Movie Review : ‘What To Expect When You Are Expecting’ (** Two Stars)

 (By Savneet Kachru) Staying true to its  title  “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” offers everything  you could expect from a movie that has pregnancy as its central theme. It has all the ingredients required in a movie like this.

Director Kirk Jones gives an elaborate description from conception-to-delivery  and it involves five couples in the process. They take cues from a medical manual on pregnancy In the process they go through with issues like fertility, libido, adoption, miscarriage and several others.

Actor Cameron Diaz plays Julia and she meets a guy named Evan played by Matthew Morrison. They find it difficult to strike a balance between their professional career and the responsibilities that arise out of parenthood.

Wendy played by Elizabeth Banks facing fertility issues decides to go for IVF after years of failing to conceive. Jennifer Lopez plays the third character, looking for adoption in Ethiopia.

Then there is a younger couple played by Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford Marco who are grappling with the issue of unwanted pregnancy. After a point the movie gets repetitive and attention gets diverted.

You will find the jokes turn stale after a point. Relating to these characters is not easy. Cameron Diaz doesn’t look convincing in her role as she may be sporting a baby bump but her body structure belies pregnancy.

A word of caution to female viewers, do not take your boyfriends, partners or husbands to this movie. This is a chick-flick and stays like that till the end.  Your male company would be bore to death if manages to stay in his seat till the end.

‘What to expect when you are expecting’ is very laboured in its approach. Director Kirk Jones could not come up with anything new to spice up the movie. It gives you a feeling as if you watching a docudrama on pregnancy.

Movie Review: ‘The Lucky One’ (** Two Star)

(IANS) Melodrama and sentimentality in cinema are necessary in small proportions. However, it requires delicate handling. Those who have not figured how to best use them without patronising the viewers should not even try. Sadly, it’s a hint that comes too late for the makers of ‘The Lucky One’.

After a photo that he finds on the streets of Baghdad coincidentally ends up saving his life, Logan (Zac Efron) decides to find the woman in the picture.

His search leads to a single mother (Taylor Schilling) and her small town existence. He works with her, and soon they fall in love. But the ex-husband of the woman is jealous.

Often movies based on books inspire viewers to read the original book. This film, based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, will do just the opposite – make you stay as far away as possible from both the book and Sparks.

What else can you do? There are so many loopholes, sloppiness in direction, cliched dialogues and hackneyed scenes that there is no other way.

The only ones who will perhaps like the film are teenage girls who have little exposure to better cinema.

Consider these: our protagonist is not a mechanic in the Marines, yet he can inexplicably repair anything, from an old tractor to a boat engine. No explanation is given as to how this 25-year-old can do all these.

Indeed, there’s so little information about the background of our hero (besides that he went on three trips to the war) that he seems to have fallen straight from the sky, like the mythical, magical unicorn.

Yet, despite all problems, the ending could have made the film better.

But the ending in which someone crucial to the script dies is symptomatic of American culture which does not know how to live in peace with its enemy and thus has to destroy it.

An Indian film in a similar situation would have ended in a change of heart. But change of heart is something that a bullying nation cannot and will not afford a weaker nation.

The only saving grace is Zac Efron who not only ends up becoming a desirable hot man for the ladies but also manages a straight, serious look throughout the film and does justice to his role.

That’s not enough to save an entirely disappointing and illogical film.

 

Movie Review: ‘Avengers’ (Four Star ****)

The pre release hype associated with the ‘Avengers’ promised us that it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime movies which every cine goer should watch. It could have killed the prospects of an average movie even if it was good. But the Avengers not only generates massive pre release buzz but it also delivers on all counts. The experience of watching it on big screen transports you to another world.  The storyline of such superhero movies are often far from reality and Ávengers’ is no exception.

Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D bringing together a team of superheroes, eventually called The Avengers, in order to save the earth from Loki, the brother of Thor, and his alien army. The screenplay is wonderful and it packs very powerful scenes which leave tremendous impact on the audience.

Technically the movie is one of the finest till date . The director could have lost his grip over the film as he had finest resources at his disposal both in terms of technical and acting department but director Joss whedon has done justice to the film by maintaining a delicate balance between the script and the super heros.

Actors like Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, amazing), Marc Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) shine with their performances and hold the attention of average viewer with their mannerisms and other antics.

The director has given ample screen space to all his superstars to show their mettle and skill on screen and all the actors including the villain Tom Hiddleston (Loki) have successfully managed to give credible performances.

Right now the movie is open in select Asian countries. The movie goers in the United States will have to wait till May 04 when it will be released everywhere else including North America.

Movie Review: ‘Think Like A Man’ (*** Three Star)

Battle of sexes is one of the most popular themes in mainstream Hollywood cinema. The latest offering in this genre is ‘Think Like a Man’ which is a movie based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book ‘Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man’

The movie gives you a detailed account of how a male and female reacts in differently in any given situation. The outcome these small skirmishes between both the sexes are highly predictable but the director essays these ‘minor clashes’ in such an interesting manner that the movie becomes pretty impressive and entertaining.

Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) is a businesswoman who wants to find a match who is equally successful in the corporate world. When she meets a handsome guy driving a Porsche she thinks she has met the man of her dreams but he turns out to be a chef who also works as a valet in his spare time.

Another female character Mya  played by Meagan Good religiously follows dating before she hops in bed with her partner Zeke played by Romany Malco. Then there is Kristen (Gabrielle Union) who looks for commitment from her boyfriend, Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) who refuses to grow up. She reads Harvey’s book and gets her life on the right track.

Candace played by Regina Hall is a single mom and she meets Michael (Terrence Jenkins) who nurtures a bond with her son. But she freaks out when she finds him to be a mama’s boy.

Male characters shown in the movie realize that they are being ‘manipulated’ they turn their attention to ‘Harvey’s book’ and try to outwit and outsmart their partners. These table turning events are the highlights of the movie and keep you hooked till the last moment.

Director Tim Story has done a good job and his narration of the story is quite witty and impressive. All actors have done justice to their roles with Regina Hill standing out with her stellar performance. ‘Think Like a Man’ is a decent comedy which manages to hold your attention till the end.

 

Movie Review: ‘The Hunger Games’

The Big Bang!

Hollywood’s most eagerly awaited film this year “The Hunger Games” opened today in more than 10000 screens.  With these mind boggling numbers and the hype surrounding the movie the audience first and foremost concern is whether the movie is going to live up to expectations or not.

Gary Ross, the director comes out in flying colours and delivers a movie which is an all out entertainer.  The Hunger Games is no ‘Twilight’ but it has a love triangle. The dystopian movie begins with an America which has disintegrated into Panem, a loose collection of “districts” under the influence of the most powerful district.  The plot unfolds a saga of love and war where reality is stranger than fiction and all 12 districts fight for survival. They do like reality shows, live on television.

It transports you in ’70s sci-fi era and Director Ross and his designers give the District 12 scenes a gloomy look. All actors have done justice to their roles and they are presented before the audience in a fascinating manner. Make up and styling team has done wonders by giving a distinct look to each and every character portrayed in the movie.

“Hunger Games” has opened with a bang and if the movie pundits are to be believed this movie could be the biggest money spinner for the ‘Lionsgate’. Surely the Disney Corp need to learn a lesson or two from the ‘Success of Hunger Games’ as they are reeling under pressure after colossal failure of ‘John Carter’.

On the one hand you have ‘The Hunger Games’ which tells cine goers about a successful sci-fi movie and on the other hand ‘John Carter’ gives you an idea what makes a bad sci-fi film.

Movie Review:’This Means War’

Mumbai: (IANS )Ever since the popular cartoon “Spy Vs.Spy” appeared in Mad magazine, where two spies try to outsmart each other, this was an idea waiting to be explored. This Means War puts in the booty – the love of a lovely lady – as it pitches two equally matched spies against each other.

FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are not only the best operatives in CIA, they are also best friends who wouldn’t think twice before taking a bullet for the other. Problem erupts when both fall in love with the same woman (Reese Witherspoon). The two unleash their minds and CIA might on each other as all becomes fair in winning the love of an undecided woman.

Almost everything that could have been done within the boundary the film sets for itself, is done. This leads to a very predictable film as it progresses almost exactly as one would expect. But that is hardly the point since if you keep your expectations to the level of a typical Hollywood action-comedy; you’ll be more than satisfied. Use your brains, and you’ll be disappointed.

There are some genuinely funny moments in the film as the two men pit strengths against each other. However, they are hidden behind too many cliches and the well-conceived action sequences does well to take away some of the tediousness.

The actors pull off the best from what they have been given. Not being an actor’s film, there wasn’t much that could have been expected from them either.However, where the film could indeed have scored, is in pushing for a more realistic morality in men-women relationship. After Ernst Lubitch’s 1933 hit comedy “Design For Living”, which for the first and perhaps only time promulgated the idea of a lead woman, who loves and sleeps with two men she loves, Hollywood has been in a state of denial.

Thus you have your male protagonists being everything from cheaters to suave lovers of two women at the same time, but you have never really had your lead actress anything less than a model of virtue. Morality, even during the 1930s and even now, wasn’t so black and white for Hollywood to stay so cut off from the reality of it all. In “This Means War”, there was a little opportunity to be a little closer to reality, but it settles for far too less.

But then the film wasn’t trying to be a tale of morality or be serious about anything and hence, neither should we. It’s a simple tale, which for two hours gives one the comfort of familiarity without too many extraneous jerks. And that, for a film like this, and of low expecting viewers like us, is enough.

Movie Review: ‘John Carter’ (**)

‘John Carter’ is a sci-fi movie based on a book written by Edgar Rice Burroughs almost 100 years ago. Character of John Carter is etched in the memories of American public. Director Andrew Stanton borrows Edgar Rice Burrough’s character to recreate magic of movies like ‘Avtaar’,  ‘Star Wars’, ‘ET’, ‘Independence Day’. Indeed he takes a big leap in future but somehow he lands somewhere in between. T

Storyline of any movie holds the key to success. If impressive, a good storyline could help an average movie to become something effective.  ‘John Carter’ has no great story to tell and it shows in its script. The movie is more of a launch pad to show technical expertise and little effort has been made to strengthen the storyline.

Taaylor Kitsch plays a Civil War veteran who joins a war on planet mars. He reaches Mars from Arizona looking for riches. Mars is called Barsoom in native language. The planet has a vivid culture full of various life forms. ‘John Carter’ gets embroiled in an interplanetary war and he emerges victorious out of it.

The film is made with a massive budget of 250 million dollars but it doesn’t show up until the first hour.  Once the war takes centre stage you begin to realize the scale and effort which the production has put in the movie.

We watch some of the most advanced special effects but somehow it doesn’t add up to the movie. There are moments when you are enthralled by the visuals futuristic warfare  and the next moment you  begin to feel the hollowness and lack of human element in the movie.

Technically the movie stands out but for someone who is not a big fan of science fiction ‘John Carter’ could be uninteresting and even boring.  Coming out of the movie theatre  we probably do not rejoice the victory  of ‘John Carter’ as much as we miss the CGI monsters. They stay in our memories.

For an average cine goer this movie could be easily given a miss. Two stars for ‘John Carter’.

Film Review: ‘Wanderlust’

Hollywood release this Friday, “Wanderlust” starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston  is a comedy of  life which shows people enjoying life as if there is no tomorrow and living it an uninhibited way. In other words it is about seeking pure fun without any guilt.

The movie begins with a display of  naked body parts  when George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) find themselves in a free-love commune. Story has money lose ends which sometimes confuse the viewers but the raunchiness and rawness in the movie keeps them hooked. Jokes in the movie may be stale but they are served well by the filmmaker.

Everything seems smooth in the couple’s life till they lose their jobs. They decide to hit the road to Atlanta where they expect to find a job with George’s brother (Marino). The environment in Atlanta is not so friendly so they decide to return to Elysium, a place which is a true hippie’s last resort.

What follows after their arrival to Elysium is quite entertaining. In almost ‘ perfect’  environment of Elysium Aniston and Rudd rediscover themselves. Rudd and Aniston look natural and effortless in their roles. Jennifer Aniston’s performance needs a special mention as she makes an unbelievable character sound believable and credible.

Directed by Wain movie ‘Wanderlust’ is a celebration of insanity and purity rolled into one.  The director seems comfortable with things he puts on display. He has managed to infuse the same confidence and comfort in all the characters which introduces on screen. Be it the lead pair of Linda and George or minor characters dotting the movie canvass they all seem to function and perform as a cohesive unit. This cohesion in the movie is the only reason why  ‘Wanderlust’ becomes believable and watchable.

Movie Review: ‘Contraband’ (*** Three Star)

 (IANS) There are films made on predictable scripts. Yet their execution often raises their quality a few notches and though overall there’s nothing really to love or hate as the film hangs in a balance in no man’s land, you do give a thumbs up to the director for the brave rescue act. ‘Contraband’ is one such film.

An ex-smuggler who has gone legit is forced to return to his old ways after his brother-in-law gets into trouble. He faces insurmountable odds to smuggle a huge cache of counterfeit money while also trying to protect his family.

This film is like the famous computer game ‘Dave’; where the protagonist encounters seemingly impossible obstacles one after the other to emerge victorious. Thus, the crux of the story is not revelation of secrets, though it has its predictable share, but in the impossibility of the obstacle before him and the resources that he brings together to get over it.

And though our hero is a smuggler, in typical films of the genre, he is given enough moral authority in the minds of the viewers – he is protecting his family, he is being set up, he is a good guy at heart – for us not to mind his prosperity stemming for an illegitimate act.

And the stakes put up against him are so high that your heart goes out to him and his family. You root for him as you know he has no option but to push through the inferno and not around it because inside it is smelting the purest gold that will solve all his problems of the past, present and future. And it is in making you pray for his success that the film succeeds, and not because of any cinematic merit.

It is a formula film where the hero ends up richer than he started out and the villains are punished. Yet, like life, it is about the journey. Such a film cannot be self conscious. It has to be natural enough and the direction, invisible.

Yet, that does not take away the accusation that almost everything in this remake of an Icelandic film ‘Reykjavik-Rotterdam’, in which ‘Contraband’ director Baltasar Kormakur is the lead, is taken from somewhere else; from heist, gangsta or action thrillers. Yet, it is not taken to such a level to seem overbearing.

For instance, in the end, the discovery of a rare painting worth more than the money made in the heist, is typical of a Guy Ritchie movie where two ancient guns or a big diamond makes it worthwhile for our protagonist (copied copiously worldwide). Yet, in the film it seems more like a closing of a loop of a previous heist, though any discerning viewer would have obviously figured it out much before.

Kate Beckinsale is almost wasted in a small role while actor and producer of the film, Mark Whalberg plays a kind of role he has become comfortable in over the years. A good, but not a ‘must’ watch.

Movie Review: Underworld Awakening (*** Three Star)

In the fourth installment of ‘Underworld’ franchise, Kate Beckinsale reprises the role of a vampire warrior Selene in ‘Underworld Awakening’. Humans get a whiff about the presence of vampires and lycans (werewolves-cum-humans), and believing them to be threat to mankind; they decided to eradicate the immortals.

Vampire warrior Selene (Kate) has been held captive by humans for the past 12 years but upon escaping, she finds herself in a different world from the one she left.

A significant portion of the film is about Selene and her daughter Eve (India Eisley), who Selene was unaware of for a long time. The child opens up the character of Selene to a host of new possibilities and allows the character some emotional moments unlike anything that the one has seen in the previous films.

With few references to the past, ‘Awakening’ has pretty much a standalone storyline, but the film’s novelty lies in its 3D making and addition of graphical action. Kate Beckinsale is back as leather-clad, gun trotting a** kicker in a story that takes forward the ‘Underworld’ series.

What doesn’t work in the drama is the absence of an emotional connection between the film’s characters and the audience. And yet again, the angle of the conflict between the humans and the alien species remains under explored.

 

Courtesy : Zee News