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Rampage - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "A Dumb Action-Entertainer!"

Directed by Brad Peyton and starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in the lead role, Rampage is based on the popular 1980's video game of the same name and narrates the story of a rare albino gorilla named George and his relationship with Davis (The Rock) and how he (along with two other animals) quickly transforms into a ruthless monster after being exposed to a biochemical pathogen which is genetically edited.

Being the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment History, The Rock demands the screen presence throughout the film. His charisma, magnetic persona and allure keep you invested in the movie despite its standard flaws. His relationship with George was heartwarming, amusing and few scenes between them were the best moments from the entire film. Adding more to the positive side, the action sequences in the movie were enjoyable to watch. It's just super-large and crazy animals squaring off against military and government officials and Brad Peyton made sure that the monsters looked gigantic, scary and alarming. Also, with a runtime under 110 minutes, I thought that the film was well-paced and didn't waste time in terms of concluding or establishing the plot.

But, the movie majorly suffers do it's weak and lousy storyline. It's predominantly predictable and explores nothing new. The characters apart from The Rock were mostly underwhelming. The English actress Naomie Harris plays the tedious doctor that we see in every disaster film, Malin Åkerman plays the most obvious generic rich villain, Joe Manganiello was by and large wasted and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character didn't make proper sense cause he shows up at the right time and at the right place a bunch of times to save the lead characters.

Overall, Rampage is a dumb action entertainer which you will enjoy for the spectacle, action sequences, and The Rock's compelling screen presence. Watch it if you really want to, if not, just wait till it debuts on any streaming platform.

My Rating - 2.5/5 | Grade - C+ (It Deserves Your Attention for a While!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal) | Website's Twitter Handle - @JustMovieFreaks

Krishnarjuna Yuddham - Instant Movie Review #39

Merlapaka Gandhi's - "Krishnarjuna Yuddham"

Positives:
1) Screenplay
2) Cinematography
3) Music

Negatives:
1) Story
2) Runtime

Introduction - 2017 has been a successful year for the Natural Star 'Nani' with his films like Nenu Local, Ninnu Kori, and MCA garnering box-office success irrespective of how critics felt. On the other hand, director Merlapaka Gandhi has also seen great success with his previous two films Venkatadri Express and Express Raja and was immensely appreciated for his screenwriting work. So, with the director and actor both being in terrific form, I expected an entertaining film with commercial elements sprinkled all over it. But!

Analysis - Clocking at 154 minutes, the runtime is one of the primary drawbacks of the film. Established on a bland generic, seen-before storyline, the film loses its pace and delight in the first thirty minutes and never tries picks it up. But, Gandhi entertains with his clever and adept screenplay and proves that he is still one of best screenwriters around. Karthik Ghattamaneni once again impresses with his remarkable camera shots and his ability to make a scene look delightful, rich and vibrant should truly be commended. Also, a special shout-out to the Kollywood sensation Hiphop Tamizha for his incredible work with the background score and music.

Performances - Despite few dull character moments, Nani impresses and entertain in his double-role, especially with this Chittoor district slang and verbiage, Nani demands the screen presence and enthralls with his incredible performance. Both the actresses, Anupama Parameswaran and Rukshar Dhillon were decent in their respective roles as well as the supporting cast.

Verdict - Overall, Krishnarjuna Yuddham is a total disappointment, the lackluster story and the dreadful runtime hurts the movie immensely. If you have the right amount of patience to sit through a bland film then this might be for you.

My Rating - 2.5/5 | Website's Twitter Handle - @JustMovieFreaks
An Instant Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

Ready Player One - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "A Classic Steven Speilberg Film!"

Directed by the illustrious Steven Speilberg, Ready Player One is a film adaptation of a popular book (of the same name) written by Ernest Cline and stars Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse fame) and Olivia Cooke in the lead roles. One of the most significant reasons why the book is widely popular among the audience is because of the 80's pop culture and film references that we've seen glimpses from the trailers. However, I have a confession to make, my knowledge of the movies from the 1980's is fairly weak. Although I know the more mainstream ones like Back to the Future and Nightmare of Elm Street, I'm sure that they're tons of references in this movie that didn't get cause I haven't yet watched many films from the golden era.

With that being said, let's kick off with the plot. Set in the year 2045, where living in the real world is a mundane activity for people as they spend the majority of their time in a virtual reality world called the Oasis. Inside the Oasis, people can do whatever they want and everything is off-limits. Shortly after we are introduced to the fantasy world, we learn that the creator of the Oasis James Halliday (Mark Rylance) pieced together a convoluted maze to find the next inheritor of the trillion-dollar company before he passed away. So, we follow Wade's adventurous journey with his trustworthy friends in solving the intricate puzzle with the help of clues that Halliday plants after each level.

Before I get into the positives, let me quickly glance through the problems I had with this film. Now, I heard fans saying that Nolan Sorrento's (Ben Mendelsohn) character in the book was authoritative and menacing. But, in the movie, he was underwhelming as I expected a more dominant antagonist. Also, Nolan's sidekick F'Nale played by Hannah John-Kamen was another dud and felt like she's doing a bad impression of Ruby Rose in John Wick: Chapter 2.

With 70% of the film taking place in the Oasis, the majority of it is computer generated imagery. Walking into this movie, I had a feeling that the CGI will disqualify the emotion and feel more of a distraction. But, the Oasis experience was enjoyable. The action sequences were great and fun to watch and the entire design and the presentation of the fairyland was flawless.

That brings me to the magic of all Speilberg movies, the emotional elements. From the beginning until the end, this film was filled with heartwarming scenes that we usually expect in a Speilberg film. The characters were so well developed as you start to root for these kids throughout the entire film. Countering to my earlier point, I didn't feel distracted by the CGI characters cause the emotion was in the right place that makes you immerse in the storyline which was paced and told perfectly.

About the nostalgic factor, I was very surprised to see many familiar movie references stuffed throughout the runtime. In particular, there is one scene that pays respect to one of the most popular horror films of all time, and that was hands down the best scene in the entire film and I'm sure that you'll be flabbergasted.

Overall, Ready Player One was a ton of fun to watch, it's filled with great character and emotional moments, incredible action sequences, flashes of memorable nostalgia and that Steven Speilberg magic that we all grew up watching. Watch this film while it's in the theatre's cause it's one of those rare occasions that you will enjoy the movie-going experience.

My Rating - 3.5/5 | Grade - B+ (A Perfect Weekend Pick!)
-A Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal) | Website's Twitter Handle - @JustMovieFreaks

Blackmail - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "Justifies the Black-Comedy Genre!"

Directed by Abhinay Deo (Delhi Belly and Force 2 fame), Blackmail starring Irrfan Khan in the lead role is a black-comedy and revolves around the elements of revenge, deceit, and trickery. The film also co-stars Kirti Kulhari, Divya Dutta, Arunoday Singh and Omi Vaidya as the supporting cast and is jointly produced by T-Series Films and RDP Motion Pictures.

The film takes us through the life of Dev (Irrfan Khan), a typical middle-class citizen who is in a depressed state with his failing marriage, monotonous job and increasing money problems. Amid all the troubles that he's already facing, he finds out that his wife Reena (Kirti Kulhari) is having an extramarital affair which motivates him to take misconstrued steps which primarily involves blackmailing.

First up, have to appreciate director Abhinay Deo for taking the risk and doing a black-comedy which are rare to find in Bollywood these days. Similar to Delhi Belly, Blackmail also impresses with its clever and unorthodox humor. I found myself laughing throughout the entire movie and I can't remember the last time I chuckled soo hard sitting in a theater. So, the film delivers from a comedic standpoint and justifies the black-comedy genre. But!

Here's the problem, this movie is 140 minutes long and that's a long stretch. Assembled around a tight and an interesting concept, I expected the screenplay to be swift and well-paced, but, unfortunately, the movie falls apart at times and dwindles down after the second half. Few unnecessary sub-plots would've easily been minced which in-turn could've helped the narrative, but that didn't happen.

The performances from the complete cast were decent. As always, Irrfan Khan impresses with his character work, he had nothing new to explore cause I felt that this character is not tailored especially for him as its accessible to anybody. Also, a special shout out to Omi Vaidya who was hilarious and is a great addition to the film.

Nevertheless, This film had an interesting concept and was extremely funny to watch. Despite having few ups and downs with the screenplay, pace, and runtime, Blackmail impresses as a black-comedy and is totally worth spending money on it.

My Rating - 3/5 | Grade - B (Worth a Watch!)
-A Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal) | Website's Twitter Handle - @JustMovieFreaks

Maze Runner: The Death Cure & Insidious: The Last Key - Movie Reviews

Welcome back to yet another "Double Header Review". I naturally love sharing my opinions on movies in a simple format like this when compared to a more regular format which is our "Honest Movie Reviews". This week, I'm discussing two films that I missed watching in theaters and these were two sequels of two reputable franchises. Well, maybe not! Nevertheless, here are my thoughts!

As always, let's see how well these films were received critically and commercially. Insidious: The Last Key made 166.3 million worldwide with a production budget of 10 million and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 32%. Maze Runner: The Death Cure made 284 million worldwide from its 62 million production budget and with a Tomatometer score of 42%. 

"Maze Runner: The Death Cure" Overall Thoughts / My Rating - 2.75/5

Maze Runner is a decent franchise, I enjoyed the first installment and the second one was sub-par. So, being the third film in a YA franchise, my expectations were low as I expected nothing but entertaining and exciting action sequences and a good enough climax to cap-off the franchise on a good note. Well, I should say that it did deliver in few aspects primarily the action scenes which were well-shot, directed and choreographed. But, the runtime of this film is 142 minutes, which was an awfully long stretch, with a basic storyline, this film would've easily benefitted with a shorter runtime and swift narration.

Also, Dylan O'Brien is a star to watch out for and his hard work and dedication pay off in the film as his action sequences and character work was remarkable which was the major positives among others. Overall, Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a decent finish to a decent franchise that I will forget in the next few months. This film had few things to offer like entertaining action scenes and solid performances, but ultimately the storyline and the runtime spoiled the movie for me.

"Insidious: The Last Key" Overall Thoughts / My Rating - 2.5/5

The Insidious franchise is an interesting one, the first two films were legitimately scary, remarkably shot and directed. Well, that's what you expect from a masterclass director like James Wan right? I honestly don't remember what happened in the third film and I never cared to watch it again the second time. And when I saw the promos for the fourth film, I thought that this is franchise will inevitably fall off a cliff like every other horror franchise when studios try to milk one sequel after another until they reach an obscure saturation point. 

IIn this film, we explore the dark and disturbing childhood of Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and how her father used to abuse her when she was a child. So, the first thing that you might be wondering, is this film scary? Yes! Mildly! They're few jump scares here and there and that's about it! Now, one of the primary problems that I had with the film is the storyline. Do we really have to know what happened in Elise's past? No! Or maybe, is it at least interesting? Again, No! This is the only significant problem that almost all horror franchise face and The Last Key falls into the same class. But, at the least, this film is not bad, it had few moments and is not a monotonous watch. Give it a shot when you're bored and have nothing else to do or watch.

-A Double Header Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal) | Website's Twitter Handle - @JustMovieFreaks

Pacific Rim: Uprising - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "Mind-Numbing Entertainment!"

Directed by Steven S. DeKnight and starring John Boyega in the lead role, Pacific Rim: Uprising is the sequel to 2013 hit science-fiction film, Pacific Rim which was directed by the recent Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro. 

Ten years after the Battle of the Breach, while the world is still slowly recovering from the nightmare, the PPDC (Pan-Pacific Defence Corps) is coerced by a proposal from the Shao Corporations to replace the traditional Jaegers with a drone program which offers to produce remote controlled Jaegers for the entire world. While waiting for a final assessment to determine the authorization of the drones at a PPDC council meeting, a new threat emerges from beneath the sea and wrecks havoc on the entire city which induces the PPDC to take charge and eliminate the unknown threat expeditiously.

So, let's kick off with the positives, before walking into this movie, my expectations were plain and simple, I wanted to see giant robots fight giant monsters and did the film deliver on that level? Yes! It certainly did! The action sequences in the film looked grandiose and DeKnight made sure that they're terrifically executed. The fight scenes between the Jaegers and Kaijus were mesmerizing to watch when compared to Michael Bay's Transformers and are broadly entertaining.

John Boyega, the lead, and the producer of the film was fantastic as the main protagonist, his alluring on-screen charisma, the ability to light up his character should be appreciated as he is one of the bright spots in the entire movie. Also, the visual effects looked awe-inspiring, I'm sure that 80% of the film was shot with a green screen behind and it transformed really well on the big screen.

Although I didn't expect much, they're a few negatives in the film that I should discuss. The storyline, characters, dialogue and the overall writing of the film is a giant letdown. Few lines were cheesy and predictable because the plot is utterly generic and lackluster. Almost all the characters in the film excluding Boyega and Cailee were under-developed, easily forgettable and were overall wasted throughout the runtime which was a bummer.

Nevertheless, Pacific Rim: Uprising suffers from its weak writing problems but ultimately entertains as an overall film, If you're looking for few well-shot and impressive action sequences then I recommend you to watch this film as its a fun-popcorn theatre experience.

My Rating - 2.75/5 | Grade - C+ (It Deserves Your Attention for a While!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

Annihilation - Instant Movie Review #38

Alex Garland's - "Annihilation"

Positives:
1) Cinematography and Production Design
2) Direction
3) Background Music
4) Natalie Portman

Introduction - Alex Garland is one of the best directors working right now, I haven't had a chance to check out Ex Machina until last week and I completely regretted waiting so long. They're also few reports floating around that he also unofficially directed the Dredd remake starring Karl Urban (which was quite awesome). Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is Alex Garland does great and different Sci-Fi films unlike anyone and going into Annihilation, I'm very much excited to experience something diverse, offbeat and exciting.

Analysis - First off, this film was shot beautifully. Everything from the production design, cinematography, and CGI looked exquisite and is a true cinematic experience. The direction by Garland was exceptional, but, the film is a slow-burn, it's filled with social commentary, creepy imagery, and exciting subplots which makes it special and also very confusing.

Performances - The performances by the complete cast were decent. Oscar Issac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez were all favorable for the film to keep moving. But, Natalie Portman's character had the best story arc with diverse layers involved and her performance was remarkable. The plight, regret, and emotion that her character had to go through were displayed wonderfully by Portman as she totally impresses as the main lead.

Verdict - Overall, Annihilation is not your conventional Sci-Fi flick, it had quite a lot to unpack with no coherent ending and will pretty much baffle your brain with alternate theories and social commentary. On the contrary, it is a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, masterfully directed and gorgeous looking film that you should not miss if you're up for a discrete science-fiction drama.

My Rating - 3.5/5 | Website's Twitter Handle - @JustMovieFreaks
An Instant Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

Tomb Raider - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "Completely Watchable!"

Tomb Raider (2018) is a reboot of the Tomb Raider films which were released back in 2001 and 2003 starring Angelina Jolie as the title character. This new revamped and restructured film stars Alicia Vikander in the lead role and is directed by Roar Uthaug and also stars Dominic West and Walton Goggins in supporting roles.

Kicking off with the plot, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is an audacious spitfire doing everything in her favor to make money despite having a wealthy background. Few incidents later, she decides to take over her family business and discovers her father's research about Himiko,  an ancient shaman queen of Japan. She then plans to travel to the island of Yamatai where Himiko was buried and discover her lost father's whereabouts who went missing during his archipelago escapade.

Clocking at a super-swift 120-minute runtime, the film kept moving despite having major narrative problems, the action sequences are enjoyable and were choreographed appropriately to give the film a blockbuster feel. Also, yet another asset of the film is its lead star Alicia Vikander who was downright amazing in her role. Her portrayal of the badass frondeur character was very much enjoyable as she carried the entire film on her shoulder quite remarkably.

Here are my problems with the film, as the film progresses the storyline got a bit too convenient for the characters and narratively it didn't add any stakes. Sure, Lara crawls through many obstacles in the film to get to her destination, but everything felt accommodating for her that solved the missing piece of the puzzle fluently. Also, the father and daughter relationship between Alicia and West came off as generic to me as I didn't feel the emotion the writers are going for.

Overall, Tomb Raider is a watchable film with entertaining action sequences accompanied by a hasty pace and an impressive performance by Alicia Vikander who is undoubtedly the stand-out star. It had few narrative flaws but I'm still looking forward to the sequel in a positive way.

My Rating - 3/5 | Grade - B (Worth a Watch!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

Pari - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "Unsettling But Definitely Not Scary!"

Co-Produced and Starring Anushka Sharma in the lead role, Pari: Not a Fairytale is directed by debutant Prosit Roy and co-stars  Parambrata Chatterjee, Ritabhari Chakraborty, and Rajat Kapoor as the supporting cast. Positively, the film did get a good amount of buzz from the spooky promos and people are excited to see a major actress like Anushka do a genre film and props to her for taking a bold step.

It's honestly been a while since Bollywood filmmakers got Horror films right, recent films like 1921, Raaz: Reboot and 1920: London felt more like cliched-oversaturated-CGI-mess as people started to laugh on these films because of how bad they were presented. The point that I'm trying to make is, the horror genre is slowly dying unless it's cleverly executed by makers who take it seriously and Pari appeared to be the film with that distinct approach. But!

After the tragic death of her mother, Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma), an introvert and a girl with very little knowledge of the outside world reaches out to Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) for help as she has been hunted down by a group of miscreants who are involved in satanic rituals and wants to her as a hostage to complete their evil practices. The film follows the eerie yet virtuous journey of Rukhsana as she tries to find love and battles her demonic existence which is weird and unconventional at the same time.

Let's start with the positives, this film is without a doubt unsettling to watch. The filmmaker took full advantage of the certified 'A' rating and didn't hesitate to present us with disturbing and gory imagery. From the practical makeup (which I appreciate) to the jump scares and sound effects the film created a frightening atmosphere which is comparatively a lot better than the CGI eye-and-tongue-popping-out monsters that we usually see in typical Indian Horror films. Cinematographer, Jishnu Bhattacharjee should also be given a well-deserved praise for maintaining an unnerving vibe throughout the film filled with the monsoon rains and a dull bluish-green hue.

In regards to Anushka Sharma's performance, she was remarkable with her portrayal of the innocent yet terrifying character. She's the show-stealer and acting aside, IMO she's doing an exceptional job so far as a producer bringing unorthodox cinema and introducing new talented directors to the Bollywood Film Industry. Moving forward, I expect her to make wise decisions when it comes to the story and screenplay of her production house films which are definitely not great (excluding NH 10).

And that brings me to the problems of the movie, which are undoubtedly the story and the screenplay. It's an interesting concept for sure, but the flawed and patchy screenplay, the setup which didn't have a proper pay-off and overall a messy execution didn't help the film by any means as it ultimately ended as a boring and mundane horror-thriller which I'm not looking forward to.

On the whole, the producers and the director must be appreciated for the attempt and the ambition. However, as an overall film, Pari is unsettling but definitely not scary, the tedious story and screenplay didn't make the movie a must watch, but if you're all in for Anushka's performance and something different wait till it debuts on Amazon Prime or Netflix.

My Rating - 2/5 | Grade - C (Meh! Probably a Rental!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "A Bumpy Ride!"

Directed by Luv Ranjan who presented us with two of the funniest comedies in the past few years, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 1 and 2, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety stars Ranjan's staple actors Kartik Aaryan, Sunny Singh, and Nushrat Bharucha in the lead roles and is collectively produced by both T-Series and Luv Films. 

Kicking off with the plot, Sonu (Kartik Aaryan) and Titu (Sunny Singh) are BFF's who run a business and enjoy every moment of their life together. After going through a break-up, Titu decides to tie the knot to an uptown, all-in-all ideal nice girl Sweety (Nushrat Bharucha) who seems to like Titu at her first sight. But, Sonu doubts Sweety's polite and cordial nature, as he believes that no one can be utterly flawless in this day and age. Is there any legitimacy in Sonu's conspiracies? or Is Sweety actually a wonderful human being?

Walking into this film if you're expecting ridiculous humor similar to Pyaar Ka Punchnama 1 and 2, then this film will disappoint you a bit. Although they're few laugh-out-loud moments followed by notable comedic sequences, it is not a nonstop comedy where every comic bit works. It had a few bumps, but the breezy pace keeps the film moving without hanging onto a mundane narration.

Before moving onto the negatives, I have to give props to the production design team and the cinematographer as the film looked gorgeous and extravagant with a moderate production budget of 30 crores. Also, the performances from the lead cast Karthik, Sunny, and Nushrat were decent enough as they're enjoyable as a trio who can carry the film throughout the runtime.

Here's the problem, there's a twist involved with a particular character which was significant for the film to move on, but, it didn't come off as a surprise to me and it did miss an essential element which was the motivation. The reason behind the betrayal is something that needs an explanation and the filmmaker failed to do it. Also, the climax of the film tries to get a bit too poignant which ultimately didn't work as expected only because of the lack of character development.

On the whole, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is not a bad film, it will entertain you with few funny laughs, peppy music, and enjoyable performances but as an overall film, it failed in few aspects which are crucial. Give it a shot this weekend or at least consider watching when it eventually debuts on Amazon Prime.

My Rating - 2.75/5 | Grade - C+ (It Deserves Your Attention for a While!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

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