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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Expendables 2 (2012)

In 2009, Sylvester Stallone (better known as Rocky) assembled action stars of yesteryear, himself included, and decided to make a motion picture out of their past glory. He decided to call it The Expendables, an apt title considering that that’s pretty much what they are in this film. Not just in the eyes of the people under whom their characters serve but even to us, the viewers. We remained outsiders, merely watching these strangers do things we hardly gave two shits about, waiting with the false hope that our existences would eventually be acknowledged. Bummer.

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

As of now The Bourne Supremacy is my favourite of the film adaptations of The Bourne Trilogy. Mainly because it doesn’t involve a pretty lady risking her life simply to be a part of this ride. Of course, their relationship later develops into a half-baked affair. Well, that’s fiction for you. And I’m not complaining. I’m just naturally more inclined towards realism. The Bourne Legacy, within its fictional confines, is the most realistic instalment to date. Rachel Weisz’s character doesn’t hop on because she wants to begin an affair with Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross. She has no plan, not a clue about saving herself from a very powerful organization and she needs Aaron Cross, just as much as he needs her pharmaceutical experience to disinfect him. 
Despite running in parallel to the previous instalment, The Bourne Legacy somehow doesn’t share so much with its predecessors. It’s the same world but the approach begins from elsewhere, the take is different and the perspective is through another pair of eyes. The hunted doesn’t interest film-maker Tony Gilroy as much as its hunter, or hunters. The Bourne Legacy is The Ghost Writer meets Michael Clayton meets Bourne, in that order. Even the swarm of antagonists are given a fair share of screen-time and their mastermind, Eric Byer (Edward Norton), a good deal of characterization. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises is grim, grand and massive.  It’s the perfect conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s superhero franchise. I think it deserves Oscar recognition in multiple categories. Now, don’t get carried away because I said that. I know what I’m saying. I don’t claim the film to be multilayered or subtle or perched on realism. It doesn’t aspire to achieve any of these. But what it is set out to do, it couldn’t have been done better. The most brilliant aspect of The Dark Knight Rises is the high degree of parallelism- there are several primary characters in so many threads of events that run together simultaneously.

Batman Begins took us through the heart and soul of Bruce Wayne. We knew by the end of it, why he does what he does. The other characters in the series including, and especially, The Joker were strongly characterized. But we never knew why they are the way they are. Character development was absent in the commercially compromised The Dark Knight. In the Dark Knight Rises, the origins of every character are known. Nolan split The Dark Knight into good and bad; like a logician would. Scenes of ‘the people of Gotham’ planted on two ships and forced to choose between the lives of others and that of their own came off to me as a simplistic exercise in moral science. The act of Batman making the selfless choice of playing scapegoat to Harvey Dent’s criminal activities rings false. Particularly because this happens not long after he selfishly chose to rescue his girlfriend over ‘the shining example of justice.’ Even with all these flaws, The Dark Knight still emerged as a successful film. The Dark Knight Rises is the perfect antithesis to both, the central theme of fear in Batman Begins and that one thing that The Dark Knight had to say - “People deserve more than the truth. They deserve their faith to be rewarded.” And I don’t believe I’ve come across another film-maker letting the audience see him take diametrically opposite standpoints on a subject and defend them both with equal conviction.

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