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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.

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A Good To Die Hard: Die, Die, Die

The Die Hard films can be a bit hit and miss, especially of late. The original movies are fairly decent, the new ones not so much. Last year, we got to see the fifth film in the franchise and its the worst of them all to date. As I said in my review of it last year, even the fourth film was quite a bit better than this. This one is just a regurgitation of the kind of things that made the previous movies good, but executed poorly.

A Good Day To Die Hard, apart from a ridiculously long name, is just not the kind of action movie I want to see, especially not one with Bruce Willis’ acting power behind it, which suffered here in fact. When the material is bad, not even one of the world’s best actors can do much about it.

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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.

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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.

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Battleship: Boom, Boom, Boom

When the movie Battleship was announced, I had a hard time believing that it was true. Battleship is a tabletop game where two players never get to see each other’s playing field, and its all a matter of guesswork. There is far more to it of course, but I was left wondering how the gameplay would translate into a movie. I wondered if it could even be pulled off, and competently too. When I saw the movie, I found that particular aspect to be interesting. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so perhaps that made me more congenial to the approach used.

All the same though, Battleship is quite a decent movie. It was never going to win any awards, given that it just didn’t have all that much star power (or in a prominent role at that), but that was never my concern. I went in expecting a decent movie, and got it. Repeated viewings have only made it more palatable to me. Because sometimes you need a movie that is just about the big, loud action. And that’s what Battleship is. I’m totally fine with that.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Agneepath: Fires of Revenge

Much as with Hollywood, Bollywood too has been a bit obssessed with remakes in recent years, although not quite to the same degree. The underlying difference is that the typical stories are far too ingrained in the psyche of Bollywood filmmakers for them to really branch out and do something different, like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag or Peepli Live or what have you. But, we are getting there, slowly and surely. Regardless, a remake can be quite fun if it is executed properly, such as Karan Malhotra’s remake of the Amitabh Bacchan-starrer cult classic Agneepath, which failed at the box office on release, but since has really found a way into people’s hearts.

Now with a brand-new cast, and all top-notch talent involved no less, Karan Malhotra shows what that original movie could have been like. For the remake is all-around awesome, and I certainly enjoyed it more than the original. Here’s the review.

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Ladies vs Ricky Bahl: Art of Con

Ranveer Singh rocketed to fame with his 2011 debut Band Baaja Baarat, opposite co-star Anushka Sharma. A film about two friends who start a marriage planning company, it was a full-on desi movie with all the flavours and sights and sounds of Delhi. Ladies vs Ricky Bahl recreates some of that same magic, but with a bigger cast that includes newcomer Parineeti Chopra. As with the first Singh flick, I enjoyed this one too, and it has since stood up to several repeat viewings, which is pretty much Bollywood gold right there.

Ranveer and Anushka have done very few films to date in their respective careers and this is their second film together, but despite everything else, they pulled off a winner here. Great songs as usual, and a great script plus great acting made this a standout movie for me in 2011. And here’s the reasons why.

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Mission Impossible 4: Cool Spy Returns

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the first of the Mission Impossible movies that I’ve seen in full. I’ve seen the others since then, but that was definitely the first. Tom Cruise has always been quite a decent actor, although with the added perspective of years, I’ll say that he tends to play one particular character, in terms of his performance, across most of his films. Still, these movies are quite good, and definitely rewatchable. Plus, if a movie is set in Dubai, I’ll definitely watch it, for sure.

So, here’s a review of the movie.

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Desi Boyz: Time To Party

Continuing on with the theme of Bollywood reviews, here’s one for one of my favourite movies in recent years. The movie stars some of my favourite actors and is a really good comedy, better by far than some of the others that the two lead actors have done previously. Great songs, great story, great everything, and directed by the son of one of my favourite comedy directors of the last couple decades. This movie pretty much had it all.

Akshay Kumar’s comedies can often be a little hit and miss, especially in recent years, but this one is definitely a hit for me. It has a good subject matter despite some wonky stuff in the second half, but that’s not such a big deal really. Here’s why.

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