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Hulk Smash!

Monday · 23 Jun 08 · 03:36 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

The Incredible Hulk (2008) is the second modern big-screen adaptation of the 1960s Marvel Comics character.  While I didn't watch the 2003 Hulk from director Ang Lee, I was interested in watching this present version (directed by Louis Leterrier — who previously made The Transporter movies and Danny the Dog a.k.a. Unleashed) because I'd read that it focused more on action rather than drama, and also because it stars Edward Norton.  I got to see the movie on a "Hulk-size" IMAX screen too!  While it may sound clichéd, I have to say the movie was "incredible"!

Edward Norton was great in the title role of Dr Bruce Banner, who as the movie begins, is hiding out in Brazil, working as a labourer in a bottling plant.  He has managed to evade the US Army (led by Gen Ross, played by William Hurt) and has survived for several days without "incident", i.e. without transforming into the green monster known as the Hulk when angered.  He is communicating with a mysterious person known as Mr Blue, trying to find a cure for the Gamma Radiation in his system.  As painful as it may be, he has stayed out of contact with his love, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) too.  Of course, things don't stay peaceful for long — the army soon locates him and he goes on the run again.  A solider called Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) is brought in to pursue him, and when he sees the raw power that the Hulk possesses, he becomes a bit too interested in the serum that transformed Banner into what he is.

The movie has an awesome cast, and is well written too (Norton did some rewrites on the script though he is not credited).  It doesn't spend much time on exposition and instead gets right to the action.  Action sequences are all great and were set to a very nice music score by Craig Armstrong.  The CGI used to render the Hulk and the villainous Abomination is also convincing enough and the climactic fight between them was exciting.  Looks like 2008 is the year for great superhero movies — we had Iron Man, and then this, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Dark Knight are up next month!

The Incredible Hulk — Drawn by Karthik Abhiram

I was obviously very inspired after watching the movie, so I did a drawing based on that, with oil pastels.  Click on the above image to see the full thing, which mimics a comic book cover.  I would recommend watching the movie in the theatre, and you can also spot a quick appearance by Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in the movie!  There were many other references to the Marvel universe in the movie as well.  A couple of other interesting observations — in one scene Bruce Banner boots up a computer only to have "Norton" Internet Security start up (whether that was an intentional reference to Edward Norton or not, I don't know), and there's also an interesting "colour" thing going on — Mr Blue and Mr Green are mentioned in the movie, and Tim Roth played Mr Orange in Reservoir Dogs!  I'd rate this movie an 8/10.

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Two Drawings from last week: The Happening and Steven Seagal

Monday · 23 Jun 08 · 03:09 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Art

I did a couple of drawings last weekend that I didn't post.  They were originally intended to accompany the last couple of updates, but then I didn't get around to scanning them.  So here they are —

The Happening — Drawing by Karthik Abhiram

The first is a quick pencil drawing of Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel from the M Night Shyamalan movie The Happening.  Now, I already wrote about the movie in a previous post, and though it isn't a good movie, it looks like it's doing quite well at the box office.  Keeping the theme of the movie in mind, the drawing was given a greenish tint!  Click the image above for a larger version.

Steven Seagal in "Cockpuncher" — Drawing by Karthik Abhiram — Click for complete, uncensored image!

The next drawing was done with ballpoint pen and is a picture of Steven Seagal, from his appearance in The Onion Movie, which has a fake trailer for a movie called Cockpuncher.  It's used as a running gag throughout the movie, and I found it quite funny.  Hence, the drawing!  Click the above image to see a larger and "uncensored" version (with the cheeky tagline too!).  One interesting thing is that I watched a Steven Seagal movie called Urban Justice before seeing The Onion Movie, and that made the fake trailer even funnier!  Here is the trailer for The Onion Movie, which also includes part of the above mentioned fake trailer.

After last week's posts I watched a couple more movies — first is Maniac Cop from 1988, which is an interesting horror-thriller about a string of murders that appear to be committed by someone wearing a police officer's uniform.  Subsequent investigation reveals that the perpetrator may be an undead cop called Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar).  Then, I watched a movie called Pathology which is written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the guys behind Crank).  It's a twisted and perverse thriller about a group of medical students who play an interesting game — committing murder and having the others figure out how it was done!  Lots of wickedly gruesome stuff in this movie, which made it interesting to watch.  Were it not for the extreme content, there wouldn't be much else to recommend the movie.  I'd rate both the above movies 7/10.  Yesterday I got to see The Incredible Hulk on a large screen, and that deserves a post by itself.

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Recent Movies

Monday · 16 Jun 08 · 03:16 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

You might be wondering why the updates have slowed down on the site — campus recruitment season has started at work and I'd been out of town at times, also there were a few things that made work very hectic in recent days.  Anyway, apart from watching The Happening, I watched a bunch of other stuff recently.  Here's a brief list —

  • The Andromeda Strain — Not the 1971 Robert Wise movie (which I haven't seen), this is a 2008 made-for-TV adaptation of the Michael Crichton book.  After a shuttle crashes in the town of Piedmont, the entire population of the town is killed, apparently by a lethal airborne bacteria coded the "Andromeda Strain".  A team of scientists must race against time in a secret underground facility to figure out what Andromeda is and how to stop it.  The movie was underwhelming.  I guess it wasn't so bad taken by itself, but they added a lot of stuff that wasn't there in the book (government intrigue, wormholes, time travel, etc) and not all of it was a positive contribution.  7/10.
  • Be Kind Rewind — Mike and Jerry work in the Be Kind Rewind video store and are asked to mind it when the boss is out of town.  Mike's head gets magnetised and he ends up erasing all the tapes in the video store.  The two then decide to reshoot the movies — and their "sweded" movies become popular among the townsfolk.  Interesting comedy from director Michel Gondry.  7/10.
  • Mallrats — Snootch to the Nootch!  Kevin Smith movie about two guys who get dumped by their girlfriends and hang out in a mall.  Various quirky things happen.  A whole lot of fun.  8/10.
  • The Onion Movie — A collection of various comedy sketches, not all of them work, but overall it's easy to watch and quite fun.  I especially enjoyed Steven Seagal's appearance as "Cockpuncher"!  7/10.
  • Urban Justice — Coincidentally, a Steven Seagal movie!  This is one of his direct-to-DVD releases, but surprisingly it's quite a decent film.  Seagal stars as Simon Ballister, a man who moves into a neighbourhood populated by two tough gangs and takes them on himself, in an effort to find the people who killed his son.  6/10.
  • The Man From Earth — Prof John Oldman invites a few of his friends over as he's leaving town, and then tells them that he's 14,000 years old.  Is he telling the truth, or is he insane?  Extraordinary movie.  9/10.
  • wΔz — How much torture would you go through before you kill a loved one?  That's the question this movie asks, it's a decent thriller in the mold of the Saw films.  7/10.
  • Meet the Spartans — Plotless spoof of 300 and numerous other popular movies.  An OK movie, nothing special.  5/10.

Also got to see Trancers II and Trancers 3, and a movie called Suspension (all 6/10).

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The Happening

Monday · 16 Jun 08 · 03:15 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

The Happening is the latest film from writer-director-producer M Night Shyamalan, and was released on Friday (Friday the 13th).  I watched it at Prasad's Multiplex yesterday with Varun and parents.  We had front-row seats, literally — as our seats were just in front of the screen!  I'd read reviews of the movie saying that it was a "return to form" for Shyamalan after recent disappointments.  So I was pretty excited about seeing this movie.  This is also an R-rated movie, and people were talking about how effective the first five minutes of the film were.

Central Park, New York City — people are going about their business as usual, and suddenly everyone freezes — and then chaos ensues.  People start dropping dead, and the shocking thing is that they've killed themselves!  Schoolteacher Elliot (Mark Wahlberg), wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) and the child of Elliot's colleague must figure out what is happening and remain alive.  Similar to Shyamalan's Signs, a crisis slowly builds up — but unlike that movie, The Happening doesn't have a twist at the end.  The reason behind the events in the movie is revealed during its course.

Overall, I have to say I was very disappointed with this movie.  The Sixth Sense was an amazing movie, likewise for Unbreakable.  I liked Signs but I felt it was a step down from Shyamalan's earlier efforts.  I didn't get to see The Village in a proper theatre, and while the movie was well shot, the twist ending was a bit too far-fetched.  Haven't seen Lady in the Water till date.  Discounting that, I'd say The Happening was the worst of the lot.  The premise is interesting and while the explanation is quite absurd, I was willing to accept it.  But the movie lacked tension and to make matters worse, the dialogue made the actors look bad — and drew unintentional laughter from the audience in several places.  There were several places where you could see the mic dip into the top of the frame (probably that was meant to be cropped off).  And finally, it appeared that some bits were cut from the print they screened.  Our censors are to blame here for ruining the film even further (what is the point of giving a movie an "A" certificate if you're going to remove everything that makes it an adult-oriented movie?).  They ruined Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street too this way — they "cut" every throat-slashing scene.  It's stuff like this that'll make you download a copy of the movie in order to see the excised footage.  Anyway, The Happening was underwhelming to say the least.  To it's credit though, some of the scenes were impressive (Shyamalan did think of some innovative ways for people to off themselves!), but those didn't make up for the rest of the movie.  If you want to see a real Shyamalan movie, pull out your DVD of The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable (I only have a VCD of the movie though!) and watch that instead.  I'd rate this one a 5/10.

I really wanted to see Kamal Haasan's latest movie Dasavathaaram (which also got released on the same day), but absolutely no tickets were available this weekend (both Tamil and Telugu versions were screening and everything was sold out), so I think I'll have to book tickets in the middle of the week for next weekend instead.

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Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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