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: 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: Simmba


If there was a movie which could have had ‘OTT’ as a catch phrase it would be this one. Or it could have the slightly longer but also accurate one of ‘The Movie Where Rohit Shetty Didn’t Blow A Car Up’. Whatever be the case, Simmba is a movie that is unadulterated entertainment. The kind that harks back to the days when we whistled as the hero made an entrance for the first time and blew everyone else away! 
Seemingly tailor-made for Ranveer Singh R.S), Simmba is the story of a cop gone wrong who changes his ways when tragedy hits a bit too close to home for his comfort.

With unabashed cheesy dialogues and catch phrases, R.S is the epitome of a mast, bindaas guy who is always looking for his pound of flesh. Life’ taught him that crime does pay and if you wear a uniform while committing the crime, it pays even more! With endless amounts of pomade and clothes as tight as Akshay Kumar in his Churakey Dil Mera days, Singh delivers the goods in the movie.

Ashutosh Rana in a middle-aged form; plays the voice of R.S’s conscience. The only other cast member to have significant screen time and have something else to do barring looking pretty is Sonu Sood. He growls, barks, threatens and flexes his biceps menacingly in an unending series of muscle shirts.

Sara Ali Khan is a prop plain and simple. She prances in with a bouncy ponytail and then steps back and lets R.S run amok. Because that in a nutshell is Simmba-in your face, brash and total paisa vasool. It’s like an 90s movie in this age with two famous remixed songs to prove it.

Should you watch it? Absolutely! You’ll leave the hall dancing and laughing- what else does one want from an action packed flick?

Rating: 3/5

Movie Review: Uri The Surgical Strike

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Not only was this my first movie of 2019 it ticked multiple boxes of requirement for my movie-watching pleasure. Having grown up on the kind of war movie fare that comprises of Border, LOC and its ilk, Uri sets a new benchmark in the genre. While it’s not as taut as Zero.Dark. Thirty or Hurt Locker, it doesn’t drop the ball much and maintains the EQ (entertainment quotient) at an even keel.

The positives:

  • The cast doesn’t ham it up or go excessively overboard A la Manoj Kumar and the jingoism is kept to a tolerable minimum.
  • Vicky Kaushal stands out as always. He has the ability to get into the skin of his characters and make them believable. His Vihaan Shergill is light years different from Vicky from Manmarziyaan. Hopefully he won’t go down the Salman and Shah Rukh route and rehashing the same role over the decades.
  • The cinematography and combat scenes are shot well and look pretty realistic without the main protagonists coming across like invisible superheroes.
  • The locales and terrain are well-chosen and play as much of a role in building the pace as do the characters and the plot.
  • The chest thumping machismo is kept to highly realistic levels while giving a *very* human glimpse into what a soldier’s life is like. Image result for border movie gif
  • The music is spot on and thankfully they don’t burst into a song and dance like Border did. *rolls eyes*Image result for sandese aate hai gif
  • The lack of a romance angle, the staple fare in Hindi movies, is very refreshing. The movie is about brotherhood, vengeful justice and about family from beginning to end.
  • The so-called side characters like Rakesh Bedi, Ivan Sylvester Rodriguez, Mansi Parekh and Riva Arora do their bit very competently in adding layers to the evolving story line and Riva Arora especially, emotes beautifully as the daughter who has just lost her father. Her outpouring of grief is very realistically portrayed in a child this young.

The Not-So Positives

  • Paresh Rawal is wasted in this role IMHO. An actor of his capabilities just frowns and breaks mobile phones in half all through the movie and would have been more apt as a spokesperson for an antacid or IBS.
  • Rajat Kapoor too doesn’t succeed in embodying the persona of the PM. His casting seems to be a misfire.
  • Swaroop Sampat too falls flat slightly as an Alzheimer’s patient. She is restrained, too much at times, to really have any impact at all. Pretty much a wallflower.
  • Yami Gautam is pretty. And that’s pretty much all there is to her. She fails to convey a sense of urgency as a RAW agent. She is entirely extraneous in the whole scope of things.
  • Kirti Kulhari, as always, comes across as very serene and composed as real. Her role could have been a bit more fleshed out.
  • The scene where Asma and her husband get information about of a senior Pakistani official about the troop deployment at the Indo-Pak border could have been choreographed better. But then again, who knows how spooks get the job done.

All in all, Uri is a slick flick where the cast, locale and OST all do justice to the subject- The Surgical Strike. This is the kind of movie that evokes the pride and patriotism slowly but surely.

Rating: 3/5

Movie Review: Aquaman

Aquaman is totally worth the money because for the price of one movie, you can view a whole bunch of movies because there’s hardly anything that Aquaman hasn’t borrowed from.

Let’s start with Jason Momoa shall we? The fresh faced young man from Baywatch Hawaii

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morphed into Khal Drogo

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and then Arthur Curry/Aquaman and made having uncombed, tangled hair and a heavily tatted bod a USP.

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He doesn’t act all that convincingly but then again, beefcakes don’t need to be method actors either. They flex their pecs and go through the gamut of expressions between a frown and a smile.

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Amber Heard- someone was channeling the Little Mermaid when they got Mera to be such a blatant redhead. I mean the RED is totally out there. Barring that, Amber is just Amber. She meanders from scene to scene and tends to be vacuous pretty much all the time. 

Nicole Kidman- Looks good for her age. Fills out a body suit pretty well and that’s the extent of it.

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Patrick Wilson- the James Wan favorite isn’t chasing specters this time around. He’s the overambitious blonde haired claimant of the undersea kingdom. Possibly the only guy who seems to make sense in this whole movie. 

Willem Defoe- some men weren’t meant for manbuns.

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He is one of them. Hard to believe where he’s landed up since the days of Mississippi Burning. On the flip side, he was such a good bad guy in Spiderman that whenever he smiles, all I see is the Green Goblin! 

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Aquaman is a mishmash of the Predator, The Sword In The Stone (no excusing the pun that the lead male character is also called Arthur), Transformers, LOTR (the huge machines which show up in the Return Of The King) and every movie cliche there ever was. Momoa even channels SRK at one time with his signature move.

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With next to no chemistry between the male and female leads and the underwater scenes not being anything superlative; this movie is purely for those who want to gawk at Momoa or is an individual below 10 years of age.

As far as the DCverse goes: this one comes up short. It’ll make money because most of us have kids we have to cater to. Bring back Superman, Aquaman is all washed up!

Movie Review: The Meg

Ever since I was a cute little girl and got introduced to killer sharks by my semi-misguided parents who thought it was ok to take a 2 year to a creature flick; I have sought out shark movies.

I have watched the good ones viz Jaws, Deep Blue Sea, The Shallows and its rather limited ilk.

I have also watched the meh-kinds viz like Shark Night 3D and its bretheren of which there are more.

The same goes for the ” it’s so bad it’s good” category under which umbrella Sharknado totally rules the roost!

But today I watched the mostly boring movie: The Meg. I can’t say Steve Alten is spinning in his grave somewhere because he is alive and kickin’ but I don’t see how he willingly gave the script of this movie his blessings.

With many departures from the riveting book, the movie features a tired Jason Statham, a humongous shark, lots of explosions and mainly people falling in water. Everyone else is a bit player with hokey dialogues and an ability to scream when they’re about to die.

If you’re a creature movie enthusiast and are curious about the film, aren’t into piracy, then paying the price of the ticket would be worth it. Else give it a miss. Barring the expected jolts one gets with the shark breaching or looming up behind, this movie is a dud. 

The cinematography isn’t flat but the use of drone photography probably does a bit to make it visually less BLAH.

All in all, it’s a yawn fest for a Friday night.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Movie Review: Skyscraper

Image result for skyscraper posterWill Sawyer is no John Maclane. And Skycraper is no Die Hard. Image result for finger pointing down gifImage result for we're not worthy gif

But be as that may, it has the potential to be an entertaining movie despite having to live up to the rep of movies of the same ilk having scored BIG at the box office and becoming cult classics. There are mainly 3 things to know about this movie:

  • Dwayne Johnson, for all his histrionics during the WWF days, is understated in his portrayal of a worried dad and an ex-FBI agent. In fact this movie could be re-titled Skyscraper: Where The Rock Gets The Stuffing Knocked Out Of Him. The man gets battered all over getting this family back.
  • Neve Campbell, in a far better turn than in all her Scream avatars, is a military doctor mom who has her shit together. She’s not She-Man but she doesn’t go down without a fight either. Image result for sidney scream gif
  • The Bad Guy- Roland Moller is fine as a cold-blooded Scandinavian extortionist-hitman but he is no Hans Gruber either [ takes a moment to pay a silent tribute to Alan Rickman].

One can’t help but compare similarities with Die Hard- 2 law enforcement guys, both jump of buildings and both get the bad guys in the end…by throwing them off the building of course! Oh yeah…spoiler alert. Sorry.

But where Skyscraper has the backing of a lot of technical stuff bringing the high rise hi jinks to life, Die Hard was the opposite. The main technology used were the 2-way radios the terrorists had and of course the code breaking their resident geek did to get to the bonds in the Nakatomi safe. I mean we all know Bruce Willis didn’t actually jump off a building in this scene, but the low-tech worked overall and that too, tremendously!

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So why am I writing about Skyscraper if this is turning into a reason to binge watch the Die Hard series? Because Skyscraper may make you go “meh” but you won’t leave bored. And you’ll be rooting for The Rock the whole way…and it’s a point in his favor that the man doesn’t keep taking his shirt off to prove his machismo. Salman Khan…are you listening?

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Rating- 1.5 stars