Sakhavu

What is the movie about? :: Krishna Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a leftist student leader who wishes to make it big at every level. For the same, he has been studying different courses in the college – his aim is to get to the top of party’s student wing, and from there, get to a big position in party’s trade union, and then become MLA or MP. For the same, he is ready to do anything, including getting rid of his best friends who are threat to him. It is his friend in the party Mahesh (Althaf Salim) who provides him support in all his plans without asking for anything in return. One day, he gets a call from the party office to go to the hospital and donate blood for a party member who is in critical condition. He isn’t really interested in the same, and tries to act rude so that he could get out of there as fast as possible. There, he meets Aishwarya (Gayathri Suresh), his old friend from school, working as a nurse at the same hospital, who talks to him about the person who is in the ICU.

So, what happens next? :: There he meets more people including the man’s friends, and also his wife Janaki (Aishwarya Rajesh) and his daughter Nidhi (Aparna Gopinath), and the tale of a much loved comrade is revealed. There is a long past that goes to those days when this comrade, named Krishnan (again Nivin Pauly) had come to Peermade to strengthen the left trade union activities at the place. There were many things that followed, including those incidents which made the man a favourite among the masses, and nothing less than trouble for the exploiters. Krishna Kumar listens to the tale and also to that incident that landed Krishnan at the hospital – there is more to things here than what meets the eye, as he hears about what the comrade has been working on in the last few days. So, how does this tale influence Krishna Kumar, and how does life change for the man who was always after high positions and fame in the party?

The defence of Sakhavu :: There is the strength of ideology behind this movie, and it goes towards taking a righteous stand, especially when a political leader is concerned – on what the left ideals really mean, if they are implemented in the right way. The message is strong, and there is the presence of feel-good elements. The flashback scenes look really nice, and you need to watch this one on the big screen for the same. There is the presence of a lot of humour in the first forty five minutes of the movie, and then things get serious – the strength of the whole thing is tested, but the movie then stands the test, and comes back victorious. It is also the final sequence after the credits start rolling that score big at a time when we feel that the movie ended too soon. The movie can be considered as a nice mixture of things, and without showing no overdose of action sequences, the intensity of the sequences are very well delivered.

The claws of flaw :: There is a rather predictable story in this flick – even though the hero from the past has his heroics to be talked about by others, there is nothing new or special in that tale which follows a pattern which so many tales from the past has followed, with a big estate and firm, along with the workers who suffer because the rich and the affluent just don’t care. The movie could have also been shorter, or could have added some special ingredients to justify its length – maybe a return to the present in the end, and some more sequences to follow with the protagonist’s life could have made things even better, rather than stretching the flashback a little too much with the predictable things. The scope was so much more for this movie, and the divergence that it has taken here is not much, as the attempt is there to balance the class and the mass, never to overdo any of them. The movie could have also used its heroines more, especially in the present.

Performers of the soul :: When you look at Nivin Pauly’s last few movies, Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Action Hero Biju and Premam, they were not just very good movies, but also did great at the box-office; now he is back for more. This is also the best movie with him as a solo hero, and also the best performance from him till date. Here he comes in two roles, and among the two, it is the new-age role that suits the best for him – the other role also demands him to play the elder version of the character, which also leaves a mark. There is the new generation social worker portrayed nicely with all the shortcuts of life which are taken, and there is the maturity of the old generation comrade, who has struggled so hard with everything in life for the party as well as the society. It works at both sides for Nivin Pauly, and this is the kind of performance which will mean a big change and the right kind of deviation in his career. Here, it is Althaf who provides him great support with a nice funny side, making things so much alive.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Nivin Pauly continuing his run as the one actor whose movies keep the standard, there is also a supporting cast which has rather less to do in helping. There are three heroines in this movie, but they get to do rather less in this flick which is highly dependent on Nivin Pauly to perform in two separate roles. Aishwarya Rajesh gets the most to do in the flashback, as the comrade’s wife, and a little bit in the present, and she manages the same fine, even though there seemed to a little bit of urgency about everything; rather more than required. It is good to see her again after Jomonte Suvisheshangal. Gayathri Suresh gets rather too little in this one, even less than what he had to do in Oru Mexican Aparatha and Puthiya Mugham, playing a character that the protagonist knows from school. Then there is Aparna Gopinath who plays the strongest of female leads, and also the most charming one – a good continuation after the magic of Charlie and the message supply in School Bus.

How it finishes :: Sidhartha Siva, the director is known for some of those critically appreciated movies including 101 Chodyangal and Ain, both winning him national awards, along with that inspirational flick which was very much feel-good, Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Sakhavu undoubtedly keeps that high level, and once again, there is no trouble with the quality. Sakhavu is a movie that has almost everything, and it is the movie that you wouldn’t want to miss – it will win this Easter-Vishu season, considering the fact that most people have already watched The Great Father, 1971: Beyond Borders under-performing, and Puthan Panam ended up as one of the worst movies to have released in some time. This should be the season of Sakhavu which succeeds in rising above the expectations; it not just superior to Oru Mexican Aparatha, it is also more responsible, getting to the point in the right way, and leaving the right messages. This is one of the best movies of the year so far. Well, what seems to be a simple family flick, Rakshadhikari Baiju is the next one up at the theatres.

Release date: 15th April 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Sidhartha Siva
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Gayathri Suresh, Sreenivasan, Aishwarya Rajesh, Aparna Gopinath, Althaf Salim, Tony Luke, Musthafa, Sudheesh, Kalabhavan Rahman, Renji Panicker, Prem Kumar, Manianpillai Raju, Aliyar

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Total Recall

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What is Total Recall? :: There is always a powerful tendency for remakes in Hollywood, and 2012 had some of the big remakes or reboots in the form of Dredd, The Amazing Spider-Man, John Carter and this one. This year we have Evil Dead, Carrie and Oldboy, while next year has Robocop and The Crow. There are many others which I have missed and more which I might miss. But one of the movie which I didn’t want to miss last year was Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer movie of the same name, one of my all-time favourites indeed. Then about this 1966 short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick on which the movie is based, I don’t know much. What I know is that the 1990 version of movie was far superior to most of the movies of the age, and great innovative science fiction stuff. The Terminator and Predator are the two famous Schwarzenegger movies and two of the most popular science fiction stories, but Total Recall is in many ways one of its kind. With this remake, where does it’s popularity stand?

The Setting :: The story goes to the end of the century when the Earth is mostly destroyed after a series of battles involving chemical and biological warfare and a possible nuclear attack on each other. What is left fit for supporting life is divided into the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (Australia) connected by a gravity elevator which travels through the Earth forming the only connection between the two as the rest of the world remains not fit for traffic and this is one of the fastest means. Many residents of the Colony who are poor, travels to UFB for jobs, as their status as well as wealth depends on the same. The people of the Colony are forced into submission by the UFB as they are inferior in technology and lacks in money as well as an army. There is a consistent assertion of such control claiming that the Colony is home to terrorists. The colony inhabitants live in bad conditions compared to the superior world of UFB.

What is it about? :: Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a colony worker married to a beautiful young lady Lori (Kate Beckinsale), but he occasionally dreams about another woman, who would later identified in the movie as Melina (Jessica Biel). But the problem is that he doesn’t know that girl and doesn’t even remember seeing her once. But he is plagued by the dreams which seems to be part of an adventure. One day, he and his best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) visits a facility called Rekall which is a virtual entertainment firm which implants artificial memories in the head of willing people for a price. One can choose to be a secret agent, ruler of an area, lover of many sexiest women alive, a super spy, the richest man on the planet, husband to the most beautiful woman ever known, the strongest man in the whole universe and so on. He asks the salesman, Bob McClane (John Cho) for memories of a secret agent, but it is identified that he already has artificial memories – then police comes in and starts hunting him identifying him as a rebel who is enslaved with false memories, and even his wife joins the hunt.

The defence of Total Recall :: Even as most of the people would not like it as there is no justice done to the original, this movie is still a very good watch. This will not be a classic, but it has great action sequences and very good design and CGI. The world is well detailed and when Kate Beckinsale is around one can rarely feel that there will be a shortage of action sequences. This is from the director the Underworld series – the husband of Kate Beckinsale; when they join forces, the husband-wife team comes up with some of the best action movies, even as there might not be good critical opinion. Doesn’t it remind one of Mila Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson with the Resident Evil series and The Three Musketeers? There are new additions to this movie, and some of them do keep us interested. The gravity elevator and the action around it are brilliant, and there are some good, and the stylish new gadgets and a wonderful creation of two worlds on Earth, along with its quick pace that makes it never boring makes this one worthy for defense.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t make the originial sci-fi classic feel any better. There are no memorable dialogues and has less funny side to it. The movie is also often predictable, and the change of location from Mars to the Colony might not impress a few. Its characters also doesn’t create more of a human effect, as they often move on like robots given a mission. The question would arise if this movie was needed, and one can say that if a movie is remade and can’t match the original or falls behind by quite a distance, there is no need to go for a remake. If this was something new, or they had tried a new science fiction story with a similar theme, it would have worked better. But for now, the fans of the original can only like this in a limited manner, even when there is not that many things which are wrong with this one. There have been talks about a possible sequel, and it can do this movie a lot of good if done properly.

Performers of the Soul :: Colin Farrell does a very good role as the protagonist without memory, with memory, with hidden memory and with an extra dose of memory. Does that make him Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not at all, and there comes tragic fall, but we can’t really blame him for that when he has done his part well – blame the comparisons instead. Kate Beckinsale is simply awesome – from being the lovely wife to the killing machine; she might seem to have the Underworld syndrome, but she is beyond comparison in such roles. Even as Mila Jovovich and Sienna Guillory from Resident Evil got enough sequences to object, there is nobody like Kate in an action role. Once again she makes her entrance in a black costume, a bit less tight compared to what Selene had in the Underworld series, and chases our hero and his girl as if her life depended on it – an out of control psychotic beauty indeed! Her desperation is powerful as well as funny at times, and her dialogues and action keeps the pace high. Jessica Biel pales in comparison, but her beautiful and pretty much cute presence is of pure joy, and her emotional sequences score rather than the fights.

How it finishes :: The biggest change in the storyline should be about the divisions being of UFB and Colony rather than of Earth and Mars. But what might have affected this movie more than anything else would be the absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, just like Terminator: Salvation struggled, for it was not a bad movie either. We can do without Mars, but not without the legendary action hero, most of them would say. Even as Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel does better than the characters who did the roles in the original, and Colin Farrell’s performance is strong enough, there is no matching the powerful screen presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But who can step into the shoes of the man? The remake of Conan the Barbarian seemed to give the impression that there is none. I would not consider the flaws mentioned by the critics as big negatives though, and this movie, even as it is not that much of a great remake of the original like Dredd, this has enough inside which could have made people run to the theatres – I know the box-office collection might not seem enough for a movie like this, but the same happened with John Carter and it is just fate.

Release date: 3rd August 2012
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy, Steve Byers

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✠The Vampire Bat.