The Avengers

Superheroes unite to do what they do best…

Save Manhattan… sorry Earth!

Pic: Marvel; Source: Wikipedia

The world is under threat (again!) and a bunch of superheroes get together to save it. Like all superhero movies, this is the plot of Marvel’s much awaited summer blockbuster, The Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame). You know what happens in the end as well! So, why watch The Avengers? Here are my top reasons:

A Great Ensemble: It’s good to see so many superheroes in one frame… so many superpowers and so many egos! What happens when a god, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and a megalomaniac superhero, Iron Man start fighting? Or when the Hulk gets pissed off with Black Widow! There are too many interesting characters and they all add to the action sequences with their different powers.

The Show Stealers: Tony Stark / Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr. and Dr. Bruce Banner / Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo rule the film. Stark as usual (like in Iron Man and Iron Man 2), has some very smart lines and he gets to do some pretty cool action stuff in the film. Ruffalo on the other hand is playing Hulk for the first time but makes you forget other actors who played the character in earlier films (Eric Bana, Edward Norton). He carries the load of Dr. Banner’s pained existence well and brings out the Hulk’s madness in a fantastic manner. Going by the cheers and the applause amongst the audience, especially kids, Hulk emerges as the show stealer in the film.

Scarlett, Cobie or Gwyneth: Yes, the ladies… though the superheroes leave limited space for them in the film, they are all fabulous. Scarlett Johansson as Agent Natasha Romanov / Black Widow is brilliant in her fight and interrogation sequences. She does not have any superpowers but is someone with whom nobody would like to mess with. Cobie Smulders (Robin of How I Met Your Mother) has a small role as an agent (Maria Hill) with S.H.I.E.L.D – an espionage & law enforcement organization, led by Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) that brings together the Avengers. She has a limited role but fans of Robin will be happy to see her away from Ted and Barney for a change. Gwyneth Paltrow makes a cameo appearance as Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s girlfriend… she’s hardly there but I am biased when it comes to Ms. Paltrow!

A fantabulous second half: The action sequences are fabulously shot and there is not a dull moment when the Avengers face Loki’s (Thor’s adopted brother and arch rival; played by Tom Hiddleston) army from another world. The island of Manhattan is under attack (of course, where else will the aliens decide to appear) and our superheroes put up a great fight. Captain America (Chris Evans) leads the team and the evacuation plan; Iron Man ensures the fight doesn’t go beyond a certain radius; hammer-wielding god, Thor brings down the lightening while Black Widow kicks some alien ass; Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) shoots his arrows like an assassin on fast-forward mode while Hulk does what he does the best – SMASH! The grand finale of the film is complete paisa-vasool.

Despite all these great things, The Avengers falls short of being a perfect superhero entertainer. The film drags in the first half and I almost fell asleep with too much talk on-screen and hardly any action. The first part focuses more on the Avengers coming together but lacks the excitement we saw in a similar situation in last year’s X-Men First Class. Jeremy Renner, who is such a fine actor (The Hurt Locker, The Town) is wasted here, just like in Mission Impossible 4. Then there is Hollywood’s silly interpretation of India! In one sequence a little girl runs through a crowded market place to find Dr. Bruce Banner. She speaks in heavily accented Hindi and talks about her dying father. Calcutta is presented as a mega-slum, afflicted by all sorts of deadly diseases; and of course the shooting happened in a studio set in New Mexico! Is that revenge for Karan Johar creating Georgia floods in Filmcity for My Name is Khan?

Anyway, do not miss The Avengers on the big screen…

PS: The new promos of The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spiderman are not linked to the prints in India. These will be shown when The Avengers releases in the US on May 4.

 

Vicky Donor

A surprise package…  

Pic source: Wikipedia

I did not expect much from this film made by a not so successful director, a new producer (John Abraham) and a cast led by a TV anchor and a soap actress. However, director, Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor surprised me with good writing, fine performances and its overall entertainment value. Full marks for writer, Juhi Chaturvedi who handled a taboo subject like sperm donation so well and came up with a witty screenplay that never gets insensitive or vulgar.

Vicky Donor is a young Punjabi boy, Vicky Arora’s (Ayushmann Khurrana) story who aspires to get a respectable job but like many youngsters today, is lazy to go out and do something about it. He stays in Lajpat Nagar with his mother Dolly (Dolly Ahluwalia) who runs a beauty parlor and Biji (Kamlesh Gill), his grandmother who wants a 32GB iPhone and 42inch LCD TV. Vicky is pursued by Dr. Baldev Chaddha (Annu Kapoor), a fertility expert, to donate his sperm as he is a true ‘Aryaputra’ (of Aryan descent). Vicky sees easy money in this scheme and after a lot of convincing by Dr. Chaddha, he agrees to become a sperm donor. His life starts changing when he falls in love with a Bengali bank executive, Ashima Roy (Yami Gautam).

Both Yami and Ayushmann are confident and have great screen presence; they also look good together and are relatable. Their love story has loopholes, like the girl and her family being completely blind to what the guy does, but all that can be ignored. However, trouble begins in the second half where the story falters a bit more. The conflict and the final resolution are nothing great and pale in comparison to the stellar first half. Juhi Chaturvedi has written fabulous dialogues and there are funny moments throughout the film, therefore she can be forgiven for the silly climax. The supporting cast is absolutely brilliant, especially Kamlesh Gill as Biji who is progressive and has a great sense of humour. Annu Kapoor is good but gets a little irritating as the part where he convinces Vicky is really stretched. Actors playing Ashima’s father and aunt are also good; there is a fabulous sequence of Bengali vs. Punjabi conflict and they shine through against the ‘uncultured’ business minded Punjabis.

Shoojit Sircar has a done a fine job with the film and it would have been perfect if he got the editor (Shekhar Prajapati) to cut it short by at least 20-minutes.

Go watch Vicky Donor this week in theatres, you won’t regret it.