Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review #508 - Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru (Tamil, 2017)

A case involving dacoity of the most ruthless kind takes years of investigation by Tamilnadu Police. The steely resilience of officer Dheeran and his team takes them past the levels at which other states had given up the chase. Do they get all the way to the point of nabbing the robbers?

What’s Hot
  • Through the film, based on true events from 2000s, Writer-Director Vinoth presents the chilling episodes of robbery in a fashion that’s disturbing (in a good way!) and the arduous methods required to be adopted by the police in a way that lets us respect & appreciate the men behind the work
  • Karthi, as the ‘never-say-die’ officer Dheeran, sets the screen on fire exhibiting a fiery performance and makes us believe the respect he earns from his fellow ‘boys’ in the operation (the prominent face of Bose Venkat among others)
  • The robbers’ group is a sureshot casting coup by Vinoth! Oma (played by Abhimanyu Singh), Kali and the entire clan fascinates the viewer with their ruthless ways and the backstory that offers explanation on why they are the way they are takes the tale away from being a mere ‘revenge’ story
  • The detailing vindicates the abundant research that has gone behind the case and the very setup of the case as presented (moving across states) brings about the intriguing aspects of the complexities that run deep-rooted with a country like India & also allows us to appreciate the technical advancements of today that have come to be of help to police investigations!
  • The technical trio that hogs the limelight involve Sathyan Sooryan’s camerawork (providing the perfect stage for the adrenaline pumping action sequences to steal the show – the one with the buses is a screamer), Ghibran’s loud but effective background score & Shivanandeeswaran’s editing that presents heavy details in a manner that is consumable

What’s Not

  • The film takes quite a while to warm-up and set the engines revved up thanks to an uninventive romance track between the lead pair, even though the writing behind the pair tries to make up for the clich├ęs as the relationship progresses

The lousy start notwithstanding, Dheeran Adhigaaram Ondru showcases the earnestness of the team’s homage to the officers behind the real case with an unflinching & exciting coverage of the case, the physical and poilitical turmoil the officers had to go through & the dangerous adversaries they were after.

A Towering Tribute

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review #507 - Vivegam (Tamil, 2017)

Vivegam, Ajith's third outing with Siva - who proclaims it to be an 'international spy thriller' & a first of sorts in this genre for Kollywood (I don't know what Vishwaroopam is then?!) - released to much fanfare today. Is it what it was said it is going to be?

The film opens with Ajay Kumar (AK) thwarting an immensely guarded illegal weapons deal & escaping from a huge chasing group. He is then being hunted by a consortium of world's secret agencies and it appears they figure he was one among them and was suspected to have been dead. The flashback unfolds with AK & his team of 5 thick friends going about their business of killing the world's deadliest baddies and focuses on a single mission where they try to get hold of the decryption code to stop some artificial earthquake setting bomb blasts. When AK gets close to target, he understands he is sabotaged. How he hunts down his betrayers with rage forms the latter part of the story.

There is nothing new in terms of the story that you just read but the age-old cat & mouse game is staged on a scale and setup that is not very common for Tamil films and the screenplay (by Siva aided sizably by Kabilan Vairamuthu) has its geeky & intense moments that all integrate well to present some finely conceived action blocks choreographed well by Kaloyan & performed admirably by Ajith. The sequences in Serbia where AK chases a hacker Natasha (played by Akshara Haasan) is easily the film's best portion and given the impression the build up and the single sequence her role features in creates, it would have been great if the character had accompanied the lead a little longer. Amidst all the chaos, the husband-wife angle & how the relationship complements the pair is brought forth well (a little over the top at times) and Kajal Aggarwal (who plays AK's lovely pair Yazhini) gets a role better than many of the ones she must have played before.

The friend-turns-foe twist in the interval is hugely cliched (especially for an Ajith film & takes us to a totally similar sequence in Aasal) and brings down the tempo post interval. The latter part of the film is a mixed bag with a couple of adrenaline pumping sequences (the comeback song Thalai Viduthalai & a sniper sequence in the middle of traffic) and a couple of real duds (the scene where AKsaves his lady love from trained weapon-wielding villains from a building afar!).  The pre-climax involving Ajith & Vivek Oberoi (who plays Aryan - the leader of the betraying friends' pack) resurrects the film's intensity with some interesting 'who-can-think-what-the-other-is-upto-faster' game but a pedestrian climax with the wife having so much confidence in the abilities of her husband that she begins singing a song as he is in the edge of a life/death fist-fight battle doesn't let it soar.

The technical aspects of this ambitiously set film are top-notch with Vetri's camerawork reminding us of some of the famous hollywood action blockbusters, the art-work by Milan recreating multiple geeky-setups, non-shoddy VFX which amalgamates seamlessly with the real stunts and Ruben's work at the edit table right-sizing all of the action blocks so they retain their intensity. Each of the teams that have worked technically for the film can boast of Vivegam being a marquee work in their careers.

In all, Vivegam ends up being a film that doesn't have new things in terms of what it presents but the moments that make up how the what is presented takes it a little beyond the archetypal star outing that is attempted to appease a certain fan-base.

Age-old story but Actions aplenty!

Review #506 - Dunkirk (English, 2017)

--> The allied forces are surrounded by the ‘enemy’ in the coast of Dunkirk leaving 400,000 soldiers stranded. A miraculous evacuation is the only hope for them from surrender and defeat. Do they get through? The outcome of the survival attempt that lasts for over a week comes down to one help that gets extended over a day & another, that barely lasts an hour.

What's Hot?

  • Christopher Nolan’s body of work is so varied & impressive that any mention of a work being unlike another of his, in itself, would mean a lot. In going with a fresh setup presented in a monumental scale, yet, retaining some of his characteristics, he pulls off something remarkable with Dunkirk
  • He plays with a wacky screenplay yet again (all his films except Insomnia have kept the viewers’ brains working hard through the watch with interlaced writing) but, smartly, lets it only stay complex to an extent that allows it to play second fiddle to the tale of survival
  • The film’s cinematography (by Hoyte van Hoytema) & editing (by Lee Smith) help us stay with the narrative that focuses on individuals on land, sea and air – That’s not easy given the scale of the historical event. They also make us ‘feel’ the enemy even though they aren’t shown explicitly
  • Nolan seems to have taken Hans Zimmer in his hitherto unseen journey as the score, from ranging from mysterious to pounding, is apt & amazingly different in style in comparison to their other outings together. The sound effects as the bombs keep flying off the Luftwaffe are excellent additions to the immersive experience on offer
  • It is one of those films where the entire cast play a solid supporting role as the story is primarily told through sound technical nuances and doesn’t have much focus on influencing the viewer with human emotions. Yet – Mark Rylance (with his non-chalance as the ‘been there, seen that’ civilian Dawson),  Tom Hardy (who expresses his astonishment at the German aircraft & the grit to somehow bring it down through only his ‘eyes’) shine

What's Not? 

  • As straight as it may seem for viewers who have had experience with watching Nolan’s works, the usage of the time dimension (elegant, make no mistake) ends up letting emotion take the back seat and leaves us longing to find that one hero we’d like to root for – Blame Spielberg for conditioning us all that way!


--> With Dunkirk, Nolan takes himself, his crew and the viewers through uncharted waters and as we sail through the story, shows how war films could be handled extremely different from some of the most famous ones we may have seen and yet give an equally immersive experience as they all have done
Epic Escapade!
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