Movie Review – Warrior

Warrior (2011)

Warrior (2011)

Warrior is a powerful movie. In fact it is so moving that it woke up the writer’s block in me and made me write this review of a movie in more than an year.

I had been wanting to watch this movie since it’s release a couple of years back. However, every time I made up my mind to watch it on DVD, I got turned off by the movie poster. I began to think of it to be yet another boxing movie with the same old story with the happy ending which you often see in the sports drama genre. On finally putting this movie in my laptop tray on a lonely Sunday afternoon, I found that the sport they show in it is not at all boxing but something called ‘mixed martial arts’. As the movie slowly progressed further, I found out that it isn’t even about mixed martial arts. In fact the sport is just a backdrop for an intense drama about two estranged brothers, their relationship with their father (which is not good), and their relationship with each other (which is worse).

It’s a story about two brothers: Tommy and Brendan. Brendan has a loving family, a beautiful house, great job as a teacher and his students love him. On the other hand his younger brother Tommy has only won in the ring so far in his life. Everywhere else he has been beaten to pulp. His family has been torn apart by his father, he watched his mother die, watched his close mates in the marines  getting killed in friendly fire. He has been helpless in every situation that has arisen in his life. When he was called as a war hero for saving some marines from drowning during Iraq 2003 he isn’t pleased at all. The story about their father is equally worse. He left his family in shambles. His alcoholism and and abuse destroyed his family and left him to live alone.

Both the lead actors of the movie are non-Americans in an American setting. Tom Hardy playing Tommy is an Englishman and his brother Brendan in the film is played by Joel Edgerton who is an Aussie. I think ‘Warrior’ showcases the best of Tom Hardy so far. He has built on the fame he received for his performance in Inception in 2010 and has gone a step ahead with this production. His face is not full of determination to win and he is not full of hatred. On the contrary, he’s determined to lose and is full of pain. His expressions during the fight scenes were pretty realistic. I have never seen Joel Edgerton act before and I must say that he did a fantastic job switching between multiple roles- from being a family man to being a school teacher to being a fighter all in one movie. That’s an accomplishment! The American out of the trio – the father – Nick Nolte got an Academy Award nomination for his acting in the film. Throughout the film he remains on the back foot for being the most hated person. His character is sad, lonely, in deep regret, and is hated for what he once had been. Both the brothers despise him for what he did to them in their past. We do see him as a changed man in the end. A man finally seeing a ray of contentment in life.

The  movie works on to the parallels of family drama and the raw fights and slowly builds into a pressure cooker of emotions which burst in the climax. It’s not a happy ending and it’s not even a sad ending. It’s more of a satisfying ending.

Before I close this review, a special mention for one of my favorite rock band – The National for the two of the most brilliant compositions by them: ‘Start A War’ at the start of the movie from their album ‘Boxer’ and ‘About Today’ composed for the film which fits right into the mood of the movie during the climax. My hats off to them for the little beauties.

You might shed more than a tear or two in the end.

5/5

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Movie Review – Drive


Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks

Genre: Neo Noire, Crime, Thriller

My Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Drive is a “hypnotic” heist movie directed by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. It is a frighteningly calm movie which slowly unfolds into a violent thriller. Drive narrates the story of an unknown getaway driver who also happens to be a part time Hollywood stuntman.

The first half of the film shows the mysterious getaway driver (Gosling) stylishly helping out a bunch of robbers carry out a successful heist. The film then slowly delves into developing a relationship between the driver and his neighbour Irene (Carry Mulligan) and her young son. It also shows his connection to Shannon (Cranston) a garage owner where Gosling works as a mechanic. The movie takes a turn when Irene’s husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is back after serving his term in jail. Standard is being chased by the men of an Albanian gangster to whom he owes protection money. The gangster threatens to go after his family if he doesn’t pay the money back.  Gosling agrees to help him carry out a heist which will enable him to pay the money back. However, things go wrong and we watch the real side of Gosling’s character. This part of the movie is shockingly violent.

The movie doesn’t have a very complicated plot.  It carries a very hypnotic kind of atmosphere. Backed by a slow moving electronic background score, long and drawn out scenes between the stuntman and Irene with Gosling showing limited expressions often limited to a smile, gives you a very eerie feel. You will almost mistake it to be a romance-drama movie when all of a sudden the movie slides into its blood soaked second half. In this half the characters are killed in unimaginable ways. Goslings character turns from a getaway driver into a revenge seeking killer.

Watch this film for the superb performances by Gosling and Mulligan. Gosling is stylishly brilliant in the movie. I like his pick of movies. From The Notebook to Blue Valentine, Crazy Stupid Love to Ides of March and now Drive. He has really shown that he can act in almost any kind of movie flawlessly. He is the next big thing in Hollywood in my view. Apart from Gosling and Mulligan, the film also features Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks. Sadly Ron Perlman has a very limited role and not the kind which truly reflects his talents. The film is adopted from James Sallis novel of the same name which released in 2005.

Watch this movie at night. It will surely blow you apart!

Movie Review – Men In Black III


Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld

Cast: Will Smith, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Jemaine Clement

Genre: Action-Sci/Fi

My Rating: 2.5/5 (Above Average)

After a gap of a decade the men in black are back in the business. What business? Of protecting the earth from the scum of the universe! This time they’re certainly better than the last time. However, their originality is getting a hit. They keep on carrying forward the same elements in every movie without trying to experiment and bring something new to wow the audience.  The story idea is quite limited, same is the case with the on screen time of Tommy Lee Jones. The only new elements in the film were the time machine, the few 3D effects and the excellent performance of Josh Brolin. Will Smith was at his usual best, packing one liners laced with humor wherever needed. This is the kind of role that he should start playing again. Since last 5-7 years he has delved into serious movies. Watching him as Agent J brought back the old memories of the 90s. The film could have done some justice to their performances had their been a full proof storyline. There are plenty of plot holes like how come the villain make plans with his younger self when he goes back in time but Will Smith can’t do the same? Maybe the die hard fans won’t mind these few limitations of the flick and enjoy their time in the theatre.

Movie Review – Leon (The Professional)


Directed By: Luc Besson

Cast: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello

Genre: Action-Thriller

My Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Leon is a 1994 thriller directed by French director Luc Besson. Also known as ‘The Professional’,  the film narrates a story about how a hitman Leon (Reno) gives shelter to a girl Mathilda (Portman) who lives in his neighbourhood after her family is killed by a corrupt DEA officer (Oldman) and his men on the suspicion of stealing his drugs.

Mathilda discovers that Leon is a hitman and works for an Italian mafioso Tony (Aiello).  Mathilda begs Leon to teach her his art so that she can take a revenge on the officer who killed her younger brother. In return, she offers to do the household chores apart from teaching him how to read and write.  He starts taking her on his assignments where she works as his cleaner and teachers her how to handle guns. One day,  when Leon is out on an assignment on his own, Mathilda loads her bag with Leon’s guns and bluffs her way into the DEA office after locating it earlier. There she encounters Stansfield who finds about her plans. What happens next?

Leon packs some of the most powerful performances in recent times. The role of Mathilda played by a 13 year old Natalie Portman, though much more bolder than to my liking, was superbly portrayed. You’ll literally forget that the character is being performed by a 13 year old girl in the movie. It is a very mature character. The character not only loses her family & sees the dead body of her beloved brother, but also carries revenge at such a young age. Mathilda also smokes and is very daring as is shown in the scene where she plans to take on a psychopath drug addict murderer who also happens to be a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) officer. The role of Stansfield is the best part of the movie for me. A lot has been written about the character on the internet. People have loved it but also have commented on how the character has been ‘overly’ stated. I really enjoyed the performance of Gary Oldman. The on-screen presence of the character always gave a very sinister feeling. The way he took his drug, his dialogues (“Death is whimsical today”, “I like these calm little moments before a storm. It reminds me of Beethoven!”), his unusual calmness and then a sudden burst of rage made his character look very creepy & unpredictable. Stansfield goes down in my book of the best villains of all time! Reno as a hitman was good. His fight scenes were probably one of the best of his times especially at the end. His character was strong & professional yet emotionally vulnerable. The background score composed by Eric Serra was both haunting and thrilling in equal measures. It brought in a chilly atmosphere in the movie and kept your heart pumping in the close quarter scenes.

I happened to watch a hindi movie called “Bichchoo” in 2000 starring Bobby Deol and Rani Mukherjee. After watching Leon I found that Bichchoo was a hindi remake of the movie. Many scenes especially the ending were almost the same.

Overall, Leon is one of the best thriller movies of all time. Although I watched it in 2012, it was released 18 years back in 1994. Many of the scenes especially the ending must have been really thrilling for the audience back then. Elements of the movie have been used by many action movies in the late 90s as well as in the 21st century. A must watch for any cinema enthusiast who haven’t checked it out yet!

Movie Review – Knocked Up


Directed by: Judd Apatow

Cast: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jay Baruchel,  Jonah Hill, Jason Segel

Genre: Comedy

Rating: 3.5/5 (Decent)

Knocked Up is a story of a lazy and an unemployed man Ben Stone (Rogen) and a career minded TV presenter Alison Scott (Heigl). Ben is a kind of guy who lives with his folks (played by Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel & Martin Starr). All the friends have something in common – they’re all unemployed & lazy and spend most of their time fooling around, partying or watching movies or working on a website project which doesn’t show much promise. Alison Scott works with E! Entertainment Television. She gets promoted to work as an on the camera presenter. To celebrate her promotion, she goes partying in a club with her elder sister (Leslie Mann) and there she meets Ben who is partying out with his friends. Ben & Alison gel together in the party and under the influence of alcohol end up sleeping together. Next morning at the breakfast table, Alison finds out that she doesn’t have anything in common with Ben. The two go their respective ways only to come together again after 8 weeks when Alison finds out that she is pregnant with Ben’s child. What happens next? Do the two get together or end it all with a break up? Watch it to find out!

The story is quite a simple one. However, what happens around the story is what makes this film a great watch. The film is laced with crude sex related humour throughout. This is what is expected when you have Seth Rogen in the movie. It also features the likes of Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel & Jonah Hill all of whom are known for crude comedy films and present their side roles in the movie as the buddies of Rogen. These characters party their heart out, tease each other, work on a porn website, and are lazy as shit. All the roles have been out played flawlessly. These guys are natural at the buddy stuff and their chemistry with each other is flawless. Katherine Heigl does a fantastic job in the film. She portrays the character with finesse.

The film portrays the nuisances of one night stands and the resultant issues that crop up. If you go by the story itself, it feels a little stretched. However, the fantastic performances delivered by the characters and the comic events that surround the central idea of the film makes it a hilarious watch. The plot focuses on responsibility and commitment and also the way the lives of people change by the events that take place after an unwed couple gets pregnant which they hadn’t planned.

Watch it for the excellent performances especially by Heigl & Rogen in the lead roles and also by the supporting characters who does a great job together to pull off a laugh riot film.

Movie Review – 50/50

Directed by: Jonathan Levine

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston

Genre: Drama-Comedy

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Very Good)

50/50 is a film about a man’s battle with cancer and the way his relationships unfold during the battle. It is loosely based on the experiences of Will Reiser who is the writer of the film.

The film is about a radio journalist Adam Lerner (Gordon-Levitt) who is having problems with his back for a while. Later, when he goes to the hospital for a check up, he finds that he is suffering from a rare form of cancer which is eating away his bones & tissues. He checks on the internet and finds that his odds of surviving stands at 50/50. On hearing about his cancer, his best friend & co-worker Kyle (Seth Rogen) tries to make him as normal as possible. He is relieved by the fact that he still has 50% chance of survival. Adam’s girl friend cheats on him and he breaks up with her. He starts getting close with his therapist McKay (Kendrick) and fellow cancer patients while he is undergoing Chemotherapy. After sometime it is discovered that his cancer is not responding to the chemotherapy and he’ll have to undergo a surgery in order to remove the tumour. However, the success of the surgery is slim. Also, one of the cancer patients with whom he was close dies and the thought finally dawns on him as to how close he was to death. Will he be able to defeat the cancer?

The small highlight of the movie above would make you think that this movie is some serious stuff which is not entirely true. Though the movie deals with an issue as serious as cancer, it does so with a human face. It is laced with traces of comedy. When you have a guy like Seth Rogen in a movie the least you can expect is some humour and he delivers it with finesse. 50/50’s perfect blend of comedy & drama is what it is worth watching for together with the excellent performances by the characters. Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulls off an excellent performance as a cancer patient. It is the only movie I’ve seen of him apart from his role in Inception. I liked the way the background music blended with the emotions of the film. It made sure the main theme of the movie remained intact.

50/50 is a perfect blend of serious drama and crude humour surrounding a man’s battle with cancer. One of its kind movie. Go for it!

Movie Review – 28 Weeks Later


Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Cast: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner

My Rating: 3/5

This review was originally written on 30th August 2009.

When I saw the first part of this movie 28 Days Later, I never thought that the director would win an Oscar for a non-horror movie. For me he was a revolutionary horror movie director. But lo! He did won an Oscar and that too this year itself! And who would that guy be? Danny Boyle. Yes I am right. I never thought Danny Boyle, the director of 28 Days Later could ever make a film like Slumdog Millionaire in future. With 28 Days Later he had reinvented the art of scaring the audience. This series contains blood thirsty and surreal zombies spreading unrealistic terror and blood throughout Britain. This is not like any other run of the mill horror movie. It has a really interesting story line and a not-so-crazy screenplay unlike every other horror movie which are just made to scare your ass off! 28 Weeks Later continues from where 28 Days Later had left, except for the fact that it has some more gore and intensity.

After the rage virus destroys the whole of mainland Britain, a US led troops takes control of Britain. It begins reconstructing everything and tries to make the things normal again. All the things are going as planned. The infected people have died of starvation. But still something goes wrong and the whole situation blows out of control. Left with no other options, the commander orders the execution of “code-red” which literary means killing every civilian in order to prevent the spreading of the virus at a larger scale. But how did the chaos begin? What happens next? Go, find it out yourself!

If after watching the movie you were thinking why the hell didn’t the virus wreak havoc in other parts of the world here’s my take: Britain is surrounded by water on all 4 sides, infected human beings and animals can’t reach mainland Europe from that way. Though I suspect whether migratory birds can carry the virus?

28 Weeks Later creates a whole new dimension, when the zombies travels across the English channel in the Channel Tunnel (Wow what brains!!) and reach France (Eiffel Tower can be seen clearly). With this we might be able to see the consequences of virus infecting people across the globe in the next installment 28 Months Later rumored to be directed by Danny Boyle.

What differentiates this flick with it’s predecessor is that it is more violent and disturbing. The scenes of killing are painful to watch especially the massacre scene. The gore content in this movie surpasses that of Saving Private Ryan on my list. This movie is definitely not for people below the ages of 18 years (though they would be itching to watch!) and weak hearted adults.

Rose Byrne & Jeremy Renner were awesome. Robert Carlyle was quite good. But the child artiste’s Mackintosh Muggleton & Imogen Poots as siblings were simply flawless and natural. The background score by John Murphy was as frightening & chilling as the movie itself. I would give 5/5 to the sound department. A special mention must be given to the cinematography and the way the camera work was edited using the latest technology. The movie makes use of computer generated darkness at many scenes which is pretty cool. This is another factor which makes the movie very realistic!

Watch this movie only if you are into horror stuff. This movie might ruin the day for serious movie watchers because of it’s content. I would have given it a 4/5. But I was kinda frustrated by the over the top violent scenes.

Movie Review – Blood Diamond


Directed by: Edward Zwick

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connely, Djimon Hounsou

My Rating: 5/5

This review was originally written on 30th August 2009.

Overview:

Blood Diamond is an over the top violent action-thriller film. It is set against the civil war in Sierra Leone. It describes how the diamond smugglers based in countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe etc to name a few take advantage of the situation in Sierra Leone and sell the diamonds off to European countries at a huge margin. A part of the money they earn is used to fuel more tensions between the rival ethnic groups in the country. One American journalist (Jennifer Connelly) together with a young diamond smuggler (Leonardo Di Caprio) and a local Mende tribesman (Djimon Hounsou) set out together with different objectives. They end up helping each other in their needs and ultimately cracking down on the illegal diamond business.

Was it any good?:

Blood Diamond is an awesome movie! Flawless direction backed by an outstanding screenplay and acting and an excellent background score, Blood Diamond won’t let you settle down for a minute. I liked the way how every part of the smuggling racket was documented in the movie. Leonardo Di Caprio delivered an Oscar worthy performance. It’s about time he grabbed an award at the Oscars. Jennifer Connelly did a fine job as a journalist too. Film’s music is really worth checking out. It added the necessary emotions to this bloody thriller.

Verdict:

Set aside 2 ½ hours of your life, free your mind and enjoy this vintage thriller.

Movie Review – Catch Me If You Can


Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Tom Hanks, Leonardo Di Caprio, Christopher Walken, Amy Adams, Martin Sheen

My Rating: 4/5

This review was originally written on 30th August 2009.

The Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks pair are known for making one of the most entertaining movies on Earth. Their movies are generally long in duration, very narrative, simple and most importantly very entertaining. Some of the great examples of their movies are: Saving Private Ryan, The Terminal and now Catch Me If You Can. Steven Spielberg’s unpredictable story idea together with Tom Hanks raw talent make an Oscar worthy combination.

I wanted to watch this flick ever since I read about it back in 2002. I never came across any of it’s television broadcast. So, finally out of frustration I bought the DVD. Catch Me If You Can is about a character called Frank Abagnale Jr played by Leonardo Di Caprio, who starts cheating on people and in the course of time becomes the biggest conman of USA. Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) is an FBI detective who is determined to put an end to Abagnale’s activities. After being duped by Abagnale at a hotel, Carl gets an idea about the perfection of Abagnale in duping people.

Every actor in this movie is flawless. I was really impressed by Leonardo’s performance first as a troubled young student and later as a full blown conman. Tom Hanks together with Christopher Walken adds spice to the movie. Tom’s presence in any movie sets the mood of the audience. Martin Sheen is good too but his screen time is very less. Amy Adams was very natural in her acting. Spielberg really picks up the right actor for the right role.

Catch Me If You Can is a great light popcorn flick with heavy emotions. It sets the tempo right from the beginning.

Movie Review – No Country for Old Men

Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin

My Rating: 5/5

This review was originally written on 30th August 2009.

Overview:

No Country for Old Men is a movie based on a novel written by Cormac McCarthy with the same name. The story describes how a cop discovers a bag full of million dollars at a site where a drug deal went awry. The cop takes all the money and runs away with it. Chigurh, a professional hit-man, wants to retrieve the satchel of money (which contains a hidden radio transponder to which Chigurh has the corresponding receiver). With the help of the transponder Chigurh tracks the cop. What happens next is ought to be seen in the movie !

Was it any good?

No Country for Old Men will blow your mind off with the sizzling performances from all of its actors. Javier Barden is the show stealer in the movie. His portrayal of the character Anton Chigurh is very realistic and is worth every penny of your movie ticket! He won an Oscar for his work in this movie. Josh Brolin as the cop comes second in the department. I don’t think any other actor has the guts to portray the character played by him. The role of a tough cop always suits him (see American Gangster). The movie has a 1980’s touch to it. The barren lands of Texas sharing borders with Mexico adds a cow-boy-movies like backdrop to the film. I give it a 5/5 for the beautiful cinematography. One of the distinctive features of move is that there’s hardly any background music in it. You just get to listen to a bit at the starting and a full length(er) at the end. This makes the viewing experience very different compared to other movies.

Verdict:

No Country for Old Men is a solid movie. Very realistic movie with some of the finest performances of the decade. It won 4 awards at the Oscars. If you have missed this film at the theaters, go grab a DVD.