Movie Review: The Hurt Locker


The rush of battle is often potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug

-Chris Hedges

After being subjected to hi-fi cinemas like AVATAR, Terminator series, I happen to hear a lot about this movie The Hurt Locker. After a lot of speculation about this (Six Oscars!!), I settled down in front of my computer, to watch it.

I can hear lots of squishy whispers about seeing the movie in my System. But this movie is not a newbie to get released outside India. This movie was first released on September 4 2008 in the Venice film Festival and the second release on June 2 2009 in USA. So I’m doing the legal action of watching it in my computer!! 🙂

Anyways, the movie is all about War, not containing the war scenes as that of 300 or that of Gladiator. But it is all about the life of militants belonging to bomb diffusing squad, during the early stages of post invaded Iraq, somewhere around in 2004. The movie kick starts with the Staff Sergeant Thompson who gets killed by a remote detonated Improvised Explosive Device also known as IED. Later, Sergeant First Class, William James, who joins as a team leader in the US Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Team, replaces Thompson.

The main responsibility of James is to lead the bomb diffusion team to the location and to examine the IEDs in person, well clad in the bomb suit. James joins with other two Sergeant J.T. Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge who primarily communicate with James through the radio embedded in the suit and to provide him cover from external attacks.

James is a well trained, battle tested veteran who consistently and exceptionally disarms IEDs from inside his suit. His reckless ways of approaching the affected, suspected scene of bomb implantation and disarming it were considered to be crazy and hasty. Though James exhibits brilliant expertise in diffusing any kind of bombs, his hasty behavior makes them annoyed and they go to the extent of killing James.

They undergo many missions in the Iraq where bombs have been embedded in cars, and in grounds where civilians were targeted to be killed. Their timely mission to the location saves people from death bed. James is nevertheless a hasty bomb diffuser, who locates a huge bunch of IEDs in the back of the car. On locating it, he removes his bomb suit and completely disengages himself from it. He examines the circuitry in close proximity to the bombs and exhibits brilliant craftsmanship sans any protection! Inspite of being able to face bombs with ease and bravado, he is mentally unstable and completely controlled by emotional ambiguity. This is well clearly seen when he unearths an unexploded IED surgically implanted inside the corpse of a young boy who he believed to be the one, who was selling DVDs in the streets of Iraq. He even fails to diffuse a bomb which is strapped in thin metal in the Iraqi civilian’s chest, due to the insufficient time clocked in the time bomb programmed with the IEDs in a digital watch. After a failed mission to save the Iraqi Civilian who claims that he has a family and children who depend on him, James feels low and emotionally attacked.

In many of the scenes, James approaches the IED lying in solitude in the road in an anticipation to diffuse it, unexposed to the technical background behind it, until he opens it up like that of an engineering student faces the semester exam question paper without knowing what questions he may have to encounter, and which ones to leave in ‘choice’ provided he knows the tactics to score a full 16 in the other one! The probability of the student getting a pass in the paper or a fail depends purely on the way he has handled the questions.

Well, after being subjected to self emotional torture, James leaves the US Army and he joins with his family – wife and his infant son. Living with his family gives him a mere feeling of living a civilian life – cleaning, taking care of house hold, getting food items from the shops and the life of a normal human being. One night he confesses with his infant son in his bed and he says that he has only one thing that he knows which he loves. The next scene shows him in another team of EOD ready to serve for another 365 days of contract in a Delta Company.

That brings the movie to an end!!

The movie fully gives the viewers a scene by scene life of bomb diffusers in the US Army. It portrays the streets of Iraq where civilians gaze at them from inside the grilled windows, from the terrace and from the corners of the street. The EOD team effortlessly does their job of unveiling the bombs which are implanted anywhere in the cars, roadside debris, stones and mud heaps.

The real scenario of a bomb diffusing squad is well captured and the scenes give the real-time problems and the dangers of being subjected to explosion and how it is the responsibility of the team to protect them from being kissed by death.

Though the movie seems to serve thrill and spectacularism, it miserably fails to feed it properly to the audience. It barely keeps the audience in the tip of the seat.

Positives

  • Awesome screenplay
  • Suspense
  • Portrayal of EOD Team’s life
  • Camera.
  • Army life
  • Bomb Diffusion Strategy

Negatives

  • Boring storyline
  • Monotonous War Scenes
  • No spectacular happening
  • War side technicalities
  • Action sequences
  • No captivating Graphics

Is it worth the 6 Oscars?

But what really makes it a candidate for 6 Oscars is the question. The movie has neither visually enriching scenes like that of 300 or Gladiator nor graphics which captivates your heart and mind.

Hurt Locker has been awarded the following 6 Oscars in the 82 academy awards in 2010.

  1. Best Picture
  2. Directing
  3. Film Editing
  4. Sound Editing
  5. Sound Mixing
  6. Writing (Original Screenplay)

Does this sound crap? Do you think this movie deserves all this over AVATAR?

Best Picture

Okay I can accept this movie for best picture but I don’t think this the ‘THE’ Best picture in the Hollywood. There are others as well in the list. Since, it portrays the life of a soldier and what a war does to him; I can accept this to some extent that it brings in a reality in the movie.

Directing & Writing

So people think this movie is a best directed one? If I had heard ‘Yes’ from many of you, then I feel sorry for them. They miserable lack tastes. What about all other action flicks those lines up the Hollywood ladder? Are they not well directed?  Okay guys, direction is something that is really brilliant in all Hollywood series. But I do not know what this movie has in special?

As how in Tamil movies, a legal wife asks her husband about his secret affair lady, after being caught red handed in the bedroom

En kitta illadhadu, ava kitta enna kandeenga?”

which translates in English to

(“What is that I don’t possess, you found in her?”)

The same question reverberates in my mind. What is that they found in this movie that other movies don’t have?

Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing

I feel extremely sorry to those guys who nominated this movie under these three categories. If all this sound mixing and editing is extremely brilliant that invited this movie under this category, then I request James Cameroon to release the “Making of Avatar” as a separate DVD in USA. Do people know that the screenplay that we saw in the theater (Yes I saw the movie in the theater!) is completely different from the performance that the actors were doing in front of the cameras? The actors literally have to act with the motion capture cameras, computers and mere nothings. The whole Pandora is nonexistent and still they acted in the place! That’s called brilliance and the technology usage.

Just give your thoughts on how much of sound mixing and editing the post production folks would have done, to bring out the pseudo actions and completely imaginative and nonexistent places (Pandora) and people (Navis) in real!

This really hurts the sentiment of many audiences that AVATAR was able to make up for only 3 Oscars. There can be internal politics behind this Oscars that failed miserably to identify the real performers.

Guess the Hollywood Film industry follows the suit of Indian IT companies which is affected with the disease of not being able to identify the real performers who put in genuine efforts in their daily tasks and awards are merely an eye wash in the name of valuing the employees for their work. Deserving candidates are missed badly due to many blocks that the superior face while identifying them for nomination.

The Hurt Locker –It hurts a lot!!

My Rating: ●●●●● (3/5)

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Movie Review: Aayirathil Oruvan (2010)

Aayirathil Oruvan (2010) – Tamil



With an epic camouflaged in a modern script served with technology dessert, Selvaraghavan was able to hold his audience awestruck, with his simply amazing script in AO. A story set in the modern age with reference to an old Tamil history involving Chola and Pandya dynasty. The story starts with a stage play or it is called Therukoothu in southern Tamilnadu, in which the scene depicts the Chola king handovers his son to one of the people of his kingdom to save his successor. The scene shifts to the old 1279 era’s Chola king in his last stage where in they were driven away from their dynasty as it is invaded by Pandyas. Cholas run away to a secret place to conceal them from the Pandyas.

Then the storyline shifts back to the current age where archeologists from India sets out for an expedition to find the whereabouts of the Cholas with the trails left by Pandya warriors. The team lead by Reema Sen and Andrea with Karthi and others set their journey towards the exploration of Chola land, which turns out to be an Indian government aided project. The obstacles they face while travelling towards the destination with the help of an old map in a parchment paper and the encounter with Chola king Parthiban who still exists in a secret village after many islands and traps away sets the story to the audience.

The back score of the movie is really awesome and it sets the ambience for such an ancient story in the modern age. The screenplay definitely stands out as Selva was able to bring out the real essence of the script. It is really a brave attempt in a Tamil cinema which would definitely reap its fruit of hard work and innovation which Tamil audience have never witnessed before.

The main crux the story lies in the seven traps which ought to be crossed to reach the place where Cholas had lived. They are viz. sea creatures, cannibals, warriors, snakes, hunger, quick sand and a village. Well the story seems to be adopted from various fantasy based stories like that of Vikram Betal, Sindbad the Sailor, Alif Laila and many of them which children would have read in the books. But the story has an ancient-modern stability that the director maintains throughout the movie.

The depiction of Chola history and the kingdom, the people, the old houses takes us to virtually to hundreds of centuries back. You call it a technology effect or the strong story base; it invariably gives a Hollywood touch to the movie.

The Seven Traps

  1. Sea creatures: They resemble an orange glowing lotus leaves which emerge out from the sea and gets stuck to the human body. They emerge from the water when the team of people gets down in the waters near the island, they reach in the night. Since the boat cannot proceed further till the shore of the island, the team had to walk few distance in the water which is still below knee level. Once two or three of the creatures captures a person, he feels extreme irritation and pain in the skin where it gets stuck and makes the person totally impaired. When he drops down, many such creatures engulf him taking him into the sea to his death bed.
  2. Cannibals: These people are encountered by them, once they walk into in the island. There is an entrance to a small village like settlement, where a group of people surrounds them and try to kill them. They look dark, ugly and horrible decorated face (Apocalypto kinda). One can avoid death by not looking into their faces directly. Many are seen to cook humans in the movie. Human legs are protruding out of the cooking pot over a fire, human head will be polished with blood and the inside of it will be extracted and cooked. The horrible scene sends butterflies in our stomach. They speak weird language, which Andrea seems to know and she can talk fluently with the clan leader with black grayish yellow teeth, who likes her very much and want to marry her!
  3. Warriors: These are people who engage in sudden war of fire tipped arrows which kills many of the archeological team who would have deliberately tented in the area after being warned by cannibal clan leader. Thousand of arrows fall from the sky like rain drops and kills many of the people. The team led by Reema Sen and the Officer Azhagam Perumal understand the volume of threat that they are encountering, they engage in gun fire with the red warriors. Reema reminded me of Lara Croft, with her pistols. After mass killing, they burn the carcasses of the warriors and proceed further towards the expedition.
  4. Snakes: They reach a particular place in the forest and as the dusk sets in, they again tent. Andrea being an archeologist, reads Olai chuvadi and predicts that they may be attacked by snakessince it is one of the traps set by Cholas and she was not given due respect as Azhagam thinks being warned about snakes in a forest is dumb and insane. Karthi, Andrea and Reema get separated from the crew during the escape efforts.
  5. Hunger: Yes, after the snake episode, they walk longer miles in the forest, ultimately reaching a vast open sandy desert. Not even a single tree or a water resource would be seen in the finite distance that their vision could reach. They keep walking in hunger and thirst. The desert is vast, sunny, and hot accompanied by sand storms. They have to cross that to reach the next trap which they do not know where and how it is set.
  6. Quick Sand: The three reach a vast open space post desert where the ground is flat and sandy not so loose like that of the desert but thick and hard as a normal sandy roads. Stepping on a particular area may lead to the formation of deep pit which will fill automatically due to the quick sand presence. So if you walk on the sand, in a random place, the ground under your feet will break and you will fall in to the pit and the sand will seal the pit automatically. So the point is to cross the Stonehenge which lies in the center of the vast open ground. They have to cross the quick sand and reach the place after that. The Nataraja Idol shadow which is formed exactly when the sun rises and the rays falls through the Stonehenge to protect them from being drowned in the quick sand, according to some ancient Tamil scripture was a good concept which calls in for appreciations.
  7. Village: This is place where the remaining of the story takes place. Many of them in the village are mad and they abide by the king. They starve and fight for meat like a lunatic. The village is very much ancient and they abide by the king.

Before proceeding further, read this

யாயும் ஞாயும் யாரா கியரோ
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்
யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழி யறிதும்
செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாங்கலந் தனவே

and this one too…

குளித்து மணல் கொண்ட கல்லா இளமை!
அளிதோ தானே! யாண்டுண்டு கொல்லோ,
தொடித்தலை விழுத்தண்டு ஊன்றி நடுக்குற்று
இருமிடை மிடைந்த சிலசொல்
பெரு மூதாளரோம் ஆகிய எமக்கே?”

I’m sure many of the Tamil readers reading this, will not be able to understand the whole thing above, except few. That’s how the second half of the movie will be. After the interval, the scenes will be of the Chola people and the village. The language that they speak is very partially decipherable. They speak lucidly in such an accent that, it gives a real feeling of being with the Chola people.

Karthi, Reema & Andrea finally reach the place where Cholas had lived after crossing all the traps. But unfortunately as it said that, many of them who came in search for this place are lost and never return. The mystery unravels here for us as why is it so. All three will be happy to have located the place. The remnants of the Chola dynasty are seen in front of our eyes. The utensils, idols are found to be available in the streets amidst the dilapidated houses and buildings. There prevails a sudden silence and the air flows in the remnant buildings. The air flowing in and out of the old broken statues situated in the streets creates a high decibel sound which makes them quiver out of pain and suffering, bleeding in nose and mouth. Ultimately they lose their mind and they go mad running in a targetless direction towards some place where they get captive with the village people.

Over exposure to infra red rays causes heat. But in the movie, over exposure of Reema Sen, who is already hot makes the audience edge the seat. She plays her part well. The modern city girl who suddenly speaks ancient Tamil, and performs blood sacrifice rituals in the second half of the story, makes us flummoxed. Her brilliant performance is really an icing in the cake for the AO. The “Govinda Govinda” song sequence and the English track in between gives a feeling of Hollywood music video. She reminded me of the Rihanna and Beyonce at times in the song sequence. It gives an eerie and paranormal flavor to the music. Andrea has very less role in the movie. She has performed equally well, but the there wasn’t much performance from her side as she was silent mostly.

The war tactics, usage of weapons, large boulder thrower etc are something which Tollywood has never witnessed in these days. The scene in which the Reema and the Chola king Parthiban sitting in the throne of the king in a big round amphitheatre, like that of the roman colosseum, witness an age old fight of a mass human fighter who has this big body and has a huge heavy spherical rock attached to a thick long chain which can reach the circumference of the theatre. The lunatics are forced to fight with the big man who constantly levitates the heavy mass of rock and throws it in a direction where a group of lunatic humans are assembled. The rock hits few of them killing mercilessly with blood and flesh splashing into the rock. Our hero fights with him, killing him and winning the duel and he becomes an important subject of the clan.

The Chola King Parthiban has done his role flamboyantly well. His introduction is just another awesome flick from a Hollywood movie. But whatever it is, he simply scores in his performance. He fits the role well. The ancient Tamil in his tongue flows lucidly and has his humor touch here and there. “Linga Darisanam kandu…” dialog will be something which cannot be missed by someone who knows a bit of Tamil in depth. Hats Off to you Parthiban. You always give a humor touch to everything. We loved you as a Chola king!

How can we miss Karthi? Yea, he is as usual casual, humorous and smiling. In his recent movies, he has been portrayed as one filthy, country side, dirty macho man, speaking begrimed language in a contaminated accent. This movie is not an exception as well for him. He plays a coolie who has been hired to help in the expedition. He confronts Reema and Andrea with his naughty mischievous actions, “Kalyananam panna ungala than..pannikanum…”. Later his frown stare at Reema and an affectionate stare on Andrea, facilitates the movie to run interestingly smooth. An extra piece of chicken for Andrea, is an extra piece of chicken for us too!

The movie ends with the death of the king & Karthi running away with a king’s small boy inorder to protect him from the Reema, Azhagam Perumal and others who turned out to be the Pandya successors who were in an expedition to reclaim the lost idol from the Chola king, thus saving at least one the Chola dynasty, indirectly sending us the message that the Chola people and their successors still exists in today’s modern world.

This movie gives a perfect blend of Hollywood series 300, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, Avatar, Mummy, Apocalypto and many other series. Well no story is unique as every story is an outcome of inspiration derived from some other series. I’m sure this one will be a hit in Tamil. This is a must watch movie for those who would expect something different from the kuthu paattu, sentimental cries, action fights, mass heroism, college romance. A completely different approach and try by the director for the Tamil Industry.

There are many scenes in which the so called objectionable and ‘bad’ words are used very perspicuously that suffers a mute. Andrea and Reema involve in wordy duel commenting about their bosoms and using the F word and many other words which is lost in the editing during the censoring. Hmmm…….

Hope the movie finds its place in the box office!

P.S: One thing which keeps nudging me was the use of iPhone by the officer, in the island min-gua near Vietnam. Well I was thinking about which network works well in such an isolated island with strong signal reception! I was wondering about my Airtel connection which sets itself to “No Service” mode 100 kilometers outside the city limits.

Ayirathil Oruvan – All is well!

My Rating: ●●●●● (4/5)