22 Jun 2018

Incredibles 2: Solid Visual Treat, Witty Entertainment!

Writer and director Brad Bird just loves animation and boy does animation love him back! The Iron Giant (1999), The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille (2007) and now Incredibles 2. It is already a staggering body of work in animation movies.

Good Character-Driven Story 
An animated comic drama, Incredibles 2 starts precisely where The Incredibles left off 14 years ago. We meet the fab five, Bob/Mr. Incredible, Helen/Elastigirl and their three children Dash, Violet, and the cute baby, Jack-Jack fighting off the tunneling villain, Underminer. The damage from this battle leads to the closure of the "Super Relocation Program."

Stuck at a motel and doomed to take up regular jobs again, the super family's future seems grim. This is when Winston Deavor, superhero fan and telecommunications millionaire comes to the rescue. Along with genius sister Evelyn Deavor, Winston wants to bring banned superheroes back into the business. His ultimate goal is to rally public support and make supers legal again. Elastigirl is selected as the first choice to fight crime in the public eye.

The family is also provided a large spacious, luxurious home.Mr. Incredible has to grudgingly stay at home and tend to the kids, while Elastigirl has all the fun. Danger looms as a new mysterious villain called Screenslaver poses serious problems.

Intelligent, Mature, Cute
Incredibles 2 flows in a fabulously witty and comic rhythm and never slackens. Brad Bird's story punches through stereotypes to give us an almost perfect animation picture experience. From fluid action sequences, uproarious yet balanced comedy, stunning visuals, superb background music and voiceovers, Incredibles 2 is a treat.

Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. Jackson and Brad Bird reprise voicing their characters. Nelson (as Mr.Incredible), Hunter (as Elastigirl) and Huck Milner (as Dash) especially stand out.

Apart from the world-saving and superpowers, Bird addresses human problems and insecurities and as in The Incredibles, he receives our adorable empathy. Mr. Incredible could be any stressed stay-at-home parent, Violet stands for awkward-in-love teenagers and you have met enthusiastic, restless kids like Dash. Jack-Jack, the unpredictable cute baby with numerous uncontrolled superpowers packs in more fun.

Don't Miss It!   
Towards the end, it does seem that the film impresses, but doesn't go one better than The Incredibles. But that is no complaint, just a passing observation.

At less than 2 hours, Incredibles 2 is very watchable for its incredible creativity, really cool jokes, lovely, light pop reference moments, wonderful connectable characters, and brilliant, justified storytelling. Incredibles 2 is a highly-recommended fun weekend watch at the theaters!

15 Jun 2018

Race 3: An Incredibly Dumb, Partly "So Bad That it is Good" Bhai Movie!

I can't wait to begin, and I don't know where to end. I could write pages and pages today about Race 3. Few movies can be so bad and for the same reason be so good.

The first hour of Race 3 is right down hilarious. Clearly, the director didn't mean it to be so. If the rest of the film had been as consistently lame and yet foolishly entertaining, it would have been so much fun. The filmmakers do try to set new levels of incompetence in the second half. But finally, Race 3 is just plain bad.

Story? What Story? 
Salman Khan aka "Bhai", Anil Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah and Saqib Saleem get together and never get going. The dialogues are childish and incredibly dumb. The action promises much and then just dies down as "Bhai & Friends" take over.

The Race 3 Select LOL Moments 
Bhai sticks out a Swiss knife and shaves off his goatee and moustache mid-song! Jacqueline is clearly impressed. That's my man! Yeah, stop using razor blades today! Wait for a second! Don't! If Bhai can you can't too! Because only Bhai can!

Police? Law and order? Who are they? 

Selfish, Bhai's first attempt at songwriting, or more of a clout disguised as a song is entertainingly bad. 

The Cambodian army can't find a gun to shoot Bhai. Leave the gun-finding to Bhai! And the killing too!

The women are featured in all kinds of undress. Billionaires party and party, because there is nothing else to do.  

The body count in the opening scenes, over 90 armed men shot between Salman, Daisy, and Saqib! Nobody can get one bullet anywhere near the trio though! 

Nobody gets Bhai. Bhai gets everybody. 
Everybody falls through shattered glass in fight scenes! Somebody wanted a lot of glass destroyed! Probably it was the action director's anger management method. "I am angry! Bring more glass!"   

Rajesh Sharma calls up Anil Kapoor in a Bihari accent and suddenly everyone is speaking madcap Bhojpuri. When did that happen and why? The best of the unintentionally hilarious moments are in Bhojpuri. Every time the accent came on, I was like, "Please go Bhojpuri on me! Please! One more time!"

Out of the world dialogues. Salman Khan's character is called Sikander, so one of chaps go, "I am sick of this Sikku, Dad!" How about,"See you later, alligator." There is more, much, much more of priceless alien dialogue-baazi!  

Two guys lose their shirts and then fight in slow-mo. Because it's too hot in the desert, silly! And we got plenty of time and it's a three-hour movie! Chill!   

By the way, Bhai is driving a vehicle in the movie. Just saying.  

Who has the last laugh?
The film's producers will clearly make money despite the absolute topless juvenility. At almost three hours, Race 3 is a punishment you just can't ignore. Ironically, Salman Khan had intelligently mentioned in an interview, how a demi-god hero can end up becoming his own caricature. You can clearly see the caricature Salman Khan has become in Race 3.

The Scary End 
They are planning Race 4! Help! Cinema lovers, notice the shiver down your sensible spine. Bhai lovers! You can't miss what you didn't notice!

Race 3 is for the brave, foolhardy, loyal Salman Khan fan. Bhai fans, I salute you! Go buy your blue stone bracelet and get through this one! Race 3 is your "Are you a true Bhai fan?" test.

8 Jun 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Some Good Thrills, Despite More of the Same Old

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is at least better than its more predictable, nostalgia-exploiting, no show predecessor Jurassic World (2015). That's the least we expect from any movie sequel nowadays.

Start Screaming For Help! Another Dinosaur Movie! 
A volcano has (conveniently) erupted at Isla Nublar and the US Senate decides to let the dinosaurs die. Dr. Ian "I-Told-You-So" Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) has an "I-Am-Wisdom" session at the Senate hearing. Cloning dinosaurs was a huge mistake, let nature correct man's mistake, he prophetically states.

The park manager from Jurassic World, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is now a dinosaur protection group head. She and her team are devastated by the Senate's decision. Right on cue, Dearing is contacted by John Hammond's former cloning technology partner Benjamin Lockwood. The old, ailing Lockwood wants Dearing to help save as many dinosaurs as she can with his team. He wants to relocate them to a safe natural reserve. Only things are not as they seem.

Lockwood's aide Eli Mills particularly wants Dearing to locate the last living Velociraptor, Blue. Mills convinces her to reconnect with Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Dearing's former boyfriend and Velociraptor researcher to help in the search.   

Saved by Crisp, Clever Action and VFX      
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are the redeemers in a franchise that is now more dependant on the fluidity of the action sequences. The story and emotional core here (or what's left of it) are pruned from all previous franchise movies, especially Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997).

Old misguided philanthropist, greedy aide, cute children in danger, an indoor dinosaur-humans hide and seek sequence, a couple saving the day, dinosaurs exploited for human pleasure, are all revisited themes. To be fair, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has many impressive action sequences and startling moments.

It is for the VFX and clever heart-stopping action, we still love Steven Speilberg's Jurassic Park (1993). But there was a story of ambition, human capabilities, man vs. nature and an exploration of greed embedded in it. No such moments in this one.

Cool Moments
The opening scenes involving a T.rex attack are nicely done. The Indominus rex attacking the little girl sequence begins masterfully, before falling away to illogical interruptions. A climatic death scene is smart, as is a part-funny jaw-escaping act. A dinosaur calling out, even as volcanic lava swallows its world, is the film's only poetic, poignant moment.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review
Let go of some logic and depth and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has enough well-constructed action sequences and sudden surprises to make for a decent though loose, adventure-filled family entertainer. Yes, they are planning another sequel. Unlike dinosaurs, sequels aren't getting extinct anytime soon.

1 Jun 2018

Veere Di Wedding: A Contrived, Confused and Lost Comedy Drama

Kalindi (Kareena Kapoor), Avni (Sonam Kapoor), Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar) and Meera (Shikha Talsania) are close upper-class friends from school. Money is the least of their worries. They have many other things in their abandoned, hedonistic and free lives to worry about. What those worrisome things are, we never get to know. We do get to know in bits later, but we don't care as much. 

Australia-based Kalindi has just been proposed by Rishabh (Sumeet Vyas, quite good), her live-in partner. She reluctantly agrees. Soon, all the four friends are reunited for the wedding in India. Avni is a single independent divorce lawyer whose mother (Neena Gupta) is hounding her to get married.

Sakshi is a spoilt, partying and swearing drunkard. Meera lives in London with her husband and two-year-old kid. Her fat, flabby character had potential to stand out, but the consistently shallow writing lets everyone down.

Kalindi is pissed off by Rishabh's "do the wedding rituals" family. The rest of the girls are also pissed off about something. This is, believe it or not, the film's theme.

Veere Di Wedding: No Central Story 
After a few initial laughs, Veere Di Wedding never takes off as the girl-bonding, comedy-drama that it intends to be. The f*** word is clearly played up, as is the drinking, swearing, and the supposed display of open sexuality.

People shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes is the film's repeated dialogue. But Veere Di Wedding is a bumpy ride with half-realized ideas and a conventional, what-the-heck-was-the-fuss-about ending.

Performances & Bollywood Cliches 
All the four leading ladies are in top form, so it is a pity that the story and screenplay smash their efforts to bits. There is a whole rainbow of ideas dropped around. Don't let your parents' marriage decide your relationship. Casual sex is OK. Girls totally into drinking and using a vibrator can do so. Finally, if you love someone truly, marriage is good too.

Veere Di Wedding is also a case of a cliched, glamourized Bollywood film, where everyone is well-dressed up, nobody has to worry about a job or earning a rupee or dollar. Nothing sticks, just a teeny-weeny bit between Sonam and Neena Gupta about mothers and daughters. Also, the way a gay couple is not played up for laughs is mildly admirable.

After getting four women together, the makers of Veere Di Wedding just don't know where to go. They end up going round and round. The audience suffers.

If you haven't seen it yet, I would rather recommend the superb, throbbingly real, female-bonding drama Lipstick Under My Burkha.