Review: Prisoners

Hugh Jackman, Prisoners 2013
Hugh Jackman in Prisoners.

Hollywood Dad Goes On A Rampage
Rating: ***

Definition of Hollywood Dad: The paternal character who sets out to find justice on his own through vigilantism and hence falls prey to the law.

Having not seen other critic favourites such as 12 Years A Slave, Nebraska, All Is Lost and American Hustle, I come to think if Prisoners could be 2013’s best motion picture. If the 150-minute run-time was trimmed by at least 10-15 minutes, it would have received an extra star or maybe two – the highest honour this blog can offer.

The last mystery film that kept me emotionally charged the way Prisoners did was probably Roman Polanski’s Ghost Writer. Both dramas are excellently penned. While the latter was adapted from a novel, Prisoners is an original screenplay.

I can relate to Keller Dover, the character played by Hugh Jackman in this mystery drama. He’s a family man who enjoys deer hunting with his son, whom he grooms to be like himself, just the way his father groomed him to be. “Plan for the best, prepare for the worst” this line of dialogue plays an integral role in the film. Dover finds out that his daughter has been kidnapped, and much like most Hollywood dads, he goes in search for her by following the lead suspect – a young man named Alex Jones, who supposedly has the IQ of a 10-year old.
The lengths he goes to pump the truth out can be compared to the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty. But, that sums up director Denis Villeneuve’s motive. He wants to depict – the lengths any man would go to find his daughter. Classic Hollywood dad!

Halfway through the film, you find yourself rooting for Dover, hoping he is able to extract the truth. That’s when screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski introduces a twist in the tale, which breaks upon you like a guilt trip. Perhaps Mr. Guzikowski was waiting to trap you in all that guilt.

The plot twists confuse you infinitely. This film is worth the conversations you are bound to have afterwards. That’s when you put the pieces together and find out what Prisoners is really about. In fact, the story is never completed. The ending scene is a prime example to this – Detective Loki (what’s with the Asgardian name?) stands in the cold, wondering whether that whistling sound was real or not. Does he find out where the sound came from? Do the characters realize their mistakes? The film ends abruptly leading us to make our own endings.

While Jackman has shown us that he is an entertainer, Prisoners has him displaying something we’ve never seen before. He doesn’t emote the way Wolverine does. He emotes the way a real man would. The melancholy that sweeps him, the abstinence we feel when he’s broken, everything makes him a fine choice for an Oscar nomination.

Jake Gyllenhaal sure seems to have come a long way from Donnie Darko or even Brothers, the forgotten drama that also starred Tobey Maguire. But seriously dude, what’s with that delusional blinking? It’s like you’re on coke all the time.

The picture I painted at the start of this review may be deceptive by now. Do I love or hate this movie? The three-star rating doesn’t mean I’ll watch this movie a thousand times. Prisoners will be a rare watch for me again. Not because it’s average, but because the next time I see it, I’ll view it in a different way, much like the way we all felt about Skyfall or even Inception. The film joins the ranks of other thrillers such as Gone Baby Gone, and even Frozen River, another fine film that starred Melissa Leo, who plays the cocky, yet amusing character in Prisoners.

Prisoners draws a fine line between good and evil. And till the third act, we much like the characters in the film believe that we’re doing the right thing. But, what happens in the end, is an unwashed sin.


Review: Movie 43

Movie 43
Richard Gere reads our minds in Movie 43.

Is this the worst film of the 21st Century?
Rating: ZERO

Multi-starrers are generally viewed as a money-making machine. The genre for this is always comedy and the audience is international. Whether it’s a handful actors behaving like monkeys in Priyadarshan films or a group of cons pulling off an Oceans Eleven-like heist, multi-starrers are predominantly built on how big the fan base is. Multi-starrers also led to the creation of rat packs (60s), frat packs (80s) and then brat packs (90s-00s).

The original Oceans Eleven not only starred rat packers Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis. Jr. and Joey Bishop, but also had cameos from Cesar Romero, Buddy Lester and Shirley MacLaine. The 2001 remake also claimed top prize with a glorious cast of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia to start with.

Having said that Movie 43 is a tasteless film that unites a huge star cast through a series of hapless and sexually disgusting vignettes. The whole film is co-directed and produced by Peter Farrelly, who has traveled a long distance from There’s Something About Mary, which clearly remains the best comedy film from the Farrelly brothers. The cast ensemble includes prominent names such as Hugh Jackman, Kate WInslet, Richard Gere, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Anna Faris, Uma Thurman, Seann William Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Emma Stone, Kristen Bell, Naomi Watts and Jason Sudeikis.

From the moment you see a pair of testicles hanging beneath Jackman’s chin, you realize this is gonna be a weird ride. The best you can do is get out of the cinema and watch Iron Man 3 instead. Movie 43 puts you through a cinematic catastrophe that’s gonna haunt you forever if you continue watching it.

The actors perform blithely, grabbing hold of the 15 minutes given to them and doing the most they could to turn this movie into a bigger nightmare. Whether it’s Anna Faris’ lust for poop or Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant’s kiddish truth or dare moments, Movie 43 is garbage that even the municipality will ignore to clean up. Imagine a dog messes up your carpet and you casually walk by it every day without the slightest interest to clean it.

Movie 43 reminded me of another multi-starrer Couples Retreat which starred Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and Justin Bateman. That film had a paper thin storyline blown out of proportions to make a 100-minute junk. I’d watch that or even a combination of Madea films to avoid Movie 43.

Gore, violence, unwanted nudity and tasteless vulgarity are some of the elements Movie 43 is made of. I’m pretty sure you can figure out the rest upon reading this review.

Review: Australia

Promotional Poster for AUSTRALIA which is reminiscent to the American film, Gone With The Wind.

Passionate Yet Uninfluenced

Australia (PG-13)

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and David Wenham

Genre: They call it epic romance film. I call it war infused drover romance drama; probably the birth of a new genre.

Rating: **

Baz Luhrmann’s so-called epic romance film, Australia, does have a lot to offer to the souls which have been tainted by Titanic and Pearl Harbor; the films which have tragedy and romance intertwined. However, Australia ends on a peaceful and Happy Ending tone. But, what makes it so special? It uses huge amount of special effects to recreate the Darwin Harbor in the 1940s. Australia may be controversial for those scenes involving the aboriginal tribes, but, it sticks to the core of filmmaking rather than Aussie Exploitation.

Personally, we’ve seen romance films where the lady is rich and beautiful and has not tasted the harsh part of life and the lad is quite her opposite – tough and daring. It is the lad who shows the lady on what life is. And then they get together on those countless sexual sessions which may extend for months and then, they break up over what they call a ‘complex’ issue and finally get back again after agreeing on it which evidently happens after a long journey what filmmakers love calling ‘rediscovering life’.

Filmmaking has its own rules: (1) Lads are experienced while ladies aren’t. So, the lads teach the ladies and in the process, romance them. (2) Their break up always happens when they fight over (a) family or (b) child adoption or (c) marriage.  (3) There may be many villains but the arch rival always dies and that too in the end. (4) The person who is in charge of changing the hearts of the lad and the lady always uses repetitive dialogues. (5) This person is certainly not related to them in anyway.

Well, Australia has bended a few of them. It works its way through the rough patches of the island continent. Especially when the scenes of the cattle droving happen, we have partial aerial shots and partial CGI creations. Respective of the characters, we have to worry about the length of the movie. 160 minutes isn’t easy watching nowadays. It’s tough to sit in a chair and watch a movie in which the entertainment quota is quite less. Films like Godfather Part II ran for 200 minutes. But, it’s Godfather! You depend on a star-studded cast and you got your deal. Australia doesn’t have a recognized cast. Nicole Kidman was easy and so was Hugh Jackman. There is also David Wenham who acted in other historic films such as 300, Van Helsing and Lord of The Rings trilogy.

Australian Film Industry (should I call it Aullywood) clearly sees a bridge in between filmmaking and content. Australia (the film) is made up of racism and probably, delirium. Australia’s (the continent) beauty has been rightly shown by Luhrmann. So, Australia sticks to its genre as epic romance film rather than war infused romance drama. Well, if droving were to be a film genre, Australia would be an example. But, are we forgetting the movies from Southern USA. There are quite a lot of droving scenes in them too.

But I wonder, is this the Australian version of Gone With The Wind? Are we seeing Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler’s Australian forms – Lady Sarah Ashley and The Drover? Well, that’s his profession and not the name. The name is never mentioned in the movie.

Australia is a mammoth film. It’s Luhrmann’s passionate dream that however tends to bore your heart which yearns for the need of entertainment.

Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Promotional Poster
Promotional Poster

Plenty of Action & Animation

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PG-13)

Director: Gavin Hood

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds and Lynn Collins.

Rating: **

The latest offering from the world of mutants is X-Men Origins: Wolverine which focuses on the main character of the X-Men series – Wolverine. What we saw in the first X-Men film was Wolverine having a bar brawl and suddenly exposing his metal claws. Well, how did he gain the claws? This film helps you learn more on your favourite X-Man. So, what exactly does this film offer you? There’s a heavy dosage of action and high cutting animation. A good summer release, this film stands high for an action packed entertainer.

Australian performer Hugh Jackman became instantly famous once he chose to portray Wolverine in the first X-Men film. He has trained a lot and gained more muscles to depict Wolverine stronger and muscular. The best example is Wolverine gaining metal claws and rising from the water tub. Another example could be Wolverine letting the students out of their cages after they’d been trapped.

A heavy dose of animation accompanies the action. The titles are amazing. Editing is at its best. Cinematography is more exquisite. The sets look quite real for mean dwelling mutants. There’s more than what you could have expected from a South African director, Gavin Hood.

The story starts in 1855 with James Howlett murdering his father’s murderer using his bone claws and then learning that the person he murdered was his real father. Hence, he becomes James Logan and runs away with his real father’s son (a.k.a. his real brother) Victor Creed. They’re mutants – One with retractable claws and the other is a Sabre-tooth tiger reformation.

The brothers fight through three wars – Civil War, WW1 and WW2. In the Vietnam War, Logan kills one of the superiors to help Victor. Hence, they’re caught and executed. But, the mutants regenerate and find themselves meeting Major Stryker who offers them to join his team of mutants. Their first mission is to find the source of a meteor substance – Adamantium. Logan however acts manly and disagrees to the human massacre the mutants were about to create and quits.

Few years later, he is living in the Canadian Rockies with Kayla Silverfox. However, Victor wants answers and kills her. Logan is hence put in the path of revenge. Plenty of action ensues with Logan undergoing an experiment to gain Adamantium in his blood and turn invincible. However, a few twists in the tale prove a little unearthly. The film lack speed at times where emotions take center stage.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is exhilarating. This easily makes Wolverine as one of the best superheroes of this century. Jackman has undergone mighty practice and training to fit in.

Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed is certainly villainous. The cunning sabre-toothed mutant and Logan’s real brother, his performance lacks more agility.

Lynn Collins portrays Kayla Silverfox. Sadly, she makes the tougher Silverfox appear more sympathetic at times.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine brings back Wolverine to screen. However it remains as a Jackman starrer and nothing else. Rest assured there’s plenty of swashbuckling action and sizzling animation to scorch the screens this summer.