District 9

Most of us reading this review have had prior exposure to racism and have been educated on tolerance. The others amongst us, who are not as fortunate, have to deal with institutions which have been put in place to control and safeguard basic human values like compassion. As a result, most of the civilized world enjoys the peaceful co-existence of its communities.
But what if for some bizarre reason, a certain community falls out of the purview of all these institutions and even our own morality? What if we are not obliged to offer the very basic human decency to this group?
District 9 puts forward this very question in this very intelligent satire which has so much to it that you will probably want to see it more than once!
The story of this movie is located in Johannesburg, South Africa, where an alien spaceship suddenly appears. But for some reason the ship just keeps hovering over the city for over two months without any communication or any noticeable action. As a result, Human forces break into the ship to figure out the bizarre situation; only to discover that the ship is filled with aliens in a desperate condition.  Under international pressure, the South African government sets up a refugee camp to give asylum to these aliens. This camp soon turns into a slum and gets the name of ‘District 9’.
The inmates of this camp are not welcomed by the locals, and are soon subject to xenophobia and ‘speciesism’. As a result, the local government decides to move the entire alien population outside the city to ‘District 10’. So it hires a private security firm the MNU (Multi National United) to serve eviction notices and help move the aliens. The man in charge of the entire operation is Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley).  The rest of the movie follows his misadventures as he goes from being a thoughtless officer in charge of carrying out the grim task assigned to him, to becoming something he could never foresee.
The beginning of the movie is very light hearted, and one cannot help but laugh at the ridiculous situation that has fallen before the humans. But this movie, smoothly transitions into a brutal, gory tale of racism, betrayal and the very struggle for existence.
Besides being a brilliant piece of satire, this movie is also a very competent thriller filled with gory fight sequences and a catchy story line. Copley’s acting evolves through the movie and is a pleasure to watch throughout. The aliens look very realistic and the special effects are decent. The movie’s highlight though, is its bizarre plot; which produces a very strong socio political message. But I will add that this movie is still very watchable if you are not the one for serious cinema, but enjoy a good grim action thriller.
District 9 is a must watch for anyone. Its movies like these that keep my faith in Hollywood intact. It’s sheer brilliance throughout, and when it ends… you will have a lot to think about!     

Main Aurr Mrs Khanna

 

The recent movies made by the Khan brothers and their production house have been all ‘Challu’ commercial Bollywood movies. Main aurr Mrs. Khanna is no different, it is an average movie with very little story. But still there is something charming about this movie that makes watching it pleasant.
Kareena Kapoor plays the role of Raina Khanna and Salman khan acts as Samir Khanna. Right from the beginning of the movie, the Melbourne based couple is shown to be going through marital problems. Mr. Khanna has run his company into the ground and seems to be struggling to make any headway with his career. After losing all hope for reviving his career in Australia, Samir decides to move to Singapore, though he leaves Raina aghast when he informs her that she would be returning to India instead. Hurt by her husbands decision, she decides to stay back in Melbourne and slug it out till Samir can call her to Singapore.
Things take an interesting turn when Aakash (Sohail Khan) falls for Raina knowing very well that she is already married, and tries his best to win her heart.
The movie at times seems to be unnecessarily emotional, so much so that it almost pushes the audience away; though the introduction of Sohail Khan’s character does bring a much needed dose of humor into the movie. Aakash’s attempts to win Raina’s heart never stop to amuse the audience. In fact one can say that Aakash is the most important character in the entire movie. Kareena Kapoor doesn’t have much to do besides acting like the clichéd ideal woman and Salman is absent from a great portion of the movie.
The story of the movie is scanty, silly, and besides the twist at the end, rest is pretty much predictable. But this is not one of those movies that rely on its storyline a lot. Its effect is one of charm and not of wow.
The soundtrack is decent and it’s nice to see Preity Zinta’s item number on the silver screen. The background score too does not seem repetitive but is at best average.
Watch this movie for a light fun weekend with your family, but don’t expect to be dazzled.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

There are certain movies that don’t have to be any good to get audience’s approval. A movie with giant robots kicking each others asses, is one such example. Yet Michael Bay finds a way to even make that stink!
I have been a fan of the transformers franchise for a long time. Even though Transformers 1 may not have been up to the best standards of film making… I left the theatre smiling like a 9 year old boy who thinks he just saw Santa. I don’t think the movie had a very appealing story, but who cares? Optimus Prime came to the silver screen drenched in all the special effects Dreamworks can squeeze out, annihilating Decepticon scum in absolute visual extravaganza! Honestly, after seeing that movie, I never thought anybody could screw up Transformers 2. I mean what could they do wrong?
Apparently, there was a lot they could do wrong:
Transformers 2 is the single biggest insult to any transformers fan. The movie is contrary to everything that the franchise represents. The movie is mindless 150 minutes of cacophony inflicted on everyone unfortunate enough to watch it. It’s not funny or thrilling. The jokes are stale and the talent of Shia LaBeouf has been completely wasted. Megan Fox is just there for the looks (of course) and everyone else excluding the robots has been under utilized, and is honestly just there for the heck of it.
I believe the root of all the problems is that Michael Bay has tried to make a bigger movie than Transformers 1 without justifying the cause. Most of the robots don’t really have any role; in fact some of them are just downright annoying! Take for example the twin Autobots, all throughout the movie they do the opposite of what one would expect from Autobots. I know it may seem a good idea to make a couple of robots talk like rappers, but its not! It’s annoying!
The story goes absolutely anywhere they can put a couple of fights sequences, the whole plot is just sad and the robot who turns into a girl in Sam’s room reminds you of X-Men not Decepticons!
It seems this movie was made with a gun on the director’s temple. The entire script could have been put together by a 16 year old during his summer break!
It’s even sadder when there is suppose to be some characters life in jeopardy, and you just don’t care! There are just far too many robots to even give a damn. They just come out of nowhere and then…. Die! Who cares about that?
Optimus Prime’s presence does attract some attention, but there is as much the leader of Autobots can do.
This is by far one of the Worst sci-fi movies ever made. I know that I thought that a Transformers movie couldn’t go wrong… Well I was wrong! Now only if Michael Bay would stop punishing me like this…

New York

The Bollywood has long been criticized for not being able to roll out serious movies as often and not being able to make anything else but what can be dubbed as ‘Commercial Cinema’. New York tries to change all that.
Themed around the illegal detention and torture of innocent civilians post 9-11, one can appreciate such an attempt at a socially relevant topic. But unfortunately that’s all that we can do… appreciate the effort and maybe patronize the movie.
The entire movie is filled with giant loopholes, and certain scenes seem to appear just for the heck of it. Neil and Katrina Kaif thoroughly show their ineptness in acting, while John is barely tolerable. Besides, the biggest flaw that this movie suffers from is the Bollywood style melodrama that has been stuffed down its throat.
The story is about 3 college friends Sam a.k.a Sameer Sheikh (John Abraham), Omar (Neil) and Maya (Katrina Kaif). There is also Irrfan Khan who plays the part of an FBI agent Roshan.
The movie begins with Roshan interrogating Omar over the guns found in his cab. He orders Omar to tell him everything about his past with Sam and Maya. With time, Omar realizes that Roshan expects him to spy on his old college friends to uncover a terrorist plot.
This flashes us back to pre 9-11 when Omar first entered USA. But their story is probably one of the most typical love triangles that the bollywood has been using since the dawn of time. Even their college life appears to be so lame that one has difficulty relating to these characters. All three of them behave like 25 year olds rather than college students. This is probably one of the movie’s biggest flaws; it fails to make the audience relate to its characters, who would go through hell over the rest of the movie’s duration. It seems this entire part has been created just for the heck of it; there is even a lack of total correlation between certain scenes. For example, just out of the blue, Sam gets shot in the leg trying to rescue Maya’s purse from a New York Mugger (The whole White Knight routine to win the lady’s heart!). But instead of showing Sam in the hospital, the next scene is about how heartbroken Omar is now that Maya has fallen for Sam! That’s right; the director chooses to ignore his lead character, that has been shot, to show an ungrateful punk too self-centered to realize that his best friend is lying in the hospital suffering from a gun shot wound!  
Even after Sam is falsely imprisoned on charges of terrorism, the movie hardly inspires any emotion. The torture scenes have already been used a lot of time in western cinema. The characters who do not communicate in Hindi are conspicuously quiet. This makes the scenes appear even less believable. There is also no subtlety in John’s acting, he shouts like a dog being whipped throughout the scenes.
But there are a few twists and turns in the movie that the viewer might not expect. These make the movie barely passable. I will be leaving them out of this review. Though I will have to add that most of these turns have been stupidly handled. There is melodrama throughout with total lack of originality.
Even the climax acutely suffers from these problems, the movie tries to rely on the audience’s connection with the characters to smudge over the obvious loopholes, but wait… there is no connection! The movie is too busy trying to be emotional to realize how stupid its certain scenes are.
After the pretentious climax, we are treated with a speech from Roshan on how USA is still secular and etc, etc. Which brings us to the movie’s last flaw… it doesn’t let you think. It shouts its message in your face and prints it on the screen. It’s not one of those movies where you leave with a subtle message which you need to think about, to properly understand it. The entire subject of this movie could be summed up in a Sunday editorial.
New York is Bollywood’s attempt at growing up… and the way I see it, it still has a long way to go; and one shouldn’t expect to see a mature movie being rolled out unless there is a serious attempt to get rid of its old annoying habits. All in all one cant do much but patronize the movie for its attempt to ‘try’ something new.

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