There are a fair bit of rough-opinions pirouetting over Thora Jee Le’s head with discriminatory menace; while most of the anger is far from unjust, the angst seems, at times, thoroughly unprofessional. The movie’s biggest impediment – apart from the fact that it is made with the still-audible-cry of “Pakistani Film-makers Having Good Intentions”, and a lack of basic filmmaking skills – is that director-writer Rafay Rashidi and producer Mehtab Akbar Rashidi have little-to-no experience in identifying how amateur their good intentions look on paper.
A product that doesn’t run far from semi-professional thesis of ill-prepared and superficially educated Media Science students, Thora Jee Le is a drab, over-stretched, cardboard-cut-out world of today’s youth: the same ones who run-in-bulk to support local cinema. It is understandable, then, that Mr. Rashidi wants to target the younger set, delving into their convoluted complications, hoping they’d understand. They won’t.
We open to a long monologue of the principal cast that half-succeeds in telling us who these people are expected to be – not who they are. Kaizaad, Misha, Parvez ‘Party’ Khan, Bahaar, TC and Andy (Rizwan Ali Jaffri, Ramsha Khan, Bilal Abbas, Fatima Shah Jillani, Kasim Khan and Salman Faisal) are six out-of-touch college friends who reunite when ‘Party’ takes a near-fatal drug overdose. Party, you see, is a good boy who wants to become his own man and succeed in what he loves – music; mixing up with the wrong crowd, he ends up a junkie who lacks hindsight but makes up for it with his happy-dispossession of self-confidence.
The friends intervene on the noble cause: a get-away weekend might help Party out of his dilemma, they think. The trip, the main pitch of the movie – which starts near the intermission – is an insensible jaunt to Kaizaad’s big old mansion on a small backwater village, that is, inexplicable for the plot, a haggard witch’s favourite place to hang out.
Once there, emotions run-rampant: Kaizaad, we see, is still gaga over the already-married Misha, a sweet ol’ gal who is now an uber-busy business woman who prioritises hubby and daughter to near-oblivious status, and yet, by the end doesn’t seem to see the folly of her ways. The problem, however, is not exclusive to Misha. With exception to Bahaar – a fashionista who can’t seem to land her dream guy – every character is stamped with a pre-fixed nature that stays bolted, immovable on the ground.
There is a lack of progress in both the screenplay and the characters, who bicker and yell but have little to no understanding of real life – which may be, I concede, what the director was implying from the start. Rashidi embeds a lot of conflict, in fact, in some scenes, he tag-teams them in parallel, amplifying them without a proper resolve or an act-break that culminates a section of the story and enables his characters to progress, cinematically, to the story’s next phase.
Then again, there are no discernable pieces in the narrative; Thora Jee Le is one small idea, written in a long un-fractioned, technically atrocious garble that’s brimming with overconfidence, amateur acting and feeble dialogues. •
Thora Jee Le is one small idea, written in a long un-fractioned, technically atrocious garble that’s brimming with overconfidence, amateur acting and feeble dialogues.
In Resident Evil: The (purported) Final Chapter of the franchise, one sees many reasons to cheer up with fanfare. Unfortunately, those moments arrive in bulk at the last 30 minutes, in what is an unashamedly protracted action-fest designed to highlight star Milla Jovovich as the near imperishable monster-masher Alice.
Alice, now in her sixth movie, has been through a lot (like us), and killing bio-engineered monsters is second nature to her. So when she rises from the city-wide rubble, that may have killed the remaining assembled ensemble of the film-franchise, it is hardly a shock.
Alice, after dispatching a handful of monsters in the never-ending first 20 minutes, is led to the first film’s location by the Red Queen – the villain corporation’s computer designed to look like a young girl, maybe out of fatherly love, or as a by-product of someone’s sick fascination. Once there, she will learn why the film may indeed be the culmination of a series of films that invoked a lot of angry criticism.
The twists – none of which startle the imagination – are as meek as the mutations Alice kills along with Claire (Ali Larter) returning, but not adding any significance to the plot. The rest of the cast – including a good number of females who aren’t introduced or fleshed out – are zombie munch, very much like the screenplay by director Paul W.S. Anderson.
Earlier in the movie, however, there is a slight of hand: Alice is bamboozled by a sexy, red BMW S 1000 XR heavy-bike. The speedster, shiny in front of a crumbling bridge and a rough, dusty terrain, lays waiting, as if mirage – or a trap. It is, of course, the latter, but it signifies an important point: sponsorship reigns supreme even in big, end of the world scenarios – and also the fact that products are indifferent to good and evil. •
One sees many reasons to cheer up with fanfare. Unfortunately, those moments arrive in bulk at the last 30 minutes, in what is an unashamedly protracted action-fest designed to highlight star Milla Jovovich as the near imperishable monster-masher Alice.
There is an invisible nature to women and most of the stuffed-in ensemble cast in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, playing in cinemas right now. The plot, of little consequence about a “Pandora’s Box”, capable to crashing any satellite on anyone, adds too many of everything: martial artists parkouring across rooftops, speed-junkies on skateboards, nose-diving military planes, and hardcore women – Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, former Miss Columbia runner-up Ariadna Gutiérrez, Hermione Corfield and Toni Collette – and it tops that with more women, functioning as scantily-clad scene decorations, gushing with heightened pheromones over Xander Cage. Apparently, it’s fun to be either Cage or Vin Diesel.
Diesel, also one of the producers of the film, re-writes Cage into a silhouette of himself and adds to it the flare of pre-Daniel Craig-Bond: he now flashes his cute baby-like smiles – a hit with the ladies and near-about unbreakable. The actor’s bulked-up physicality screams of this. He also spends adequate time with the supporting cast, all of whom, with exception to Kris Wu, formerly of the South Korean band Exo, and Tony Jaa, slide in and out of scenes without supplementing the movie. The screenplay, written by F. Scott Fraizier, stresses incessantly on ‘xXx’ as a brand, and not an individual. A good bulk of the movie, then, is mostly a blur of action, where Diesel globe trots on a senseless plot to recapture the device for Collette’s character, the stern-faced head-honcho of the xXx program after Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) bites the big one post the movie’s laugh-out-loud opening scene.
In Diesel’s path is Andy Lau, tough-to-digest as the villain, who aces all of his scenes, and Padukone, whose smooth tanned skin and model-like postures are brought down by her Madrasi-ish English accent. Dobrev, who plays the overzealously smitten nerdy tech-support, is more fun to watch.
Despite the lag, and the unimaginativeness of the movie’s layout, the enterprise has a chirpy non-seriousness of Sunday morning cartoon, where the good guys score and the bad guys don’t seem that bad at all. •
The enterprise has a chirpy non-seriousness of Sunday morning cartoon, where the good guys score and the bad guys don’t seem that bad at all.
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