Ek Villain** 1/4
Dir: Mohit Suri
Starring: Sidharth Malhotra, Shraddha Kapoor, Ritesh Deshmukh, Aamna Sharif, Remo Fernandes
In Ek Villain, director Mohit Suri, fresh off the success of his overrated Aashiqui 2, does a slickly competent job of ripping off the 2010 Korean blood-soaked thriller, I Saw The Devil. The product is Indianised, of course, with the gore toned down (the original has graphic scenes of mutilation and decapitation), the romantic element given much more centrality than the original, and a number of songs thrown in for good measure. Suri’s cast is more than adequate too. But does all this add up to a movie that you really have to watch? The answer, ultimately, is no. And the fault lies in the script.
First, the positives. As mentioned already, Suri is usually a reasonably capable journeyman director and he does a proficient job here too. Sidharth Malhotra, up till now the soft-spoken romantic hero, turns in a believable job as a gangster’s broody henchman while Ritesh Deshmukh also creditably goes against type as a psychologically disturbed serial killer. Shraddha Kapoor’s role as an angel of mercy has echoes of her part in Aashiqui 2 but she’s actually even better here, her new-found success contributing to a confidence which gives her an added luminosity. Aamna Sharif is also very good as a harpy who drives her husband (Deshmukh) into murderous frenzies and Prachi Desai is surprisingly alluring in a slow-burn of an item song. The soundtrack isn’t half-bad either. And the movie has a crackerjack of an opening sequence.
So what’s the downside? While the romantic element is handled well, even if it is not particularly original, the main thrust of the movie has major weaknesses. This is basically a revenge drama but I had major problems with how our hero, Guru (Sidharth Malhotra), goes about exacting his revenge on the villain, Rakesh (Ritesh Deshmukh). I can’t say too much here without spoiling the movie but Guru’s long drawn-out vengeance beggars belief. And if you can’t accept the main plotline then all the positives go out the window. Plus the movie needed to be pared down by a good 30 minutes which would have made it sharper and less excruciatingly repetitive.
The movie also has one other big negative for me. And that is the use of Minglish in its title. Why not just call it Ek Khalnayak or something like that?
Cut to chase: A weak plot and bloated screenplay sinks this one
Transformers: Age Of Extinction*
Dir: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Bingbing Li, T. J. Miller
The first Transformers movie was actually rather entertaining, combining as it did action, humour, special effects and even some emotion. It deserved its box-office success and it also made stars out of Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. But the second movie (the worst of the lot) onwards the series has been practically unwatchable with incomprehensible plots, juvenile (borderline racist) humour and an overdose of CGI fight sequences, one indistinguishable from the other. Basically the storylines (if you can call them that) are mere excuses to have the good robots (the Autobots) fight the bad robots (the Decipticons) over and over again and also to have good-looking young women – Megan Fox (before she destroyed her looks with unneeded plastic surgery), Isabel Lucas, Rosie Huntington-Whitely – running around in tight tee shirts and denim cut-offs. In the process you also get the pleasure of innumerable ear-drum splitting explosions and scenes of various cities getting destroyed. It is all very headache-inducing. The unfortunate thing is that despite critical drubbings the Transformers movies have been box-office juggernauts. So we keep getting subjected to more and more of them.
And so now we have the fourth entry in the series and director Michael Bay (he’s directed all four movies) repeats his tried and tested formula over a mind-numbing two hours and forty-five minutes. The nubile thing this time around is the fetching Nicola Peltz (bearing more than a passing resemblance to Tara Reid) while the major metropolis under threat is Hong Kong. And along with the Autobots and Decepticons we also get the new Dinobots, robots that look like dinosaurs. Thankfully, the irritating Shia LaBeouf has been replaced by Mark Wahlberg but that hardly makes much of a difference. The plot as usual makes no sense but that’s almost beside the point. By now, Bay and his robots have bludgeoned audiences all over the world into submission and all we can do now is submit. There’ll be many more Transformers movies in the years to come.
Cut to chase: This series is way past its point of extinction