Movie Review-Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

There’s a different kind of fun to be able to see a movie as a ‘phust day phust sow‘…but when the movie ends up spanning the realm of moderately entertaining to ‘how high were they when they wrote the damn script‘, you know you’d have been fine watching it after a few weeks or not at all.

For a movie that’s supposed to be slick and exciting, this particular slice of the F&F franchise lives up to neither. It’s cliched to say the least and oh-so predictable. But let’s dissect it properly shall we?

The 8th installment of Fast and Furious reunites Hobbs and Shaw with macho posturing that’s meant to turn into ‘I got yuh back brah! in the end while they save the world and manage to inject an adequate number of quips to qualify the movie as being funny as well. That they managed to insert a tourism promotion for Samoa is a nod to Johnson’s roots and his being a producer am sure.

Here’s the story- After an ex-MI6 agent gets cybergenetically enhanced and wants to bring whoop ass down on those who get in the way of his organization and his vision of a better world, Hobbs and Shaw get pulled into the action to bring their own version of whoopass to counter the whoopassery being dished out by Mr.Quasi-Android. Played by Idris Elba (hubba hubba), Brixton Lore has all the gadgets, all the cool bikes, costumes and enough internal hardware to have metal detectors going off perpetually.

Hobbs and Shaw unwillingly get drawn into the action for different reasons. Hobbs because his agency loans him out to MI6 and Shaw because his little sister is being framed for all the havoc Brixton’s been wreaking in order to get to a biologic weapon that can…wait for it…DESTROY THE WORLD!! Who saw that coming?!

Now little sister, played oh so dully by Vanessa Kirby, has injected said biologic weapon into her own bloodstream to prevent also said baddies from getting their mean, nasty paws on it. Thankfully for her, the weapon is in small capsules which are on a timer- they will get released into her body after an ‘x’ amount of time passes. Thankfully the movie makers are nice enough to keep that happening during the length of the movie and not have it spillover into another installment.

Between hobnobbing (ooh…punny me!) with Russian arms dealers to get the lowdown into where an extraction device for the virus can be accessed to tearing up the streets of London, Hobbs and Shaw build up a camaraderie that’s fooling no one. Jason Statham should have as little of a speaking role as possible. After his less than stellar turn as Jonas Taylor in The Meg, Statham should keep his roles to those of the Handsome Rob ilk where he’s not required to win people over with his diction and ability to emote beyond a point.

The Rock’s USP is his quips and mountain man muscles and he doesn’t disappoint but neither does he set the screen on fire. Both the leads seem to be straggling with a script that has them just going through the motions and doing unbelievable things while not getting a scratch on themselves or acting like it was a walk in the park. Ryan Reynolds comes in with his inimitable brand of humor and his interaction with Johnson are some of the actual fun parts of the movie.

As for the action sequences, imagine this…a car hooking a helicopter during a chase to save the damsel. The helicopter rises higher and higher and the car achieves liftoff as well but in the nick of time is saved from going over a cliff by a line of cars ahead of it playing choo-choo trains. Instead of going whoa or even oooh…the audience was laughing or saying “gimme a break”. But over the cliff they go and miraculously no one is hurt. Would a broken bone or two be so out of place when plummeting off a sharp cliff face onto a sea/beach full of jagged rocks.

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But the objective of this review isn’t to trash the movie. It’s to say that maybe this franchise is on its last legs. Gone are the days when F&F stood for cars and actual speed. Now it’s brawn, some cars, a whole lotta destruction, uber bad guys and a rather lame attempt to keep going till the next installment. Quit while you’re ahead people.

Go see it if you’ve got a lot of free time on your hands or you really like either Johnson or Statham or are a diehard fan of the series. Barring that, there’s not much to recommend this one. It’s testosterone-laden to the hilt!

Rating 1.5 stars

Movie Review: Judgementall Hai Kya

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Kangana Ranaut has been in the news for so many things in the recent past that any movie of hers is newsworthy mainly because of the gossip around the actor. Although, IMHO, she’s become typecast for her neuroses in the earlier movies; she still manages to deliver a believable performance as person who is psychotic and yet not entirely off her rocker.

Rajkummar Rao fits well into edgier characters as smoothly as he does the feel good ones. His turn in Stree vs ELKDTAL vs JHK are varied as they are well-etched and with their own distinctive feels. He is truly a good actor in every sense of the word. He belongs in each of the movies he does.

The disclaimer at the start of the movie is also something that’s commendable in a place like India where mental health issues are a huge taboo and a dirty secret that’s more liable to be swept under the rug than be tackled head on.

Onto the actual reviewing: The movie is engrossing but it’s no OFOTCN or Nobody’s Child. It is however, a thought provoking look at a life tinged by pain and feelings of not belonging anywhere and being heard by those who matter.

The direction is fairly taut with Kovelamudi dropping the ball only when Rao starts fessing up to all his crimes which were deemed as psychotic ramblings of a delusional woman. Kangana sometimes overdoes it with the wide-eyed stare of a person who lives in a parallel universe inside her own head. Sometimes the scariest people are the ones who remain calm on the surface but are churning with maladaptive thoughts and hallucinations inside; desperately hanging onto shreds of reality.

The ancillary characters mainly make up the comic element in the movie. Whether it’s a long-suffering, hoping-to-get-laid sort-of boyfriend, or the ineffectual, obese cop (Satish Kaushik) who perpetually keeps eating; adding to his weight and his inefficacy. Jimmy Shergill doesn’t add much to the movie; gravitas or otherwise. His cameo needed to be better fleshed out. And for God’s sake, why does Amyra Dastur get work? She makes very little impact. At least someone who could breathe some life into a role needs to be brought in. She fails to strike a chord with the audience at all. The opening sequence of the movie with the blood splatters, spills and the origami is actually more poignant than many things in the entire film.

In the end, Rajkummar Rao with his sociopathic turn and Kangana in her delusional avatar, carry the movie forward and take it a step in the right direction; making mental illness lose its stigma and helping people know that it’s *not* a dirty word.

Rating 3.5/5

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.

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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