I, Frankenstein – I Give Up!!

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Story: A monster who is later named Adam (Aaron Eckhart) is being hunted by various clans for different reasons. Amidst all this Adam also needs to find his own identity and find the demon-prince Naberius (Bill Nighy). Why is everyone looking for Adam? What is the secret of Adam’s existence? Why is Adam looking for Naberius? Will he succeed in finding him? forms the rest of the story.

Performances: Aaron Eckhart is a total miscast for the title role. To his credit he tries hard to bring enough angst and pain required for his character, but other than that he hardly adds any value. Yvonne Strahovski cast in a non-glamorous role of a scientist is decent. Considering her glamorous roles in past you feel that part of her personality is wasted. Bill Nighy is getting repetitive in such roles, nevertheless he is decent as the antagonist. Miranda Otto is the only actor who brings some grace in her character. She is brilliant in confrontational scenes with Eckhart. Jai Courtney as Gideon is effective. How you wish his character had more screentime. Socratis Otto as Zuriel shows his talent in one of the key scenes in the movie and that’s it. All other characters just end up giving extended cameos.

Technical Team: Stuart Beattie, who is known for his engaging screen-writing makes a mess of this opportunity. With hardly any meat in his Screenplay, he makes a mess of his own Story (along with Kevin Grevioux). There are parts which are very well executed but the required energy and thrill in such movies is clearly missing. The only saving grace in the technical department is the Cinematography by Ross Emery. Considering that there are several objects and creatures flying through out the narration and that too in dark, Emery captures the setting very well and does his best in engaging you through his visuals. Another ace for I, Frankenstein is the Production Design by Michelle McGahey with Art Direction by Brian Edmonds & Simon McCutcheon, and Set Decoration by Rolland Pike. Their sets and designs help in enhancing those dull frames. Editing by Marcus D’Arcy is a downer. Even with a run-time of 90 minutes plus, proceedings drags endlessly. Other Technical team like Make-up department, Visual Effects and Graphics do a good job.

Best Scenes:
* When Adam is captured by Ophir and Keziah
* When Lenore is captured
* When Zuriel attacks Adam and Terra
* When secrets of Wessex Institute is revealed

Conclusion: With the posters crediting Stuart Beattie as the Director, who has written entertainers like Pirates of the Caribbean 6 and later versions, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Derailed, etc; you expect a great outing in his direction too. But that doesn’t really happen. With an uninteresting Screenplay and equally disinterested lead the movie just drags on and on until the protagonist declares the title in the end. Except for few scenes mentioned above, there is hardly anything exciting to look forward in this movie. Wait for the DVD or TV Premiere.

Ratings: (**)

The Legend of Hercules – Herculean task this!!!

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Story: Its about Hercules’ (Kellan Lutz) fight against his selfish and power hungry father King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), who wants his elder son Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) to take over his reigns. He also declares marriage of Iphicles with the love of Hercules Hebe (Gaia Weiss). Will Hercules who is sent to Egypt with a band of soldier succeed, forms the rest of the story.

Performances: Kellan Lutz is decent as Hercules. His physicality suits the character, but somewhere his portrayal lacks conviction. Nevertheless a decent attempt. Scott Adkins shines as King Amphitryon. He is very believable as the ruthless king and is brilliant in confrontation sequences. Gaia Weiss as Hebe is ok. Her character lacks depth and is mostly lost in the second hour of the movie, only to reunite with her love for a brief period. Roxanne McKee is efficient as Hercules’ mother Queen Alcmene. Liam Garrigan is hardly there in few sequences and he does well for himself. Liam McIntyre is brilliant as Captain Sotiris. One of the few perrformances in this movie to watch out for. Unfortunately he isn’t given enough screentime. Rade Serbedzija is efficient as Chiron.

Technical Team: After Devil’s Pass, Renny Harlin comes up with a movie about one of our favourite mythological Greek hero Hercules. But there is hardly any excitement in the Story and Screenplay of Sean Hood, Daniel Giat, Giulio Steve and Renny himself. Moreover the narration is very slow (except during action sequences) and bores you at many junctures. Writing department also does a bad job in writing the dialogues. Some dialogues in certain crucial sequences are really cheesy and cringe worthy. Sample this Zeus came into my bed and blasted me with his seed to spawn a son to end your reign or while addressing his soldiers before the war Hercules says They cannot take our freedom out of our Breasts!!! Cinematography by Sam McCurdyis topnotch, especially during the action sequences. Production Design and Art Direction by Luca Tranchino, Ivan Ranghelov and Sonya Savova is well conceived. Brownie points to Costume Designer Sonoo Mishra for making good use of Kellan Lutz physique. Visual Effects and Graphics is fairly average, which is a shame considering the scope of its usage in such movies. Audience will be thanking Editor Vincent Tabaillonis for keeping the movie to 90+ minutes.

Best Scenes:
* When Hercules and Iphicles are attacked by a Lion and the sequence that follows
* When Captain Sotiris’ army is attacked
* Hercules fighting local slaves
* Hercules and Sotiris’ fight for survival
* Hercules fighting the Gladiators

Conclusion: Hercules is a good opportunity gone waste. Thanks to the uninspiring writing by the team. The movie lacks meat and considering the genre the execution is pretty ordinary. You find several references to various Gladiator movies made earlier. Except for few action sequences as mentioned above there is nothing that keeps you entertained. Now that they have also planned for a sequel, not sure how much of a damage control will help this as a franchise. This one can be postponed for a lazy home viewing on DVD.

Ratings: (**)

The Wolf of Wall Street – Too Long for too good!!!

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Story: The movie traces path of a wealthy stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) who gets entangled into various crimes in order to fulfill his ambition to be rich. How does he cope up with his riches and what end does he have in store for him forms the rest of the story.

Performances: Its Leonardo DiCaprio’s show all the way. He shines as an ambitious stock broker whose arrogance increases ten times his bank balance increases. He is there in maximum scenes and makes sure he delivers one of his career best performances. From a 22 year old beginner in stock market to a stock giant he is bang on. Its a delight to watch him perform varied emotions in most of his scenes. This one is a bravura act. Another actor who shows class is Jonah Hill. As Leo’s best buddy and his partner in crime Jonah delivers his career best performance too after Money-ball. In a small but significant role of Jordan’s mentor Matthew McConaughey is brilliant in the restaurant scene where he teaches Jordan the tricks of the trade. Margot Robbie is super hot as Jordan’s second wife and is effective in her scenes in the second hour of the movie. Kyle Chandler is decent as the FBI Agent. Cristin Milioti as Jordan’s first wife is good in a small role. Rob Reiner is in full form as Max Belfort, Jordan’s short tempered father. Joanna Lumley, Jon Bernthal and Jean-Jacques Saurelare decent in their respective roles, which is more of an extended cameos. Also shining in interesting roles are Jon Favreau, P.J. Byrne and Christine Ebersole.

Technical Team: Martin Scorsese is a master when it comes to mixing humor in serious situations, but with this movie he lets his humor do the serious talking. There are several serious messages that are conveyed in such a humorous way that you are in awe of every such moment during the narration. The only issue that spoils the show is its Screenplay (Terence Winter). The movie has several sequences that are dragged unnecessarily which impacts the narration big time. Cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto is superb. The movie required a deft handling of camera as it showcases the bygone era and Rodrigo is right there giving a brilliant account of his skills. Other people who do a fantastic job in recreating the past era are Bob Shaw (Production Design), Chris Shriver (Art Direction), Ellen Christiansen (Set Decoration) and Sandy Powell (Costume Design). Every piece of their work onscreen has so much of finesse that you are comfortably transported with the characters in their time. Casting by Ellen Lewis is another ace for this movie. Some character are just so believable, that you don’t feel they are acting. Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker is bad as she fails to keep up the momentum of the narration which goes on for over 180 minutes. Visual effects and Computer Graphics are wonderful.

Best Scenes:
* Introduction of Jordan
* Lunch with his boss
* His first sales call in his new job
* Jordan going solo with his team
* When Jordan and his gang are introduced to Naomi
* Jordan’s speech to his team at various junctures
* Jordan’s change of mind while delivering his final speech to his sales team
* Jordan meeting FBI Agents at his yacht
* Donnie’s altercation with Brad
* Sequence that follows after Jordan’s call in the club

Conclusion: Wolf of Wall Street could have been an extremely wonderful outing with brilliant performances and some hilarious sequences. But with a weak and super long Screenplay which tests your patience, you just end up enjoying this movie for the first 2 hours only. There are several sequences like the entire episode in Switzerland, altercation between Donnie and Brad, some celebration sequences, Donnie and Jordan trying out a new drug and the scene where Jordan tries to save Donnie when the latter is choking, bores you to death. The only saving grace of the movie is performance by Leonardo, who walks away with maximum screentime which is utilized to the optimum. For me it ended up being a decent watch but how I wish I had declared this one as a masterpiece which it truly could have been.

Ratings: (***) One additional star for Leo’s performance

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – All Smoke Little Fire

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Story: After surviving the 74th Hunger Games, victorious pair Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) return home to District 12. They now are required to take a victory tour of various Districts and pay tributes to all the participants who could not make it as winners. While doing so they realise that their stand has inspired people in the districts to revolt. Will Katniss take a stand again and bring a revolution or just be a silent spectator like other victors; forms the rest of the story.

Performances: Jennifer Lawrence is outstanding again in the this follow-up of The Hunger Games series. The emotional turmoil she goes through during her victory tour, her mixed emotions about people of various districts, her balancing act for audience and her family is effectively portrayed by the actress. She owns the movie and makes sure she carries it all across through her performance. Josh Hutcherson gives a good account of himself standing strong against the performance of Jennifer. As a parallel lead he never disappoints and considering his character has become much stronger in this part, he makes sure that comes across well onscreen. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch is brilliant. He gets a meatier part in the sequel and he makes good use of the opportunity. Elizabeth Banks as Effie is also effective. Eventhough she plays a small part, she stands out in her sequences and emotes very well behind that over the top makeup. Liam Hemsworth gets limited scope. Donald Sutherland is too good as President Snow. He hardly speaks but conveys it all with his emotions. In the end he makes sure you hate his character and that’s a mark of a good performance by the veteran. Actors like Lenny Kravitz, Willow Shields, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Jack Quaid, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone and Stanley Tucci who play a small but significant roles are effective in their individual parts.

Technical Team: Francis Lawrence directs the sequel of The Hunger Games and does a decent job. He is able to extract amazing performances from each of his cast and keeps you glued to the most of the happenings onscreen. Armed with a weak Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt) he is able to save the day with his effective narration onscreen. Cinematography by Jo Willems is top notch. He captures the futuristic setting very well and maintains certain colour tones during individual sequences effectively. He adds a lot of value in the visual appeal of the movie. Production Design by Philip Messina is outstanding. He along with the his team of Art Directors John Collins, Adam Davis and Robert Fechtman and Set Decorator Larry Dias come-up with some great set-up which goes hand in hand with the futuristic world required in the movie. They are also ably supported by the Costume Designer Trish Summerville, who is in-sync with the setting created by the above mentioned team. Music by James Newton Howard is really good, especially during the Quarter Quell. Editing by Alan Edward Bell is average. Unlike its predecessor, the runtime of 140 minutes plus seems too much to your liking and some loose editing can be blamed for the same. Makeup of most of the characters look over done especially Effie. Visual Effects and graphics are brilliant. Action sequences are average and doesn’t add any thrill to the narration.

Best Scenes:
* Katniss reacting to the revolts
* Katniss and Peeta faking their emotions during the victory tour and celebrations
* Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch revolting against the guard for punishing Gale
* Katniss’ training session before the Quell
* Katniss’ interview before the Quell
* When the apes attack the Victors during the quell

Conclusion: The sequel definitely arrives with lot of expectations and challenges. Unfortunately it tries hard to match up its predecessor but succeeds in parts. The Screenplay which tries to pack too much in those 2 hours plus runtime loses steam midway. You wait for the quell to start for the desired thrills and even there the expectations are short lived. The movie can be watched for some brilliant performances by the lead cast and some twists in the story which is revealed in the end. There are few sequences as listed above which keeps you glued but other than these most of the movie drags unapologetically. Now that you have started the Series you have no choice but complete it with the promise of next part split into two. But I hope the future is bright and has lot of fire in it than this one.

Ratings: (***)

Frozen – Sadly, Not Cool but Cold!!!

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Story: Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) accidentally hurts her younger sister Anna with her magical powers. Anna is saved, but this incident leaves Elsa in a state of shock. Elsa thinks that her magical powers might hurt many and decides to lock herself in the castle. Will Elsa ever come out of the castle? Will Anna ever realize the reason behind Elsa’s house arrest? Will Elsa and Anna ever get to meet people? Watch Frozen for your answers.

Voice-overs: Kristen Bell adds the required charm and simplicity to the character of Anna. Anna’s enthusiastic nature and energy is very well modulated through Kristen’s voice. Idina Menzel as Elsa is brilliant too. With some grey shades in her character Idina does well in portraying the pain and authority of an elder sister. Jonathan Groff as Kristoff is super fun especially in the second hour. Not to forget his reindeer Sven is equally adorable. But the one who is having a blast out there is Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad). If not for his amazing timing and perfect voice modulation Frozen would have been just an ordinary fairy-tale. Josh Gad gets some of the best lines and he makes sure he makes good use of it. Santino Fontana as Hans doesn’t get much scope in the first hour but is good in the second half. Ciarán Hinds, Maia Wilson and Jack Whitehall are effective as gang of trolls. Chris Williams is a riot in a small role.

Technical Team: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee who write and direct Frozen (along with Shane Morris) do a decent job in their department but its their Screenplay (Jennifer Lee) which spoils the show. The idea of presenting an animated movie as a musical could have been good only if the run-time was shorter. The singing by each character gets so tedious that you just wish they don’t go through any emotion. Scott Beattie’s camerawork is truly amazing. His frames offers animation a different edge altogether and 3D is like an icing on the cake. Music by Christophe Beck is good in the beginning and goes well with the narrative, its only later that it tends to get monotonous and boring. Editing by Jeff Draheim is bad as he is unable to keep the narration crisp. Also he loses control over the run-time. Michael Giaimo’s Art Direction is top notch, especially the snow castle of Elsa. To say that the Animation and CG Effects are brilliant should be an under-statement. Coming from the house of Disney they definitely cant go wrong when it comes to animations.

Best Scenes:
* When Elsa accidentally hurts Anna
* Elsa’s coronation
* Elsa creating her own castle
* When Kristoff and Anna meet at the Sauna
* When Kristoff and Anna are chased by wolves
* All the scenes involving snowman Olaf

Conclusion: Based on the fairy-tale Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen might appeal to its target audience but from the Director of Surf’s Up and the writers of Wreck-it Ralph, we expected much more. As mentioned earlier the run-time of 110 minutes is too long for an animated musical, considering the characters break into a song every 5 minutes. Moreover there are several scenes which could have been edited out, like the Troll song sequence in the second hour, the battle at Elsa’s castle, the climax, etc. Even the twist in the pre-climax fails to do the trick. With your little ones giving you company, you may spend time looking at them enjoying the animations. But other than some witty lines by Olaf there is nothing much for you to like it.

Ratings: (**1/2)

Thor: The Dark World – For Thor Eyes only

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Story: Asgard faces danger from an evil Malekith, who seeks to destroy the universe using a powerful weapon Aether (Christopher Eccleston). Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) while looking for her lost love Thor (Chris Hemsworth) stumbles into Aether and gets possessed by it. Thor now needs to save Jane from getting into the hands of Malekith, who attacks Asgard seeking his power in Jane. Can Thor save Jane and Asgard from Malekith and in turn save the universe forms the rest of the story.

Performances: Chris Hemsworth comes back as Thor and remains honest to his superhero character. He is confident and graceful as Thor, but equally ferocious when it comes to action using his mystical hammer Mjolnir. Natalie Portman is decent as Jane Foster. She has some moments for herself to register an impact and she does it successfully. Tom Hiddleston as Loki is again a delight to watch. He does exceedingly well in the emotional sequences during the second hour. Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo appear as Thor’s parents and are effective. Christopher Eccleston as Malekith is great but with just one facial expression throughout the film, his character fails to register the desired impact. Jaimie Alexander gives a good account of herself as Sif. She does well in both action and emotional sequence, especially during the second hour. Chris O’Dowd is hilarious in his scenes as a suitor to Jane. Idris Elba is efficient and so is Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Erik Selvig. Kat Dennings and Jonathan Howard provide the required comic relief in the movie. Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi and Tadanobu Asano shine as Warriors Three. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is good as Kurse. There are several interesting cameos which is best to be watched and enjoyed.

Technical Team: Alan Taylor a known name for his TV shows comes back directing the sequel to the successful Thor. He stays true to the requirement of a super hero flick and blends humor, thrill and emotion with effortless ease. The credit should also go to the Screenplay writers Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. They take the Story of Don Payne and Robert Rodat and make sure the narration never loses steams. There are sequences which seem silly but you wouldn’t mind as it all adds to our superhero flexing his muscles and entertain us. Also their Dialogues are witty and thoroughly entertaining. Cinematography by Kramer Morgenthauis mindblowing. Certain sequences in Asgard and Svartalfheim require different colour tones and lighting. Kramer stays consistent here resulting in some breath taking shots onscreen. Music by Brian Tyler is effective and so is Production Design by Charles Wood. Art Direction by Thomas Brown, Ray Chan, Jordan Crockett, Matthew Robinson, Mike Stallion and Mark Swain and Set Decoration by Guðni Líndal Benediktsson, John Bush recreate the mystical world of super heroes effectively. Costume Design by Wendy Partridge especially for the army of Malekith is impressive. Action by Steve Dent is brilliant, especially during the second hour is good. Special effects are as usual wonderful.

Best Scenes:
* Thor’s introduction at Vanaheim
* Loki’s outburst in front of his mom
* Jane’s date with Richard
* Thor meeting Jane
* Heimdall trying to stop invasion into Asgard
* Frigga’s face off with Malekith while protecting Jane
* Loki reacting to his mother’s news
* Thor seeking help from Loki
* Thor, Warriors Three and Sif threatening Loki on his way to Dark Elf spaceship
* Svartalfheim episode
* Humorous episodes during the climax

Conclusion: Eventhough Thor: The Dark World doesn’t match up to its predecessor, it still has its moment which keeps you glued to the screen. Climax is a complete downer, with objects tele-ported from one world to another ends up looking silly. Its some interesting lines mouthed by its characters, some comical scenes, thrilling dose of action and some interesting twists in the narration saves the day. Not to forget all the character live upto their character expectations. The whole convergence episode is not very convincing but the way it is shot is what stays with you. If you are a Thor fan you will lap this one up big time and if you are not, don’t worry this one will still hold your interest.

Ratings: (***)

PS: Please wait till the end of the movie credits…the very end!

Escape Plan – For old time sake!!

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Story: Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is an owner of a firm specialized in prison testing. He goes into prisons as an assignment to study their designs and security. He then breaks out of the prison and reports the authorities about the weaknesses of that prison. In one such assignment he is trapped in a prison which is designed based on the book written by him. He needs to escape the prison but this time it is not very easy. With the help of a fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) he plans to escape. Will he be successful and why is Rottmayer helping him forms the rest of the story.

Performances: Sylvester Stallone is in great form as the hunter who gets hunted. His helplessness, his eagerness is very well portrayed and even at this age the veteran can kick some serious ass. Only glitch is his dialogue delivery. Most of the time you feel like he is eating his words. Arnold Schwarzenegger is brilliant and adds to the mystery element of the movie. He is still great in action sequences and walks through his role with effortless ease. Amy Ryan is decent but with two veterans capturing your attention her character doesnt get much scope. Jim Caviezel displays amazing talent as the warden of the prison and stands on his own even in the sequences with veterans. Sam Neill is efficient as Dr. Kyrie but gets limited scope. 50 Cent is hardly there. Faran Tahir is effective as prison inmate Javed and comes on his own during the climax. Vincent D’Onofrio is good as Stallone’s business partner Lester Clark. Vinnie Jones is great in the action sequences. Caitriona Balfe is decent in a cameo.

Technical Team: Mikael Håfström makes a comeback as a director after 2 years and handles a complicated subject very effectively. He makes sure that the action stars are given enough meat to their roles to perform. Story by Miles Chapman is thrilling and unique but his Screenplay along with Jason Keller is not upto the mark. There are few loose ends in the story but the pace of the Screenplay doesn’t let you dwell too much into these minor blemishes. Camerawork by Brendan Galvin is effective especially in some dark sequences of the prison. Editing by Elliot Greenberg is average and so is Background Music by Alex Heffes. Production Design and Set Decoration for the prison by Barry Chusid and Bradford Johnson is brilliant. Action sequences are great with some interesting one-liners during these sequences makes it more enjoyable than gruesome. Visual Effects are good.

Best Scenes:
* Ray Breslin’s introduction Prison Break
* Ray been kidnapped by his captors and the sequence that follows
* Ray getting friendly with Rottmayer
* Solitary confinement sequence
* Rottmayer’s interaction with the warden Hobbes
* Ray trying to escape for the first time
* Ray and Rottmayer planning and preparing for their escape
* Javed helping Ray in finding out the direction
* Climax escape sequence

Conclusion: Escape plan could have been a great movie with a different plot but as mentioned earlier the average Screenplay doesn’t let it rise above an action thriller. Moreover with poor dialogue delivery by Stallone and some lose ends in the Screenplay you just end up enjoying the two veterans who offer you enough entertainment with their antics at every given opportunity. The twist in the climax catches you unaware but as the Screenplay was not the driving force for the movie you do not bother much about the suspense. All in all Escape Plan is a great opportunity missed, making it a decent watch. Go for it for old time sake.

Ratings: (***)