Friday, May 26, 2017


Footage, Footage, More Footage And Even More Cricket Footage

2 stars

Mini Review:

Taking a sporting icon and making a movie out of his or her life is not new: Mary Kom and Dhoni blew the minds of fans when biopics appeared on the big screen. They call it a film but it is a  documentary of Sachin Tendulkar’s life, with all kinds of videos of his personal life, footage of cricket matches, interviews with people connected to the sport and finally Sachin talking to the camera explaining what his life has been. Meant only for fans. For the others, it’s just a never-ending tribute to a fine sportsman.
Main Review:

It’s like watching two and a half hours of YouTube videos of the sport of your choice but with the sports star giving you insights into his life. You love it, because you are a fan. But if you make it for the general public who have little or no interest in that particular sport and tell them this is a movie, then it had better be universal. Hollywood has made us believe there was a football star coming out of Liverpool in Goal, that there are many underdog sports hero films too with coach as hero but this film is not fiction. This is no Dhoni or Mary Kom, and neither is it Dangal.

It has Sachin talking about his life. How he was a naughty little boy, who grew up to be a serious, focussed cricketer, represented the country, played fabulously, and then retired gracefully. Everything is fantastic and coated with honey and dusted with sugar and fairy dust. Even the darkest period in cricket - the scandal of match fixing - is glossed over, because Sachin says, ‘What could I say? It was unbelievable and stunning.’ Considering how the ‘movie’ has gone so far, this does not surprise you.

What does intrigue you is the connection between his older brother Ajit Tendulkar and Sachin. It is a very zen like relationship which has the makings of a wonderful story all on its own. Sachin and his brother do face the camera and talk about it, but the filmmaker does not see the possibility of a fabulous story rockstar younger brother who is supported by an older sibling who discovered the talent. No jealous moment, no envy of fame, no resentment of the money the rockstar makes, no wife that tells off the older brother to let go of the star, no family squabbles, no rebel son or daughter who resents an absent father, nothing bad ever happens to Sachin.

But even a non-fanboy will acknowledge that watching the early videos of the debut international matches was amazing. He was sixteen and facing the world’s fastest bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar and Imran Khan, and when he ducked bouncers, the audience ducked too, and you understand the privilege of watching this early footage.

There are flashes of candid brilliance when people who know him talk about him. Shane Warne being invited to Sachin’s home for dinner and wondering if dinner after midnight was a ploy to ruin his cricket practice for the next day or just how people ate in India, brings out a guffaw. Also Kumble’s comment on Sachin’s celebratory cake cutting on his 35th century makes you want to go out and hug Kumble.

But the rest of it is just cricket footage and more cricket footage. The fans sitting around me were cheering and one realises that the fanboys don’t care if his sports achievements gently forced his wife to give up her career as a pediatrician. They only want to see Sachin’s centuries, relive matches as if this were a YouTube binge, and clap and whoop until the world cup win. It’s like watching someone else’s frenzied pilgrimage and someone else’s religious ecstasy. Then multiply the pilgrims by a billion. No matter how your logic explains that this is a documentary and not a film, the billion fans chanting his name will drown your logic out.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)    


Bahut Zyaadati On Audience   

½ star

Mini Review:

Siddarth Kaul’s mum has big ambitions for her bright son, and is willing to sell ancestral property to send him to architectural college abroad. But the boy wants to be a rockstar and has a band that enters a music contest. One of the band members is a social activist, and Sid learns about his past when he stumbles upon plays written by his father. The film is so hammy, you never want to see a ‘rockstar band contest’ film theme any more.

Main Review:

When your child suddenly wants to join a rock band instead of filling forms for foreign education, what does the mother do?

Go to the female band member and tell her, ‘Stay away from my son.’

But that’s not all that is ‘been-there-done-that’ cliched, we have seen everything we see over the next two hours. With mum selling off the family mansion, it comes to the lad to take the real-estate agent (typically Punjabi caricatured: loud and annoying as real estate agents can be) to recce the old house. The boy discovers an old trunk full of his father’s theater paraphernalia including several plays as well as a child’s shoe. The shoe brings forth a barrage of memories in sepia - father, child and mother going to a mela (fairgrounds), happy slo motion of laughter, child loses shoe, father goes in search of the shoes, father does not come back.

The hero doesn’t remember who is father is, but the one girl in his band (he finds her at a street sit-in, shouting slogans with other protesters, follows her finds her singing bhajans at a devi Jagrata and asks her to be in his pop band) knows the history of the hero’s father. The father was a part of a group that did street plays, which is a method of bringing social change. The father pursues some crooked chemical factory owner heaping atrocities on the poor innocent villagers. Of course the father goes off after the owner, protests and gets killed by the factory owner. Instead of fighting to find out how her husband was murdered, the mother packs her bags and vanishes from the village, to start a new life in the city with the son, our hero.

As you sit there groaning at the mounting cliches, you also have to put up with ‘rock band contest’. There are at least five songs in the film with completely forgettable lyrics, but in the film you see crowds raising their hands and dancing to the songs as if they were watching their favorite band sings. Now think about this: the filmmakers are showing a band contest, and they must show at least bits of music from other bands. That means that the audience has to put up with more music. You are amazed at how the audience in the battle of the bands knows the music so well when it is meant to be fresh and new. You have stopped caring, but the hero begins to visit the girl’s theatre group and be impressed at how she dedicates herself to social work. And yes, there are some goons ready to disrupt everything that she does because the ‘real estate tycoon’ is getting poor people to sign off their homes. Seriously?! This ‘basti khali karva do’ (empty the slums) happened in the cinema of the 70s with young Amrish Puri playing the real estate baddie…

It’s not just the story that is terrible, but the acting that comes with such a tale. Every person in the film is ‘acting’ and it drives you to exhaustion. The girl gets shot by the goons and we wish they had sprayed a few bullets that made it out of the screen to kill you, the audience.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com) 


Title Means 'Whispers' But Is So Loud It Could Cause Avalanches In The Himalayas.

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

A photographer and his grouchy friend land up for a calendar shoot in Kashmir, and meet a chatty guide and a woman who’s doing research on Kashmir. This journey changes their point of view about life. It is shot in beautiful Kashmir, but since the filmmakers want to say so much, everything seems to be crammed, and loud… unlike the meaning of the title which means ‘whispers’.

Main Review:

Indraneil Sengupta plays Vikram Roy, a photographer who needs this calendar shoot job. His wife is nasty to him and spends all the money shopping. He agrees to do the shoot: his plan is to go to beautiful spots and just take easy pictures. His grouchy, unhappy friend Aryan Raina (played by a ready-to-cry Hasan Zaidi) accompanies him. The bank sponsoring the shoot, gives them a brief: the photographs should show the soul of Kashmir. Imran Khan, the director of the film, plays Imran Dar, their guide. They bump into Sheena Oberoi (played by Sara Khan) who seems to be a free spirit, who is happy to join this group, because she is doing research on Kashmir.   

So far so good. And the first view of Kashmir is stunningly beautiful too. But with the background music and visuals edited to the beat, you see quick cuts and there is barely any time to breathe in the scenery, the beauty. Then comes the dialog. Not just the fresh to cinema actors, but even veterans like Tom Alter (a world renowned photographer who gets a chance to show off his Urdu) just shout out their dialog. Imagine gentle Bollywood father figure Alok Nath (who plays Pandit Raina, Aryan’s long lost grandpa), shouting out why Kashmir is where his memories are and he will not leave but stay amongst his Muslim village brothers. Sheena Oberoi prances about chirpily like a giggly, loud ten year old, and of course there is a romantic angle attached with the photographer which is so unnecessary.

As the four travel, they meet Rahima Bee played by Farida Jalal (add a story of missing people in Kashmir), tea shop lad (Kashmiri kids want to be schooled, are generous to their siblings and are not all stone pelters), the Pathan travel guide to the hidden lakes (there’s more to Kashmir than army and bullets) has a child who is unwell (Shahbaz Khan plays Hamza Gujjar who is so menacing, you think they’re going to introduce a free Kashmir thread to the narrative), and the orphan Alok Nath has adopted. Lots of illogical things like social media being used to help the ill child add more to the story. The meeting of Aryan and his grandfather seems to be so made for TV. Unfortunately everything is so crammed, nothing really touches your heart. And the photographs on the calendar are shown to be so tiny, the whole effort seems to be needless.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com) 

Friday, May 19, 2017


The Fault In Our Nostalgias

3 stars

Mini Review:

Ritesh Batra makes a wonderful transition from Lunch Box set in the suburbs of Bombay to the burbs of London. This movie has a old world feeling in spite of being set in the now. A curmudgeon to his present and nostalgic to a fault, Tony Webster is forced to face his past when he receives a note about a will. Trouble with this film is that it is too beautiful for us to be irritated with the protagonist and the end is so downplayed you step out a tad dissatisfied.

Main Review:

Over the last couple of years, we have seen many good movies centered around crotchety old men, the best being Toni Erdmann (German) and A Man Called Ove (Swedish), and before that we have the homegrown Piku too. So watching Jim Broadbent in a role of a divorced old man who has a very grown up, very pregnant daughter, and a rather practical ex-wife who forces him (as much as her polite British upbringing will let her) to learn to live in the present was a great idea.

The book is impossible to film, they said. But Ritesh Batra brings a wonderful film on the big screen. And as you watch the story unfold, you realise why it seems so easy. We Indians too have a parent or a grandfather who chooses to reminisce and live in those good old days, frittering away the present…

Jim Broadbent plays Tony Webster, who runs a small camera repair shop (because his first girlfriend gifted him his very first camera) lives alone in a neat suburban house. He is rather rude to the mailman and you don’t like him very much. And you begin to see the humor in your instant dislike because you see how easily the chatty customer gets under his skin.

The film turns into all kinds of beautiful when the letter informing him that he has inherited something from someone from his past stuns him. He has to not only try and figure out why his past stubbornly wants to remain his past but also understand why he is being forced to learn to live in the present.

The interaction between his ex-wife (the amazing Harriet Walter) and Tony Webster are like pure gold. You know he’s itching for a fight, and that she has impeccable logic, which prevents her from getting into an argument. It is something you may have observed in your own home, when a mother simply raises her eyebrow at the irrational demands made by an irritated father, instead of getting into a fight.

The freckles of Freya Mavor need to be awarded a star on their own. She’s all that the writer made her to be. Teasing, mysterious, and unpredictable. Someone who will turn quiet college freshmen insane. And the same goes for Emily Mortimer and Charlotte Rampling! I can totally understand why Tony would look back at Emily Mortimer waving that my-hands-are-tied-but-i’m-attracted wave, and how he would stalk Charlotte Rampling to her Highgate home…

Guilt, nostalgia and a search for happiness drive us to chuckle at Tony Webster, slide down the theatre seats with a sense of knowing all these characters in our real lives, and coming away not as irritated at the old man as you did in the beginning.      


It's fun, but the joke doesn't have legs...

2 stars

Mini Review:

Getting a child admitted to the best school can be a circus at the best of times. At the worst, it requires all kinds of sacrifices from parents who aren’t ‘elite’. Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar learn a lot of hard lessons of life on the way, with the help of Deepak Dobriyal. The film starts out on a right note but the need to teach you a lesson is pushed and pushed in your face until you are weary.

Main Review:

Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar are childhood sweethearts from Chandni Chowk. He has a large clothing store and she takes care of their home and their child Pia who is now ready to be sent to school.

She’s fun to watch, with her character finicky about the child eating right, not watching too much tv, playing right (you laugh out loud when you see her sanitise the slide in the park!). But she has ambitions for her child. And the ambitions include getting the child admitted to the best school in Delhi.

Irrfan Khan plays the loving husband, drives the wife to the schools that look more like fancy hotels rather than schools. But at her insistence he moves bag and baggage to a fancy neighborhood so they fulfil the residential requirement that will enable the child admission to a fancy school.

Now Irrfan Khan is a good actor, but you see red flags go up when he begins to overdo the ‘acting’ as they leave Chandni Chowk and he laments over Kulche Chhole. The script takes us to the travails of this wealthy but very clearly ‘Hindi Medium’ family attempting to fit into ‘posh’ society. Your jaw drops as the madness to get the child into a good school is pushed further and further and you like when Deepak Dobriyal shows up on the screen as neighbor. The humanity and the way of life is fun up to a point, but you are exhausted by things like ‘kill the Dengue mosquito by humming like female mosquito’ which are meant to be funny.

By the time the lessons are learnt and the hearts transformed, you as audience is exhausted. The last lesson of how poor kids deserve a good school too is tiresome. Sabah Qamar is beautiful and unlike TV actors who have not really made a mark on the big screen, she actually shines. Irrfan Khan starts out as a fun guy but tends to ham, ham and ham some more. Deepak Dobriyal is as good as ever. Tillotama Shome hammers home the role of a supercilious prep school head and you shudder because such people exist and terrify new parents as they get desperate to get their kids admitted to good schools.

This movie could have been great had it not tried to teach the lesson so hard. But Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar in ‘branded’ clothes and blingy accessories will make you smile.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


Fully Pakaoo

½ star

Mini Review:

The ridiculousness starts when she says she wants to be his half girlfriend. And through this half baked attempt at romance, social service, drunkenness you realise that in this asinine attempt at movie making, the heroine would rather have cancer than be his girlfriend!

Main Review:

Bihaar ke naam pe ye saale Bollywoodwale itna bakwaas karte hain ki khoon khaul jaata hai. Saala har film mein Bihari character 'Burbak' zaroor kehta hai. Is film mein yeh shabd gaayab hai. Isiliye is film ko 1/2 star. Baaki sab angrezi mein.

I'd Rather Have Cancer Than Be Your Girlfriend!

Imagine a movie where heroine fakes cancer in order to run far, far away from the hero! How pathetic must he be! And he is! Arjun Kapoor tries, and tries real hard to be that hero. But with a body built in the gym, he just does not manage to look like a 17 year old taking admission in college. The rest is even more ridiculous.

So he does not speak English. Why does he have to be from Bihar? Could be from bleddy anywhere in the country, no? Let's say his English is poor, why then does he speak Hindi the way he does? Jaw-droppingly good Hindi is spoken by people all down the cow belt! If only the filmmakers had bothered to do a little bit of research, they would have found out that Bihar churns out the maximum number of IAS officers in the country and they do not speak the way Arjun Kapoor does, if indeed he has scored marks enough to seek admission in St. Stephens College in New Delhi. Let’s say you forgive them for poor research, at least have a story to tell!

Story Bhi Half-baked Hee Hai!

What we get in the name of a story are cliches. A sackful of outdated ideas that nobody cares for.

  1. A poor boy (impoverished prince, even!) meets rich girl in college. Strike up a friendship.
  2. He has Hindi speaking friends which could not be more teeth-grindingly regional.
  3. She goes out with him. She shops, he carries bags.
  4. There is party at her home where the disparity of their economic status is made clear.
  5. Her parents do not have a happy marriage.
  6. He has a single mom who teaches him things like, ‘Don’t ever give up!’
  7. Mother runs a school in the village.
  8. She is married off to the rich boy her parents approve.
  9. He thinks because she kissed him, she’s his.
  10. Of course he has no idea of consent, he yells at her, ‘When you want you will kiss, but what when I want?’
  11. He’s back home but is pining away for her.
  12. She bumps into him, and he insists she teach him English.
  13. She teaches him English, but he thinks she loves him.
  14. Of course his mum says, ‘You’re divorced, you left husband, now please leave my son alone.’
  15. She leaves, he runs after her train, ‘I’m afraid I’m no good without you…’
  16. He gives a horrendous speech in real bad Hindi (Seriously people! Bihar is a Hindi speaking state! They couldn’t even get this part right!) mixed with English.
  17. He gets funding from a morphed Bill Gates and is asked to intern at United Nations (nothing less!).
  18. The girl has cancer, only three months to live, and she vanishes.
  19. He goes to New York and begins to behave badly because he cannot get her out of his mind.
  20. Like all Hindi film ‘Majnus’ (romeos), he searches for her in all the bars because she wanted to sing in bars in New York (no one asks why she was playing basketball in St.Stephens, though!).
  21. His friends try to dissuade him, but he wanders about drunk.
  22. He locates her, and she looks defeated rather than ecstatic. But because it’s a Hindi film, they make love with sheets chastely wrapped around them.

We pray he falls asleep after lovemaking so she can run away again. But thankfully the credits roll. This film leaves you puking a little inside as you watch it because there’s zero chemistry between the lead actors Shraddha Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor and even less acting skills, no earthly reason why it rains in Delhi at college admission time (peak summer!), no reason why he believes she is still alive... There’s no reason at all why you should go see this film.    

Friday, May 12, 2017


An Exasperatingly Boring Love Story

2 stars

Mini Review:

Have you ever been tied to a chair, and subjected to listening to someone else reading from their ‘dear diary’ entries for 30 years? That’s exactly how you feel when watching Ayushman Khurana and his beard drone on and on and on about this one crush he’s had on Bindu who friendzoned him like, forever. You come away loving Parineeti Chopra’s performance and wonder if Chetan Bhagat wrote this asinine story.

Main Review:

Frank Capra said: There are no rules in filmmaking, only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness.

Ugly bearded boy has had a crush on his childhood friend who is this beyond-his-reach-girl, the gorgeous Parineeti Chopra. The story starts with how the lad has always had a crush on the girl who has friendzoned him for ever and ever. Now either he’s too dumb to take the hint or he just won’t get over her. He is Bengali (more Karolbagh than Kolkata) and she’s Tamilian (and I’m Merlin The Magician!) and as their story unfolds, it sounds more and more like Chetan Bhagat’s biographical stories...And it slowly kills all your brain cells one by one by one.

Ranbir Kapoor he’s not. Ranbir has this ‘Just woken up Sid’ type innocence that you don’t begrudge him a little rudeness. But when Ayushman Khurana pretends to be rude, he just sounds horrible. You are surprised and happily so at the sight of Khopdi (from the cult TV show Nukkad) and are exclaiming to yourself and to people around you, ‘He’s alive! He’s alive!’ when Ayushman Khurana (who’s sitting on Khopdi’s scooter) snipes at him, ‘Tum bag ko sambhalo na! (Don’t listen to us!)’. Seriously?! A man who claims to be in love and talks to people in that rude manner should be dropped off from the nearest cliff!  

Parineeti Chopra’s character is strangely drawn too. We don’t know what she’s studying (she’s shown taking exams with Ayushman), or what she’s qualified for. We only know she dropped out of college when her mother dies in the year 2000.

Oh yes, the calendar. The movie starts reminiscing about them growing up. If we assume he’s almost thirty, then the movie has a monotonous monologue explaining how he has loved her for 30 years. Some parts of the dialog are clever, the ones that incorporate the Kishor Kumar songs and offer cinematic references, but that’s all they are. And better read than be told during the movie. The monologue is interrupted by two really wonderful, real, honest characters: Ayushman’s mum and dad played naturally by Aparajita Adhya and Rajatava Datta. Not only are they the best thing about this movie (half a star each!), and one half star goes to the art director who thought of putting his mum and dad’s photographs on the table. Wonderful touch that. So we suffer his memory diarrhea for almost thirty years, and even though the film is 119 minutes long, you think you’re Rip Van Winkle when you come out of the theatre.

No amount of 'kewl' names for pulp fiction - Guitar Phobia, Dracula Lover Chudial Ki Choli or references to the joy of old Hindi film music can take the boredom of the narrative away.

One request to Yash Raj. Please step out of the studios and see how young people dance or behave when happy. They certainly don’t go to gigantic studio spaces fitted with empty tram cars and jump simultaneously in the air. The song is so pointless and out of touch with reality… But yes, Parineeti Chopra has a wonderful singing voice, and even though her songs are lost in the inanity of Ayushman’s droning of his story, she deserves half a star for her talent. I wish she has better luck with the script next time! This one was mostly ‘acting’ bindaas or dumb but pretty girl.

If you wish to escape the summer heat outside or seek help in falling asleep, this film is a great option.

P.S. Do Bengalis dance in the rain? or is it 'Bhetore esho! Oshuk hoye jaabe!' and 'Come shona! Wear your monkey cap!'?

(this review sans Frank Capra quote and the post script appear on nowrunning dot com)

Review: SARKAR 3

Bhahut Bekaar Cheez Hai Yeh Sarkaar

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

Amitabh Bachchan is earnest, great even, but even he cannot prevent the poorly scripted and horribly hammed work from turning into a train wreck. Of course when you begin to laugh at threats like ‘I’m going to kill Sarkar’ you know the film has failed on many levels. This film is crammed to the gills with characters and motives that go nowhere.

Main Review:

A picture of Abhishek Bachchan grinning is set on the wall of Sarkar’s living room is the only lucky thing in the entire film. He is Shankar Nagre, who died in Sarkar 2.

(VOICE inside my head: Bach gaya! Warna he would have had to watch Amit Sadh act!)

Because Shankar died, we have to put up with the insufferable Amit Sadh who overdoes everything. He hams so much, even his silhouette - when Sarkar kicks him out of the house - overacts.

The movie begins with Sarkar, played with great earnestness, by Amitabh Bachchan, giving a speech. That voice is so mesmerizing, it doesn’t matter what he’s saying, because it really is gobbledegook about how ‘Sarkar is a thought, not a man’ and you like it because Amitabh Bachchan is saying it. Get on with the story! We’ve heard it all before, when a sleazy man in a maroon velvet suit, strangely showy sunglasses and shiny shoes shows up and makes Sarkar an insulting offer: help us throw out the poor people from their hutments and we will share our profits with you. Sarkar, as laconic as ever, declines. The man leaves after saying, ‘I love you!’

That’s interesting, you think, and settle down for more weirdness. And then you begin to laugh. The sleazy guy is called ‘Gandhi’ and his weirder boss is ‘Sir’. Sir turns around. Whoa! It’s Jackie Shroff the Dubai Don perpetually located by the pool, next to a bimbette who wears the most inappropriate clothes. After you’ve stopped grinning at discovering the eternal Jaggu Dada call her ‘Darling’ and spout dialog like, ‘Darling, don’t speak, only think!’ or ‘Select whatever ring you wish (at the jewelry store), but remember women who wear my ring die.’

(VOICE inside my head: Jackie Shroff is a blessing! Warna we would be watching Amit Sadh act some more!)

If you don’t manage to jot down any other ‘darling’ dialog, it’s because you’re trying to do two things at the same time: laugh at ‘darling’s’ attempt at speaking coherently, and keep your jaw from dislocating with surprise at the clothes (and the things she’s doing) by the pool, and in the pool. She feed dolphins that are swimming in the pool, she even walks a reluctant lap dog by the pool, she jumps into a pool that turns out to be a wading pool and pretends to swim (when she’s really sitting in water not deeper than a foot and a half. And erm, she’s not wearing a swimsuit but lacy lingerie. She’s water moll to Dubai Don who looks like he’s stoned, mostly, or stony faced because of Botox…

Then there’s strange threads introduced in the story: Union leader Gorakh who takes a bribe and vanishes, Manoj Bajpayee who plays politician named Gokul Deshpande, who hates Sarkar and his ways. His mom also hates Sarkar, but we don’t know why, and it’s weird to see Rohini Hattangadi play it drunk. Then there’s Yami Gautam whose role is all widening and narrowing of eyes as if she is plotting something, and then doing nothing. Yes, she has a couple of weird ticks (she shakes her foot impatiently in one scene and then rubs her forefinger to thumb as though testing the texture of air). Why she does that, no one cares because you’re grinning over her wanting to be ‘Sarkarni’. Female Sarkar? Yes.

Ronit Roy gets to play right hand man of Sarkar, and thankfully he gets to die in the crossfire when characters are double and triple crossing each other at the beat of the infernal ‘Govinda Govinda’ chant and beat that dominates the film score. When that chant showed up in Sarkar the original film, the audience loved it, because it turned the college graduate Shankar into Sarkar, In this film of all the double crosses crammed into the second half, the film collapses into one gigantic nought.

(VOICE inside my head: Good thing there are so many characters, warna we would have had to watch more of Amit Sadh's act!)

Yes, Amitabh Bachchan certainly earns a star for his performance, but the half goes to whoever figures out why ‘Darling’ needed to be in the film...     

(this review sans the voice inside my head, appears on nowrunning dot com)


Bahubali Ya Batman?

3 stars

Mini Review:

Was it a mistake letting Guy Ritchie take a quintessential English tale and turn it into a battle of good vs. really good evil? The explosive action and the grey, ‘doomed forever’ setting is perfect. But it’s disconcerting to see bits of Batman in the story, hear a regular Hollywood American English being spoken by King Arthur (and everyone else), and the awful omnipresent undeniable parallel storyline with Bahubali. If you can get over all that, then the legend of the sword keeps you hooked.

Main Review:

England Ka Bahubali

The only difference between Arthur and Bahubali is the color palette. The rest is the same. In England, an evil, conniving Uncle makes a deal with the devil to become King. In Mahishmati, an evil undeserving cousin plots to become King. In England, the real heir to the throne, floats away in a little boat and is saved and brought up by prostitutes, In Mahishmati too the real heir floats to safety in a boat… The similarities are endless, but it ends with the color palette. While England has only greys and blues and blacks, Mahishmati suffers from a color diarrhoea.

Guy Ritchie Had Batman On His Mind

England is cold and grey and mostly gloomy, but they do have a fabulous legend of the sword in the stone happily exploited by the Minions and other animation films as well as sexily by the Richard Gere/Sean Connery film First Knight. Guy Ritchie offers us a dark action film that is more Batman than Arthur. Especially with the losing of parents, the nightmares, and of course bats in the cave!

But what explosive action! The legend of the sword holds its own and does not allow Guy Ritchie to fool around with it. The creepy Syrens too have an old world feeling about it. ‘You know the price you have to pay’ is so fairy tale-ish… The Lady Of The Lake pulling Arthur in and showing him a glimpse of the future is brilliant too.

What Guy Ritchie cannot be faulted for are the fight sequences. The assassination attempt, the fight following the attempt, the clever how to get money from the Vikings, the final confrontation between the evil King and the born King, the montage of Arthur growing up in London’s unfriendly alleys are all brilliantly done.

Though the director gets the grime and the grit of action scenes and the life in Londinium feel right, the ‘Kung Fu George’, the Americanisms in the dialog - King Arthur mouthing, ‘What the fuck’ - makes the audience cringe. When the real heir to the British throne, asks, ‘What are we gonna do now?’, you think you’re hearing things, but when the subtitle says it too, you want to take that sword and unleash it upon the dialog writers and the king himself. The joke format for the round table is so lame, not even a ten year old will laugh at the result… And I cringed and laughed to see elephants as fantastical beast used by Mordred (yes, like Mordor but dreadful!). What Guy Ritchie, you never heard of dragons as mythical beasts of England? Du-uh!

The cinematography is spectacular. The aerial shots of Scottish lands is stunning. As are the city scenes. You are awed by the medieval world the director manages to create. What earns the movie its stars is one dude alone. And that is Jude Law. He makes for the near perfect villain. He broods brilliantly, and he screams with a heartfelt evil drive. He sneers to put habitual sneerers to shame and his eyes drip with ambition. You feel his simmering rage at being second best to the good king. You understand why he can make the sacrifice the Syrens ask of him and yet forgive him because he feels the pain too. All this and more in one role? And he’s the bad guy? Wow! Guy Ritchie excels in creating grey characters, and he makes the perfect King Vortigern. Superbly cast.

Watch this film because of the Sword, and its magic and for Jude Law. All else is unoriginal.


All Is Well In Alien World. But You’ve Seen It All Before

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

Ridley Scott makes a paint by numbers Alien movie. What could have been great, just turns into let’s predict who gets killed next game. Yes Fassbender is there, Prometheus is there, the Aliens tearing apart human bodies from the inside is there, there is lots of blood too. But after having watched so many sequels, you find yourself hankering for something a little different.

Main Review:

As the Eagles sang: Same dances in same old shoes/Some habits that you just can’t lose/There’s no telling what a man might use/After the thrill is gone…

There is Covenant the transporter ship that’s taking people in deep sleep across space to a planet they can colonise. There is Walter the Synth who takes care of all the people and embryos until a Passengers (Jennifer Lawrence/Chris Pratt) style space accident wakes up the crew…

As the song says, ‘Same ole dancing in same old shoes’ we watch as the crew take stupider and stupider emotional decisions.

Look at the lyrics of the song again: ‘What can you do when your dream comes true/And it’s not quite like you planned?’

Of course the travelers choose to land on a totally unchecked, unknown planet and they are so sloppy, even I wouldn’t allow such jokers to take care of my body in stasis during interplanetary travel.

Even Star Trek chaps knew when you landed on alien planets, you wore protective gear, and you always set your phasers on ‘Stun’. These guys just walk out of the lander craft as though they were going to take a walk in a park in New Zealand. They smoke, they take pee breaks, and they stomp through the flora as if they ruled alien territory. And the audience just groans when one from the landing party simply breaks off a fat wheat pod and eats it. Why would you eat untested stuff on an alien planet? The girl who breaks off from the party to ‘Test the water and the soil’ should have said a ‘No! Don’t eat that!’

When you see such rampant stupidity, you begin to support the aliens that just want them as meat. They are so stupid, they deserve to die.

How they die becomes apparent soon enough, but not before you have praised Ridley Scott’s vision of the doomed world. You meet…

The dialog is interesting enough and you nod your head in approval and you smile. You are also stumped at the setting but then you see the predictability of it all.

The visitors die one by one and you almost yell out in happiness when you meet your old friend the facehugger.

The movie grows on you because Fassbender and Fassbender are cooler characters than anyone in the landing party (you know they are fodder for the Alien. What I enjoyed was the connect to Prometheus.

You watch the final act play out knowing the twist in the tale before the characters in the film do. It’s exhausting to watch the finale, because you know they have to keep the tale going a mile before the Captain’s log is recorded again. You wonder what they’re planning with Spock and Kirk and Dr. McCoy and Uhura are up to… Or where Luke and Leia and Darth Vader are…

The thrill is gone.