Archive for January, 2008

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets- Not amazing but amusing!

The treasure hunter gets back on another track, not for money or fame but family honor. The crew’s Mister Big is John Turteltaub and Jerry Bruckheimer provides them monetary support. The chief actors of the movie go unchanged from the first part. An antique, a problem, a commotion, a rush and finally a parcel of excitement, this appears to be the formula of this series. Descending from Ulysses, man’s mind always longs to reveal the treasures of unfathomed caves and mysteries of the unknown lands. And this aphorism is what supports this movie and makes it more interesting for the audience. The movie is more of a travelogue than an adventure story and it has subtle humor and ample action interwoven within it. Above all the director proves to be customer friendly since he offers what exactly his audience expect from him.

The plot unfurls a few days after the civil war, where we see two men{one of them is Wilkie Booth} of the Knights of the Golden Circle approaching Thomas Gates{, the great-great grandfather of Ben Gates our Hero, seeking his puzzle solving abilities to decipher an encrypted message in a diary which leads to a glorious treasure. While he is decrypting the message, one of the men takes off and slays the American President Lincoln, who is watching a play in the theater nearby. Thomas Gates cracks the puzzle off and figures out that the men’s attitude towards the treasure is not sublime, which persuades him to rip up a few pages from that diary into a fire nearby. But the man tries to secure the pages from the jaws of fire but his luck favors him to save only a leaf and he shoots Mr.Gates, while his son is watching him and then the murderer moves away. Thomas Gates pipes a few last words to his son and gives up his ghost after which there is a timeshift of a few hundred years, where we see Benjamin Gates{Nicholas Cage}, a lover of troublesome ways, telling his Grandfather’s story in a conference on Civilian war heroes. All of a sudden from nowhere, Mitch Wilkinson{Ed Harris} produces one of the missing pages of the Booth’s diary, containing Thomas Gates’ name on it, pointing the finger at him as the mastermind behind Lincoln’s assassination. Now, Ben Gates is resolute to prove the innocence of his great-great-grandfather. He is accompanied by his father Patrick Gates{Jon Voight}, his friend Riley Poole{Justin Bartha} and his ex-girlfriend Abigail Chase{Diane Kruger} in his assignment. If you are curious, If you are a treasure hunting movie fan, you will follow him!

Nicholas Cage and Justin Bartha cut every other actor in the movie to size, through their witty-nutty humor and ample action spirit. When Nicholas takes a few minutes off, Justin Bartha does a great job to feed the audience.The early scenes involving Riley as an author and Ben’s breaking into Abigail’s house are hilarious. What makes this movie to shine is the connecting elements which provide comedy as well as continuity, with out which the movie would have been haywire. Assasination of Lincoln, a tragic event in the history of United States is placed inside two breads of fictitious material{Lincoln never could have imagined that his assasination contains raw material for a story of crazy treasure hunters!}. The director should be appreciated for the manner which he has associated the myth of a native American tribe, assassination of Lincoln, the Liberty Statue, White House, Buckingham Palace and the construction of Mount Rushmore. The episode involving Jon Voight and Helen Mirren contains the seed for another passionate love story!And its absolutely lovelier than the romance between Nicholas Cage and Diane Krugaer.

This is nothing but an mundane commercial story without any serious logic or even logic of magic. The humour and locations are the prop roots of this movie. The scenes involving the US President and his Book of Secrets are too funny as well as crazy.This induces us to think whether the director is mocking at the foolishness and naivety of the American president! The screenplay begins well gets tangled in the middle and muddles all the way, saving the denoument. At times the movie goes far away from reality and this makes it too boring for an ordinary movie goer. The transformation Ed Harris’ character is not knotted up well. He is portrayed as an archetypal character but later on he becomes a flat one. Though there are a hell lot of pitfalls and flaws, after all this is a Disney movie, for kids,specially for kids. There are a heaven lot of things in the movie to satisfy them. They are gonna love it!

Among the technicians the story’s fathers Jim Kouf,Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot should be felicitated for presenting us with a coherent movie. John Schwartzman’s cinematography scores well when it faces monuments and Historic locations, but it leaves the pitch almost for a duck when against car chases, somersaults and underground adventures. William Goldenberg & David Rennie can be proud of using their scissors against this movie, since its a job of searching a shoe lost in sea to treat a movie full of clues and meanings on their editing table. Trevor Rabin’s soundtrack searches its way out perfectly to find musical treasure.Thus Book of Secrets says “Close your eye of reason and focus with your third eye, you’ll discover it!”

– Spontic

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I am Legend – A Martyr’s journey

Once a grandmother narrated a fable to his grandson. It was all about a woodcutter who grafted in the forest from sun to sun. One day accidentally his axe fell into the brook which ran near by. Down in the dumps with loss, he cried his life out. Awakened by his tears, the nymph of the brook came and assured to get his axe back. The nymph disappeared into the brook and after a short while it came out with a silver axe,but the farmer nodded that it wasn’t his. Taking up the quest for the second time she came out with a glittering golden axe, but the farmer shook his head in negative. Atlast she found him his axe and the farmer gave up all his desolateness. For his honesty,the nymph gave him all the axes. Yes, I am Legend is the third axe but the real one, which takes home thrice the applauses of the previous movies of its kind{Such as Resident evil and 28 weeks later}. The story is remade for the third time from the original Richard Matheson’s novel ‘I am Legend'{1954} churned out by the trio Akiva Goldsman,David Heyman and Erwin Stoff as directed by Francis Lawrence. The screenplay is knitted out by Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich. This one holds more solicitude to tremor, creates emotion to horror, and this makes it more artistic. Choosing a science fiction story to implant a theme like this one may sound like fitting a 7.1 to a record player but the difference is what delivers the makers success. Will Smith manages to light up the show single handedly since he is the character who occupies more screen space and time than any other. So in simple terms, we could name this one as an artistic science fiction movie.

When the plot starts to develop we see Dr.Robert Neville{Will Smith} existing all alone in New york city after the outbreak of a deadly virus which was actually discovered to treat cancer but soon turned out to be a man-eater since 2009. After spending more than 1000 days, we see Robert living on one’s tod except for his pet dog Samantha{Abbey}. Through the Doctor’s character, we are posted that, 9 percentage of the infected are still alive and kicking but having lost their intellect and survival instincts ,preying on the ones who are immune. Robert makes it a point to research everyday to find a cure for the virus from his blood which is immune to the virus. Through the technique of stream of consciousness we see the past happenings now and then. The most important part of his memory is the death of his wife and daughter in a Helicopter accident, while they are about to leave the infected city. In the hope of finding someone, Robert broadcasts a message in the radio stating that he can provide food, shelter and security for any survivor,but in vain. Unexhausted like Sisyphus, Robert makes this his routine along with a few words for boosting up his will and confidence. Very soon Sam too crosses the great divide,which adds up to the lonelines of Robert. One bloody day, like a bolt from the blue, Anna{Alice Braha} and his son Ethan{Charlie Tahan} meet him. Following this, things go grave but only for the better. Like to help them? Then watch Mr.Legend.

Emotions are said to enfeeble a man but they strengthen up this movie. The director had been very clear on where the focus should be and shouldn’t be. His forte lies in enlivening the trivial elements and actions which otherwise a horror film director would turn a blind eye to. Will Smith being the Maitre d’ of this restaurant takes full charge and prevents the movie from falling into dark abysses, since its difficult to take up a role which is almost ‘the’ role in a movie. Will Smith makes no fuss and mess but he really scores to become a legend. Above all the movie should be appreciated for not portraying an Epic hero kind of a character, which most of the action movies of hollywood contain. Instead, this movie discloses what heroism means in reality.

Being an ‘final-effect’ based movie, we expect every scene to be tweaked towards the ‘final-effect’. But only the later part of the movie is in such a manner. The first half of the screenplay,lumbers but without a direction. It creates illusions but not the emotions. To add verisimilitude to the story, the director had employed very few soundtracks in the movie but it works the other way, making it difficult for the audience to withstand the intenseness of the script. The narrative technique is so bland and ineffective, so that the incidents projected from Robert’s mind which are extremely emotional, fail to contribute to the mainstream of the story. Since 90 percentage of the screenplay is the portrayal of Robert’s psyche, there is very little movement in the pupil of the plot structure.

Among the technical aspects the cinematographer{Andrew Lesnie} holds responsibility for the inconsistent camera angles and movements, while the editor{Wayne Wahrman} does a good job maintaining the continuity of the scenes which go unperturbed. Though used a little, James Newton Howard‘s music announces that he is a legend in music. Above all the special effects of this movie are smashing. So Dr. Robert says, I’m not a hero,I’m not a warrior, I’m the last man on earth but still ‘I am Legend’.  

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