Category Archives: Movie Reviews
G.I.Joe (Retaliation): Terrible, Awful, Horrible
In various reviews and editorials over the last couple years I have mentioned how much I am a G.I.Joe fan, going back like seventeen years or so now. I used to love playing with the action figures, and watching the cartoons, and they were a huge part of my childhood. When I first heard of an actual live-action G.I.Joe movie, I was pretty excited, because I really, really wanted to see all those characters come alive on the big screen. But after seeing the movie, I could not have been more disappointed. It was a terrible movie that was barely any good at all.
And then last year we had the sequel, which had already been delayed for several months. I was cautious about it, hoping against hope that it would turn out to be a better movie than its predecessor. The trailers certainly looked halfway decent. But once again, the reality went completely south of my expectations. If you ask me which was the worst movie of the year, it was definitely G.I.Joe: Retaliation.
Note: This review contains spoilers for both G.I.Joe movies.
Skyfall: Aging Decrepit Hero
As a big fan of the James Bond movie franchise, I’ve watched all the films several times, especially the ones featuring Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan, the two Bonds that I am most familiar with. However, Daniel Craig hasn’t exactly had a good run with the three movies that he has done and Skyfall, the most recent Bond film (#23), being a perfect example. It lies in between Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and it straddles both sides of the fence.
There was a lot that was wrong with the movie, and not all that much that was actually good. Because of that factor, it remains one of the least exciting movies I’ve seen in recent years, especially since becoming a movie blogger. And here’s the review where I go in some detail.
Student of The Year: Class Is Out
In recent years Bollywood has developed a certain fascination with college movies. The fascination has been around for a while, truth be told, but it has taken on a new fervor thanks to the industry’s growing interest in youth movies to cater to the young modern crowd. One of the results of this was 2012’s Student of The Year, which starred three new debuts, and it did fairly well at the box office too.
Its not the best college movie I’ve seen from Bollywood, but it is definitely among the better ones. It has a lot of the youthful intensity that I expect from such a movie, and it entertained quite well, so I’m fairly satisfied with that. I wish it had been a little better overall, but that’s one of the drawbacks of working with debuts in such a case. They are still trying to find their feet and working together in a big movie like this, so hiccups are expected.
Dredd: Judge, Jury, Executioner
In fall of 2012, one of the most awaited films of recent years debuted to audiences all over the world. Following on seventeen years since the Sylvester Stallone-starrer Judge Dredd, which was a massive disappointment, audiences finally had a Judge Dredd movie which actually looked cool from all the promos and which seemed to correct the mistakes of the past. Sadly, nothing worked out as intended. Whereas the previous film had at least made back some of its money and more besides, the new one failed to recoup its investment in the first place, and the budget was even half of what it had been before.
No doubt, several mistakes were made with the new movie, and they all contributed to what was eventually a box office flop. But since then, Dredd has gained a significant cult following. Whereas the theatrical release was a flop affair, the DVD/Blu-ray sales were highly encouraging. Stores, whether physical or digital, were constantly out of product. This was unexpected and on some level, this helped change perspectives. Now, there are talks of a sequel happening at some point, which is quite significant in and of itself. I can only hope that there is a sequel, because I enjoyed the movie. I pretty much loved it. Watch it with my highest recommendation.
Expendables 2: Bigger, Better, Faster
2010’s Expendables kind of marked Sylvesterr Stallone’s return to big, loud action movies after somewhat of a sabbatical (somewhere around that same time he also starred in the latest Rambo movie). Rising to prominence in the 80s and continuing on through the 90s, Stallone has been one of the industry’s biggest action stars for a long time, and with this movie he brought together a whole bunch of his peers to deliver some, hopefully, kick-ass action with a cool story. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out because the story was basically boring and lacked heart.
Then in 2012 he returned with Expendables 2, with an expanded ensemble cast that also included as its villain another big 80s and 90s action star, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Thankfully, the new movie was much better on pretty much every front and it has held up to repeat viewings in a way that the first movie did not. Now this year in August we are going to get Expendables 3 and soon we will also be getting Expenabelles (working title) which will do what Stallone did in the same movie, but with an all-female cast. I’m excited. In the run-up, here’s my (reposted) review for the second movie, which was pretty good, all things considered and would certainly be my recommendation.
The Dark Knight Rises: The Fail Hard
It is pretty undeniable that Christopher Nolan’s grim and gritty take on Batman, a very apt portrayal given the character’s nature and the setting of Gotham, pretty much revolutionised superhero movies. In that respect, these movies have done as much to create the mass appeal of such movies as Marvel’s own movies have done in the last decade. But, there have been ups and downs as well, because these movies aren’t perfect, despite the illusion otherwise.
The primary issue I had with the movie was that it magnified the failings of The Dark Knight without offering anything to counter that extreme. It basically just failed hard, as far as I am concerned. For me, it is one of the most disappointing superhero movies I’ve seen to date. It is overly long, self-indulgent, and suffers from a villain who is undone by the story rather than the hero himself. It is a movie that has the purpose of shocking the reader, not entertaining. One can only hope that any future portrayals are better. In the meanwhile, here’s my review of the movie.
Note: The review contains some major spoilers for the movie.
Cocktail: Friends With Limits
Not one of the biggest successes of 2012, but still one of the best films that year was Homi Adajania’s second movie Cocktail, the story of three friends in London and the eventual love triangle that results between them. In many ways, it was a classic romantic story, but one that focused on character drama instead of cool action moments. It was certainly in the shortlist of movies that I’d classify as the best movies of the year. Newcomer Diana Penty pretty much rocked it while veterans Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone also turned in some great moments.
It is always nice to get a film like this in Bollywood, which these days is far too obsessed with the big and flashy. Cocktail is nothing of the kind, not by far, and I just loved almost everything about it. I would love for these three actors to work together again, particularly Diana Penty, and Homi Adjania to return with a third movie too.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Peter Parker Returns
As I mention in the review, I’m a pretty big fan of most things Spider-Man. I love the character, having grown up watching the animated series on Fox, and I’ve seen most of the other animated series as well that have come out over the years. I remember each and every one of them fondly, although details are mostly forgotten. I loved playing the various video games that came out in the early 2000s, and I’ve seen the movies many times. Yes, even the flat-out terrible Spider-Man 3.
With The Amazing Spider-Man, I was looking for something a big different, something fresh, and that’s the experience that the movie gave to me. I enjoyed it, even the cheesy parts, and I’m pretty pumped up for the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which is going to introduce (and reintroduce for the movies) some new villains. Over on the comics side, Peter Parker will be returning to life as Spider-Man too, once Dan Slott’s run on Superior Spider-Man with Doc Ock as the titular hero finishes up and Marvel relaunches The Amazing Spider-Man with a new #1 to coincide with the movie release. Its going to be a fun time!
Prometheus: Born To Disappoint
One of the most polarizing films of recent times is Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the prequel to his Alien movies. From all I’ve seen, opinions are sharply divided right down the middle, and I fall in the camp of people who hate and dislike this movie. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting from this, possibly a movie that could stand up to the awesomeness of Alien, but instead what we got was on the same level as the terrible Aliens vs Predator crossover movies. And that’s me trying to be the least bit positive there actually.
After a decent enough start, the movie just went downhill and it never looked back. I was honestly surprised that we had been given such a distinctly terrible movie from Ridley Scott. Amazed at it really. Anyways, here’s my review of the movie.
Note: Spoilers for the movie follow.
The Hunger Games: Death and Glory
In recent years, there has been a big shift in Hollywood productions. Slowly but surely, we are getting more movies featuring female protagonists. Many people would point to the Twilight franchise as an abomination and what not, but can you really argue with the results? The industry is in a situation where even such “bad” films can still do their part to raise the point clearly and with distinction that female-led movies can do well at the box office. But the kicker is the quality of such a heroine of course, and that’s where the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ first The Hunger Games novel comes in.
The Hunger Games followed the Twilight trend of adapting young adult novels featuring female protagonists for the big screen, a trend that hasn’t worked out for some other recent adaptations unfortunately. It features a very awesome female lead who kicks all kinds of ass and who is strong by her own merits, by her own doings. She isn’t defined by the people around her. She defines them. Of course, it also helped that the story itself was quite good. I’ve seen the movie a number of times since watching the theatrical release, and it has held up pretty well. The sequel, Catching Fire, released a few months ago, went a few steps further and was equally good at the least.
John Carter: Hero of Mars
Far as I am concerned, there was only one major negative of John Carter: Disney screwed up the marketing big time and instead of a potential franchise, they ended up with a near-flop. And that is painful for me, since I enjoyed the movie. I’d seen the trailers before I went to watch it on the big screens, so I kind of had an idea of what it would be like, but since I’d never read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels before, I didn’t know who the character was or what Barsoom really was. After watching the movie, everything changed for me.
In that same year, I listened to the audiobook of the first book, A Princess of Mars. I began reading the tie-in comics from Dynamite Entertianment, comics which built up the world that Burroughs had introduced to readers almost a century ago. I became a big fan of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, all thanks to watching that movie. Reading Nathan Long’s Jane Carver of Waar novels, which are heavily influenced by Burroughs’ own work and present a kick-ass female protagonist in a similar science fantasy sword-and-planet setting, took things even further for me.
I still lament that John Carter failed at the box office. Disney’s ineptitude and the backlash from critics and fans before the movie even went to release ruined any potential success. But, thankfully, the movie has already become a sort of cult classic. I’ve seen it at least three times on DVD and each time has been a joy. It is a movie I can have fun watching every single time. Here’s the repost of my original review of it.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
As a kid, I remember when the original trilogy was released in India in theaters. There was a huge promotion about it, to the tune that you could get these nice little stickers in packets of chips that you could then use to add to these booklets that you could buy from confectionaries, grocers etc. That was when my fascination with Star Wars began. Years later, I picked up my first Star Wars book, Starfighters of Adumar by Aaron Allston, and a few years later I saw the third movie in the prequel trilogy in theater with a friend, and then soon after that I saw the original trilogy for the first time, in college. I then went on to read a ton of Star Wars novels, thanks mostly in part to a well-stocked college library (or libraries rather, I should say), and I’ve almost always had fun.
In 2012, George Lucas and Co. began to roll out 3-D versions of the movies, starting with Episode I. It was a fantastic experience for me. But my excitement for watching the successive movies in the new format died out when it was announced that all plans had been put on hold pending Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. And now Disney has no plans to rerelease the movies in 3D, moving forward instead with a new trilogy and several spin-off films. Ah well. It was fun while it lasted.
So, anyway, here’s a repost of my review for the 3-D version of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.