Tag Archives: Batman

Movie Review: A Flying Jatt (2016)

AFlyingJatt3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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A Flying Jatt is a throwback to a time when superhero movies could be colorful and silly instead of grimly serious. It’s so much fun.

One nice feature of genre films is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Drawing on classic examples like Christopher Reeve’s Superman films and Michael Keaton’s Batman allows writer-director Remo D’Souza to add specific cultural influences to a formula that is proven to work. For years, filmmakers have tried to create an Indian superhero from scratch, but none has been as successful as D’Souza is here.

Tiger Shroff plays Aman, a martial arts instructor with low self-esteem. He’s lived in the shadow of his heroic, deceased father for so long that he feels no one can see him for who he is. That goes for both his disappointed mother (Amrita Singh) and Kirti (Jacqueline Fernandez), a chipper fellow teacher with whom he’s secretly in love.

Aman’s mom and Kirti aren’t his only problems. The school’s music teacher, Goldie (Sushant Pujari, without the curly hair he sported in ABCD), is trying to woo Kirti. More importantly, an industrialist named Malhotra (Kay Kay Menon, with a perm) wants to tear down the colony where Aman’s family lives, including a sacred tree bearing a Sikh Khanda symbol.

Aman isn’t as religious as his mom, so he’d rather sell their land to Malhotra to avoid a confrontation. Mom’s refusal prompts Aman to visit the tree one rainy night to beg God to protect his mother. There he finds a large Aussie named Raka (Nathan Jones of Mad Max: Fury Road) poised to take down the tree with a chainsaw at Malhotra’s behest.

The two men engage in a fight, during which Raka slams Aman against the tree’s Khanda symbol. Lightning strikes, imbuing Aman with superpowers and launching Raka far away into one of Malhotra’s piles of toxic waste. Raka emerges from the sludge hand-first — a la Jack Nicholson’s Joker — as a monster who feeds on pollution.

In keeping with his character development, Aman doesn’t automatically embrace his superhero status. His brother, Rohit (Gaurav Pandey), is the first to fully understand what has happened to Aman, triggering a funny scene in which Rohit and Mom take turns stabbing a sleeping Aman just so they can watch his wounds heal immediately.

Mom and Rohit enthusiastically select a costume for Aman and study old Superman films for tips on proper flying techniques. However, Aman is still the same timid guy he always was, scared of dogs and too nervous to fly more than a few feet above the ground. Televised reports of his successful hostage rescue are equal parts inspiring and embarrassing.

Ultimately, it’s Rohit that makes the point to both Aman and the audience that real heroes are those who stand up to evil without superpowers to protect them. This is a family-friendly film, so messages about bravery and environmental stewardship are made explicit for the benefit of kids. D’Souza lays the environmentalism on pretty thick, but it fits with the tone of the film.

D’Souza delivers on his vision for A Flying Jatt, turning limitations into strengths. Fight scenes that rely heavily on slow-motion and harnesses emphasize the movie’s retro vibe. A Flying Jatt doesn’t have a big Hollywood budget, but it doesn’t need one.

I was unimpressed by Shroff in his two previous films, but he’s really good in this. His physical gifts are on display again — both in terms of his impressive martial arts skills and abs — but he’s also funny and vulnerable. It took a well-written character to allow Shroff to show his charming side.

Pandey’s endearing performance is essential to the film’s success. Rohit not only guides Aman through his hero’s journey, but he has motivations of his own. Envious of his brother’s abilities, Rohit dons the Flying Jatt costume — only to have their mother mistake him for Aman and break a coconut on his head.

Instead of the sexy characters Fernandez often plays, Kirti is cute, her playful punches among the only things that still hurt Aman after his transformation. Kirti wears glasses, which in a typical movie would require removal via a makeover sequence, so that she could finally realize how pretty she is. In A Flying Jatt, the only time she takes them off is for dance numbers, which is more a practical matter than an aesthetic one. When Aman finally tells Kirti that he thinks she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, she’s still wearing her glasses.

For a movie aimed at a family audience, A Flying Jatt is a little long. The song “Beat Pe Booty” feels more appropriate for the closing credits than the run-up to the climax. Failing to pit Shroff against Pujari in a dance battle is a missed opportunity (but maybe there’s room for it in a sequel?).

D’Souza never disappoints as a choreographer, but he’s become a really good director as well. I loved the dance flick ABCD, and now he’s created a terrific superhero movie. The world needs the kind of fun films that D’Souza makes.

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Movie Review: Prince (2010)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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2008’s Drona aspired to be an original, inspirational Indian superhero movie, but failed to reach its potential. Prince, while derivative of Western superhero movies, succeeds as a fun action flick sure to spawn a sequel.

Prince (Vivek Oberoi) is an anti-hero who makes James Bond look like a slacker. Prince is the world’s greatest thief, capable of pulling off outrageous international heists while avoiding capture. He has an arsenal of high-tech gadgets. He’s unbeatable in a fight. Women love him. And, to top it all off, he can dance.

The morning after a job, Prince wakes up to find a butler he doesn’t recognize tending to a mysterious bullet wound on his arm. He can’t remember anything about his life, not even his own name.

Prince is kidnapped by a secret Indian government agency operating covertly in South Africa. The agency leader, Colonel Khanna (Dalip Tahil), explains that Prince lost his memory while stealing a valuable antique coin. Of course, Prince doesn’t remember where he hid the coin.

His girlfriend and criminal partner, Maya, offers to help him. Prince doesn’t recognize Maya but accepts her help. Things get confusing when two other women show up, also claiming to be Maya.

Everyone Prince meets gives him conflicting information about why the missing coin is so special. Is it a tool to entrap a master criminal named Sarang? A magical artifact? A nano-weapon? The only way for Prince to learn the truth and recover his memory is to find the coin.

Prince works because it is self-aware. Hanging inside Prince’s “batcave” of gadgets and costumes are posters of Batman, Spider-man and Iron Man, American superheroes whose movies obviously inspired Prince.

The film is an improvement on one of producer Kumar Taurani’s previous efforts, Race. While Taurani hasn’t lost his love of preposterous explosions that make vehicles flip in midair, Prince‘s lead characters are more appealing that the jerks in Race.

When writing the inevitable sequels to Prince, there are a few flaws from the original that the filmmakers would be wise not to repeat. First are the disappointingly slow chase scenes. If terrain is too bumpy for jeeps and mopeds to operate at high speeds, shoot the scene in a different location.

Second is the woeful misuse of a shark tank. There is but one use for sharks in movies: eating people. That no one falls in the shark tank during a late scene is unforgivable.

Another underused prop is the villain Sarang’s bionic hand. While it looks like something out of Terminator, is doesn’t do anything apart from giving Sarang’s punches a little extra oomph. He could’ve at least, you know, crushed a guy’s throat with it or something.

Apart from a few missed opportunities for grisly deaths, Prince is a fun action movie that, while not mentally taxing, at least makes sense within the rules it sets for itself. In order to enjoy a 2 hour 15 minute Bollywood action movie, that’s often all that I require.