Friday, December 23, 2016

Review: DANGAL

Tau Toh Champion Hai!

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

Much has been said about how Aamir Khan prepared himself for the role of an ex-wrestler who channels his ambition for an international gold medal through his daughters, training them to become champions. Dangal is a quintessential sports movie, where you know the protagonist is an underdog and will eventually win. But what a watch it is!

Main Review:

'Tau was unpredictable.' the nephew says, and the movie which is a paint by numbers, formulaic sports movie begins its journey. 'Silver medals are forgotten, to become a 'misaal' you have to win the gold' is just fantastic advice to everyone especially because Indians are happy to grow up with 'participating is more important than winning.'

The film especially hits hard at the mismanaged Sports Authorities of the country run by bureaucrats who care more about 'medal quota' than training in the best possible way. the film Mary Kom touched upon the cancer but there was no effect. No change has occurred. Hopefully, someone in the apathetic government will do something about this corrupt, uncaring system.

In Dangal too, the head coach for the India team chooses to play dirty. And by the time the story arrives at this point, you have been happily manipulated into watching how Tau manages to sacrifice his life as father to becoming coach.

Aamir Khan produces and acts in the movie directed marvelously by Nitesh Tiwari. It is the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an ex-wrestler who hopes his son will win the international medal in the sport. He has given up hopes because he only has daughters. But when he realises that his daughters have more spunk than he gave them credit, he trains them into becoming champions. An interesting slap to the land where patriarchy is a way of life, Mahavir Singh Phogat breaks many taboos. Considering the times in which we are living, the film certainly makes its presence felt. Since it is biographical, it seems predictable, but so much better and smarter than the MS Dhoni bipic we saw not too long ago.

They say thousands of girls have now taken to wrestling as a sport in North India, and I hope it inspires many more to step out of the traditional roles given to them and play.

Nitesh Tiwari has the rare talent to hold your attention throughout the telling of the tale, and has control of the star who generally tends to outshine everyone and everything else in his movies. Aamir Khan actually plays Mahavir Singh Phogat and he director manages to keep the star in check (although he lingers too lovingly on his moroseness, his anger), not allowing Aamir a single triumphant see-i'm-a perfectionist smirk. And Aamir does not disappoint, he does a fabulous job in two roles: the father and the coach. Sakshi Tanwar, the perfect TV bhabi manages to fit perfectly in the role of his wife.

The little The little Haryana town has been created wonderfully with all its eccentric characters and the story happens so naturally, you sit back and enjoy the popcorn. The training of Geeta and Babita, the townsfolk sniggering at Mahavir’s efforts, the two girls and their cousin fighting the training tooth and nail then finally agreeing, the local ‘dangals’(wrestling contests), the state championships, the national championships and so on…it follows a paint by numbers pattern. But the story is told from the point of view of the young cousin, forced to train with the girls, who grows up as one of the best characters we have seen introduced on screen this year. Actor Aparshakti Khurrana deserves kudos for keeping us glued to the screen by telling us the story in an engaging anecdotal manner.

The two girls Geeta and Babita are played by really sweet child stars Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar and they grow up to be Fatima Sana Sheikh and Sanya Malhotra. The little girls are just adorable. They try everything they possibly can to not become ‘pehelwaans’ their father wants them to be. They want wear nail polish, dance at weddings and eat chaat and pickles with their food.

The transformation of these kids into champion wrestlers is amazing. Indians tend to just look upon cricket as religion. This movie catapults and not so known sport of wrestling and bring it mainstream. Credit is hugely due to Aamir Khan for finding a cause for women’s sports and the movie really, really works in that regard. Thankfully the preaching is restricted only to one dialog and it does not jar your senses that much.

Yes, the championship matches seem too long, but I suppose they are a necessary evil. They have been recreated brilliantly, and at one point in the semi-finals, the entire audience is holding its collective breath. And that’s a triumph, isn’t it?

This film has tears, patriotic heart-swell, happiness, frustration, anger, pain and everything you expect from a sports film. But it is wrapped in gentle humor and that makes this film a must see. It is a great way to end the year and will get counted as one of the ten best films of 2016.

P.S: Since this film is called 'Dangal' there are many, many wrestler crotch shots, i mean, those red langot shots. Keep your popcorn and drink away from mouth so you won't choke in your giggles, if you are the easy-to-giggle type of person...

Friday, December 16, 2016



½ star

Mini Review:

A hacker accesses the satellite feed of a TV company and posts a live murder feed on their news channel. Then another one. The police led by Kabir Deshmukh question the owner of the TV network but discover that the puzzle is like an onion with many layers. Alas it’s only the lead characters that seem to be peeling off clothes and adding to unintentional hilarity.

Main Review:

What can you say to a movie where the lead characters are described as ‘Media Mugal’ (their enunciation. They meant ‘Moghul’) and Real-Estate Magnet (they meant ‘Magnate’, I think)?

What can you say about a movie where the lawyer for the prosecution and defence are boyfriend and girlfriend? Who cares about recusing themselves because it might be illegal to co-habit when defending two opposing teams?

What can you say about the police officer who threatens the suspect saying, ‘I have a service revolver with as many bullets as I want, and I can fire it whenever I wish!’

Well, the media mughal Rahul Oberoi (played by a mostly exasperated Rajneesh Duggal) is dragged to the police headquarters to answer why a police inspector was killed on his news channel ‘live’. The lawyer for the channel, Sia (played by Sana Khan) and their tech head Mak or Makrand Moghe co-operate with the police to show how their satellite feed was hacked by a clever hacker. But the cops are having none of it. Their counsel for the prosecution (Gurmeet Choudhary of the Raam fame, definitely miles away from ‘God’ he played on TV) insists the culprit is Rahul Oberoi. Wait a minute, you say, weren’t these opposing counsel doing the Horizontal Mamba a couple of minutes ago, singing a badly remixed ‘Pal pal dil ke paas’? How is this even legal? But then the police officer in charge of the case Kabir Deshmukh (Sharman Joshi and his weird biceps and even weirder Sanjay Dutt in Vaastav style slicked back hair) offers the most hilariously written dialog with a stern face causing so much laughter, you miss the all kinds of police-work when he drives his sidekick Gaitonde all over the city, and even reads police reports and court work in English (Mumbai Police meticulously write down every report in Marathi!).

Of course, the real estate magnate, a poor lad who has but two spoken lines is killed brutally by drowning (online almost again!). We begin to wonder why the lad’s screams (he’s already inside a box slowly filling up with water) have been are stifled by a fetish ball gag. Because the film has no logic, we are suddenly subjected to more skin baring song filled with strange angled shots that make Sherlyn Chopra’s breasts look gravity defiant. Anyway, you see the end a mile away when life saving medicines are carelessly kept… But the characters are still to tell us why the film is called ‘Wajah Tum Ho’ (You are the reason).

In a terrible climax, the real villain and the heroine fight with arms and legs and knife throwing and knife pulling out of palm and kicking and punching like it were suddenly a Chinese Kung Fu flick. When the villain throws the heroine against a glass wall, and while she waits to recover from that, the police officer shows up, loses the gun in a fight with the villain, gets beaten up and then before we clap (hoping no more bad dialog from him!), the heroine uses the police revolver to shoot the bad guy dead.

Yes, yes, you get to know why the villain is ‘Wajah’ for all these killings. But it is as the heroine says in court, everything in the film is ‘Baseless, logicless and abstract’. You laugh at the police officer’s dialog, you cringe at the skin show, you shake your head at the stupidity of such films and you come away at the needlessness of such films.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Thursday, December 15, 2016


And Whattay Spectacular Story!

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

This is a standalone story of Lucasfilms gigantic ever-popular Star Wars series of films. Although it connects you to the scariest villain of all time: Darth Vader, this story is about the rebellion and unlikely heroes who are not jedis or princes. The story is engaging, the action is spectacular and the film induces die-hard fans to begin making their own lists of other possible stand alone movies the realm of space wars…

Main Review:

So what happens when the Empire begins to chase defectors who wish to live a quiet life? What do colonies on distant planets look like? What kind of tortures and tribulations are in store for rebels? Are they even organised?

What is fascinating about this story is that the hero is a girl. And she’s not some withering wallflower. She’s fiery and has something to prove. She’s the star in this Star Wars story. And you can see her character grow from a lonely little girl waiting to be rescued to someone who will rescue the rebel forces from themselves. It’s a wonderful story meant to inspire little girls.

Darth Vader though continues to put the fear of the dark side. His very shadow instills goosebumps. And the voice of James Earl Jones helps. The dark side is powerful here, and that’s what makes the whole story that much more cheerworthy. Each time the rebels get the better of the stormtroopers, you hear the collective, ‘Yess!’ in the audience and that is a sign of engaging cinema. You don’t care for being dragged from planet to planet, but you are so invested in this band of rebels, that you enjoy the strange names and places and watch in awe as the Death Star wreaks havoc on unsuspecting cities…

Grand Moff Tarkin who is master manipulator of the forces, who is the commander of the Death Star as well as the Imperial Destroyers is back in the film. The CGI is so phenomenal, that Peter Cushing is reprising his role even after his death about 22 years ago. And the voice is just as stern and scary as ever. You want to see more of blind Donny Yen and wild Jiang Wen and Diego Luna who plays Cassian Andor. You want to understand what drives the bad guys like director Krennic of the Death Star project to be so bad. The movie has so much action there is precious little time spent on character development, although you do expect Mads Mikkelsen to say, ‘I am become death’ any moment...

However, the best part of the story are the fight sequences. You watch with your mouth open and the humor is never far away, no matter how terrible the destruction is. You’ll fall in love with the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre again.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)  

Review: LA LA LAND

Or How we Gushed!

4.5 stars

Mini Review:

A Jazz pianist in Los Angeles falls in love with an actress and their love takes us through highs and lows of life in Hollywood. From failed auditions to waiting tables to false hope to success on the big screen as well as failures and successes in personal lives, we see it all. It’s been shot so magically and beautifully, you will be compelled to watch it again.

Main Review:

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone weave such magical dreams for the audience, thanks to the vision of Whiplash director Damien Chazelle and the amazing music of Justin Hurwitz.

Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian Wilder, a jazz pianist who is a traditionalist at heart, and hates how jazz bars are shutting down to make way for topless clubs. He’s struggling to make a living by playing piano at restaurants where he’s given Christmas carols as playlist.

Mia Dolan is an actress who serves coffee between auditions. And with every audition, her dreams of being successful are dashed. She has a secret dream of writing and acting in her own play also seem to be destined to remain a secret. Emma Stone plays this part so gently and so delicately, we make her story our own.

The two bump into each other often and not happily. How they come close and discover love and success is what the film is all about.

But it’s not such a mundane, predictable story at all. In fact, you will put Griffith Observatory in your ‘must see’ list if you are visiting La La Land (an affectionate nickname for the city of Los Angeles).

Ryan Gosling learnt to play the piano and when the director makes the legendary pianist wield a guitar (John Legend plays a jazz musician in the movie who plays the guitar!), you know the boundaries have been pushed. The costumes and colors just pop out of the screen and you will love Emma Stone’s shoes, and clothes that are so reminiscent of old Hollywood musicals. And the one thing you will not forget is the green dress she wears. Already relegated to that part of the memory where Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch and Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from Wizard Of Oz are kept. The lead pair sing songs with lyrics that touch parts of you you never thought existed. ‘Fools Who Dream’ becomes the anthem for your life as you emerge from the theatre humming City Of Stars. This is a must watch film.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Friday, December 09, 2016


Smell The Puke

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

When a sister is CEO of the company, and the brother heads a loss making branch, will Christmas bring cheer to the people working at the branch? Does the irascible sister close the non-performing office down? Or does the wild Christmas party bring miracles that everyone needs? The film is all about an office X-mas party gone out of hand. It’s fun up to a point, but do you want to watch other people’s party videos?

Main Review:

So the party is wild. It’s even funny in parts, especially how the client loses his teeth, and when Joseph and Mary sit with baby Jesus are seen sitting on the Game Of Thrones throne… But it’s like watching someone’s wedding video. You laugh politely, and even snigger at the wild moments, but are you really touched by anyone’s plight?

You have no real connect with anyone in the movie at all: with the people who work there, the brother of the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) who heads the Chicago branch, the CEO herself is not a likeable person and the office stereotypes (the horrible HR lady, the sad secretary, the office siren, the Indian computer guy, loser hackers and the like), are just pathetic.

You want to like the head of the branch office played by T.J. Miller, but he comes across as an idiot instead of a goofball with a big heart. So the task of liking other people down the office hierarchy becomes that much more difficult. Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn try hard, but they look like they were forced to play their characters. The swear words are all muted and it sort of takes a while to get used to the abrupt silences. The Censor Board is still trying to be moral police, and it doesn’t help when every dialog is peppered liberally with swear words.

Of course, it takes a Russian night club with heavies to bring the whole team together (and you think it’s too little too late, what with the parrot poop making you feel nauseous), but you really don’t care what’s happening to the office now that the party has been thrown open to everyone. We’ve seen sisters destroy the parents’ home in Sisters (Amy Poehler, Tina Fey) and teenagers destroy a home with a wild party in Project X, so the destruction of the office does not come as a surprise. But you watch as if you were rubbernecking a highway train-wreck. Wait for it to show up on TV. By then perhaps you’ll be wise and skip the film.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


The Sea Is On Fire!

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

Based on a true story, this retelling of the biggest oil disaster in the US oil exploration history may be a predictable movie, but the drama of the men on sea, the horror of fire on water is incredible. The bravery of the men and women on the oil exploration rig, and the unending, unrepentant greed of the oil companies is very well depicted.

Main Review:

Deepwater Horizon looks like the coolest oil exploration vessel. It looks like a rig, with foundation et al, but the depths at which it operates, there is no way you can lay foundations and secure it. The vessel is designed to look like a rig, but is merely a gigantic ship that houses over 132 men, drilling into the ocean floor for black gold.

But as they say, the world is driven by ‘money, money, money!’ and in spite of the fact that tests have not been conducted thoroughly, the oil executives insist on drilling for oil. The disaster that strikes swiftly.

This is a movie where the popcorn remains uneaten because the action on screen is so shockingly real. You begin to feel the fire and panic sets deep inside your stomach and begins to reach your limbs. Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell have already told us that the crew is not comfortable with the proceedings. You have seen enough disaster movies to know how the movie progresses. But not at one point do you wish there was coffee refill handy or more popcorn. The disaster scenes are beautifully shot. You are truly shocked at the sequence of events. You begin to pray that the bad oil company men lose their limbs or die horribly as a consequence of their greed.

One of the biggest flaws of this fine film is that in telling of the disaster, the director leaves us no time to invest in the characters. You want to like Mark Wahlberg’s character, but apart from the one lovely moment with his daughter it’s all lovemaking with Kate Hudson who plays the wife. We don’t know anything about Gina Rodriguez’s character except that she is a car nerd. As a cinema crazy public, you wish there was some connect with her car exhaust and what she does during the disaster, it’s a smoking gun, waiting to be discovered.

Considering it is the worst maritime disaster in recent times, the movie does move you and scare you and make you wonder how powerful nature is and how pathetic we humans are in the face of such power.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


Hornier Than DDLJ, Soulless too.

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

Stand up comic Dharm lands in Paris and meets the Paris tour guide Shyra and there’s instant attraction. Since neither believes in the usual kind of love, they live together and their relationship is based on dares and lust. When a lad begins to woo Shyra the old fashioned way, will Dharm realise that Shyra and he are not just buddies, but in love with each other?

Main Review:

Ranveer Singh is simply like the Energiser bunny. He eats up every frame with his screen presence and thankfully he knows how to emote as well.

His co-star, alas is all mouth and chin. That said, let us look at what makes Befikre a poor cousin to Aditya Chopra’s fabulous storytelling in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (DDLJ as we nickname it out of love). It’s fun and frothy, this Befikre, but the lust story loses steam rather quickly and the first half of the film begins to look and taste like Champagne that has lost its fizz.

We know kisses and lust and making out in the city of love, but there’s only so much you can take of ‘I dare you to slap the policeman and then I will date you’, ‘I dare you to strip and dance on the tables at the public library and then I’ll go out with you’... And once you’ve seen the two strip on the way to the bed, kissing fervently, you find yourself saying, ‘Fine, we get it. Move on, now!’ The story seems to just stagnate between ‘One Year Ago’ and ‘Present Day’.

It’s the second half of the film that makes you wish the silly, hormonal first half had not existed. It’s the main course of romance, and we know that the studio excels in the genre. A young man - the quintessential good guy: banker Anay - shows up to woo Shyra, becomes the awesome third wheel, slowly edging out Dharm from the equation. The telephone scene followed by karaoke, followed by the off-key singing on the way back home is simply brilliantly done. You want to call up your best friends and go out for karaoke as soon as possible. You begin to believe Dharm and Shyra are going to be truly new age romantics.

Shyra’s parents add that much needed soul to the show, and you wish they had consulted one or more stand up comics that are doing really well. Ranveer’s comedy comes across as really lame (lingo this gen uses!).

Befikre makes you glad Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge is still playing at a theater in Bombay for over 1100 weeks. Because we want the hero and the heroine to get hitched the old fashioned way. We want love to triumph over lust. It does, but in the worst possible church wedding brawl ever. Even Singh Is King had a wedding brawl between rival gangsters, but it was fun. This one is plain awful and uncomfortable. I was rooting for the two love birds when they met at night (watched The Romantics starring Katie Holmes and Anna Paquin?) and discussed how he needed to face the truth… And then they have a church wedding and there’s an ugly brawl (Go home and watch Four Weddings And A Funeral to get over that ugly scene). Thankfully you know the film is going to end soon. It doesn’t. Not before it gives you a horrible homily about how love is like bungee jumping. You don’t want to know. You are suddenly missing the scene where bua from DDLJ is buying herself a shaadi saree and Shah Rukh is telling her which one to pick… Befikre is hornier than DDLJ could ever be, and that’s fine, but it needed a little bit more soul.  

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Friday, December 02, 2016


Sab Kuch Na Kaho!

2 stars

Mini Review:

It's the story of a coma patient in a small town of Chandan Nagar, whose daughter is missing. But the police think the mother is a dreaded kidnapper and a murderer. The cops run around in circles trying to figure out the truth. But the audience has guessed and even though the pace of the film is good, you wish they had trusted you to understand the kahani without telling all.

Main Review:

Voltaire has said, 'The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.'

Kahaani 2 suffers not just from 'telling everything', but repeating the truth so many times that flickering lightbulbs, stupid cops, scenes set in the dark, dingy hospitals, uncaring nurses, annoying wives and kids just seem to be useless camouflage and lays to waste the superb talent that is Vidya Balan.

Vidya Balan plays a loving mother (Vidya Sinha) to a twelve/thirteen year old Mini who is paralysed from waist below. They live in a small town called Chandan Nagar, and the one day that Vidya leaves the child home alone, the child disappears. A phone call summons her to a location and as she runs out to get there, she is hit by a car, and goes into coma. The police try and figure out who she is, and the police officer looking after the case (Arjun Rampal) is stunned to see that Vidya Sinha is not really who she claims to be. In fact, she is Durga Raani Singh, a kidnapper and murderer.

And you saw all this in the trailer of the film. So what is it that you are looking for in the movie?

While Vidya Balan does her role credit (and she’s one of the finest actors we have), it is the minor characters who do their best and keep the movie going forward. In fact, the pace of the movie is the only thing that saves it from being the disaster it could have been.

The creepy grandmother, who is like the evil, psycho version of Suhasini Mulay is the find of the year, easily. Her character has been written beautifully. Flawless.

The hawaldaar at the police station is very obviously the comic relief guy, but his expressions are brilliant.

The demented homeless person too is someone you have seen (and walked hurriedly past without making eye-contact) and that’s why you nod your head at how he has been used in the film. You recognise the character from many movies (even Pretty Woman has a homeless person walking by, shouting about the importance of being a dreamer in Los Angeles).

The schoolteacher who is fed up of having to drag a six year old to the headmistress’s office because she slept in class…

And this is where you begin to see the flaws in the film. ‘They don’t let me sleep at night’ is such a daft thing to say. It’s like Indian parents telling their daughters to be home before 7pm (because boys turn into monsters) or that girl being out late is a sign of ‘bad character’. The assumption that sexual abuse, rape, doing drugs happens only at night is archaic. And the child sitting outside the headmistress’s office does not look sleepy at all.

That brings us to the subject of abuse. Just as Dear Zindagi is a vanilla treatment of mental illnesses this film too is a mild attempt to talk about pedophilia. And I’m not giving you plot spoilers. You saw this in the trailer. What is admirable in the story is how one victim is able to recognise the signs in another.

But if you’ve seen Steve Buscemi in Con Air, or have watched Rajat Kapoor in Monsoon Wedding will never buy the antagonist in this film who brags about sexually abusing a child. You only have to see TV shows like Law & Order Special Victim’s Unit to realise that no pedophile will brag. In fact, it is the secrecy that keeps the crime from being discovered and it is not until it is too late that anyone. Vidya Balan’s character attempts to say just that, but the antagonist is so open, so threatening in public, that you wish the filmmaker had seen Steve Buscemi sitting down calmly with the little girl at her tea party and singing ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’. I wish they had gone back to Monsoon Wedding and watched Rajat Kapoor’s body language. He personifies Creepy Uncle.

To add to the peeve, why make ‘I’m going to change her clothes’ or ‘It’s time for lunch’ kind of obvious references? Who says that to an outsider?

And Origami. Why? What Indian filmmakers should realise that there is a reason why anyone would take refuge in Origami let alone a pedophile using paper art to seduce a child. And would a seduced child carry the 'toy' everywhere with her? Wouldn't she crumple it in fear? Bladerunner is a superb example of how Origami is used to say something. Gaff makes Origami unicorns so the audience realises that Deckard's dreams can be monitored and he may be, just maybe a replicant. But here? It just seems like a gimmick, a 'kewl' thing to do.

The constant monologue from Vidya Balan (when Arjun Rampal reads her diary) is very distracting, and very odd Hindi: ‘Mujhe Vishwaas Nahi Hota Ki Maine Usko Aankh Maari’ is very inept translation of, ‘I couldn’t believe I just winked at her!’

If this monologue style is a homage to Mr.Robot, who knows. Is Arjun Rampal falling asleep reading that diary (listening to that stilted monologue) a result?

Unfortunately, you see the end coming a mile away. And you hate the fact that everything is explained to the audience as though we were dumb. The movie should have ended with Arjun Rampal walking out swinging his keys.

Arjun Rampal's wife and kid are so annoying, I would like to suggest an alternative ending. Arjun Rampal's annoying wife and kid get blown up in the explosion and when Vidya Balan and child reach the children's hospital, there's Arjun Rampal, waiting at the door, leaning against a column sexily, with dark glasses, holding a jacket casually over his shoulder. Nice and evil end.

But you come away from the film not hating it entirely, but not in love with it either. And that ‘okayness’ the ‘averageness’ of the film is its true crime.


Overwhelmed by Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.
What Pleather!

2 stars

Mini Review:

The fifth film in the Underworld series, Blood Wars takes the story forward from the last film. Selene the Death Dealer is caught between Lycans and the Vampires again. The Lycans are led by a ferocious and strangely powerful Marius and there is slashing and killing and swords and blood spilt when the Vampires clash with the Lycans. But nothing compares to the visual awesomeness of Kate Beckinsale in pleather.

Main Review:

If you have been a gamer, and have followed Kate Beckinsale through the five movies, you’d also be gasping in awe because she remains just as gorgeous as she was in the first film. And with every consecutive film she acquires more skills. Theo James looks like the eye candy he always was and plays David with enough emotion and angst that could be expected in a blood and gore film. Except that the sight of his hairy tum in extreme close-up when Selena extracts the tracer bullet is a bit off putting.

Thankfully we have elegant Goth soirees and a fab castle for Vampires, with chandeliers to die for.
And the leather clad Vampires and shabbily dressed Lycans do not disappoint. There is blood and bodies pile up faster than you can say Vampire. But their coven is full of traitors and machinations for power and that is rather satisfying indeed. It is not an intellectual exercise and no one is pretending that it is, so the length of the movie also seems just right.

The all pervading blue-grey world in Budapest or some such East European city keeps you in the mood for intrigue. The Lycans may be grungy and their headquarters are in a train yard… But their leader is creepy and horrific and he does make your heart skip a beat the first time and every time he transmogrifies into a beast.

The camerawork is amazing when the story takes us to the snow-clad North. The mountains and the train traveling through the white snow are beautifully shot. Of course there is more blood spilt here, but you end up saying, ‘Good fun!’

Of course you miss the deeper intrigue as you have seen before in the shape of Viktor, and you wish the traitors weren’t so easy to spot in this film. But the last fight between Marius and Selene is so good, your blood lust is satisfied too.

The fact that this movie makes you want to know more about Selene's daughter is a sign that horror of watching hapless peacenik Vampires die at the hands of a marauding Lycan horde is welcome to our jaded by comedy and superhero movie sequels. But when you're watching Kate Beckinsale stretch that pleather outfit to kill and maim Lycans, you know there is guiltless joy in horror and you are glad there is darkness in the theater and no one can see you eat samosas and finish that tub of popcorn with cheese...

Review: MOANA

Shabaash Disney!

3 stars

Mini Review:

On a faraway island paradise where everyone is happy, Princess Moana cannot resist the call of the ocean. She has grown up listening to her grandmother’s stories of the ocean, about Maui the demiGod who stole the heart of mother nature and plunged the world into darkness. When darkness begins to invade her paradise, Moana has to get out into the ocean, find Maui and save the world. But impish Maui has other plans…

Main Review:

Before you read on, book the tickets now. This is a fun, frothy, adventure from Disney that does not disappoint. Kids as well as parents will love the little Moana who tends to wander off to the ocean if you let your attention wander away from her even for half a minute. You will be just as fascinated as the kids in the movie when dear old granny tells the story of the ocean. You’ll adore the way Moana fights the hungry seagulls and uses a leaf to offer shade a baby turtle making its way to the sea.

Maui is voiced by Dwayne Johnson and he clearly steals the film even though the title of the film suggests otherwise. Maui is wicked and sharp and funny and sweet and is animated beautifully. You get frustrated by his refusal to help Moana, and you are in awe of his seafaring skills when he chooses to use them.

For parents of little girls, this film is rather empowering. Moana is not just a sweet girl, a princess for her parents, but is fearless. And unlike other Disney princesses, does not need a prince charming to fall in love with in order to live happily ever after. She has courage, this Moana. Is willing to try out a daunting task, has an adventurous streak, is unafraid, and more. But she does not lose her cuteness even for a minute.

Moana is a very straightforward story and you can sit back and enjoy the spectacle of animation on the screen. And it is rather satisfying. There are just enough songs, just enough ‘wow’ moments, and lots of laughter. Hey-Hey the chicken will remind you of not one, but many people in your own life - silly, stubborn or plain bonkers. And the sea, the sea! It is not just a gigantic expanse where coconut pirates thrive, nor is it the intimidating thing from Life Of Pi. It is a living thing that partners Moana and Maui.

When the movie ends on a wonderful note, you hope daughters will be the heroes of families everywhere. To see that Disney is stepping away from the traditional ‘Prince Charming saves Damsel in Distress’ - Frozen was a wonderful start - is a great thing. Moana is another step towards creating female role models. And what a delightful role model she turns out to be. Maui too is a great character. His eyebrow raised in wickedness will keep you smiling long after the movie is over.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)