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May 28, 2015

Movie : Avengers – The Age of Ultron (2015)


imageThe first Avengers that came out in 2012 was very good. As a sequel, this thing is confusing and, frankly, a letdown. They have tried too hard and it kind of leaves you over saturated with the plot, dialogs, and even special effects.

The trailers are phenomenal and Ultron in the trailers comes out awesome. I could not wait to see the movie, especially when rating websites gave it really high rating. Well, I do not seem to see what they see, but I came away very disappointed.

The Ultron story is based on the comic book story that came out as a series long ago, They have made changes in this movie because in the comic book for example, Ultron takes over Iron Man’s suit with him still inside it and the movie is different.

The story is simple. Ultron is an experiment by a Central European scientist (a fictitious country called Sokovia) named Strucker. He also has other mutant creations like the brother and sister duo of Quicksilver (who can move faster than the eye can see) and Scarlet Witch who can manipulate minds, even those of superheroes.

The usual assortment of Avengers goes to stop him and discovers Ultron’s code and Iron Man (Stark) wants to see how to control it and use it for good. But Ultron, being sentient, defeats Stark’s  Artificial Intelligence program JARVIS and takes over Iron Man’s whole lab. And makes copies of itself using machine parts. Very cool visual.

They fight to conquer it but it seems to be out of control, spreading to the Internet and being able to replicate at will all over the place.

Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans and others are there, as are the additions Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch for instance. Samuel L Jackson also makes an appearance in his usual role of Nick Fury. But the magic is missing. Read on.

And then it gets weirder. First of all, even this story is weird. The gadgetry goes overboard first. All over the place they have halographic screens that they move across thin air like the previous movies. Second, to show that JARVIS is defeated, they show Ultron as a blue network in air, JARVIS as the orange network and the blue “eats” orange. I know the director has to do something so that the audience knows what is going on, but this comes across as kind of tacky.

The dialogs are insipid. Their fighting, running, and then, incredibly having a quarrel among themselves and figuring out how idyllic life in a small town (Hawkeye’s private life) can be.

The human angle, right? But does not come across as natural. Is it me or does even Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow) comes across as tired or jaded?

Also you know how the Iron Man in the original movie kicked ass and just dominated the superhero club? How he had the best lines to himself? Here he comes and goes, as listlessly as the others have become.

And when Ultron, with all that invincible power decides that he “want to get into a human body” you wonder ‘Why? What is in it for you?’. No proper explanation. How can you conquer him? Give a human body to JARVIS of course!

Oh brother! All in all a confusing jumble and you come out of it with your head spinning, slightly bored at times, and with a great feeling of let down.

The visuals are good, as always. The humour is there in places, and they all try to wisecrack in the midst of disaster, but the spark that we found in the first movie seems to be surely missing in this one.

I will say a  4/10

– – Krishna

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October 2, 2014

Movie: Oldboy (2013)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:53 pm

imagesInspired by the Korean cult classic, this movie is different. It starts off very badly like a C grade movie. They want to depict Josh Doucette (Josh Brolin) as a devil may care playboy, hard smoking, hard drinking, skirt chasing, wife cheating bad man. Then one day, he gets kidnapped and wakes up in a prison cell with a creepy porter’s picture on the wall.

And the movie gets a lot more interesting after that. In fact initially, even the acting by Josh sucks and the dialogs suck more. Finally, after he wakes up, he starts seeing TV (and we with him, realize that many years have passed). He decides to quit smoking and bulk up. The television is his only mode of information. In it he sees everything – politics, cartoons,  discussions, his daughter Mia growing  up, his wife dying in a home invasion gone wrong; he watches Mia participate in competitions and win prizes and cries copiously. He gets food shoved through a hole in the door and his supplies given but never meets anyone. He is watched regularly through videos and when he turns unruly in the beginning, is gassed unconscious and subject to grooming against his will. He despairs of ever leaving and thinks he is going to die in that cell. So he starts pouring his heart out to his daughter Mia in a stack of letters that grow into a pile.

 

Then you get a shock. The man who is watching him is our own Samuel L Jackson. With a ridiculous looking blond Mohawk but really it is he! He is Chaney a gangster. But why is he holding Josh prisoner? What did Josh do to him? At this point there is no clue.

 

The movie really takes off now and you are dying of curiosity to find out who did this to him and why. He finally figures out a way to escape and even makes his escape through the roof but is captured and brought back. No punishment, nothing. Back in the room, with the escape avenue closed, and with no human contact except the TV again. He struggles to keep his sanity.

 

When twenty years is past, he is suddenly freed. As mysteriously as he was taken, he is let out. He is gassed and when he comes to, he finds himself on the streets, a free man. He vows to find who held him prisoner, and decides to find out. He is obsessed with finding out who did this to him. He is left with the stack of letters he wrote to Mia, and also a cell phone with his daughter’s picture and, ominously, a count down. He is desperate to find her.

 

He meets Marie (Elizabeth Olsen) who tries to help him. By sheer perseverance and some interesting detective work involving Chinese food, he manages to track down Chaney and tortures him, only to find that Chaney is a thug for hire and has a lot of people held prisoner in the facility where he was, for money. Before he can learn the identity of kidnapper, he is overwhelmed by Chaney’s bodyguards who manage to enter and gets badly beaten up and loses consciousness. He is mysteriously restored back to the place where he stays when he comes to.

 

Chaney finds him and now kidnaps both him and Marie, and they try to rape her and torture him when a phone call comes from someone named Adrian. Adrian asks that Chaney let them go and pays a ton of money to Chaney. You wonder why and the puzzle deepens.

How it all unravels and how you find out why he was kept a prisoner and why he was released is the rest of the story. A brilliant twist at the end makes you gasp. It is very unexpected.

 

There are a few things I found in the movie that I did not like at all. First, the acting, especially in the beginning, sucks. The first few scenes even feel amateurish. It gets better and better if you have the patience to continue watching.  Second, the whole plot is explained away fairly satisfactorily at the end, and you can buy that line of argument as logical. Not realistic, mind you, but at least plausible, given this is a Hollywood movie. How it ends is also very good. But it is all told suddenly at the end. No clues from the beginning, nothing to indicate what it could even be, but suddenly everything is sprung on you.

There are even childish scenes such as “If you can figure out why I did this to you within seven (was it?) days, I will pay you a fortune and kill myself in front of you” offer to him by the man responsible for it all. What?

 

But for all that, a very entertaining movie, and a very satisfying watch at the end.

 

I will award it a 7/10

 

  • – Krishna

January 17, 2014

Movie: Red Lights (2012)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:32 am

imageThis movie sets up high expectations. Consider the facts : It is billed as a psychological thriller (you expect something along the lines of Fracture or Side Effects; It has a big star cast – you have Robert De Nero, Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver in it.  And I had heard that there is a twist ending. (Again you expect something like Frailty, not  to mention The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects)  But does it live up to it?

Dr Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) has made it her life’s ambition to debunk the so called paranormal phenomena, especially faith healers. He is ably helped by the equally dedicated but younger Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy). The first few scenes of the movie show how they debunk faith healers – they employ  high tech gadgetry to detect fraudulent techniques employed. A faith healer seems to call forth names from audiences seemingly at random and knows intimate details about them that amaze the entire audience, until the  duo find out that he has a tiny speaker in his ear and there is a whole backroom operation feeding him information based on what they have found out – and expose him. Nice stuff. All interesting and intelligent.

Enter Simon Silver in the picture. One of the greatest psychics with multiple talents for reading minds, he was the best known and retired several years ago amid allegations that one of his subjects died after his ‘treatment’.  It is even more amazing since he has this power almost as if in compensation for being fully blind.

When he announces a comeback, Tom is raring to take a crack at him – here is an opportunity of a lifetime to debunk a legend like Simon. But curiously, Dr Matheson is reluctant. It turns out that a critic of his died when he tried to debunk and even Dr Matheson was unsuccessful in the past. She warns Tom that he is too big and dangerous to bring down and asks him to leave Simon well alone. Tom  decides to pursue it on his own and with the help of a colleague and his girlfriend Sally Owen (played by Elizabeth Olsen) he decides to pursue it.

Strange things start happening to him, noises, things flying out, his room ransacked when no one could have absolutely entered his room – and he is undeterred. When Simon agrees to a scientific experiment where he is wired up by scientists and performs a miracle of guessing what another person in a far away room has chosen from a set of switches (numbered) correctly, he knows there has to be  a twist and obsessively watches the footage until he figures out how he does it.

Therein lies the first twist of the movie. Then, he goes out to a meeting of Simon to expose him and therein lies the second twist of the movie, that, in a style similar to the movies mentioned above, makes you look at the whole movie in a different light.

Not as good as some of the movies mentioned above but still, not bad at all. The movie is enjoyable, despite moments of puzzlement and somewhat disjointed narration at a couple of places.

What jars is seeing Cillian Murphy paired with Elizabeth Olsen. She looks so young that it looks like he is interested in underage girls and that feels weird at first.

While on the subject of Elizabeth, this role gives very little scope to the talented actress who showed off what she is capable of doing in movies like The Silent House.

Credible performances from everyone, good narration, good presentation with a couple of exceptions. I would say it deserves a 7/10

— Krishna

March 11, 2012

Movie: Silent House

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:49 am

There are some interesting titbits about this movie. First, the central character in this Hollywood movie is Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the famous Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen twins (OK, I said ‘more famous’, not ‘more loved’). Second, the movie is a remake of a film from Uruguay, made just two years ago, called ‘La Casa Muda’ which means ‘The Silent House’.

The claim to fame of this movie is that it is supposed to offer the single-take experience, and often, in the movie you see this really, since the camera never leaves a character as he or she moves around an old castle, falling apart. The original Uruguay version is set in a small village in that country in the 1940s and is purported to be based on a real life incident.

Sarah visits the family’s lake house after a very long time, with her father and her uncle. The place is to be done up and sold, and she is here to collect her things and pack them up. The electricity fails right in the beginning (of course, it is a horror flick) and also, even in broad daylight, the interior of the house is in perpetual darkness. Everyone stumbles around, carrying battery powered lamps and flashlights.

There are enough scares when the characters move around individually in the darkness (of course) and Elizabeth portrays terror beautifully – initially. But when she is in a state of heightened terror almost all the way through the movie and when she and her uncle creep around cautiously inside the house even when they believe that someone is hurt and needs their help, one feels it is all a bit too much. But there is no denying the fabulous portrait of a frightened girl by Elizabeth.

The story includes a childhood friend of Sarah called Sophia, whom Sarah does not remembers first but recalls later. We learn that it is important to the movie only at the end.

The ending has got a great twist, which I liked, but there was just too much of Sarah moving around in the house reacting to strange noises all around, and the twist at the end also seems to be a bit abrupt, especially with the movie leading in another direction with a lot of mysterious characters moving around – at the back of the car, and inside the house on the other side of the corridor etc. After explanation, it kind of makes sense, but I thought that was a little bit of cheating!

The original Uruguay version is supposed to have offered a one take experience where the camera lives with Sarah without a break and the Hollywood version certainly does that too. I have not seen the original but this, while adding to the terror, sometimes goes crazy, for example, in the scene where she blindly runs from the house, and the camera follows bumpily.

It may be just me, but I thought the filming in a few places were vague and a bit confusing.

All in all, not the greatest of horrors, but may be worth a watch if you are just out to watch a moderately plausible story but a jumpy experience.

Overall, a 5/10

— Krishna

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