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Archive for December, 2007

Star dust – Movie review

Stardust – An enchanting single volumed Epic!stardust_promo_poster.jpg


Paramount pictures and Marv films associate to present us this grand and vivacious movie based on the novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess. Stardust holds a good position in its ghetto of old good fairy tale movies. The director Mathew Vaughn is the man to be crowned with praises for furnishing an ordinary hocus pocus house with top-notch gubbins of Love and Romance,while James Goldman,his screenplay partner warrants a big applause. His success is for sure,since the the idea of true love chewed in the movie leaves a long lasting impression on our hearts inspite of the magical hallucinations fading away soon, but the latter serves the director to mesmerise the audience to the screen while watching the movie. Also it acts as a strong commercial element since it serves donuts to the groundlings. Inspite of a cliched beginning the plot grows out into a real artwork fulfilling every sort of audience. Some of us may like it more than the big daddy,Lord of the Rings, since the size matters. On the other hand, this tale of love and magic is tweaked more for the grown ups than kids. But the movie adheres to the conventions of a typical fairy tale enabling the bairns to sit through the movie. So Stardust constitutes all the nutrients of a balanced diet,suitable for all ages.

The plot is ‘spell’ed out with the letter which Dunstan{Ben Barnes}, a country lad writes to the Royal society of London quizzing and puzzling them about the entity of a magical world beyond his village named Wall. The scientists consider it to be an ordinary folklore and write him back mildly saying that its only a myth and if its proved it would whither away all the laws of sciences. But the curious lad surpasses the guard and trespasses beyond the village into the magical world he dreamt of. There he finds a number of things to his surprise. He meets a bondaged girl who sells him a flower which is known for bringing luck which costs him a kiss. Later on both of them mutually entertain and get parted. Nine months later, the young lad receives a basket bearing a child christened Tristan{Charlie Cox},born as a result of his relationship with the chained girl in the wonderland. As in any fairy tale, the lad becomes a man and the child becomes a lad. Now Tristan as an innocent and inefficient lad, tries to woo Victoria{Sienna Miller}, the lady of his dreams. But Victoria ignores him because of his powerlessness and state of penury. One starry night, Tristan manages to convince victoria for a drink in the moonlight. While Tristan goes by his childish ways to propose Victoria, a burning star falls from the sky and lands somewhere on the earth. To escape from the tricks of the stupid cupid, Victoria stipulates him to get that fallen star within a week as a demonstration of his love. This incident places Tristan in a chariot, starting his journey of adventure. But Tristan enthusiastically begins his ride without knowing that the trip will transform his past, present and future. But without his knowledge, his journey becomes a rush for the star when three witches, a couple of Princes and some other fellows come to bite and bother Tristan’s journey for their own reasons. The rest of the story answers two questions: Will Tristan bring home what his lady love demanded? Will he become a hero? But with many sweet and shiny twists. So folks, Don’t miss out this tale of a country boy turning a Royaler.

The movie’s script is the magic box, which hails the director as the expert magician. Every nook and corner of this magical world is shaped to perfection. The perfect world includes the husky narration,wondrous juxtapositioning of the scenes of different sub-plots, painting of the characters and incidents and time management as well. Starting from the guard to the goat turned man, every character plays it role to the ne plus ultra. Also the concept of ghosts, which we all know,is handled by the director in a newfangled way which adds more spice to the movie. Above all the construction of the plot is picture-perfect,since every part grows naturally out of the situation,though the story is a fairy tale. Coming back once again to the script, the dialogues,act as the pillars of the plot, carrying it high till the end, retaining the interests of the audience.Among the actors, Claire Dane through her exceptional acting,edifies us on true love. With her expressive eyes and witty tongue,becomes the lady of the movie. A very few characters last long in our minds and Yuvain is one of such. Ben Barnes scores the most as the innocent boy and plays well as the beautiful prince-like whippersnapper running to say sorry to Victoria. Robert De Niro who wears the motley of Captain Shakespeare, sticks to it perfectly,satisfying the audience. All the other actors have acted as in an ideal fairy tale.

In a first glance one could find no faults with this movie but a deeper analysis could bring out a few pitfalls. The characters of the King and Princes are too bloody and cynical in this story of ‘All is well that ends well’. Most of the elements of this movie are prepared for matured audience and every scene is tweaked for that effect,which might make the movie a bit stultifying for the kids. Two hours seven minutes is way too long for a Hollywood movie and its disgusting at a very small scale. Apart from these tiny spores, the movie lives happily ever after.

Among the technical aspects, the music by Steve MacLaughlin produces the dreamy effect which is essential for this movie. Ben Davis’s cinematography is in perfect tune with the rhythm of the movie. John Harris’s editing work is exceptional except for a few scenes,perhaps he must be trying to develop a scene out of the other. The Makeup is remarkable, especially with the witches and Captain Shakespeare. The special effect team has to be felicitated for making this movie in a grand manner, fit to be called an epic. So Stardust says “Foul is foul and fair is always fair for ever”

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Billa 2007 – Movie Review

Billa – A BMW on a rugged road!

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Ananda pictures delivers us the remake of the Rajni starrer, Billa with Ajith as the lead. Vishnuvardhan has wielded the megaphone for this elite and elegant action movie. Vishnuvardhan has made an attempt to build a stylish and sophisticated tower based in Malaysia. He hasn’t deviated too much from his blueprint ie the original Billa. Only a couple of ameliorations lie between the Rajni starrer and Ajit starrer. Being one of the most expected and awaited movie of this year, Billa 2007 has hit the screens two days after Super star’s birthday. Though a number of diverse things feed this movie making it healthy, an attack of viruses on the screenplay cells makes it a bit dull. Anyhow Ajith is back on his right track, after sitting on the fence for a while. He shines well when he has got a negative foil to his protagonist role{For instance Vaali, Samrat Ashoka,Attahasam and Godfather}. So Billa is a resplendant Beemer moving on a rugged road without leaving long lasting impressions on the track. But at the end of the day, there is nothing wrong if you take a ride on Billa.

Billa{Ajith} is an evasive Don, ruling an anti-social samrat along with his complices. Jay{Prabhu} is the DSP, assigned to cut the throat of Billa, the cut throat. But Billa with his will and skill messes up the DSP’s every single plan to get him. Billa has the habit of helping his back-stabbers to their coffins and he never trusts anybody except the person who appears on the mirror when he confronts it. He usually shares his bed but not bosom with CJ{Namitha},one of his comrades. One fine seductive day, Billa’s commander Ranjit{Aditya} brings home Saasha {Nayantara}, whom Billa appoints for her intrepidity. Another noxious day, Billa gets mortally wounded by Jay’s bullet while busy over a weapon deal. The Malaysian polis’s search to find Billa’s corpse proves to be unsuccessful, while Billa shares his last minutes with Jay and dies. To lay hands on the big boss Jagdish{suspense!} Jay trains Velu{Ajith} a petty thief in Malaysian Murugan temple to impersonate Billa. Staraight off, the Interpol officer Gokulnath arrives and shares up the Billa case with the reluctant Jay. Billa updates Jay on the whereabouts of the hoodyard birds, while a spy among the Khakis, keeps tipping Jagdish. All of a sudden Jay turns up his toes when a mysterious man puts a bullet in him. Now the only key to release Velu from the cage named Billa is lost. So take a ride to find what happened to Velu.

Vishnuvardhan hasn’t made any changes to the original storyline,but has excluded and included a few characters. The first forty minutes of the movie where Ajith plays the ruthless and venomous Billa, is extraordinary and inevitably these minutes will stay forever in Ajith’s hall of fame. He steps in as a notorious criminal, plays around like an indomitable lion and passes away like a great crusader, Kudos to Ajith & Vishnu duo. In the next place, the comic spirited Velu’s character is spun well, alongside the slapstick flavored role of Santanam. The locations chosen are unimaginably wonderful and treats the eye well.The scene sequence which explores Velu’s transmogrification into Billa is presented with Ajith’s charming humor is second to none. The song ” My Name is Billa” is a grand visual treat to the audience, we could see the class on the cloth. All the above, Ajith’s style and body language are smashing and adds 100 runs to his score. The expression change which Ajith brings after the sudden death of Namitha’s character establishes that he is still a master strokesman in dual pitches. So Billa is an action movie with no action. A punch which prevailed through the other two movies of Vishnuvardhan is missing in this one.

The movie is sustained by the Billa role in the first forty minutes and by Velu’s subtle humor for a while. After a point of time, the plot’s life becomes haywire and it becomes an orphan at the end, testing the tolerance of the audience. Though a remade movie, the director could have taken pains to modify the dialogues to make this one fresh. Adding to this,the storyline keeps you waiting and waiting and makes you whine. Since the original Billa and Don are filled with twists and turns, our mind longs for one in this too, which is not fulfilled till the very end. Nayantara, incarnates onscreen almost sans top in a few scenes pushing any other actress in glamour behind her, though she has nothing serious to do in the movie. Rahman,who appears as a Interpol officer, puts up a good show, particularly at the end. But Prabhu’s character and dialogues are the worst part of the movie. He speaks sorry blabbers throughout this stylish and luxurious movie like a character which had been taken from a totally different movie like Bharathiraja’s Mudhal Mariadhai{I ain’t demeaning Mudhal Mariadhai, but its altogether a movie on a different platform!}. Outside of this, to show Billa is a Don, the director still uses the technique of exchanging suitcases which is so funny and childish!{Vishnu sir,We are living in the 21st century}. The BGM is remarkable but three of the songs are awful, where Seval and My Name is Billa are colourful. The choreography for My Name is Billa is outstanding, patch the Seval song presents Ajith as a sluggish dancer. The climax which is intended to produce an epic of effects, fails to produce even a lyric of it. Also the movie proves to be cypher for the audience who had seen Sharukh’s Don, since this one comes nowhere near it except for Ajith’s acting.

The technical aspects of this movie are wondrous, in the lines of aesthetic movies like Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu. The way in which the screen tone alters when the plot’s crosswire shifts from Billa to Velu is amazing, two thumbs up to Nirav Shah’s cinematography while location choosers deserve a high decibel applause. Yuvan, once again fails to call the shorts{After his crappy soundtracks for Vel and Machakkaran}. Whatsoever Billa is a good entertainer, for the audience of all sorts. So Billa says “I would like to have a bit of spice with my plate of death!”

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3:10 to Yuma- Dusty but not rusty!

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Elmore Leonard‘s short story is born onscreen for the second time, following the Glenn Ford starrer in 1957. This time James Mangold is the man with the star for this dusty western story. Like a rock, the story demonstrates that it could withstand time phenomenally. Lion Gates entertainment has spent a 50 million to breath new life into the 50 year old story. With a limited combination of computerised effects and sounds, the old horse runs fast towards its destination. Remaking was never easy in the history of Hollywood since, a small comparison rat may burn down the entire structure of the remade artwork. In this reincarnated story, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale play the chief characters. The Screenplay team{Halsted Welles,Michael Brandt and Derek Haas} receives hails for the manner in which they have made this coach to run close to the original track. So James Mangold has succeeded in re-creating this dusty tale of blood and bullets.

The story train flags off when a couple of men set ablaze Dan Evans’s (Christian Bale) barn in the middle of a cold night. Actually these two miscreants are men of Hollander{Lennie Loftin} to whom Evans owes money. The next day presents Evans and his two sons an unexpected appointment with Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his gang, when they are professionally looting a stagecoach. After getting convinced that Evans and his two sons are no harm to him, Wade snatches their horses and lets them go, while on the other hand he moves along with his complices to the town of Bisbee for a drink. Meanwhile with the help of the railguards, Evans and his two sons help Byron McElroy {Peter Fonda}, the sole survivor of Wade’s attack to Bisbee, where he is treated by Doctor Potter {Alan Tudyk}. Evans brings out to the notice of the guardsmen that Wade is supposed to be in the very same town,on which they are pressing the sand. Adding to this he meets and throws up a conversation at Wade,which he takes care to sustain till the officials arrest the evasive outlaw. On the other hand unfortunately Evans’s negotiations with Hollander to grant water rights to his farm land up in a big cipher. So to continue earning his family’s day bread, Evans accepts Butterfield’s{Dallas Roberts} offer of 200 dollars to accompany Hollander’s men to take Wade to a nearby town, from where the outlaw should board the 3:10 train to the Yuma prison in Arizona. The mission starts here, while Charlie Prince {Ben Foster}, the companion of Wade maps a deadly plan to free his Boss. But like a bolt from the blue, Evans’s son William{Logan Lerman} follows the crew without their notice. So to know what happened from this point of time till 3:10, watch 3:10 to Yuma.

The movie’s technical and Time place action unity proves to be smashing and every frame speaks the artist’s mind. Along with a typical western color and desert flavor, the actors’ body language and dialect makes your soul fly somewhere over Mexico. Though this movie appears to be a old wine in a new bottle, the director has taken pains to portray the bottle as old as the wine, inorder to present his audience the full essence of the story. Throughout the movie, the healthy competition between rough Russel Crowe and tough Christian Bale underpins the theme. Apart from the leads, Logan Lerman as a 14 year old boy exhibits his skills as an actor.

3:10 to Yuma’s second coming is more gory than the first time. Also at a very few places, the script had been twisted for some unknown purposes. Being an effect based movie, a few elements like Wade’s horse, on his whistle running after the train at the end disturbs the final intended effect. the director’s idea to maintain the antiquity of the movie has affected the speed of the screenplay dart, due to which it deviates slightly away from the bull’s eye.

Moving out to the technical aspects, the Editor{Michael McCusker} receives three cheers for holding every frame of this horse to perfection. Apart from this, the continuity of the scenes are stupefying, where once again the credits goes to the editor. The art director Greg Berry and his boys have poured out their lives to bring before our eyes a town of last and lost century. Marco Beltrami‘s music is apt and appreciable, since it prophecies the intended effect of every scene as soon as it begins. So the director has succeded in leading the team’s voyage to the remake of original 3:10 to Yuma. So 3:10 to Yuma is ” Journey to help a sinner in his eternal journey”

-Sopntic

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