Archive for the ‘Flashback’ Category

At a time when comic book movies were widely derided (yes, I am looking at you, Batman & Robin), X-Men pretty much came in a whiff of fresh air and pretty much resuscitated the whole comic book movie genre. With an ensemble cast and a storyline that was as serious as pandering to the fan boys, X-Men pretty much restarted the trend of comic books as hot box office properties.

The first movie in a trilogy is often the make or break. It has to set up the character, provide an intro to them, make us interested in the characters, develop a story and take it to its logical conclusion while at the same time, leave enough room for the sequels. X Men starts off with a pitch perfect opening during the Holocaust, in a concentration camp, where we see the first signs of mutant power manifesting in a young Jew Eric Lansherr who can control metal. Shifting to present day, the signs of paranoia about mutants creep in as there are calls for mutant registration as mutants can be dangerous while at the other end, the characters are introduced with their own mutant powers, all part of a mutant school run by Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Also introduced is our feral, mutton chop sideburn sporting Canuck, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), who pretty much carries the movie on his adamantium laced shoulder. The plot pretty much revolves around a plot by Magneto to convert all normal people into mutants and the X-men’s struggle to stop it.


But really what makes the movie stand out are simply the characters. Magneto is no one-note villian. Deeply driven by the persecution he faced as a Jew (for being different), he does not want the mutants to face the same and is willing to cross any line to prevent that from happening. Ian MacKellan is simply awesome. His voice and tenor are absolutely perfect. Haughty, domineering while filled with a sense of righteousness at his action, Ian Mackellan makes Magneto come to life. Patrick Stewart makes a fine Charles X Xavier. With an opposing idealogy to Magneto while believing in the better side of everyone, he carries his role with aplomb. There is a sense of regret when he interacts with Magneto, his once closest friend, on the course he is taking and he does believe that there is a chance that Magneto can be made to see things from his viewpoint. The best dialogs in the movie occur when both of them interact. Its infact a conversation of 2 close friends who still have a great respect for one another while opposing each other.

Hugh Jackman!!! Pretty much the movie and the character that launched a career for him. Playing a gruff mannered bad-ass with a kind heart, he simply steals the movie in whichever scene he appears. With the almost perrfect “Wolverine” hair-do and with nightmares in his past, he does have the terrified look of a man running away from his past, avoiding all attachments & while trying to determine his place in the order of things.

Another aspect of the movie presented perfectly as in the comic is the complicated triangle of Wolverine, Jean Grey & Cyclops. Wolverine & Cyclops right from the first scene do not get along well with one another while there is sufficient chemistry between Jean Gray & Wolverine despite Jean & Cyclops being a pair. While not overplayed, this relationship tangle just simmers.

Balancing a large cast is never easy but Bryan Singer does well, giving every character a moment to shine. The action is slickly executed while the screenplay rarely sags. Dialogs in this movie are neither clunky nor unnatural.

If, one has to really crib, the biggest flaw of the movie is the handling of the Wolverine-Sabretooth relationship. Wolverine & Sabretooth are mortal enemies who have had a go at each other for more than a century and yet neither recognizes each other.

But apart from that, a nice movie to revisit anytime.

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A few days ago while randomly channel hopping, I happened to catch “The Matrix” playing in one of the local cable channels. Despite the fact that I have seen the movie countless times, so much so that I can quote each and every dialogue of the movie, despite the fact that bullet-time mode and super slo-mo have been used indiscriminately in quite a few movies, despite the fact that the sequels were actually bad (but then when are sequels good, a Dark Knight excepted), one can still view the movie with fresh eyes and enjoy it like you are watching it for the first time (though I wager, viewing the movie for the first time, one would have struggled to fully get it)

Exactly, 10 years ago, The Matrix was released. This was among the days when Keanu Reeves still knew how to act and before his I-am-giving-competition-to-wood acting style morphed. It was a thrilling journey literally “into the rabbit hole” following Neo aka Mr. Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) as he senses something is just not right with the world and attempts to discover what exactly is wrong. Neo encountering Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) and understanding the truth that the world he was living in is just a virtual world designed by machines easily increases the shock value for both Neo as well as the audience and we are as flabbergasted as Neo is. While the rest of the story is all about Neo realizing his destiny and what he is meant to be long after everyone (in the movie as well as the viewers) realize, the journey is  fascinating.

The first few scenes of the movie with Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) hovering with her leg poised for her special kick grabbed our attention, while the immediate chase sequence and the ramming of the telephone booth hinted that this movie had lots to reveal.

With plenty of awesomely well written dialogues and one-liners, the movie hardly sags.

“Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony”

“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it”

“Never send a human to do a machine’s job” – Agent Smith (more on him later)

“Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place? Do you think that’s air you’re breathing now?”

“What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this. “[holds up a Duracell battery]

Action in the movie is over the top as befits the fundas introduced in the movie and is pretty much hyper kinetic. Some of the best action sequences are the fights in the building where they have Morpheus hostage, the subway fight and the unforgettable scene of Neo dodging the bullets (the butt of many a parody)

Of course, the biggest draw of movies 2 and 3, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) is introduced here. Entirely contemptuous, haughty and  superciliously sneering, Smith is the other pillar that makes his movie insanely brilliant. With his own deviant and twisted logic, Smith seeks an escape and an empire of his own and the seeds of future conflict with Neo are already sown in this part. Its difficult to imagine anyone else as Smith apart from Hugo Weaving.

While one as sufficiently movie mad as myself manages to watch quite a lot of movies, some movies simply stay in the mind forever and Matrix, with its combo of literary, religious and scientific allegories simply remains unforgettable. or as Cipher says “Buckle up Dorothy, as Kansas is going bye-bye”

PS: Among the irritating moments of the movie include the scenes when Tank says “He is the One”. That is like a cue for all to say this line almost with the same frequency as the Indian team drops catches