The Front Row Review of Maleficent

Why do bad people become bad? That's the question Disney's approximately $175 million dollar film Maleficent attempts to answer. Maleficent is a reworking of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. In this version, Maleficent is a beautiful, kind and brave fairy who becomes horribly twisted after she is betrayed in love.

The centerpiece of this film is of course the magnificent Angelina Jolie who plays Maleficent with contact lenses, prosthetics and cheek bones that you could sharpen knives on. She's spectacular. Debutant director Robert Stromberg gives her a few nicely staged scenes to strut her stuff in but mostly, this film is just too tame for her. Maleficent has no opposition. Largely, she does as she pleases until love thaws her hardened heart. The plot is predictable and too thin to accommodate such an outsized personality. Maleficent is in almost every frame of the film and yet, I felt, like there wasn't enough for her to bite into. Elle Fanning plays the princess Aurora, whom Maleficent curses. Fanning's job is to look like an angel and that she manages effortlessly.

However, Stromberg, an Oscar-winning production designer, gives us a lot to look at – luminous pixies, magical moors, a crow that takes on many avatars and lots of intriguing creatures, big and small. Even Maleficent's incredible wings have personality.

I wish some of that had rubbed off on the writing. I'm going with two and a half stars.

The Front Row Review of The Raid 2

In how many ways can you kill a man? What happens to a face when a sickle-shaped blade slices through a cheek? What damage can a baseball bat do to a mouth? And how much flesh can hammers dislodge when they are applied with force? If you have ever pondered questions like these, then The Raid 2 is the film for you. Director Gareth Evans following up his cult 2012 film The Raid: Redemption, goes bloodier, more brutal, more bloated and sadly, infinitely more boring.

I don't have a big appetite for blood-soaked action but The Raid: Redemption was a full-on adrenalin rush. I shut my eyes a few times because I'm squeamish about gore but the film left me breathless. I went into The Raid 2 looking for the same excitement. But here Evans goes serious on us. The film has incredible action. Some of the sequences are so staggeringly staged that your eyes can barely keep pace with who is breaking whom. The mayhem is omnipresent and endless - men kill men in green fields, restaurants, gleaming white kitchens, prison toilets, muddy grounds, even the backseat of a car.

Evans and his hero Iko Uwais are clearly masters of action but even they can't make murder interesting for two and a half hours. Evans, who has also written the film, gives us too much plot - there's a gangster with daddy issues, an assassin who wants to see his estranged child, corrupt cops, too many gang lords to keep track of and in the center of it all, Rama, played by Uwais, the cop who has infiltrated one of the gangs undercover. As the body count mounted, my eyes glazed over. And the violence became so vicious that it ceased to be interesting.

The Raid 2 is an ugly and brutalizing experience. I'm going with one and a half stars.

CityLights Movie Review : 'A Human Tale In Inhumane Times...'

Expectations:

Director Mahesh Bhatt has always been known for some of his path breaking films like 'Arth', 'Saaransh', 'Naam', 'Janam', 'Aashiqui', 'Tamanna' and many more. He also gave us many musical hits and ended up his directorial innings by giving us a national award winning film 'Zakham'. After which he focused his creative skill to his production company and kept churning out tons of musical hits with a good amount of erotica, horror, crime genre attached to it. Last year, his production house gave its biggest hit in the form of 'Aashiqui 2', which was quite different from the films made under their banner. This motivated Mahesh Bhatt and thus he started focusing again on content based films which could match up to his earlier path-breaking films. Thus, his next produced film 'CityLights' features the director-actor combo of Hansal Mehta-Rajkummar Rao after the fresh success of their national award winning film 'Shahid'. So, let's find out, whether 'CityLights' will manage to match up with the standards of good cinema set up by Mahesh Bhatt and Hansal Mehta or might end up being among those films trying to cash in over its past glory.

CityLights Movie Review

Story:

'CityLights' narrates the tale of Deepak (Rajkummar Rao) and his wife Rakhi (Patralekha) who comes to Mumbai from Rajasthan in search of work and a good life for their daughter. Right on the first day, Deepak is conned and thus has to lead a life full of hardship, misery and pain. Things start to improve only after he gets a job, but that is just a temporary phase of their life as what happens next is what the entire film is all about.

Screenplay & Technicalities:

The movie is an official adaptation of an award winning international film 'Metro Manila' and has been adapted as per Indian situations. Memories of 'Do Biga Zameen', 'Gaman' and few more pops up in our mind instantly, as we speak about those films based on the theme of rural migration to an urban area. 'CityLights' sets its own benchmark and tries to show a realistic face of this genre. The makers choose a lighter way to portray the hardship and trouble that our main protagonist has to go through, without being over-dramatic at any given point.

The writing in the first half is engaging and tends to keep you restless over the curiosity factor. There are some brilliant scenes like Rajkummar getting conned followed by Patralekha's audition, Rajkummar's interview, Rajkummar-Manav Kaul's discussions along with Rajkummar's drunk scene which is the best scene of the entire film. The grip starts to loosen a bit in the second half as the movie starts focusing between Rajkummar Rao and Manav Kaul. At times scenes stretch to their fullest, leading to a predictable and not so satisfying climax.

The makers should have added more detailing about the couple and their hardship rather than focusing more on the crime part. Dialogues are simple yet heart touching and goes well with the flow of the film. The camera work is brilliant and there are many classic shots in the film, which matches up to the international standards. Editing is brilliant in the first half, but second half needed a little bit of trimming.

CityLights Movie Still

Music & Direction:

Music works as the soul of the film. Jeet Ganguly's brilliant songs works as an additional screenplay in the film. 'Muskurane', 'Ek Charraiya', 'Darbadar' and 'Sone Do' will haunt you for a long time. The basic tune itself, leaves a deep impact in every scene. Background music by Raju Singh does full justice to the feel of the film.

It is great to see this creative side of director Hansal Mehta after watching many of his dud films. The film maker found its true space in our Hindi cinema with 'Shahid' and claims to stay there for a longer time by making a heart touching film like 'CityLights'. He narrates the film with such simplicity yet giving every scene a deep meaning. However, he should have added more detailing to the film related to the Mumbai city as the hard hitting factor like in films such as 'Satya' or 'Chandni Bar' is missing. In addition, the climax could have been much better than what it was shown in the film.

Performances:

Rajkummar Rao gives another astonishing performance. He expresses every scene with his eyes and body language. You can see the immense pain in his eyes and facial expressions. He outshines his contemporary actors by a higher margin. Patralekha is sweet and simple. Her innocent look works in the favour of the film. Both actors complement each other in every scene. Manav Kaul is brilliant in the film and comes up as a surprise package in the film.

CityLights Movie Wallpaper

So bol meri 'Filmi Khopdi' iss film mein kitna hain Dum?

Dum? Well, there is a massive dum for all those who love realistic heart touching films. Right from its direction, performances, dialogues, music and production level, 'CityLights' scores high in every field. The movie might not appeal to the masala film loving audience as this one is dark, gritty and disturbing. In short, 'CityLights' is a human tale set in inhumane times.

Rating: 4/5

Kochadaiiyaan Movie Review : 'Extended HD Graphic Game Intro'

Expectations:

Remember those 'Supremo' comics, which portrayed Superstar Amitabh Bachchan as a super -hero saving the world. These comics projected Amitabh Bachchan more dashing and powerful, which excited his fans all over the world. The reason to immortalized any super star is to show them doing the impossible and extend their star image to another higher level. The same thought process must have inspired Soundarya Rajinikanth to immortalize her father Rajinikanth in India's first motion capture photo-realistic 3D animated film - 'Kochadaiiyaan'. This technology is very popular and now quite common in Hollywood with films like 'Polar Express', 'Avatar', 'Bewulf' and many more. But to make such film, a producer needs huge financial support along with the help of great technicians and a path-breaking vision. So let's find out, whether Soundarya Rajinikanth may manage to do justice to the debuting genre or might end up giving us those films which has great ideas but when it comes to execution, fails miserably.

Kochadaiiyaan Review

Story:

'Kochadaiiyaan' is a story of great warrior Rana (Rajinikanth) who returns back to his kingdom after defeating his enemies. The king (Nassar) along with his son (R. Sarathkumar) & daughter Vadhana (Deepika Padukone) welcome this great warrior in their kingdom and appoint him as commander in chief. But Rana has something else to acquire in this kingdom which is related to his powerful father Kochadaiiyaan (Rajinikanth). What happens next is what the entire film is all about.

Screenplay & Technicalities:

The story is interesting but quite stale and has been shown in many of the earlier Hindi films. The screenplay is lethargic and follows its path at a snail pace. There are few good fight scenes which will keep you glued to the silver screen. But the weak and lengthy screenplay gets you detached from the film. The whole excitement in the film keeps going down mainly due to the weak special effects and unwanted songs. The makers have done a good amount of hard work and it does reflect on the close up shots of Rajinikanth, Nasser and Nagesh. Besides that, the whole effort seemed juvenile and amateur. Nevertheless, the background graphics were terrible and unreal, due to which the whole connect with the film is missing.

Kochadaiiyaan Movie Review

Music & Direction:

A.R Rahman has composed the music of 'Kochadaiiyaan' and one can add it among the list of his weaker films. There are so many unwanted songs in the film, which dilutes the flow of the film. Not even a single song in the movie has the magic of Rahman attached to it. Background music is good and goes well with the flow of the film.

Soundarya Rajinikanth dares to venture into an unexplored genre with the help of limited resources. The hard work does reflect in some scenes, but on overall basis it's a huge disappointment. The movie will remind you of all those 2D-3D animated series or movies we had seen on Cartoon Network, which forced us to change the channel, instantly.

Performances:

Rajinikanth fans will be extremely happy to see him in three different avatars. Both Rana and Kochadaiiyaan appearances look fantastic. Deepika Padukone looked plump and different. Jackie Shroff, Nassar, R. Sarathkumar, Nagesh and Aadhi looked great in their cinematic avatar. Shobhana, Rukmini and others lend good support. Amitabh Bachchan's vocal intro in the beginning adds the grandeur to the film.

Kochadaiiyaan Wallpaper

So bol meri 'Filmi Khopdi' iss film mein kitna hain Dum?

Dum? Well, there might be some dum stored in for you if you are a die-hard Rajinikanth fan or want to see the level of our filmmakers trying to create the new genre. For all others who are expecting a film which can come at par with international films like 'Avatar' or 'Bewulf', well 'Kochadaiiyaan' might disappoint you as it ends up being extended HD graphic game introduction on a big screen.

Ratings : 2/5

The Front Row Review of X-Men: Days of Future Past

Two time zones, geographical jumps, two generations of mutants and half a dozen leads - basically enough material to drown a director. But Bryan Singer, who launched the X-Men franchise 14 years ago, returns with a bang - X-Men: Days of Future Past is ambitious, big screen entertainment with wit, depth and verve. There are so many mutants in this film that an A-list actor like Halle Berry is relegated to the sidelines. But at centerstage are the three most compelling figures - Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, Professor Charles Xavier, older and younger versions played by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy and of course the unpredictable, twisted Magneto, older and younger versions played by Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender.

In a complex plot that mines historical events, Wolverine is sent back to the 1970s to prevent the creation of a government army of killer robots that eventually wipe out mutants and their supporters. So he must convince a disillusioned Charles to lead the charge again, break Magneto out of a Pentagon prison and with the help of both, prevent Mystique, played by a beautifully blue Jennifer Lawrence, from putting into motion the dastardly events that lead to a deathly future. Singer keeps these various narrative threads moving at a brisk pace. There's a brilliantly staged sequence, in which a silver-haired mutant named Quicksilver helps to break Magneto out of prison and we see how slowly time moves from Quicksilver's point of view. It's also a great pleasure to see the younger Charles and Magneto spar with each other. There's a face-off between Charles young and old, in which Stewart and McAvoy go nose to nose. Not to mention, the fabulous Peter Dinklage as the mutant-hating villain Dr. Trask who puts the sentinels into motion.Thankfully Singer keeps the mayhem and climactic digital destruction in check and inserts enough emotional resonance to keep us invested.

Does it all make sense? I'm not entirely sure but I'm happy to sacrifice narrative coherence for pure adrenalin. Besides, it's such a pleasure to see so many terrific actors working off each other. I'm going with three and a half stars.

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