Hi !I'm Apurv Nagpal, I review primarily Hindi movies here and am loving the fact that the plots now are so varied vs the formulaic stuff some years ago. For me, reviews must help you choose whether to watch or not, and so are written that way. The views expressed here are completely my own / personal and do not have any connection with my employers. Enjoy!
Running Time : 94 minutes
Director : Galen T Chu, Mike Thurmier
Story : Aubrey Solomon
Music : John Debney
Starring : (Voices Of) : Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Adam Devine, Simon Pegg, Keke Palmer
Rating : 9/10
Running Time : 110 minutes
Director : David Yates
Writers : Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer, based on the character / story by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Music : Rupert Gregson-Williams
Starring : Alexander Skarsgaard, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson, Djimon Hounsou
Rating : 5 /10
Release Date : 30th April, 2016
Time : 147 minutes
Directors : Anthony Russo, Joe Russo; Writers : Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely based on the comic book by Mark Millar and characters by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby; Music : Henry Jackman
Starring : Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Bruhl, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, William Hurt, Martin Freeman
What happens when you hit a dead end as a script-writer ?
Super-hero angst, existential crisis, back stories have already been done to death.
There are no super-cool, megalomaniacal villains left – no new worlds left to conquer, and threatening aliens are so passe.
What then do you do ?
Turn your super-heroes one against the other ? Make them battle against each other on the flimsiest of pretexts ? And why stop at one, lets make them fight in groups ? Iron Man vs Captain America, Black Panther vs The Winter Soldier, Hawkeye vs Black Widow, Ant Man vs Spider Man – all together !
But it just doesn’t make any sense. Logical flaws abound. Soundbytes and classic filmy poses take the place of a sensible story. And it all gets too grim, the fabulous repartee, humour (of say, Avengers, Guardians of The Galaxy and Deadpool) taking an undeserved back seat.
The world has decided they only want to let the Avengers function under a UN supervised panel – who would call upon them, only if it deems fit. The collateral damage caused by the superheroes running amok, across territorial borders, has got to a point where it can’t be tolerated anymore. Some of the superheroes are for such a move – while an equal number are against it. A couple of more incidents – orchestrated by Sebastian Stan and Daniel Bruhl – and the For and Against sides begin an ‘epic’ battle against each other. Sparks, suits and blows fly – but it’s essentially dueling with handbags.
Shouldn’t the side with the most powerful superhero, logically, have triumphed ? Shouldn’t the battle have been really short and sweet ? Perhaps there shouldn’t even have been a battle in the first place ? Chris Evans inspires trust but is just too uni-dimensional. Robert Downey Jr is uncharacteristically confused in thought. Daniel Bruhl is intense but nothing he does is possible / logical.
Wish they had chosen a different method to settle their differences – maybe a toss of coin or a drinking competition ? Or even Russian Roulette or a round of blackjack ?
Rating : 6 /10
Release Date : 15th April, 2016
Time : 143 minutes
Director, Writer : Maneesh Sharma; Music : Vishal-Shekhar (songs), Andrea Guerra (background score)
Starring : Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Amin, Yogendra Tiku, Sayani Gupta
A young boy (Gaurav) is obsessed with Shahrukh Khan, the star (named Aryan in the movie), and coincidentally looks like him too. In fact the high point of his life is winning the local star look-alike show. And then, on SRK’s birthday, he decides to make the trip to Mumbai and meet his idol – with dreams of handing him the trophy he won, hugging him etc. Things don’t go to plan (understatement of the century) and when he returns from Mumbai, he decides to make the star pay – especially as he was found wanting on one of his favourite sign off lines – ‘I am what I am because of my fans, if the fans aren’t there, I am nobody’.
It’s a fascinating premise – who in India doesn’t recognize obsession after all, and what if that infatuation turns sour - and it’s fabulously enacted by Shahrukh, but thanks to two bloated chase sequences and an end that goes nowhere, it pulls you down. There is a strong message somewhere – but it’s lost in all the filmy touches and several implausible moments.
Our boy has the cutest, most supportive parents imaginable – and his normal life pretty much revolves around his idol. Several touching scenes – the imaginary conversations in our head, the wall to ceiling posters, the fighting with others for our star – we would recognize these traits, after all, we all have idolized someone at some point. And, we’ve all felt at some time or the other, that our stars have let us down, they sometimes let success and adulation get to their head, become arrogant, forget why, who made them big in the first place. And in this film, the star’s biggest fan, decides to teach him a lesson.
SRK is very good, after a long while. It’s been ages since he did a film with some meat, substance and this couldn’t have been an easy project to say ‘Yes’ to – so kudos to him for agreeing to it, making it come alive with a great performance. Unfortunately, at script level, there were too many inconsistencies – events happen that have a close to zero chance happening in real life – and the end just didn’t connect. Wasn’t something else possible here ?
As a total aside - it was nice to see Dubrovnik, a lovely, quiet Croatian coastal town feature in a Hindi film – Star Wars VIII, Game of Thrones have also been shot here, quite extensively too.
Obsessions, especially those not our own, don’t make for easy viewing, especially on the big screen. Several moments when you wish the character didn’t do what they did, you cringe, face-palm, which ensures that the repeat viewing potential of this movie is nil. But then, as our star obsessed fan points out several times – what they do isn't done or possible for others to understand. And at the end, who are we to judge ?
Rating : 9 /10
Release Date : 8th April, 2016
Time : 105 minutes
Director : Jon Favreau; Writer : Justin Marks based on the book by Rudyard Kipling; Music : John Debney
Starring : Neel Sethi and (Voices of) Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito; And a few sentences from Jon Favreau, Sam Raimi, Russell Peters, Sara Arrington
This is one of the best remakes I’ve seen of a classic, works for kids and adults alike !
The visuals are amazing, the twists in the story (takes quite a different path to the original film) make sense, are well thought through and add intrigue, keep you gripped. Neel Sethi is a revelation, ideal for the role (sweet face, until he shows the steel he’s made of) as are the myriad superstar voices (Scarlett’s Kaa is sweet death personified, oh so deliciously tingly and Walken dry staccato tone so perfectly suits King Louie). And the songs – aaaahhhhhhh….they’ve kept elements of the familiar tunes and added some edgy magic to it (especially loved the Indian touch in the soundtrack)! Don’t leave when the end-credits are on – that’s when you get to hear them properly – the video of Kaa’s ‘Trust In Me’ is so totally worth it…
I’m not going to go into the story as I don’t want to give anything away – most of you would be familiar with the broad outline anyways and those who aren’t probably don’t deserve to be forewarned
BTW – for once our censor board seems to have got it right, with a deserved U/A guidance – if you have a young child (under 8?), it can be a little scary, so be careful
You can put the 1967 Disney Classic feature film on mute and I’ll be effortlessly and gladly able to supply the soundtrack – it’s that big a personal favourite ! I had cringed when a remake was announced but every trailer released had helped whet my appetite. And finally, this refreshing retelling of the tale has simply bowled me over. Will be going again tomorrow, despite an extremely packed schedule, to watch it again