Iron Man


Written on 5:00 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Iron Man
Language: English
Year of Release: 2008
Director: Jon Favreau

I had never seen the cartoon of the same name, until I heard about it from a friend who claims to have been following it for a long time. I guess it was his recommendation and the promos of the flick that gave me a great impetus to check this one out. One thing which I was wary about was what would be the storyline of this “Man”? To be frank my interest in most of the Superhero movies has been waning for quite sometime. Although Superman has got the steel, there’s not much of variety in what he does (Correct me if I am wrong!!...:-P)…and Spiderman, I loved the first part about a dud turning into a DUDE! Honestly, I am kinda curious about the type of spiders lurking around me…hehehe…. But it turned out to be yet another gyan session on countless occasions…where kids are advised to be good…and how about those scenes where Spidy would come from nowhere to save those who are in danger…..more or less all the superhero movies have fallen under this category, which is what gets so boooooooring flick after flick. I had no clue what to expect from this one…but thanks to some rave reviews, this one promised to be one helluva roller coaster ride.
“Iron Man” is the story of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) billionaire industrialist and the chief of Stark Industries which is one of the chief Arms Supplier to the US Army. Tony is on a trip to the desert of Afghanistan to give a demo of his company’s new weapon “Jericho”, a cluster missile capable of mass destruction. Later his convoy is attacked and Tony is shocked to see that a missile made by his own firm has been used to attack him. His captors attach an electromagnet to his chest to keep the shrapnel from touching his heart. He’s threatened of murder by the Terrorist Group if he doesn’t build the “Jericho” missile for them. After gaining enough insight as to what lays ahead of him, Tony demands absolute privacy while building the missile, but he instead builds an Iron armour powered by an miniature arc reactor which will give the electromagnet enough energy from letting the shrapnel touch his heart. He manages to escapes from his captors and is somehow found by the US Army. Back home, he’s advised by his company’s executive Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) to lay low from the media. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is Tony’s assistant who is in love with him but doesn’t express it. Tony builds a more powerful miniature “Arc Reactor” and tells Obadiah about his earlier one. He secretly builds a new armour equipped with all the gizmos. (PHEEwwww… should check out all that drawings and designing yourself…mind blowing!). When he comes to know about how his own weapons are creating havoc, he decides to take the matter in his own hands…and what follows is a stunning gamut of some terrific stunts, gadgets and a fight for the good to prevail.
What makes it such an enjoyable flick is its story and the absence of senseless action! It’s completely believable the way things go on, especially when a fact that Tony is an inventor, is established. Of course, it’s upto your discretion if you wanna believe all that! But think about it, if you can accept Bruce Willis doing all those stunts in Die Hard-4 and Indian Jones escaping an Atom Bomb explosion by enclosing himself in a lead-lined refrigerator…then all that Tony does makes sense!!..:-P The thing I loved most about the flick was that, it was more of a sci-fi action adventure, rather than a superhero who’s on a mission to save the world! Yes, Iron Man does that eventually…but the way he does is SO different from any of his peers…you want another reason to look upto him?!...He doesn’t wear an undie on top of his pants!!!...hehehe…[:-P]. If you are a gadget freak…then look for his suit which doubles up as his armour and the capability to fly, the weapons, his maneuvers while on a flight ….nothing short of a Visual Orgasm! After checking out at his house on top of rock on the Malibu seafront, can you not dream of such lavish lifestyle?!?!...the garage filled with the funkiest of the cars…some awesome robots, a private jet…multi-billion dollar Business Empire…!!!...Phew!
Robert Downey Jr. delivers a classic…his histrionics as a billionaire industrialist, playboy, inventor are brilliant…but what’s more blatant is this, he’s one hell of a super cool…charming…stud whose heart goes out to those who have suffered directly or indirectly because of his company (Check out his expressions and the intensity he puts in his acting in that village scene where he saves scores of people). Jeff Bridges, who plays the character of Obadiah Stane, the executive of Stark Industries with a mission of his own, stands out in his character, especially from the point where his plan is revealed (although many of us must have sensed it early in the flick), he gets better and better as the story progresses. Gwyneth Paltrow is sweet in her role as Pepper Potts who’s in love with her boss…almost giving the impression of a love story from yesteryears where both the protagonists wait for the other one to confess first. Whoever has designed the iron man’s suit needs to be given special credit…it’s absolutely fantastic.
I guess I have written too many good things about the flick…although there are some weak links which some of my fellow movie buffs have raised…like, how did Stane gain some much knowledge about how Tony’s armour and the gadgets…How does Stane escape from that altitude?! And even the melodramatic climax, a David Vs Goliath fight…looks kinda too much. Above all…however intelligent one might be, creating something that big, how does Tony manage to do everything all by himself!!(Somehow I feel too much of Intelligence is difficult to digest!!!...). This flick will definitely be in the list of Best Movies of 2008…and if you are an action movie buff…then, this one is bound to be on top of that list…atleast for this year!I saw this flick, last month, but I can still remember lots of details particularly those involving Tony testing his new suit, he dodging couple of fighter planes, the robots assisting Tony in building the suit…
Laced with wit and some cool action, this is a must watch for all the action movie buffs…it’s also something you can watch out for, even if you don’t like cartoons…for there is no trace of anything of that sort here. If only, one can lie hands on that suit…and fly away to glory..:-)
check out this teaser of the flick...

Eastern Promises


Written on 5:20 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Eastern Promises
Language: English

Year of Release: 2007

Director: David Cronenberg

Actors:Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel

The first weekend of June was quite exceptional in many cases. I caught up with some friends after an year or so…and worked on a Saturday after more than 3 months! Since I am here to talk about cinema…I will stick to that! Couple of big Hindi flicks released last week, “Sarkar Raj” (this one seems to have gathered a universal thumbs up from the audience, although quite a few critics haven’t been so impressed) and then “Aamir” (starring Rajeev Khandelwal, which has been strongly recommended to watch by too many critics, although I haven’t met too many people who have seen it!). But I chose to watch both the flicks at a later stage. My primary concern in this city was to watch as many english flicks as possible (ironically, despite having around 100+ screens, an english flick rarely sticks around…and if it doesn’t have big names associated, then it would be a miracle if it is given a slot for more than 2 weeks!). And last week my choice was…David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises”.

First things first, this flick was supposed to be “coming soon” for a long time! And it finally saw the light last weekend. I had faintly heard about this one, but later decided to watch it on the advise of a friend and also some good reviews on and, which is to say that I knew what to expect from it. And I am sure I wasn’t disappointed at the end of it, although I guess I will have enough number of people contradicting my point.

The flick opens with a brutal murder of a Russian mobster followed by the death of Tatiana, a 14 year old girl during childbirth. The mid-wife stumbles upon a diary of this girl and upon Tatiana’s death, she is determined to translate the diary to English, to see if she can find the whereabouts of Tatiana’s relatives. She comes across a card belonging to Trans-Siberian Restaurant and tracks down the restaurant in London, thus meeting the owner of the restaurant Semyon, who’s also the boss of the Russian Mafia or Vory V Zakone ("Thieves of Law"). She accidentally mentions to him that she has the diary and Seymon who’s more than curious about the contents of the diary convinces her to bring the diary to him. But her Russian uncle happens to read it and tells her that it has many dark secrets about her life and also that of the Vory v Zakone’s activities. Kiril who’s the son of Seymon does some deals without informing his father with the help of his chauffeur, Nikolai Luzhin . This enrages Seymon who’s certain of a backlash from the now deceased mobster’s kin. He hatches a plan to save his son and thus takes Nikolai, who’s promised to stand up for Kiril in trouble, into confidence. What follows is a desperate attempt to find out what had happened to Tatiana and who had caused all that ghastly things to her. And also how the Vory v Zakone’s try to clean their sins…but as the tagline of the flick goes….Every Sin Leaves a Mark.

The story of the movie is not that difficult to understand, but what makes it different from a normal one is its screenplay which makes a strong impact. Like a carefully painted portrait every scene in the flick is brilliantly directed with even the minute details taken care . The major emphasis in most part of the story is on the characterization of the actors. There’s Luzhin, who begins as a ruthless maniac who will stop at nothing to take care of Kiril but as the story progresses, he sympathizes with Anna, the mid-wife and in a way tries to find out what had happened with Tatiana. Anna, who’s obsessed to find out the truth behind Tatiana’s death goes on a trail and tumbling across the mobster along the way. Kiril, the son of the mob head who’s dreaming to fill in his father’s shoes soon but at the same time shows compassion towards Luzhin always treating him like a brother. Seymon, with his calm expression hisses venom under his innocent looks. And a gamut of others who are some way or the other connected to them put in a splendid performance.

The person who stands out, from almost every frame in which he’s part of is Nikolai Luzhin, brilliantly enacted by Viggo Mortensen (he’s the same fellow who played Aragorn in LOTR). I would call him the soul of the film who blows your mind with his composed performance and each dialouge of his hitting you like a brick. One of my favourite lines from the flick is from the scene where Anna asks him, why is he helping them? To that he replies, “I can't become king if someone else already sits on the throne.” There are plenty of one liners which stay on for quite sometime….Undoubtedly a performance worthy of many awards (he was nominated for Oscars this year, which finally went to Daniel Day Lewis for his gem of a performance in “There will be Blood”.). Viggo puts on a Russian accent for his performance (although I have no clue if that’s how it’s supposed to be spoken!), but I guess he brings in a certain amount of mystery to his role…you just can’t read his mind! Sometimes he’s a cold-blooded person who won’t listen to anyone, and another time he goes an extra mile to help others. Another point here is about the style of his activties, there’s no shooting at others, no bombs exploding, no shouting at the top of lungs to drive a point home…just plain expressions (like the one with his confrontation with Anna’s Uncle).

Naomi Watts as the mid-wife Anna, is remarkable and is quite successful in catching the attention of the audience till the end. I guess a lot of credit must go to the director David Cronenberg who’s been quite successful in getting such remarkable performances from his actors. His strength in direction is quite evident in more than few scenes, but the scenes which I loved were the ones between Luzhin and Kiril.

I must confess that I have seen an Indian version of this flick and as per the norms of the censor board, I realise that I must have missed quite a few scenes related to violence and Nudity, in particular the Bathroom knife scene which has been touted by many as one of the best things in the movie….God knows when would these “elite” people understand that audience almost everywhere is quite mature to receive the matter…I wonder what do they do with all those zillions of reels of edited content!!!...:P…any guesses?!!..J

When I saw this flick, many people were disappointed with the ending and few didn’t even understand what was going on in the flick…and I still have some unanswered questions about the flick…like what does the title mean? What’s the point of view of others who have liked the flick? And if I have missed observing something….then what all are they?! . But maybe you should watch the flick before coming to a conclusion…don’t miss this one, you might miss a good crime thriller flick loaded with some cool dialouges to have released in a long time! Roger Ebert, gave the film a 4/4 rating… puts it at 7.9/10 and gives it a solid fresh rating of 89%...and all I can do is recommend you to watch this flick before it is thrashed into obscurity.

Check out this teaser of the flick..

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull


Written on 10:56 AM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull

Language: English
Country: USA
Year of Release: 2008
Director: Steven Spielberg
Actors: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett

Indy is Back!!!

A shadow in front of an US Army Truck bending down to pick up his Fedora who’s surrounded by a group of KGB agents marks the return of Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) after 19 long years! To be honest, I haven’t seen any of the Indiana movies of the past, still the premise of going to this flick was definitely the media hype and also the fact that certain biggies like Spielberg, Lucas were associated with it. And what more can I say?! I loved it…Loved it for the way the story unfolded (although I would say kinda complicated for my lack of knowledge in this legend!), loved the characters, the direction, the cinematography, and many more like that.

Set in the year 1957, amidst the Cold War, a group of Russian KGB agents lead by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett)) infiltrate into a Military Location in US on the lookout for a crate which they believe contains an alien sort of thing which was recovered a decade ago from New Mexico. Indiana Jones was one of the few people who had worked on that project to restore the alien sort of thing safely; he’s captured by KGB and after being double crossed by his longtime friend Mac, he agrees to help them in finding out that crate (You must watch this scene on screen, especially for the technique which he uses!!, one of my favourite scenes in the flick). A fight commences and Indy manages to escape from the clutches of KGB, but runs straight into a town, which in fact is a Nuclear testing site; guess what?!!! Indy manages to escape this too by enclosing himself in a Lead lined Refrigerator (hehehe….reminds me of the countless unbelievable stunts I have seen in Indian flicks!.. since it’s Hollywood, there is some sense of believability. But escaping from a Nuclear Bomb?!!! Phew! ). He’s later interrogated by the FBI agents, for his associated with Mac, who turns out to be a Soviet Agent. Despite his repeated claims of innocence, FBI rummages around his office which compels the University where he’s teaching to let him go on a long leave of absence. Disappointed by the attitude of the University, Indy plans to leave for New York and there after go to London. But when the train to NY is about to leave, he comes across Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf) who tells Indy that he needs his help to find Oxley, an old colleague of Indy and mother who have disappeared somewhere in South America. After a brilliant motorcycle chase around the college campus (again brilliantly filmed), Indy and Mutt escape to Peru where they find out that Oxley had once been locked in a psychiatric hospital until he was kidnapped.

In the cell, Indy is successful in deciphering some clues which would lead them to the Crystal Skull which is believed to contain mystical powers. The search leads them to the grave of Fransisco, who went missing in the 1500s while seeking Akator (also known as El Dorado). Here, they successfully find the Crystal Skull which was hidden by Oxley. But they are soon captured by Spalko’s gang who force Indy to translate what Oxley could tell about Akator. Indy reunites with his longtime friend Marion Williams who’s the mother of Mutt; but later comes to know that he’s the real father of Mutt. What follows next is a gamut of fights, chases, some spectacular locales depicting the jungles surrounding Amazon River and finally the destination…Akator!

You must watch all this on screen to fully appreciate the cinematography, direction and the story. Lot of reviews have compared it with the previous Indy flicks and thus came to a conclusion that it doesn’t have the same charm because of a predictable plot and so on…but I don’t know how many of us actually have seen the movie! (It’s very difficult to watch movies which are 15-20 years old unless you have the perfect source or if you are lucky enough to watch them on the movie channels!!). Sure, it’s predictable, but the way, things move on is what keeps us (or atleast kept me) interested to watch the flick. Coming to the characters, Ford is still good to perform such a demanding role despite his age! The series has five parts, of which four have released till now. It would be interesting to see if Ford appears in the last part too! In this one, Ford delivers a good performance with some cool stunts, and charm that’s evident on screen. The Transformers hero Shia LaBeouf is making waves with his performance, first with Transformers and now with this…check him out for that scene where he prepares himself for a fight and that comb!!! His Marlon Brando kinda style is sure gonna go down well with the audience. And with Starwars fame, George Lucas, and E.T fame Spielberg around, how can we not come to the world of Extraterrestrial beings!!

Whatever maybe the case, this flick has all that what it takes to make a full-fledged action-adventure flick, although it's kinda tough to digest it for a 2008 flick! But as Lucas says, it looks like it was filmed just 3 years after the last Indy film was released! Watch it with a suspension of disbelief …it won’t disappoint you. If only there was someone like Megan Foxx with Shia LaBeouf in the film!!...Hope Spielberg is listening…:-)