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July 14, 2018

Movie: Hereditary (2018)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:22 am

imageHereditary is a weird movie. First of all, I rely, like most of you probably, on the Wikipedia of movies, Rotten Tomatoes to review ratings as I find that my tastes and generic audience tastes largely coincide. Sometimes it does not. This is one of those times. When I saw the rating at the time of going to the movie it was 98% (and has now slid to a still very respectable 89%). I think it is overrated. The other movie where I was similarly fooled was the Bridge to Terabithia, so long ago.

 

To be fair though, Rotten Tomatoes shows the critic’s score as 89% but the audience score is only 58% and so perhaps it has not gotten it so wrong after all.

 

This movie is supposed to be a creepy horror but just comes out weird. The central character Peter, played by Alex Wolff is wooden and lifeless and even the animations (God, the scene where the girl serenely floats up to the treehouse) could have been done in any off the shelf image editor by a twelve year old boy. Add a lot of silver paint and naked people in it, standing mute and watching the others (supposedly menacingly) and you get the ‘creepy atmosphere’ that they were going for.

 

The central theme is also totally stupid and seems to have been stitched together in a hurry.

 

What is the story, such as it is? Disjointed scenes, strung together. An old woman (Peter’s grandmother) dying and Peter seeing her keeping her eyes open; a bird crashing into a window and similar stuff. No link to anything else in the story after.

 

The only place where there seems to be a story is where the sister of Peter is forced on him to go to a party because the parents (correctly) suspect that it is an underage drinking party with teenage sex and drugs involved and then this kid, who is severely allergic to nuts eats a cake with nuts and goes into deep anaphylactic shock.

 

Instead of dialling 911 the brother packs her into the back seat of the car and tries to drive home. Right. And also has an accident. OK. And she dies. Great. Then the story goes into weird directions again, its brief coherence lost forever.

 

The father, mother try to cope with the shock while Peter seems to be curiously unconcerned. Not intentionally by the writers but it seems like that to the viewers.

 

The mother creates a panorama (which is what she does for a living) and a private one depicting the accident and the sister’s death. Hmm.

 

While she reluctantly attends a group therapy for her shock, Peter’s mom Annie meets joan, who also lost a loved one and forces her to go to a weird séance. And then the movie takes a cult turn where the dead are looking for a new heir to the throne and… need I go on?

 

The cast looks humdrum and the sister especially does not look or act the part.

 

Full of meaningless jumble, in my opinion.

 

2/10

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July 8, 2018

Movie: Avengers – Infinity War (2018)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:50 am

imageWe have reviewed some Avengers movies earlier – Avengers : The Age of Ultron and The Avengers – but this one is different from them all.

 

For one thing, this seems to include practically every superhero in the comic character universe owned by Disney. In addition to almost all of the Marvel Avenger stable including the recent additions like Spiderman, Black Panther and Dr Strange, it brings in also Antman and the entire cast of the other series The Guardians of the Galaxy as well. Before even seeing the movie, I wondered how on earth they are even going to give screen space to each one and still weave a credible story. After seeing the movie and with some inputs from my friends which helped me understand, I realize now that the real story in this movie is not at all about the superheroes. The movie is all about the villain Thanos, superbly portrayed by Josh Brolin.

 

This is supposed to be the first part of a two part series and it shows. More of it later.

 

Second, the villain is not really a villain in the usual superhero comic sense of the word (I know, I know. The original comics portray Thanos the same way but when I mean ‘the usual’ sense, I mean generic comic villains).  He is not conspiring to take over the world. He is simply interested in protecting the earth, ridding it of the overpopulation. Also he wants to be completely fair, just taking half the population of the world in a completely random, and therefore the most justified, fashion.

 

The entire galaxy of superheroes want to stop him since destruction of humankind is still destruction, however justified it maybe. In that sense, you don’t know which side is ‘good’ and which side is ‘evil’ if you stop to ponder about it. Interesting.

 

The other thing that would surprise and even shock you is the ending, which blew my mind away until (again thanks to friends who reminded me) I stopped to ponder those old comic books where this kind of thing happens all too often. As to the question ‘How are they going to get out of it?’ the answers could be twofold : ‘Think of the next comic books in the series’ or ‘Do you remember how damaged the Gauntlet was in the last scene? Therein may lie the clue’. Take your pick.

 

The movie has some surprises a la ‘The Game of Thrones’. When Loki gets killed (yes, actually killed) at near the start of the movie, you gasp. But more surprises abound, especially near the end.

 

The story is very simple. Thanos wants to save the world by, as we already said, killing half the population of humans at random – but needs to fill his Infinity Gauntlet with the five super stones that are in various places in the world. He collects them one by one, overcoming superhero resistance, and collecting the stones. At the start of the movie, he already has acquired Power Stone from the planet Xandar. He acquires the Space Stone from Asgaard. His lieutenants go for the Time Stone in New York, drawing Dr Stange, Iron Man and Spider Man into opposition.

 

The Mind Stone is buried on the forehead of Vision, and Thanos and crew even go after that, no matter that Wanda Maximoff is protecting him. He goes after the Reality Stone, drawing the Guardians of the Galaxy into his formidable group of enemies. (Thor keeps calling Rocket ‘rabbit’). Thanos gets Soul Stone sacrificing his own daughter to get at it.

 

Strange surrenders Time Stone to protect Iron Man, who is seriously wounded by Thanos, even after Iron Man begs him not to do so and let him die.

 

The final vision stone requires overpowering the Wakandans and the superheroes. Thanos is wounded but still manages to get the Vision Stone.

 

The ending is spectacular, including the small bit at the end of the subtitles. The second part should definitely be interesting, whenever it comes.

 

Another nice work by Disney. They really know how to make great films (yes, commercial, purely entertaining and rarely informative; I know all that, but for pure entertainment, they get full marks. Rarely do they fall flat, like for instance the latest Star Wars episode Solo.)

 

Good work.   8/10

–  – Krishna

May 19, 2018

Movie: A Quiet Place (2018)

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:58 pm

imageI will try to avoid giving away much but it is so difficult in this type of movie. Perhaps I can preserve how it all ends, so that, if you have not already seen the movie, you still have something to look forward to.

 

First of all, hats off to John Krisinski. I did not know he had it in him to direct and act in something like this. If you watched his performance in The Office, he managed to underwhelm. His trademark was to look into the camera with a puzzled expression (He was Jim, dating Pam forever and married to her later in the series. He managed to be outshone by both Steve Carrell and Rann Wilson, who played Dwight) and I thought he did not have it in him to make a mark in acting in movies, let alone direct one. He proved me wrong. (I am reminded of Bryan Cranston, who was similarly underwhelming in Malcolm in the Middle, before spectacularly breaking out of the mold in Breaking Bad).

 

It is kind of a family project because two of the main characters is him and his wife Emily Blunt.

 

There are many things to love in this movie. One is that it does not patronize you and just gets on with the story. The story starts simply at Day 89. Day 89 of what? They don’t bother to explain but make you understand with things in the story. (Paper cuttings, white board notes and simply as things happen). The effect is spectacular. You piece them together bit by bit, and it is as if they had told you everything in order starting from ‘One day, a terrible thing happened’.

 

The second nice thing about this movie is that there are not many people in the movie. It is all about the Abbots – husband Lee (John Krisinski with a beard and he manages to shake off his association with The Office character Jim as the movie goes on), wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt, giving adequate support) and the central character who steals the show, Regan, who is a hearing impaired daughter. Apart from them is the son Marcus, who needs medication due to his asthma. There is another daughter Beau but she is “taken” right in almost the first five minutes and so the whole movie revolves around these four.

 

And there are hardly any dialogs. They talk in sign language (and neatly explained and credible because of Regan, they had to learn all this).

 

The story starts brilliantly. You realize that they had to go only in the daytime and quietly at that. Sound is lethal, as demonstrated when Beau sneaks a rocket (he is a great rocket enthusiast) and, falling behind when they go back home, switches it on. In seconds, he is snatched by something that you hardly see (it is a blur) and is gone.

 

You slowly learn the background. The earth (or at least the US) is taken over by an alien race, which eats anything alive, including humans. From Lee’s meticulous notes, you find that civilization is broken down and there are hardly any survivors in the area he lives in. These aliens are blind, and hunt by sound alone – which is why US is now “A Quiet Place”. They also have a body armour so it is hard to kill them even with guns. There is a note that “two were spotted in that area” so to survive they stay indoors, with trip wires (they light up when tripped and do not sound alarms) and silent navigation. Lee keeps trying to make hearing aids (no shops or malls are populated anymore) and like in The Walking Dead, they have to scavenge stores for medicine and other supplies.

 

Even supporting actors are only three (if you count one that is already dead as an ‘actor’).

 

The tension rachets up when they accidentally make noise breaking a lantern and setting a rug on fire and then hear sounds on the tin roof. In typical horror movie fashion, it turns out to be a raccoon. Finally they (and we) do come face to face with the horror of the monsters, and they are also hiding when these go around their own house looking for them and they try to stay still with no noise in order to thwart them.

 

Great scenes where Emily discovers that she is pregnant and you are as anxious as them to see how the new child will survive. In order to ratchet up the suspense, the kids get trapped in a grain silo with the monster(s?) outside and Lee goes to get them back and Evelyn steps on an open nail with another one of them right nearby and cannot even scream. Well planned story, huge tension with no sound at all (except for the background score of course).

 

I will not tell you how it ends, as promised, but the end suits the whole theme of the movie. Nice work. Definitely worth watching. I am sure Jim is as surprised as everyone else how much of a hit this turned out to be, but it is really a well made, well crafted movie. Every one has done their part and Millicent Simmonds, who plays Regan, has done a spectacular job and nearly steals the show from everyone else.

 

Good movie, nice to watch. I enjoyed it.

 

8/10

– – Krishna

May 6, 2018

Movie: Black Panther (2018)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:05 pm

imageThe buzz on this movie is incredible. They say that this smashes the stereotypical beliefs or myths of the Hollywood movie making – which is that a movie mainly centred on black people cannot succeed in the worldwide box office. This did and also has an African American director to boot.

 

It is interesting to note that another myth – that if the woman is the central character of a movie, it will not succeed – was also supposed to have been recently blown apart by the super success of Wonder Woman.

 

I have these ‘supposed to’ etc only because I was not aware of these myths before they came into prominence after the two movies were released.

 

But what is not a myth is that Disney rules the box office world today. All top grossers, including the above two, were made by Disney. And add to it the fact that Disney owns Pixar, Lucas Studios in addition to Marvel and also makes its own movies like Frozen, and they are the King of Hollywood today.

 

This movie is good. Very good. And like a friend of mine said (which I agree with) ‘For the first time we actually identify with the reason the super villain turned bitter and wants revenge’. Really. Usually the villains are simply for World Domination of World Destruction  (beautifully parodied as Dr Evil and Mini Me in Austin Powers series) but here is a young man who was left with broken dreams. (OK, the Incredibles also had a villain with a genuine grouse but most do not).

 

The story is one of a supermetal called Vibranium, which fell in Africa and kept in Wakanda by the warrior who becomes the original “Black Panther”.

 

King T’chaka is now the descendent ruling Wakanda and he learns of Prince N’Jobu, living in the US (where else?) and thinks that Vibranium should be shared with all citizens of African descent to ‘overcome their suppression’. He plans to even steal one with the help of a half crazed smuggler Ulyssis Klaue (brilliantly played by Andy Serkis) he confronts the prince and when that turns violent and threatens to cost the life of his loyal aide Zuri (Forrest Whittaker) he reluctantly kills him. Shamed about the violence, he decides to abandon N’Jobu’s son Erik to his fate so that the rest of Wakanda will not hear what he had to do.

 

When T’chaka dies, his son T’Challa becomes the Black Panther and King, and is the central protagonist in the movie.

 

Killmonger, a person who tries to steal Vibranium defeats the king and nearly kills him. Restored, he comes back with the help of other tribes to battle and win back the throne as the official Black Panther.

 

Originally I thought Ulyssis is the classic supervillain and was surprised when he was killed off early in the movie. We then realize that Killmonger is the super villain and we understand the twist that makes him oppose the Black Panther (and nearly triumph) we understand.

 

There are a lot of delightful twists on the way including amazing car chases and heroics on American roads, and also a lot of duels (Before Killmonger, there is a rival M’Baku, whom he bests in an armed combat.

 

Keeps you on the edge of the seat. Nicely made.

 

8/10

–  – Krishna

April 8, 2018

Movie: Coco (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:18 pm

imageI generally do not like movies about dead people and skeletons and even movies admired by people like The Corpse Bride or The Nightmare Before Christmas leave me cold. I am aware that many people loved and love these movies, but I am only talking about my personal preferences here. So it is with reluctance and not much of an expectation about my enjoying this movie did I go see this movie.

 

What also motivated me is that, when the plot is right, what an amazing work Pixar does with its characters. Who can be not moved by their best –  Up which both moves and delights you, the Invincibles which creates an entire new look on superheroes, Monster’s Inc which is such a classic and many more? Even if some of their movies were not really up there (Inside Out comes to mind in the latter category).

 

I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is this movie a thoroughly enjoyable ‘dead people’ movie but in fact one of the best animated movies of recent times, period. Brilliantly animated, brilliantly narrated, woven together with a nice surprise near the middle of the tale, it is purely scintillating and keeps you absorbed all the way through. Lovely, wonderful work.

 

Let us look at the story. Imelda Rivera’s wife is distraught when her husband leaves her and her three year old daughter Coco to pursue a music career. He promises to be back soon and take them when he has found his feet. When he never returns, her anxiety turns to burning fury and she banishes all of his memorabilia from the house. She even cuts out his head from the photo of their family with little Coco in the hand.  All ancestors (including the headless husband – since Imelda’s only photo is the one where she is there) are present in the annual ancestor’s day so that they may be remembered. Another banishment from the house is any kind of music in the house, so bitter is she.

 

Ninety six years pass (and the story really begins here). Coco now is an old lady who is frail and is nearly at the end of her life. Her grandson Miguel, who is now twelve, finds himself loving music which attracts him irresistibly and is desperate to hide it from his own family. He idolizes Ernesto de la Cruz, the singing sensation a long time ago (during Coco’s time).

 

One day, out of curiosity, he tries to take the photo of his headless father and breaks the frame. Terrified, he gets rid of the frame and pulls out the photo. He discovers the photo is folded to fit to the frame. When he opens it he sees that even in the family photo, his dad was holding a guitar.

 

When he later goes to visit Ernesto’s museum, he discovers to his amazement that the unique pattern on the guitar was the same as the one hanging in Ernesto’s museum and realizes with a shock that he must be Ernesto’s great grandson!

 

Miguel is now determined to enter the talent show on the Day of the Dead, a Mexican celebration of the ancestors. He has no guitar, though. He decided to steal Ernesto’s guitar for the ceremony but falls down in the attempt. When he finally retrieves it, and goes to the ceremony, no one there can see him! The only people who can are dead ancestors who visit the place (as they are allowed to, only on the Day of the Dead). He realizes that he is now partly in that place. He is being punished for stealing Ernesto’s guitar. He finds himself slowly turning into a skeleton. Before sunrise, if he does not get the blessing from one of the dead ancestors of his, he will fully turn into a skeleton and cannot ever go back home.

 

What is a dog doing in the posters? It is the only one who can see him in this altered state and also follow him wherever he goes.

 

His great grandmother Imelda finds him there (glorious, mind boggling animation to the Land of the Dead and beyond; Pixar really knows how to amp it way, way up!) and offers to give him pardon on one condition: He should give up music forever. He refuses and runs away, in hot pursuit by his own family to catch and convince him. He makes an ally of a down on his luck dead skeleton Hector, who promises to take him to Ernesto, if he takes Hector’s picture to his daughter when Miguel goes back: Only those who are remembered in earth can go there on the Day of the Dead and Hector is afraid that the only person alive will forget him and he will fade away. Flashes of such fading already are occurring and he is completely frazzled. Miguel agrees and they both go in search of Ernesto.

 

When Hector attempts to double cross Miguel and send him back to Miguel’s (dead) family, Miguel escapes him and meets Ernesto who accepts him as his great grandson. But Hector appears there, and accuses him of stealing everything from Hector – his songs, his tunes, and also of poisoning Hector. Ernesto captures and jails them both, and also takes the only hope of Hector, his picture, away from Hector.

 

The twist in the story and how Miguel wins the affections of his father and also reunites the family is the rest of the story. It may be obvious to some of you but there is a massive twist in the story that makes you gasp and you realize that the entire plot is cleverly constructed to aid the misdirection that they intend you to make.

 

Lovely, lovely. Amazing dialogues, heartwarming scenes – all characters ring true and you can identify with every one of them. Imelda, Miguel, Coco, everyone really.

 

One of the brilliant movies from Pixar, on par with some of their best. Well done!

 

 

9/ 10

 

– – Krishna

March 31, 2018

Movie: Star Wars the Last Jedi (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:54 pm

imageThis caused waves again when it came out and they were talking about it seemingly for a very long time.

 

I have mixed views about this film. They have been faithful to the elements of Star Wars where the story seems to have background characters that are a veritable multi-planet zoo of animals and humanoid forms that are beyond our normal imaginings and here too they are there. Who can forget the ‘cows’ out of which old Luke Skywalker obtains his milk?  But then there are portions of the movie which has more of the feel of the other cult classic, Star Trek. So the lines being a bit blurred caused, in my mind at least, some confusion.

 

There is less of the original silliness where in the middle of a huge showdown between the forces of good and evil, a small child, or an inexperienced man, or something else like that just goes in seemingly impervious to all the assaults and manages to destroy the critical infrastructure of the bad guys. But it is still there. In case you forgot it is Star Wars, I guess.

 

For all that, you are enthralled in parts and realize why this series is such a cult classic. The scene where Luke comes alone to defend a fortress in siege when everything seems nearly lost is amazing, and the ending (how was he able to escape their reaches) is breathtaking. And there is, of course a twist near the end, which I will not reveal, keeping in line with my policy of not providing any spoilers if I can help it but diehard fans would find it significant.

 

Supreme Leader Snoke is an interesting character and how he meets his end is also very nicely told.

 

The story is one of the general Star Wars where the Jedi are in constant siege from the Empire’s forces (this time under the leadership of Snoke). The next generation Darth Vader is of course Kylo Ren, who is the son of Hans Solo and killed his father (that seems to be a tradition in the Star Wars world) in the first movie after Disney takeover. The twist is the Snoke distrusts Kylo, suspecting his loyalty.

 

Rey comes in search of Luke and pleads with him when she finds him in retirement in an isolated island. He is totally reluctant to do anything more and wants to be left in peace.

 

The scene where Finn, trying to steal a pod to go rescue Jedis is found out by Rose Tico who helps him find a code breaker to help. And there are interesting twists with the code breaker – how they find him, how he agrees to help – and a surprising double cross. The deception makes sense when you think about it afterwards but came as a bombshell to me at least. Maybe I am too gullible when it comes to movies, who knows?

 

Rey learning from the master Luke after he changes his mind a bit and agrees to teach here are all good, but remind you of some earlier Hollywood movies nevertheless.

 

Also nice are the scenes where Kylo and Rey try to convince the other to desert their side and join the other person’s side. Powerful scenes, these.

 

When all seems lost, and they are surrounded and Kylo is ready with an overwhelming army to destroy them all, Luke appears and saves them to flee and fight another day. (And keeping the door open for another movie).

 

As you can see, there are a number of lovely bits to see and enjoy. Definitely a fun ride.

 

7/10

 

–  – Krishna

March 18, 2018

Movie : Ferdinand (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 6:57 pm

imageWell, the animation is superb and the characterization, in parts, is not bad at all. It has all the (now formulaec) elements that tug your heart.  A giant but gentle bull that eschews the family tradition for which his father and ancestors lived and wants to find a ‘better way’. The evil bull that is both jealous of the strength of the central character (yes, it is a bull; yes, it is Ferdinand) and contemptuous of the pusillanimity of the beast.

 

It has cuteness in the form of a girl who loves Ferdinand and sees into his soul and not just the frighteningly big physical form. It has a crazy goat called Lupe that is so endearing (adorable voice work by Kate McKinnon) that helps him. It has features where he wins over previously antagonistic fellow bulls one by one.

 

Still, it does not rise to the level of Frozen or other great movies. There is something that is missing in the total package. At least for me. Don’t get me wrong; this is definitely a good movie to watch but is it a great movie to remember for a long time? There I have my doubts.

 

This is based on a series of children’s books. Ferdinand, as a young calves are just dying to see which is the next bull that would be lucky enough to be picked to fight a matador. When Ferdinand’s dad is chosen, he is thrilled and waits for him to come back victorious but the dad never comes back. Ferdinand cannot fathom why.

 

Now, he also has a gentle heart, trying to protect a young sapling on the grounds from the other boisterous bulls and is bullied by other calves, primarily Valiente, a ‘bull’y and his sidekicks Gaupo and Bones.

 

Finally, when he gets the chance, he runs away and finds a lovely family – consisting of a florist called Juan and his daughter Nina and their dog Paco – who bring him up as their own.

 

Ferdinand goes to the flower festival every year with them and loves it but when he grows big, Nina tells him he cannot come with them because he is too big. He disobeys and sneaks in by himself, only to be caught and sent back to his original ranch.

 

The rest of the story describes how he copes there, how he himself gets picked by the ranch to fight the most famous matador of all times and how it all ends nicely.

 

You get to meet other characters along the way : the three hedgehogs (who try to teach Ferdinand how to ‘stealthily’ go across the ranch in a hilarious sequence), three horses who seem to have a French accent and snooty manners to match, and many others.

 

There is also a tongue in cheek reference when Ferdinand goes into a China shop and tries to tiptoe around a half blind old lady minding the shop.

 

As I said, not a bad movie – just a fun ride that is worth watching if you don’t mind yet another movie with clichés and growing up and making friends among strangers.

 

6/10

– – Krishna

February 25, 2018

Movie: Thor – Ragnarok (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 8:00 pm

imageFirst, about today’s Hollywood : What a revival of fortunes for Marvel, by  the way! In the comics crazy forties and fifties it reigned supreme and lay by the kerb until animation caught up with the imagination of the comic story creators so that Hollywood can adopt it fullscale and start churning out one after the other. Did those fail? No problem. Do not stop making them. Just ‘reboot’ them, telling the story from a different angle and it will become a hit.

 

Not that I do not enjoy the movies, but it struck me that most of the top grossers (Pixar excepted as they go in for original stories) are superhero films these days. (Or the other franchaises like Star Wars or Star Trek).

 

If you have seen the previous Thor movies, you realize that the scaffolding is the same. An enemy bent on destruction of (not the world but) Asgard, the hero saving it. Build in Loki’s mischief and other things, and you have got another movie to build within the framework.

 

In this, the initial demon enemy Surtur gets destroyed in the first few scenes (after the initial humour where Thor is hanging upside down dejected after his love dumps him)

 

Dr Strange is now in firmly in the franchaise and helps Loki and Thor by finding out that Odin is in Norway (They are trying to find him after Loki had put a spell on him and sent him initially to New York in order to assume Odin’s form and enjoy the throne of Asgard. This is actually the end of the previous Thor movie, if anyone still remembers it).

 

They discover that they have a sister who was consumed by the dark side. She, Hela, wants to take over Asgard. (Hela is played by Cate Blanchet, and her performance is nice. Not spectacular but nice.)

 

Hela seems not to fear Thor’s hammer, easily destroying it before our shocked eyes. She also enters the portal when Thor and Loki try to flee and also expels them before she herself reaches Asgard before them.

 

Loki becomes a slave in a strange planet ruled by a man called Grandmaster and is attached with a shocking device. Also Loki seems to be in a position of favour there. There is a scene where Thor meets and duels with Bruce Banner in the form of the Hulk and where, after he brings the Hulk back to his senses, convinces him and the rebel girl who captured him to join him in saving Asgard. The rest of the story goes on predictable lines.

 

Nice story and keeps interest going but you suddenly start to see Star Wars like scenes appearing with space ships and battles etc.

 

There are amazing gigantic hounds who are part of Hela’s army and the massive fight between the Hulk and the giants. There is also preaching about realizing your own potential and getting the inner strength from within. (Thor’s hammer is not strictly necessary for Thor to win, if he believes in himself enough.  Go figure).

 

Asgard ends up destroyed so that Thor can spend all his time in his new homeland to which he is now destined : The Earth. (And in Hollywood, the earth is always synonymous with the United States of America, of course).

 

Fun to watch but nothing new conceptually.   6/ 10

– – Krishna

February 17, 2018

Movie : IT (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:44 pm

imageMy, my! I have been a fan of Stephen King’s books for decades and read IT many years ago. It is an excellent book to read, and if you have not read it, I recommend that you do, even if you have seen the movie. To me the book version of most stories are more intense with very few exceptions (not this one) where the movie improves upon a very fluffy book experience.

 

The obvious examples of the examples are, for instance, the Lord of the Rings movies. Not that the book was not good but the movie went way beyond Tolkien’s description and really brought the story breathtakingly to life. But mostly it is the other way around.

 

The bonus you get when you read the book is to see the rest of the story too. As you probably know, this movie just covers the first half of the book and the second half is still pending for a sequel.

 

When I read this movie all those years ago, I kind of decided that you really cannot make a movie out of it, since this story is so surreal that any effort to show what happens would fail. I am told that there were some TV versions of the story earlier, and some critics even claim that the TV version was scarier than the movie. I have not seen them and do not know if it is true or not.

 

But the movie version is pretty good and I admit I was wrong. This group showed me how to make an excellent movie out of (not the book but just) the first half of the book.

 

There are some deviations, some well judged and some disappointing to a book reader. They left out the scene where Bill and Beverley get physical – it made no sense in an otherwise well written story and it was really good of the movie makers to axe it. But there is also that scene where the bike of Bill kind of gets conscious and saves him. I agree that this too has nothing to do with the story but it was kind of cool. I do understand why they may have chopped that too, but I missed it.

 

And one more aspect of the preamble and then I will get to the story : Everyone is raving about it and I wholeheartedly agree: Bill Skarsgard, who played Pennywise the Clown, steals the show. The portrayal is brilliant and he imparts the full sense of creepy doom whenever he appears. Great job.

 

The rest of the casting is also near perfect. You have Jaeden Lierberher as the near perfect Bill, stammer and all. Jeremy Rae Taylor is exactly how you would picture Ben Hanscom would be. Casting has been brilliant.

 

The story is as true to the book as possible. George, Bill’s little brother, gets the paper boat to play in the rain and meets Pennywise. (I did not really thing that they would show how he loses the hand first, but they did!)  With disastrous results. Bill is determined to find out what happened to the missing brother. He is part of the Losers Club, with friends Richie, Eddy and Stanley. They absorb a shy girl Beverley and a butcher’s son Mike who does not want to kill animals and the local fat boy Ben. They form a friendship and grows as their adventures grow.

 

As each of the boys have their own terrifying encounters with Pennywise, they realize something is far wrong. As if this is not enough, they have to hide from the local chief bully Henry Bowers and his goon sidekicks Patrick and Victor. They terrorize the boys repeatedly, showing up when least expected.

 

The studious Ben is the one who discovers about Pennywise from library books and how children go missing with an interval of 35 years (?). He meets Pennywise too and runs out before it can get him.

 

How they find out where the Pennywise has his lair and how they go screwing up their courage to vanquish him is the rest of the story. They know that even if they did get the upper hand, it is only temporary and after the regular interval, he may return again. They make a blood bond and swear that they will all be back to face IT together if that happens.

 

Brilliant movie and picturization. Keeps you absorbed from the beginning to the end. If you have read the book you get the extra satisfaction of seeing the story come alive.

 

Nicely done. 8/10

 

—  Krishna

February 10, 2018

Movie: Annabelle – Creation (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:02 pm

imageThis is supposed to be the prequel of the famous Annabelle story and narrates how Annabelle came to be. It has its tense moments and the director of this movie, David Sandberg,  is the same one that did the interesting film Lights Out earlier.  And the same sophistication shows here and the terror moments here are things where nothing happens and the characters in the movie and you wait for an impending attack that you know is going to happen.

 

This backstory has a backstory and it is all told in a wordless and poetic sequence. How the doll maker Samuel Mullins handcrafts a wooden toy for his only daughter Bee and she dies in an accident. The family never recovers and later, Samuel and wife Esther decide to invite an orphanage into the house as a charitable act. The orphanage was kicked out of their building due to their inability to pay. We find that the Mullins live in an ideal house for a horror story to happen: a creaking but sprawling house in the countryside, of course secluded from everything and everyone else.

In true horror picture style, they are given a run of the whole house except a locked room where they are forbidden to go. What will young children do when they are forbidden to go to a room? Especially in a horror story? Yup, one girl Janice – a crippled one at that – goes in when it was ‘accidentally’ left open one day.   She finds a key and opens, and comes face to face with Annabelle, the doll. Incidentally, the doll in this movie is not the Raggedy Ann doll that is supposed to be the real possessed doll but in a highly tongue in cheek reference to it, a Raggedy Ann doll is presented as a gift to a girl at the end of the movie when all the horror has been ‘resolved’. Nice.

But this doll does its spooky business very well so serves the purpose of the film, which is to scare the shit out of you. Janice is crippled, and after being thrown by the demon who has now been released, is confined to a wheelchair. When the demon takes over Bee, they find that she can walk and is ‘cured’ but is very strange in behaviour. The other girls, frightened now, confess to Samuel that Janice sneaked into the room but before he has a chance to do anything, Janice, possessed, kills him.

Samuel’s wife, Esther, is bedridden and when the girls meet her, they learn how Annabelle came to be. When Bee died, their parents conducted a séance and begged Bee’s spirit to talk to them. “Bee” asked them permission to occupy the doll and they happily agreed so that Bee can live with them even after their death. The invitation was enough for the spirit (occasionally in Bee’s form but otherwise in a true demonic form) to occupy the doll. When they realized their error (and losing an eye in the battle against it) Esther (and Samuel) have priests create a sealed room, with walls papered with pages of the Bible to seal the entity in, and keep the doll locked up in a cupboard and the room also locked. That is how Janice came by the room and the doll. Now we know the whole story.

What follows is a whole lot of attacks on the girls by the Janice-demon-Annabelle thing and a whole lot of jumpy sequences for you. They lock Janice in a room but when the police arrive, she has escaped and is far away in Santa Monica in an orphanage, calling herself Annabelle. She is adopted by the Higgins Family, thus setting the stage for the original movie.

Nice picturization, creepy moments, good acting. But still, somehow, this does not resonate as much with me since the theme is overworked in so many movies.

 

6/ 10

 

–  – Krishna

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