"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

25 years after dinosaurs roamed Isla Nublar, we bid adieu to the infamous island in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The second in the Jurassic World trilogy, this film brings back the leads of the previous film, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) back to the island for one last adventure.

An imminent volcanic eruption on the island threatens all life on the island but nefarious forces (ie wealthy rich men) make sure that the dinosaurs don't die. Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), an old associate of John Hammond who created Jurassic Park, and his advisor Eli Mills (Rafe Spalls) rope back Claire and Owen to save a few of the dinosaur species, including Blue the raptor.

Directed by Spanish director J. A. Bayona, the film examines the dinosaurs' place in this new world. Man brought them back and now must deal with the consequences of that decision. There have been other choices - with cloning and the creation of new breeds of dinosaurs. What are the ethics behind all these god-like decisions?

But there isn't much time to discuss this all on the island. Owen, Claire and a team of mercenaries try to find as many dinosaurs as they can and take them to a sanctuary. But are these mercenaries to be trusted? Of course not!

With volcano on the island due to erupt at any moment, the action moves away back to California, on Lockwood's grand estate where he lives with his isolated granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon). The smart little girl finds out what the two-timing Mills is up to - setting up an auction of the dinos on the black market.

Luckily, help is on the way. Claire and Owen have made it off the island and snuck aboard the vessel with the dinosaurs making its way to Lockwood's estate. Once there, they are caught and locked up, not before they realize their responsibility in bringing back the dinosaurs and creating them into the sharp, clever entities they are today.

They somehow find Maisie who aids them around the estate and they all try to derail the ongoing auction. They manage that spectacularly. The sequence that follows when the dinosaur species manage to escape and turn on the humans is frantic, gory and thrilling to watch.

The cat and mouse chase then develops between Owen, Claire, Maisie and a particularly persistent, Indoraptor (a cross species between the Indominus rex and a raptor). The stakes are high here and you'll definitely be on the edge of your sets.

Fallen Kingdom is the second film of this second Jurassic series and the addition of director Bayona is a great choice. He brings his editor  and D.O.P. from The Impossible (2012) and The Orphanage (2007) respectively to the project and adds his own touch - connecting the series, 25 years apart.

Executive producer Steven Spielberg, who directed Jurassic Park (1993), set the template and others are carrying it forward. Bringing back the dinosaurs was an audacious move, 25 years ago, and it still remains an audacious move. Jeff Goldblum's Dr Malcolm is back in this installment to warn us again of the consequences. Like always, we never learn from history's past mistakes, do we?

Howard and Pratt are solid as usual. They have some close encounters with the cold-blooded reptiles. But it's the wide-eyed wonder and fear of Sermon's Maisie that will remain with you after the film. Maisie and that lone brachiosaurus waiting and wailing at the edge of the docks of Isla Nublar as the destruction and debris of the volcano is about to envelop her.

Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom is a great addition to the summer blockbuster season. Catch it if you can! My own quibble was there wasn't enough Jeff Goldblum.

Directed by J. A. Bayona; Written by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow; Cinematography by Oscar Fuara; Editing by Bernat Vilaplana; Music by Michael Giacchino

Running Time: 128 minutes


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Movie Review - Kong: Skull Island

At one point in Kong: Skull Island, Brie Larson's character Mason, right before a critical mission, says, 'This is a bad idea'. The second film in Warner Bros.' MonsterVerse series sounds like a good idea on paper but something's gotten lost with its execution. The largest ape in movie history, Kong, is back but is his heart in it? I doubt it. This Kong is fatigued but yet he will soldier on to save those who need him.

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong: Skull Island wastes no time in getting the action started and assembling the team that will take on Kong. John Goodman plays Bill Randa at whose insistence this treacherous adventure is undertaken, Samuel L. Jackson as Colonel Packard is the military escort for this mission, anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad, an experienced tracker, are quickly introduced one by one.

They head into uncharted waters to an undiscovered island for a so-called geological survey. Within minutes of arriving at the South Pacific island, they bomb the pristine, lush green surroundings disturbing the peace and ecosystems. It's no surprise then that Kong comes out pissed as hell. I wouldn't blame him.

With Kong angry as an enraged mama bear, their numbers begin to dwindle and they are scattered across, the team later regroup and decide to get off the island. But not Colonel Packard, he has taken Kong's attack personally and decides to make it his mission to make Kong pay. Skull Island is a mysterious locale, with giant insects and animals (if you can call some of them that). The island is protected by Kong, who is regarded by the elusive tribe who lives on the island there as their god. 

We discover all this later as John C Reilly's Hank Marlow enters the story. He's the comic relief and a welcome one at that. His plane was shot down in 1944 on the island and he's been stuck there for nearly three decades. The world has moved on from the second world war to the Vietnam war, which has only just ended.

But showing that the humans have learnt nothing from decades of fighting, the interfering group of inconsiderate humans drop in and decide to play god, upending the decades old balance of the island. I suppose there is an indirect anti-war message in there somewhere but it's hard to see in between the violence and unnamed deaths of the peripheral characters.

Back in 2004, Peter Jackson paid homage to the monster movies of the 1930s with his own King Kong bringing startling emotion to the character through mo-cap genius Andy Serkis. Enough time had passed to warrant a film made on the legendary character. Jackson's King Kong remains in recent memory for many cinegoers, including me.

Here, Kong seems weary and going through the motions. The script does the movie no favours and besides Goodman, Jackson and the delightful John C Reilly, recent Oscar winner Brie Larson and the dishy Tom Hiddleston are completely wasted here.

The only saving grace of Kong: Skull Island are the stunning island scenes and the larger-than-life action scene. Watch at your own peril!

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts; Story by John Gatins; Screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly; Director of Photography by Larry Fong; Edited by Richard Pearson; Music by Henry Jackman.

Running Time: 118 minutes


Thursday, February 2, 2017

First look: Sandra Bullock gets her crew together for Ocean's 8

The spinoff to Ocean's 11 named Ocean's 8 has a release date, an awesome all-female cast and a brand new image out this week. Directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games), this new film will follow in the grand tradition of the previous films with 'the heist of the century' set in New York City.

Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean who assembles the perfect crew to pull off said heist at the annual Met Gala. The crew consists of Cate Blanchett (as Lou), Anne Hathaway (as Daphne Kluger), Rihanna (as Nine Ball), Helena Bonham Carter (as Rose), Sarah Paulson (as Tammy), Mindy Kaling (as Amita) and Awkwafina (as Constance). The squad is seen in the first ever look from the film riding the NYC subway to the Gala, maybe?

A summer release by Warner Bros., Ocean's 8 hits theaters on June 8, 2018. The gals seem ready, are you?

Vanity Fair's 2017 Hollywood cover

Photo: Annie Liebovitz/Vanity Fair
The annual Vanity Fair cover featuring the powerful, talented 'wonder women' of Hollywood was released last week and it is GORGEOUS! With recent Oscar nominees Emma Stone (La La Land), Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Ruth Negga (Loving), the cover showcases the current generation of actresses working in the business now. Some of them like sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning have grown up right in front of our eyes. Others like Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams and Janelle Monae have given formidable performances in Queen of Katwe, Arrival and Hidden Figures respectively last year. Also part of the group are Aja Naomi King (The Birth of a Nation), Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New Trailer: Disney's Moana

Disney's newest magical adventure Moana introduces us to its first Polynesian heroine. This Thanksgiving, Moana (voice of newcomer Auli'i Cravalho) chances upon the legendary demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) on her way to journey across the seas and fulfil her destiny once and for all.

Already I'm reminded of the wonderfully charming and uplifting Whale Rider (2002) in which Keisha Castle-Hughes first burst onto screens. In this teaser trailer, we don't get much out of Moana, but Maui sure seems like a real go-getter. The film is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker with music composed by recent Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa'i. Moana releases in theatres on 23 June, 2016.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Blast from the Past: Ferris Bueller's Day Off

One way to start feeling really old, at least for me, is when news websites start putting up anniversaries of movies. Has it been that long I wonder? But yes, those movie milestones were a key part of your life growing up and it's really nostalgic to look back.

(Source: Tumblr)
On June 11, 1986, a charming little film about a high-school student, directed by John Hughes, opened and launched a star. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the ultimate love letter to Chicago. As the irrepressible Ferris, Matthew Broderick, stole the show as he planned the best day off from school. Many a student has tried to follow in his footsteps, including me, and failed, because let's face it, we can try to be like Ferris, but we can't really be Ferris.

I'm not going to say much about the plot (spoiler alert: it's so much fun!) but the cast, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey, etc, pretty much nail it! Special mention of the hilarious Jeffrey Jones, as the beleaguered principal who just wants to make sure Ferris gets caught. Make sure you watch all the way until the end credits.

Directed byJohn Hughes
Produced byJohn Hughes
Tom Jacobson
Written byJohn Hughes
Music byIra Newborn
Arthur Baker
John Robie
CinematographyTak Fujimoto
Edited byPaul Hirsch

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Movie Review: Thithi

Last year at the Mumbai Film Festival, I saw amazing films both from international and Indian cinema. One of those Indian films happened to be Raam Reddy's Thithi, a stunningly complex and layered film on death, loss and familial relationships. Showing the travails of ordinary village life tied to the rituals of life and death, Thithi is a powerful film, made richer with the wonderful characters in it.

The most extraordinary thing about Thithi is that it is the first feature by Reddy. He scripted the film along with Eregowda, who based the film and its characters on the experiences from his own village. The film utilizes first-time actors, whose natural and effortless performances are the key to its likability.

Thithi opens with the death of the 101-year-old 'Century' Gowda, a colourful character if ever there was one. His death impacts three generations down the line; Century's son Gaddappa, Gaddappa's son Thamanna and Thamanna's son, Abhi. Each man has different reactions to the death of the patriarch in the family.

Gaddappa lives off the land and has long rid himself of attachments, human and objects. Thamanna is too concerned with his public image and taking forward the family name, while Abhi is a happy-go-lucky but useless young man, chasing after a shepherd girl, whose nomadic family has camped near their village.

It falls upon Thamanna organizes the 'thithi' for his grandfather, although he is more than happy to take up the mantle of head of family. Thamanna is also after the family land which he believes belongs to him. He forges fake documents to obtain it as his father Gaddappa maintains his Zen-like approach to the unfurling events around him which all come to a head at the all-important funeral celebration to honor Century Gowda.

Thithi recently won the National Film Award for Best Feature in Kannada and is about to get a nationwide release on June 3rd. I laughed (a lot), I was moved and charmed by the writing and depth of this film. Big kudos to Raam Reddy and Eregowda to bringing this slice of life to the big screen. Try and catch if it you can if it's playing near you. Thithi is a treasure!

Directed by Raam Reddy; Written by Eregowda; Co-written by Raam Reddy; Cinematography by Doron Tempert; Edited by John Zimmerman and Raam Reddy.

Running time: 120 minutes


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