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Film Review – Sachin Chatte

Superhero Mashup

Film: Captain America: Civil War, Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Duration: 2 hrs 29 mins, Rating: * * *

“Everyone has got a gimmick now” says one character in this new installment of the Avengers. Not sure if that is a tongue in cheek comment to what the studios are doing by getting multiple superheroes in one film.

After Batman and Superman, it is time for two more superheroes who are on same side yet end up fighting with each other. Captain America: Civil War is not as dull and dreary as the other recent film, one of the prime reason for that is there are other characters to take away the focus from the main protagonists.

The third Captain America film also draws heavily from the Avengers universe particularly the previous films of this shield wielding superhero. That objective cuts both ways – fan boys will love the references (fan boys usually love everything that is why they are called so) but the average viewer might get lost with all those cross references.

Since there is isn’t enough solid material for a two and half hour film, it still somehow manages to sail through because the action keeps shifting from country to another, a la James Bond or Jason Bourne.

At the heart of it, Civil War has an interesting premise, even though it has similarities to Batman vs Superman. The collateral damage that people suffer during the exploits of these superheroes is a good theme. The issue here is that it gets too caught up in it.

The film also introduces Black Panther while Spiderman makes a brief but a highly impactful appearance. In fact most of the laughs occur when Spidey is around and he has a screen time of about fifteen odd minutes which clearly indicates that the film is low on humor.

The opening action scene is set in Lagos where the Avengers take on a bunch of bad guys whose intention is to steal biological weapons – the effort is foiled but it ends up with civilian causalities. Questions are raised about the operations of Avengers, since they are not controlled by the government. An offer is made to them; the group will fall under a United Nations panel that will ratify their activities. In other words, the Avengers cannot act according to their own will.

This splits the group in two – Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is all for signing the accord while Captain America (Chris Evans) thinks they should be independent – War Machine (Don Cheadle), “Black Widow” Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Vision (Paul Bettany) side with Ironman while Sam “The Falcon” (Anthony Mackie) has no hesitation in joining Cap. Later they receive support from Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Antman (Paul Rudd) and Wanda ‘Scarlet Witch’ (Elizabeth Olsen).

The villain who gets both sides to battle against each other is Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who has his own clever calculative agenda.

There are more characters here than you will see at the Friday Mapusa market. As a result, the screen time gets divided but to a large extent the screenplay manages to juggle with satisfactorily. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) who is the subject of the next Avenger film scheduled for a 2018 release also gets a decent introduction. Before that Spiderman will get a reboot (for the nth time I guess) next year with Tom Holland playing the lead role.

In the climax, whenever the good guys fight with each other instead of the villain, the ending is not entirely satisfying because the story doesn’t really get a closure. But then economic compulsions demand that such stories continue forward and never get a closure.


Comedy of Horrors

Film: 1920 London, Cast: Sharman Joshi, Meera Chopra, Vishal Karwal, Directed by: Tinu Suresh Desai, Duration: 2 hrs, Rating: *

“Hume is drusht locket ko Thames nadi mein raat ke theek teen baje visarjit karna hoga,” (we have to immerse this evil locket in the Thames river at sharp 3 a.m. in the night) says the expert on ghouls and spirits, thereby giving you one of the funniest lines delivered on screen this year.

Written by horror specialist Vikram Bhatt and directed by Tinu Suresh Desai, 1920 London is a horror film all right but not the kind of horror I was expecting. The horror was the type of drivel that passes off as cinema in our country.

We have seen some truly terrible horror films from the Bhatt stable but this is the worst among the worse. The only silver lining is the unintentional humour from time to time like the non-vegetarian spirit that possesses a vegetarian man who starts eating raw meat. Meat na mila re man ka.

Shivangi (Meera Chopra) is married to Veer (Vishal Karwal) and they are happily living in London till an evil locket from Rajasthan possesses him. He is admitted in a hospital that has fancy chandeliers in the room but soon his body starts twisting in a way that would make Ramdev Baba proud.

‘Yeh kaala jaadu hain, iska ilaj sui se nahi hoga’ (This is black magic, it can’t be treated with medicine) is proclaimed. A specialist (Sharman Joshi) is summoned all the way from India and the English doctor is suitably impressed with his skills of feeding raw meat to the aatma.

At some point, the scene even shifts to a graveyard amply proving that ghouls have no religion. It is of concern how cinema promotes superstition of the worst of kind instead of scientific temperament. Reciting mantras can ward off evil and solve existing problems – I would love to see evidence of the film makers actually believing in it.


Matter of the Heart

Film: Traffic, Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Divya Dutta, Jimmy Sheirgill, Directed by: Rajesh Pillai, Duration: 1 hr 50 mins, Rating: * * *

Directed by Rajesh Pillai who passed away earlier this year, Traffic is a remake of the Malayalam film made by him in 2011. That film was inspired by a true incident that took place in Chennai. The basic premise is a thrilling one that holds your interest – the heart of brain dead person has to be transported from one hospital to another that are poles apart, within a strict time frame.

The director keeps you glued for most parts but there are some sub plots in the story that are so out of place that you wonder what on earth just happened. We are introduced to the characters one by one before the events unfold – Manoj Bajpayee plays a constable who has just resumed duty after being suspended for taking a bribe, Prosenjit Chatterjee is an actor who is full of himself – his wife (Divya Dutta) and ailing daughter are neglected till the girl reaches a critical state – she needs a new heart.

Kitu Gidwani and Sachin Khedekar play two grieving parents whose son meets with an accident and ends up brain dead. They have to take a tough call – the son is still breathing but the chances of recovery are next to none. His heart though can be used for someone else’s survival. The heart has to be taken from Mumbai to Pune and Jimmy Sheirgill plays the traffic commissioner of the capital city who has to handle the operation. The constable volunteers to drive all the way and he is accompanied by a surgeon (Parambrata Chatterjee).

The subplots, particularly that of the surgeons personal life don’t quite add up and the climax displaying secular unity looks artificial and forced. All the drama that is built up initially loses its zing.

There are some touching moments though, and some of the scenes are elevated thanks to the cast. Khedekar and Gidwani as the parents who have lost a child and Divya Dutta as the hopeful mother are spot on. Manoj Bajpayee adds credibility to an underwritten role.

Even though there are shortcomings Traffic makes the cut because it strikes a chord.

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