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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Review: Forgettable!

Starring – Christian Bale and Benedict Cumberbatch
Director – Andy Serkis
Genre – Fantasy / Adventure
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Been in pre-production since 2012, even before Disney's The Jungle Book (2016), Andy Serkis' ambitious extravaganza Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle geared up for a theatrical release by Warner Bros. Pictures until the online streaming juggernaut, Netflix, acquired the rights of the film to release on their platform on December 7, 2018. Led by an enormous star cast including  Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris, Serkis made clear about how his adaptation is very much distinct from the Disney version, and the final product adheres to that promise. Unlike the 2016 version, this film focuses more on the character of Mowgli, his trials and tribulations in order to get accepted within the Jungle's Wolf Pack, his issues with Shere Khan and his friends, and also his association with human beings and their lineage.

Rationalization

Taking a left turn and distancing itself from its counterpart's version, Andy Serkis' Jungle Book adaptation impresses when it comes to it's lush and kaleidoscopic visuals (for the most part). The vivid detail of every jungle creature/animal when it comes to the features, skin/fur and the battle scars were distinctly designed and executed as the final product. The camera work by Michael Seresin was also equally impressive, the lush green wilderness and the arid sierras in Southern Africa were captured precisely with beautiful panoramic shots, and after multiple renders, the outcome only looked breathtaking on the TV screen.

Continuing with the avant-garde tradition, the realistic and the gritty look of the film made me believe that these characters, Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan, etc. were veterans of the jungle and looked like real animals living in the no-man's land. Attributes like violence, fear, fright and survival did not take a step back in regard to complimenting the scene and the film's tone as Serkis unhesitatingly displayed the aggressive and crude of animals and human beings in different circumstances.

But, dug deep in the abyss of creating a visually perfect film, Serkis, by and large, failed to constrict the emotional connection between the audience member and the film. The storyline, in particular, felt boring and messy at times, creating an uneven and forgettable experience, and is also a prime example of trying to manipulate human emotions without actually earning them.

Conclusion

Overall, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle felt like a visual treat impaired by a cluttered plot and poor storytelling. The super-talented cast and the post-production crew did their best to elevate the movie's standards, but, it will sadly be forgotten in a day or two.

Rating - 2.75/5 | Grade - C+

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

The Trip 2 Review: Satisfactory and Upbeat!

Starring – Amyra Dastur, Shweta Tripathi, Mallika Dua and Sapna Pabbi
Genre – Romantic-Comedy
Streaming Platform – Bindaas or YouTube

Introduction

We watch stories that make us analyse, stories that make us cringe, but, it's always fun to watch stories that make us just chill out and feel light-hearted. The Trip started out as a familiar web series among youngsters with the usual plot points like parent issues, arranged marriage and commitment matters but by adding a little bit of glam, it easily became one of the top trending series on YouTube.

Rationalization

Negatives: The second season which mildly disappointed the fans with Lisa Hayden's absence even when it was adequately replaced by Amyra Dastur. The story didn't show much of an improvement and some people may have felt that it could have used more action by the main characters instead of new additions. The new introductions were clearly created to match with the girls and they ended up being just that. The girls who are stuck in an unfortunate situation (again) somehow walk out of it partying and enjoying everything the whole time. The basic idea of the girls being irresponsible and careless in otherwise serious circumstances is quite hard to enjoy. The intensity of the performances as well as the personalities of the main characters remain underdeveloped.

Positives: The breezy carry over of every episode is a clever idea for making up for all the errors in it. The actors including Sapna, Shwetha and Amyra are convincing as their respective characters and their dialogues are easily readable and relatable. The best part of the entire series undoubtedly has to be Mallika Dua who seems like she's playing herself on screen and becomes the favourite one among the four. She is talented, funny and witty and it is continuously displayed throughout the series. The male characters are cute enough to gain more audience and the locations chosen for every scene is accurate and beautiful. The story involves Amyra's character dealing with marriage commitment which ends on a good note, Sapna's character finally meeting her long-lost mother, Shwetha's character finding her true passion and Mallika's character rediscovering her confidence. It's all nice and happy in the end which leaves you satisfied and upbeat.

Conclusion 

Overall the Trip 2 is probably one of those series you watch while travelling or while binging on large amounts of carbs but I can say that its absolutely one to experiment. Something light and fun for one of those days.

Rating - 3.5/5 | Grade - B+

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

The Christmas Chronicles Review: Warm and Delightful!

Starring – Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis and Darby Camp
Director – Clay Kaytis
Genre – Christmas Comedy
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Christmas themed movies aren’t found dime a dozen. We wait several years before we get one every now and then. This year, Netflix has decided to pull the plunger on this cinematic void by releasing a variety of original films that celebrate the spirit of Christmas. Directed by Clay Kaytis, The Christmas Chronicles (2018) offers home-viewers a decent family-friendly holiday flick that sparkles in parts.

The plot of the film revolves around two siblings who attempts to catch Santa Claus in action and succeeds, but accidently crashes his sleigh and consequently, has to run around with him to save Christmas. Stranded in Chicago, Santa Claus and the two children go on a series of missions together that range from tracking down his missing reindeers to finding his magic hat.

Rationalization

The film is filled with wacky moments and tries to re-invent the mythical Santa Clause by introducing various new elements into his folklore. Santa Claus is given a much more personable feel, and this works largely due to Kurt Russell’s irrepressible charm.

You know how some people were born to play a role? Al Pacino as Tony Montana from 'Scarface' or Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt from the 'Mission Impossible'? It feels like Kurt Russell was born to play Santa Claus. Russell’s scorching screen presence simply elevates the film. He has a killer Elvis Presley impression, smooth talks his way through a car chase and just has a lot of fun doing whatever he wants. Kurt Russell, the filmic energizer bunny, brings a level of fantastic comic timing and hilarity that sparkles way more than the film itself. In terms of Iconic performances of Santa Claus’s, Russell’s interpretation of the jolly elf should go down as the most badass ever.

However, you could have mistaken the film to be an age-old production with its formulaic plot and tacky CGI effects. There are logic holes in a plot that attempts to answer some questions with, ‘Santa Claus has magical powers.’ With the script itself full of silly but fun notions coming out of nowhere throughout the film, one should not expect too much from a film with a rough premise. However, it is significant to note that this Netflix production was designed to satiate a specific niche and thus, if taken in an ostensible manner, The Christmas Chronicles provides a warm and delightful Christmas entertainment.

Conclusion

Who needs an Oscar-worthy Christmas movie anyway? The Christmas Chronicles (2018) isn’t all that, but it has its wild moments and that is enough.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

Narcos: Mexico Review - Highly Fascinating!

Starring – Michael Peña and Diego Luna
Created by – Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro
Genre – Crime / Drama
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Advertised as the 'Birth of Mexico's Drug War', Narcos: Mexico introduces us to the rise of the Godfather of Mexican Drug Cartel, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (played by Diego Luna) and the Deathless Empire that he builds amounting to more Drug Lords, Corrupt Police Officers and Government Officials. On the far side, DEA agent Kiki Camarena (played by Michael Peña), portrays the role of an honest and hardworking police officer who decides to challenge Félix and his wrongdoings.

Rationalization

Right after the last episode of Season 2, the anticipation levels for Season 3 dropped comparatively (at least for me) seeing that we lost a charismatic actor in Wagner Moura and an engaging character in Pablo Escobar. So, the entire third season did feel like a letdown and an disappointing aftermath, to say the least. However, amidst of mixed reactions for the promos and the TV spots, Narcos: Mexico delivered and rekindled the second season flair and flavour to full measure.

Contrary to what we've seen in Colombia, this season transpires in Mexico, in a different setting and in a different atmosphere. But, the essence of the show still remains the same, amounting to sex, drugs, violence and money. The description also remains consistent, with a good guy chasing a bad guy, but, since we're introduced to a fresh new storyline, it is compelling to find out next as the screenplay throughout this episodic-series was tight and was apportioned with the right amount of cliffhangers to keep the narrative engaging. 

Although not compatible with Escobar, the series' desperado Félix is, for the most part, merciless and carries greed and gluttony to a great degree. His fascination for more power and more money was portrayed effectively by Diego Luna who succeeds in brings intrigue to his depraved character despite not having a menacing personality. His counterpart, on the other hand, Kiki Camarena played by Michael Peña, is the equivalent of an uber honest cop, and a character who has an emotional build-up with his fellow colleagues and family. This role, in particular, had plenty of moving pieces and Peña skillfully his poignant skills in contrast to other roles we've seen him play in Ant-Man and other comedies.

Conclusion

Overall, Narcos: Mexico adhered to its core formula and delivered an equally impressive and highly fascinating ten-hour drama much like Seasons 1 and 2. If you're a fan of the series or even a "binge-watcher" who never watched an episode of 'Narcos', I recommend you to watch this high-intense drama to familiarize yourself with the Drug Wars between the United States of America and Mexico in the early 1980s.

Rating - 3.5/5 | Grade - B+

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

Outlaw King Review: A Decently Made Historical Epic!

Starring – Chris Pine
Director – David Mackenzie
Genre – Historical / Action / Drama
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Set in the 14th century, Outlaw King, a historical action drama, explores the journey of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotts, and his heroic efforts in leading Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England. Also starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Florence Pugh in supporting roles, this Netflix Original opened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to mixed-to-positive reviews and both audience and critics are by and large excited about this film because of David Mackenzie, who had a remarkable success with his 2016 film 'Hell or High Water'.

Rationalization

Incognizant to none of these historical events, Outlaw King provided a brief with enough memoir for me to understand these individuals who took part in this revolution and their personal lives to a certain extent. One-minute over the two-hour mark, the pacing of this film, especially in the first hour was a tad slow and struggles to the keep the viewer engaged as the story tries to achieve a ubiquitous status by moving far and wide continuously. But, the movie turns full circle when it comes to the second hour. The battle scenes were bloodstained, unpleasant and were put together really well, especially with a multitude of extras. The emotional aspects of Robert and his family were portrayed poignantly in addition to the characters of the supporting cast. Furthermore, the movie rests on the shoulders of Chris Pine and relies on his exceptional performance as the Outlaw / King. Apart from the fact that he fights for his country, his character demands much more, in terms of emotional and decision-making aspects which shape up his personality of a meritorious emperor.

Conclusion

Filmed in real castles and authentic locations from all across the United Kingdom, Outlaw King gives you a legit mega movie theatre-experience, unlike any other Netflix Original you've ever seen before, thanks to those incredible wide-screen panoramic shots. Regardless of a few screenwriting issues, this movie delivers and is worth permitting your valuable time.

Rating - 3/5 | Grade - B

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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