. The film actually encapsulates three stories in one, and therein lies the problem. There are three main issues with the film that make it unsatisfying in every way.

The main problem with the film, and where the whole premise falls apart is that there is no true thread to tie these stories together. Without some common theme (aside from a very loose boy meets girl connection), the only thing that differentiates these stories is the time period (Set in the 60's, present day, and 1910). The second major problem is that despite trying to flesh out three stories entirely in two hours, Kunal Kohli does not give enough flesh to any of the stories in order to make you really enjoy them. The only story with any meat in it as well as having characters who are not completely reprehensible (the one set in the 1910's) is given as much or less screen time as the boring tale set in the present day. Finally, the movie fails in a big way as, with the little character development that we are given, we are urged to loathe or at the very least not care about most of the characters involved. Either Priyanka or Shahid's characters or both are cast in an unfavorable and somewhat confusing light in each of their various avatars, and, despite being so horrible and with so many issues, their stories just abruptly end in a way that is extremely unsatisfying to the viewer. The two rays of light for this picture are the beautiful Urdu poetry segments and songs and the refreshingly able Prachi Desai who shows in only a few minutes worth of screen time that she has true acting talent. That, however, is not enough. I would strongly recommend passing on this one as it will likely leave you completely unsatisfied.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Decent Comedy but with It's Faults, 15 January 2013

First I would like to clarify that aside from having Akshay Kumar in a starring role, this film is nothing like the Khiladi movies from the 90's. I will start this review with the negative aspects of the film and then move on to where it succeeds. Firstly, as is increasingly common with Bollywood films these days, the Punjabi element is noticeably there both linguistically and thematically. This is not so wrong except that I think that over-Punjabization makes it somewhat difficult to follow some plot lines and jokes. Additionally, there is not really a message in this film to follow and some of the jokes fall stale. Also, the storyline about Akshay Kumar's character's long lost brother does seem to be not only tangential, but also completely unnecessary. In addition, while many of the fight scenes are choreographed well, some of them do tend to drag and could have been more sharply edited. On to what the film does well. The supporting cast, other than the non-Indian characters (as per usual with Bollywood) all do a fair job in creating a hilarious atmosphere. Asin is adequate in her role, though she has been typecast so far in Bollywood as the pretty girl who gets duped a lot and does not have much to do other than be eye candy, a standard which she adheres to here with aplomb. Akshay Kumar and Mithun Chakraborty both do an excellent job in creating a comic atmosphere without being overly obnoxious, which is somewhat helped by the characteristically helpless look that Chakraborty has perfected for his role as the stern patriarch (he has played the same role in about a half dozen movies by now so he should be getting good at it in any case). In addition, the songs are fairly catchy in their own way, though Himesh Reshammiya has a hard time making a love song not sound ridiculous. Overall this was a decent masala entertainer from Bollywood that, while not comedic gold, is nevertheless a far better outing than some of the other choices from Akshay Kumar this past year. Good for a watch.

9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
A Movie of Two Acts: Unfortunately Only one of Them is Any Good, 15 January 2013

Yash Chopra's last cinematic outing left me feeling somewhat conflicted, but I would still recommend it as a watch for any fan of Yashji. First I would like to elucidate the moving and effective parts of the film before I go on to the major critique. Firstly, the performances from all of the actors were at least at par with their previous work, and I thought Shah Rukh, in his role as a Major in the Indian army was one of the best of his career. In addition, the cinematography and the songs in the movie were both enchanting and involving. The story is very compelling and (though a touch filmy) gets the viewer involved in the struggle between the characters very well, a feature that is common to most of Yashji's work in any case. On to the negative aspects. While the story is engaging, the character development is somewhat confusing. We get to see the change in Shahrukh over time from a carefree worker in London to a cold and calculating soldier carefully orchestrated over time, and yet Katrina's character is portrayed in a very nebulous light. She takes her relationship with God very seriously in some areas, but in others it seems to be at the back of her mind if it is there at all. Normally I would attribute this to Kaif's lack of depth in acting ability, but in this case she cannot be entirely to blame as she was at least adequate in the role she was given. The second major problem is that the antagonist, God, is never portrayed (if He could be at all) in a very distinctive light. It would be giving away plot points to say exactly why, but suffice it to say that Chopra did not seem to have the heart to actually portray a fight against God, and so the effort of making him the only true antagonist seems to be halfhearted. Finally, in the final third of the movie, a somewhat shady tactic is used in order to propel the story forward. While I have seen worse devices used in Bollywood films, it did seem like a somewhat cheap ploy to utilize in order to move forward. This does seem to somewhat distance the audience from the actual plight of the characters and further seems to muddy Katrina Kaif's role in the film. Overall, I would not call this a terrible movie by any stretch and certainly a beautiful film to watch, but if there is any lesson to take away from this film (other than for Shahrukh Khan not to go on the streets in London) is to keep it simple and that emotion can only go as far as reality allows it.