Movie Review – The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Having had shunned movies for a while, I was waiting for a good one to break the self-imposed exile – and The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn was definitely a good choice to do that. Director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Georges Remi a.k.a Herge’s characters – the intrepid boy reporter Tintin, his dog Snowy and the foul-mouthed but likeable Captain Haddock – comes to life in an animated rollercoaster of an adventure.

I’m not a huge fan of Tintin and his adventures (well, there was the time when I used to diligently cut out the series’ pages from The Week and staple them to make a poor-man’s version of the comic book since the original ones were priced a bit high for my pocket money) but have read most of the works and also used to see the series on TV, even though the Hindi versions didn’t do justice to the characters or their utterances! The movie instalment, however, is an immensely enjoyable spectacle which brings out the comic world onto the screen in amazing vividity and vibrancy.

  Secret of the Unicorn

The movie follows Tintin and Snowy’s adventures as a wooden model of a long lost ship – The Unicorn – and the secret that it hides leads them onto a fascinating journey across the world. They come across Captain Haddock, whose ancestor the ship once belonged to and holds the key to unlocking the mystery behind it all. There are the bumbling cops Thompson and Thomson, the villain Sakharine, the mutinous former ship-mates of Captain Haddock, the singing lady Bianca Castafiore and a whole lot of fun, frolic and edge-of-the-seat thrills and spills.

The story is engaging and fast-paced and though it combines elements from three different Tintin books, the cohesiveness is there. Having the movie animated enables several scenes to be grandiose and large-scaled, something which would probably have been difficult to shoot the normal way, even with CGI. The animation also copies the look and feel of the original comic books and makes one feel that the books itself have come to life.

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Movie Review: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I

I’ll admit it: I’ve never felt so bored or yawned so much in a Harry Potter movie. Not even while I was seated in the left-most seat on the first row at Prasadz IMAX for HP & TGOF…whilst my neck muscles sure needed some respite after that experience, I still felt excited at the movie & the happenings. Not so much this time around.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows or HP7 for short, feels like (to borrow a line from a sitcom) the stand-up comedian you’ve to sit through before Pink Floyd  shows up. Its just the prelude to bigger, and hopefully better, things in store. A tedious, slow and dragging build-up to an ultimate showdown – the finale. The Denouement. I know I said the same things after HBP but back then I didn’t know the finale would be a two-part one 😐

HP7

With Albus Dumbledore now Avada Kedavra-ed, the Dark Lord and his minions train their sights on Harry Potter and the Order (of the Phoenix) try their bloody best to keep him away from the enemy’s clutches. Camouflaged subterfuge or not, the death eaters still find them out and after the death of one and injury to another member of the order, they find that the Ministry of Magic has also fallen foul of Harry and have branded him their Most Undesirable No. 1. Harry, Ron & Hermoine are forced to go on the run and try to find the rest of the Horcruxes, the things that hold the secret to Voldemort’s life/death. Wandering across forests, plains, grasslands, snowy villages, hillsides etc, they come to know of the story of The Deathly Hallows which probably holds the key to unlocking the mystery of the last Horcruxes. The movie ends with Voldemort laying hands on one of them…will Harry find the others in time for the great final showdown?

We’ll know in 2011.

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Movie Review – Lafangey Parindey

With a title like Lafangey Parindey one would expect the movie to be somewhat crass, riddled with street-gangs, brawls, bloody fights, bruises, cuss-words, the works. And maybe a love-story amidst all that disorder coz let’s face it – it’s a movie. And bang! the lead actors are Neil Nitin Mukesh and Deepika Padukone – two of the classier actors around. Totally out of place!

Lafangey Parindey

Lafangey Parindey is set in the Tilakwadi chawl in Mumbai, where Nandan Kamtekar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is known by the name of one-shot-Nandu – a loafer by day and boxer by night, winning fights for the local goon, Usman bhai (Piyush Mishra). As with any tapori, his role-model is another bigger one – Anna (Kay Kay Menon) and in helping him out after a hit one rainy night, he causes an accident which changes everything. Anna dies but Nandu escapes further punishment after the case is suppressed.

Pinky Patkar (Deepika Padukone) is a free-spirited girl in the same chawl, who aspires to raise above the muck around her by skating/dancing her way into a reality show and win it. But as fate would have it, she’s blinded in an accident and her dreams lie shattered. But around comes Nandu and he trains her to “see” without sight and nurtures her ambitions to win the competition as her dancing partner. Before long, friendship blossoms into love but the past returns to haunt them and threatens to wreck their relationships and Pinky’s dreams. Or does it?

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Movie Review – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The movie’s trailer doesn’t say it (maybe) but from the producers and director of the hit movie National Treasure, comes this summer’s magical journey into the world of sorcery, ages-old battle between good-versus-evil and one in which the fate of mankind lies in the hands of an unsuspecting 20-year physics nerd. Who doesn’t want to be, but has to become, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

The Sorcerer's Apprenice

Nicholas Cage stars as Balthazar Blake, an ageless sorcerer, who’s been fighting alongside fellow sorcerer Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) & sorceress Veronica (Monica Bellucci) under the guidance of sage sorcerer Merlin, against the evil Morgana Le Fay. In 740 AD, Horvath turns against them and along with Morgana, kills Merlin but before they could wreak havoc upon mankind, Veronica absorbs Morgana within herself and Balthazar entraps all three into a prison-doll called the grimhold. Merlin suggests Balthazar should search for a sorcerer who’s the Prime Merliner, one who’s destined to defeat these evil powers. Balthazar’s quest cuts across history before he finds David Stutler (Jay Baruchel). Balthazar becomes Dave’s master and as his apprentice, Dave must learn to control the magical powers and use them to save the world!

I’m a big fan of the National Treasure movies which were about treasures, clues in plain-sight and a fun-ride for its hunting. Director Jon Turteltaub and Nicholas Cage turn into the mystical world of sorcery and magic for TSA and it isn’t as fun a ride as a treasure hunt. For one, movies such as Harry Potter, Narnia, LoTR have made it a far lesser novelty of a genre and unless it is typically different or offers something new, its gonna be a yawn-inducing affair. Thankfully, TSA has few interesting happenings which though not novel, do hold the audience’s sway, especially the fun-loving ones. Cynical ones will find this boring (ahem!)

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Movie Review: Raavan

Mani Rathnam’s magnum-opus Raavan  hit the screens two days ago and I hit the plush chairs at PVR to catch it up on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. In hindsight, maybe I should’ve hit the sack and rested those wearisome muscles rather than risk a jaw-ache from all those yawns! Coz it wasn’t as high and mighty as its made out to be.

“Old wine – new bottle” is passé! Old wine, re-distilled (read re-interpreted) and served up in rustic yet beautiful khullads is the new mantra. Vishal Bhardwaj did it with Omkara. Prakash Jha did it with Rajneeti and now Mani does the same with Raavan.

Raavan Poster

Beera (Abhishek Bachchan) is the scourge/saviour of a fictitious place Laal Maati. He’s the son of the soil, who rights the wrongs of the law enforcement officers by killing them or burning them at a stake! Locals deify him and none dare defy him. SP Dev Pratap Sharma (Vikram) is the man set out to hunt him down, at any cost. The hunt becomes a personal one when his wife Raagini (Aishwarya Rai) is kidnapped by Beera and held hostage. The age-old good vs. evil struggle commences amidst the backdrop of jungles, waterfalls, caves, canyons and sleepwatching audiences!

Firstly, why the place is named Laal Maati is beyond me. Given there’s not as much as a sand dune but acres and acres of jungle, humungous waterfalls, ravenous canyons and caves, black rocky cliffs with an idol of Shiva atop and also what looked like a poor-man’s Angkor Vat in between! Agreed, the locales and picturesque and breathtaking but it scarcely looks like North India. It rains almost throughout the movie (Kerala?); there’s a huge river & a huger waterfall (Karnataka?); lots and lots of jungle (Madhya Pradesh?); we see tribal folk and sweater-wearing policemen (Bihar/UP?); rusticness & artistry abounds in the mud-walled villages and mountain-top temples (Rajasthan?). Clearly, Geography is not the movie’s strong point!

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2010 FIFA World Cup – Week 1 Roundup

FIFA World Cup Week 1 Roundup

Its not exactly a week but all 32 teams participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup have finished playing one match apiece and though it is far too early to judge who’s on top and who’s fading out, let’s cast an eye over the bygone five days of World Cup action.

Draws, and goal-shyness as well, seem to be the forte for the opening round, what with 16 matches producing 6 draws (2 of them goalless), 6 1-0 victories and just the 2 matches with 3 or more goals. And only 25 goals scored at an average of 1.5 goals per game!

Owing to the rather odd work hours (I work in the GMT shift), I rarely got to see the early and mid-day kickoffs but have caught few of the late kick-offs and though there were a couple of dour draws in there, I’m inclined to believe things will pick up soon. Of the matches that I’ve seen, France Vs. Uruguay pips the Italy Vs. Paraguay one to being the most dour one, mostly coz it was a nil-all! England Vs. USA was a nervy affair but I was ROFLing when Robert Green made than horrendous miss to gift USA the draw. Brazil Vs. Korea DPR was a lively affair too, but undoubtedly the pick of the round was Germany’s 4-0 drubbing of hapless Australia.

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Movie Review: Housefull

Having not liked Heyy Babyy one bit, I approached Housefull with skepticism and my doubts were seemingly coming true within the first hour of the movie! The goings on were so predictable and at times, so boring that I felt this was my second consecutive dud-movie-going (after Prince!). But director Sajid Khan salvages the movie majorly with the second half, as the goings on become much more hilarious and rib tickling. He blots his copybook a bit with a Priyadarsan-esque climax but overall, its a good watch.

Housefull Movie

Housefull revolves around bad-luck-struck Aarush (Akshay Kumar) who brings ill-luck upon himself and on others wherever he goes. So much so that he’s employed in a casino to repel the winning streaks of players! Fed up with the job and cast aside by his lover, he returns to London to his best friend Bob (Riteish Deshmukh) & his wife Hetal (Lara Dutta) but his bad luck follows him. In a bid to get rid of the ‘loser’ tag by finding true love, he marries Devika (Jiah Khan), gets jilted and then meets Soundarya a.k.a. Sandy (Deepika Padukone). Thrown into the mix then are Sandy’s possessive anna Major Krishna Rao (Arjun Rampal) and Hetal’s father Batuk Patel (Boman Irani) and the happenings just get crazy and crazier!

A ‘loser’ attracting more bad luck and compounding his situation further is nothing new and this stands out as a big deterrent in the first half, with some loud & awkward scenes not helping matters. Akshay’s and Jiah’s arranged marriage is without substance or background and that too stands out as a sore thumb. The movie picks up a bit with Chunkey Pandey’s irritating but comical Italian+Pathan character lending some relief. Deepika’s introduction is none too convincing either and by the time interval approaches, one wonders if its all going downhill. But the entry of Arjun Rampal and Boman Irani lend a huge boost and the ensuing mistaken identities and the confusions borne out of that are simply hilarious. An unnecessarily-included gay angle comes across as annoying but funny nonetheless. The fact that the movie All The Best had similar happenings kept on niggling at the back of my mind but I swatted it out anyway!

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Movie Review: Prince. [Should’ve been called Farce!]

I needed a reboot myself after returning from the screening of Prince, where the hero faces from acute bouts of nausea and passes out coz his “brain crashes every time he reboots i.e. sleeps”! And no, I’m not making this up here…its actually the whole bedrock principle of the movie *facepalm*

Prince Movie Poster

The hero, is called only Prince for no apparent reason (its *not* his nickname…they actually show an ID Card with the name as Prince Verma!) and is said to be a master thief – though he only vacuums up some diamonds at the start of the movie and ransacks a telephone booth at the fag end & steals nothing in between! Something lame happens to his memory and he recalls only the past day or so.

Therein starts a whole rigmarole where the hapless audience is subjected to not one, not two but three bimbos calling themselves Maya, an idiotic servant who keeps repeating “woh” every time he opens his mouth, some wierdly named organizations – there’s DCOI & IGRIP, for starters, a ‘look-ma-I’ve-a-Terminator-esque-hand’ villain, umpteen gun-toting phoren extras, some unfathomable computer gadgetry and a whole lot of bunkum. And yeah, there’re several quite daring but nonsensical stunts – most of them involving jumping off rooftops on bikes!

Amidst all this hoopla, there’s nothing resembling a storyline or a screenplay. Yeah, there’s a flashback story that is a load of tripe, some mumbo-jumbo about national security, the usual hundreds of millions of dollars at stake and also the backstabbery but all of them are as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise! Logic, rationale, flow and meaning disappear as the horns did off a donkey’s head!

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