Kung Fu Panda 3: Movie Review

Po and his exciting companions are back in the third iteration of the fun-filled Kung Fu Panda series.

Jack Black’s Po remains one of the most adorable animated characters to have come out of DreamWorks Studios and he is fantastic here as well.  As always, one of the most endearing aspect of these films has always been the clever one liners and there are an ample servings of them in this one too.

Coming to the story, we’re back in familiar waters. To keep it as spoiler-free as possible: Kai (who kinda looks like a bull?)  is an ancient foe who has been banished to the spirit realm by Master Oogway. But now he’s back with a vengeance, planning to take down the Jade Palace. Now it’s upto Po to master a secret magic to defeat Kai once and for all.

But lest I forget, we finally get to visit the much anticipated Panda village with Po reuniting with his biological father Li Shan (voiced by the wonderful Bryan Cranston). In a movie filled with so much fun and frolic, some of the best moments are the incredibly subtle but emotional callbacks to Po’s childhood and his late mother.

I also loved the music with its Chinese touch; Hans Zimmer keeps the tempo lively and even though there weren’t any standout motifs, the music wonderfully accentuates the film. The same goes for the great use of 3D, there are only a few movies out there that can justify their use of adding that extra dimension and Kung Fu Panda is definitely one of them. I dunno if this is the conclusion to the series but I’ll miss the colorful world with its cute anthropomorphic animals and the delicious food references.

If I have a minor problem with this third film, it’s only this: I would have loved for the writers to up the ante in this one, to kinda beef up the emotional aspect. But the series adamantly sticks to primarily cater to the younger crowd. Granted, the adults will enjoy this film but there’s just not enough that lingers in your mind once you’re out of the cinema.

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CONTINUUM – TV Series Review

Are you looking for your next sci-fi binge watch? I present you Continuum – one of the finest sci-fi action series to have come out recently.

I mean, how about this for starters!

  • A clever time-traveling female protagonist (Rachel Nichols, playing a cop) who knows how to kick some serious ass. And yet has her flaws to make her seem like a real person.
  • The fact that EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER is crucial to the story and they all deliver outstanding performances!
  • How there are no good or bad people. The writers frequently throw the question of moral ambiguity at the audience themselves. I simply love this aspect of the show.
  • The writers never take the audience’s intelligence for granted. This is one highly cerebral show and if you don’t keep up with the plot, you’ll be left with lots of questions.
  • If you’re a science nerd, then you’ll love how the show celebrates and treats it with respect at the same time.
  • Did I mention time-travel?? It’s the most science-y version of time travel I’ve seen and there are some strict rules that the story never crosses so it’s all neat and tight.
  • The technology from 2077 is really cool and yet it is not very magical. They all seem like stuff that should be achievable in 60 years time. I hate to sound like a broken record, but some serious thought has really gone into how the future would shape up.
  • THERE IS NO ROMANCE! Yes, let that sink in.
  • How it ends. The best series finale for me after Breaking Bad!

PLOT:

The year is 2077. The government has collapsed and a “corporate congress” rules the world. There is political unrest and the society is at the brink of a war. A self-proclaimed terrorist group called “Liber8” kill thousands of innocents but when brought to trial, they escape using a time-travel device to the year 2012. Our protagonist, Kiera Cameron, who is a City Protective Services (CPS) officer also gets involuntarily transported along with them.

The terrorists’ plan is to alter the past to prevent the corporate rise in the future. But Kiera, with her affliction towards law and order is torn between doing what is right and what her conscience tells her to do. All she wants right now is to return to her family in 2077 but she knows that may not happen if too much of the past is altered. Equipped with a young tech-genius Alec Sadler, who is none other than the evil corporate mogul in 2077, she fights to thwart Liber8 from achieving what they want. But as they say, fate is a bitch. And with a ton of moral dilemmas to consider, she has to weigh her options and come to grips with how selfish she can get (secure the future to return to her son vs. doing the right thing to prevent the future).

How it all ends, is seriously what you should witness for yourself on your computer screens!

MY FAVOURITE CHARACTERS:

There are literally dozens of interesting people on this show and I’m pretty sure that everyone will eventually get attached to some more than the others. Like I said earlier, there are no bad people, just people looking after themselves.

The below are my favourites:

Kiera and Alec, just doing their thing!

KIERA CAMERON: She’s the protagonist who gets inadvertently shipped to the year 2012 from 2077 along with a bunch of criminals. We’ve been seeing a lot of powerful roles for women on TV lately and Rachel Nichols rises up to the occasion to deliver a finely balanced performance.

 

ALEC SADLER: This young tech-wizard can be almost irresistible at times. He’s not the awkward nerd a la the gang of Big Bang Theory, he actually makes it seem ultra cool. He’s also Kiera’s bestest friend and I love the interplay between them. Erik Knudsen is just perfect for the role.

MATTHEW KELLOG: Probably the most vile of them all, but hey, he was being an opportunist after all. And he’s got brains. It’s amazing how when Kellog comes up on screen, the dramatic level rises up a hundred notches.

 

JASON: How would it be if you traveled to the past and met your father when he was in his twenties? Before he even met your mother? Made even more weird by the fact that you are currently in your fifties! Jason Sadler is not a huge character but he makes his presence felt for the sheer amusement of his existence. And Ian Tracey captures the eccentricity oh-so-wonderfully!

GARZA: A total bad-ass, she starts off as a hateful character but I totally fell in love with her personality and backstory by the end. There is one fight sequence with Kiera and Garza in Season 3 which is literally out-of-the-world!

MUSIC:

Well this is one of those aspects that ends up having a big effect on me, and while the musical scores in this are not very extensive, they do add a lot to the show’s feel. I like that the main theme appears in almost every episode in myriad different forms and kinda gets glued in your head by the end as a result. Even the other scores are heavily string based and sound aptly intense.

 

THE ENDING:

How many shows do you know that get cancelled by the networks mercilessly so receive no chance to wind up their stories satisfactorily? And us poor audience after having invested so much in the characters and the story are left to dangle onto an unfinished story while signing up petitions online for the makers to release that one off special to give us some closure! Uff.

But not with Continuum. The writers knew they only got 4 seasons, so they jam pack every episode with oodles of information while leading to that big climax, which in my opinion is every bit epic (there is no spectacle, mind you, just the human emotions). I obviously don’t want to give the ending away, but let’s just say it feels perfect. Bittersweet, but perfect nonetheless.

So why should you binge watch it?

Because there are only 42 episodes in all! So it’s not that much of a drag, and almost all the episodes are eminently watchable. If you loved Fringe and have been craving for more sci-fi, then you can’t land a better show at the moment.

To help you along, Wired has this incredibly convenient binge-watch guide. Though I wouldn’t really recommend that you skip any episodes!

http://www.wired.com/2016/02/binge-guide-continuum/

Charlie – Movie Review

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Charlie (Dulquer Salmaan) is a free-spirited vagabond, the quintessential do-gooder who lives to see the sparkle in others’ eyes. Tessa (Parvathy) is a free-spirited vagabond too who effortlessly flits between cities and careers in search of new experiences.  The similarities go even further as they’re both graphic artists and are both incredibly passionate people! But there’s one primal difference between Charlie and Tessa that’s easy to miss – Charlie is selfless, Tessa is anything but.

But the movie doesn’t ask you to do all of those deductions. Charlie is a kind of movie that you go sit and trust the director to take you on a soul-quenching ride. And what an eyeful it is too. Starting from the incredibly gorgeous looking title card, down to the teeny tiny marvelous touches like how a pair of pliers turn into antlers for a deer sketch, this is one fabulously mounted film. And I’ve not seen many Malayalam films but Cochin has never looked better in my opinion. There is something to be said about what a movie can achieve when it’s got a tasteful cinematographer. There are probably way too many slow-mo shots but I never did complain and I couldn’t stop staring at the screen.

The movie unfolds in an unconventional way. Tessa’s relentless search for Charlie (the mysterious/intriguing previous occupant of her apartment) was handled nicely.  In bits and pieces, the backstory to Charlie is revealed which I thought was a great framing device in that we always have something to look forward to. It’s not perfect by any measure though, as there were a couple of places where I felt that the movie was getting too indulgent for its own good.

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As for the performances, everyone brings their A-game to the table. I’ve always been a big admirer of Parvathy and her incredibly expressive eyes, and she doesn’t disappoint. Her rustic appearance comes into play wonderfully for Tessa, the almost hippy. Dulquer is charming and completely owns the frames that he is in, though I think now is the time for him to do something different. Nedumudi Venu is always a delight and I loved how his sub-plot turns the tables around for Charlie. The actress who played Kani was also effective.

But the man of the movie for me is probably Gopi Sundar, the music director, who lends an almost ethereal background score and equally impressive songs  that gel so well with the mood of the film.

Charlie might not feature in the greatest Malayalam films of 2015, but it sure has got its heart in the right place and delivers on its promise to feed you a delectable meal for your senses.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – Movie Review

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I’ll say this outright, The Hunger Games films have been one of the most faithful book adaptations I’ve seen. Sometimes even carrying off entire conversations verbatim from the book. And when Jennifer Lawrence emerged as Katniss Everdeen in the first movie, I couldn’t help but marvel at how accurately she was able to capture Katniss’s state of mind and body language. For this reason alone, and also the thrilling riots that the first two books were – I’d always immensely enjoyed these movies.

The third book Mockingjay, though, is a different story. For me it had always been the weakest link, with a muddled plot and not really resolving things in a satisfying manner. So when they announced that the book is gonna be split into two films as has become the norm these days – I deemed it one of the worst decision ever. And it showed, Mockingjay Part 1 was a drag and felt hollow and uneventful with no clear goal. But guess what, after watching Part 2 it hit me that splitting it may have been a wise decision after all.

Because this movie had only one goal: sell the climax.

The book never even came close to doing it convincingly. It all happens in a blur and with a lot of Katniss’s inner monologue. Maybe I didn’t give the book the kind of reflection it needed but by the end of it I was a lot disappointed to give the story any more thought.

But the movie, on the other hand, since it has got the space and time to tell a much shorter story, it allowed for these moments of contemplation to exist which really helped to bring the conflict of morality that much more effectively to the forefront. Also, even with all the action pieces and the purported 76th Hunger Games feel, when you watch this movie the only things that’ll be rattling in your mind are the people and the choices they make.

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<spoilers ahead>

But I did have some minor issues. One of which has plagued the book as well. Gale‘s merciless dismissal with a flick of a finger in both the book and movie for a crime he did not commit is something I’ll never wrap my mind around. Yes, the delayed bombs were his idea but holding it against him because they accidentally killed Prim is simply not justifiable in any way.

Maybe you should also know that I am and have always been Team Gale. Yep. Katniss needs Peeta, but she loves Gale. And it doesn’t help that Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson have absolutely zero romantic chemistry. It’s a pain to see these two trying to be intimate.

Anyway, back to Prim. Now her death, for some odd reason, is not mourned by anyone. I don’t remember how it happens in the book, but one moment you see an explosion killing Prim and the next moment everybody is back to business as usual. Also the last time we saw Prim was an year ago so the audience have a much lesser connect to her as well. Wouldn’t it have helped, since they had all the time in the world, to add one or more prominent scenes with Prim and how much she means to Katniss?

</spoilers end>

There’s a reason why the Hunger Games books are not just yet-another-dystopia. Apart from the mind-boggling suspense and thrill, the books have always been about the underlying moral dilemma. How many worse things could someone do in the pretense of ‘a greater good’ that it finally starts to eat into the society? You see that with President Snow, of course, but with Mockingjay you also get to see the evolution of it with President Alma Coin (a great Julianne Moore), tyrant in the making.

Technically, the movie is fabulous. Be it the CGI, the camerawork (I did spot a couple of shaky-cam moments, but thankfully they don’t permeate the entire film), and not to mention the amazing score by James Newton Howard! He breathes life and desolation in equal parts and even though I missed the return of Rue’s Theme (which never fails to move me to bits), he more than makes up for it with some new engaging themes.

It’s always a sad thing when something comes to an end. The Hunger Games, for me, will always be a special experience with the movies doing the books ample justice. But I guess I have to thank Suzanne Collins for it all.

I’ll leave you with this invigorating piece of music that features in both Mockingjay movies. Jennifer Lawrence does kill with her voice, doesn’t she?

TAMASHA – Movie Review

To call Tamasha ‘old wine in a new bottle’ might be doing the film a disservice. Not too much, but a little. In any case, the joke is not lost on Imtiaz Ali for asking us ‘Why always the same story?’ all along. We thought he was being meta and referring to the story of the film. But turns out, he meant the story of our protagonist. And we’ve seen it countless times before.

But what Imtiaz does, rather effectively, is give Ved (Ranbir) a thoroughly refreshing and layered characterization. He goes to establish from the start of the film (and even before, if you’ve heard the music) that our male lead has a fascination for stories. Listening and telling and living in one, as well. He grows up on Ramayan and  Romeo & Juliet and every thing in between, narrated by a friendly old-man who charges ten rupees per 30 minutes of story session. But of course, life happens and he gets veered into a different course and dons a new character trait. He loses his real self and becomes – as the movie puts it – a mediocre everyday-man. Life goes on like this for many a years. But what happens when somebody comes along and questions his very existence? That all of his life has been a farce? This, as you guessed, forms the crux of the story.

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And the somebody, you guessed it again, is Tara (Deepika). Unfortunately, Tara doesn’t get the same treatment as Ved and falls flat as a character. What also hurts is that she absolutely has no character graph through the length of the film. Some of the details are nice, like the fact that she is not some mysterious girl but has an actual high-profile job (in a tea company, no less), but we never really get to witness what goes on in her mind.

In fact, if it wasn’t for Ranbir and Deepika’s stellar performances, the movie would surely have hit the dirt. Ranbir has already established himself as an extremely capable actor, and it’s a joy to watch him ease-in and out of the many character variations that he is put through. As for Deepika, most of her portions should have been a cake-walk and her biggest strength has always been to make it seem so effortless anyway. She especially shines in the more serious scenes, and the one integral moment in the latter half where she lays Tara’s vulnerability bare. And then there’s the chemistry she shares with Ranbir which is still very palpable and lends so much to making them a likeable pair.

But there’s someone else who takes a major chunk of the limelight and that is A.R.Rahman. I think Imtiaz has a natural sense for good music which explains why all of his movies have chartbusting songs. In Tamasha, the music plays a very important role as it pushes the story forward when needed, and helps in taking a pause to contemplate when it is time to do so. I also just loved the way the songs were placed, punctuating many a beautiful moments. Just notice the way the song Tu Koi Aur Hai adds intensity and nostalgia to the closing scene, and you’ll know what I mean. It makes me marvel at how precisely Imtiaz and Rahman got down to add music to each scene because nothing feels random. The background score, too, is breezy and acoustic and basically everything that is good about Rahman. There was even an instruments-only version of Safarnama used in background that sounded magical, but I may never lay my hands on it as Indian films hardly ever release their musical scores officially.

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Coming to the other technical departments, cinematography wins highly for the beautifully shot moments in Corsica and adding a rare finesse to the scenes in New Delhi. The editing work was stupendous too, flitting between snippets of past to present so seamlessly. Technically, the film is sound. Where it disappoints is the uninspiring writing. Don’t get me wrong, Imtiaz’s writing is still very cerebral (a prime example being the very first scene of the film, which takes on a bigger meaning by the movie’s climax) and has some of the wonderful quirks that we have come to associate with him. But the resolution to the movie had an air of deja-vu and comes off as very simplistic to a non-problem, in the first place.

How much you will like this movie will depend on what’s the primary reason for your visit. If you’re there for Ranbir, you get your money’s worth. If you’re there for Deepika, you get your money’s worth. And ditto for Rahman.  Even otherwise, if all you wanted was to watch a good movie, you will get that too. Just don’t expect your mind to be blown away.

SPECTRE: Movie Review

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When you go to see a James Bond movie, you don’t get to ask certain questions. Like, how is it that props like sofas and nets are always present at the right spots to break his fall from heights? Or, why are the roads in Rome so vacant when our hero is in a car-chase but filled with traffic just moments after? Or even, why does Bond have to bed every woman that comes his way?

This is not to say that the Bond movies have always been about high-IQ and logic, and we should be able to let all of these remarks slide. Because the man in question – James Bond – is above all of this, and we can forgive little plot slips as long as we are entertained. And he is entertained. So scratch my last question, with all the stress and hard-work he puts himself through, it’s only natural to need to have a release once in a while. Right? Right?

Well, even with all of the glitz and the glamour and the adrenaline-pumping action, Spectre still doesn’t rise up as a worthy installment in the franchise. And certainly not a worthy successor to the amazement that was Skyfall. Halfway through the movie, I realized that I had seen this movie before in countless forms. The screen play was getting so generic and predictable, I actually yawned. And not just that, the script is just so similar to the recent Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation that I seriously wonder how nobody saw it. In any case, what pulls the movie down is the lethargic writing. There is nothing that screams creative or innovative in the script, and even though the movie might leave you oddly satisfied at the experience, it never gives you the high.

There’s one thing I liked most in Skyfall and that’s the introduction of a humane angle to Bond. Putting him through emotional tight spaces that he’s not accustomed to. Thankfully, that endeavour continues in Spectre as well and we get an inkling of his past through the antagonist (Christoph Waltz playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the mastermind behind Spectre), who I should say was menacing, but not enough. The one to beat is Andrew Scott (playing Max Denbigh, a vile British Government official), whose creepy smile is something not very easy to get over. (If you didn’t know, he’s the same guy who plays Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock)

The rest of the cast including Daniel Craig, of course, are spectacular in their respective roles and make the movie eminently watchable. Lea Seydoux as Dr. Madeline Swann, the Bond girl this time is interesting in that she challenges James and makes him see a different side to himself. And she also proves to be quite resourceful herself, even saving Bond’s ass in one fight. The other highlight is the thumping score by Thomas Newman, which the movie never lets go.

Spectre starts off stunningly with a massively mounted opening sequence in Mexico City, a MacGuffin for our Bond. But it never really takes off from there and insists on staying content with being just-another-Bond-movie. You do get some thrills and a world tour, but there’s nothing to make you want to sit through the movie again.

The Walk – Movie Review

There are three things that need to be mentioned with regards to The Walk that impressed me a lot –

  1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s impeccable French accent.
  2. The ultra realistic visual effects.
  3. Clever use of 3D

Having followed Joseph since his Mysterious Skin days, it’s delightful to see him blossom into this mature and endearing actor that he is. One can’t help but marvel at how precise he is in everything he does. And also how versatile. If he makes you believe that he really is this free-spirited, funny and ambitious French lad who wants to walk a high-wire between the two Word Trade Center towers, then it’s entirely up to the way he wears the character he’s playing. You don’t see Joseph Gordon Levitt, you see Philippe Petit.

Then talk about the visual effects. The WTC buildings do not exist today, and yet anyone who sees the movie would find it difficult to believe that everything you see is computer generated. And it’s not only about the buildings, but about the view from the top too. New York City does look absolutely spectacular from that height and getting that bird’s eye view had really been a special moment.

Now a word about the 3D. You know how the usage of 3D has become a fad now-a-days. Every one wants to do 3D even when it adds zero to the film experience. Not to mention the dark hue the movie takes under those glasses. But this movie was destined for a 3D experience. In fact, don’t watch the movie unless you’re wearing your 3D glasses! It’s that good! When was the last time you jumped from your seat because something from the screen came out at you?

Now that I’ve dealt with the physical aspects of it, let me talk about the movie’s heart. Philippe Petit is a wonder, no matter how you cut it. What he attempts and achieves tells a lot about human capability if only one sets their mind onto their goal. To know that he had spent 6 years of his lifetime just to prepare for “le coup” as he calls it, all the spying and research and planning, it absolutely blows my mind. This man had a simple but deadly goal, to walk a rope between the two tallest buildings of the time. A walk of 140 feet, 110 stories above the ground! Just how much confidence, courage, dedication and peace of mind one needs to possess to even attempt something like that, I cannot say. But we cannot deny the fact that he is an inspiration for everyone of us out here. We may never reach the heights he did, but we all can implement his ideals in our own way.

Don’t miss this one.

The Martian – Movie Review

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Mark Watney may hate disco music with all his heart, but I think I have finally come to appreciate Commander Lewis’ love for it. I mean, it sounds perfectly groovy. And probably the best music to have when you’re stuck on a lonely planet like Mars. Just saying.

I guess with NASA announcing that they’ve finally found water on the red planet last week, it can only spell serendipity for the film. Just as well, because this is the most fun space movie you would have seen in a long while. You might not walk away from the theater with a heavy heart – like what Gravity and Interstellar do to you – but you will have had a great time nevertheless, watching the travails and comedic outbursts of Mark Watney, the man destined to be remain in history as one of the coolest protagonists ever.

The Story:

Well the story is pretty obvious by now I suppose. In the not so distant future, on one of NASA’s manned missions to Mars named ARES 3, a heavy sand storm hits the base jeopardizing their return to Earth if they don’t abort immediately. But then, just as they are making their way to the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), a stray antenna hits Mark Watney and he gets carried over by the storm. The other members, deeming him dead, leave the planet. Only, he’s alive and kicking, a truth that will shake NASA and subsequently the whole world. With four years for the next manned mission to Mars that could rescue him, fast depleting food and water-  how is this guy ever gonna survive? That is something best seen on the screen.

You may check out my in-depth review of the novel that discusses the story in more detail :

The Martian – Book Review

The Analysis:

First off, I think they nailed the casting. And at least for me, a lot of them were familiar faces.

  • Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) was none other than Murphy Cooper from Interstellar!
  • Johannsen (Kate Mara) is Zoe from House of Cards.
  • Martinez (Micheal Pena) was that funny guy from Ant-Man.
  • Mitch (Sean Bean) is Boromir from LOTR! And also the first one to die in Game of Thrones!
  • And Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is…well he’s Matt Damon!

And I know that Irrfan Khan was supposed to play the role of Venkat Kapoor, but unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts with a Bollywood film of his, they had to cast Chiwetel Ejiofor and had to tweak his name to Vincent Kapoor (LOL!) so that now he’s half-Hindu and half-Jewish. But I’m not really pissed as Chiwetel is indeed a very competent actor and brings across the required intensity to his role.

And you couldn’t have imagined a better Mark Watney than Matt Damon. Period. He brings just the right amount of brilliance and smart-assery that’s required for the role. And I was eagerly waiting for all the f-bombs, to be honest, but they did cut back a lot as I think they wanted to maintain that PG-13 rating. But I did really miss that one final “F*** you, Mars” when he’s facing the red planet from the orbit in the end.

The movie also scrapes over most of the science stuff, as expected. Books are different as they have all the time in the world to explain and establish concepts, but in movies you can’t stop to explain all the time. And I think they did strike a fine balance. The set work is fantastic, and The Hab and Rover were really well done. As are the sweeping vistas of Mars.

If I have one concern with the movie is that it never really made me feel the gravitas of the situation that Mark is in. The book does it considerably well. But in the movie, somehow, you believe that this guy has the chops to make it out alive. Maybe it’s because of the inherent optimism that runs through the movie and maybe it’s because they missed to include one of the biggest problems that Mark Watney faces i.e the huge storm on the way to Schiaparelli Crater. So yes, like I said before, this is not a heavy movie. There are problems, and our hero solves them, one after the other. And was the epilogue required? Probably not. But my sister did say that she would have killed the writers had they ended the movie where the book did.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – Movie Review

Well as they say, there’s a day for everything. And today, for the first time ever I saw a movie without having read the book first! Just as well. Because when it comes to this series, the movies are definitely better than books. Yes you heard me right. When I read the first Maze Runner book, I did like the premise but everything else fell flat for me – the characterization, the pacing, everything. But the movie corrected a lot of those mistakes and actually turned out be quite fun. So when the sequel The Scorch Trials was announced, I was ready to watch it without reading the book as I had an inkling that this would surely be the superior experience out of the two.

Now I don’t know if I am right or not, but the movie was actually pretty good!

The Story

We pick up right where left off at the end of the first movie. After the maze trials, Thomas and his friends along with Teresa are brought on-board a safe-house run by a man called Jansen (the audience immediately recognized the actor, as he’s none other than Aiden Gillen who plays Petyr in GoT). He tells the kids that they’re in safe hands now and finally out of reach of W.C.K.D (that’s pronounced Wicked, an evil group that captures kids immune to the Flare virus to harvest the cure out of them). But nothing seems to be as it appears. A secret is discovered, which takes our protagonists out into the open. What is the Flare virus? Who is on whose side? And how do you tell the good people from the bad? This forms the crux of the film.

The Analysis

I am not sure what the Flare virus actually does to people, but this movie plays out like an episode right out of ‘The Walking Dead’. People affected by the virus behave like zombies and a bite will infect you as well. But with that aside, I have to say that the movie mostly succeeds in keeping you glued to your seat till the very end. There’s very little character development and people we already know from the first film don’t do anything that’s too surprising. But I welcomed the introduction of new characters, especially Giancarlo Esposito playing Jorge, a character that’s right up his alley. The new girl Brenda was quite good too and we actually spend quite a lot of time with her than Teresa.

Hollywood has now become a master of creating something out of nothing and making it seem like it’s all real so let’s just say that the Visual Effects are good! I mean, the maze did really look magnificent in the first movie and here it’s the city-in-ruins that gets special mention. Everything feels organic. The background score was okay too, and very good in some parts.

If I have a problem with the film it’s only that the emotional graph is not maintained very well. Now this may have been something that’s carried over from the books, but you never quite reach the emotional high in the climax as the action insists to jog back and forth. (Remember that final scene in Catching Fire where Katniss shoots an arrow into the dome? How electrifying (pun intended) was that!) Stuff like that goes sorely missing here but still it’s not too bad. The final scene does make you want to watch the next movie, so that’s good enough.

*Images sourced from foxmovies.com

Drishyam and Masaan – Movie Reviews

Today was one of those rare back-to-back movie days. But what was I to do, a lot of good movies have come out lately and I absolutely love the cinema experience. Watching in on the tiny screen of my computer just does not cut it.

I’m gonna keep it crisp and to the point, as it’s 2AM in the morning and I’m too exhausted for a comprehensive analysis.

First up:

DRISHYAM

Having already seen the original Malayalam and the Telugu adaptations, I ventured to see the Hindi version purely for the performances as I know that this is not a script that you can twist much. It’s pretty darn perfect and brilliant in the first place that all the adaptations follow it to the T, with only minor trivial changes if any. So here are my observations:

  • Watch it for Tabu!! This lady knows how to act, period. I concede that all the women who played the role of I.G in different versions were incredibly good but Tabu was just so much more better in my opinion. She brings out all of those minor as well as major emotions so splendidly on to the screen. And that climax scene, where she doesn’t utter a word and yet says so much through her eyes.
  • Ajay Devgan played the role with the right amount of restraint and solemnity. Mohanlal was still the best though. Shriya Saran was pretty and acted quite well, but I was seriously disturbed by all the lipstick she wore all the frickin’ time. I mean, even while going for a police interrogation?
  • The little girl. Not really impressed. The expressions looked very labored.
  • The movie’s set in Goa, so the locations were quite good and I also loved their house with that ochre paint!
  • As far as the adaptation goes, it’s quite faithful and does justice to the original. Watch it because this is one movie where the script is hero.

MASAAN:

  • First of all, how glad am I to see movies of this sort being made! Sometimes one does really need to step back, slow things down and look at life from a different perspective. Deserves every bit of the Cannes applause.
  • Dreamy, poignant, poetic, lyrical, stark, austere, grimy, gritty, symmetrical (and also cemetery-cal)  – are some of the adjectives I’d use.
  • Coming to the story, it’s about two people – a man and a woman – who separately commit two reprehensible mistakes. One has to pay its price. The other will remain scarred for life. How it all ends is what you have to see on screen.
  • Set in Varanasi, this is one well-researched film!
  • The performances are all top-notch. Richa Chadda felt too tepid at the beginning, but once you come to know that there are more layers to her it all makes sense. Vicky Kaushal is a revelation. Rooted and earnest, he is sure to steal hearts. The rest of the cast was perfect too.
  • I thought was background score reflected the tone of the film perfectly. Muted, and springing up only when necessary.
  • The setting, the cinematography were all apt and I couldn’t help but notice how beautifully framed each scene was. There is not a lot of beauty in the actual movie; but the craft, you bet!
  • I liked that there was proper kissing. And that they didn’t shy away from showing it. This is how you do it, Bollywood directors!
  • There’s one scene where Devi(Richa) enters a house but the camera stays outside. We hear dialogues but we don’t see it happening. That was one splendid touch.
  • Now that I am home and am retrospecting, I cannot say assuredly what this movie really is about. It talks of a lot of things, and I think each one interprets in their own way, but I see it was a story of people not finding the closure they seek.
  • The only issue I had was that I was waiting for a bang ending, and did not get it. But it at least ends on a hopeful note.

So there you go, two really good movies and I’m so happy I got to see them. Did you already watch these? If yes, lemme know in the comments what you thought. If no, then you should be at the cinemas already!