(this review sans subheads appears on nowrunning dot com)
Sorry boss, if you want to scare the heck out of Indians, then you have to try harder. Much harder. And we don’t need Hollywood telling us weirdness runs in the family. We know. We faced that monster way before Hollywood did. The film manages to hold our hopes because we like scary movie, we like psychological drama, and we like Toni Colette. But as the story unravels, it just becomes blah.
‘Is that your sister?’ A love interest for the brother with a weird mole asks him.
‘Yes.’ He answers
‘She looks retarded.’
And I went, ‘Whaaaaa?’
So she clucks. It is a bit unsettling at first, but remember that chachaji who makes those funny sounds when he’s reading the newspaper or nani who talks to herself sometimes? Well, family can be scarier than a silly girl who clucks. Only once, yes, once does the film make you jump out of your skin when the mom hears her cluck in the car…
I loved, loved, loved the idea of the mother (played brilliantly by Toni Colette) who makes meticulous miniatures. You know there’s something creepy going on when she makes a miniature of a mother she has just buried…
But after that? Blah! It becomes predictable. And the miniature of the car is not really a miniature. So you feel cheated. But everyone in the theatre is watching so intently, you don’t want to mutter rude things at the screen.
Builds Tension. But Kitna Slow! You Begin To Anticipate Events
That’s when you realise that the pace is excuciatingly slow and the filmmaker is taking the usual route to scare the audience. The home is darker inside than the outside, there is a grave desecrated, the dead grandma belonged to a cult, there are no cops in that city or the accidental death would be investigated (and that would give the filmmaker a chance to kill the suspicious policeman… Yes, the film gets that predictable… Sigh). Then there are clues, so many clues about where the story the story is going: strange black magic symbols (du-uh!), strange women befriend heroine, Strange woman turns out to be a ‘medium’, the entire town seems to be deserted except that the school is filled with kids who sort of vanish conveniently from the frame when weird kids are about to experience something wierder.
And this film proves that ghosts always appear behind and over the person’s shoulder. They even crawl upside down on ceilings. And knowing that weird stuff is happenning, characters enter into rooms (or go downstairs) without ever switching on the lights. And of course weird kids will see weird apparitions or visions. And most of them will be pointless. in this film, you don’t know why the dead granny is shown sitting among flames…
The Unwittingly Funny Cult Scene
Seriously, dude! Your mum just killed your dad, and your sister is dead and an even deader granny has been appearing in odd places around the house. You’re barely alive. WHY, WHY, WHY are you walking towards the area which looks strangely lit by hellfire? Run from the place, already! Of course you are going to turn out to be half-blood prince or satan’s twin or something!
This film tries really hard to be dark (literally) and mysterious and scary. But we Indians do rituals (like getting brides maried to trees and goats and what have you) that are scarier…
I left the theater laughing because the cult said, ‘Hail Paimon!’ in the same way as you heard minions say, ‘Hail, Mogambo!’ in Mr. India
The Supers are illegal, and since the Underminer showed up at the end of the original film, the action begins right away! And it goes on and on and on and you laugh and you guffaw at the cleverness (villain name: Screenslaver!) and whoop and smile and nod your head in approval! The gadgets are brill, and All in all, this is a fabulous film and we can’t wait for baby Jack Jack to have more fun in the next movie. And you will vote for Edna Mode to have her own film! I did!
How does a grown up admit to enjoying a movie so much?
I have no excuse. I just cannot be objective here. I felt like a baby discovering fun.
This is what it felt like:
Where is Shirtless Salman? Where? Where?
(For Fulltoo Paisa Vasool, he needs to take that shirt off every twenty minutes!)
If you’ve seen Race movies, then you will know that everyone double crosses everyone else in really tacky disco, hotel settings. Everyone drives really expensive cars that are shown in wild car chases and expensive cars are blown up without impunity. Of course here too, everyone doublecrosses each other, but only Salman Khan (Sikander) knows everything and beats them all. Sikander’s shirtless scene take so long in coming, people were leaving the theatre. We watched, fueled by coffee until the very end where they threaten another pointless sequel.
It’s not a Salman Khan movie if the shirt doesn’t come off!
It happens, but not before you see a topless Bobby Deol. EWWWWWW! Who wants to see that?!
Salman Khan then stands tall on the sand dunes, in his elevator shoes, shirt burning, then shirtless, two hours twenty minutes into the movie. For a fan, that’s too much waiting for seetis! So blah yaar!
And romance? So feeka feeka! Jacquilene Fernandes wears all those sexy clothes but behaves so coy! Who made this rubbishy Race? Where are the steamy hot Bipasha type scenes that made the first film so watchable!
Should not have Facepalmed at ‘Ik baar baby selfish hoke apne liye jiyo naa!’ It was like the film telling you, be selfish, walk out… This film is going to be awful!
Some movies were made for DVDs. You could then happily fast forward the really boring scenes and go directly to the action. Action scenes which mainly involve cars blowing up, and Salman Khan stunts. The best scene in fact involves Salman and a motorbike. That itself deserves a star and a half.
And who wrote this gawdawful dialog, ‘Our business is our business, and none of your business.’? Mouthed by Daisy Shah who looks so wrong in that setting, you keep thinking she’s going to do dandiya and break into the photocopy song! Not that her twin Saquib Saleem is any better. He is made to say, ‘Bro’ so often you wonder if he just turned twelve instead of 25!
Old DoubleCross Story. But they talk in Billions instead of ‘Karod’
I’ve liked Race movies simply because the girls use guns and are ‘bad’ rather happily and remorselessly. They are thankfully not the ‘sati savitri types’. But then their betrayal by seduction was first class Bollywood ishtyle in the earlier movies. Here it is so blah, you think Jacquilene Fernandes was wearing her home clothes (yes, she wears red stripey yoga pants!).
The rest is the same ole tried and tested (and hence terribly tired) double-cross thing. Everyone and their uncle is out to double cross one another. And their betrayal is not even concealed. It’s downright boring. They look like they are rich and talk in billions as if they were talking about spare change. Then they talk about bearer bonds (seriously?! They went out of style in 1988 with Bruce Willis’ Die Hard, the first one when Alan Rickman falls to his death from Nakatome Plaza!)
Bhojpuri in the Middle East. Because, roots!
Anil Kapoor is patriarch. He has one nephew and twins. Salman Khan plays nephew Sikander, and the twins are Daisy Shah and Saquib Salim. They are super rich and super angry and super able to dodge bullets. They bash up at least twenty baddies each and break so much glass you wonder if this is a ‘Race’ to deafen the audience. And the plot to blackmail Indian politicians via an Interpol officer by paying off a silly hotel employee (who has kept a ‘hard drive’ hidden in a locker in Cambodia and is protected by his fingerprint) seems weirdly far-fetched. You wonder, why can’t he pick it up himself? But then how else do we see Saquib Saleem use a light sabre to break open the safe and then steal from the bank that is alarmless!)
Speaking of alarmless banks, I was alarmed and yet relieved that no local bystanders or passing vehicles are either shown or hurt when the cast of Race 3 is blowing up cars and motorbike guys indiscriminately. I am happy to report that there is a disco in Cambodia full of Indians. Please avoid it if planning to visit that country.
Cast hai ki Leftovers of a Race?
Then there’s Yash. Played by Bobby Deol. Whose bright ideas was to cast this creature, you wonder! Where are the the Saif Ali Khans, Akshaye Khanna, the sirens like Bipasha Basu and Katrina Kaif? This cast is like the leftovers of a race rather than the real thing.
This time Race takes us from Al Shifa in the desert (presumably an empty Middle East), Handiya (a district in Allahabad, India), to Beijing to Cambodia and of course many computer generated snow clad mountain scenes that could be Switzerland, lake side scenes for romantic songs.
Also someone tell the filmmakers to dress the cast according to the weather and not just for ‘tashan’ (style!). Poor Anil Kapoor makes an appearance in a velvet coat in scene one, and after that is shown to wear a trench coat. He’s located in the Middle East! There’s sanddunes around, and a blazing Sun overhead.
But you will be distracted by all the mindless disco songs inserted for some reason or the other. And when the lyrics are so terrible: Weekend ki paartiyaan hain, ek main aur ek tu saath mein hain, aur haath mein hai tattoo!’ you end up adding ‘bro’ to every line and hope they all die horribly.
But Where is Our Super Star?
Kaala Kalikaran is the uncrowned king of Dharavi. His intervention keeps the poor people of the shantytown together. He rules with a twirl of his moustache and a smile that lights up his snowy beard. But the builders try hard to empty the ‘dirty’ eyesore. Kaala fights for the rights of the people. Is the fight one-sided when the police and the politicians are on the side of the builders? You’ve seen this all before. Only Rajinikant holds your attention through this tedious movie.
For Nayakan, they recreated Dharavi in Chennai!
This Dharavi is recreated from the 70s.
Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan spoke of a don of Dharavi many decades ago. And it was a brilliant film, critically as well as in popularity. It’s Hindi version Dayavan may have bombed, but its story of Velu Nayakan is memorable even today.
Rajinikant plays Kaala, the man who wears black and rules Dharavi, Mumbai’s largest slum. Hindus and Muslims live together in harmony only because Kaala is able to keep the together. He is ‘black’ literally and figuratively (they speak of his murky past). And you just accept that he has earned the crown.
The film opens with the police and a builder wanting to break down one part of Dharavi. Kaala’s son Lenin and his girl are heading the protest. When the builder’s goons resort to violence, someone informs Kaala, and he shows up to scare those goons away. The son does not like it. Ooh! Smells like Frederico Corleone, no?
Alas, this is no Godfather of Dharavi, neither is this film Nayakan. Rajinikant has its own magic, and the first time he says, ‘I’m here, come at me!’ you are not expecting the cavalry to rescue the assassination, you are expecting the truw Rajini style fights. You want him to pound the bad guys as he did in Baasha (Remember the scene where he ties up the politician who tries to molest his sister? Each time he hit the bad guy, the entire theatre erupted in whoops). You want him finish the never ending steam of bad guys… This film takes us to the brink of those fabulous action set-pieces and stops. It’s super annoying to be left hungry. And you wait and you wait for justice, Rajinikant style. It never comes.
Whose Dharavi is it anyway?
We see the movie go round in circles around schemes to evict Dharavi. It’s as though the filmmakers have not bothered to see what Dharavi is today. It’s a huge commercial hub. It’s a thriving leather industry, there are workshops that make designer clothes, and there are food factories where deep fried stuff is made. Imagine the baddies being fried in oil when the Dharavi residents take it upon themselves to fight back! Imagine the tanning factories where baddies can enter and never come out… The possibility of better action is just waiting to be discovered. But Pa Ranjith’s Dharavi seems to be straight out of the 70s. People gathering to watch small tvs at a tea shop… woah! The leather shops have flat screen TVs today. And they accept VISA. This world that they’re trying to pass off as Dharavi is sham.
Rajinikant’s wife (played by Eswari Rao) is delightful and real. But then the rest of the family is so generic, they could pass off as ‘family’ in any of the South films. Remember how Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) plays with his grandchild before his fatal heart attack? What a memorable scene that is with oranges and tomatoes. In this film, there are so many grandkids, you don’t care about them at all. The scene with Rajini and his grandkids is so forced, you step out and get another coffee.
Alas, when you come back, the narrative has not moved at all. Yes, there’s Nana Patekar who wears all white and wants Kaala (and everyone else) to touch his feet. But you’re bored of the ‘pure and clean’ dialogue. Harry Potter film that talks of Purebloods and Mudbloods is more adult and scary than this, ‘You are Ravan, so you must die,’ dialogue. Boring.
Once upon a time the name Rajinikant was enough to bring crowds to the theater. And the Tamil version of the film is doing well, is what one has heard. But the Hindi version simply lulls you to sleep. Even a rabid fan like me needed four black coffees. Yes, the last scene where the little girl throws black muck was full paisa vasool. Then they throw blue and red and aaaaaaargh! Rajini fans deserve better.
(this review appears on nowrunning.com)
Paint By Numbers Story, But The Dinosaurs
ARE STILL SCARY!
The basic story may be the same: Calamity on island so dinosaurs need to be saved, there are bad guys on another team, and despite all odds, the good guys need to get the job done. This time the toe tapping dinosaur scared me so much, the coffee in my hand went cold…
Chris Pratt is back! Smiling lazily at the girl who left him… He’s not as sassy as he is in Guardians of the Galaxy, but you believe him when he says he will save the dinosaurs…
Bryce Dallas Howard is odd here because her character seems to be boring to the point of being pointless. She has no special talent (except that she is love interest to Chris Pratt) and seems to get in the way rather than help with anything (she cannot even jab a needle into a sedated dinosaur!).
The bad guys are good bad guys, not great bad guys. That’s because they do predictable things. Like capture the dinosaurs and sell them to the highest bidder… But this one bad guy has a kink: he wants dinosaur teeth. To make himself a necklace…
The movie sucks you into the story you have seen before. This time though, it made me cry because Nature does what it does best: destroy.
The action set pieces are awesome. And the head butting dinosaur brings a smile to your face despite the fact that Blue is wandering about the building, angry and hungry to eat people up. The little girl is a terrific actor. She transfers her fears on to the audience quite easily and compellingly. And at one point her secret becomes a crazy spinoff that could shake the world.
What a sad movie it is that promises Jeff Goldblum and gives him just a sad ‘bear witness to the future’ scene?
But when Blue looks at the cage and chooses freedom, you know you can breathe a sigh of relief and the world has to accept it too…
I loved the movie despite the predictability of it all. And am sure you will be scared too if a claw felt touched your hair like the toe tapping dinosaur does…