Monday, May 30, 2016

School Bus review: "Wont hurt to take a ride on this bus!!!"

Apart from the Champions League & IPL finals, this weekend also saw the release of Rosshan Andrews's "School Bus" which had an inconspicuous build up towards its judgement day. While Real Madrid had me grinning from ear to ear, RCB's collapse wiped that off my face. But all of this happened after I had checked out the movie on Saturday with the hope that Bobby-Sanjay will yet again manage to arrest the attention of the audience. So did they manage to do that???


Ajoy (Akash Muraleedharan) & Anju (Angelina Rosshan) were from an affluent background as their parents, Joseph (Jayasurya) & Aparna (Aparna Gopinath) had flourishing careers of their own.This invariably meant they didnt get to spent quality time with their children though Aparna tried to keep a tab on their studies. Ajoy's mischievous nature usually got him into trouble in school that he always managed to defuse with his buddies before it reached the ear of their parents. But one of his impish acts spiraled out of control which prompted the school authorities to seek their presence. However, knowing Joseph's authoritarian nature Ajoy tried to tide over the storm on his own but it was a matter of time before his parents knew about it. 

As been the trend in recent times, the script by Bobby-Sanjay is said to be inspired from a real life incident. Rosshan Andrew's collaboration with the duo has produced praise worthy movies in the past & the manner in which this film unfolded did evoke similar reactions. The first half had the charm of a kid's movie which gradually get transformed into a thriller genre. But in the second half as the story moved into the forest terrain, except for the occasional thrills I kinda felt it hit a road block as nothing much happened beyond that. It definitely as a good message for the parents and will surely work with the family audience. Muraleedharan's credentials as a cinematographer needs no introduction & his visuals in the forest was apt testament for that. The BGM by Gopi Sunder deserves praise while Vivek Harshan's editing was smooth.

Inspite of names like Jayasurya & Chackochan, the movie well & truly belonged to the two kids who as their name suggests was the son and daughter of Muraleedharan & Rosshan respectively. Both Akash & Angelina have done their parts well, though I felt the latter had a more natural flair for the camera. As usual, Jayasurya did utmost justice to his role while Chackochan was fine along with Aparna. The rest of the cast also did their jobs adequately.

Verdict: The credibility of the makers will ensure a sizable number of footfalls in the theatres & to add to that, it will surely appeal to the family audience. However, the script isnt as taut as we would expect from Bobby-Sanjay which is quite evident in the latter half. In a nutshell, it falls short of expectations but still worth giving a try!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Aadupuliyattam: "Inconsistencies makes it only as entertaining as a rat's attam!!!"

The last couple of days has been quite hectic due to which I haven't been able to write the review for Jayaram's latest release "Aadupuliyattam". In the 90s, the veteran was one of the most bankable actors that the industry had but since then his choice of movies has left a lot to be desired as hits became far & few. His last release was "Thinkal Muthu Velli Vare", close to a year back which incidentally was directed by Kannan Thamarakulam who has also helmed "Aadupuliyattam". Frankly speaking, I had watched it since I had some time to spare & thanks to his previous duds, I barely had any expectations. So did the movie have the content to satiate the audience???


Satyajit (Jayaram) is a wealthy business who led a contented life with his family until scary hallucinations deprives his peace of mind. His search for answers to his misery eventually leads him to a sage (Om Puri) who reveals that the cause of all this was the palace that he had acquired which had an ancient myth connected to it. But why were the spirits after Satyajit & what can be done to pacify the evil forces at work???

There isnt much hymns to be sung in praise of Kannan Thamarakulam as his debut venture was the perfect example of mediocrity. On the brighter side, things cant go any worser than that which proved to be true in his latest venture. Dinesh Pallath has penned the script that did seem to have a decent thread but it was haphazardly presented with flashbacks & inconsistencies in the plot as well as in the character detailing of the protagonist. The comedy track which was squeezed into the script was horrible to put it mildly. Kannan's execution of the mediocre script also didnt hide the creases as over dramatic scenes, predictability & infantile dialogues ruled the roost though there were a couple of genuine well shot sequences but he failed to maintain that quality. Jithu Damodar's visuals were average, Sandeep Nandakumar's editing was pedestrian while Ratheesh Vega's music was just about passable, However, Prasanna Master's choreography for Ramya Krishna deserves a cheer.

One of the oft spoken thing about the movie prior to its release was the salt & pepper look of Jayaram which did suit him though it barely mattered. Actually growing that beard might have been the only challenge that Jayaram had as the role barely tested his caliber. Ramya Krishnan was an apt choice as Mathangi but she was a misfit in the romantic scenes while it didnt make sense as to why such a renowned actor like Om Puri would choose to be part of this project. Both the kids, Akshara & Angelina were impressive & gave a convincing performance. As for the rest, Sheelu Abraham as usual gets screen space without any significance while it be best that nothing is said about the comedians.

Verdict: Just a couple of days into its release & already the theatres are having a deserted look which speaks volumes as to what the audience think about the movie. It might have been packaged as a horror comedy but the director failed to do justice to both the genres. In short, dont bother!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kammattipaadam review: "Gritty saga that slowly grows on the audience!!!"

Ever since the Malayalam film industry came into existence it has always been blessed with a pool of talent which has made the others look at it with awe. Among the plethora of talent, one prominent name is the reputed cinematographer & director, Rajeev Ravi. Known for his realistic portrayal of life on celluloid, Rajeev is back with his latest venture "Kammattipaadam". In addition to being touted as one of the most eagerly awaited movie of the year, the promos has whetted the appetite of the audience even further. But will it be palatable to the majority???


The film unfolds with a visibly injured Krishnan (Dulquer Salman) boarding a bus & narrates as to how fate has brought him to this situation. Though he was presently based in Mumbai as an employee of a private security agency, he actually hailed from a slum called Kammattipaadam with a past that he wanted to be aloof of. However, like a bolt from out of the blue he receives a call from his bestie Ganga (Vinayakan) which entices him to make a journey back to the land that he never expected to return. So will Krishnan's past come to haunt him in his search for Ganga after all he shared a history of crime with his buddy???

Rajeev Ravi prowess as a cinematographer teems with accolades but in recent years he has turned his attention to direction where he has excelled as well be it "Annayum Rasoolum" or "Njan Steve Lopez". As in his previous ventures, "Kammattipaadum" shows the stark reality of life that thrives in the under belly of Cochin. The script by P Balachandran gives insight as to how the lives of individuals gets altered right from childhood where friendship & money is all what matters. It also drives home the fact that no matter however we try to insulate ourselves, the crime committed in the past will always find its way to our present. The attention given to the character detailing is outstanding & equally applaudable was the casting which made the whole experience impactful. However, the pace at which the take unfolds does take toll on a section of audience but rest assured that if you can tide over that it will surely enthrall you. Even the technical department was brilliant, be it Madhu Neelakantan's delightful frames (the stand out being the one along the coast) or the soundtrack by John Varkey & K Vinayakan.


It might have been packaged as a Dulquer movie, but the star of the movie is Vinayakan who was absolutely mesmerising. He virtually lived as the character & the effort that he has taken to perfect the body language and the physical transformation deserves special praise. Frankly speaking, I would be surprised if he doesnt gets a mention in the State Film Awards next year. Equally impressive was Manikandan (as Balan) who is as raw & poignant as it gets. With each movie, Dulquer keeps improving & here too, he has given a stunning performance. But with all due respect to him, I still feel a bit more experienced artist would have excelled the role even further as the character had scope for it. It wouldnt be possibly to name each & every character here (though each one deserves it), as it would make this review even longer; but a special mention of the female artists such as Shaun Romy (as Anitha) & Amalda Liz (as Rosamma) is justified. 

Verdict: The film is bound to have an impressive initial thanks to the expectations that is associated with it. However, the slow pace & the murky feel of the movie will not to be the liking of the family audience. In short, it wont make a killing at the box office, but it is surely one of the best movies to have come out in recent times. So dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, May 16, 2016

Valleem Thetti Pulleem Thetti review: "Making this itself was a big thettu!!!"

It's been a while since I checked out a Malayalam movie on the day of its release & that's when "Valleem Thetti Pulleem Thetti" caught my attention. The primary reason for choosing this was the lead pair as it marked the entry of Shamili as a heroine opposite Chackochan who incidentally had debuted along with her sister, Shalini in "Aniyathipravu"close to two decades back. Apart from this, the promos & songs seem to suggest that it was a laugh riot which seemed to be the ideal recipe for the holiday season. So will Shamili be able to make her debut as memorable as her sister???


As has been the trend in several movies in the recent past, the film unfolds in the 1990s in some obscure village where Vinayan (Chackochan) is the projector operator at the local dilapidated "Sridevi Talkies" which is owned by Madhavan Nair (Renji Panicker). Vinayan & his buddies were always at logger heads with the watchdogs of the landlord, Bhagavan (Suresh Krishna) over trivial issues. It also so happened that Vinayan was in love with Sridevi (Shamili), the daughter of Bhagavan. So will they ever be able to formalise their relation with the blessings of her father???

Rishi Sivakumar is yet another name who makes his directorial debut this year. But his initial effort is surely not going to make him proud as the script which is his own creation is pathetic to say the least. I seriously dont understand what he intended to convey as it seemed he had given a free rein to many of the characters who seemed to be competing with each other to master the art of buffoonery. Hardly anything substantial happens in this 2.5 h ordeal except that we cringe our teeth in despair. If at all there was a positive, then it was in the music & cinematography department. Kunjunni Kumar's frames were vibrant & oozed freshness especially in the picturisation of the songs. Equally impressive was Sooraj Kuruppu's song which was lively & feet taping stuff though the placement of the songs lacked imagination and also not in sync with the overall mood of the movie.

Well there isnt much that the artists can do when the script is so damn mediocre but even then quite a few did their level best to make the movie bearable for the audience. Chackochan has done a decent job & as always impressed with his electrifying dance moves. Manoj K Jayan, Suresh Krishna & Krishna Shankar are some of the few who managed not to be irritating. The biggest disappointment was Shamili who barely had scope to act which proved to be a blessing in disguise as she was appalling to put it mildly but I presume she will get better with time.

Verdict: Thanks to the promos & star cast, the film will surely have a decent initial, but that is all what the producer would ever earn. I am not going to mince my words & paint a hopeful image about the film as it doesnt deserve it. In short, dont bother!!!

Rating: 1.5/5

Regards...Ben


Friday, May 13, 2016

James & Alice review: "Not everyone's cup of tea!!!"

Finally I reached home a couple of days back & at the earliest possible opportunity, I decided to check out the latest Malayalam movie on offer which happened to be Prithviraj's "James & Alice". Since there was no scope for me in the recent past to check out Malayalam movies as soon as it released, I was naturally thrilled to check this one out. The promos & appearance of Prithviraj in a pony tail (which looked odd) was likely to tempt the audience to the theatres. So was it able to satiate my excitement???



James (Prithviraj) is an ad maker who was married to Alice (Vedhika), a banker & the couple was blessed with a daughter, Pinkie (Emine Salman). Both of them had married against the wishes of Alice's father Davis (Saikumar), who as most fathers wanted his daughter's future secured in the hands of an affluent son-in-law. However, as years passed by cracks started to appear in their relationship as James frustrated with the lack of a credible career growth repeatedly fails to provide a helping hand to Alice who is eventually forced to take care of the family on her own. It was a matter of time before their marital discord came before the family court & it was now upto both of them to rekindle the spark in their relationship before it was too late.

After years of experience in the film industry as a reputed cinematographer, Sujith Vasudev decided to try his hand in direction which led to the birth of "James & Alice". It has been scripted by Dr. S Janardhanan & dealt with the theme of discord among couples which is so prevalent in the present society. However, the slow pace of the movie along with the introduction of a divine intervention might not be palatable to everyone.  It seemed more like a zillion times refined version of Lalettan's abysmal venture "Angel John". Inspite of being his directorial debut, Sujith has done a commendable job while the same cannot be said about Samjith whose editing left a lot to be desired. As far as music is concerned, Gopi Sundar impresses with "Mazhaye..." rendered by Karthik & Abhaya being my favourite track. But special mention has to be made about his BGM which I feel is one of his best to date as it undoubtedly elevated the feel of the movie.

James wasn't quite a character that really tested the acting skills of Prithviraj which invariably meant it was a cake walk for the talented artist. The surprise was however Vedhika who stole the show as Alice with a stunning performance to put rest to claims that she was nothing more than a pretty face. Saikumar as expected impresses in a brief role, Parvathy lended ample support while Manju Pillai makes a return to the big screen thanks to her husband & gave a glimpse as to why she ought to be seen more. As for the rest, Emine was apt enough while Sijoy Varghese effectively exuded a divine charm ably assisted by Anoop Menon's dubbing. 

Verdict: Being slow paced coupled with a somber feel for large parts of the movie invariably means that many wont find it to their liking. In all likelihood, it will break even at the most & will hope that lack of releases in this election season might work in its favour. In short, if you are looking for an entertainer forget it or else give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben


Captain America: Civil War review: "Marvel continues to win their war against DC hands down!!!

In recent times, Hollywood seems to have gone overdrive in making movies inspired from Marvel & DC comics with many more in the pipeline over the next few years. In this battle for celluloid supremacy, Marvel has been in the driver's seat for quite some time with blockbusters being a routine phenomenon from their universe. DC's hope to challenge "The Avengers" with "Batman vs Superman" turned out to be a whimsical thought as the latter failed to rise to expectations. Now Marvel is back with "Captain America: Civil War" whose trailer was simply brilliant to say the least. So will Marvel consolidate its numero uno spot even more emphatically???


A year has passed since the Avengers had decimated Ultron in Sokovia but it happened at the cost of extensive collateral damage. This intimidates the world leaders to draft the Sokovia Accords whereby the Avengers will be put under the supervision of the UN. To make matters worse, Captain America's (Chris Evans) mission to thwart Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) from getting his hands on a biological weapon backfires as Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) accidentally destroys a building in the vicinity which kills numerous Wakandan citizens. This incident makes Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr,) believe that they are better off if the accords are ratified, though Captain America (Chris Evans) thinks otherwise. Eventually the rest of the Avengers are forced to take sides & a full blown battle ensues between them. So was it the end of the famed Avengers???

As been the case in the previous Captain America movies, the Russo brothers has helmed this project as well. They have done a fantastic job aided by some inspiring screenplay & hilarious one liners by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. The Russo duo ensured that their vision was aptly depicted onto the screen & also made sure that the entertainment quotient was in ample measure which was where the DC invariably faltered. Inspite of numerous characters, they made sure that everyone had adequate screen space without making it incomprehensible for the audience. On a personal note, I absolutely loved the Spiderman sequence & the final showdown. All the technical aspects were top notch & individually naming them will be a tedious task. This was undoubtedly one of the best ever superhero movie to have graced the screens.

In the performance department, Chris Evans & Robert Downey Jr. hogs majority of the screen space & as always they rocked. The same goes to the rest as well as each one of them made sure they gave their absolute best however brief their roles might have been. 

Verdict: Less than a week into its release has seen it gross more than 3 times its investment & in all likelihood it would breach the billion dollar mark. It's an absolute entertainer be it in terms of the storyline, humour or action. In short, dont miss it at any cost as it's one hell of a joy ride in the theatre!!!

Rating: 4/5

Regards...Ben


Thursday, May 12, 2016

24 review: "Suriya heaves a sigh of relief after a hiatus of 2-4 years!!!"

After a couple of months in the Middle East, it's great to be back on home soil & what better way to celebrate it than in the confines of one of the best theaters in the country. Since I had a halt in Chennai, my buddy Naresh insisted that I watch a movie in Satyam & even booked tickets for me. So first & foremost, I have to thank my bro for that as I did enjoy the experience. But was it just the ambience or did Suriya's "24" enhance the effect???



The film unfolds in 1990 as a reputed scientist, Sethuraman (Suriya) invents a watch which rewrites the concept of time & makes time travel possible. However, his joy was short-lived as his evil twin Atreya was hell bent on claiming the invention for his devious schemes. Though Sethu manages to save his son & prevent Atreya from getting his hands on the watch, it came at the cost of the lives of his wife & himself. Years passes by & the kid grows into a fine young man, Mani oblivious of his father's invention while the paralyzed Atreya wakes up from coma and hoped to reclaim the watch with the intention of reversing his physical condition. So will Mani realize the worth of the invention before it's too late & stop his uncle???

Unlike other directors, I do have to admit I haven't watched much of Vikram Kumar's previous ventures except for Madhavan's psychological horror thriller "13B"which I really enjoyed. In the sci-fi "24" apart from donning the director's hat, Vikram has also penned the script. As a craftsman, he has done an impressive job as the film was well executed though the VFX effects could have been better in some sequences. With regard to the story as such, it doesn't offer anything new due to numerous movies with similar story lines, but that doesn't imply it was tedious for the audience as it provided adequate dosage of comedy & twists. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the music was by AR Rahman as it was pretty average while the BGM was spot on. Tirru deserves praise for his visuals while Prawin Pudi could have been more judicious in the editing.

After numerous failed efforts in the form of "7am arivu". "Maatraan", "Maasu", Suriya's tryst with sci-fi finally bore fruit as this one will surely woo the audience. As always, Suriya was fantastic & inspite of essaying three different characters he made sure each of it was distinct. He absolutely rocked as the antagonist be it with the expressions or body language & it will surely rank as one of his best performances to date. As for the rest of the cast, when it is 3 Suriyas on screen they barely had much scope but still managed to do their parts adequately be it Saranya Ponvannan, Ajay, Nithya Menen or Samantha (as eye candy).

Verdict: As per latest reports, the film is on its way to become a blockbuster & provides Suriya a much needed break from the lean patch he had endured for quite a while. Vikram has already announced a sequel "24 Decoded" which should materialize seeing the response to this movie. With sci-fi being a prominent genre, the theme as such wont appear novel but it has sufficient ingredients to keep us entertained. In short, do check it out for Suriya's performance!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben