Sign in using your account with
Fan: Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan Plays Celebrity & Fan in Quirky Drama
Regardless of its somewhat bizarre setup and moments of complete absurdity, there;s something strangely inviting about Maneesh Sharma's latest action-thriller Fan, where 'The King of Bollywood' - Mr. Shah Rukh Khan himself - has managed to pull off a rather intriguing and surprisingly entertaining double-performance as both a loved-by-the-masses screen superstar and his creepily-committed young lookalike and fan.
The story is cantered on the twenty-five-year-old Guarav (Khan); a young man who has spent his entire life idolising and worshipping mega-superstar, Aryan Khanna (again, Khan), even going as far as putting his physical resemblance to good use by winning a local talent show for his uncanny impersonation act three years running.
With Aryan's birthday coming up, Guarav decides to travel down to Mumbai to try to get some face time with the star. Joining in with the crowds outside of Aryan's home, getting his idol's attention, however, is not as easy as Guarav initially thought and it doesn't take long after he is thwarted by Aryan's security, for his love to turn into hate. Angered at the received treatment, Guarav decides to get his own back by putting himself - all the while impersonating Aryan - in an array of embarrassing situations, forcing Aryan on a cat-and-mouse chase around the world in order to stop his betrayed fan from doing any more damage.
One of the most important things to note when going in to watch Fan, is not to go in with too many expectations. Having any kind of anticipation - especially if you are not accustomed to the way things are done in Bollywood - is guaranteed to ruin the experience. Written by Habib Faisal, the story is part action-thriller part creepy melodrama, with the first half of the film putting forth an intriguing set-up where we are given an introduction to a celebrity-crazed man whose entire world - a rather strange and unnerving place to be - is dedicated to his idol. The second half is where the film cuts loose in typically loud and colourful Bollywood style, despite there being no music numbers. Jumping from one location to another - Mumbai, Dubrovnik, London - the action is exciting, but overblown with the painfully loud sound-mixing, as if it tries to force the drama.
Thanks to the special effects work from renowned makeup artist, Greg Cannon - see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - and 3D scanning technology, the character of young Khan is convincing enough to make you forget that the same actor is playing both roles. The actual performances are equally committed, however, story could have benefitted from being a bit more restrained.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.