11 Mar 2017

Movie Review: Kong:Skull Island: Not So Good, Not Too Bad

(Caution: Hyphens and brackets prickle this review.) 

Set at the fag-end of the Vietnam war (1973), a government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) hires a British Air Service Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and a military squadron led by Colonel Packard (Samuel Jackson in another stereotyped 'bad ass' role) to explore the mysterious Skull Island in the South Pacific.

The mandatory female lead Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) makes for commercial decoration rather than the photographer she is supposed to be playing. A madcap, chuckle-inducing, endearing cameo by John C. Reilly lightens up the second half. Reilly's Marlow is the only character with any connect here.

A ship sails without anything remotely ominous happening. The CGI created XXL-sized storm cloud is yawn-inducing, As a bevy of helicopters break through to Avatar-like geography and the talented cast contorts awe-stricken faces to a Jurassic Park-like soundtrack, an airborne tree trunk meets a windshield. Enter Kong, bloody red-eyed, mammoth, all too familiar and one-note.

Big budget blues  
Filled, or more precisely, populated with the movie (Apocalypse Now), anti-war (in uppercase and underlined many times over) and literature (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad) references, Kong: Skull Island gathers audience attention due to its ballooned up budget and cast, rather than anything remotely spectacular.

Lame jokes, cardboard characters 
Mammoth-sized creatures on an unknown island battling man's greed, weaponry and ego is oft-repeated big screen potential.

Kong: Skull Island borrows from all previous reboots and the original King Kong (1933) but falters, scene after scene. Cliches, overcooked dialogues, loud in-your-face action ensures the utter lack of surprises.

Only for a minute, in a haze-induced hunted-hunter waiting does this wannabe monster movie come alive. A decent final Kong-Giant Lizard confrontation ably mimics bits from Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005). These two action episodes just about hold our attention.

No genuine moments, zero on the thrill meter, a brief, forced human-Kong connect, guns, fire, ho-hum.

Too full of itself and a loud chest-thumping, grizzle of a movie, Kong: Skull Island in 3D is a shallow breeze thanks to its incident-filled screenplay and CGI. An optional, not so boring watch at the theaters this week.

For a better experience, catch Peter Jackson's inconsistent but impressive, high-quality King Kong instead.

5 Mar 2017

Logan: Quality Summer Entertainment

Logan is easily among the best of the X-Men film series so far. The X-Men movies have all either been either good, lukewarm and underwhelming, but Logan cuts above the rest for its grittiness and execution. Some films seem almost gifted with rhythm and cohesion, Logan is that movie for most of its running time.

Mortal heroes 
With an apocalyptic and a looming mutant extinction setting, Logan is a dark, edgy comic book adaptation. This is the most identifiable and connectable of all X-Men movies.

That Wolverine/Logan is dying, his wounds not healing fast enough, that Professor Charles Xavier is down with degenerative nerve disease, is a believable human connect. One promptly relates to this mortality, decline concept, as compared to the usual invincibility scenario.

Impressive action sequences
The opening hour is an arresting, lingering, slow-burner. An engaging mimic of Hollywood westerns’ pathos suits the film’s sober mood. The proceedings have a cool Clint Eastwood (Sergio Leone trilogy) shade in the early scenes.

The action sequences are sparingly and cleverly placed.One particular action set-piece lights up the first half, involving gun-wielding intruders, a fleeing car entangled in barb wire, a train and murderous steel claws. From then on the tempo seldom slackens.

Performances rock!
Hugh Jackman has covered a huge acting curve since his first appearance as Wolverine. He plays Logan with a mature, abuse-ridden distress, snarling, growling, living the role. His dialogue delivery is right down perfect and damn effective. Dafne Keen is a steal as Laura, the young enigmatic mutant kid. Her performance adds sparkle and unpredictability to the film's standout moments. Patrick Stewart as Prof Xavier is an absolute hoot. This is a cast that is clearly enjoying itself.

Ample engaging moments 
The gruesome violence is no poetry for this A (aptly rated) certification movie. The repetitive in-your-face, decapitating violence pulls down the film a few notches. But as two heroes succumb to their graves and a new mutant tribe seeks refuge, the entertainment benchmark hits way above average.

Logan is a sci-fi action drama with oodles of thrilling moments. If you an X-Men film series fan, this is a must watch. A deserving summer blockbuster in the making.