Thursday, 9 July 2015

Terminator Genisys (2015) Movie Review: We get it, the machines (who wrote the film) have won!!

Terminator Genisys Poster 2

Sample this: Terminator 2 (Judgement day), till date,is the only sequel to win an Academy award when the previous movie was not even nominated!
You have this movie & then you have Terminator Genisys  (2015)…The Terminator promised us 24 years back that “I’ll be back”. Without venturing into the 2003 & 2009 trainwrecks, he is, inevitabily back. He stumbles back from the mess of the previous “sequels”& tries to salvage another trainwreck. Does he manage to do it?Well, not really.
Here is how the story goes. At least I think so…

After three decades of movies (and The chronicles of Sarah Connor TV series), the franchise is simply a confusing and convoluting mess of timelines. After  (yet another) assault on a Skynet facility by Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and his friend / Son,  John Connor (Jason Clarke), someone must travel back in time to 1984 to save John’s mother, Sarah Connor (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke / Khalisee), from a Terminator. So far,so yawnworthy. However, this time Sarah Connor isn’t a waitress carrying humanity’s savior in her womb. This time she’s been living with a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who was sent back even earlier to protect her from anotherT-800 (also Arnold Schwarzenegger)—one who had been sent to kill her exactly at the point Reese travels back to in the Genisys timeline.
Confused?? Don’t be, It doesn’t matter. The plot of every Terminator sequel has been absurd. And that’s because the plot of The Terminator itself (the future comes to the past to change the future, but that means the past is changed, so the future is changed??) was absurd. All this culminates in Terminator Genisys, which erases the scars of the last two movies and fundamentally retells the first.  It relies on time travel and computer technology to explain how people (or machines) could know things they don’t know how they know, but not know other things that the movie doesn’t want to bother explaining. Terminator Genisys is a plotless, aimless, meandering, unclear, unpleasant mess. While I have tried to put together somewhat of a plot-line above, I do not really any clue what objectives the characters (even the villain) are pursuing, how they are pursuing them, or what will happen (or not) if they fail.
The sequel that comes closest to this movie is Dabangg 2. Not kidding!! Just Like Arbaaz Khan replicated the template of the original, here Alan Taylor recreates Cameron’s style of filmmaking. This is the most risk-averse sequel ever made (well,just forget Transformers for a moment). You have pretty much the same story-line,an old Arnie pretty much doing & saying the same things that he has done in the previous installments.
Coming to the rest of the cast, the fans of the franchise are pretty much going to be unhappy with everyone. The current crop who get to play Sarah, John & Kyle are no match to the people who played them in the past.Fans of Game of thrones would walk in expecting Khalisee to kick ass, but all you get is a middling, baby- faced Sarah connor who is… I do not know. I just could not accept watching her as Sarah Connor. Linda Hamilton, you spoilt us.
Kyle Reese, played by Jai Courtney , is mildly irritating,largely boring. The fact that you remember him from the super bad Die Hard movie does not work either. He plays Kyle Reese in the MOST boring fashion ever.
As the trailer has already made us realize that John Connor is no more the savior of humanity, the twist does not come off as an “oh-my-god”moment. Well, he gets to say the same things about going back in time and then gets his own 15 seconds of CGI fame. That is that. No more.
At this point,I cannot even get started about how bad the rest of the cardboard (characters) are. They just make up for the numbers. The machines at least look better.The rest of the cast is just a waste. There is J.K.Simmons in the film as well.He gets a 3 minute part !!
Terminator Genisys Poster
One more thing that has not changed is the CGI.. It doesn’t look to have evolved much from Judgement Day. The film feels soft and phony. When the movies is full of time travel mumbo jumbo, you expect the action to be kick-ass. You cannot blame someone for expecting a terminator movie to have a few good action moments. Alas, what you get is a set of completely unimaginative, “been there-seen that”, boring action sequences to make up the time. That said, they have checked almost all boxes. You have humans hitting cyborgs, cyborgs hitting cyborgs, humans shooting at cyborgs (3 decades worth of knowledge has not made them aware that bullets are of no use!), car chase, helicopter chase,  exploding vehicles, exploding buildings etc etc..Nothing you have not seen since the evolution of cinema. Yes, we saw better action in the movie made 24 freaking years back! Arnie flipping that shotgun still looks cool.
This is the worst movie of the franchise. That is something, as we have seen some bad, bad movies so far in the same franchise!! Arnold’s Terminator keeps saying,”I’m old, not obsolete”.. Well, truth is that he is both old & obsolete.
Know what is worse??There is talk of 2 more sequels. They are under production!! Our future is indeed bleak.
#Note: This review first appeared in . You may find my reviews here -

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

30 not out..

I have something in common with Wayne Rooney ( a guy who is somewhat talented at kicking the ball around) , Cristiano Ronaldo (a good looking bloke who is also good at kicking the ball around) and  Keira Knightley (she is an actress, so say some people).. Know what? All of us hit 30 this year!!

What is so earth shattering about it, you ask? Well, searching “Batman animated movies” felt a little (only a wee bit) different suddenly. I will never get to use the phrase “When I grow UP”. From now on, it’s only about “When I grow”!

Was I a little reluctant to move on from 29 to 30? Yes I was. Because, if I was not,that meant that I did something wrong with the last decade of my life. Your 20s are, or at least should be, an incredibly fun time. Hell, when I was 21 when….. Something’s are best left unsaid... :) 

Turning 30 isn’t all that bad. Here’s the thing: You have absolutely no choice but to embrace aging. Fighting aging is like a wave fighting its own crash, a battle you have no shot at winning. 

I’m of the opinion that humans are like wine — that we get better with age. Ten years ago I was a total moron, and now I’m just kind of an idiot. By the time I’m 40, I may very well be smart. Never let your best days get behind you. That’s called giving up. I dig what I see in my rearview mirror, but I’m also pretty damn psyched about where my car’s headed

All things considered and said, turning 30 is fantastic. You finally know who you are (it’s absolutely OK if you don’t, as long as you are making efforts to figure it out), you’re starting to make serious strides in your career, and you’re generally kicking ass. See, you’ve got to be your own internal PR department and take on these life changes in the best way possible. You’ve noticed some gray hair in the beard? Well, that just means you look distinguished. You have an office and a real adult job? Well, that just means that you’re settled into a career. 

Here is my list of what every man should know or have done (in no particular order) by the time he hits 30!!

      Learn to cook - Making Maggi is not an option anymore. Learn to cook something else. Its therapeutic & keeps the wife happy!

     Get yourself a roof of your own – It sounds very “permanent”, but it helps if you have a house of your own. If it is in Mumbai, you may have arrived in life (only just, because, before on the 5th of every month, the EMI arrives)

     Go on an international vacation / trip – It gives you something new to rant about for the next few years. Still talking about the college (those were the days) days?? Get over it.

     Save up – Yes, your dad has been saying this for a long time. Must mean something then, right? It helps to have money when it matters the most. Simple.

     Know when to call it a night – Walking into the class with eyes as big as saucers was fine. It isn’t cool anymore. Its 4 am & someone in the room says We need to get more booze." "Great idea!" is the general & acceptable response. Except it's not; it never is.

      Hit the gym – Watch the saffola ads for additional details.

     Know how to choose a good bottle – Let it be a bottle of wine or aftershave, get to know what you want. It helps. Trust me. Just trust me.

      Know how to change a bulb / tube light / flat tyre - The general point I’m trying to make is that it is time you acquired some practical skills.

This is not a definitive list by any means, but just some thins that passed through my mind as I hit 30 yesterday. I have a whole new decade coming up. Gotta go and take it on...

*Confession: I haven’t  hit the gym yet. :)

Friday, 5 June 2015

Batman: The mask of Phantasm -The best Bruce Wayne movie ever made!

In 1939, National Comics (later to become DC Comics), was looking for a new super hero—a character who could build on the success of Superman (who debuted in 1938).  Bob Kane, a gag cartoonist, was asked to design a new hero. Kane conceived one of the most popular and enduring characters of the twentieth century—The Batman.
As the 10th Anniversary of Christopher Nolan’s Batman approaches, I went on a trip down the memory lane, watching some of the old classics. What I experienced was nothing short of fantastic. Of all the movies that I revisited, 3 movies stood out. This piece is about the finest (in my humble opinion) animation (or maybe better than the live action) movie that has bought the caped crusader alive on large screen, Batman: The mask of Phantasm (1993).
Batman_mask_of_the_phantasm_posterBatman: Mask of the Phantasm, a feature-length film set inside the Batman: The Animated Series universe was the first animated Batman movie. Based in the nineties Batman cartoon universe, the film boasts much of the same cast and crew as the series.
The movie  starts out with the Caped Crusader dropping in on some of Gotham City’s gangsters planning a money laundering scheme, only to have a strange new vigilante drop by and send one of the criminals to their death. When Mob bosses start getting bumped off by a guy in a cape, everyone assumes that Batman has gone off the deep end. Meanwhile, Andrea Beaumont, the one time love of Bruce Wayne’s life, returns to Gotham City stirring up memories including those of how he almost didn’t become Batman.  As all of this unfolds, and the Phantasm becomes a more imminent, lethal threat, the Joker is brought into the fold as a major wild card.  Now, can the Dark Knight elude the police, capture the Phantasm and clear his name?
Like any other Batman feature, there are certain things these movies always seem to have. First, we have the public (and then the police) debating the necessity of Batman, then we have Bruce Wayne pining over his parents death and then we have the the complicated love interest. Love interest? Yes, you read that right.
“Mask of the Phantasm” is a love story, of sorts, tracing Bruce Wayne/Batman’s relationship to Andrea Beaumont, who comes into his life at a time of self-doubt about the self-imposed burden of justice and vengeance. The tale is beautifully crafted and truly shows the emotional depth and humanity of Bruce before and after he becomes Batman.  Was this the woman who almost stopped Bruce Wayne from donning the mantle of the Bat, or did she push him over the edge?
Apart from this subplot, the movie is about a dozen times more complex than any of the live action movies. Part of that comes with dealing with an entirely new villain instead of just another nutcase pulled from the pages of the comic. We don’t immediately know who it is or why they’re doing what they’re doing, which allows for a lot of leeway in terms of plot twists and the like. Midway through, the Joker replaces the revenge-driven Phantasm as the villain. The Joker’s introduction and development into the main villain, however, does allow for the Joker’s trademark rants, raves, jibes, and bad puns, which is a total blast.
The extended climax inside the amusement park is only one of several well-directed action set pieces. This is the kind of action that one would want to see in a live action film. Others scenes include the Batman eluding a SWAT team along the rooftops and dark alleys of Gotham City (which takes you back to the scene from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One). In one of the many  flashbacks, one scene set inside Gotham’s World Fair, not only informs us about Bruce and Andrea’s past, but also gives us a glimpse into the inspiration for the Batmobile’s design.
The animation style of this feature film is definitely one of it’s big pluses. It maintains the brilliant art deco noir style that Batman: The Animated Series was based on..  The opening title sequence even features a beautiful CGI fly through of the Gotham City skyline. The animation, though “very nineties”, still stands the test of time. It’s a quality film.
batman_mask_of_the_phantasmComing to the music, the main theme from Danny Elfman for Tim Burton’s Batman movies lived on in this DC Animated Universe. For this feature, Shirley Walker, makes it even more gothic and haunting with a beautiful chorus.  It’s a fantastic score that rouses, and nails all over the wonderful. The rest of the movie sounded even better, stereo effects a-plenty. Helicopters, gunshots, squealing tires, all coming at you from the direction you’d expect, and they all sound fantastic.
As for the voice acting, could you ask for a better? It has the legendary Kevin Conroy, has been the definitive voice of Batman for over two decades now for legions of fans.  Conroy reflects all the best qualities of the character from the upbeat playboy, the serious businessman, the dark, brooding man in the shadows, and the powerfully imposing Dark Knight. And what about our favorite super villain, Joker? Mark Hamill nails it. What Hamill does is make the Joker this insane clown who will do whatever hits the biggest punch line in his own twisted mind. He brings the jovial zaniness meshed with a lethal intimidation that forges a colorful maniac that is endlessly fun and entertaining while still being a major threat. It will also be a grave injustice, if I did not mention Alfred Pennyworth (Voice by Efrem Zimbalist Jr), who walks away with some of the greatest lines and moments in the movie.
If I had to find a flaw in the film, well, for one, it is too short, running at just 75 minutes! Yes, as the movie is almost 25 years old, you may find faults with it, but , at the end of the day, it remains one of the finest features ever made on Batman.
Batman has been in many movies and maybe this incarnation of Batman isn’t for everyone. Mask of the Phantasm may not be the best of the bunch, but it is a classic. It’s a nostalgia ride for a generation of nineties kids. It is still awesome, still relevant and kicks ass, just like Batman does.

*Note: This blog / article was first published on 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Chaar Cutting Movie Review: Small in size, yet highly entertaining

So far, 2015 has been a difficult year for the film industry. Most of the “sureshot blockbusters” have had a bad run at the box office. Relatively smaller films like Dum Laga Ke HaishaPiku and TWMR have shown the biggies that they can bring in the audience too..
In hindsight, Jamurra ( has nailed the release of its first feature ( a collection of 4 short films) perfectly. All four films, having won awards in international film festivals, narrate stories that would immediately strike a chord with you.
Chaar CuttingThe anthology begins with Anuj Gulati’s MANILA RUNNING. Of the four shorts, this is the only story that doesn’t feature Indian artists, nor is the story set in India. Despite that, you are completely drawn into the story immediately. While the movie may be set in Manila, Philippines, it does remind you of Mumbai. The crowded lanes & alleys, suspicious taxiwallahs & cops, shabby hotels & lodges do make for familiar viewing. After having come to Manila, for a nose job, the protagonist finds himself caught in a series of high tension & embarrassing situations. I found myself smiling throughout the 15 minute film, as I could relate to each of the situation & emotions, thanks to some brilliant performances.
Written by Vikramaditya Motwane & directed by his Assistant, Hardik Mehta, SKIN DEEP, the 2nd short in the lineup is probably the “biggie” of the lot. Set in Mumbai, Skin Deep is about a young couple’s first “adventure” of wanting to make love, tested, when the guy discovers the extra piece of foreskin that hinders them. The film follows what happens when he decides to undergo a circumcision. What starts off as a slice of life romance quickly turns into a dark, shocking and deeply moving story.  Revealing anything more would be a huge disservice to the short film. It entertained & shocked me equally.
Post interval (Yes, there was one!), we go from Mumbai to the hinterlands of Rajasthan. Produced by Whistling Woods, BAWDI, is the weakest of the lot. Set in a village in Rajasthan, this story is about a boy who is torn between having to make a choice between taking a stand with his father & choosing a life in the city with his to-be-wife. The story of “City dwellers & large COLA companies are evil” is something we have seen far too many times to really care about it. While the short film manages to get the setting right, it has too many glaring flaws. The dialects mouthed by the characters are inconsistent, the production values are bad. One consolation is the background score that sort of makes up for the otherwise disappointing fare.
The fourth & the last, BLOUSE more than makes up for the dip. Directed by Vijayeta Kumar, this one has the wackiest plot & some fine performances. Set in Rajasthan, this story is about a teacher who makes a promise to gift a blouse to his wife. Simple plot, eh? What follows is a madcap journey of the teacher, going through what not to get the gift his wife desires.  It is the most charming film of the lot & each character in the film is a delight to watch. This is one of the finest love stories I have seen in a long time. Again, anything more on the story would rob you of all the fun. This is the film that elicited the most laughs, claps & whistles, and why not? It indeed was the right way to finish off this delightful presentation.
Nobody would have dared to touch these short films a couple of years ago. Thanks to films like Bombay Talkies, such presentations are getting made. What would have directly (and only) released on YouTube, is getting released in theatres tomorrow. I sincerely hope that these features create a minor (if not big) ripple that would result in bigger production houses to appreciate & help such films get the limelight they deserve.
Thanks to Jamuura and PVR, we are getting to see these small, yet important & relevant works getting released & noticed.
Go and watch Chaar Cutting in a PVR near you. It will make you laugh, charm you, entertain you in equal measure.
*Note - This blog / review was first published in

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Mad Men -The end of an era

A man enters his cabin, puts down his suitcase & everything goes downhill from there. The room collapses, and he goes tumbling from the window of his office. We see him take a fall through a chasm of diamond rings, Happy American families in American ad hoardings, martini and women in stockings…

We have seen this for a few years now, but do not know (for a fact) who this man is? Is he one person? Is he the man living inside all of us?
 Is he DON DRAPER? Well, we shall get an answer to this question on Sunday (Monday 11 am, IST)

Anyone who has followed Mad Men knows that Don Draper is like none other. He is one of a kind. A man who has it all : Fame, status, money, career, women, admirers / followers / worshippers. He is everything a man tries (and fail) to be. Every man wants to be him, every woman wants to be with him! He is tall and handsome, dresses impeccably and always in control, rules  people & commands respect.  

So what is wrong with him? When everyone wants to be him, why does he want to escape from himself?

As if this was not the single most important question for Matthew Weiner (The show’s writer) to answer, he needs to bring the characters / stories to a justifiable end in the last episode. Huge task, indeed. After all, we want to see Roger & Peggy (if not everyone else) get a fitting goodbye.

It has been a fine ride. Mad Men entertained & shocked me equally. The ideas & themes it explored in each of its episodes were fascinating. Sometimes too much for a fiction TV show, but all of it was packaged in a beautiful & entertaining way.
The acting is routinely excellent, the dialogue sparkling & the stories amazing. The attention to period detail is astonishing, and the art direction alone makes the show worth watching even with the sound off.

I might not break into tears or miss Mad Men the way I did after Breaking Bad got over, but what I am weary of is the absence of  another crazy yet creative package te Mad Men was. It was a mix of some sharp writing, it embraced some bold themes and never confined itself to any particular genre.

Here are some key numbers that make Mad Men special:

#  Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has been to bed with 18 women through the series
# 942 cigarettes were smoked on screen
# 369 alcoholic beverages were poured in the office. (Yes, in office!)

And it all comes to an end Sunday night, as the 92nd and final installment shall be aired. No more Don Draper or Peggy Olsen. No Roger, Joan, Betty, Megan, Pete, Ken.

All eyes will be on AMC Sunday night as the network airs Mad Men's series finale. To make sure of it, AMC’s sister networks (BBC America, IFC, Sundance and WE) will suspend regular programming for an hour beginning at 10 p.m. ET on Sunday.