Annihilation - Instant Movie Review #38

Alex Garland's - "Annihilation"

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)

Black Panther - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "The Real Deal!"

Debuting at 235 million dollars on a four-day weekend, Black Panther had the biggest opening weekend in February, biggest non-sequel opening weekend, biggest solo superhero launch of all time, biggest pre-summer opening weekend, second biggest comic book superhero opening weekend and the fifth biggest opening weekends of all time. Here's an interesting comparison, Justice League made 228 million dollars on its overall domestic box-office run and it only took four days for Black Panther to beat that record. That's a hard punch in the gut for all DC fans (including me), but that's the reality and a well-deserved accolade for a well-made film.

After the sudden demise of his father and T'Chaka (John Kani / Atandwa Kani), the administration decides to crown T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as the new King of Wakanda and the storyline advances with T'Challa understanding and amending his responsibilities until he comes across Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who not only challenges the throne but also questions the perspectives and principles that Wakanda upholds.

From time to time, I always address the importance of character work in a film especially if it's a stand-alone superhero film. One of the main reasons why Black Panther is such a great film is because of the well-developed and appealing characters. Let's start with T'Challa, an amateur and a King stuck in dilemma or puzzled in a tight spot to choose what's right and not right, his character was incredibly written so that the emotional connection was excellently established. Advancing to Erik Killmonger, another rightful heir to the throne, his intentions very plain, simple and very understandable. His character had a much-needed depth and his overall motives were one of the reasons why he's one of the best Marvel villains we've seen in a very long time.

Not only the lead characters but Nakia played by Lupita Nyong'o, Okoye played by Danai Gurira and Shuri played Letitia Wright everyone had an important role in the film which was inspiring and entertaining to watch. Also, great performances will always fortify the well-written characters and both the leads Boseman and Jordan were remarkable in their respective roles. Jordan especially was very charismatic and fit perfectly as the anti-hero with bad-ass abilities.

On the other side, the cinematography and the production design were incredible, the film looked vibrant, stylish and very exquisite. The background music was another positive, it added a unique authentic feel to the film especially with the percussions which sounded amazing. 

Ending with the negatives, this film was definitely not flawless, it had few issues primarily with the villain and his overall presence which was definitely limited. I hoped to see more of Killmonger as he was barely present in the first one and a half hour and then shows up in few action scenes and the film ends. That's a bummer, mainly because his character felt significant and would've been explored with more screen time.

Nonetheless, Black Panther lives up to the hype and is undoubtedly one of the best stand-alone superhero films in the MCU right beside The Winter Soldier. Similar to Logan, this film didn't feel like a generic superhero film as it presented us enjoyable characters, pleasing performances and a dazzling look at the world of Wakanda. An excellent entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My Rating - 3.75/5 | Grade - B+ (Highly Entertaining!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal) | Black Panther: Movie Posters - Click Here

Aiyaary - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "The Worst!"

Two talented lead actors, one celebrated director, a sixty-crore budget and an engaging source material, all the essential traits needed for a commercially successful film met. What could possibly go wrong? Sounds and seems like an entertaining film for me. Now, after watching the film, I asked myself only one question, At which spot will this "trainwreck of a film" end up in my "Top 5 Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018" list? 

Normally at this point in any one of my reviews, I would typically introduce the plot just to give you guys an idea of what the movie is all about. But, for this particular review, I feel it's unnecessary and pointless (hopefully this will be the last time) to elaborate. Cause, firstly, the film didn't have a clear-cut storyline and secondly, if it did, I didn't understand any of it. Surprising? Isn't it?

Nonetheless, Neeraj Pandey is a successful director with a 100% track record and that's tough to maintain. However, it's hard to believe that a writer-director who gives immense importance to the storyline and screenplay would make such an atrocious film like Aiyaary which is awfully boring and impotent at the same time. The whole 160-minute runtime was this slow, mundane, absurd, frustrating build-up which is never really resolved anything in the climax which is the most aggravating part. The patchy screenplay is downright horrendous cause you will never understand where the movie is going, why is it extremely long and why certain scenes exist. Honestly, I can't even recollect the film now and it's only been two hours since I've seen it. 

Advancing to the performances, Manoj Bajpayee didn't fail to impress as he did the best he could with his lackluster character. Sidharth Malhotra was decent, he's not bad or exceptional, again due to the lifeless character, you can't cheer, feel or even connect with his character which was a letdown. Rakul Preet Singh and Pooja Chopra were just present for the sake of it as they add no interest to the film.

Let's wrap this up quickly, overall, Aiyaary is undoubtedly one of the worst films I've seen in a very long time. The dreadful screenplay, purposeless storyline and the exhausting runtime baffles you with boredom, outrage, and disgust. It's been a long time since I've seen people leave the auditorium with expressions which are unerringly negative and that's not a good sign at all.

My Rating - 1/5 | Grade - D (Absolutely Awful!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

Pad Man - Honest Movie Review

Starring Akshay Kumar and Radhika Apte in the lead roles, Pad Man is loosely based on the real-life story of Coimbatore based Social Entrepreneur Padma Shri Arunachalam Muruganantham who excelled with his innovation of affordable sanitary pads in India.

As you guys already knew about the primary storyline (I'm assuming that you've seen the trailers) of the film, let's quickly move on to the overall positives. 

First off, I should indeed admire Akshay Kumar, R. Balki, and Twinkle Khanna for producing a significant film with an influential subject which is a taboo in India. As Akshay Kumar stated, he didn't want to turn this film into a documentary but considered to make it commercial with the intention of reaching a wider audience and I honestly appreciate his reasoning.

If you've seen his earlier films, you should be familiar with Balki's work and the way he gets you emotionally invested in his characters. During the course of the film, I sometimes found myself tearing up a little and that only transpired because I'm fully rooting for the lead characters which I consider as the major plus points for the film.

As I always mumble in most of my reviews, when the characters are properly developed and were given enough character moments, we naturally root and get behind them which in turn favors the film during the emotionally impactful or climactic scenes. Furthermore, the performances should also aid the well-written characters and Akshay Kumar along with Radhika Apte was fantastic in their roles.

Akshay Kumar continues to surprise me not only with his unique choice of films but also with his magnificent character work and performance. His normal-courteous-average look made his character more relatable as he carried his innocent yet intellectual persona flawlessly. Likewise, Radhika Apte carries on to mesmerize everyone with her remarkable performance and is one of the only few actors who prefer content over masala and I should applaud her for that.

On the other side, they're a few negatives, the screenplay by R. Balki and Swanand Kirkire was sub-par which affected the pace of the film primarily in the first half that felt a bit stretched out. Also, we're well aware that 70% of the film was fictionalized and I normally don't complain when the dramatized storyline blends well with the actual storyline. But, more or less, the screenwriters fizzled out in this area when a few things happen which are easily convenient to the storyline as they're ridiculous to watch. Likewise, the sub-plot involving Sonam Kapoor's character and her addition to the film felt undercooked and uninteresting.

Overall, discounting all the negatives, Pad Man is a significant film with a strong influential message which should be articulated to everyone especially to the people living in the rural areas who still, to this day feel that menstrual cycle is something taboo. Kudos to all the producers and the crew for putting in the effort to deliver a much-needed message that will only improve our country's acumen.

My Rating - 3/25/5 | Grade - B (Entertaining! With Few Noticeable Flaws!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren – Honest Movie Review

Verdict: “An Unfunny, Un-Adventurous, Boring Chore!

“A comical adventurous thrilling mass entertainment” is what the tagline of the movie reads. But on the contrary, the film is nothing relatable to the tagline. Director Arumuga Kumar’s “Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren” (ONNPS) starring ‘Makkal Selvan’ Vijay Sethupathi in the lead ends as a humorless, dull and an uninteresting flick. 

Set in the fictional village of Yemasingapuram where the primary occupation of the villagers is stealing and they worship ‘God of Death’ Yeman as their idol. Vijay Sethupathi is their village head and he is in pursuit of marrying Abhaayalakshmi (Niharika Konidela), whom he promised to marry in the name of God. The rest of the plot elaborates how he marries her and why the promise in a tiring way.

While selecting the script, Vijay Sethupathi has been very choosy in acting in the right film. After giving the best movie of last year Vikram Vedha, he has slightly skidded with ONNPS. Director Arumuga Kumar could have made the movie a lot better by making the comical scenes more humorous as most of the scenes fall flat without tickling our funny bone. 

Coming to the performances, Vijay Sethupathi once again proves that he is the best in the business as he was absolutely stunning with his acting skills. Right from his body language to dialogue delivery and showing variation in his eyes, he does everything with ease. Gautham Karthik as the second hero shines equally well. Along with Daniel Annie Pope, the duo made the film tolerable with their comical scenes which were to some extent funny, yet fails in the end. 

Ramesh Thilak and Rajkumar were also equivalently good with their roles.  Niharika Konidela didn’t overdo her role and makes a satisfactory mark.

Songs were very ordinary and was not even hummable, which was another reason for the films letdown. Though the story didn’t need much of songs, yet the available ones weren’t favouring the movie. 

On the whole, barring the performance of the cast, Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren suffers from its unexciting storyline, poorly written screenplay and dull comical scenes which conclusively made it a tedious watch.

My Rating – 1.5/5 | Grade – D+ (A Hangover!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)

The Disaster Artist - Instant Movie Review #37

James Franco's - "The Disaster Artist"

1) Direction
2) Performances
3) Story and Screenplay

Introduction - The storyline of The Disaster Artist is adapted from a book (of the same name) written by Greg Sestero. He explains his friendship and how he met the mysterious, enigmatic, "New Orléans" based Hollywood star Tommy Wiseau and his experience shooting on the sets of the greatest bad movie ever made, The Room, which went on to become a cult classic and is still, to this day, being played in select midnight screenings worldwide. 

Analysis - Frankly, I never got a chance to check out The Room until earlier last week, where I sat back and gave the film a chance which I've seen people rambling about online and I can't believe how much I enjoyed watching the movie. I was surprised and was truly fascinated with the thought process that went into Tommy's mind while making this disastrous movie that he truly intended to be dramatic and not absurdly comedic. Nevertheless, James Franco captured the true essence of this film masterfully, the comedic scenes were a riot and the relationship between Tom and Greg was illustrated remarkably well. As Tommy rated the authenticity of this film to 99.9%, I should commend Franco for all the effort.

Performances - Advancing to the performances, James Franco was again splendid in his role, transforming into Tommy Wiseau was not an easy task and with all the hard work that went behind in getting his accent, body language, and his expressions right, Franco, in fact, deserves all the praise that he received up until the Academy Awards nominations. His brother, Dave Franco, was a great addition to the film, he captured the innocence and the likability of his character really well and portrayed his role with ease.

Verdict - Overall, Franco superlatively demonstrated the chaos, ridiculousness and all the drama that went into making The Room, which was fascinating and entertaining to watch at the same time. On the other side, it also displayed the inexplicable admiring friendship and relationship between Tommy and Greg which was sometimes questionable but also endearing to watch.

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

Padmaavat - Honest Movie Review

Disclaimer: My opinion on this film might be different than yours, I'm not articulating to anyone to not go watch this movie. Go to the closest theatre and decide it for yourself.

Verdict - "A Giant Disappointment!

In the midst of few ludicrous allegations from religious groups, state governments, and nonsensical people Padmaavat finally got released to the public nearly two months after its initial release date. But, after making the news headlines for at least three months, did it live up to everyone's hype? I must say, NO!

As Y'all already knew it by now, the storyline of Padmaavat revolves around a barbarous ruler and the 'Sultan of Delhi' Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) and his mad quest to capture the 'Queen of Chittor' Rani Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), whom he believes will fill in the missing bit in his journey to be the most powerful leader in the entire world.

Clocking at a drawn-out two-hour forty-five-minute runtime, I should say that this film tested my patience for the most part. Indeed they're few positives that I'll get to in a moment, but, with a fairly familiar storyline and a lackluster screenplay crafted with scenes that we've already seen many times before, this film predominantly didn't peak my interest dramatically or emotionally.

And I consider that as a big letdown. Coming from the house of Bhansali, we expect much more than elegant costumes, grandeur production design, and fantastic BGM from an epic historical film. We expect a tightly packed storyline, beguiling screenplay (which would've been better as the film, for the most part, is fictionalized) and characters that we could get behind; therefore when something dramatic happens there will be an emotional impact in the audience member. Moreover, they're many scenes in the film including the climax which had the potential to look and feel poignant, but, Bhansali totally misses the opportunity and in turn, makes it a 163-minute snore-fest.

As I stated earlier, they're few positives to look into in this film, primarily the music and the background score by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Sanchit Balhara was astounding. The songs were choreographed and picturized masterfully and the production design was exquisite, which I must give Bhansali props for, he truly captured the 13th-century look magnificently that involves vast research and hard work.

Another major positive for the film is undoubtedly the performance by Ranveer Singh, his charisma and the way that he presented this barbarous cold-blooded evil character was something truly exceptional. Weirdly, when you start to root for the bad guy, that's when you know the actor had excelled with his performance. Shahid Kapoor was more or less decent, as his character was by far the weakest when compared to the other two. Coming to Deepika Padukone, I don't know who proposed the idea to digitally soften up her face in the post-production to make her resemble the moon, but, that distracted me during the entire film. Anyhow, being the focal point of the plot, I expected Deepika's character to be profound and with nearly (excluding the climax) zero character moments her performance didn't stand-out for me. And I'm not going to complain about how bad the CGI looked at times because it is something involved with the budget of the movie.

Overall, barring Ranveer Singh's extraordinary performance, Padmaavat suffers from its unexciting storyline, poorly written screenplay and an exhausting runtime which conclusively made it a tedious watch. After literally being bombarded by the news channels left and right with the controversies and allegations, this is not something that I expected from Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a boring film!

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

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