Don’t Miss Don’t Breathe

Right off the bat, I’m not a huge fan of the horror/thriller genre. Although I’ve seen the Jason series, gone through most of the Freddy Kruger list and even convinced myself to see 5 of the 7 Saw flicks, ll to stay with the list and less fun-tertainment.

Thus, in an attempt to branch myself out, I decided to invest time and money and watch the latest thriller flick, Don’t Breathe…and in all honesty it paid off.

Let us start with the basic question; what makes a thriller good/worth watching? The answer is simple à It is the suspense, the nail-biting, tense situations that have the audience at the edge of their seats at all times. And I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this film delivers just that.

Don’t Breathe is a superb told story about a trio of thieves who find out about a massive fortune in the house of a blind man and plan to break into the house and relive him of his money. Blind, old man living in a dilapidated house in a deserted neighborhood with little to no police protection or home security. Piece of cake right? (BUZZER SOUNDS)…Wrong!! What they walk into, pretty much …. Takes your breath away. (See what I did there :D)

The three thieves ,a blind man armed with his small dog (a Rottweiler) make for an enthralling cat and mouse game, all shot in a small two story + basement house. And you sit on the edge of your seat (or in the case of my wife, below the seat) in the theater, literally holding your breath, sweating, nervous, breathing ever so slowly, glued to the 70 mm screen waiting for the next move.

The cast is decently picked and most are relatively new. Stephen Lang who acts as the not-so-helpless blind man is brilliant in his role and his presence sends shivers down your spine. Jane Levy (well known for her lead role in Suburgatory) does well as the scared, yet determined burglar Rocky, who has decided she won’t die in that house. Dylan Minnette as Alex and Daniel Zovatto as Money make up the remainder of the cast and both do enough in their roles. All the newbies are put through hell and their performances sell their petrifying ordeal compellingly.

Don’t Breathe is a masterclass in camera work and direction and, I’m pleasantly surprised at Fede Alvarez (Director) who’s only known work is the Evil Dead remake that released 3 years ago. Fede manages to keep the shots discernible, doesn’t jiggle the camera like it’s a toilet handle and sticks to the story like gospel. While the setup is a little too pedestrian, albeit economical, once the story gets rolling, the film doesn’t let up, running at a sinewy 88 minutes. The movie is a wonderful display of cinematic creativity and one of its strongest points is the sound design and the creativity in it.

Personally speaking, one of the best-selling points of the movie is the blurry line between good and evil. Almost all movies have that concept netted out impeccably, however Fede manages to write a complex story brilliantly where every character (even the dog), has moments of sympathy and compassion, as well as moments of scorn and disdain. You end up alternately feeling empathy and condescension, as the lines between hero and villain, antihero and anti-villain become progressively blurred. Not an easy feat to achieve and full marks to Fede and Rodo Sayagues for their thought provoking and brilliantly written story.

So in conclusion, Don’t Breathe is definitely not the scariest film of the year, but it is unique and very well directed and it holds true to its title. My recommendation would be to catch this flick before it leaves the theaters.

 

Advertisements

Khiladi misses his mark!

To all those who know me, would know the amount of effort it takes me to part with my money for a Bollywood movie. It is not snobby, it is just that there is a limited amount of song and dance I can take in a movie.

So in this case something went wrong!

We are all (at least by now) aware of the whole Nanavati shooting case and the resultant media hyperbole. So when Rajiv Bhatia aka Akshay Kumar decided to make a movie about something this fascinating, I admit I was caught in the wave. Throw in the fact that Akshay K. has been critically acclaimed for his recent string of movies like Baby, Airlift, Holiday, Special 26, Oh My God etc., curiosity got the better of me and unfortunately it is this curiosity which killed the cat/my brain.

Bollywood can’t do without extras. Be it in dance sequences, where random girls wear short clothes of the same color and dance behind a female lead wearing even shorter clothes (but always of a different color), or action sequences, where big guys try and fight the lead but their punches land a mile from his body or (alas) a “true” story, where despite the story already being written out, writers have to go and muck up the truth to make it more appealing for the masses. (Or this is the excuse I have read/heard each time)

Rustom had all the elements needed for a brilliant movie. A story of love, betrayal, murder, the armed forces, courtroom drama and no “mein tumahre bachche ke maa banne waali hu” crap. Then where did it all go wrong?

……

Rustom Pavri (the infallible Akshay Kumar) is a decorated naval officer who finds out his wife Cynthia Pavri (the glycerin addicted Ileana) is having an affair with his friend Vikram Makhija (the man with limited talent, Arjan Bajwa).  Upset, but still able to think rationally (Naval training you know!) Rustom, heads to Vikram’s house and shoots him with the revolver provided by the Indian Navy. Rustom turns himself in and the movie moves to a courtroom drama and media frenzy ensues mixed with a wee bit of regionalism. Now despite the disclaimer (which is what gave the director the reason to muck up the picture) the movie is still got the basics right and somehow this is what makes it worse.

The movie at the end of its two and a half hours, doesn’t leave you with a feeling of satisfaction but more with a “Why did I watch this? Reading the story on Wikipedia was more interesting”. And if we all believe that books can never be as good as the movie, then how bad a director are you when your movie is worse than a Wikipedia page?

Akshay Kumar is the only saving grace! He is the Will Smith of Bollywood. Movies starring him are made…FOR him. I would assume he takes about 80% of the screen time whilst the rest of the cast act as puny cogs working in the shadow of the behemoth. Ileana, I think has about 3 dialogues in the first 90 min and probably 20 more in the last 60 min. Her time is spent in trying to wear clothes that give her the look of a 1950’s stylish woman and based on her crying, is ready to OD on glycerin. Esha Gupta who acts as Preety Makhija (Vikram’s sister), on the other hand thinks she is dressed for a Tim Burton meets David Lynch movie, but her look is more 5th Element mixed with the Hitchhikers Guide. In her attempt to appear as a 1950’s flamboyant socialite she ends up forgetting to act. (No! Pouting all the time is not acting). I can only think that she wore those clothes as a favor to her friend who is a failing fashion designer because, real people don’t wear those clothes, not in 1950 and judging by what Priyanka Chopra wore, not in 2050 either. Also kudos to Arjan Bajwa, his acting skills are horrible and he was one of the very few people who did not disappoint. He was shot early saving him the frugality of being a part of this movie for longer.

The weakest link in the movie is the writing and it is so bad that I’d start a petition to have Vipul K Rawal’s desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile, pen, papers, and chalks all taken away from him just for OUR safety. I would go a level ahead by recommending highly pressurized acupuncture procedure to kill his nerve endings and hence his ability to hold a pen, but then I guess this review would be moving to a dark place. Thus for now I’d just recommend we break all his keyboards and pens!

Dharmendra Desai who also worked with Akshay Kumar in Special 26 is somehow unable to recreate the magic here and he has no one else to blame but Vipul. When there is an existing story, why would you write something equivalent to Great Grand Masti? When you have a courtroom drama and you could have made something of the quality of ‘A Few Good Men’, why would you write something that is worse than Jazbaa! (Sorry Ash fans, but you know that movie sucked too!). The courtroom scenes were horribly sketched, making Tareek Metha’s pitiful show seem like Seinfeld.

For those calling this a courtroom drama…shame. For those calling this a murder mystery ….shame and for those rating this movie more than 4/10…..shame …shame (rings the bell).

 

Star Trek Beyond CRAP

Thou’ must ruin a good thing and that’s for sure.

After two stupendous movies where Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto literally flipped the entire Star Trek fan base for doubting them as Kirk & Spock, it has all come crashing down in the end. Money can’t buy class and this movie highlights that. How else could you explain the fact that Paramount spent something to the tune of $185 million and gave a guy who made Fast and the Furious to make a movie with a history spanning back to 50 years?

Justin Lin (director and main culprit responsible) has taken his brand of shiny cars driven really fast by guys wearing their pants way too low and put that in the suave USS Enterprise. The result is something that makes a Chunky Pandey flick look like Schindler’s List. Lin was probably a step below painting the Enterprise red and having yellow flames on its side! Its unimaginable how someone with so little talent can be given the reins of a movie franchise which established its fan base while he was still potty-training. Mr. Lin, Star Trek is a lot more than fast cars and women wearing short skirts dropping their handkerchiefs to kick start a race, and you’d know that if you bothered to see it yourself.

Star Trek is about exploring science fiction concepts and themes through great storytelling, to borrow a quote “To boldly go where no man has gone before”. To help open our minds, to think of the possibilities and widen our imaginations and not watch a video game in 3D.

The story is lame, but with this being a review and all that….. It’s Star Date 2263.2 and Kirk (Chris Pine) is into the third year of the “5 year mission” and is emotionally ‘Lost in Space’. Spock (Zachary Quinto) also receives some unfortunate personal news and that unsettles him. Spock and Uhura are also “on a break”.  Kirk, Spock, Uhura etc. all are in need of a vacation, and Starbase Yorktown appears to be able to offer them that. (Throw in special effects to show an unbelievable location in space.) The reverie is rudely interrupted by the arrival of a frantic alien called Kalara (the gorgeous Lydia Wilson) from the other side of the galaxy. Her crew has been stranded on a remote planet and she needs help to rescue them. Kirk agrees but as most rescue missions go, this one comes up with a roadblock, mainly in the form of the warlord Krall (the brilliant Idris Elba who I feel is wasted in this movie), whose presence as the bad guy in the movie is literally as important as asparagus in a salad! Kirk and his crew now have to rescue themselves and the crew, throw in some more special effects, a random motorcycle and you have Star Trek Beyond.

Star Trek is much more than just a big spaceship racing another spaceship at warp speed and Justin Lin needs to realize that. Star Trek deserves better than Justin Lin. He is definitely not worthy of handling a franchise of this magnitude. For those making me think I am directing too much hate at him….please remember that he didn’t even make the good Fast & Furious movies!! (He made the 3rd, 4th and 5th one!)

Second comes the writing. Simon Pegg writing movies works well ONLY when he stars in them. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul…all brilliant, all silly, all have Pegg as the lead character. They are funny short stories with little, to no brains required and this is Pegg’s niche. Star Trek needs more capable and able bodies to work through its storyline and not a stand-up comic who can write about a zombie infested city which the lead can clear with a baseball bat.

To give an example of the poor writing…THERE IS A MOTORCYCLE ON THE SPACESHIP!!! There is no rhyme or reason for that. Logically thinking, why would there be a motorcycle in OUTER SPACE!!?? Is the captain thinking,” You know we have never been that far out in space…screw the oxygen tanks and probably travel through thick jungles, let me just keep my motorcycle on board…you know….just in case an alien challenges me to a drag race!”

With poor direction and even poorer writing, the movie just falls apart. There was no character development in this movie, which I personally feel has been the best part of the franchise till date. The complex equations between Kirk and Spock, Ka’an and Kirk, Kirk and Bones, Spock and Uhura…etc. are all part of this wonderful science fiction adventure. Unfortunately, in this movie, there was neither a flow nor any character evolution and you do not learn more about anything really. Instead of Kirk, Spock and Scotty you could stick just any name over the protagonists and the movie would have flown the same. The story is loosely tied and the characters are thinly created and I have seen Barbie Dolls with more back story.

Sorry folks, but this movie is literally a waste of time and money.

 

 

 

Thoughts: The Past, Present, the Future and all that’s in between.

A dystopian future calls me out,
The sirens blare,
I shout out loud.
I scream to the crowd,
My voice drowned by those passing by.
Sigh!

The days merge and the nights blaze bright,
The deep desire to fight, keeps away the option of flight.
My fear keeps me up at night,
It sets my soul alight.
I search for my holy grail,
The ability to lose, to fail
To be honest and at the hint of error
To not bail.
The light, it blinds
The retrocedes my mind,
I trust my sight,
For it’s the only part that shows me my plight.
To see the way things go by.
Sigh!

The voices are gone,
The sounds are drowned,
The rapture is deafening,
It sounds like an awakening.
I look up to see the skies,
Ah…the bliss that meets my eyes.
I see my present,
It speaks in a dialect I don’t understand,
I realize it speaks in the future,
And I rest assured,
For the future is but an allure.
The future is alright,
The future is passing by….
Sigh!

The Eagle has Landed

​There are movies that make you laugh, some that make you cry and then there are some you just watch with a dumb smile on your face throughout. A smile that stays with you long after the credits have rolled, the lights have been switched on and the ushers have started asking you to leave because they need to get the auditorium ready for the next show. (Disclaimer: I didn’t see this in the theatre, but you get the drift, don’t you?( )

Eddie the Eagle is a true heart-warming story about Michael “Eddie” Edwards (played by the super talented Taron Egerton of Kingsman fame), who has but one dream, and that is to become an Olympian. Never mind the fact that he literally has the athletic ability of a new born giraffe jumping on a trampoline, since facts can’t hold back dreams. 

After being removed from the British Skiing team, he eventually finds his calling as a ski-jumper, and seeing/realizing that the British haven’t had an Olympic ski-jump team for quite some time, he finds himself in the unlikely spot of representing his country in the Winter Olympics. Again, the fact that the sport is one which real athletes start preparing from age 7 (and he is roughly 3 times that) is a small detail that doesn’t hold him back. (

Eddie teams up with Bronson (Wolverine aka Hugh Jackman, who really does a wonderful job in this movie), a gifted but arrogant ex-ski jumper, as his new coach. Bronson promises to help Eddie at the bare minimum, which is to ensure Eddie doesn’t die while jumping of the ramp. Eventually, Bronson finds himself somehow drawn towards Eddie’s never say die attitude and the true meaning of being a part of the Olympics. (Wipes a tear)

Barring all my sarcasm aside, the movie is a real gem. 

For starters, one of the best things about the movie (apart from its story) is Taron Egerton. Taron E. is mind numbingly good and dons the role of Eddie like a glove. Egerton switches effortlessly between clueless goofball and steely determined sportsman and it is nearly impossible to realize that this is the same kid who was the street hood turned secret-service agent in Kingsman. Secondly, when I saw the trailer, I didn’t know what to think about Hugh Jackman, since he really doesn’t seem like a “ski jump coach”. But 10 minutes of seeing him as Bronson Peary and my doubts were cleansed away. Hugh Jackman seems to do this role without even trying too hard. Taron really delves deep into the skin of Eddie, and Hugh on the other side does Bronson as an overcoat and this is one of the reasons the movie works so well. The two characters play off each other perfectly. 

A lot of the supporting cast are ….. best described as caricatures. A special mention though goes for Eddie’s mom (played by the less known Jo Hartley) who really does a wonderful job as part of the bit part role team. 

Gun to my head, I guess the one thing not up to par in this movie is the special effects. Now I know it is just a ski jump and an underdog story, but somehow (and this is a purely personal opinion), the effects of a sports film are core to its story (Friday Night Lights, Miracle, heck even Rudy) and despite having the sport as one with a brilliance and elegance of ski-jump, the thrill and jumps are pretty badly shot. 

Do keep in mind that although the movie is based on a true story, it does take some ‘creative liberty’ (well ok, not ‘some’….’somewhat’…..ok maybe more than ‘somewhat’…..well ok it’s a pretty fictionalized account of what actually happened), but it honestly just adds to the movie and adds it well. 

In the end, the movie is a good mix of heart and humor and somehow the director has managed to time both perfectly. It’s not likely to win any Oscars, but this is the Rudy of our generation and that is saying something. 

Thoughts: The 5th Wave….of disappointment!

If there is anything to prove that our future is bleak, it is watching our next generation grow up. Right from their music (that God awful Beaver and his donkey braying!), to reading horse shit like Twilight, the future is clear and it is depressing. All forms of art will soon die and their collapse is imminent, and future historians will probably pin down this decade as the trigger of our civilization’s cultural collapse.

However I digress and that too, is because I have just seen what can only be classified as the pivot in our cultural downfall and it takes its roots in the wormhole that is young adult science fiction. From the genre that gave us masterpieces like the Divergent series, the Maze Runner, I am Number four, Eragon and many such ‘gems’, comes yet another mind blowing crap fest; The 5th wave. The movie is based the first book in the trilogy written by the ex –IRS collector Rick Yancey. The book was a big hit (sigh) and having not read the book I will refrain from making assumptions here.

Seeing that this is a review, I shall delve into the basics and try and explain to the best of my ability how this movie goes. Average high school girl crushes on boys, aliens come, mommy dies, Army takes over, brother is captured by army, daddy dies, girl fights to get her brother, aliens are good guys, army is bad guys, Colonel (or is he a General?!) dies. Girl kisses alien. Ka-BOOM! (Everything explodes).The End!

There I saved you a couple of bucks!

The saving grace in this movie would be Chloe ‘Grace’ Moretz (see what I did there,:)) as the lead. She does a decent job of acting like the confused sap of a teenage girl, who crushes on her class boys, loves her family and dotes on her little brother. Alas, she has dropped a long way from her kick-butt-first-ask-questions-later avatar of Hit Girl (Ref: Kickass), but well, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do! So here we see her in a pretty different role, albeit not a good role, but she does a decent job in it.

The rest of the cast, not so much!

As with all Young Adult Sci-Fi movies, the visual effects were something that could make or break them and somehow I think this one broke. J. Blakson (Director) is pretty new to the scene of movies (I believe it is his 2nd foray as a director of full length motion picture) and on the bright side, he can only go up from here. But he has a long long looooong way to go up, and even then he might just make the tail end of the average director’s herd.

The story of the movie is flat, and there is nothing (and I do mean nothing!) interesting about it. It is so predictable, that you feel you have already seen this movie earlier. And of course logic takes a back seat here, I mean it deals with an alien race which can cause earthquakes and tsunamis and spread viruses and yet need children to kill adults as a way to take over the planet. Most inefficient bunch of morons I’d say. Heck! Paul and ET had a better chance of taking over our planet and don’t even get me started on what would happen if the aliens from Independence Day saw these guys and their attempt.

The movie works well on one level (assuming we have the attention span of a goldfish) and that is some of the individual scenes (very select few) work well on their own. If it weren’t for the bad writing, the gaping holes in logic, the horribly developed characters and the completely unnecessary romantic “tension” crow-barred-in the movie, this has the potential of competing with some of the better B-Grade flicks like Sharkando, or Megashark vs Crocosauraus or even Humshakals.

However for a majority of the roughly 112 minutes, there were instances where I was hoping to stick the straw from my coke up my nose and flood my brain with the cola!

Much like the 5 stages of dealing with grief, there are 5 waves depicting the demise of our culture here and these are:

  • The decline of the music industry
  • The death of Literature
  • Twerking
  • The remorse of seeing our youth icons
  • This movie!

In the end, if you are not a girl aged between 11-15 years old …. Or you are Jaden Smith, you should definitely avoid this movie like the plague.