Posted in Hollywood

Insidious: The Last Key

It was my birthday in 2011 when I had all my friends gather in my home theater to watch Insidious. No doubt, that was one scary movie and everyone had a rollicking good time. Flash forward two sequels later, and a third sequel screened in the cinema in 2018, I feel like the Insidious series has to be wrapped and shut down, never to be visited again. The Last Key should be The Last Insidious Movie Ever!

With none of the original cast from the first movie (except for a quick flashback scene, which basically sets up this movie as a lead up to Insidious the first part), The Last Key primarily focuses on Elise, the woman who helped the family sort out the demonic haunting that affected the family’s son. We get to see Elise’s childhood– with one actually very horrifying scene with her father disciplining Elise in a traumatic manner- and how she learns she has a gift to see into The Further. It is only her mother who understands Elise’s predicament but is helpless from controlling her husband from abusing their daughter.

After one extremely disturbing incident, Elise runs away from home, abandoning her younger brother and father.

The movie is set in 2010. Elise receives a call from a man who claims his house is haunted. Elise initially refuses to take on the job but when she hears that the house is her childhood home, she decides to take up the job to finish the matter for once and for all, and to spare us viewers from watching yet another installment.

While searching out for the ghost in the house, it turns out the man who made a call is hiding another secret, which Elise and her Spectral Sightings team member, Imogen and Specs, uncover, leading to a resolution of the so-called haunting. However, all is not well, as Elise discover the ghosts are still there and she needs to venture into The Further.

Things get complicated when her brother arrives on the scene, and he’s pretty mad at his sister for abandoning her. However, Elise tries to patch things up by giving him a picture of a whistle which he used to use to scare away the demons as a child. Things get nasty when Elise’s brother and daughters go to the house to look for the whistle, where one daughter is tempted by the demon and is taken, hostage. Elise has a vision of this moment and rushes to the house to rescue her niece.

What follows is Elise’s adventure into The Further and attempts to rescue her niece, seek forgiveness from her mother and battle the demon, who uses the ‘keys’ to lock up his victim’s throats and all. As the movie tagline says: ‘scream before it silences you.’ Instead, we wanted to scream to stop making such movies.

Unfortunately, the movie relies a little bit too much on jump scares. It’s fine the first few times, but after a while, it’s like a meh moment. We get used to it and the scare factor goes way down. Secondly, the minute we see the monster, we lose all element of fear and horror and it just becomes very schlocky. By the end of the movie, our collective reaction was: why did they even make this movie? I remember when The Conjuring Part 2 came out, and that was indeed a very solid sequel, which surpassed its original part. Same case with Annabelle: Creation. The Last Key, being part 4, is sadly a not-needed sequel.

I would recommend to go watch the first part or watch The Conjuring. Or if you don’t have time, just watch the trailer for this movie and that should suffice.

Sigh. When will they start making decent horror movies that don’t rely on unnecessary back stories and jump scares?

 

Posted in Book Fiction, Hollywood

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is one of my all-time favorite actors. When Big came out, I was in love with him. I followed his acting trajectory over the years and with each movie, he excelled. From Sleepless in Seattle to Forrest Gump to Cast Away to Saving Private Ryan, Hanks has outdone himself, including winning an Oscar for Philadelphia. He’s just one of those actors who has always had a clean image, never let fame get to his head, down to earth and yes, his marriage is still surviving the pressures of Hollywood.

Which is why I was all the more excited when my favorite actor was coming out with his book Uncommon Type. I just finished reading the book last week, and my reaction at the end of it all was: is that it? As much as I am fond of Hanks the Actor, I am not too sure if I am fond of Hanks the Author.

Uncommon Type is a collection of 17 short stories, and they are all connected with a common theme: a typewriter. Each story has the presence of a typewriter, whether it’s a central character of its own, or it’s relegated to the background where you have to figure out the importance of it. Hanks has gone on record to mention how much he admires typewriters and is an ardent collector.

tomhankswithtypewriters

Some of the stories stand out more than the others, while others seem a little lackadaisical.

The first one, about two best friends who embark on a sexual affair sets the tone right with its wry humor and cheekiness (you can almost picture Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks). The ending brought a smile to my face and so I was prepared for the rest of the book. This tone is similar to another story where a son and his father go surfing, and thanks to an accident on the waters, the son stumbles upon his father’s little secret. The tone of these stories can be seen through Hanks brand of humor.

The other stories that stood out were the ones where four friends take a trip to the moon from their backyard, the story of a billionaire who time travels to 1939 and the recurring story of Hank Fiset, a newspaper reporter with an old-fashioned view of the world.

It becomes evident in the book that Hanks has relied a lot on his diverse movie roles to flesh out the characters. In one story, about a WW 2 veteran, reminded me a lot of Band of Brothers. While another, about space travel, reminded me a lot of Apollo 13. Hanks has also been a scriptwriter in Hollywood and that influence is seen in another story. He has put to good use his vast knowledge of acting and fleshing out characters in creating the stories. There is no doubt that Hanks is an accomplished storyteller, as accomplished as he is a great actor.

However, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to everyone, but those who are fond of Hanks will enjoy reading it. It will not win any major prizes or anything, and at the end of the day, the book is about stories that have been vividly created with memorable characters and moments, that will charm and delight you, and eventually bring a smile to your face. Now that’s the kind of magic only Hanks can conjure up.

We can be assured that just in case if Hanks movie career finishes, he can always fall back on his writing!

 

Posted in Hollywood

Justice League

Yes yes, I know, I am very late and probably one of the last person to watch Justice League. I wasn’t too excited about it since the reviews were very mixed, with more and more critics bashing the movie for various reasons. On the other hands, die hard fans were up in arms about how great the movie it, and to ignore the critics.

So I honestly went into the movie with no expectations, and came out of the movie having enjoyed it– just about. Of course it helps that there is a die hard super-hero friend sitting next to you to keep you abreast of all the characters.

Justice League, first things first, belongs to the DC Universe. Which means you will NOT see X-Men or Iron Man in this movie. Instead, you will see Superman and Batman. Ok, so that’s out of the way (sorry, I had to say that as I often get confused between all these superhero movies and which league will be joining which league to fight which evil villain from whatever universe!)

So Justice League (which is one of the most expensive DC movies ever made) is basically about the group of superhero- Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg- who form a team to honour the dead Superman (he died in the Batman v Superman movie) by fighting off a menacing villain called Steppenwolf and his parademons.

So here’s my take:

  1. Batman, played by Ben Affleck, needs to have a new actor. While I like Affleck a lot, he just didn’t do it for me. His brooding, deep-throat voice was getting a tad but annoying. Of course, he had to show his guilt over the death of Superman and we get that. But, goodness, Ben Affleck needs to move on.
  2. Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, was the only highlight of the movie. She has screen presences, the style and the acting skills to convince us she is really Wonder Woman. Goes without saying she has excellent action skills too.
  3. Aquaman was the only other superhero I was excited about. The concept of a big bulky man (Jason Momoa from Games of Thrones) sounded like a great concept. His  introduction was fun, but very soon, he was relegated to the background because we have two more characters coming up.
  4. Flash, layer by Ezra Miller, was fun initially but then started to get annoying. We get that he’s to play a cute, teenager who’s getting a kick from playing sidekick to Batman. His action sequences are fun and worthwhile, but then that’s about it.
  5. Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher, had a cool concept and body armour, and then that was about it. Unfortunately, Cyborg and Flash don’t have a solid backstory to make us feel the least bit connected to them.

Then we have Superman, whose body is exhumed, and he comes back as a mean Superman, only for Lois Lane to show him her love to enable him to cool down. Finally, the Justice League is assembled as Superman joins the team. Yay.

The villain was the biggest disappointment. I don’t know what possessed the makers of the film to create the villain entirely out of CGI. It looked shoddy at places while other times he was devoid of that human touch.

The movie had the villain wanting to secure the three boxes, which if joined together will grant him superpower and control over the world. Our superhero want to get hold of those boxes and destroy the villain. Hence begin the battle between good and evil. No points in guessing who wins.

The action sequences were fun to watch, as well as witnessing the camaraderie between all five superhero. There were some comic moments which elicited few chuckles from he audience. These moments were the highlights of the film.

However, sitting in the cinema with other fans, who hooted and clapped at all the right moments created a buzzing atmosphere, which only heightened my experience of watching a movie like this. Not to mention my friend, a die hard comic hero fan, who enlightened me throughout the movie with excessive knowledge of the characters.

A good one time watch, but not that great.

Oh, and stay for the end, for there are TWO post credits.

3 out of 5

Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: A group of superhero form Justice League to fight of yet another villain
Running time: 120mins
Seen at: IMAX, Lahore
Approval Ratings: 40% Rotten Tomatoes

 

 

Posted in Hollywood

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

While watching this movie, there were people in the cinema in our row who had literally fallen asleep (and snoring away), while others were playing away Candy Crush. This is where the problem arose.
It’s a movie that demands complete and utter attention from the viewers. There is no Mission Impossible style action or sequences as seen in most murder mystery movies churned out by Hollywood. There is indeed a lot of talking going on, and with the distinct Belgian accent spoken by detective Hercule Poirot, it can be a bit of a struggle for those who find it hard to pick up the accent.
This movie will divide the viewers– either they will like or they will simply come out of it saying meh.
It also depends on whether you’ve read the very popular source novel (published in 1934) by Agatha Christie or not. When the novel had come out, it created a buzz as Christie had brilliantly set up a unique murder mystery on a luxurious train due to it’s twisted ending. The movie, however, doesn’t translate the novel’s brilliance all too well on to the big screen.
Having said that, if attention is paid to the details (and dialogue) it can be a rewarding experience. (More on that later).
Kenneth Brannagh’s version of the movie, in my opinion, does a fine job of the novel. His portrayal of the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is bang on, including the accent and the rather large, well-maintained moustache (in one scene, we see how he actually keeps it so well maintained!)
So, what’s the big deal in the movie?
The year is 1934. We are introduced to detective Poirot in Jerusalem, in his usual morning routine, which includes measuring the height of the eggs in the egg cups. He is called in to solve a mystery of a stolen artifact. The premise sets us up to witness the genius, working mind of detective Poirot and the way he solves the mystery so effortlessly.
Moving on, detective Poirot is aboard the train, the luxurious Orient Express, that will take him from Istanbul to London– in what is some of the most gorgeous and stylish visuals seen on the big screen. The wide landscapes, the train chugging out the station in Istanbul and making its way through the mountainous regions are a visual treat.
On board the train are 12 more passengers, some of which are Mr. Ratchett (Johnny Depp), Caroline Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), Pilar Estravados (Penelope Cruz), among others. Overnight, Mr. Ratchett is murdered and the following morning, detective Poirot makes the discovery. Mr. Ratchett has been stabbed 12 times, sometimes deep enough, sometimes shallow enough. At the same time, an avalanche blocks the railroad tracks and slightly derails the train.
So here we are all aboard a train that’s stuck in the snow, a man who’s been murdered with 12 stab wounds. The only clue detective Poirot has at this time is witnessing a woman running away down the train corridor in a red kimono. So the hunt begins as every single person on the train becomes a suspect.
Train stuck. No Escape. 1 murder. 12 suspects. 1 detective. The recipe for a delicious murder mystery has been set.
There is a lot of talking, and questioning, going on as the back-story is revealed of a baby who was killed, and Mr. Ratchett’s true personality is known. I won’t get into what happens next but there is a slight element of fun as we begin to question in our own minds who the potential killer can be. There are loads of red herrings and false clues, that can the viewer off, but to the more seasoned viewer (or those who’ve read the book) will find it predictable.
The ending is one of the highlights for me as detective Poirot contemplates the fate of the murderer as his conscience is bugged. What’s wrong and what’s right? What was the ethical and moral thing to do? Was the murder justified? What will he tell the police? If you had paid attention, detective Poirot in the opening scene talks about the importance of “balance” as he accidentally steps on poop, and in contrast, he talks about “imbalance,” driving home a point that the world cannot be seen in black and white terms, for there are a lot of grey areas!
Murder on the Orient Express was a good one-time watch, if only for the visuals and Kenneth Brannagh’s portrayal of detective Poirot. The studios have green-lit the next movie, Murder on the Nile, which is teasingly pointed towards the end of the movie.
3 out of 5
Director: Kenneth Brannagh
Cast: Kenneth Brannagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Willem Defoe
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Aboard the Orient Express, detective Poirot tries to solve the mystery of a man with 12 suspects.
Running time: 114 mins
Seen at: Cinestar, Xinhua Mall, Lahore
Approval Ratings: 59% Rotten Tomatoes
Posted in Hollywood

Dunkirk

To the uninitiated, “The Battle of Dunkirk was a military operation that took place in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War. The battle was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940.” (Wikipedia)

At the end of the movie, after enduring the battle and war scenes for 106 minutes, there were so many things going in my mind after having witnessed the entire journey of evacuation through the eyes of a young soldier. I think I need to mention that it’s a not happy movie for sure. It’s a rather harrowing and tense journey through the battle.

Before I get into my review, it’s imperative to understand where Nolan was coming from for this film. He intended to shoot the film from three perspectives: Land, Sea and Air. He also intended to have as little dialogue as possible in the film. The movie is certainly not about characterization, plot development or giving out a message. However, what the movie does perfectly well is telling a story, and what a powerful one that is.

The blank screen starts off with a few words describing how hopeless the desperate the situation is at Dunkirk, where the soldiers are awaiting rescue. They are hoping for a miracle indeed.

I won’t get into the details of the events of the movie, but the basic premise of each segment is as follows:

The Mole (land perspective): One Week

The mole is, as mentioned in the dictionary, “a large solid structure on a shore serving as a pier, breakwater, or causeway.” Upon this mole are all the soldiers who are awaiting to be rescued. The movie opens up with young solider, Tommy, who is escaping the Germans and ends up at the beach safely after all his comrades have been killed. It is primarily through the eyes of Tommy that we get to witness the entire evacuation procedure. Bombs are dropped. Fighter planes shoot at soldiers. Ships sink. It’s chaotic yet Tommy fights through.

The Sea: One Day

The events on the sea cover one day of the evacuation. We follow one Mr. Dawson, a civilian, among many others, who take out their personal ships out on the sea to rescue the soldiers. Joining Mr. Dawson is his son, Peter, their hand George. They rescue a soldier along the way only to encounter some disturbances along the way.

The Air: One Hour

The entire plane sequences cover one hour of the Battle of Dunkirk. Three spitfire planes are on their way to provide support to the soldiers awaiting rescue. They encounter an enemy plane, with some unforeseen circumstances that lead to some dire results for all three pilots.

Nolan is known for creating a non-linear narrative in his movies, and he’s done the same thing in Dunkirk. It’s an interesting concept and one that works well for the movie. At times, it’s somewhat difficult to keep up with what’s happening because there’s so much going on, but it doesn’t leave you confused or lost. Full marks for carrying out such a difficult subject so effortlessly and with finesse.

Technically, Dunkirk is awesome. I won’t be surprised if it wins a plethora of awards for technical par excellence: cinematography (shot on Imax), sound, editing, stunts, just about everything was brilliant. Nolan used as less CGI as possible, and stuck to being as authentic as he could, with actually using large numbers of real people, using genuine airplanes for the Air sequence and using same boats that were used for the actual Dunkirk evacuation.

I have to stress that the sound was brilliant too. I could hear each sound of the bullet as it flew by me, the engine of the plane chugging as the fuel tank is damaged and the sighing of a soldier breathing his last. For this purpose, the movie needs to be seen at the cinema to have a completely immersive experience.

Along with this, Hans Zimmer needs to be given a huge round of applause for creating such an engaging soundtrack—it lifts and complements the film like a hand fits a glove super comfortably.

Dunkirk is a journey through a battle. It will drag you right into the battle and won’t leave you right until the end. It will you on to the sea, underwater as a torpedo hits them, above the air as the pilot dodges the enemy back right on to the ground as soldiers rush to be rescued.

Having said that, the only issue I had with Dunkirk was the disconnection with the characters and the people. By the end of the movie, I forgot about the people. I didn’t really care who lived and who died. But then I realized the movie wasn’t really about the people, it was about this war. It was about experiencing the war. It was about being right in the middle of the horrors of being shot and killed. It was about experiencing the sheer terror of trying to escape and be rescued.

Another slight issue I had (and it could be just me) with the movie was how safe and clean it was (perhaps to retain the PG-13 and not get the dreaded 18 rating). It didn’t have any of the graphic scenes that Saving Private Ryan did. There’s not much blood and gore. I felt that some moments of graphic scenes would have added some realism to the movie.

Nolan has gone on to say ““All of my big blockbuster films have been PG-13. It’s a rating I feel comfortable working with totally. Dunkirk is not a war film. It’s a survival story and first and foremost a suspense film. So while there is a high level of intensity to it, it does not necessarily concern itself with the bloody aspects of combat, which have been so well done in so many films. We were really trying to take a different approach and achieve intensity in a different way. I would really like lots of different types of people to get something out of the experience.”

An almost, near perfect movie that captures the horrors of the battle at Dunkirk, Nolan has done a fine job of portraying the experience on screen. The disconnection between the audience and the character may be of concern to some, but it’s important to know the movie is not about that, but rather the experience of being in the battle that will take you on a terse and scary journey.

4.5 out of 5

Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Ken Brannagh, Cillian Murphy
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Through the eyes of young soldier Tommy, we are taken on a ride through the sheer terror of soldiers being evacuated from Dunkirk. Based on real events.
Running time: 106 mins
Seen at: Supercinema, Vogue Towers, Lahore
Approval Ratings: 93% Rotten Tomatoes
Posted in Hollywood

Lion

Sometimes I am a little skeptical when it comes to watching films that have been Oscar nominated. At times I am left with a feeling as to why a particular movie won and why not the other? Other times, when I see the “based on a true story” tagline, I wonder how much of it is really true and how much of it is made up (remember The Blind Side?).

It was that same feeling I had when I started watching Lion, a movie that had been nominated for six Oscar awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman), Best Adapted Screenplay among others.

Guess what happened? By the end of the movie, I was in an emotional state. I was moved and my heart was stirred. Lion is that kind of movie that just shakes you up and helps you realize the power of human connections and emotions.

Saroo, a five year old, is living in abject poverty with his mother, elder brother, Guddu, and his younger sister. The two brothers go out each day collecting coals, that they trade in for food and milk. On one of their outings, when Saroo is very sleepy, Guddu leaves him on the bench at a train station, only for Saroo to wake up the next day all alone. Not knowing where his brother disappeared off to, he gets on a train that takes him more than a 1000 kms away from his village of Ganesh Tilai.

Reaching at Calcutta, in a city where they speak Bengali and not Hindi, Saroo is all the more lost. He is picked up by a woman Noor, who attempts to give him away to child trafficking gang, from which Saroo runs away. He ends up in an orphanage, where he is looked after by Mrs. Sood, who arranges for him to be adopted by an Australian couple.

Fast forward 20 years and Saroo is now studying Hotel Management and develops a relationship with Lucy. His other adopted brother, Mantosh, becomes a little bit of a recluse and so doesn’t spend as much time with his adopted family.

During the course of one evening out with his friends, Saroo discloses his real identity- adopted, is not from Calcutta and is lost. With some encouragement from his friends, he uses Google Earth to track down his village and find his real mother, brother, and sister.

 

It is this very part that’s the most fascinating to watch. Saroo, in all his earnestness and determination, sacrificing his relationships with his girlfriend and mother, seeks to find his real mother. He prints out large maps, spends hours on Google Earth and contemplates his destiny. Somehow, I got sucked into his journey and was pushing myself to motivate Saroo to accomplish his mission.

 

The movie is split into two parts.

 

The first half brilliantly shows the five-year-old Saroo, as he makes a living. The India shown is as real as it can get, without any of the romanticized elements that Hollywood likes to show. Moments reminded me of my own trip to India and the kind of poverty I witnessed there. It’s a rather harrowing journey for Saroo as he is left all alone and travels to Calcutta, where he encounters several precarious and life-threatening situations. The sheer realism and the grittiness just sucks you in and you become a witness to this incredible journey.

The second part is the adult Saroo and his search for his real mother. The adult Saroo is played by Dev Patel, who I personally feel did an incredible job in essaying the character of a son who is torn between his adopted mother and his real mother. Nicole Kidman, who plays the adopted mother, does a wonderful job. It may seem slow to some viewers, and that all depends on how well connected one is to Saroo’s journey.

 

Having said that, in the hands of the adept director Garth Davis, we get a brilliant story- telling piece of a movie. There are no cliches, no run of the mill, predictability factor— in fact, the emotional quotient is so well handled I was drawn in. The background music, the narrative, the acting- everything hit a home run for me.

 

However, the real reason why Lion hits you is because of the powerful portrayal of human relationships: from a younger brother to an older brother, from a son to a mother, from a son to a father, from a man to a woman. These are real people and Saroo’s story proves that love knows no bounds- an adopted mother can love her son as much as the son’s real mother. It’s a heart-warming relation that will make you value your human relationships with your loved one a whole lot more.

 

Lion is based on a true story of Saroo Brierly, who documented his life story in a non-fiction book called A Long Way Home. It’s a fascinating experience to witness how a young child from a tiny village of Ganesh Tilai, is taken to the city of Calcutta, to finally being adopted by a family in Australia. It’s a rather surreal experience and just goes to show that in life, anything can happen. For a child to go through extreme poverty to a privileged life is no joke.

 

There is a visual treat at the end of the movie, as we get to see pictures of the real people upon whom the movie based. There are some very interesting twists towards the end, and there is a huge uplifting moment when we find out the meaning behind the title of the movie: Lion, and I guarantee you, it will leave you with a huge uplifting moment, along with a tear in your eye.

 

4.5 out of 5

Director: Garth Davis

 

Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara

 

Rating: PG-13

 

Synopsis: Saroo, having been lost from his home in India for over 25 years, seeks to reconnect with his family through the aid of Google Earth, all the while struggling to maintain cordial relations with his adopted family in Australia.

 

Running time: 118 mins

 

Seen at: Home, Lahore

 

Approval Ratings: 86% Rotten Tomatoes

Posted in Hollywood

Spiderman: Homecoming

When I heard about this new Spiderman movie coming, my initial reaction: not again. Why is there is a need to reboot a superhero franchise movie for a third time now? Having said that, I have to take back my initial reaction. Spiderman: Homecoming was actually a great movie.

Though, I have to admit that I appreciated the movie a whole lot more thanks to my younger cousin who filled me in with all the references. I had become somewhat disconnected, and lost track as well, of the huge numbers of superhero movies coming out and they are all seemingly connected somehow.

Spiderman: Homecoming stars Tom Holland (a 19-year-old, whose boyish looks and voice fit the role of the 15-year-old Peter Parker extremely well), as Peter Parker/ Spiderman. He’s just completed a mission with the Avengers (this movie takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War) and is hungry to take part in further missions. His mentor, Tony Stark/ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr, in a role that didn’t really fully justify his true potential) wants Peter Parker to stay in school and give up his superhero duties as he is not yet ready to become an Avenger.

Peter lives with Aunt May (the ever dependable Marisa Tomei….I want to see more of her!) He is just like any typical high school kid, who has an Asian friend and is not part of the cool clique. A girl (played by Zendaya), who calls herself a loser, reveals herself to be MJ towards the end, pretty much provides some of the best laughs in the movie. Peter’s life in school is turned upside down when he ditches the academic decathlon to save his friends from a precarious situation atop the Washington monument.

Spiderman’s nemesis comes in the form of Adrian Toomes/ Vulture (played gleefully by Michael Keaton). While I won’t get into the plot, the battle between Spiderman and Vulture is all over a bunch of weapons that Vulture seizes from Stark Industries.

So what did I enjoy the most about the movie?

It was a rather refreshing reboot, and as I understood later, probably the most faithful adaptation of the comic books. Tom Holland brings some level of vulnerability (includes moments where he weeps and struggles), goofiness (like any other schoolboy going weak in his knees over a girl) and a whole lot of charm. He’s unbelievably talented and it’s a sheer joy to watch him essay the role of Peter Parker/ Spiderman. There is a lot of fun watching this precocious yet extremely daring young boy balance his life between school and battling evil men.

The comic timing, the laugh out loud moments, the in-jokes, the references to other Marvel movies all made for a great fun watch. There is, however, one scene that provided for a complete shocker and jaw-falls-to-the-floor moment between Peter Parker and Adrian Toomes.

Which brings me to the not so good part of the movie: the running time. It’s a long movie (at almost two hours) and demands patience (unless you are complete Marvel geek!). The action scenes were uninspiring (thanks to so many far superior action scenes we’ve witnessed in many other Marvel movies!) and somewhat repetitive, save for one scene that involves Spiderman, a helicopter, and a window.

Spiderman: Homecoming felt like a movie that’s aimed for the younger generation. I enjoyed the Spiderman that was played by  Tobey Maguire (not the subsequent ones) and I just felt like Homecoming was aimed at the younger audience. Despite that feeling, I still had a great time and thanks to my cousin who filled me in with all the necessary references and behind the scene details to keep me well informed.

Fun, engaging, thrilling that made for a great night out.

4 out of 5

 

Director: Jon Watts
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robery Downey Jr, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Peter Parker, having been denied the chance to be a part of Avengers by Stark Enterprises, takes it upon himself to defeat the villains, with some unforeseen circumstances.
Running time: 133 mins
Seen at: Audiplex, Royal Palm, Lahore
Approval Ratings: 94% Rotten Tomatoes
Posted in Hollywood

Baby Driver

When a movie receives a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a strong positive word of mouth, one does tend to get a little curious as to what the hype is all about. Such is the case with the newly released Baby Driver.So, in short, is the hype justified?

So, in short, is the hype justified? My answer has to be a resounding yes!Baby Driver may evoke memories of a another movie with what may seem like a similar theme,

Baby Driver may evoke memories of a another movie with what may seem like a similar theme, Drive, starring Ryan Gosling. But that is how far the similarity goes for Bbay Driver is a wholly original movie that can stand on it’s own two feet.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a 20-something who is an awesome get away driver. He works for Doc (Kevin Spacey) who is the mastermind behind the heist plans. Baby works for him to pay off a debt and once that’s clear, he’s off the hook. Baby suffers from tinnitus and thereby listens to music to block out the ringing sound, and it is precisely this very music playing on his iPod that helps him coordinate his get away manouvers. With his brain working in overtime, he precisely calculates and plans out the timing of when to drop and collect the robbers, and then driving like a pro evading the police ever so cleverly.

However, it is during his last every heist that things go slightly wrong, when a civilian interferes and attempts to stop the robbery. Baby’s memories of his parents’ death is triggered when he sees one of the security guards being killed during the botched up mission. His conscience rises to the surface and he wants out of driving.

In the meantime, he strikes up a friendship with Debora, a waitress at the local diner, with whom he is enamoured enough to get in the car and drive far away, with good music. Baby is also looking after his deaf foster father, who wants Baby to quit his dangerous job and make a clean living.

However, things don’t go smoothly for Baby, as Doc gets him out of retirement for one last job. Between Baby and the gang (John Hamm, Jamie Foxx), things go a little out of control, forcing everyone on to each other with some rather disastrous consequences. Do they make a clean get away? Do they get the money? Are they caught? And do Baby and Deborah finally drive off with good music?

Baby Driver is one of those movies that will have a strong cult following and I can see why. It’s an original movie, with a plot that’s fun, pacy, thrilling and engrossing. Right from the explosive start with an intense car chase (it made me want to hire Baby as my own driver to drive me from home to work!) to the wonderful characters (we care about them) to the ever delightful Kevin Spacey (he’s gained weight!)

Having said that, the real star of the movie is the soundtrack! The songs infuse very well with the movie, and we get to experience the music just as Baby experiences it. It has the same effect as the music did in Guardians of the Galaxy. However, this warrants a question whether the music can alone take the movie further or not.

Baby Driver rightfully deserves the high rating and reviews. A movie like this in the hands of the talented director Edgar Wright, proves that sometimes even a simple movie of a talented young get away driver who wants to break free, without any of that over the top Hollywood effect, can make for a great evening out at the cinema.

4 out of 5

Genre: Drama, Action
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, John Hamm, Jamie Foxx
Rating: R
Synopsis:  Baby, a get away driver, wants to quit his job but is called back in for a final robbery, leading to some disastrous consequences.
Running time: 1 hour 53 mins
Seen at: Cinestar, Township, Lahore
Approval Ratings: 97% Rotten Tomatoes

 

Posted in Hollywood

Logan

It was seventeen years ago when Hugh Jackman played the breakout role of Wolverine in the X Men movie. Since then, whenever one thinks of Wolverine, it’s Hugh Jackman.
Logan is set in 2029, where Wolverine/ Logan is now known as James Howlett and drives around a limousine. He’s grown old, drunk and full of rage. With the money he makes, he buys medicines for a secret he’s hiding at the US-Mexico border: Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who’s way into his 90s.
Things kick off when a chance meeting with a Mexican women causes her daughter to land up Logan’s property, leading Professor Xavier to believe that she’s the girl he’s been waiting for. Logan up to this point has no interest in ‘saving humanity’ and opts out of anything to do wit the girl. A band of mercenaries are after the girl, for they believe she possess special powers, and when they land up at Logan’s property, all things are let loose in a fun, powerful and intensely violent fight.
Laura (played powerfully by a Dafna Keefe), the young girl, reveals her powers while fighting, slicing, dicing and impaling the men: she has the same adamantium claws like Wolverine. This brings out the curiosity in Logan, but he still doesn’t want to have to do anything with her. In a rather interesting tie-in with the X Men comic books, Laura shows Logan in the comics where she wants to go, something which Logan dismisses as rubbish. I thought this was a clever plot device to push the movie forward. Logan shuts out Laura by telling her that the comics are all made up and fake, while Laura believes them to be the truth.
With all three on board, Logan is pushed by Professor Xavier to help Laura reach her destination: Eden. Logan expresses a complete rejection of any sort of belief in Eden and refuses to do any such thing. It’s only when he realises and finds out who Laura is that he starts to warm.
The movie then follows Logan, Professor Xavier and Laura on a road trip to Eden. It becomes a road trip of sorts, with a lot of talking and exploring each other, not to mention several unseen twists.
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Professor Charles Xavier and Logan

There is a reason why Logan is doing extremely well at the box office and garnered a high approval ratings (94%)!
The movie is billed as a ‘super-hero movie for grown-ups.’ There’s none of the over the top special effects and a band of mutants getting together to save the world for the umpteenth time. Instead, we get a heavy character-driven movie, getting into the mind of Logan. He’s growing old and wants to escape to an isolated place with Professor Xavier where they can both die peacefully; they are done with saving the world. With the introduction of Laura, Logan starts to warm up and we get to see a rather interesting relationship develop between the two.
It’s just not about the character though, for the director, James Mangold, makes sure to satisfy the die-hard fans in the fight scenes that’s ultra-violent, brutal and ever so realistic. People’s heads are sliced off, the claws strike through people’s various body parts, chests are impaled, everything happens in a rather realistic way. There’s enough to gratify to the fanboy sitting in the audience.
The movie is also in 2D, a bold move taken by James Mangold, which works beautifully in my opinion—this was a great old-fashioned way to enjoy an adult superhero movie.
Logan, however, will be most appreciated by those who’ve been following his journey over a number of movies. They will be the one who will understand why we have Logan who’s dissatisfied with life, swearing his way through the day (the movie is rated R).
As a stand-alone movie, and to the uninitiated, it will be a rather long and tiresome movie and you will be checking for your whatsapp messages on your phone.
Clocking in at 137 minutes, it’s a tad bit lengthy for an English movie, but if you invest your time in Logan’s final adventure, you will be amply rewarded and will feel proud to have taken part in Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine.
To those who absolutely loves these characters, better be prepared for some rather unexpected moments in the finale. Logan has become that perfect movie to send out Hugh Jackman in an extremely befitting manner that he so well deserves for the “One Last Time!”
4 out of 5
Genre: Drama, Action, Super-Hero
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Rating: R
Synopsis:  Growing old and dying, Logan is pushed through to his final adventure in getting Laura, the girl with special powers, and Professor Charles Xavier to Eden, while fleeing from a group of men who are after the young girl.
Running time: 137 mins
Seen at: Cinestar, Xinhua Mall, Lahore
Approval Ratings: 94% Rotten Tomatoes