Battleship

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What is Battleship? :: I have to admit that I had no idea that this was an alien movie mostly based on the sea before I went on to watch it. Yes, I found out that a Hollywood movie has released in the local theatre which would cost me absolutely no travelling charges and just the fifty rupees for the ticket, and wasted no time in looking for the plot synopsis or the reviews. Convert it, and it is not even one Unites States Dollar – too good for a movie with Hollywood effects. Thank God for the cheap tickets even in those multiplexes. Well, let me tell you that this is a confused movie, as it clearly wonders what is is supposed to do and why it is exists. In the meaningless or rather absurd world that it creates, the movie wonders what is it doing. But there is lot of entertainment in store in that world. If people can make Krrish 3 a superhit, why not this one? Always a better science fiction story than Krrish 3 – with better graphics, better story and a lot more. The best thing is that nobody really comes up and gives it a four out of five.

The Setting :: I always loved Battleship as the guessing game that it is. In spite of reminding me of that very old game called Minesweeper which I played while my computer lab hours of Plus Two, it was fun enough and may be one of those few games which I could just win by making some of the most stupid guesses. I didn’t know how to play the other games including Hearts, Solitaire and Backgammon and my only hope was to install Pinball or Allen Border’s Cricket – those were the days of floppy games, the memories keeping me nostalgic. So here comes Battleship as a movie, and I wondered how is it related to the game? May be because the makers were trying too much of a guessing game about the success of this movie, or may be our hero’s guess work has finally paid off and the alien invaders are defeated. There is indeed a lot of strange happenings in the movie, and I would like to guess that the aliens too guessed after having their own guessing game, may be named “Starship” – yes this has aliens and the military, and lots of battleships from both sides.

What is it about? :: Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is an undisciplined U.S. Navy officer who is in love with Samantha Shane (Brookyln Decker) who is the daughter of Admiral Terrance Shane (Liam Neeson) and our hero is just steps away from being discharged from the navy. But sometimes good things come in the form of an invasion and the best things come in the form of an alien invasion, that too concentrating in the ocean, thus giving him that opportunity to be the alien war hero. Well, five alien spacecrafts arrive, thanks to the curious Earthling cats trying to kill themselves with their space programs and their attempts to communicate and travel to the other world. The Navy fleet comes in contact with an alien fleet and gets most of their forces destroyed. With most of the people dead and Alex Hopper being the next person on charge, he has to take on the aliens with whatever crew he has left (which obviously includes Rihanna’s character) while his girlfriend who is with a U.S. Army veteran tries to take on some other aliens in another way.

The defence of Battleship :: It is better than the other two alien movies which turned out to be success at the box-office in the earlier years, Skyline (2010) and Battle: Los Angeles (2011), but this wouldn’t be that much of a box-office success, mostly due to the higher budget and secondly due to it coming later, after Cowboys and Aliens as well as The Darkest Hour, none of them creating that big impression which the alien movies needed. I don’t think that none of these movies are bad though. Well, I would say that this one needs to be watched just for its action sequences, well-designed alien spacecrafts and weaponry, the special effects and the well-designed alien creatures. We could take the virus-logic of the 1996 Will Smith movie which they decided to name Independence Day and most of the audience accepted the movie which one of the worst climaxes that anyone could think about, and so thinking more about this movie is vain, and one has to accept this one for the effort that was put into it and all that has worked.

The claws of flaw :: There is good design, but that mostly leaves the alien ships as transformers of the ocean (but still having their own style), and the movie concentrates rather too much on the navy which is rather an overdose which one could have avoided. They could have had it, but with lesser emphasis on the awesomeness of that navy or rather decreasing the screen-time. Yes, the name of the movie is Battleship, but it doesn’t mean that you have to praise battleships and show them again and again making us feel that it is the hero and the characters are not important at all. You have someone like Taylor Kitsch and someone as awesome as Liam Neeson, but where is the focus? On the battleships of humans and aliens. May be it can have a big basket to keep its collection of cliches. When a movie tries to claim that it is adapted from a game like Battleship, what can you expect? They can’t even copy the cutscenes or dialogues! Why water? Because they want to show battleships a lot!

Performers of the Soul :: Taylor Kitsch is there playing the protagonist (the one which is human), but doesn’t have that good a role which could prove his abilities, and is still good with the character. John Carter was awesome and his performance was great, and another thing that I appreciate about him is that he is ready to do a sequel to the movie which might be highly unlikely due to its previous box-office performance. I am proud of thee and Lynn Collins. He deserves better than this, just like John Carter deserved a lot more. I really don’t know why they had Rihanna in the movie, and it is a question better left unanswered. Brooklyn Decker has her presence, but one has to think that she wasn’t really needed in this movie, and this so much pales in comparison to how she has been in Sports Illustrated. Another question is that how could they waste an actor like Liam Neeson is such an insignificant role? Ra’s al Ghul and Jean Veljean should dislike that, and I am not even going to Oskar Schindler.

How it finishes :: Battleship is more of an excuse to make another alien invasion movie and get some box-office collection from it. People can watch it to stare at Brooklyn Decker, but it also gives us some reasons why the third movie of Transformers was not that good (as if the second was of any good). This movie also has the CGI and special effects which rival that series, and has Brooklyn Decker instead of Megan Fox and the other lady who was there for the looks. Battleship will not be a movie franchise like Transformers, and this might be the last time we see such an alien movie based on the ocean, but this movie can surely provide us with a lot of entertainment as long as one chooses to watch it. This is still a better movie than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon – if you ever come across these movies at the same time on television, watch this one; has more logic, common sense, style and even better characters and story than the mis-adventures from Bay, and not to forget the use of graphics and the right use of special effects on the explosions and stuff.

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Release date: 18th May 2012
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Jesse Plemons, Adam Godley, Gregory D. Gadson, Peter MacNicol, John Tui, Hamish Linklater

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Madras Cafe

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It is not that often that we see spy movies which keep close enough to reality rather than the James Bond model with stylish action and a display of superior skills and strange, unbelievable gadgets. In that case, this movie has successfully resisted its temptation to be another Ek Tha Tiger or Agent Vinod with all the super-stylish espionage with a romance tone always ringing a bell in the background. A few people might find it difficult to keep away from the usual pattern, but not Shoojit Sircar who continues his success of Vicky Donor. This was actually a week which was plagued by the absence of good English or Malayalam movies, and therefore the choice had to be Madras Cafe, but not before suffering from the Malayalam movie Olipporu. What came to my mind when I heard about this title was Kerala Cafe, the 2009 Malayalam movie which was quite a landmark, and such a matching title is nothing less than inspiring enough to watch the movie, not only the positive reviews and the good personal opinions which has been gathered by this movie so far.  Its message is simple – that in the case of each and every war, it is the civilians who suffers the worst on both sides, and it is the terrible loss of human life and property that is the ultimate truth.

The movie is set mainly in India and Sri Lanka, and the action also shifts to the United Kingdom, Singapore and Thailand on occasions. So the movie is a political thriller as well as an espionage action flick with all the eyes on that defining moment in Indian history. It is the story of Vikram Singh (John Abraham), an Indian Army special officer in the backdrop of the Sri Lanka Civil War. He is appointed by the Indian intelligence agency to lead the covert operations in Jaffna just after the Indian intervention there didn’t really work out. He travels to Sri Lanka leaving his wife Ruby Singh (Rashi Khanna) at his abode at Cochin, and comes across Jaya Sahni (Nargis Fakhri), a British journalist of Indian origins. As she is there for humanitarian concers, Vikram is there for the Indian causes, and their paths meet consistently. But their world is still not that apart and their objectives are not that different in the end. The result is not just the uncovering of all the conspiracies which runs behind the scenes, but also finding all those people who work for the other side, and finally discovering a plot to assassinate a former Prime Minister of India.

This is undoubtedly one of the best roles of John Abraham so far. The most significant thing about this role is that our hero is completely out of his comfort zone except for those shooting scenes which comes quite often. He is still there to fit in, as the perfectionist covert operations officer, the loving husband to a lovely wife and a true patriot whom his department deserves rather than the other way around. He is tactically superior to almost everyone around even as his impact is limited due to the huge amount of backstabbing and treachery which is involved among his own people. Still, he is perfectly human and doesn’t come up with the typical John Abraham show as one would expect from the hunk. But this one is a more realistic, and the much need performance from him, a lot above what was expected. He has taken over his role as the leading actor with what was needed just like his role as the producer. There might surely be the people who are to find it difficult to agree to that statement, but it is proven, and John Abraham is back.

Nargis Fakhri’s Jaya Sahni, a British journalist and foreign war correspondant in Jaffna has a significant role in the totality of investigation, but not that much of an imposing screen presence. She looks beautiful, determined and adamant throughout the movie as a character who might have almost worked a miracle on the events. She is the daredevil, the exact opposite of Rashi Khanna’s Ruby Singh – the worried housewife who is troubled by the absence of her husband who disappears in Sri Lanka and is later consistently under threat. She still has a lovely debut though, opposite one of the most stylish actors in Bollywood, and does her part well. Siddharth Basu’s Robin Dutt is an outstanding performance which adds to the rating of the movie by a good margin. The others have also done well making this movie a very good combined effort which is brought together by its working of the plot, the narrative style and the effort of the director.

How often do we get such good political thrillers? The Malayalam movie Left Right Left was one of those political flicks which seemed to make a powerful impact. Well, this one is clearer in its vision, as it takes no sides and passes absolutely no real judgement. Its viewpoint is the same as that of any neutral person watching the movie. To add to it, this time there is the espionage element – it is present at the right dose, and not at all glorified or exaggerated. Nobody is killed in slow motion and no hero takes on a large group and throws bodies in all directions like a freak of nature. There are also no bloody songs or retarded emotional nonsense of dumb romance, as this one keeps its world alive in reality rather than in a romanticized pandemonium. But people might still prefer the wrong movies which makes absolutely no sense and at the same time, has not even that ability to inject nonsense at the right dose. What would happen to the real good movies then? That is a question which can be answered only by the statistics which show more of a world deserving depression.

3 Idiots, Chennai Express, Ek Tha Tiger, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Dabangg 2, Bodyguard, Dabangg, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Don 2 and Ra One are the highest grossing Bollywood movies according to Wikipedia. This clearly leads to the loss of faith in humanity and the need for the end of the world is asserted in a brutal manner. Unless movies like Madras Cafe, Go Goa Gone, Table No. 21 and a few similar ones have some spot in that list, there would no justice served. Well, they can add Malayalam movies like China Town and Maya Mohini to that list of pure nonsense which grossed the highest. Rowdy Rathore, Ready and Agneepath follows in the high-grossing list, and that adds to the need for a quick destruction of the world. The restoration of hope in this generation and the movie-watching people of this world can happen only after having a look at the final collections of Madras Cafe, something which could be fine, but nothing exceptional.

The movie is still slow, and that might be a bad thing for some – but the slow rhythm of the movie still can conquer some other hearts. There was so much of details and information being showered upon the audience and this slower pace might have helped it to blossom – come with the brains this time, for you have watched too many mindless movies which made no sense and scared the world’s best nonstop nonsense. We already had successful slow thrillers in the form of Memories and Mumbai Police, and it is time a slow political thriller takes its place among the best movies of 2013. It took me some time to watch this one only because of the horrible attack of the movie Olipporu and my fears on being not able to understand the political scenario in Hindi. But that went really smooth, and the whole thing was very impressive, ending with Rabindranath Tagore’s lines “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high…Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

Release date: 23rd August 2013
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Shoojit Sircar
Starring: John Abraham, Nargis Fakhri, Rashi Khanna, Siddharth Basu, Ajay Rathnam, Prakash Belawadi, Tinu Menachery, Agnello Dias, Piyush Pandey

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.