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Movies of the past year or so

Okay, first post of 2012… Happy New Year to all!

Thought I would take a look back at all the new movies I watched over the past year. Seeing as the Golden Globes is tonight and Oscar season is coming pretty soon, now is a good time to do this extremely subjective exercise. :p So anyway, without any delay here goes…

Oh by the way, the first few movies on this list actually came out in 2010 but only got released here in 2011… whatever.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

This was quite interesting throughout, with the various eccentric characters going through their relationship drama for the amusement of everyone watching. But it wasn’t exceptional or anything. Good for a one time fun watch. Rating: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)

This was as artsy as I have seen Aamir Khan get, with a lot of help from his wife Kiran Rao who takes writing and directing responsibilities. Good flick but slow-moving and shows a lot of Bombay which my wife enjoyed thoroughly as she loves the place. Rating: ***1/2

Black Swan

This was both fantastic and terrifying at the same time. Some scenes here could fit in well in a psychological thriller or horror movie which is why I had to pre-warn my parents while at the same time recommending it wholeheartedly. Rating: ****1/2

The King’s Speech

We had to check this one out after seeing so much hype being generated in the media. At the end of it (and this is an unpopular opinion) I felt it was good but lacked a certain something. It was as though the transition from stuttering buffoon to perfect speaker happened a little too quickly or something. Rating: ****

127 Hours

This movie ambled along nicely until the point James Franco’s character gets stuck between those rocks and then it was just scary as heck. Very realistic (well, based on a true story) depiction of what happens when you get into a life and death situation out there in the open. Rating: ***

Rango

Went to see this one after hearing good things about it from SA’s resident movie critic Barry Ronge. But boy, was this a bad choice or what?!! It started out okay and then it just went on and on into pointless sequences. Then at some point you just stop giving a shit about the story or plot. I felt that Johnny Depp(‘s voice) was wasted on this one! Rating: *

Limitless

Limitless was great! It is basically about a failing writer who tries out a new drug which transforms him into this superhuman performing machine. This results in both good and bad consequences and that’s where the movie grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. Rating: ****

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I thought this was an awesome sequel but apparently I am in the minority (as usual). Anyway, it was very entertaining and Johnny Depp once again delivers. Rating: ****1/2

Source Code

Read the plot for this one online and found it interesting enough to check it out. I’m so glad I did. This movie was pretty edge of the seat throughout. It really kept my attention until the end credits! Rating: *****

X-Men: First Class

Another superb movie! Anything to do with 20th century world history, Cold War tensions, Nazi Germany etc. automatically make me sit up and take notice. Here, the origins of these superhuman characters are beautifully showcased over a backdrop of those aforementioned world events. Truly first class. Rating: *****

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The preview for this one was so deceivingly amazing that I was absolutely mad to find out what a clunker it was! The trailer makes it look like the movie is all about space exploration, NASA and such but it ended up being yet another ‘fast and furious’ type big muscle, no brains flick. There’s even a dumb bimbo as lead female character to put the final nail in this coffin. Rating: *

Delhi Belly

Delhi Belly seemed like Aamir Khan’s salute to Quentin Tarantino. It’s an action-packed slapstick movie that I would not have ordinarily expected out of Bollywood. But we’re talking about Aamir here of course, an actor who seldom wanders anywhere near the mainstream. Overall, good but a little silly. Rating: ***1/2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2

I am going to be completely biased here, sorry. Since I am not really a big Potter fan and only watched this after being dragged to see it by the wife, I found this one pretty boring. Strangely enough, I remember enjoying Part 1 more. Rating: **1/2

Super 8

This looked totally fascinating from the preview and to be quite honest, I think I went in with false expectations. I was waiting to see a movie about unidentified alien spacecrafts, hushed government intelligence, Rosewell New Mexico and the like but instead got a children’s flick closely resembling E.T. It was not bad but I didn’t find it exceptionally intriguing either. Rating: **1/2

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Enjoyed watching this one all the way through. It’s a story about science and animal testing backfiring on human beings. Rating: ****

The Help

Loved this one! I think it has Oscar written all over it! Viola Davis and especially Octavia Spencer give stunning performances as black housemaids in 1960’s America in the white-dominated southern state of Mississippi. Rating: *****

Contagion

This is a movie that is both interesting and scary because it portrays such a realistic picture of what would happen in the event of a global pandemic. Definitely not a feel-good flick but worth a watch for sure! Rating: ****1/2

The Adventures of Tintin

I grew up with Tintin comic books. So I knew I had to go see this one for sure before it left the theatres. And I thoroughly enjoyed it! It is action-packed, suspenseful and entertaining. It is pretty much everything a Tintin fan would expect from a movie version of the comic book. The only thing that was difficult to digest here was the fact that during numerous instances Tintin and Haddock get away without getting shot. And the bad guys always have terrible aim. But anyway, a willing suspension of disbelief is necessary I suppose. Rating: ****1/2

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Heard many people raving about this one and decided to check it out. Was not all that impressed. The scenes in Russia are generally well shot and keep your attention but everything else felt overblown. Seeing Tom Cruise rapple down Burj Khalifa with hardly a scratch or driving down Mumbai’s streets at full speed despite plenty of pedestrians in the way was quite amusing. Also, there is a shot panning through a vast expanse of Dubai desert with symmetrically placed camels littered through the landscape. Not to mention signs in kannada language in Mumbai?? Quite ridiculous and un-researched on Hollywood’s part. Rating: **

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

This was another one my wife dragged me to but I actually enjoyed it! I haven’t seen the first movie and have only heard about the books. But this movie is not only fast-paced, it is witty. And the whole setting of late 19th century, early 20th century England is nicely done. Rating: ****

So all in all, a decent bunch of movies with a few stinkers thrown in. If forced to pick a favourite for the year, I would say X-Men: First Class. Thanks for reading.

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The King’s Speech – Very good but lacking a certain something (Beware of spoilers here!)

I was curious to see this movie not just because of all the hype, critical acclaim and Oscar nominations it has received, also because Colin Firth is in it. I really enjoyed his performance in the Bridget Jones Diary movies. Anyway, the film begins with Prince Albert the Duke of York, played by Firth, attempting to make a speech on behalf of his father, King George V. He stutters and stammers and ultimately gives up, to the utter dismay of the crowd as well as his wife Elizabeth, played by the stunning Helena Bonham Carter. So she takes him to a speech therapist called Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). The whole movie is about how the therapist cures the duke and would-be king of his speech impediment.

The movie is filled to the brim with witty dialogue and comedic scenes. I also really liked the direction and photography; there is a crisp, cool blue tinge that is present in almost every shot. But somehow overall, it felt like something was missing in the movie. My wife agrees with me on this. The movie is quite funny but it seems to lack a bit of substance. The transition from a horribly stammering duke to a perfectly enunciating king is too quickly shown, without completely revealing all the techniques that may have gone into the therapist’s lessons. Logue tries out certain established techniques on ‘Bertie’ (both go on first name basis during the therapy sessions which provides much material for laughter) but the duke is still visibly struggling with the lessons. And then all of a sudden it is time for the important final speech in the movie and the duke (now King George VI) does splendidly well, in the presence of Logue helping him with motivational sign language right in front of him in the same chamber! I don’t know… I just don’t buy this rapid improvement that happened perfectly in time for the final credits! It is almost as if the director and crew said “Ohh it’s almost 2 hours! We have to wrap this thing up!”

So in closing, I quite enjoyed it but yet see it as a slightly overrated movie with twelve Oscar nominations and several other awards.