Archive for March, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman-vs-Superman-poster

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Release date: March 25, 2016
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was a largely uninteresting, yet informative ‘origins’ story of Superman. It didn’t have any references to the rest of the DC universe and justifiably so; why would you throw in more characters when you already have the entire Kryptonian first family to play with. Again, it wasn’t a very enjoyable film to digest, but you and I, we all gulped it down and washed it with a little smoothie called “the future may be better because Superman and Batman are coming together in the next film”.

Now that the smoothie is the real meal, you can’t pin your hopes on another new smoothie. You just can’t keep fooling yourself anymore.

Dawn of Justice begins with visuals from the traumatic childhood of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and then interlaces them with shots from the climax of Man of Steel, where Superman is still fighting Zod, and god knows for what reason, Wayne is in Metropolis and not in Gotham. He witnesses the destruction caused by the Kryptonians’ battle, and surmises that Superman is far from a savior, a powerful god who will destroy anything that he touches.

The neurotic Lex Luthor believes in the same predilection and becomes obsessed with the downfall of Superman. The known shortcomings of Batman against the brute strength of Superman are accentuated in Wayne’s efforts to bring him down. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to paint the blue-and-red caped-crusader as an enemy of the state. Wayne’s plans are more private, typical of Batman’s vigilantism, except his butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is only too young; atypical to the earlier Alfreds. Perhaps this one was employed much later than the earlier ones.

Will Luthor succeed in fulfilling his agenda? Will Batman defeat Superman? Will the film be (at least) coherent throughout? I won’t answer the first two questions, for obvious reasons. But the answer to the third question, shockingly, is in the negative. Batman has excessive ‘visions’ of the past and the future, then he has these constant dreams/nightmares which often feel completely hacky. Just how Spiderman (sorry for mentioning a Marvel character in a DC film review) has Spidey Sense, where he can use it to feel out the incoming dangers and bad guys, this Superman only has Girlfriend Sense.

By Girlfriend Sense, he reaches wherever his girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is in danger. Be it in a separate country altogether, or in the building nearby. But he requires TV news to get to a place where there’s a fire or any distress. He shows he only has the brawn and no brains when there’s something so horribly off about the entire room in a particular sequence that even a fly on the wall can sense it and he doesn’t. Superman only has a Girlfriend Sense.

Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne may be gunning to put an end to Superman, but as a member of the audience, I wanted something similar too. Superman is never made to look like a hero who deserves any of your love. For that matter, the same goes for Batman. There’s not much of a reason for you to hate him, nor even like him. And in such circumstances, arrives a Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), instantly making you like her. You don’t like her because the story makes you do that, you cheer for her out of being tired of the two bumbling big men. There’s a cool guitar riff by Junkie XL accompanying her entry into the proceedings too.

The initial face-off between S’man and B’man is tepid. Their showdown is entertaining. Their chemistry is ill-founded and so weakly constructed that it’s somewhat laughable. I won’t give away what I’m talking about, but I’ll just call it the Martha angle. Featuring in the amusing parts of the film is Superman’s appearance in the Congressional hearing to debate the validity of his actions. A man in a cape and spandex in court is a sight to behold.

Ben Affleck’s Batman isn’t just a “dark” character, he even has hallucinations. A single film where he isn’t the only guy to root for isn’t the best way to judge him yet. The writing and performance of Lex Luthor’s part is supposed to render him despicable and incomprehensible, at least that’s the expected outcome. The actual fate of Lex Luthor is a pain in the butt. He’s an annoying pest that you just want to go away, not defeated by a superhero.

Man of Steel was an origins story for Dawn of Justice, and the viewers went back to their homes with some hope for the impending payoff. Now, Dawn of Justice is another lackadaisically lusterless origins story for another film. the smoothie here is the entry of Wonder Woman and the promise of a better film when Justice League unites. How long do I have to shell out money for a meal and get shortchanged only for a smoothie? How long do I have to put money into this sequel vending machine to get a film that is actually worth the buck?

My rating: ** (2 out of 5)

Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921)

Kapoor-Sons-Poster

Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921)
Release date: March 18, 2016
Directed by: Shakun Batra
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Rajat Kapoor, Ratna Pathak, Fawad Khan, Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt

In the myriad of films that revolve around familial relationships, drops another flick about dysfunctional dynamics and the chaos that they can bring along. Last year, it was Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Dowhich was all about loving your family, albeit on a heavily fashionable cruise somewhere in Europe; Shakun Batra’s Kapoors are tucked in cozily in their mounded house in Coonoor. The Kapoors share plenty of similarities with other filmy clans, they’re good looking, charming, probably even good at sport! That’s where the similarities seem to end.

The family patriarch is a dirty grandpa (Rishi Kapoor) who practises falling dead at a dining table. He still harbors fantasies of skinny dipping into the ocean with attractive women beside him. An aggravated heart condition puts him in a hospital bed and the news is communicated to his two grandsons, Rahul (Fawad Khan) and Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra), both of whom have relocated to different parts of the world with a common underlying ambition. With prosthetic makeup on, Rishi Kapoor’s Daadu is the center of action and attention, as he expresses few of his “dying wishes”. One of those wishes is to capture all of his family in a happy picture.

There’s pent up tension manifesting in fights and confrontations between every possible pair of characters, be it Sunita (Ratna Pathak Shah) and her husband Harsh (Rajat Kapoor), or just the brothers, or Sunita and either of her sons. As frequent as the throwing of objects and abuses is, equally frequent are the apologies and ironing out of differences. Above all, there’s an overbearing theme of acceptance. Arjun strives to gain the acceptance of his parents as he’s always been the lesser of the two sons. Rahul seeks a nod of approval for settling down with the person that he loves. Suneeta struggles to acknowledge her sons’ decisions and her husband’s indifference.

All of this emotional heavy lifting and drama is eased in after creating a universe where the characters grow on you through hilarious exchanges between the main cast and light fringe characters, and amongst themselves. The humor borders on adult content, surprisingly, yet rarely coming across as too desperate. A lot of this humor is sucked out of the narrative in the post-intermission half. Alia Bhatt’s Tia isn’t always kept as a major player, and as the screenplay goes, it’s refreshing to see the “love interest” angle be sidelined. She’s smart, funny, and never too stuck up. Rahul and Tia’s cool make up for Arjun and Suneeta’s sentimental hotheadedness.

Fawad Khan has a slightly bulging waistline and suddenly I am no longer ashamed about mine. His character is the refined, vanilla good boy and gosh, he’s adeptly well-equipped at that. Shah and Kapoor, work well off each other, with their constant bickering and brief moments of affection. Rishi Kapoor holds it all together with his part-poised-part-boisterous Daadu. He is offensive, and an ardent Mandakini with a big mouth on him.

Unlike earlier filmy families of the past, where you’d be just amazed at the scale of the personal choppers, handbags, car sizes, Shakun Batra’s family drama is a blessing. They don’t even immediately fix the big dent on the rundown car after a minor accident! Nothing is sugarcoated, no silly aashirwaads and a hundred aartis; just some fists thrown at each other, a few smokes shared in dark nights and a healthy dose of realistic issues and a moving depiction of entertaining events.

Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921), as one of the characters mouth in the film, is all about giving an ending to the viewers that we all can’t seem to achieve, but an end that we all want.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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