Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

Two Movies I Loved

Saturday, August 13th, 2022

I recently watched two movies that I absolutely loved. One of them I have watched four times. I’m planning a re-watch of the other.

Caves and Water: Thirteen Lives

The first one I watched was Thirteen Lives, directed by Ron Howard and starring Viggo Mortensen and Collin Ferrel in the main roles. This one is about the Thai soccer team that was trapped in a flooded cave. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it because I’ve never been much of a Viggo fan and I hate scenes where people are trapped in water. But I knew the movie would have a happy ending, so I decided to watch but was prepared to bail. I read a review of it that suggested it was just okay, and to that reviewer I say: WTF is wrong with you?  He literally missed the entire point of the movie in order to complain about the sound of air tanks scraping against cave walls.

This movie was just wonderful. Mortensen was amazing as was Ferrel and everyone else, to be honest. It hit every note I need these days: a happy ending, experts convincing skeptics that their expertise is real, overcoming life or death obstacles, and, the most important for me in these times, a reminder that people do come together for something more important than themselves. Everyone ends up being a better version of themselves.

As a technical matter, I thought Howard very deftly moved the movie along without getting bogged down in details. We see Rick being doubtful and skeptical about going to Thailand and then bam. In the next scene, the two men arrive at the cave.I loved that the movie spent time showing us the efforts of other people, from Thai locals and nationals to people from all over the world.

Two thumbs up. I’ve watched four times so far because I need that reminder that people can be good and selfless. And the story of how those boys were rescued is just a triumph of our best selves.

Women Who Don’t Need Your Fucking Help Thank you: Prey

I heard others talking about this movie, including a fine gentleman who complained about the main character (a woman) acting like a man and all the men being dufuses and how he didn’t think women could be competent at anything beside what he thinks is girl stuff. So yeah, I was in based on that alone. Besides I like some horror when it’s well done so I decided to watch Prey, a prequel to the Predator movies. I have never seen any of the Predator movies so I can safely represent that it’s not necessary to have seen any of them in order to enjoy this movie.

Trying to avoid spoilers here. Prey is set in early Colonial North America when an alien arrives to prove its mettle against the apex predators of North America. Naru, a young (female) Comanche realizes there is something out there and it’s dangerous. No one listens to her. There are some French trappers who also know there’s something out there. She does have a brother who believes in her. Naru is smart and observant: so so smart. She’s shown perfecting the physical skills she will be using as the movie progresses so she is not a Mary Sue as some a**holes have claimed.

I loved this movie. It’s cinematically beautiful and I loved, loved, loved Naru’s sheer competence and intelligence as she tracks and then encounters the predator in various situations.

Amber Midthunder is Naru and every second she’s on screen is enthralling. This movie may not be for everyone. If you don’t like scary, tense movies with some gore, then definitely not for you. But if you like horror/SciFi this is a near perfect example of the genre with stellar casting and action. Two major thumbs up. I intend to rewatch.

What movies have you recently seen that you loved?



Holiday Movies

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Here at Jewel HQ we have been watching holiday movies as one does at this time of year. Here are the movies we’ve watched so far, and a quick rating. They’re in no particular order. We watched on Netflix.

A California Christmas, City Lights. This is a sequel to A California Christmas. The sequel was as delightful as the original and totally fun. I would watch an entire movie centered on Manny, who has a secondary romance. He lights of the screen in every scene. This movie is set in Petaluma, CA and directed by a local, so we get extra enjoyment out of seeing downtown Petaluma and the ranches/countryside to the west. We also got a kick out of seeing some of downtown Petaluma standing in for San Francisco. They filmed during the summer so you won’t see the breathtaking green hills of winter in Sonoma County. Two thumbs up.

A Castle for Christmas. This stars Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes. She’s an author, he’s a duke. They meet-cute at his castle. This was loads of fun, and it was lovely to see a diverse cast and an older couple. Two thumbs up.

A Cinderella Story, Christmas Wish. One of us hated this so much we bailed. I suspect there’s no actual plot or not enough so they stretched it out with musical montages and bad lip syncing. Personally, I would have watched it all by fast forwarding through the music for the minutes of story. Cinderella stories are my jam. I think it would have taken 20-30 minutes. The male lead is the guy who’s cast as Rand Al’Thor in The Wheel of Time. Half a Thumbs up. I might go speed watch it.

Father Christmas is Back. I was bored out of my mind and bailed. My sister watched the whole thing. I didn’t care about any of the characters and couldn’t get past the stupidity. If someone takes your car (a Rolls!) and makes it the prize in a contest, the solution to getting back your car is not to attempt to win the contest. Hated. It. No thumbs. If you like English-style narratives, you might like this.

Christmas Break In. A riff on Home Alone only with a girl and at a school and a totally undeveloped plot line. This could have been awesome. Danny Glover was in it and he was worth watching. It was childish and dumb, but that’s the whole point. It was mildly amusing and totally predictable. One lazy thumb up.

A Christmas Prince, The Royal Baby. Set somewhere in Europe. At least this time they had a more diverse cast than the previous story set in this mythical country. It was enjoyable enough, and it was unintentionally comic to watch the Queen, who was in end-stage labor, magically able to solve and explain a mystery in between pushing. One and a half thumbs up.

Holidate. This was a strange one. Two gorgeous people decide they will escape holiday questions about their relationship lives by pretending to be a couple on holidays. It starts and ends at Christmas. It was OK. One and a half thumbs up.

Single All the Way. We loved this. It’s cute, adorable, and corny. Roomates to lovers. I wasn’t at all sure for the first 5-10 minutes but then the chemistry kicked in between the two guys, and I was on board. There are lots of Awww moments. Two thumbs up.

Have you watched any holiday movies? Which ones, and which are your favorites?


Movie Review – Roy (The Smoke Got In My Eyes)

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Yesterday on twitter, a fellow Arjun Rampal fan asked why I hadn’t blogged on the subject lately. His tweet reminded me that I have been remiss, and that Rampal’s recent movie, Roy, has been sitting unwatched in my stack of DVDs. Which means it’s been unwatched since before there was any hope of streaming movies here at Jewel Central. I used to have to buy all the Indian films I wanted to watch. Now, though, I can do Prime or Netflix.

It so happens, though, that Roy recently won Best Music at the 61st Filmfare Awards, which I actually knew already because I follow several Bollywood related accounts.

Having just watched the movie, I can represent that the music IS really good.

And so, @arjungrg  (He has the same first name as the actor we admire) herewith my review of Roy.

Roy was directed by Vikramjit Singh and stars Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez.

The trailers I saw for this film were smoking hot scenes of Rampal and Fernandez in a pool and I guess I blanked out everything else. So, what I thought the movie was about and what it’s actually about? Two different things. Also, keep in mind this paragraph, because I’m going to circle back to it.

Smoke Got in My Eyes

Except for the two minutes while the final credits were rolling, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with such an overt male gaze. There were maybe two minutes out of the three some hours where there were two women on screen at the same time (excluding extras).

Besides Fernandez, the only other woman (Shernaz Patel) who has more than a couple of lines of dialogue, is there for the sole purpose of providing moral support to Rampal’s character. It’s like whoever wrote this film thinks women spring to life only when there’s a man around. Which was kind of ironic because Patel’s role could have been played by a man, so kudos to casting a woman. I guess. She did a great job letting us know Rampal’s character was in emotional pain and that she was there to support him.

Upfront, I’ll just say that plot of this movie was so convoluted it started to feel like the screenwriter was trolling me. There wasn’t enough shirtless Rampal to make up for that. The master of “I AM IN SO MUCH PAIN SHE BROKE MY HEART!!!!” could not rescue a confusing script. Which is a pity because there was so much potential, and twice it broke out and I was all “Oh, whoa, that’s interesting!” and then I think the director was all “WAIT! I have to make this even more confusing. DO NOT FOLLOW THAT THREAD!” Right, because if he did, there would be a movie worth watching.

Smoke? What about the Smoke?

EVERYBODY smoked. And, for this film, that means every man smoked. Whenever someone was smoking there was this tiny little notice “smoking kills” in the lower right corner of the screen. It was there a lot. I now believe all the smoking is the reason the movie opened with two anti-smoking ads. All that smoking was distracting. I think the director must not have trusted his actors to actually act.


Rampal plays Kabir Grewal, a screenwriter (with writer’s block when the love of his life isn’t there) and director who is a playboy. He’s writing/directing the 3rd movie of a trilogy. Singh’s (Roy’s director) conceit is to make us unable to figure out that the subplot is actually the movie that Rampal’s character is writing/directing. In doing so, Singh seems to have forgotten that confusing movies ::cough::Inception::cough:: need a story hook that won’t let you go.

Confusing isn’t enough and the writing forgot to give us a reason to care about Kabir. The fact that I cared even a little speaks to Rampal’s ability to emote. But there was so little script for him to work with.

To be honest, when you forget that Women Are People Too, it’s understandable you might not realize you should give the women in your movie actual acting to do. Fernandez is a beautiful woman and director Singh never lets us forget that. I’m pretty sure she can act, but when your main function is decorative and to reflect the hero of the movie, it’s hard to be sure.


Well, I was surprised by the martial arts scene in the movie within the movie. Totally surprised. There wasn’t actually any martial arts. It was more like Movement, jump to post movement so no one actually had to do any martial arts. American movies take the same dreadful shortcuts, I’m afraid.

Sum up

This wasn’t a total waste of time because Arjun Rampal. If you like movies with women that exist only in the minds of men, this is the movie for you. But it was a waste of some talented actors. My recommendation is to watch only the final credits because those scenes were combustible. Actual acting!! The pre-release trailers I saw were entirely made up of scenes from the final credits and it made it look like the movie was about heartbreak and true love. Nope. It could have been. Loads of Indian films successfully do that. Not this one.


Fifty Shades of Grey: Movie Review

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Today, I went with friends to see Fifty Shades of Grey. I actually enjoyed the movie. To be brutally honest, if not for Jamie Dornan’s terrible performance, this would be an A+ movie.

I’ll be even more brutally honest: all the nuance of the power negotiations that are buried/absent in the books because the author clearly did not understand the subject matter, come front and center in the movie. Johnson was the only one on screen who got that, and she absolutely nailed it. The movie is worth seeing just for that nuanced portrayal of an inexperienced young woman navigating issues of desire and consent. Really, really good.

Jamie Dornan’s contempt for his role was painfully evident everywhere it mattered. In every scene that should have crackled with tension and played off Anastasia Steele navigating those deep waters, Dornan was phoning it in. In every other scene where he should have been smoking up the screen he was meh.

At one point I whispered to one of my companions that I was still Team Jacob. He was that terrible.

They should have cast Alexander Skarsgaard as Christian. He’s smoking hot, and even if he, personally, feels contempt for BDSM (I have no such information, by the way) he’s a good enough actor to have convinced us he wasn’t. Dornan isn’t.


Inspiration – Some of my favorite Bollywood Movies

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

As some of you may know, I am a fan of Bollywood movies. My knowledge and expertise is narrow, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have people who are knowledgeable provide me with recommendations. Including, as it happens, some members of the offshore development teams I work with.

Here’s a list of some of my favorites, with some links to reviews where I’ve done them. You can find more if you click on my Arjun Rampal Fan Page tab.

This link will take you to my movie review posts, most of them are Bollywood movies so just scroll past the American Sniper review.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi — This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love it. You all should watch it. Shah Rukh Kahn.
Om Shanti Om — SRK AND Arjun Rampal
Rajneeti — Arjun with homage to Quentin Tarrantino — so, if violence bothers you, maybe skip, but this is a political film.
The Last Lear — Really really really good movie.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham — a recent recommendation from one of the offshore devs I work with. This is about family.
Band Baaja Baaraat — @alisharai recommended this on twitter. Super cute movie with a super hot kiss scene.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai — SRK, with one of the hottest shoulder touching scenes in the history of ever. Persevere to the 2nd half of the movie.
My Name is Khan — SRK. I bawled like a baby.
EMI — kind of a silly movie but thoroughly redeemed by one of the love stories — probably a must see for Romance authors.


I think I have a problem with this: American Sniper

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

I read the book American Sniper shortly after it came out. I have also read several other memoirs of Navy SEALS. Chris Kyle, the author of American Sniper, as you probably know, retired from active service and was later killed by a mentally disturbed man at a shooting range Kyle owned. Now there’s a movie about the book.

FYI: I have now added a paragraph at the bottom to address yet another controversy about this movie.

The controversy I’ve heard around the movie goes like this: Kyle killed people and talked about it. He was callous and unfeeling, and possibly not a very nice person. I have seen comparisons between success of the movie with things that are unrelated that imply that Americans of the sort who would see American Sniper are terrible people. Example, juxtaposing the movie’s successful opening with people who gave Bill Cosby a standing ovation.

Today, after writing a draft of this post, I went to see the movie because, one, I wanted to see it anyway, and two, since I was so bothered by some of the conversation, not seeing the movie would leave my opinions and thoughts less informed than they should be.

The Review Portion

Clint Eastwood is a very good director. There’s no doubt about it. Great material to work with, and yet I often felt that if I’d not read the book, I couldn’t have followed the movie as well. In fact, several times, I thought, oh, right, that’s [some character] from the book, because those roles were not clear to me. Alas, and probably no surprise, Kyle’s wife was sadly one-dimensional. I don’t mean the actress, I mean the screenplay and the directorial decisions. More than once I whispered “eff you.” Because of course the woman is shown as unable to understand the man she married. So, you know, the eff.

More important, I did not see this movie as a glorification of killing or an endorsement of the war in Iraq; at times quite the opposite. One of the strengths of the movie was showing moments of internal conflict and Kyle’s (as he was shown to us on the screen) refusal to acknowledge that even his brothers-in-arms had times of profound doubt.

Frankly, though I enjoyed the movie, and though it made me as sad as ever about war in general, and Iraq in particular, it’s not Eastwood’s best work. It’s a bit uneven and might have been better served by spending slightly less time on shooting and explosions and more on demonstrating the brotherhood of the soldiers. Thus ends the review portion of this post.

On War And the Warrior Trope

Here’s a fact, there are branches of the military, the SEALs being one, that have achieved a mystical standing. By definition, these men are extraordinary. They embody everything we glorify about warriors. I find it odd not to acknowledge the power of that trope and the reality behind it. Spartans. Athenians. Amazons. Roman Gladiators. Alexander The Great. Picts. Scots. The history of humans includes the history of war and warfare. Setting aside issues of the elision of women and minorities from history and warfare, this is us. As humans. We can recognize and admit the power of the warrior trope without also elevating war to heroic status.

Story vs. Truth

The movie represents Kyle at three removes. Kyle, the person, is gone and unable to speak for himself. His memoir is a writing and all writing is a remove from the person who is the writer. More, when there is a co-writer, there is yet another remove. What’s on the page are the words that convey words spoken, not the actual experience.

Writers are tricky people. They understand how and when to manipulate with words. It behooves us all, when we are reading a text, to remember that fact. It’s even more important when the writer of a memoir isn’t the subject of the memoir. And even so we cannot represent or assume the words on the page are equivalent to Kyle. They are a representation of him. And now we have a movie of the book; a representation of a representation.

The Thing that Bothers Me

It bothers me that there seems to be a conflation of Kyle, the movie, and its viewers that suggests that because Kyle killed people for a living that all the viewers of the movie are ascribed bloodthirsty motivations for seeing the movie. Further, suggesting there is some relation between a SEAL sniper doing his job and the alleged actions of Bill Cosby is offensive. How is a soldier doing what his country pays him to do anything like Cosby?

Whatever you may feel about the role the US is playing in the world, we should not be denigrating the men and women who serve in our military nor should we be making sly or not so sly insinuations about the moral worth of members of the military because we might disagree with US politics or decisions to send our military into war. Kyle, personally, did not set US policy. He did not commit crimes.

It is entirely possible for someone to read and see American Sniper while maintaining an ability to separate the actions and culpability of a White House Administration that put our country at war in Iraq under less than truthful circumstances with the actions of the soldiers who were sent to fight.

Bill Cosby is alleged to have committed several crimes. Assaults against women whom he allegedly drugged so that they could not object or consent. It is offensive to me that anyone would conflate the part-of-the-job actions of a member of the US military with actions that are a crime and suggest that viewers of the movie must also support Cosby.

Further, I have read American Sniper and seen the movie. I have not become a bloodthirsty, jackbooted conservative. Nor would I have given Bill Cosby a standing ovation. But then, I would also never have gone to see Cosby, knowing the allegations against him. I can deplore that the US went to war in Iraq at the same time that I support the women and men who are sent to fight on our behalves.

Idiots are Not an Excuse

Just now I saw tweets about the movie in which someone screen-capped several tweets in which people who saw the movie said they now hated Iraqis and want to kill “them” where “them” was a racial epithet. That tweet said with full ironic sarcasm: “It’s just a movie.”

Kyle was killed by an American, after his service was over. Not an Iraqi. Should the movie not have been made because there are idiots out there incapable of seeing the tragic irony of that? What should we do, give a test before the movie and refuse to admit people who we feel lack critical thinking abilities?

It is equally possible to see this movie and think, as I did, no wonder they hate us. Yes. That’s right. It’s not just a movie. The problem isn’t the movie. The problem lies in the hearts of minds of the people who see the movie.


Movie Review: Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

One Girl. Three Guys. Too Much Plaid

This is Rampal’s second movie, but the one that actually showed first, so this one also introduces Arjun Rampal.

How to summarize the plot. Well. It’s so crazy ass it almost works. Isha (Kirta Reddy) wins a scholarship to study cardiology in Glasgow. The sponsor of the scholarship, Yash (Sunil Shetty) falls for her the instant he sees her. Later, she meets this other guy, Taj (Aftab Shivdasani) who doesn’t seem to love her but I guess really does. There’s also Gaurav (Arjun Rampal) who also falls in love with her.

Yash is dirty stinking rich, and Taj is the son of a man who is stinking rich. Gaurav is poor.

The movie is about who she ends up with, with a very strong theme of why girls should pick their own damn husbands.

And The Object of Doom is . . . .

The Object of Doom (OOD) is the cursed item in a Rampal movie that when you see it you go WTF?? Wardrobe gives the OOD to Rampal because he’s the only man alive who could survive the curse. In other movies it’s been a hat, a white belt and a blue suit.

At first I thought the OOD was the shirt Rampal is wearing for his first dance scene because, wow, it’s just not a great shirt. But he has such a charming smile, I wasn’t sure. If the shirt, which I think was a Hawaiian shirt, had only been a little uglier Rampal would have been utterly adorable. Instead, he’s just insanely cute. That’s the secret power of Hawaiian shirts, as every American knows. However, it turns out that in this film, the OOD is plaid and it was NOT given to Rampal. The result is tragic. Someone in wardrobe effed up badly.

Let me try to explain. Taj and his family live in Scotland. His father is is Lord Bharadwaj and they live in a castle. I was down with that. I figured he was a life Peer, or just newly ennobled. For my historical fans, Lord Bharadwaj is variously addressed (in English, so it’s not a subtitle translation problem) as: Lord. Lordship. The Lord, and other inaccurate stuff but, interestingly, never Laird. Because he’s a Scottish lord, Lord B wears plaid. A different pattern of plaid every day. (Scottish plaids, as you know, are clan specific.) He wears, plaid jackets, entire plaid suits, scarves and plaid pants. OMG.

I have NEVER seen such a horrific abuse of plaid in my life. And, when we first meet Lord B, he’s wearing red plaid and shooting skeet and right there on the lawn is a white guy with long blond hair (possibly an actual Scot) in the old style plaid where ALL you’re wearing is the plaid cloth wound around the torso etc, only his is blue plaid. Also blue-plaid man is sitting on a white horse. Bareback (Not THAT bareback). Because, what Scottish Lord DOESN’T have a Scottish guy on a white horse on his front lawn?

Also, at one point, just as an aside, I recognized the interior of the castle, because I have been there, and it was Stirling Castle. (The residence of the Dukes of Argyll) So, Lord B, who is a Scot (I presume) but who is also Indian, has apparently left the decor of his house intact from the previous owner, so all the portraits in the background of any interior castle shot (there are lots) are white men in powdered wigs and frock coats.
Some of the outside castle shots were NOT Stirling Castle. It was a castle-melange.

The Medical Student does no studenting

Anyway, you figure Isha is wicked smart, seeing as how she’s studying heart disease and angioplasty and won this scholarship. But she’s never actually in a hospital, only in classrooms with chalk pictures of a heart with the label “AORTA” next to it. So here she is at the University of Glasgow studying heart anatomy and then everyone goes to Switzerland to party.

The REAL Plot

Yosh (filthy stinking rich guy), having falling in love at first sight, calls Isha’s folks and arranges a marriage. Isha, however, has other ideas about marrying a stranger, because, what about HER life? She lets him down easy but Yosh does not take it well. He hires Rampal to do something or other, I was never really clear on what, that is to result in Isha agreeing to marry Yosh. The payout is 1.45 million pounds. Meanwhile, Isha is studying hearts, staying with Lord B, and Taj (Lord B’s son) is all, hey, we’re friends, that’s all!

Before this, Rampal is a model who never shows up for any of his bookings, to the despair of his agent (a woman) who is in love with him. Rampal quits modeling and goes to Scotland to make a cool million and almost-a-half. His agent follows, continuing to make bookings for which Rampal does not show up. So, of course, Taj steps in and is a HUGE success.

Let me share this, because, well, lookit:

So, anyway, Rampal puts his evil plan into play, and he and Isha fall in love in the Alps. Yosh gets wind of this and is plenty mad so he goes to Scotland to get revenge and smoke cigars. Only, Rampal’s evil plan plays out, and it works. Next thing you know, Isha and Yosh are an item. The plan actually IS evil and for a while I was not very much in charity with Rampal’s character. Rampal, who is not entirely happy with the outcome, takes his check to the bank where Taj just happens to be the boss, and the evil plan is uncovered.

Taj is suddenly madly in love with Isha and so Lord B calls her folks and arranges a marriage. I think Isha at this point has two prospective husbands. Then wild shit happens and Isha tells Lord B and her folks to please pick who she should marry because they know what’s best for her. They pick Taj. Then she sees Rampal give Yosh back his money. Lord B accuses Rampal of blackmailing Isha– which is actually the one evil thing he didn’t do –and then everyone agrees she should marry Rampal (because, yeah!) Arjun Rampal!

Yosh decides to marry an annoyingily perky friend of Isha’s and Taj decides to marry Rampal’s agent. The End.

Reasons to watch this movie

The relationships and the way they develop, fall apart and are re-made are really interesting. Rampal’s redemption is … I’m still working on that. But I think he redeemed himself. There’s also a Rampal-only song which is mostly him showing his (real life) modeling chops (see below) and that in itself is worth the whole movie.

There’s also a shower scene and several gratuitous scenes of a shirtless Rampal. (Thank you!) Also, Scotland, Switzerland, the Alps and Stirling Castle. The first song is catchy with interesting choreography. There’s a sort of disturbing song with Yosh and a sort of pretend-Isha, but his clothes in this song are totally a reason to watch. Gorgeous. Some of the other song and dances were, alas, poorly choreographed and, well, one of the women had 1) the ugliest shoes ever and 2) no ability to dance in the way she was asked to dance. Rampal has very good control of his body so he’s fun to watch move. Also, he totally rocks the heat.

In the last third of this movie, it’s as if Rampal went and got acting lessons. He’s all angsty and heartbroken, and he totally steals the movie. I swear, you think he’s going to come right through the screen and grab you by the shirt, stare into your eyes and cry out, “My God, the PAIN! I LOVE her!!!! And I can’t have her.” If I knew more about movies and acting, I might be able to say why that is.

Reasons NOT to watch this Movie

In this movie, Rampal is mostly pretty good. The scenes where he had a lot of dialogue didn’t go so well for him because, well, he wasn’t playing off the others. Some bad dancing not by Rampal. Bizarre plot twists.

The take away

A qualified win. But it’s interesting.


Movie Review: RA.One

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

I didn’t think I’d be able to see the Bollywood SciFi/Adventure movie RA.One until it was out on DVD, but it was showing in a town about a hour away so my sister and I went. W00t!

The movie stars Shahrukh Kahn, Karina Kapoor and Arjun Rampal and would be a win even if those three were all the movie had going for it. But it’s not. This movie was loads of fun.

As most of you know I am a major action movie fan and this movie had tons of action. Shahrukh plays Shekhar, a video game programmer who wants to impress his young son, Prateek, who does not have much use for heroes. What he wants is a game with an unbeatable villain. Thus are RA.One (Rampal) and G.One born: an unbeatable villain (RA.One) linked to the hero (G.One) by dohickies that plug in about where their hearts would be. The programming is so so awesome that inside the game, RA.One achieves sentience. G.One, by the way, has been programmed with Shekhar’s personality, love of aphorisms, and a belief in our inherent goodness.

RA.One leaves the world of the video game for the real world and embarks on the search for revenge against Prateek, who has beaten him in the penultimate level of the game. RA.One kills Shekhar who admits to being Prateek in the hope that RA.One will stop going after his son. It is, of course, the ultimate sacrifice. Through a series of events, Prateek realizes that RA.One is alive and after him. He’s able to bring G.One out of the game in the hope of saving everyone’s life. Through much exciting fighting, chasing, more fighting and with a break for some almost romance between G.One and Shekar’s widow (Kapoor) and then a train exploding through a train station, RA.One and G.One face off in a battle to the end. As you might imagine, good wins over evil, but it’s bittersweet. . . until we see that G.One has been brought back. . . (Sequel Bait!)

Special Effects and Action

Total win. The FX did not take the place of the plot and they were also colorful and extremely effective. RA.One’s non-human appearance was scary. This movie is visually fun. Here is my favorite visual of the film:
Oh, come on. What did you think it would be?

Because, the minute Rampal was on the screen? Good Lord. The movie cranks up several notches because Rampal 1) is too gorgeous to believe and 2) totally rocks the villain. The fight choreography was decent to really good. The chase sequences great. There was good wire work. Since the characters in these scenes were superheros/supervillians, there was inhuman and gravity defying running, jumping, leaping and other feats of athleticism. There were homages/tips of the hat to: Terminator, Speed, Iron Man, Superman, Spiderman. This was special effects as they ought to be done: enriching the movie, not taking over it.

My obversations

There were several cameos most of which went right over my head, except once when I could at least tell the person was a Big Deal. I just didn’t know who the Big Deal person was. Which is only my ignorance in play.

There was a lot of humor, some of the wry, some of it just flat out hilarious.

The movie is long, but I’m now used to that. There wasn’t a bunch of backstory, it was just a lot of story being told. The singing and dancing was fun. SRK is at his most appealing in these scenes. The romance between Shekhar and his wife Sophia was touching and quite sexy. The building relationship between G.One and Sophia was also sweet and sexy. SRK was adorable in these scenes. SRK is both powerfully adorable and stand up and cheer for him heroic. I very much appreciated that Sophia was brought into the action scenes. She didn’t just stand around and scream.

Arjun Rampal

My one complaint is that he did not appear in the movie until quite late. His voice, did, though and I stand by my claim that he has one of the sexiest voices around. The RA.One character previous to Rampal’s scenes (as RA.One) has taken on the physical appearance of another man who was quite good, but not Rampal. However, it made sense. Once RA.One took on Rampal’s appearance there were plenty of scenes like these:

Mostly I was in awe. Rampal was a scary MoFo with some wonderful backdrops and other framing shots instead of blood and guts to prove it. Thank you. Also a thank you to wardrobe for losing his shirt. Next time, try to lose SRK’s shirt, too.

The Take Away

Total win. This was a fun movie and Rampal was scary and gorgeous. I’m so glad I got to see this movie in the theater.


Movie Review: I See You

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

I See You clocks in at just barely over 2 hours, so it’s one of the shorter Bolllywood films I’ve seem.

This movie had great production values and a talented cast. I can’t say as much about the script because parts of this story descended into Three Stooges-eque farce. The main story, however, is intensely romantic. I watched this movie with my sister and at the end we both went, ohhhhhhh because it was just so sweet.

Rampal plays Raj Jaiswal, an Indian living in London who stars in a TV talk-show-ish thingee called British Raj. I really enjoyed the humor of the show title because 1) It’s funny and ironic and 2) It’s the only humor that wasn’t slapstick.

The Romance

Raj is a player. He loves women, women love him and he’s loving his single life. His hot date with a co-star is ruined when discovers a strange woman in his apartment. He learns, however, that only he can see and touch her. In fact, she is the spirit of a woman, a physician, who is in a coma. The romance of this movie involves Raj discovering why and how her life is in danger and figuring out how to stop the bad guys from killing her physical body. Without realizing what’s happening to him, Raj falls in love with this spirit. The end is just lovely. Complete and utter win.

The Comedy

Oh, Lord, where to start. Most of the comedy was just . . . dumb and a writing fail. The series of events that grounded (I use that term VERY loosely) the comic events just didn’t make sense. They weren’t remotely based in reality and most effective comedy has at least a kernel of plausibility. It’s like Beavis and Butthead were sitting a room stoned out of their minds making up shit that could happen in this movie they wanted make. It was Benny Hill level humor. Nurses in tight outfits. Doctors who just happen to have private ambulances at their disposal, comatose women stolen out of the hospital and parked in an apartment. Anyway. Fail.

The Takeaway

I’m tempted to watch this movie again, only I’d fast-forward through the stupid parts and only watch the romance, which was just lovely. Especially the ending. Which probably won’t be what you think.


Movie Review: Om Shanti Om

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Shah Rukh Khan

This movie stars Shah Ruhk Khan and Arjun Rampal so it’s a double win, not the least because SRK is ripped in this movie. Also, my copy of the movie came with a poster of SRK that shows off all the hard work he did to get that six pack. ::swoon:: Did I mention to poster is SIGNED? Well, it is.

As with many Bollywood movies, there’s LOADS of backstory here, to the point where there are really two different movies. I’m getting used to this as it is a different take on story. In many cases, I think, the amount of backstory included considerably weakens the main story. Not in this case. This is a movie about reincarnation and the first part of the movie tells the initial love story and its tragic ending. The second half, as you might imagine, is the story of the reincarnated characters and eventual justice.

SRK plays bit-part actor Om Prakash who is hopelessly in love with leading actress, Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone). Om doesn’t have a chance with her, but he loves her madly anyway. It turns out that Shantipriya is secretly married to a producer Mukesh Mehra (Arjun Rampal). Mehra is not a nice man. Not at all. He’s deliciously played by Rampal. During filming of a movie in which Shanti stars and Om (comically overplays) his bit part, Om saves Shanti from dying in a fire and the two begin a charming, lovely friendship. It’s really well done.

Even after Om learns of Shanti’s marriage to Mehra, his love remains steadfast. Mehra arranges for Shanti to die in a fire and it’s an evil, evil, evil plan. Evil. And he succeeds. Om tries to save her and cannot. Indeed, he later dies in the hospital. The night of his death, he is reincarnated as Om Kapoor, the son of a famous Indian actor and, as the second half of the movie begins, he is 30 years old and a famous actor in his own right. He has a well known fear of fire.

It’s been 30 years since Shanti’s death, but her evil husband, Mehra is still alive and has been successful in Hollywood. He’s back in India and wants to make a movie with Om Kapoor. Om slowly recalls his previous life and how Mehra murdered Shanti. Om is out for revenge. And he gets it.

This movie was really really good. The ending was Hollywood Noir and extremely well done. There’s a surprising twist toward the end that really brings home how evil Mehra is.

The Take Aaway

Total win. Watch it. The title song, Om Shanti Om, is loads of fun. Great singing and dancing. Also as the credits run there’s some fun stuff to watch.