Hello!! If you love movies then you have landed at the right place where you will get reviews for whatever flicks that I watch when I am bored. Caution: Most of my reviews tend to be biased!! :) .

The Box (2009)

It’s the holiday season and while the whole world is watching Avatar, I have to comfort myself with any random recent movies that happen to pop in my radar. One such movie that was recommended with a high praise to me happens to be the topic of review today!
I had no clue before watching this that it is by the creator of Donnie Darko, a movie that I have been thinking of watching for a real long time. Therefore, aside from the effusive praise that was bestowed to it by the recommender, I actually had no expectations from the movie. The core plot of the movie revolves around, as the title suggests, a box! This box is received by a family consisting of a couple and their son. The man of the house (James Mardsen) works for NASA while his wife (Cameron Diaz) works as a teacher. Their puzzle over both the content and sender of the box doesn’t last long as they are visited the very next day by a rather ominous looking man called Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) who presents to them a simple proposition. Push the button inside the box and someone, somewhere unknown to them will die and they will receive a million dollars in return, and if they don’t the box will be taken from them after 24 hours. The rest of the proceedings are not merely about the couple’s decision but much more manifold to such an extent that every character that appears on screen holds some clue to what is going on. Therefore, talking any further about the plot will not only present major spoilers but also spoil the charm of watching things unfold.
“The Box”, when it begins is one of the movies that don’t just need but commands attention. The characters captivate, the plot intrigues and the rustic feel of 1976 is beautifully captured on screen. There is almost an absence of filler sequences as every scene builds on beautifully to increase the suspense about what’s going on. Diaz is great as woman with confusions about what’s right and wrong. Langella is gentle yet menacing (almost in league with Jigsaw!!) but the character that surprised me was Mardsen, primarily because I never thought that that he could act! The way the movie sets itself for the second half is praiseworthy.
But the trouble with “The Box” begins with its second half. It’s a movie that begins to get complex and confusing not because the plot desires it but just for the sake of being so. (A minor spoiler ahead) I had no clue that the movie belonged to the sci-fi genre and its TWZ inspired plot, but the way it appears make it rather brazen yet boring. By the time the movie ends, the complex plot details that unravel seem to look much prettier in their knotty design earlier. The movie is almost like a roller-coaster that reaches its peak midway and is a big downhill then on. It raises various questions, questions about morality, humanity etc. Sadly, with “The Box”, you are too bored to even make an effort to find the answers and just watch the director falling prey to his own ambitiousness.
I couldn’t help but draw an analogy to a similar venture that appeared last year- “Franklyn”. Both the movies had unique, ambitious plots, both developed for screen in a refreshing manner, both possessed twists in the tales that do not appear till the very end. Unfortunately, both were also uninteresting and failed to entertain by the time we get set for the epilogue. In short, movies that is just good enough for rentals!
RATING: **1/2 (out of 5)

I will leave off with something more entertaining than this movie and that’s the new Iron Man 2 trailer!! :)

Law Abiding Citizen (2009)


When it’s a boring weekend evening and you want a bit of adrenaline rush, all you need is to pick up a good suspense/thriller and let the fun begin. Unfortunately, while there are no things more exhilarating as a good thriller, there is surely nothing more frustrating as a good one gone bad. At the very onset, let me warn you, “Law Abiding Citizen” (LAC) falls totally into the latter category.

If you have seen the trailers of the movie, you pretty much know the entire plot. Gerard Butler plays Clyde Shelton whose family is gruesomely murdered in front of his eyes by two goons. While they both are arrested, the faulty judicial system ensures that the main culprit walks away while the sidekick gets the death penalty. Playing devil’s advocate is Jamie Foxx as Nick Rice, who as Clyde says “makes a deal with the murderers”. The anguished father of course can do nothing against the system and has to watch helplessly as his pleas are cut short. Nick’s defense being that some justice is better than no justice at all! Things shift ten years down the line when the father decided to take on the system and methodically bumps off the culprits before being arrested. What follows is his sequential killing off of everyone that was involved in the case, all that happening while he is still in jail.

While the plot is as wafer-thin as I just described, the thrill factor is not. From the moment Clyde is arrested, the script follows a taut sequence of one method-killing after another. And as further details about Clyde’s past divulge itself, the killings only get bigger as spectacles keeping you at the edge of your seats. While LAC is no comment on the judicial system, it does take aid of the faults to move things forward. Clyde’s bail sequence is a real fun to watch in that respect! The suspense regarding how Clyde is able to do all the killings is also maintained pretty well throughout the major part of the movie.

But as I said before, LAC is a big letdown in several departments. Acting wise Gerard Butler is great as always. There are moments where he has to shift gears from carefree nonchalance to scary insolence and he does it with commanding ease. But that’s it for the acting department as rest of the whole setup just seems to be sleepwalking through their role. Jamie Foxx is plain and simple bad as the lawyer who has to predict the next move while maintaining his own safety. It could have been a gripping cat and mouse game between the lead protagonists but Foxx’s acting and the script never lifts their duel to the next level. And finally, the big letdown is the final act. Stop just fifteen minutes before the ending and run off to wherever you want . Then cook up whatever ending you imagined and it surely would still not be as absurd as what the director has to offer. It’s abrupt, preposterous and doesn’t explain some very important plot points.

In short, in spite of being an enjoyable fare, LAC leaves such a bad aftertaste that it would be really impossible to suggest it to someone. Watch it at your own risk!

RATING: **1/2 (out of 5)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Being an absolutely devoted Quentin Tarantino fan has its pros and cons. The pro being that every new movie of his is treated by you as not merely another movie but an event. The con is that every movie makes you feel like an invitation to a heavenly seven-course meal, but in the end, you often come out with the feeling that due to scarcity of time, the final course was never served in the event!! Of course, you can never complain because rest of the meal was so savory to the taste buds. But then somewhere after all that charming aftertaste has died down, you get that undeniable feeling of being unsatisfied. I was pretty much expecting my next “meal” served by QT to repeat the same feelings but sometimes what you expect is never on the menu (like the movie’s innocuous looking misspelled title!!).
It all begins by unfolding of the first of five chapters of the movie. A narrative structure which has been QT’s favorite. Titled “Once upon a time .. in a Nazi occupied France” it is undoubtedly the best of the lot and sets the tone for rest of the movie. It introduces Nazi officer Col. Hans Landa, a “Jew-Hunter” who is out to flush out a simpleton hiding Jews in his quaint farm. Landa, played by Christopher Waltz, is easily one of the most charming, enigmatic and evil characters to ever grace any Tarantino movie. He is soft, charming and almost casual to begin with. But when he begins to lay his cards down, his menacing evil is awe inspiring. Even the subtle transition of his talks from French to English (yeah, most of the movie is in four different languages and requires a whole lot of subtitles!), have their own hidden sinister purpose rather than just an attempt to make it easier for the viewer to understand. By the time this chapter ends we have two key players for the final act ready for us.
The second chapter brings us to the fulcrum of all the twists and turns in the story- the “basterds”. Led by a delightfully accented Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, the Nazi-killers show us their mettle as they literally go swinging off Nazi heads. The violence is brutal but absolutely unapologetic. That’s despite the employment of long camera shots of the killings and less gore compared to other QT movies. We also have the first look at Hitler, who is more a comic caricature rather than an actual tyrant. The next two chapters involves amongst others -a Nazi war hero’s romantic flings with a theatre owner(who actually is a Jew survivor from an earlier chapter played by Melanie Laurent), a German movie superstar who is also a spy (Diane Kruger) and an intense battle of wits in a bar- all directed towards the final act of an attempt at bringing the fuehrer down. And if you also pay attention then you might manage to catch a heavily disguised Mike Myers!!
The delightful thing about the movie is performance of each and every character. Every chapter contains little gems of performances by protagonists of the act. Therein also lies the bone of contention for many viewers who might expect Brad Pitt’s company to lead the show. But as the posters state, it’s not only they but every other character who is a “basterd”. Waltz leads the pack with a truly Oscar worthy performance that is worth watching till the final cut. The fourth chapter has a “basterd” in Nazi disguise (Michael Fassbender) and a Nazi officer (August Diehl) stealing the show in an engaging verbal duel of finding true identities. Just like the first chapter, the tension is palpable but devoid of any dramatics. Every uttered dialog swings the tempo in different directions and leaves you at the edge of your seat. In short, it’s Tarantino at his very best!! Til Schweiger and Eli Roth are great sidekicks too while both girls in the movie are straight off from the other QT movies: beautiful, strong and very deceptive. Brad Pitt leads the “basterds” with sheer panache of his dialog delivery. More importantly, those twisted spewed lexis of his hold their charm till the end because QT downplays the character. Something he probably learned from the overdose of Bill that killed Kill Bill Vol.2.
Like every QT movie, there are unpredictable twists and turns in this too. Lead characters are killed off gruesomely and often tragically. Also akin to his earlier movies, the movie is slightly longer than it should be. But just when you think the final act gives the first hint of dragging, the momentum swings fast. Chaos reigns and thankfully this time Tarantino doesn’t hold back and gives you literal history-changing moments!! All in all, the overall experience is so satisfying that you truly wish to give the director a standing ovation. Tarantino himself seems to thinking the same when he signs off with Lt.Aldo saying “This might just be my masterpiece”!! Indeed, till his next movie, it surely is!!
RATING: ****1/2 (out of 5)

Paranormal Activity (2009)

Halloween weekend and what better way to spend it than by watching a horror movie! “Paranormal Activity” was referred by a friend of mine saying that it was really awesome. The press had been pretty generous about the movie too and this week the movie prevented “Saw VI” from getting its traditional No.1 spot. In short, expectations were sky-high when I begin watching it. My expectations had been similar when I was referred by roommate to watch “The Ring” but the results had turned out to be less than flattering!! Did the same happen with this movie? Well, almost!
The movie centers around Katie and Micah (their real name too!) who are a couple living in a haunted house. Not haunted exactly as Katie has been witnessing paranormal activities since she was aged 8 and even before she came to the house. Micah meanwhile wants to document these activities so that he can believe them. So he buys a camera and decides to follow their day to day activity and keeps it turned on during the night so that he can get a visual documentation of Katie’s experiences. What follows is a series of nights through the camera’s vision and what it captures.
I have never been genuinely scared by any horror movie and much of the scare that I have experienced have been incidental due to some sudden noise or nifty camera work. Even with that yardstick, the movie didn’t actually scare me. In fact, the first paranormal activity that you see comes only around 24th minute into the movie and is more comical than actually scary. What worked for me were the two main protagonists. While Micah remains a persistent non-believer and always eager to find out more about these activities, Katie portrays the helpless victim well. They don’t act like silly horror movie characters that are more pain to watch than the ghost or the demons themselves. That brings me to the origin of the paranormal activities- a demon! Unfortunately, save for a brief history we don’t actually get to know him very well so that brings the scare-factor down several notches. And the ending is so expectedly loud, gory and lame that you wish you had skipped it.
All in all, the movie was a notch better than “The Ring” so go ahead if it scared you, but I won’t recommend anyone to watch it otherwise.
RATING: **1/2 (out of 5)


Imagine that you are watching any of the Terminator movies and then suddenly you realize that the menacing robots are actually humans! “Surrogates” has a plot that actually looks something like that. The end result though is nor humorous nor exciting but somewhere in between.
The movie begins by tracing the evolution of the “Surrogates” across the ages. They are robotic forms controlled by humans in the real world, while they stay in the safe environs of their home. Something like Neo hooking onto and entering the matrix!! But the difference here is that while the Surrogates can be destroyed, their human controllers remain unharmed. The entire world uses them to carry out their daily work. But there also exist a group of humans led by the Prophet (a barely noticeable Ving Rhames), who resist the use of surrogates and they live in machine free zones resisting their use. This system has led to an almost non-existent crime rates and general peace in the world.
But things are about to change when a gruesome murder takes place of a Surrogate who happens to be the son of the discoverer of Surrogacy. The incident not only destroys the Surrogate but also happens to kill its controller by frying the controller’s brain!! In comes investigators Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell). They soon realize that a human has the possession of a weapon that can kill both the Surrogates and its owner. The clue to the murder lies on who made the weapon and for what purpose.
While the plot may look a wee bit interesting but the movie hardly is. In fact, it is difficult to tell what the movie is aiming to be: a thriller, a mystery, an action or a full blown science-fiction. The sub-plot of death of Greer’s son and his relationship with his wife (Rosamund Pike) is hardly explored. Bruce Willis almost sleepwalks through his role while Radha Mitchell has little scope to display her acting prowess. Rosamund Pike is as unemotional as all the Surrogates in the movie (it might be intentional but comes naturally to her!!). Some of the action is pretty well shot but why were the Surrogates jumping and flying in the air like G.I.Joe’s??
All in all, Surrogates ends up as the movie that you can only watch when you have nothing else to do and you are as bored as me!!
RATING: ** (out of 5)
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