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July 7, 2017

Mega Mind (2010)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:38 pm

imageI know.  I know… the movie is an old one. I also know that I have not spelled the name as the producers spelled it, but I prefer this version.

What an interesting movie. I will be honest. I generally do not like the brand of comedy favoured by Will Farrell but this is one movie of his that I enjoyed. The reason is that it adopts an interesting trick that has been later followed in many other movies like Despicable Me, to quote only one example: it does not take itself very seriously and just provides a fun ride for you to go along with.

 

Consider this: An alien planet is being destroyed and two babies are saved in two spaceships – the two babies are all that survived from that planet. (This is not a logical movie so don’t ask why they did not send a bigger ship with more people or any of the hundred questions that may occur to you. Remember? Just go along for the ride). You would expect them to be identical in features etc, right? Wrong! One of them looks like a strong hunk, and is the superhero (called Metro Man). He is played by our own Hollywood Hunk Brad Pitt (ie after the baby grows up). The other baby is not strong in body, is blue with a bloated head and is not even good looking but a man with phenomenal mental powers. Since the shallow world of ours hated him and mistreated him almost from childhood, he turned into a Supervillain Mega Mind (Will Farrell)

 

They both reside in the same city. (Metro City, which if, of course, in America – where else?). Metro Mind is of course, adored and the city even opens a museum for him. Mega Mind has had enough. He gatecrashes into the opening ceremony, with the help of his assistant – well, it is a fish in a bowl bolted onto a robot’s body. As an aside, the assistant is called Minion. The most interesting thing is that Despicable Me (the original of the sequence) was released in 2010 and so was this movie. So is the name Minion chosen in both a true coincidence?

 

However, on with our tale. He came to get his revenge and lures Metro Man into a sealed lab by kidnapping Metro Man’s girlfriend Roxanne Ritchie (played by Tina Fay). He tries to destroy the entire museum and so kill Metro Man who has been his enemy and envy all his life but the stupid laser takes too long to heat up.  Just when he feared that Metro Man had escaped, Metro Man finds that the copper plating of the entire building prevents him from getting out and he gets burnt down to his skeleton. Roxanne escapes in the melee.

 

Mega Mind is thrilled. No one can save his victims in Metro City anymore. He has a free hand. But he finds that he has lost the will to torment. There is no fun in tormenting without a worthy opponent like, say, the Metro Man. It is sooo boring to be in charge of everything with nothing going wrong, no surprises whatever.  He mourns Metro Man’s death and goes to the museum to pay his respects. There he meets Roxanne (she did not see Mega Mind when he kidnapped her earlier) and posing as a curator of the museum, strikes up a friendship with her. Roxanne is bitter about “this Mega Mind” who destroyed Metro Man and hopes that a new hero will rise to take Metro Man’s place because ‘heroes are created, not born’. That gives Mega Mind a terrific idea. He uses Metro Man’s DNA to create a serum that will turn anyone into a super hero!

 

Meanwhile, Mega Mind finds Roxanne refreshing and begins to hope that he can leave the life of crime if there is a chance of a life with her. She is funny, charming and most amazingly, seems not to hate him! But he still needs to create a superhero with the serum before retiring.

 

When he is ready with it and pondering whom to turn to a super hero worthy of opposing, the serum accidentally is ingested by Hal Stewart, the most annoying photographic assistant of Roxanne, who has a crush on her to boot but is completely ignored by her. Mega Mind, seeing him ingest a serum, decides that he is The One and trains him (disguised as Space Dad).

 

When Minion leaves because he cannot comprehend that super villains wanting to be good people, and when Roxanne discovers who he really is and rejects him, the universe comes crashing down on Mega Mind and he goes on an evil rampage, true to his Super Villain form. He expects Titan to come to the rescue of the town but when he does not, goes to Titan’s home to find out why! Titan is bored of being good and wants to be a supervillain and almost kills Mega Mind when he protests.

 

Mega Mind remembers that copper was, so to speak,  Metro Man’s Kryptanite, and surrounds Titan with copper but it seems to have no effect on him. There is a new supervillain rampaging Metro City and there is no help at all to be found. He persuades Roxanne to take him to her ex boyfriend’s pod to see if they can glean any other clues to contain Titan when they discover a big twist regarding Metro Man.

 

The movie slowly makes you love Mega Mind and at the end, you rejoice when he finally vanquishes Titan and saves the city. (A small twist at the end can be revealed, though – he gets his own museum now!)

 

A lovely movie, well crafted, well animated, very intelligent and tugs all the right spots in your heart.

 

8/10

–  –  Krishna

February 26, 2017

Movie: Arrival (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:12 pm

imageI don’t know what to make of this movie. In one sense, it is not like many other alien movies, especially those of yesteryears (and some current movies) where the aliens are definitely humanoid and the problem in the earlier years could be really solved by having people wear suits. Done. And mostly the aliens speak English (or fudged by the statement that they communicate at a mental level, which seems like English to us humans).

 

As long as we are diverging in this preamble, I may also add that the one movie that was extremely impressive from yesteryears, based on Carl Sagan’s story, called Contact that came out in 1997, also sidestepped the issue of what aliens look like. The movie is beautiful in its own right, and if you have not seen it, I urge you to do so when you have a chance.

 

I am not claiming that this is this is the first movie I have seen that recognizes the fact that the aliens may not even look like us, not even a little bit, and their way of communication may be completely incomprehensible to us. Anyone who has seen the Aliens series can vouch for that. However, this takes the item in a different light. In Aliens series, for instance, people were not trying to understand what they were saying. In this one they do, and kudos to the team for that. Evolution can wreak wonders even in an isolated island in this world (witness the unique species in Australia and Madagascar, to name but two) and who knows what it would have wrought in other planets?

 

The reason for their arrival (the title of the film) is really interesting as well. The story is about Dr Louise Banks who is a language professor. We learn that she and her husband are separated and a daughter who grew up got a incurable disease and dies early. Seems unrelated to the main movie, because then you see her invited to help US when a spacecraft lands in US (and in many other parts of the world as well) since she is the best language expert in the world, but keep it in the back of your mind because it all connects later. She meets a theoretical physicist called Ian Donnelly.

 

The spacecraft is huge, oval, and seems flat as a cardboard and yet they all can get in and explore. The theories of language where they try to parse the alien speak is phenomenal. The daring Louise trying new things to understand the really strange beings is phenomenal and her exceptional gift, which is slowly revealed and that also helps in averting a catastrophe of epic proportions (when China refuses to listen to the aliens or make contact with them but threatens to nuke the spaceship that landed in their territory) is amazing.

 

The movie can be a bit confusing but all in all, it stands together, very intelligently crafted and the new emphasis on taking you backwards and forwards in time works well again in this movie.

Amy Banks and Jeremy Runner do a credible job in their roles.

 

To tell more would be to give away some of the interesting things about the movie.

 

I think it definitely is a 7/ 10

– – Krishna

September 17, 2016

Movie: The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Filed under: HIndi Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:29 am

imageRight after seeing Finding Dori, which, as we reviewed earlier was way better than the trailers suggested, I went with a lovely feeling of seeing an even better movie, as the trailers for this movie were hilarious. In a way, it was the opposite of that movie, as the movie does not seem to measure up to the expectations raised by the trailers.

 

The story is simple and for the first few minutes, looks like it really will meet the expectations. The animations, as we have seen in the trailers, is really the state of the art. However, the storyline seems to fall completely flat after the first few minutes, and then you realize, with a sinking feeling, that the storyline is not strong.

It later gets better, when the animals meet other menagerie (of cats for instance) but it never rises to the level of expectations in the pre release hype of the movie. Which is a pity.

The story is simple enough, which is one of the weaknesses. The story revolves around Matt, a cute puppy, found and adopted by Katie. He finds another dog adopted by Katie, and finds that he is jealous and cannot get along with the newbie, Duke, who is huge. Turf fights ensue.

 

Katie hires a dog walker to mind these two and when they are unleased in a (leash free) dog park, Duke tricks Matt into going into an alley where he was to be abandoned, but is confronted by a bunch of feral cats. They get captured in the resulting melee.

All other dogs in the apartment including Gidget, a cute puppy in love with Matt (and whose mannerisms and voice remind you of the unforgettable Warner Bros cartoon great of yesteryears, Elmira) go in search of these two to rescue them and bring them back.

 

Tired dialogs, very cardboard like characters (for an example, look no further than the stiff falcon – supposedly a good hearted but stiff upper lipped character). It just does not come out right in its results. And top of that is that incredibly stupid sausage dance, which seems to serve no purpose and is also not even entertaining.

A couple of characters like Bunny and Snowball are entertaining. But overall not as great as expected.

 

It does provide some Tera entertainment, so let us say a 5/10

 

  • – Krishna

August 14, 2016

Movie: The Shallows (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 7:43 pm

imageThe story is interesting. It merges the feature of several previous movies which had new concepts into one, and also does some things very well.

First of all, there are not many people in the movie. It is all about Nancy, a surfer girl, and she dominates the movie, from the beginning to end, played reasonably well by Blake Lively. You can see the stranded girl in her and she gives a credible performance. Other than that, there is the driver who takes her to the island who comes in the beginning and the end, and a couple of surfers and a drunk who come for a couple of scenes.   OK, there is dad and sister talking to her on the smartphone but that’s it. They all have a scene or two but Nancy stays with us from the beginning to the very end of the movie.

Nancy goes to the beach that her late mother had frequented. As is the custom in disaster movies, everything goes wrong. She was supposed first to go with her friend Anna but Anna claims to be sick and bails out. She goes to the beach and the waters are gorgeous and she decides to surf alone.  It is supposed to be a safe beach and she meets two other surfer dudes who try to pick her up. She politely declines and swims alone after they leave.

Then she is suddenly attacked by a Shark and manages to reach an isolated rock. With no food, no water, all her equipment on the shore and she stranded on a rock with absolutely nothing (well, almost – more of it later) to survive with, let alone battle a hungry shark doing the rounds, does she survive? If so, how? If not, how far does she get? That is the rest of the movie.

There are some things that make this movie very interesting.

First, the cinematography is stunning. The surfing scenes are like poetry; the above and under water angles and perspectives take you as close to surfing as you possibly can get in a movie.  The locale is breathtaking (Hawaii?) and the camera does full justice to the location. Brilliant.

Sentiments are galore – her sister, her father, hints about her troubles with dad, her intention to give up her medical studies in despair of having lost her mom and her blaming the father… All of it are done well, and are told in a touching way without wandering into maudlin territory. Nice.

The make up artist is fabulous. The deep gash in her leg that is shown in its raw form and the self stitching she does is impressive, even in these days of great animation.

At least since Castaway, or perhaps even before that, Hollywood likes to give a useless and dumb companion to the stranded central character. There you had Wilson, the football. Here you have a seagull stranded in the small rock with Nancy. This part, to me, sounded artificial.

The scenes where she almost gets saved multiple times (the surfer dudes just a bit too far to hear her cries for help and they calmly storing their possessions into the jeep and driving away, the ship that does not notice her flares,  or the drunk, for instance) are formulaic but still count as interesting to watch.

Initially I was thrilled to see the shark behave like a shark and not a super intelligent human equivalent that comes in Jaws, and I was prepared to see a girl with no weapons outwit it with her intelligence alone. But soon it degenerates into just such a behaviour unlike any real life shark and ends in a very similar dramatic sequence that cannot happen in real life with a real shark. What a waste of potential after that fabulous start of the movie!

 

All in all, worth watching but the performance does not compare to the brilliant portrayal by Tom Hanks in Castaway and the very artificial plotline to keep the movie interesting stop this from being a brilliant movie, in my opinion.

 

6/ 10

– – Krishna

August 1, 2016

Movie: The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:18 am

imageThis is the second instalment of the Conjuring Series, which are paranormal happenings investigated by the husband and wife team of Ed and Lorraine Warren. In the first Conjuring movie, you learn that the duo collects sample artifacts from their cases and put them in a room in their house. The same tradition continues here.

I feel that this movie, though interesting, does not live up to the terror standards of the original. Some of the elements are there. There is also this struggle where every séance and the visions Lorraine uses to solve the cases takes a lot out of her and Ed is scared that one more of that may kill her. And the scenes where they want to give up their cases to focus on a normal life but trouble finds them in the form of people who desperately need their help and have nowhere else to go.

The story is kind of a letdown. There is a family in England, where the young girl called Janet seems to have been taken over by a malevolent demon. There are interesting scenes where Janet wakes up in the middle of the night and finds herself in a different part of the house. She gets upset, suspecting that she is suffering from somnambulism, and ties herself to the bed but still wakes up in the living room, having had no memory of how she got there.

There are also interesting scenes when people refuse to buy the story of a malevolent presence in the house (first when the mother refuses to believe and later when investigators do not believe), stuff like the bed started moving right in front of them.

There is a complicated story about how the old man who seems to be threatening Janet was a decoy all along and the real demon is a very dangerous spirit who is using the old man to do her bidding and almost too late they go back to save the day.

Some of the ideas still creep you out, like how Lorraine finds a vision of Ed being impaled on a sharp tree trunk and how it nearly comes to pass.

The end of the story – how they overcome the spirit – is comically absurd, reminding you of a famous fairy tale (If I told you which one, it would be a spoiler here) – and that is another reason for feeling that this story does not measure up.

Give it a miss unless you are such a fan of Conjuring that you simply have to see every movie in the series.

I cannot see myself awarding this more than 4/ 10

– – Krishna

July 3, 2016

Book: Duma Key by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:21 pm

imageStephen King is one of the heavily reviewed author in this forum. For a sample of reviews of his other books here, see the review of Full Dark No Stars  or The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, to name just two.

 

This story has all the King elements: a gripping story, escalating tension, a very effective, if amorphous environment of terror in the background. Let us see the story.

 

Edgar Freemantle, a self made businessman, has an accident that cracks his skull and he loses a hand in the process too.  He plans to commit suicide to benefit his wife and daughters and is talked out of it by Dr Kamen in a rather unorthodox way. He releases Goldstein’s dog, horribly crushed in an accident from the agony of living with disability.  Pam, his wife, leaves him and he is encouraged by Dr Kamen to consider a change of scenery. When he goes to mitigate the sadness of a girl when her dog got into an accident and died, did he briefly have two hands? He is not sure. Has to be his imagination. He reaches the pink, isolated house in Duma Key and strange things start happening to him. The house seems to speak to him.

 

When his daughter Ilse comes to visit him, he knows that she is engaged to a man in a T shirt and sneakers and the number on the T shirt and the group called Hummingbirds, even before Ilse reaches him and tells him. Interesting.

 

An old lady advises him to send the daughter away because Duma Key “is not good for young girls”.  He meets Wireman after a long walk and makes friends. He also knows by touching an oven mitt from his wife that she is cheating on him with his business partner Tom and another associate.

 

When he sees Tom’s vision dead appear on his portico he gets alarmed and asks Wireman what he should do. Wireman asks him to warn his wife. He does. He discovers that Wireman has weird powers too. He can read minds.

 

Edgar discovers that he has a talent for painting, which he himself did not know he possessed. Or is it the house that is giving him that power? His paintings, in the meanwhile, are considered the work of a genius.

 

When he confronts Pam with the news of Tom about to die, she thinks Ilse has confided in Edgar.

 

He looks after the lady of the house when Wireman has gone on one of his errands.

When a child abductor and killer is imprisoned, one of his paintings make things happen that surprise Edgar too. Wireman’s past comes tumbling out – how he lost his wife and kids in succession and how even his suicide did not pan out – miraculously.

 

The suggestion – lightly done – that everything was engineered to get the three (Wireman, Edgar and Miss Eastlake) there together is chilling nevertheless.

 

The way he ‘takes care’ of a child molester is chilling and escalates the story to the next level, one little idea at a time, as only Stephen King knows how to do. Then he tries the trick for a good cause, this time with Wireman. First with the bullet lodged in his head and next with his entire face and eyes.

 

Wireman is cured ‘ by the painting’.

Edgar gives a presentation at his own art exhibition. When Eastlake appears and points out the horrors of the paintings, he realizes the problem and, before he could confirm with her,  Elizabeth Eastlake dies.

 

He realizes that Perse is the death ship and the “girl has awakened” through his paintings.

He paints to learn her past and is almost taken into the ‘death ship’ by a dead man.

He realizes with horror that all the paintings he had sold are death threats to those who bought them. Perse is furious with him and tries to take revenge by making Tom kill Pam but Tom, in a rare moment of lucidity on the way to Pam’s house, takes his own life, foiling Perse’s plans.

 

Perse is not to be thwarted.

 

Edgar belatedly remembers that he has gifted a picture to Ilse his favourite child and manages to get her to destroy it. But he did not account for all other possibilities, which makes Perse create disastrous results. His close family is impacted and Edgar goes with Jack and Wireman to confront Perse in her own redoubt on the Eastern part of the island overgrown with weeds and in a ruined first home of Libbit. They meet many challenges and the description is great; in fact,  vintage King: the tension escalates slowly. When you think it cannot get any more tense, it does. Nice!  (I know I have been deliberately vague above but it is only to ensure that I do not give too much away in this review, so that all the fun is not spoilt if you decide to read it after reading this review.)

 

Noveen, the talking doll, LAO  features well in the story. Then the heron scene adds to the sense of tension. The slow progress to find and kill Perse before the darkness falls and her power increases to an exponential level are all very well described. The tension literally crackles.

 

Fascinating  explanation of how Nan Melda died, trying to save the kids, and how Emery, the faithful but devious servant, died lured by Perse. The final confrontation with Perse in the disused well is beautifully told. You see the real Stephen King style come through at the end.

 

Definitely worth a read. It is a good ride down the terror lane with Stephen King as the tour guide.

 

8/10

 

  • – Krishna

June 26, 2016

Movie: X Men : Apocalypse (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 12:12 am

imageAll your favourite characters are here. Except one of the most famous, the Wolverine.  Also you get to know how the young Xavier whom we met in the previous XMen movie as a young man, becomes bald and crippled.

 

You also meet some new characters (Angel, for instance) that is nice. But otherwise it is the gsame XMen kind of movie.

 

The story starts with ancient times in – where else? – Egypt. The supervillain this time is Apocalypse himself, with the Four Horsemen in toe. He is trying to move his essence into a younger body so that he may live on, but a people’s revolt stops it midstream and buries him under rubble, frozen forever until he is disturbed again. Which on cue, happens in our times (OK in the 1980s) due to an earthquake.

 

Meanwhile, Magneto is quietly working in a factory, as an ordinary man, trying to make a living with a wife and a daughter, hiding his identity. When he saves a man from certain death, he has to do so by revealing his power over machinery and is castigated for it and his daughter calls birds to attack the officers who came to arrest the father. One soldier accidentally kills the wife and daughter and Magneto kills them all with a chain that was hanging on his daughter’s neck.

 

Meanwhile, Angel, a mutant with wings is challenging to combat others and a fellow mutant called NightCrawler, who can move anywhere like smoke, who is caged inside an electrified cage (so not being able to escape out). When things look very bad for NightCrawler, Mystique (the famed Jennifer Lawrence) saves him, burning Angel’s wings in the process.

 

We meet Scott Summers whose eyes can burn anything until in Xavier’s school, they give him glasses to protect others and also enable him to see.

 

The Apocalypse tries to rally all the mutants against the XMen. With some (Magneto and others) on his side and XMen split into law abiding (Ironman)  and law defying groups, there is plenty of potential for turning XMen against XMen until all ends well.

 

The thrills are there. The story is too comic-book-like to narrate in detail. If you liked the previous one, you will enjoy this one too.
6/10

–  –  Krishna

February 21, 2016

Movie : GroundHog Day (1993)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies, Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:49 pm

imageThis is a cult classic. It came out in 1993, wow, more than 20 years ago now. Seeing it again today gives you a different set of emotions after all these years. It was a great comedy when it came and with the world having moved on, even today it resonates to some extent. Nicely done, it still is interesting. But definitely appears old fashioned in both the scenes and the dialogs.

In addition, you realize that The Edge of Tomorrow, which came out but two years ago, cleverly reuses the same kind of ploy but this time in a science fiction setting. Interesting!

Now the movie stars with Phil Connors (one of Bill Murray’s most famous roles), a TV commentator, going with his crew, consisting of Rita (played by Andie McDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliot, who played in Everybody Loves Raymond much later). He is supposed to be self-centred and cynical but comes across as childish and whiny. He is so bored that he is asked to go cover the Groundhog Willie in Punxutawny in Pennsylvania.  He wants to get it done and gone and there is a storm that is predicted to strike the city, which he confidently predicts will miss the town.

Everything goes according to the plan except that the storm does hit the town and they are forced to stay there for the night. Everything goes haywire from then on. He wakes up the next day to find that he is reliving the previous day – literally. It is Groundhog Day again and everything gets repeated. He is first incredulous, then astonished and finally, goes plumb crazy – desperate to get on with his life.

How he comes to realize that each moment is precious and how he should learn to enjoy life as every moment unfolds is the rest of the story.

The story has interesting moments, as you watch Phil slowly transforms from a self-centred (or whiny, depending on your point of view) person to a nice man who does nice things for others.

Well, lot of holes to pick. The story is riddled like Swiss cheese. He seems to become something of a superstar, helping the entire town in one day – and every day. He uses the infinite time to learn many things that he did not know (ice sculptures, piano, just to name two). He also wins the heart of Rita, the requisite twist in a romantic comedy like this – to justify the ‘romantic’ tag.

He also experiments with suicide multiple ways and also with crime and goes to jail.

The holes? First, who made this happen? Who decided that he should relive the day over and over again?  It is never explained. There is a mysterious barkeeper who seems to knowingly look at him at several points but is that enough? If so, who is the bar tender?

Second, though Phil knows that whatever he does, he will wake up at 6 AM the next day the same way he does every repeating day, I am sure that he feels all the pains during the day. So killing himself repeatedly every day does not make any sense. Committing suicide is painful even when you know that you will never have to do it again but knowing that it is futile? Come on.

I on the other hand, like the way how the day is subtly different – even though largely repetitive – based on what he does. He helps people with flat tire for instance.

Bill Murray does a fairly decent job in the movie, but Andie just exists to provide romantic interest. Even Bill is no Tom Hanks, sometimes his heavy emotional depictions fall a bit flat.

The story is unusual and interesting. It is light, does not take itself seriously, and has several enjoyable scenes where Phil surprises strangers with facts he learnt about them the previous day.

 

It is still worth watching, and still gets a 6/10

–  – Krishna

 

February 15, 2016

Movie : Star Wars Episode VII : The Force Awakens (2015)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies, Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 5:51 pm

imageWell, this movie created so much expectations and was such a success that anything I say about this, if the least bit uncomplimentary may seem like blasphemy.  But I write my views and therefore will say what I felt when I saw the movie. The movie is not bad, but there are bits there that make no sense. Read on.

 

** Warning: There are mild spoilers in this review so if you would rather not know about some central points, please do not read further **

 

First the good stuff. I love the way how the main protagonist is a woman, and the main lead (more of that later) seems to be the real successor to the Jedi world but it is revealed at the end that the girl, Rey, is the “real” Jedi.  What a difference from the original series (especially the first three, confusingly named IV, V and VI because of chronology) where Princess Leah is just decoration and all the work is done by Luke and Hans Solo!  In the next three movies our Natalie Portman at least tries to do some of the work, but even she is no match for Rey. Nice.

 

And then everybody is talking about the lead, Finn (derived from his original number FN2187) is not a white boy as expected. Also it is doubly nice that he is a stromtrouper with a conscience. Good twists all, and very gratifying.

Another thing is the new robot they have introduced, BB88 whose cuteness factor is right up there with that of Olaf of Frozen.

And to tally up the ‘good’ side of the movie, they have been true to the spirit of the series, with the evil side rising from the ashes of the destruction of the Empire. This time, they call it First Order. Plus there is that trademark of Star Wars, where in the background or in a pub, there are tons of random alien characters moving or talking who have no central connection to the theme or the story of the movie.

So, why the warning about uncomplimentary things? There are some things that rankle. First of all, I’d go ahead and say that they have not been optimal about the cast. This was my problem in the first movie all those years ago where Luke and, to an extent, Lia, did not impress. Here Rey and Finn could have been cast better.  I admit that my criteria is simply what I imagined them to talk and emote like, and not any objective criteria, but it still does not seem somehow right. Given that this is the series, this is going to continue in the next episodes. The chief villain, Kylo Ren, also fails to impress, stood up against the likes of Darth Vader or Anakin Skywalker of the earlier movies, and definitely falls short compared to the Obi Wan Kanobi of the previous series as well.

 

And tell me why Kylo Ren is wearing a mask? His face is not disfigured, he has no reason that is explained why he needs it, and halfway through the movie, he seems to discard it. Yes, I know that he is a fan of the original Darth Vader, but come on: that is not enough reason to wear a mask all the time.

 

And the twist is that he is the son of Hans Solo and Leah. Well, this has been done, many time in the same series. It may have been impressive for many of you, but evoked a ‘ho hum’ response from me.

 

If it were not for the BB88 and a couple of redeeming features (including Hans Solo in a cameo) this movie would have been a bit more unimpressive.

 

Weighing both the good and the bad, I would say this deserves a 6/10

– – Krishna

December 21, 2015

Movie: Crimson Peak (2015)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:05 am

 

imageWhen I heard Guillermo Del Toro has actually directed a film after the fascinating Pan’s Labyrinth, I wanted to drop everything and see the movie. He has been executive producer of a lot of movies that bear his name in the posters prominently of late, but he has not directed them. (See our review of Mama, earlier, for an example.) So this was, for me, a long awaited event. See the movie I did and came out with a considerable dissatisfaction.

 

Some of the Guillermo effects are there. The dilapidated Crimson Peak is well set and the ghosts, especially that of the protagonist Edith Cushing’s mother are refreshingly different. They seem to trail some kind of smoke to show the ethereal quality of ghosts and this is the kind of small touches that Toro gives his movies that make them stand out.

 

But then the story is not like him at all. The twist is kind of easy to foresee (Remember the end of Pan’s Labyrinth? This does not even come close)

The story is one of Edith Cushing, heir to the fortune of a businessman. She is charmed and falls in love with Sir Thomas Sharpe from England, who seems to have the most charming manners she has seen. When the father seems to be against it, he dies in a brutal murder, with his head crushed against a sink,  leaving Edith to proceed with the romance.

 

She marries Sir Thomas and moves to England. Before she leaves, the vapour trailing ghost of her own mother warns her ‘Beware of the Crimson Peak’. She finds that Sir Thomas is living in a creepy, dilapidated mansion with her sister Lady Lucille Sharp.

The mystery deepens when Lucille seems to hate her, keeps her literally imprisoned, and refuses to hand over the keys of the mansion to the new mistress. Sir Thomas is all charm and assurance.

 

Slowly, she uncovers the gruesome truth and the mystery. There are also some additional surprises where she realizes that the brother and sister have been having an incestuous affair and have been trying to slowly kill her for her inheritance.

 

The ending is bizarre and involves brutal efforts to kill each other.

 

The story is weak, so the strong portrayal, the sets etc do not make up for it. The movie, I think, could be justifiably done by many others equally well and does not need a Guillermo at the helm.

If you perhaps go without the preconceived notion that I had, perhaps you may have enjoyed it a bit more, but even so, I would not think you would place it on par with one of the best horrors of recent times.

The interesting character is Jessica Chastain, who plays the deranged Lady Lucille. A very different role from her Zero Dark Thirty (Maya) or The Martian (Melissa) and Tom Hiddleston, our own Loki in the Thor series.

 

I would say a 4/10

– – Krishna

 

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