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: *

Freaky Friday Conversation

My son and I have no-holds barred conversations. These conversations often leave me with a gormless look on my face and at other times it’s a toss-up between laughter, crying and looking for a place to bang my head against.

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Ever since TO and a bunch of little friends sneaked a peek at some horror movies on Amazon Prime and then went and got spooked about anything that went bump in the night, I’ve reinforced the embargo on scary movies till he’s 30. My hope is that he outgrows the wish to watch them way before that deadline passes but keeping it banned till the big 3-0 makes it sufficiently important in his head. If anything’s banned for that long then the repercussions surrounding it are going to be rather elaborate and possibly ouchie-inducing too.

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I’m not too worried about him sneaking a peek again. In fact let him see Pennywise biting off a kid’s hand or pulling him into a sewer. Or Bathsheba possessing Carolyn Perron or worst of all, let him take a gander at the head turning scene in The Exorcist. Some lessons are learnt the hard way. Let’s see which way the little man’s headed..’cuse the pun!

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But getting back to the freaky conversations we’re prone to having…TO keeps asking me how the doll in Annabelle comes alive. And explaining demonic possession to an almost 10-year old isn’t something I thought I’d have to tackle. I mean the facts of life..yeah sure. But how a doll is a host of a demon or that people use the occult to channel evil spirits and what is exorcism; all this wasn’t in any of the parenting manuals my husband shoved my face into unfortunately.

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So after trying to explain the occult to him and failing, I tried to keep up with the rapid fire questions while evading the virtual helicopter shots coming off his cricket bat. I told him I didn’t know how Annabelle got out of the well or why they didn’t show Annabelle as walking and running or killing people or if he’d suddenly find Annabelle if he opened his closet door while he was home alone one day. But I told him not to worry about Annabelle at all…because I…his all-knowing mother was always watching and would ALWAYS know what he was up to. Always. Mwaaaahaaaa

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

 

Oh No You Did Not!!

Red and I impose parental controls on TO’s digital media views and mainly their content.

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It’s not so much to keep him away from profanity (he gets a dose of that when I drive) but also to keep him away from concepts that he may not be able to understand and end up getting freaked out about stuff in the process.

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A while back he and 2 of his cute little friends let it slip how they’d sneaked a peek at The Conjuring while playing unsupervised at another friend’s house. I was able to correlate that with a period of being kicked out of my own bed because someone was afraid to sleep alone in their own room. Or even when they did sleep alone, they wrapped themselves up like a mummy and gave me sleepless nights about suffocation and what not!Image result for kids watching horror movies

This morning I was telling Red over coffee that I had weird dreams last night from seeing clips from The Shining and being partly sleep-deprived and suddenly pipes up a voice from behind me, “Oh yeah, that boy with his cycle and those 2 girls who meet him in the hallway and that old guy who gives him icecream and tells him not to go in a room…that movie, right, with all the blood?”

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After internally WTFing with myself liberally I turned around to ask him how he knew about the movie which he did not have the clearance to watch. He told me very casually that he’d watched it at another friend’s house but only a little bit and he wasn’t scared of it at all!

A part of me is happy that he’s choosing good stuff to watch and not getting messed up in his head by watching things like Evil Dead or the Saw movies, but almost 10 may not be the best age to watch someone’s spiral into insanity and attacking their family with an axe. Just saying.

And while my mother let me watch horror movies when I was his age, I can honestly say I was in it for the blood and gore and she was ok with it because she knew it was a phase and I’d outgrow it. She steadily kept her hand over my eyes during the scenes with nudity though. Come to think of it, most Hollywood undead serial killers are such perverts! They wait till a person is “otherwise occupied” and choose that time to cut their heart out. But those days of cozying up with my mom on the couch, hogging on Hershey’s chocolate pudding cups and watching Jason slash through teenage bodies with his chainsaw…oh the nostalgia. Am almost choked up.

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But if this kid thinks he’s going to watch gore before he’s 35 he’s got another thing coming!

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P.S: This blog post and the others like it have been brought to you courtesy of a Macbook Pro that I was given so very thoughtfully for my birthday this year and about which I have not waxed on eloquently enough.

Disclaimer: This is not an Apple sponsored advertisement. More like Red-sponsored.

 

 

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