Category Archives: Reviews

Mirror Mirror Review

Mirror Mirror was one of those movies I chose to watch purely because it appeared on Netflix. The film is not a serious take on Snow White, but instead is very light-hearted and more focused on the comedy. The Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic ratings for it were not too promising considering the fact that they are, at the time of writing this post, are hovering at around 50%. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the film and am confused as to why it got such a poor rating on RT and Metacritic. Honestly, this film is worth at least a 70%. It is certainly better than Snow White and the Huntsman.

Acting/Characters

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. These are not complex characters. In fact some of them are very 2-dimensional such as the Prince. However, other main characters such as Snow White, the Evil Queen and the 7 Dwarves, while not that deep, do have backgrounds flushed out just a bit. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s look at the actors/actresses. The main stars of the show are Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, Armie Hammer as the Prince and Lily Collins as Snow White. Julia Roberts gives an outstanding performance that is pure comedy gold. She portrays a slightly crazy, but more light-hearted than Snow White and the Huntsman, evil queen really well. Armie Hammer’s portrayal of the Prince is also incredibly well suited to the comedy and light-hearted nature of the film. Newcomer Lily Collins also does a fantastic job of keeping this film feeling light-hearted and funny.

Score: 7.5/10

Cinematography/Special Effects

This film is beautiful to look at. The world, the sets and the costume design are colourful and fantastic to look at. The intricate dresses that people in the palace wear are totally over-the-top and incredibly creative. The costume designer for this film deserves a lot of credit for his/her work. The special effects used are also quite good. While they certainly will not beat more CGI intensive Hollywood blockbusters, they are good enough that they do not diminish the creativity of the film’s look and feel.

Score: 8.5/10

Plot

Let’s get one thing straight, this is not the most original plot for a Snow White based film that you will see. In fact, many elements of it are fairly predictable and that is certainly a downside. However, this film is not focused on making some amazing, complex plot. It focuses on a light-hearted journey that is filled with laughs, and for that, the plot fits in admirably. There are tons of comedic moments in the film including several jokes that have double meanings that adults will understand, but will probably just fly over kids’ heads. There is even a small critique about the upper-class or noble-class in the film during some scenes. Despite the predictable plot, the plot did keep my attention and kept me entertained and laughing for the almost 2 hour run-time of this film. There are moments that could have been cut out to reduce the run-time and have a tighter film, but there was nothing that felt so extraneous that I was rolling my eyes.

Score: 7.5/10

Overall Score: 7.83/10

Wreck-it Ralph Review

When I first heard about this film, I will admit I was not as enthusiastic as I was after watching this film. After doing Tangled, a take on Rapunzel, I was hoping that Disney would revive its tradition of making classic fairly tales as films. I was saddened when Wreck-it Ralph was not such a take until I saw the first trailer and they showed all the cameos that were in the film.

Acting/Characters

First off, the voice acting talent chosen for this film were great. Especially Jane Lynch who nailed her character as the tough girl, no nonsense, leader character that she is so well known for. The other voice actors/actresses did their jobs splendidly as well and I have no room for complaints. Now, on to the actual characters. There are a ton of cameos in this film from various other video games including Sonic, Street Fighter, Pac-man, House of the Dead, Super Mario Bros, Q-bert, etc. There were also a ton of characters that were references to various video games, and there were many references to video games and pop-culture overall including a character that looked a lot like Skrillex. Now the actual main characters themselves were thankfully not outright references or cameos. They were original characters with their own designs and back-story although it was apparent that Ralph himself did take some design cues from Donkey Kong. I am thankful that they were original because it would have been easy for the characters to be weighed down by audience expectations if they were just cameos from other games or were obvious references. Also, the originality and personalities of the main characters allowed them to stand out enough that they were not drowned out by all the references and cameos thrown in the movie. The main characters were strong enough to carry the movie on its own.

Score: 9/10

Special FX/Cinematography/Art

The art of this film was fantastic. The models of the various video game cameos and references were spot on. It was amazing the amount of devotion the various video games featured in the film got. Disney even went as far as to make scenes where there were 8-bit graphics for older games. The attention to detail was amazing. There were references and cameos everywhere you looked in the film. The small touches to the models and textures were especially nice. For example, when there are cake stains on Ralph, the stain shape is blocky and 8-bit-esque. The animations of the apartment dwellers in Ralph’s game had jerky animation and transitions between poses just like an 8-bit game would. When Ralph jumps between games, each game is like a whole different and unique world and it was obvious that Disney’s artists were not lazy at all even for a single frame. Just like past Pixar and Walt Disney Animation studios work, we can see that Disney has improved on their animation technology further with textures and models being more detailed, and particle effects are more fine-grained and fluid.

Score: 9/10

Plot

Considering how many references and disparate game worlds there are in this film, I did not expect a plot that tied things together to be the strongest point of the film. In fact, I did not expect the plot to be that original at all. To an extent, this was true. This is a standard plot about characters discovering themselves, a father-daughter relationship that is developed and a basic romance thread. However, the plot did offer a twist that genuinely caught me off guard. It also ran 3 plots in parallel that eventually came together towards the end of the film. Despite having 3 plots in parallel, Disney did not stumble when presenting them at the same time. Things were coherent, it did not feel like one plot was rushed or another lingered on a certain event for too long, it all just felt right. I am genuinely impressed by Disney’s ability to prevent the plot from being drowned out by the weight of sticking all these references into a film. It really is a throwback to the old days when films that were targeted more towards children also had enough content and references in them that adults could enjoy them as well.

Score: 8.5/10

Overall Score: 8.8 / 10

Ayutha Ezhuthu Review

Ayutha Ezhuthu is a tamil political thriller film written and directed by Mani Ratnam. Like his previous political thriller films, this one features personal relationships set against politics. However, unlike his previous films, this one focuses more on the politics and features not just one relationship, but 3.

Acting/Characters

Unlike many films, this film is full of well known actors and actresses including Madhavan, Surya, Siddharth and Trisha Krishnan. It’s rare to see so many actors and actresses that are well-known star in the same film. First, let’s talk about Madhavan. The man does a splendid job of portraying a power hungry thug who swings quickly from anger to kindness. The level of emotion that Madhavan delivers is truly astounding and he flexes his acting muscle quite a bit. It’s also refreshing to see him playing a more villainous role that his previous acting gigs. Surya, Siddhart, Trisha Krishnan and Esha Deol both deliver good performances that I will classify as “good enough”. I don’t have anything bad to say about their performances, but I did not see anything that really pushes their performances. Meera Jasmine, who plays the wife of Madhavan’s character, does an impressive job and is able to keep up with Madhavan’s acting. To be honest, these two make a great pair on screen and you can really see the chemistry between them during their performances. The most of the main characters themselves are not 2-dimensional at all. Unfortunately, the villain characters come off as fairly 2-dimensional. They are villains because they want to keep power and money, and that is all there is to them. Madhavan’s and Meera’s characters are both fairly complex. They have a complex relationship between them that both continue to pursue due to various motivations that are shown over the course of the film. Surya’s character also gets some background exposition and his motivations are revealed. Siddharth’s character undergoes the most change from being a selfish young man to being a politically active individual who wants to represent the best interests of other people. Trisha’s character also shows some change during the course of the film as she develops her love for Siddharth’s character. Unfortunately, Esha’s character is a 2-dimensional affair. She plays a girl who loves Surya, but that’s about all that there is to her character. Overall, the acting and character department of this film is fairly solid.

Score: 8/10

Music

The music is helmed by A.R. Rahman and as usual he delivers. What is particularly interesting about this film is that A.R. Rahman experiments with more Western styles and influences, and I even saw some hints of music from the Electronic genres. Songs such as Dol dol dol and Yakkai Thiri have modern Western styles and make heavy use of electronic sounds. They sound incredibly experimental, especially considering music from Kollywood during the time of the films release. Heck, even now, they still sound quite new and edgy in comparison to most Kollywood music. Janna is a song that is a typical upbeat song and of course there is a melody song there as well. Both songs are solid.

Score: 8.5 / 10

Cinematography

This is one part of the film that I was not blown away by. Don’t get me wrong, I did not find the cinematography bad, but I did not find it astounding either. It did its job and did not get in the way of telling the story. The angles were fine, shots set up nicely and there were no shaky cameras. The song/dance sequences for the various songs in the film also were nothing special. There was nothing really special about any of it.

Score: 6.5 / 10

Plot

This is easily one of the strongest parts of the film. We start off with a sequence of events that involve all 3 characters. Surya is giving a ride to his love interest, they have a conversation and he drops her off. Then, Siddharth who is chasing his love interest asks Surya for a ride so he can chase down Trisha’s auto-rickshaw. Then, we see Madhavan’s character having a discussion about how he can’t live with his wife and how he cannot live without his wife. Eventually, the scene culminates into Madhavan shooting with a gun Surya as he is riding his bike. At first the viewer is totally confused about what is happening. Then, we are sent back in time to see how this particular sequence came about. We  start with Madhavan’s character’s story and how they relate to this sequence. Then, we see Siddharth’s story and Surya’s story.  These flashbacks make up the first half of the story. After the flashbacks, we are brought back to the present where the aftermath of the sequence is dealt with and eventually this leads to the movie’s conclusion. While part of the time, the story is non-linear, it is not confusing at all because it manages to be simple enough that the viewer can understand. The flashbacks are also used to greatly develop the characters. While the story is simple, there are a lot of interesting nuances that the viewer will connect together during the course of the various flashbacks that lead to me having a few “AHA” moments. Arguably, the first half the film is the strongest. The second half of the film is where it starts to falter a little bit as the story becomes a standard young people fighting the old geezers in politics. Thankfully, the second half still remains strong enough to not drag down the movie.

Score: 8/10

Overall Score: 7.75 / 10

Mudhalvan Review

If you can’t tell by now, I am going on an trip through various Tamil movies from the 90s and early 2000s that were released during my childhood. Next up is Mudhalvan. This film is interesting because it portrays the standard David vs Goliath story and tackles the theme of corruption in politics in India. I will talk about this more later in my review.

Acting/Characters

First of all, this is a fairly simple story. Unfortunately, it does result in characters that are somewhat 2-dimensional. First off, let’s start with our hero: Arjun as Pughazhendhi. Arjun’s character is the stereotypical good guy hero. He loves his parents, does honest work as a cameraman and is willing to help people. Yes, this appears to be a 2-dimensional character. But this innocence and good guy vibe is very important later in the film. He does grow and change as the movie goes on, so while he appears 2D at first, he definitely becomes more developed towards the end of the film. Unfortunately, our heroine did not fare so well in this film. Manisha Koirala plays Tenmozhi, a village girl who falls in love with Arjun’s character. Unfortunately, that is about all the depth that appears in Manisha’s character. She is just there purely to be a love side story, nothing else. She does not contribute that much to the plot line at all except partially to provide an excuse for the various songs. It really was depressing to see Manisha in this role. Now don’t get me wrong, Manisha did a fantastic job with what she was given. Unfortunately, she was not given enough to work with. There was absolutely no room for her to flex her acting muscle at all. Next up, we have the main antagonist Aranganathan played by Raghuvaran. The archetypal villain, there is not much depth to this character either. While Aranganathan does a splendid job of acting this role, just like Manisha, he does not have much to work with. Overall, this is the most disappointing aspect of this movie.

Score: 5/10

Music

A. R. Rahman is at the helm of the music for this film. As usual, he delivers a great set of songs. Some of them will definitely be making it into my music collection including Shakalaka Baby and Uppu Karuvadu. That said, I was not a big fan of the other songs. While they are catchy, I do not think are quite up to par with what A. R. Rahman usually produces. That said, it is a much better soundtrack that many of the more recent tamil films. So I will give this a decent rating.

Score: 7/10

Cinematography

The village scenes are truly beautiful as well as the scenes used in the dance sequences. Overall, shots were clean and well thought out. There was a number of CGI sequences used in this film. While they do not look splendid in terms of today’s standards, they pretty decent for the Kollywood industry at the time. At the same time, nothing really stood out for me. In terms of song and dance sequences, they were well choreographed, the costumes and sets used were nice and colourful. Again, these are typical of the films of the time in my opinion so nothing particularly stood out for me.

Score: 7.5/10

Plot

This is easily the strongest part of the movie. A good summary of the plot is that a news reporter, played by Arjun, causes the CM of Tamil Nadu, played by Raghuvaran, to mess up an interview. As a result, the CM challenges him to try being a CM for one day just to see how tough it is. Against the CM’s expectations, Arjun’s character manages to do a fantastic job. People are in the streets demanding that he becomes the CM, so the current CM is forced to resign. Arjun’s character is voted into power during a landslide victory. The rest of the film deals with Arjun cleaning up Tamil Nadu and the former CM plotting ways to remove Arjun from power. It is not a complicated plot, there is one main story with a side story of the romance. Unfortunately, the romance feels mostly tacked on and as filler for the first half of the film. The romance is almost forgotten during the latter part of the film and is resolved in a hurried manner in the last few minutes. The not complicated plot works in the film’s favour. Instead of being bogged down by the details of the day-to-day goings of the CM’s job and going into depth on how Arjun comes into power, the film opts for a simple explanation that suffices to move the plot along. The most important part of this plot is when Arjun starts losing everything he holds dear as a CM and eventually how this drives him to put aside the ethics he swore to keep just so he can be rid of Raghuvaran’s character. You see him fighting the urge to become just like the politicians he dislikes. The film also delivers a very strong message to the people of Tamil Nadu and to the politicians themselves. If politicians actually did their job of upholding laws and justice instead of caving in to corruption, think about how much better the state would be. It’s definitely not an easy message to ignore.

Score: 8.5/10

Overall Score: 7/10

While the film does have its flaws, the plot alone is enough for me to recommend this film to others.

 

Dil Se Review

This is a review about the film Dil Se starring Manisha Koirala and Shah Rukh Khan.

Acting/Characters

With this film, we once again see Shah Rukh Khan’s acting talents on full display. As his character goes through the seven Arabic stages of love, you see him portray a man who goes from a boyish attitude to a desperate man without a hitch. We get to see his character develop through the seven stages of love and each stage is detailed enough to see the character change during the course of the movie. Once again, Manisha manages to deliver another stellar performance as an emotionally scarred young woman who must deal with an inner struggle between her desire to get independence for her state and her love for Shah Rukh Khan’s character. She manages to show her characters inner feelings through subtle emotions and body language. It always amazes me to see the talent of Manisha on display in a film. This film also introduces Preity Zinta as one of Shah Rukh Khan’s marriage prospect. While her performance is not at the same level as Khan’s or Manisha’s performances, Zinta does not drag down the film at all and pulls her own weight. We get a glimpse of Zinta’s character’s love background and while it is not much, it is enough to reasonably establish her character. Overall, the acting and characters in this film are fantastic.

Score: 8.5/10

 

Music

I do not have much criticism for the music in this film. Once again, A. R. Rahman delivers on the songs. They are fantastic, catchy and memorable. Considering the fact that I remember most of these songs (the Tamil versions at least) from the huge number of times they were played during my childhood, I think its safe to say that these songs were a huge hit. In fact, just like Bombay, all of the songs have made it into my personal music collection. In terms of the dance sequences for the song, the director manages to get some amazing locations and choreography going for the songs. One of my favourite dance sequences happens for “Cheyiya Cheyiya” when they are dancing on a moving train as it is going through the countryside. It was one of the most unique dance sequences I have seen in a very long time.

Score: 9/10

 

Cinematography

The locations used for this film, especially during the first half are absolutely stunning. Locations include Assam, Kerala, Kashmir, Delhi and other regions. It was the first time I got a glimpse of the people who live near the India-China and India-Burma border. It was also the first time I got to look at Buddhist monasteries that exist in the desert regions of India. Each of the landscapes was breathtaking to behold and the cinematography is definitely a treat for the viewer. There were no shaky cameras and the angles chosen for many scenes were good. The lighting during night time sequences was appropriate, especially during the fights with the terrorist group, during which it was dark and gloomy to help heighten the tension in the atmosphere. The cinematography during the second half of the film does not quite live up to the first half mostly because the film moves back to Delhi. However, that does not mean the quality of the cinematography suffers. In fact, it is just as good as the first half. Overall, a great job done on cinematography.

Score: 8/10

 

Plot

As usual, we are now at the most important part of the film: the plot. The premise here is quite straightforward, Shah Rukh Khan plays a person who works for the All India Radio station. He travels to the North-East of India to interview separatist terrorists. Along the way, he meets a beautiful woman (Manisha) and attempts to make romantic advances. Manisha’s character constantly refuses his advances but refuses to give him a solid reason as to why. Eventually, we learn she is a terrorist herself who plans to assassinate the Indian president during the 50 year anniversary parade of Indian independence in Delhi. From there, the film continues to resolve the two lovers’ story. During the entire plot, we can see hints of Manisha’s character developing feelings for Shah Rukh Khan’s character despite being reluctant to do so. It is refreshing to see a film where the romance between the two main stars does not instantly occur over a period of like 15 minutes. The romance is supposed to mirror the Arabic seven stages of love. While the movie does not make it entirely obvious which stage Shah Rukh Khan’s character is in during some parts of the movie, there is enough detail that you can guess at each part. The plot is simple enough that anyone can follow it, however it is not too simple that you will be rolling your eyes. The film manages to reveal just enough information about Manisha’s character that the viewer is kept interested without revealing too much at a time. The plot manages to remain lean and on track for the most part. However, I do feel that Preity Zinta’s character and the entire story line about her being a marriage prospect with Shah Rukh Khan was added just as filler to boost the running time. The film’s plot would have been just fine if they omitted Preity Zinta’s character altogether. Another bad point about the plot is the ending. While I will not tell you the ending itself, I will state that it felt kind of like a cop-out ending. While it was certainly conclusive with zero doubt, I felt like the writers took the easy path. Then again, knowing the 7th stage of Arabic romance, I am not surprised by the ending. But I’m always a happy ending type of guy and this sort-of unhappy ending left me feeling a bit cheated.

Score: 8/10

Overall

Score: 8.375/10