Movies Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Review

The world’s coolest pirate has arrived yet again, sporting his off-red bandana and hoop earrings. With that distinctive gait of his, Jack Sparrow embarks on a quest for the ‘Fountain of Youth’ in the latest installment of the ‘Pirates’ series – On Stranger Tides.

The movie’s plot is inspired from Tim Powers’ novel of the same name. The story entails a three-chariot race to the legendary ‘Fountain of Youth’. Sparrow sets foot in London upon hearing that an impostor has conjured up a journey to the fountain. He is captured by the King’s forces, and meets Captain Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), now a privateer, who asks him to join their journey to the fountain before the Spanish, who are already chasing the fountain, make it. Sparrow manages a spectacular escape, and meets his original impostor, who in reality was Angelica (Penelope Cruz) – his former love interest. Angelica drugs Sparrow and takes him aboard ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ – her father, legendary pirate, Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane) ship – which is on also on a quest for the Fountain of Youth. Meanwhile, Barbosa is hot in their heels, duly assisted by Sparrow’s first mate – Gibbs.

Gore Verbinsky has stepped aside for Rob Marshall, who wields the megaphone. The director of flicks like ‘Chicago’, and ‘Nine’, Marshall has given a signature style to this edition of Pirates – especially the action choreography. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are noted by their absence — the onus is entirely on Depp to take the plot forward, and he does it with elan. ‘On Stranger Tides’ is an out and out Jack Sparrow movie. His mannerisms and his endearing camp-gait impresses the viewer. Depp does everything from swinging from a chandelier to scaling palm trees while being tied to it. The best sequence is the initial ‘carriage-hopping’ sequence; the crowd in the theatre applauded wildly to the exquisite stunts, astonishingly, shot on a single-take! Cruz looks just great as the female lead. McShane is menacing evil Blackbeard while Rush ably reprises his role as Barbosa.

Full marks for the action sequences – they’re way ahead of the previous installments in the series. The CGI, coupled with 3D is indeed spectacular. Special mention goes to the mermaids – yes, there are loads of them in the movie. Unlike stereotypes, mermaids in this movie are vindictive and bloodthirsty – even vampire-like (the Twilight effect?), which makes them all the more attractive (Psst, their boobs are up for the grabs, pun intended. 😉 ). 3D is icing in the movie’s cake. Through my viewing experience was hampered by an inferior-quality theatre, I’m sure other viewers might have a better tale to tell.

That said, the film is lengthy, at 136 minutes. The story, in all its tedium, is average, and the meandering script only makes things worse. The plot is, at its best, chaotic. POTC has become a franchise of sorts, in the model of Harry Potter – and the plot for this movie seems tailor-made just to keep the franchise afloat. It hasn’t helped the the story is based on a novel. A lion’s share of action sequences are filmed at night, bringing in a visual tedium of sorts. Yes, your eyes tend to droop for brief spells. (A friend of mine actually slept through half of the movie).  The first half, despite the cart-hopping action sequences, drags.

Despite all its shortcomings, ‘On Stranger Tides’ manages to satisfy the average ‘Pirates’ fan, albeit marginally. If you’re a Jack Sparrow fan, the flick is worth a watch. Else, gear yourself for a mishmash of action sequences, amidst a chaotic plot.

My Rating: 5.5/10.


Movies Review

Urumi – Review: Style and substance

Santosh Shivan is one of the best cinematographers in the countryAs a director, he has sparkled in the past with movies as diverse as ‘Tahaan’ and ‘Navarasa’. As the ace cinematographer returns to direction once more, one expects some mind-blowing visuals in a power-packed movie. And that’s precisely what ‘Urumi’ has to offer.

Urumi is the story of Chirakkal Kelu Nayanar – a warrior in 15th century Kerala. The story, being told in flashback, has Krishna Raj (Prithviraj), a struggler based in Goa, who gets to know of his vast ancestral property in Kerala by a mining company which wants his land. All set to sell it off to the company, he comes back to Kerala where he gets to know the story of his ancestors from a tribal. Thus unveils the story of Kelu Nayanar, who wants to take revenge for his father’s death by killing Vasco Da Gama. Ably supported by childhood-buddy Vavvali (Prabhu Deva) and Arackal Ayesha (Genelia) – a warrior princess, he sets off to get Vasco’s blood.

This is not Santosh’s first period film – he has done ‘Asoka’ before. The experience has held him in good stead – Urumi defines perfection. The film has Santosh Shivan written all over it. The visuals are spectacular. Shot mostly in Malshej, Maharashtra, the locals are exquisite and look stunning in Shivan’s frame. Even the mist, most of which is natural, looks quite striking. All stops have been pulled to underscore even the last detail. Shankar Ramakrishnan’s script is quite straightforward, and helps the viewer focus into the nuances of the story perfectly. The connection between the flash-back and present is quite ironic and deserves applause.

Acting by Prithviraj is quite commendable. Prithvi excels as the angst-filled hero, living by his father’s ideals. His dialogue delivery and body-language is quite impressive. Genelia has shed her bubbly girl-next-door image to become the warrior princess – Ayesha. She does a good job, playing the menacing princess. Prabhu Deva effortlessly fits himself to the role of Prithvi’s sidekick, providing for the occasional laughter. Surprisingly, he even speaks decent Malayalam. Nithya Menon, who plays Bala, the ‘Chirackal’ princess, sparkles with her childish gait. Jagathy Sreekumar’s Machiavellian Chencheri Kurup is outstanding. He displays a Shakuni-like brilliance, drawing many accolades. The foreign cast, Robin Pratt and Alex O’ Neill – who play Vasco Da Gama and his son Estavio Da Gama respectively, are decent. Vidya Balan, however, is excess-baggage. Her item number is disappointing, with the actor exposing her not-so-perfect figure.

The highlight of the movie is its stunts. Internationally-acclaimed stunt-masters have been roped in to do martial arts for the movie. The movie justifies its title; the ‘urumi’ a.k.a. ‘Curling Blade’ depicts itself in every single stunt scene, so much to the fact that you become a fan of the potent weapon. The fact that the movie doesn’t employ CGI comes across as a high-point. Actors like Prithviraj and Genelia have in fact, acted in the stunt scenes themselves. The final clash between Prithviraj’s soldiers and Vasco Da Gama’s army is amazing. Most of the slow-mo stunts are breathtaking. They leave you glued to the seat, open-mouthed in adoration.

Not everything about this flick is rosy though. At 170 minutes, the film drags. The editing should have been a bit more taut; at least thirty minutes of the story could be easily cut out. Apart from ‘Aaro Nee Aaro’, music by Deepak Dev is disappointing. So are the music videos, most of which are quite unnecessary.

Overall, the 20-crore movie is watchable and worth the effort. Kudos to Prithviraj and Santosh Shivan for producing coming up with such an epic extravaganza.

My Rating: 6/10.

Blogging Movies

The Social Network

I happened to watch ‘The Social Network’ today. Yes, I’m a little late, I know. Better late than never, they say.

I didn’t realize it first, but this movie was my first flick in 2010.

Boy, what a movie it was! 🙂

Now, now, before you presume things, I’m not reviewing the movie. (I’m quite famous  notorious for my reviews these days. 😉 )The movie deserves nothing less than ‘awesome’, (quoting Barney). If you’re looking for a review, take my word, it’s awesome. Even for a non-computer geek. The movie spews awesomeness, hats off to David Fincher for the brilliant way he has laid out the story of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

I can safely say that ‘Social Network’ was the best thing that has happened to me in 2011. 🙂

Movies go a long way in  influencing you. They plant an idea in your head (la ‘Inception’) and take you to another realm, another world. And they inspire you to such great extent that you’re blown away. The social network had such an impact on me. It made me realize that even a college student can go on to be a billionaire. It gave me an insight on the power of ideas, how they can spiritedly bloom within your mind… And how, forced into action, they could work wonders with your life. It was a much-needed wake-up-call for me. Yes, I was sleeping. And this movie woke me up, with a rude shock! 🙂

Now that the movie has set my ball rolling, I’m getting back to the drawing board. It’s high time I started working towards the realization of my goals.

Oh, btw, Happy New Year, folks! And do watch ‘The Social Network’, if you haven’t. 🙂

Movies Song

Kurutham Kettavan – A Malayalam Album With A Difference

I first heard of Kurutham Kettavan from mom. She heard about this new Malayalam music video featuring Suraj Venjarammoodu and Ranjini Haridas on TV and alerted me immediately. Not exactly a fan of Ranjini, I didn’t show much interest. But mom seemed all hyped up about the video, despite not having seen it. Now, my mom’s the last person who’d follow a new music album or anything. So I really didn’t have a clue as to why my mom showed interest on Kurutham Kettavan.

Only until I saw the video myself. 🙂

Made in the ‘Palavattam’ mould, the album tries to undo (irreparable) damage done to the Malayalam Music scene by a juggernaut called ‘Silsila’ (incidentally made by a namesake of mine 😐 ). Sung by Anoop Sankar (Asianet Plus fame) and composed by Hariprasad, the peppy number has a tongue-in-cheek video featuring Ranjini and Suraj.

The song is about the travails of a random guy, played by Suraj Venjarammoodu, who is  a Kurutham Kettavan (one who’s upto no good) from childhood. Ranjini Haridas is Rosykutty, his love interest. Pepped with 3D animation, the video has a cartoonish-feel to it, making it quite endearing. The song’s also pretty-good, and matches upto the ‘Palavattam’ quality.

Kurutham Kettavan is a product of Vishraam Creations. Favour Francis is the video-director. Prakash Velayudan has handled the camera while Sushil has crafted the 3D visuals of the video. The video is edited by Dheeraj Warrier.

You’d surely enjoy the video, if you know the language. Do check it out! 🙂