Tag Archives: Disney

Movie Review: Khoobsurat (2014)

Disney_Khoobsurat3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Sonam Kapoor is Disney’s newest princess. The actress plays a perky doctor who stumbles her way into prince’s heart in the live-action romantic-comedy Khoobsurat (“Beautiful“).

Kapoor plays Dr. Milli Chakravaty, a sports physiotherapist on a romantic losing streak. She’s hired by an aristocratic family to help its patriarch regain his strength from a car accident that left him wheelchair-bound for the last decade. Thirty-nine therapists have already failed at the task, so the odds are stacked against Milli.

Further working against Milli is the formality of the Rathore household. The matriarch, Nirmala (Ratna Pathak), demands strict adherence to protocol, something that chafes at Milli, who is casualness personified. Milli also has the habit of endangering priceless antiques while trying to take selfies with them.

It’s not just the rules that put Milli out but also the emotional walls the family members erect between themselves, her, and each other. Nirmala is aloof, as is her son, Vikram (Fawad Khan). The patriarch, Shekhar (Aamir Raza Hussain), isn’t interested in getting better and rebuffs Milli’s attempts to help. The only one who opens up to Milli is Vikram’s 17-year-old sister, Divya, but even she is resigned to living in a home where no one is free to speak his or her mind.

Khoobsurat follows a traditional fairy tale formula. Vibrant, opinionated Milli first wins over the household staff, then Shekhar, before eventually falling in love with Vikram. Kapoor is an excellent choice for Milli. She’s bubbly and funny without becoming an irritant. She’s someone you’d want to hang out with, even if you’d be embarrassed to be seen with someone dressed in Milli’s tacky attire.

Khan suits his role perfectly, too. He maintains a regal distance, but he’s not mean. He’s been training so long for his role as heir to the family fortune that he has trouble separating the role from the man. Khan is funny as Kapoor’s straight man, and his hair is sublime.

Kapoor and Khan make such an attractive couple that it’s a shame we don’t get to see them kiss. When the characters smooch, Kapoor’s hair always blocks their faces. I know: traditional Bollywood conventions + Disney = no kissing. Still, if the characters can say, “Shit,” we should at least get to see them lock lips.

Khoobsurat is appropriately breezy and fun, but there’s not enough substance to warrant a 130-minute runtime. Plenty of scenes could have been shortened, and a sequence in which Milli is kidnapped should have been excised entirely. Nevertheless, Khoobsurat is a good choice if you’re in the mood for something sweet.

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Opening August 9: Chennai Express

Chennai Express opens in theaters on August 9, 2013, to one of the largest international releases in Indian film history. That’s evident locally, as the Shahrukh Khan-Deepika Padukone action comedy plays in seven Chicago area theaters.

Following the trend of many recent Hollywood releases, four area theaters have scheduled Thursday evening showings of Chennai Express: Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, AMC Loews Crestwood 18 in Crestwood, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Chennai Express opens on Friday in three additional theaters: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

Bollywood fans will note that Priyanka Chopra adds her voice to the Disney movie Planes, which also opens Friday.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag carries over for a fifth week at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17. Its total U.S. earnings stand at $1,572,690.

Starting Friday, the Golf Glen 5 carries the Tamil film Thalaivaa and its Telugu version, Anna — Born to Lead.

Movie Review: Arjun: The Warrior Prince (2012)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
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Don’t let the animation fool you: Arjun: The Warrior Prince is not a movie for kids. At least it’s not a movie for young kids, unless your toddler is fond of beheadings.

The title character, Arjun, is one of the heroes of the epic the Mahabharata. As in many of the stories in similarly ancient texts, such as the Bible’s Old Testament, Arjun’s story is full of graphic violence and complex gender issues. The subject matter may not be as universally appropriate as something like Cinderella, but the story certainly is interesting.

The middle child in a family of five brothers, nine-year-old Arjun and his siblings return to their grandfather’s kingdom. The boys grow up alongside their cousins, training to become warriors and, possibly, kings.

Duryodhana, the eldest of Arjun’s cousins and the story’s obvious villain — complete with pointy facial features and an ominous mustache — resents the presence of Arjun and his brothers and the threat they pose to his claim to the throne. When Duryodhana’s plot to murder his cousins fails, the king sends Arjun’s family to a remote palace, easing the tension but effectively dividing the kingdom in two.

A guy named Krishna (Sachin Kedhekar) shows up out of nowhere to teach a now young adult Arjun (Yuddvir Bakolia) how to be a proper warrior. The fact that Krishna is a god is not made explicit in the film and will be lost on viewers unfamiliar with Hindu theology. Arjun’s newly acquired archery skills win him the hand of a princess of a neighboring kingdom, providing his family with the monetary and martial support they need to finally oppose Duryodhana.

Arjun is an interesting hero, in that he is thoughtful and humble. He doesn’t act as though he is aware of his heroic destiny. Arjun is troubled when he sees his older ox of a brother, Bheem (Ashok Bhantia), beat a man to death. (The dead man isn’t shown, but Bheem’s flying fists and the resulting spurts of blood are.) Arjun isn’t sure if he can be a killer.

Not knowing the story ahead of time, I expected introspective Arjun to find a way to solve his problems and save the kingdom without resorting to violence. That was before Arjun stages the most gruesome animated killing spree I’ve ever seen, beheading scores of soldiers and chopping many others in half.

The climactic bloodbath doesn’t even solve the conflict at the heart of the film. Vague epilogue notes state that Arjun fights future battles against Duryodhana, but doesn’t explicitly say, “To be continued.” If Arjun: The Warrior Prince wasn’t intended to spawn a sequel, then it needed a more definitive ending.

The obvious selling point for Arjun is its animation. It’s gorgeous. The depth of detail in the terrain and buildings is astounding, a mark of Walt Disney Picture’s role as co-producer alongside UTV. During a scene in which Arjun’s home is set ablaze, the paint melts and drips from the walls.

Arjun: The Warrior Prince is worth checking out for the sake of the animation alone, but consider switching it off before the hero starts slicing his enemies in two.

*Arjun: The Warrior Prince is available for streaming on Netflix

Links

  • Arjun: The Warrior Prince at Wikipedia
  • Arjun: The Warrior Prince at IMDb

Movie Review: Ek Tha Tiger (2012)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

If you’ve seen one Salman Khan film, you’ve seen them all. Ek Tha Tiger (“There Once Was a Tiger”) is more polished than most of Khan’s films, but it still feels like something I’ve seen a dozen times before.

To put Khan in context for American moviegoers, he’s something like an Indian Steven Seagal. Whether Seagal stars in Hard to Kill, Under Siege, or Above the Law, it’s impossible to think of the characters as having their own individual identities: they are always, unmistakably Steven Seagal. Khan is the same way, playing the same macho action hero in all of his films from at least the last five years.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Khan was hilarious in Dabangg, a film that embraced his typical character and took it to the extreme for great comic effect. But the limitations of the “Khan” character make it hard to be surprised by any of his movies. Ek Tha Tiger is no different, despite having the expertise and lavish budget of a powerful production house like Yash Raj Films.

Khan plays Tiger, a spy employed by RAW, India’s version of the CIA. Using his superhuman wits and strength, Tiger outsmarts the agents of Pakistan’s equivalent spy agency, ISI. Tiger’s devotion to duty means that he has never had time for love, even though all of the women in his neighborhood swoon at the sight of him. He dresses like a dork and has trouble talking to women, in particular a lovely young woman named Zoya (Katrina Kaif).

Zoya is a student at Dublin’s Trinity College and a part-time assistant to an eccentric professor. RAW suspects the professor of unwittingly giving information about India’s missile defense systems to an ISI agent, and Tiger is sent to Dublin to investigate the professor’s contacts. Tiger woos Zoya as part of his mission and accidentally falls in love with her in the process.

The first half of the film feels a lot like last year’s Bodyguard, although Ek Tha Tiger isn’t as cheesy. The second half of the film raises some interesting themes, as Tiger questions whether his duty is worth sacrificing his personal happiness, especially when he suspects that the enmity between RAW and ISI may actually be keeping India and Pakistan from resolving their differences peacefully.

If you’ve never seen a Salman Khan film before, Ek Tha Tiger is a decent introduction. The production values are high, despite some shoddy CGI and an obvious instance of Khan’s face being Photoshopped on to his stunt double’s body during the opening action scene. The locations — Dublin, Istanbul, and Havana — are interesting and beautifully shot. Given American embargoes against travel to Cuba, I found the Havana scenes particularly novel.

While the incidental music in Ek Tha Tiger is sometimes corny, most of the songs in the film are pretty good. The best number, “Mashallah,” plays during the closing credits, so don’t leave the theater early.

The supporting cast is also decent. Kaif’s performance is solid, although her character is responsible for staging the worst play ever, which features a ridiculous bastardization of Pinocchio‘s “I’ve Got No Strings.” Ranvir Shorey is very good as Tiger’s best friend and fellow agent, Gopi.

As always, Salman Khan is Salman Khan. Fans of his films will find Ek Tha Tiger right in their wheelhouse. If, like me, you aren’t completely charmed by his superhuman heroics and occasional topless shots, Ek Tha Tiger is probably best reserved for DVD. It’s not a bad movie. It’s just nothing new.

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Opening April 22: Dum Maaro Dum and Zokkomon

Two new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area the weekend beginning April 22, 2011. The Disney live-action superhero flick Zokkomon gets a limited release, opening on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles.

The other new Bollywood movie opening this weekend is Dum Maaro Dum, a gangster drama set in Goa starring Abhishek Bachchan and Bipasha Basu.

Dum Maaro Dum opens on Friday at four area theaters: AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. The film has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 12 min.

Thank You, having earned $392,194 in the U.S. so far, gets a third week at the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include KO (Tamil), Mr. Perfect (Telugu) and Teen Maar (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5.