Movie Review: Annabelle Comes Home

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When is a horror movie not like a horror movie? When it fails to scare, that’s when. While the closing credits are scrolling on the screen, the only question that comes to mind is “Why the heck did Annabelle come home if she wasn’t going to cause out and out mayhem and carnage?”

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Picking up where Ed and Lorraine Warren meet the nursing students and bring Annabelle into their homes, this movie borders on the (not so) funny-ha ha and cheap theatrics and very little on the actual spook factor.

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Always referred to as a conduit through which an evil spirit tries to get its hands on a soul, Annabelle does precious little to actually acquire a soul when given the chance. Instead she unleashes a room full of malevolent spirits (literally roomful) and each one comes in, says ‘Boo’ and goes away just as easily. I have never seen a movie where the supernatural bad guy is subdued this easily. Jason had to be killed over 10 sequels, Freddy over at least 5 and even the shark from Jaws was more tenacious. This movie was truly a bah! humbug kind of a situation for those of us who like to be spooked and feel the cold, crawly fingers of fear inching around us while we sit in a darkened theater and watch the hapless preyed upon.

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Onto the players- Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are so comfortable in the role that they are cast in that they don’t seem to have to try at all to become the Warrens. But in all honesty, their time on the screen was fairly limited as well so…

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Judy, played by McKenna Grace is the surprise package. She’s sweet, vulnerable and rather believable as the child who can sense spirits and is also terrified of them. She sort of has a Haley Joel Osment-vibe going for her. One hopes she gets better movies rather than that of the Mean Girls ilk as she matures as an actress. Madison Iseman as Mary Ellen fulfills her part well enough but the introduction of Bob the teenage boy and the Hellhound chase he takes part just make for a discordant comic element which was unwittingly brought in; or was it?

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The demons that are unleashed either suffer from very little focus given to their individual characters or in the way they’re made up to look because they don’t look scary enough! The demon trying to suck out Judy soul, the dead priest who guides them to Annabelle or even the Ferryman and his passengers who all appear with coins over their eyes, artfully placed to make them look creepier; are all just sad props in a movie where the main character just didn’t do enough.

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Annabelle Comes Home doesn’t come up to scratch. The first two movies in the series were much better. One can avoid this. Even on home media. Better yet, give Ol’ Chucky another go. He was something…

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Rating: *

Movie Review: The Secret Life Of Pets 2

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If I was to purely think in kiddy terms then this movie is amazeballs! I have two constant movie partners- one for grown up movies and one for the kiddy (quasi) stuff. This movie falls more into the latter but since there’s still at kid inside us who clamors for popcorn at the movies ( ooh me! me!), it suits the grown-ups just fine too.

Picking up where the first one left one, The Secret Life Of Pets-2(TSLOP) is a very organic segue into the turns the lives of the pets humans take purely because of actions of the hoomans that abound.

Bringing back everyone from the first movie and adding on a few more characters, the movie isn’t a laugh-a-minute fare but it’s entertaining for sure! Especially with your own little hooman by your side.

Here’s how it goes- Max has to deal with making room in his life and apartment for a few more people in Katie’s life and in the process, grow up some more. Adding more flair to the movie as always is Snowball, the crime fighting bunny, Gidget the Pomeranian and a gruff Harrison Ford in the form of Rooster- the old farm hand (dog).

Take your kids and enjoy a big tub of popcorn while these pets romp around and do what they’re best at…bringing a smile to our faces.

Rating: 3/5

Movie Review: Godzilla King Of Monsters

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There are few things people won’t do for the sake of their children. Sitting through this movie falls in that category because this is a film that shouldn’t have been made, IMHO. It’s hackneyed and the special effects not quite so special barring in a few instances and the power of good over evil is so passe.

This movie is a sequel to the 2104 flick and if that was worth a gander, for the most hard core monster movie buffs, this one pulls in an overabundance of monsters and satiates everyone till they says ‘enough’ and head for the hills.

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The problem isn’t in the direction, which is uninspired or the cinematography, which is meh but in the plot which has huge holes in it and does nothing for people of Vera Farmiga’s caliber (remember Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring or the manipulative Mrs. Bates in Bates Motel?) or basically gives Kyle Chandler even lesser to play around with than in the role in Grey’s Anatomy as the bomb squad leader.

So this is the movie in a nutshell…it’ll be a titan-sized nut albeit. Gojira aka Godzilla’s gone underground erm..undersea. No one knows exactly where he is. Emma Russell perfects a gadget that uses a creatures bioacoustics (dafuq!) to get it to heel, sit and roll over and it works on titans too! Amazeballs.

Enter an ecoterrorist who wants to let things revert to their own primal and primeval stage but has no compunctions using tech to make weapons and fly his boney behind out of areas which are under attack and near annihilation. Emma and ecoterrorist team up and release all the other hitherto unknown titans from their places of captivity under Monarch and they all converge towards the sound of The Alpha which is also lovingly referred to as Monster Zero or…wait for the drumroll….King Ghidorah!

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Amongst the smorgasbord of mythical monsters served as on the menu we have the mighty Rodan'Godzilla: King of the Monsters': Rodan, Mothra, and ...

Mothra 

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And of course the star quarterback…God…zillaaaa!!

So is this a review or a lambast? It’s essentially a piece that says that if you’re a fan you’ll find something to like. If you’re not a fan, you’ll end up playing something on your phone while waiting for the small human on the next seat to stop bouncing up and own and just shush!

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The special effects are cliched and nothing outstanding but there are times (when Mothra appears fully grown and flapping it’s wings or when Godzilla goes thermonuclear) that it seems to hit the spot but else this one is a let down. My last 2 cents? Stick to the original version of Godzilla thumping about on the roads of Japan with cardboard houses getting crushed and falling helter skelter. That was still believable and kind of funny. This one is nothing but a shoo-in for the Razzies!

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Movie Review: Murder On The Orient Express (2017)

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Remakes don’t always work. Not merely because the audience was expecting something and got something else but because the original might have captured the entire essence of the movie the first time around and not left much for the remake to work with.

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In my eyes, David Suchet is the perfect Poirot much like Jeremy Brett was the ultimate Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t like Albert Finney as Poirot in the original Murder On The Orient Express movie but the rest of the cast were aces. They brought every character that Christie wrote about, alive on screen.

The new movie released 43 years after the first one manages to capture the snow panoramic views and locales beautifully and in a way which was not as easily done in the former but the characters seem very one dimensional despite the rather exceptional cast present.

However when you have the stalwarts like Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Perkins, Sean Connery and Michael York essaying roles that Michelle Pfeiffer, Kenneth Branagh, Josh Gad try to justice to you find yourself wanting to switch over to the older version even if the cinematography wasn’t as slick as the new one. The one exception was Johnny Depp. That guy can pull off anything, Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, Jack Sparrow and now Rachett.

Bottom line: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if you like the old fashioned whodunits but without the relatively slow paced versions, then maybe this movie might prove to be entertaining. Some of us like an old fashioned…

The Old Fashioned

 

Movie Review: Badla

The first thing that strikes you about this movie is that Indian film makers are more than capable of churning out good flicks without the whole song and dance routine that seems to encapsulate Bollywood movies as a genre. Badla (Revenge) is a prime example of that. An adaption of the Spanish movie The Invisible Guest, Badla is fairly well-tuned game of cat and mouse played between Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu. But who’s toying with whom is the question that gets answered all the way in the last scene of the movie. And it’s worth the wait.

Based in London and in and around green but grim parts of England, the locales lend themselves to building up the tension in the movie. For once AB doesn’t have bombastic dialogues and fiery rhetoric that dominates the scene. I for one, like this older avatar of AB. His stock-in-trade character of ‘Vijay’ seemed very hackneyed and cliched and without much depth. Not sure calling him fine wine would do justice to his craft, but it’s great to see an actor embrace so much variety at his age and not get typecast to being a grandfather or only an old guy in his movies.

Taapsee with the stubborn tilt of her chin and non-compromising stance comes across as a woman who’ll fight tooth and nail to prove her innocence. She’s another actor who soaks up the essence of every character she plays. She’s defiant, she’s brash and she’s selfish and yet you don’t end up hating her. She’s quite human.

What could have been better was the entire role Amrita Singh played along with Tanveer Ghani (her husband in the movie). They had zero chemistry and their banter was trite and banal with both they seeming to be reading their lines for an audition rather than doing their final takes. One remembers the fiery Amrita of Chameli ki Shaadi and Aaina and wonders where that spontaneity has gone. Her somber dialogues too, fall flat and her emoting is not what it used to be.

Tony Luke (Arjun) is fairly believable as a self-serving, adulterous husband who’s trying to make the best of a bad situation. But one wonders if someone like Vicky Kaushal might have brought more gravitas to the role or even been perfect for it.

But this is one movie that people should watch because the lapses are very few and they don’t impact the flow of the movie enough to break our attention away from what will happen next. You remain hooked, wondering who’s going to walk away as the winner and who gets to have their Badla in the end. Although truth be told, things begin to present themselves fairly quickly in terms of what’s what. It’s hardly The Mousetrap. The ost is subtle and has hummable songs with AB rapping on the opening song Aukaat.

What is evident is this- more directors like Sujoy Ghosh, Zoya Akhtar, Soojit Sircar, Aditya Dhar (Uri), Anurag Kashyap et al should be making as many movies as they can and travesties like Zero and reboots of Judwaa shouldn’t be allowed. Bad things happen in the world these days, let’s not add to more trauma for the unsuspecting people out there. Make good movies people, like this one!

Rating: 3/5

Movie Review: Luka Chuppi

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What happens when you don’t want to get married but test drive being married by living together? What happens when you get caught being ‘pretend-married’ and have to play out the pretense? What happens when you try to get married for real to make things legit but realize that life is conspiring against you? Luka Chuppi happens. But it doesn’t happen all that well, unfortunately.

Set against the backdrop of militant love jihadis who are hellbent on making sure that every relationship kowtows to societal norms and any deviations are dealt with harshly; Luka Chuppi takes on a rather contrived and elaborate path towards a happily ever after.

Kriti Sanon is a little too well put together to be convincing as a small town girl. Her body language, mannerisms always bring to mind airline attendants who wish you a pleasant flight or people in the hospitality business who smile as they give you your room key and wish you a very pleasant stay. Rather fakeish.

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Kartik Aaryan is a bit more believable but not much. He’s scruffy and has hair (along with Aparshakti Khurana) that’s reminiscent of the scene from There’s Something About Mary.

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Apart from a few genuine laughs sporadically sprinkled here and there, the movie goes from one choreographed mishap to another. The rest of the cast however, is pretty damn good. They’re convincing small towners and never deviate from being in character. Vinay Pathak, Aparshakti Khurana, Pankaj Tripathi, Alka Amin, Atul Shrivastav bring a strong, wholesome and realistic small town flavor to the movie and are the glue that holds things together. Guddu (Aaryan) and Rashmi (Sanon) are effectively the leads but they are far more accurately described as props.

The OST is nothing outstanding either with 2 songs repackaged from an earlier era.

This movie is worth waiting for…till it airs on Netflix on Amazon Prime. It’s no barrel of laughs but is entertaining in its own smallish way.

Rating: 1/5

 

Movie Review: Deep Blue Sea-2

Verdict: Spare yourself. Seriously.

Sharks are beautiful creatures with rows of serrated teeth and soulless eyes that would scare the bejesus out of anyone who saw them up close and personal.

But they are worthy of that respect that comes with fear. They aren’t the Jason or Freddy of the scary creature movie world. They are the Damians and Michael  Meyers who stalk silently and without too much brouhaha. Because brouhaha isn’t classy. It’s massy and doesn’t have enough gravitas.

I have proved again and again I have rather low standards when choosing movies. I’ll usually watch anything once without feeling too snobby about it. But when a movie is so ridiculous that it just makes you want to throw things at your beloved telly, then there’s truly something rotten in the state of Denmark. Note: Author has no idea about the sudden and inexplicable segue into Shakespeare. Let’s put it down to the brain getting scrambled by this movie.

Back to the ranting! I usually screen whatever movie my child wants to see especially if it’s beyond a PG rating. Deep Blue Sea is something he’s not seen yet so I was wary about the part-2 since they usually go OTT trying to get people to like it as much as the previous one. But this installment of the movie is a joke. With baby bull sharks being confused about their sharky heritage and acting like a bunch of piranhas instead. Yech.

The acting is so sub-par that is doesn’t behoove me to mention it at all. With the movie copying the iconic scenes from the 1st movie you are just in a hurry to switch it off and move onto something like White Chicks to restore your faith in creature flicks.

 

So, will TO be allowed to watch this film? NO! If he has to hurt his eyes by watching crap, I’d rather he watched Sharknado. It has the distinction of ‘being so bad it’s actually good’!