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I, Me aur Main (2013) review

Posted : 11 years, 2 months ago on 16 March 2013 11:07 (A review of I, Me aur Main (2013))

The idea that a mommy's boy can, notionally, grow up is a deeply attractive one. This uphill task is what John Abraham's very-pleased-with-himself leading man is set up for in the self-explicatory 'I, Me Aur Main'. Given his job description, we know that Ishan Sabharwal will have to move a few notches up the growth scale: making him do it is the job of all the good-looking ladies in the cast.

Said Mister Sabharwal is in a steady relationship but doesn't want to commit. What did you expect? Which is a problem for girlfriend Anushka ( Singh). No surprises there either. Into the widening gap arrives the chirpy Gauri ( Desai), who is up for a chuckle which could, conceivably, turn into a cuddle. So here's the man oscillating between two women, while also keeping affectionate sister Shivani ( Mathur) and mother ( Wahab) busy trying to sort out his messes.

This could have been a slap-up rom com. But the trouble with this good-looking movie is that it is patchily written and performed, and often feels contrived. Of course over-indulgent mothers can turn their little boys into entitled monsters, but all it takes for 'maa' Wahab to realize it is one impassioned speech by 'behen' Mathur? Desai tries too hard at being perky. Singh, I've been thinking since her last outing in 'Inkaar', should stop looking so immaculately groomed, because she just comes off being same. And did I mention Sen who plays Abraham's snarky employer? No? Because we never see her being anything else.

But the women are still all right. It is the man, ironically, who is the weakest link. Abraham gets a lot of screen time but doesn't have the range to keep us interested all the way through, despite frequently flashing impressive upper body musculature ( no booty, alas, ladies please note ). To make up for his sins, he's handed a quite unexpected bit of baggage, but what we end with is this: whipping off apparel is the easy part, being grown up is a toughie.

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On the Road review

Posted : 11 years, 2 months ago on 6 March 2013 11:07 (A review of On the Road)

Sal and Dean and Marylou are ready to go On the Road and the asphalt beckons, but the screen refuses to ride along.

It’s been ever thus with Jack Kerouac’s epochal tome of restless youth. There’s been talk of a film version of On the Road right from the 1957 debut of this Beat Generation classic, including a movie that Kerouac hoped to make starring himself and Marlon Brando.

Brazil’s Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) gets closer than anyone ever has — and not just for the simple reason that he actually got a movie made, after decades of failed attempts by others.

With Sam Riley playing wandering writer Sal Paradise (Kerouac’s surrogate), Garrett Hedlund as his wild man accomplice Dean Moriarty and Kristen Stewart as their femme foil Marylou, Salles and screenwriter José Rivera really get all the madness & sadness & angels along the road to enlightenment.

The film is a handsomely photographed and competently cast work that does justice to Kerouac’s concept of “the purity of the road.” Yet there’s still something maddeningly lacking about it.

I admit to personal confusion and gear-shifting. I liked the film when it premiered at Cannes 2012, but a more recent viewing (after Salles trimmed some 15 minutes in running time) left me feeling considerably cooler to it.

It’s one of those regrettable situations, I think, where the movie is too faithful to the book. In seeking to bring the novel’s fragmented narrative and jazz-influenced dialogue to the screen, Salles and Rivera have somehow tamed it. We still recognize what we see, but we don’t feel it.

Initial excitement leads to ennui as a parade of characters dance before our eyes without making much of an impact.

Beginning in 1947 as shy writer Sal first encounters the mercurial Dean — a bisexual and Benzedrined ex-con described as “too busy for scruples” — the film moves from New York to San Francisco over and over, just like the book.

There are stops and digressions along the way as they engage with a conflicted poet named Carlo Marx (Tom Sturridge, actually playing Beat poet Allen Ginsberg), a “teacher” named Old Bull Lee (Viggo Mortensen, actually playing author William S. Burroughs), a sexy siren named Camille (Kirsten Dunst, actually playing Carolyn Cassady, second wife of Neal Cassady, the inspiration for Dean Moriarty).

On it rolls, over and over, with these and other pseudonymous pals doing all the sex & drugs & all that jazz in ways that shocked the squares of the 1950s, but that today seem slightly more reality show than rebellious.

This is not to sell the effort short. Salles and Rivera deserve credit for not trying to make Sal and Dean seem like the saints. The film doesn’t sanitize how Sal and Dean treat the women in their lives, which by today’s standards would be considered flat-out abuse. Dean shares his teen bride Marylou with Sal while also being unfaithful to her and to Camille, who was his mistress before becoming his second wife.

A moving picture of On the Road should theoretically be able to lift the manic energy from the page to the screen, yet it paradoxically fails to do so. We hear some of Kerouac’s famous phrases — such as the invocation that begins, “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live” — but they only serve to make us want to return to the book, not to see the movie through to its anticlimactic ending.

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Raajneeti review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 18 February 2013 11:17 (A review of Raajneeti)

"Raajneeti", directed by Prakash Jha, is a compelling drama about a family in politics. It's about the extent people will go to, driven by a greed for power and a thirst for revenge.Deliciously dramatic, and packed with sinister twists and turns, the film's plot and characters are rooted in "The Mahabharata", although parallels with "The Godfather" are hard to ignore. Jha's film relies on the solid performances of its ensemble cast to distract your attention from its many lapses. The film's first half is immensely engaging, the various machinations making for thrilling entertainment. It's in the second half that "Raajneeti" stumbles. At 2 hours and roughly 50 minutes in running time, "Raajneeti" is way too long and demands much patience on your part. But it's held up by a string of credible performances. In the end "Raajneeti" is thrilling and gripping for the most part, even though it does lose steam in its final act. And as far as politics goes, it doesn't tell you very much more than you didn't already know. Still I'm going with three-and-a-half out of five for director Prakash Jha's "Raajneeti". For the superb acting, and for the exciting dramatic highs, it's a film I recommend you do not miss.

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Dil Hai Tumhaara review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 February 2013 06:57 (A review of Dil Hai Tumhaara)

Directed by Kundan Shah, Dil Hai Tumhara is a simple and touching story that explores the subtle nuances of human relationships on various levels.

It shows the intricacies of relationship between a mother and her two daughters. It also goes into the lives of two stepsisters and shows jealousy, envy and love that animates the ties between two.

Light and hilarious moments dominate the first half of the film. The narrative picks up the pace towards the interval time as the story gets more emotive and melodramatic. Kundan Shah builds up the momentum gradually and takes the story to its logical conclusion with a climax that is likely to reduce viewers to tears.

Dil Hai Tumhara boasts of mature performances from its cast ensemble.

Preity Zinta plays the tomboyish and vivacious girl with panache. What's particularly impressive about her is the quicksilver delicacy with which she switches from one facial expression to another.

Same goes for Mahima Chowdhari whose emotive range seems to have shot up by several notches in the presence of talented performers like Rekha.

Despite her age Rekha looks scintillating throughout the film and delivers a meticulous performance with the ease of a veteran.

Both Arjun Rampal and Jimmy Shergill too play their part convincingly.

In a nutshell, Dil Hai Tumhara is a moving drama that is void of typical Bollywood mush.

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Dil Ka Rishta review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 February 2013 06:53 (A review of Dil Ka Rishta)

Let me start with the film. Clearly, the story and screenplay (both by mommy Vrinda Rai) was written with Aishwarya in mind. She dominates the film, start to finish. A teacher at a school for deaf-mute children, a woman married to the man of her dreams, a widow who has lost her memory and yearns for the man responsible for it -- Aishwarya has ample screen time portraying all these.

Not, mind you, that there is anything wrong with an actress dominating a film. Preity Zinta played the lead in Kundan Shah's Kya Kehna! and the film worked well at the box-office.

Dil Ka Rishta, Ash's first production, with bro Aditya co-producing the film alongside friend Shabbir Boxwalla, could have worked fabulously for her. She could have cashed in and made it the role of a lifetime. But she goofs up. And how!

A sore point is the constant focus on her wardrobe and looks, not performance. She also refers to her previous films to emote. When flustered by husband Raj's (Priyanshu Chatterjee) teasing, she reminds you of Nandini (Hum Dil Chuke Hai Sanam). When she pines for Jai's (Arjun Rampal) love, she reminds you of Paro yearning for Devdas.

That Ash is a director's actress is established with this film. Naresh Malhotra is no Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The result? Dil Ka Rishta leaves much to be desired.

By way of pluses, the other actors turn in credible performances. Priyanshu, in a guest appearance, is refreshingly natural and exhibits good comic timing. A pleasant surprise from his release last week, Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai.

Arjun Rampal shakes off his wooden image and comes up with a good performance. He is subtle and convincing in the emotional scenes. He has certainly moved on from Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat.

Raakhee and Paresh Rawal, as Ash's mother and Arjun's father respectively, do justice to their roles, though Rawal is largely wasted.

The film's pace and songs help build the narrative, though Nadeem Shravan's score is definitely not a strong point.

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Desi Boyz review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 February 2013 01:19 (A review of Desi Boyz)

No matter how well you actually perform at any variant of the world's oldest profession, the very idea of being pawed at (by the undesirable, the unethical or even just the unattractive) isn't a seductive one. Being a male escort and servicing lonely women in their time of need is clearly not a job for the squeamish.

Neither is watching Rohit Dhawan's Desi Boyz, a film that paints so ridiculously rosy a picture of the gigolo life that it plays like a recruitment film sponsored by pimps.

The two leading men are forced into the hustling business by extenuating circumstances -- one wants to earn enough money to maintain custody of his nephew; the other, freshly laid off, wants to buy the Valentino wedding gown his fiancee covets -- but once they start roleplaying, they are in for a treat.

You'd be hard pressed to tell who the merchandise is, considering the two are constantly thronged by women flaunting much more skin than they ever have. This is the life of hip-hop stars, not whores.

This isn't nitpicking -- or I'd have gone on about how an apparent bachelorette party is happening on a stage in a theatre playing Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert -- but it is alarming that even in a film about two men driven desperately to Chippendale-ry, we must surround them with women dressed sluttier than they are. One of their love interests is a pouting golddigger, the other a cougar-teacher. This, a film that wants to go the full monty (but only if Monty's blonde and bosomy) is shamefully misogynistic, a perfectly nightmarish counterpart to the equally regressive Laaga Chunari Mein Daag.

To their credit, Akshay Kumar and John Abraham have taken on the nonsense with extreme enthusiasm. The ever-reliable but predictable Kumar looks young enough to go toe-to-toe with Abraham, who wears his credibly clueless look like a badge of honour -- when he isn't strutting around in slow motion, that is.

Both have to be commended for taking on a pair of beguilingly beautiful women who can't act to save their lives. Deepika Padukone, a striking girl, who absolutely should be kept away from any kind of dialogue, has here discovered underwire brassieres, leading to a series of uncomfortable poses and outfits.

Chitrangada Singh, on the other hand, is a sheer trainwreck, so bad it hurts to watch her. (Thankfully she only enters the film in the second half.)

Before she and the second half enter, the film motors along almost tolerably. There are sloppy musical cues and an inconsistent use of narrative gimmicks ("What a flashback this'll make some day," says Akshay, for example, in a flashback at the beginning of the film, a one-off flourish never repeated) and even some standard poverty=school-fees melodrama, but compared to what Kumar's been putting us through in recent months, it's almost okay, and the two boys have a fine energy in their scenes together.

The sheer horror of what lies in store for us is only apparent when the Intermission word appears. "Uh-oh. We're only halfway through?" Gulp.

The second half begins with Akshay Kumar studying at Trinity College, Oxford. (Go on, read that line a few times over.) Chitrangda plays his Economics teacher, one who quizzes him in strip-pokerly fashion.

Meanwhile, Kumar encounters a snotty British professor who sneers at India and its uncivilized populace, which is when Kumar asks him what email address he uses. The man says Hotmail (in this alternate universe 2009, where Iron Man 2 is already out) and Kumar mentions Sabeer Bhatia, a minute before he brings up Aryabhatta and the zero. Clearly, keeping a straight face during scenes like these is what earns Kumar his fat paychecks.

Meanwhile, over in London where John's camping in Deepika's backyard in a caravan evidently borrowed from Aqua's Barbie Girl video, there is much tomfoolery involving the refreshing (if one-note) Omi Vaidya.

Then John confronts Deepika who, justifiably sore about catching him in the act, sounds him out about how he'd feel if a gallery of 50 men were drooling over a half-naked her. John stops in his tracks, but this is not a question the film plans to deal with. John mentions Akshay's nephew, Deepika's face falls, and having thus found himself a ludicrous moral high horse, John rides away happily. From this point on, the apologies have to come from her.

Or from you, young Mr Dhawan. Walk away from this disaster and try harder next time. (Is it okay if we don't hold our breath just yet?)

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Fashion review

Posted : 11 years, 4 months ago on 24 January 2013 08:20 (A review of Fashion)

One heard of the trepidation among the fashion industry about Madhur Bhandarkar’s film. In fact, the writer-director highlights this in a narcissistic dig at himself, where a character says that this realistic filmmaker won’t even spare the fashion industry. Indeed.

In his previous films, Bhandarkar’s understanding of the fashion world remained clichéd. Even in the lesser-seen Traffic Signal, Bobby Darling over-played the hyper, gay, comic designer.

In Fashion too, his gaze remains artificial; exploitative, ready to milk any bit of juicy news. And sadly, this has happened at the cost of this industry’s misrepresentation. The promos tell you all, and frankly are far more absorbing that the three hour-plus film.

Priyanka Chopra plays Meghna, a small town beauty queen who dreams of walking the ramp as a supermodel. Parents defied and suitcase packed, she moves to Mumbai.

From then on, her story of struggle is a laugh. She makes friends with an assistant designer who puts her on to a casting agent, who supplies models to parties for the glamour quotient. She meets the right people who are immediately impressed by her spunk and confidence and sooner than later, she is crowned the new face of Panache, a coveted company that rules the fashion business.

The owner Abhijeet Sareen (Arbaaz Khan, miscast) is responsible for Meghna replacing the earlier model Shonali (Kangana). Meghna’s success in an extraordinarily short span of time does her in. She confuses confidence with arrogance and enjoys her new-found celebrity, much like her predecessor.

Unfortunately, she is following Shonali’s path in more ways than one. The girl who didn’t smoke or drink is now hooked on to both, and is partying away to cope with her dwindling career. Then on, the story takes several detours and finally tells us what we predict anyway.

But through their journey, not once does Bhandarkar manage to whole-heartedly involve us in the life of his characters. We remain unmoved right till the end.

For his two central characters Meghna and Shonali, Bhandarkar borrows heavily from various sources. The disclaimer at the beginning of the film tells us that all the characters are fictitious, but that’s clearly debatable. Shonali’s downward spiral leading her to listlessly roam the streets is directly copied from news reports of ex-model Geetanjali Nagpal; and Priyanka Chopra losing herself, going to rehab, and coming back seems inspired by Lakme model Shivani Kapur’s story.

Then again, there is heavy inspiration taken from the Angelina Jolie-starrer Gia, a dull film in any case. He also brings in the wardrobe malfunction that happened a couple of years ago.

When bored through the film, you can play spot-a-celebrity. The film is teeming with fashion folks like Achala Sachdev, Alecia Raut and Jesse Randhawa and celebs like Karan Johar and Prahlad Kakkar. Bhandarkar’s also wickedly hinted at known personalities – he shows a gay designer who goes around asking for favours from struggling male models and a hyper (also gay, naturally) Bollywood top designer.

Technically, the film falls flat. Priyanka Chopra’s make-up is shockingly poor. Kangana really ought to do something about her diction. But still, both the actors have an interesting ground to play on and do a great job portraying their complex characters. Mugdha Godse and Arjan Bajwa have an easy screen presence. Kitu Gidwani plays the super-professional modeling agency head perfectly.

Some of the details strike you as accurate like the nervous models sipping wine before a show and the chaos in the green-room. The editing should have cut several portions to make the film tighter and more absorbing. Music by Salim-Sulaiman is lovely. Styling is alright, nothing path-breaking.

The story-telling is ineffective: it takes too long for the director to establish his premise, and once we know the context of the story, it turns stagnant. Perhaps Bhandarkar thought he needn’t worry as long as he had semi-clad models strutting on the ramp for the hundredth time.

Sadly, Fashion only talks about how the industry supposedly ruins the life of young girls (the male models are completely capable of handling success, it seems). It’s a film titled `fashion’ but doesn’t once talk about the clothes! The talent, creativity, and passion for work, which forms a central part of the industry. The film could have given the fashion industry much more credit, than just portraying them as a brainless bunch that’s only busy putting up fashion shows.

This is just a film that sadly reconfirms moralistic misconceptions most people hold against the fashion industry. And against an ambitious woman who wants to make it big in the glamour world. When the character of Meghna falls flat, the chauvinistic can almost say we told you so. Thankfully, she does pick herself up.

Go for Fashion if you’re willing to endure a superficial take on the lives of models and a dumbed down version of the workings of the fashion industry, for the sparkling performances.

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Heroine review

Posted : 11 years, 4 months ago on 24 January 2013 08:06 (A review of Heroine)

In his 13-year-old career, Madhur Bhandarkar has won accolades basically making one film. It is a film that tells us a woman on top in a man's world will invariably suffer doom, after an elaborate moral science session has played itself out on the screen.

That woman keeps changing with every new Bhandarkar release, but the film remains the same. The bar dancer of Chandni Bar, the fiery politician of Satta, the honcho in Corporate, the hack in Page 3 and the supermodel of Fashion have lived through photo-copied trials, tribulation and trauma, tweaked slyly to accommodate their respective occupational hazards.

Heroine offered Madhur the irresistible scope to track that formula in a Bollywood setup with Kareena Kapoor in the lead. The film runs on standard Madhur Bhandarkar fuel. You spot the filmmaker's penchant at creating fiction amidst a well-researched bag of facts. For Madhur, the research must have been easier this time since he was out exposing his own work space.

The film industry backdrop in Heroine is one you are aware of if you routinely dig the gossip glossies. It's a world where compromise is a way of life, friends and foes are chosen to suit vested interests and morality is a luxury you can ill-afford if you want to rise. And yes, a single woman bitten by the success bug will invariably have a price to pay.

The woman in question here is Kareena as superstar Mahi Arora. The chinks in Mahi's world of perfection are laid down soon enough.

Madhur's films are known to give the heroine one vital flaw that will facilitate downfall. In Mahi's case the flaw lies in her bipolar personality, obviously an outcome of the fact that she is a loner who pines for true love. She thinks she finds it in the married superstar Aryan Khanna (Arjun Rampal), but her obsession for the opportunistic Aryan can only lead to heartbreak. Rapidly growing unsure of what she wants, Mahi starts losing out. A career that demands nothing short a perfect image has no place for an actress with mood swings.

The problem with Heroine is the film banks on a weak script. Clearly, Madhur and his co-writers (Manoj Tyagi and Anuradha Tiwari) were trying to give us a more wicked update of Fashion, his 2008 film that also dug for showbiz skeletons. His new film however lacks the element of surprise. Worse, at a runtime of about two-and-half hours Heroine looks like a long-drawn boring affair.

There are the authentic snapshots on the way, though. Madhur unleashes a veritable guessing game straight off real-life Bollywood with individual scenes. An actress pours wine on the head of a star wife in a party. A cricketer (Randeep Hooda) is known for his glad eye for heroines. A 'family man' superstar (Sanjay Suri) insists on adding an item number by a top diva in his film to steal his heroine's thunder because she spurned his advances. A rival actress (Mugdha Godse) plays dirty to wrest a top endorsement deal. These are all straight off grapevine buzz.

Yet, none of these subplots take off because the film's assortment of characters essentially comprises cardboard cutouts.

The actor who suffers the most due to bad writing is Randeep Hooda. He gets the body language and style just right as the cricketing hero Angad Paul, only to be rudely yanked out of the script at one point.

It could all be redeemed by the star of the show. But then, Kareena surprisingly overacts. Despite being in almost every frame, she never really overcomes the highly flawed character she gets to play.

Madhur Bhandarkar, toasted for the heroine-oriented scripts he creates, has just given us his weakest female protagonist yet. That itself lays bare the irony about the film titled Heroine.

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Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum review

Posted : 11 years, 4 months ago on 19 January 2013 11:34 (A review of Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum)

After an unsuccessful attempt - Naa Ishtam, Rana Daggubati is back with Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum (KVJ), which is described as his re-launch film. This movie has two heroes - Rana and its unique script. Rana has chosen a perfect storyline to become a commercial hero and with his electrifying performance, he surely rocks and proves that he is also a mass hero.

Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum is a high-octane action movie and Rana Daggubati's stunning acting is the main highlight of the film. Besides this, Krish's fast paced script, Mani Sharma's music, Gnanasekhar's cinematography, Sai Madhav Burra's dialogues, wonderfully choreographed fights, Venkatesh-Sameera and Hazel Keech's item numbers, JK Murthy's art direction, Tirumala's costumes and Chittor Srinivas' make-up are the other attractions of the film.

The story of Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum is set against the backdrop of Surabhi Theatre, which is an ancient art form that is on the verge of dying out. Director Krish has combined this art form with the contemporary issue of mining in this action adventure movie, which has a philosophy told in a beautiful commercial format. Everyone has his/her own perceptions and beliefs, but not many lead a noble life. This film teaches you to live a great life. Krish scores full marks for creating an interesting story and narrating it beautifully on screen.

B. Tech Babu (Rana) is the grandson of a legendary theatre actor Subrahmanyam (Kota Srinivasa Rao), from Surabhi group. He is a typical young man, who wants to complete his studies and leave for USA. But his grand father forces him to perform one last drama 'Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum' at the Bellary Natakotsavam before he moves out of the country. This is when he bumps into reporter and documentary filmmaker Devika (Nayantara), who makes him realise the daylight robbery and alleged mining run by Reddappa (Milind Gunaji) and Chakravarthy (Murali Sharma) in Bellary. How this reporter changes a selfish actor into a selfless and courageous human being will form the crux of the story.

Rana Daggubati has a tailor-made role in Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum and he has delivered one of his best performance in recent times. He rocks with his stunning fights and amazing dialogue delivery. As a reporter, Nayantara looks good and her chemistry with Rana is very good. Others like Posani Krishna Murali, Milind Gunaji, Murali Sharma, LB Sriram, Brahmanandam and Raghu Babu are also good in their respective roles. Venkatesh, Sameera Reddy will also entertain you with their guest appearances.

On the technical front, Mani Sharma's music is the main highlight. His background score elevates the intensity of several scenes. His tunes are also good to listen. Gnanasekhar's picturisation, Sai Madhav Burra's dialogues, amazing fights, JK Murthy's art direction, Tirumala's costumes and Chittor Srinivas' make-up are all commendable and they help Krish to project his ideas properly.

Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum also has few drawbacks. A few drama sequences in the first half slows down the pace of the film. Secondly, a couple of songs like 'Spicy Spicy girl' and 'Chal Chal Chal', which do not add to the story, seem to be forced into the film. But these aspects do not divert you from enjoying it.

Overall, Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum is both a good entertainer and a thought provoking movie. Rana will definitely rock you. Don't miss it this weekend.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader review

Posted : 11 years, 4 months ago on 6 January 2013 06:51 (A review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

Though it may read as disingenuous, no cinema patron should estimate the amount of effort it takes to make a perfectly bland blockbuster; as flat as a still ocean and pioneering, in the sense that its synthetic vistas and passionless players, somehow plasticise the imagination; that’s both ours and that of C.S Lewis, who one imagines would be unmoved by his own story, were he alive to see this adaptation.

Lewis’ odd confluence of Christian, Roman and Greek myth might have been fertile territory for big-budget extravaganzas if the filmmakers had only the courage to add some imagination of their own. Unfortunately we’re left to wonder what visionary directors like Gulliermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón might have done with the same material while watching a series which never had any ambition other than to appeal to the Disney demographic.

This is a series that reminds you what corporate cynicism looks like when unchecked by creativity. The instructive comparison is with Chris Weitz’s moribund adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights, retitled The Golden Compass for cinema release. The issue with Pullman was his novel’s critique of religion, which was duly stripped out to appease America’s Christian right. This was the brain of Pullman’s story and it was little surprise that without it, the movie version was dead from the neck up, badly underperforming and scuppering a planned trilogy of films. Few wept for the lost sequels. Audiences that remember this episode in fantasy cinema could be forgiven for initially scratching their head at the success at Adam Adamson’s insipid The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It was hugely successful, despite its lack of magic, but then Lewis’ Narnia stories have sold 100 million copies and if that can’t put arses onto filthy, coke and salsa stained seats, what good are parents and their childhood memories? Those on God watch however saw another reason for the huge box office, namely that the naked Christian allegory was far more palatable to that unknowable amorphous mass sometimes called the American public.

The curious thing about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is how a story with such odious undertones can feel so safe and reassuring. I wondered if it was those years of Sunday school I endured as a child or the priest that told that me that anyone who didn’t believe in God was “a bloody fool”, an argument that made more sense when he had the naked flame from a roman candle warming my genitals. Catholic guilt runs deep you see and nothing stokes it more than renouncing your faith. To the atheistic eye, already sporting a raised eyebrow thanks to C.S. Lewis’ late in life conversion to Christianity, that fallacious flip, it’s an egregiously sinister piece of storytelling with an irrational and ultimately thought terminating message.

Eustace, the insufferable cousin of the Penvensie children is Lewis mocking his naïve childhood self who foolishly eschewed religious belief and was subsequently regarded as an idiot by the adult he became. Faithfully recreated with the right amount of arrogance and cowardice by Will Poulter, he’s a boorish buzzkill who dismisses cousins Lucy and Edmund as fantasists. While they put their faith in a magical realm and a martyred big cat, a version of Jesus Christ that you can stroke and who had the decency to die with a child friendly lack of gore, Eustace, who not for nothing sounds like useless, fills his head with information, in fact he’s positively drunk on facts.

His visit to Narnia naturally cures him of his rationality, though not until the epilogue, as that would have robbed the filmmakers of their opportunity to use his cynicism to undercut the stories fantastical elements. Lewis was savvy in employing Eustace as both a way in for new Narnia visitors and as a surrogate for endearing them to the stories religious themes. Of all the children in the story he suffers the most, being mocked and goaded for much of it, transformed into a dragon and finally, having discovered his backbone and embraced Aslan’s disciples, saved by, you’ve guessed it, the roaring Christ. Initially suspicious and hostile to the Penvensies, he’s a fully paid up member of the clan at the close, cock-a-hoop at the prospect of returning to the world of talking mice and minotaurs (which he duly does in The Silver Chair).

If Voyage of the Dawn Treader gives you plenty of time to contemplate the message that’s been rammed down your throat, not least the manner in which it’s repackaged as a celebration of our childhood imagination, it’s because there’s so little else to hold the attention. It’s a film that manages to be dull without being boring, which is a difficult balancing act, thanks in part to reasonable pacing and a surfeit of incident. What’s lacking is any sense of jeopardy or surprise, which coupled with the inorganic visuals and anonymous score fatally anchor the ship and her crew in a sea of indifference.

Technical failings aside it’s the film as sermon that’s predominant. Watching a mouse enter the Kingdom of Heaven is a strange way to spend an afternoon and you might imagine, harmless enough, but for families that don’t say grace before meals and go nowhere on Sunday except their living room to catch up on TV, it will seem heavy handed and, given that it’s targeted at the little ones, an unwelcome missive from a world arguably more fantastical than anything C.S Lewis could have imagined.

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Posted: 10 years, 10 months ago at Jul 22 5:09
my tribute list to M♥rilyn Monroe
hope you will enjoy it..
thanks alot for your time...
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Did you miss me? Well, miss me no more, cause I’m back here to finish what I have started. I think all of you who have participated deserve to know how it ends. Meaning I’m going to finish my “Who’s Listal’s Favorite Female Model” list, and later on see what happens, if I’ll be staying or leaving once that is done. We’re very close to arriving at the list’s top ten, so, every vote counts, especially cause in this next 20 days, half of the girls who are still on the list will be eliminated.

Cast your vote, participate and help decide!
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hi friend check out my new list .
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Obrigada pelo voto na imagem do Ian *-*
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Thanks for the list and pic votes!! :D
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Thanks for the Nargis Fakhri pic vote.
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Thank you very much for the Romee Strijd picture vote! =]
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hey check out my new list. hope you like it
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Hello, and let me start this by wishing a Happy 2013 to those I hadn’t wished this before. Hope 2013 is a great year for all of us. =] But, well, as you may have imagined, what I’m here to do is announce that Phase 4 of Who's Listal's favorite female model has just begun, and this is a particularly hard phase considering 4 girls from each group will be eliminated this round. So, don’t forget that your opinion counts in order to decide this, and check it out.

Also, if you’d like to know how much any of the girls who have classified for the current round have gotten during the previous phases, just let me know! =]
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Thanks for the Casting the Net II and Under The Sea list votes and Leslie Bibb pic vote.