Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

July 10, 2015

Yellow again!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:35 pm

July 10, 2015

Cast: Voices of Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, Jon Hamm, Allisson Janney, Geoffrey Rush, Jennifer Saunders

Directors: Kyle Balda & Pierre Coffin

Few sidekicks in animated films have emerged as popular as the Minions. Those pill-shaped, goggle-wearing yellow critters were all the rage in the Despicable Me movies, and now they’ve got their own self-titled stand-alone adventure.

A terrific prologue reveals that the Minions have been around since the dawn of time, eagerly volunteering allegiance to the most despicable masters they could find – dinosaurs, Egyptian pharaohs, Napoleon – but accidentally killing each of them. By the 1960s, the little fellas are bored and without leadership. It’s up to three brave Minions – Kevin, Stuart and Bob – to leave their home in Antarctica and to go out and find an evil master that they can call ‘boss’.

Their search takes them to New York, and then to Orlando where the trio is hired by female super-villain Scarlet Overkill (a one-note Sandra Bullock), who flies them to London to steal the Queen of England’s crown.

The plot’s serviceable at best, never as smart as a Pixar offering, or even a Despicable Me film. But it’s consistently goofy, and coasts along on the strength of its frenetic action and slapstick humor. Directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin recognize that it’s these banana-loving, gibberish-spouting Minions themselves that are the biggest draw of this film, and they mine laughs from their nonsensical singing and childish shenanigans.

It’s impossible not to be giggling at the sheer daftness of these dungaree-sporting heroes, my favorite of whom was Bob, the teddy bear-clutching, rat-befriending Minion. Another highlight was the appearance of a beloved character that shows up in the end for a brief cameo.

Minions has very little to offer by way of inventive story, but 90 minutes go by quickly in the company of these bumbling scene-stealers. I’m going with three out of five. Kids will love every moment of this cheerfully silly outing.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

July 4, 2015

Dharmendra: “You require shrewdness to get ahead in this business. I don’t know that”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 9:37 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Bollywood’s original He-Man Dharmendra – who turns 80 this year – talks about wanting to work with the younger generation of filmmakers, and explains why the Deols are often left behind in Bollywood’s aggressive rat-race.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

July 3, 2015

Vidya Balan, tell us a joke!

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 9:34 pm

In this segment produced by Rajeev Masand, Bollywood star Vidya Balan tells us a joke.

(This segment first aired on CNN-IBN)

Small-time crooks

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:38 pm

July 03, 2015

Cast: Arshad Warsi, Amit Sadh, Aditi Rao Hyadri, Ronit Roy, Shriswara, Amit Sial, Brijendra Kala, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Rajeev Gupta

Director: Subhash Kapoor

Guddu Rangeela opens promisingly. A pair of small-time crooks moonlighting as a pair of small-time entertainers double-cross…no, triple-cross the professional hoodlums who hire their services. It’s a terrific, hilarious opening, and sadly, little that follows lives up to it.

Writer-director Subhash Kapoor borrows elements from Ishqiya and Sholay, then dunks them in a vat of 80s-style revenge drama to give us what can only be described as a schizophrenic film.

But the movie coasts along nicely in its first hour when it’s mostly a rollicking adventure between our protagonists Guddu (Amit Sadh) and Rangeela (Arshad Warsi), who’re petty criminals out of necessity not choice. When they reluctantly agree to kidnap a rich man’s daughter in exchange for a massive payday, it turns out the young lady in question (Aditi Rao Hyadri) isn’t as innocent as she seems. Now the duo teams up with her to take down their common enemy, village bully Billu Pehalwan (a snarling Ronit Roy), who dutifully dispenses the brutal justice pronounced by the local khap panchayat.

The film suffers on account on its wildly inconsistent tone, and its inability to decide what it wants to be – a light-hearted comic caper, a vendetta saga, or social commentary. There are way too many loopholes in the script, and in drawing from a real-life honor killing case, Kapoor only manages to trivialize a serious issue. The women in the film are completely underutilized, particularly the lovely Aditi Rao Hydari, who deserved better.

Of the principals, Amit Sadh has a nice rakish charm, and Warsi, expectedly, is better as the older and wiser of the two. Ronit Roy is appropriately menacing as the chief antagonist, but I’m tired of seeing him do the same shtick in every film. The scene-stealer here is bit-player Rajeev Gupta in the part of not-so-bright constable Gulab Singh, who gets some of the best lines and a clever antakshri scene.

Guddu Rangeela has flashes of the originality we saw in Kapoor’s earlier films Jolly LLB and particularly Phas Gaye Re Obama. But it’s weighed down by a lousy script that squanders all potential. I’m going with two out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Brain Drain

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:35 pm

July 03, 2015

Cast: Arnold Schwarznegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Lee Byung-hun, JK Simmons

Director: Alan Taylor

Terminator Genisys is one part reboot, one part rip-off, and all parts ridiculous. Fashioned as an update to James Cameron’s massively popular sci-fi franchise, this movie somehow manages to both pay homage to the original 1984 film and to destroy our childhood memories of watching it. “I’m old, not obsolete,” Arnold Schwarznegger says repeatedly during the movie. Sadly, this franchise has been reduced to both.

Directed by TV veteran Alan Taylor (who also helmed Thor: The Dark World), Genisys opens with the same premise as the original: In 2027, where much of mankind has been wiped out by sentient computer network Skynet and its cyborg army, resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends his right-hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to keep an assassin Terminator from killing his mother and preventing him from being born.

Anyone who’s seen the first film knows how that turns out. Except that there’s a twist. When Kyle arrives in 1984, both he and we are surprised to find Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) waiting for him with a loyal Terminator (Schwarznegger) whom she affectionately refers to as “Pops”. What’s more, Judgment Day – when Skynet will turn evil through all-powerful operating system Genisys – is not 1997, but 2017.

There’s something comforting about the familiarity of the movie’s first act and the iconic imagery from the original film that’s recreated here. But that quickly goes out of the window. It’s hard to keep up with the shifting timelines and to keep track of who is coming from where. At one point someone says: “Time travel makes my head hurt.” He speaks for all of us.

The action feels repetitive and frankly never as thrilling as in the first two films. The best set-piece, however, is a confrontation between both Schwarzneggers – the Guardian Terminator versus the younger, evil T-800. Visual effects are impressive, but exactly how many times do we need to see cyborgs being shot at, only to regenerate within moments? Nothing is more underwhelming than the performances though. Jai Courtney is dour and charmless in the part of Kyle Reese, and Jason Clarke is spectacularly disappointing as John Connor. It doesn’t help that their parts are poorly fleshed, making it hard for you to care for them. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, playing the new badass version of Sarah Connor, is surprisingly bland.

What does it say about a film when the actor playing a robot is the least wooden of the cast? It’s true; the only person who brings any wit whatsoever to this singularly humorless enterprise is the 67-year-old Schwarznegger, whose presence invokes the earlier films. Too bad he’s saddled with such clunky dialogue that when he finally utters that iconic line: “I’ll be back”, you can’t help responding, “Don’t bother!”

I’m going with two out of five for Terminator Genisys. This fifth chapter in the saga is all sound and fury, with none of the character depth or emotional impact of Cameron’s terrific first two films.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

July 2, 2015

SS Rajamouli & Karan Johar on the potential of Bahubali

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:31 am

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Telugu cinema’s blockbuster director SS Rajamouli talks about his new film Bahubali, and explains why he roped in Bollywood heavyweight Karan Johar to present the film in Hindi-speaking markets.

(This film first aired on CNN-IBN)

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