Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Review – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an English fantasy adventure movie released in 2017. The spellbound board game is back in its newest avatar as a video game. Though the format is changed, the adventures and the perils it brings remains the same.
I didn’t realize this is the 3rd installment of the franchise. I remember the first one featuring Robin Williams is a classic. I had my doubts looking at the star cast if I would enjoy this one. But I was proved wrong. This is the first 4DX movie I had watched it on screen. It was a very nice experience and Jumanji suited well as I could feel the pull of the gravity as they fall down, ride on the bike, fly the chopper through the jungle. It is totally worth it for the 4D experience.
The story is very much along the lines of the Jumanji Franchise. They have chosen stars who suit the characters well. The irony of having an opposite physique compared to their real world appearance is an interesting twist. In particular, I enjoyed the character of Jack Black. He could play such roles with ease. Kevin Hart’s performance brings smiles to your face. The ending is predictable but nevertheless, the journey keeps you glued to the seats. Kids would enjoy this a lot, like many of us enjoyed the first part.
High Points: Jumanji Franchise, Cast Ensemble, Jack Black’s performance, Kevin Hart’s comical performance, 4D experience, use of video gaming, Visual Effects
Low Points: Predictable ending
Overall Jumanji offers you a fun ride just like the first one did. Despite the predictable nature of the scripts, the events that unfold make it a very interesting watch. If you have access to 4D screens do watch it on 4D as it is much more fun. Go and watch it with your kids.
Worth a Watch
Kurangu Bommai Review
Kurangu Bommai is a Tamil Thriller film released in 2017. A simple and straightforward person Sundaram works in the timber shop of a goon in Tanjore. Despite the displeasure of his family and society, he is very loyal to him. When he is entrusted with a work of transporting a high cost smuggled statue, it leads to unexpected events.
Nithilan has created a very compelling thriller in Kurangu Bommai. Right from the time the knot is made the movie holds you to the seat barring the love portion which seemed very detached from the movie slowing down its pace badly. The non-linear narration style of the movie has worked out very well that keeps the audience glued much earlier. The choice of the cast is a very interesting one and it has worked very well for the movie. Bharadhiraja’s performance is a standout. Viddharth yet again has chosen a very good script. The character of Elango Kumaravel is a very interesting one in the movie. Things get dark once his character is introduced and he has played in very convincingly which is in a very much contrast to the comedy portions he usually plays in Radha Mohan movies. The movie’s duration is less than 2 hours which makes it crisp and interesting.
Having said this there are certain loose ends to the script that did not connect well. The love portion and the duet portion although taken well did not fit well into the tale. As they don’t help the movie in moving forward. The police station sequence was a bit overboard for the nature of the script. For folks looking for a Neram kind of climax, there will be a disappointment.
Overall Kurangu Bommai is a very interesting Dark Thriller. If you are a fan of thrillers do watch this one for sure. Kudos to Nithilan and team for making a good thriller.
Worth a Watch
Lipstick Under My Burkha Review – Lipstick Under My Burkha is a Hindi Black Comedy released in 2016. The movie revolves around 4 women of various age group living in Bhopal. Each one of them has a dream that appears “Rosy” to them.
First and foremost this is a very bold movie and many of you may not like what you see on the screen. Although deep inside it reflects some of the true facts in an overly dramatic fashion that needs to be done to drive the point home. The movie captures the conservative background the four women live in and how contrasting wild their dreams are. A college-going girl Rehana wants to free herself from her Burkha. She idolizes Miley Cyrus and loves Led Zeppelin. Leela, about to get married wants to become an entrepreneur and start a honeymoon package for couples. Shireen, a mother of three kids living with an insensitive husband is a successful sales women and wants to grow in her career and a 55-year-old lady Usha who had lost her husband very young finds solace in fulfilling her desires by reading a soft porn magazine.
The events build up and the transition between the lives of the lead characters are filled in with the description from the book Usha is reading. Rosy is the lead lady in the book and it talks about her dreams. Rosy is a metaphor for the dreams these women wish for. The rosy picture in the dream is not so rosy in reality. There are very brilliant moments in the screenplay subtle yet powerful that exposes the stereotypical nature of the society. The scene where Usha introduces herself as Buvaji and then realizes she has a name. Another scene where Rehana steals items from the shop to look fashionable.
The problem with the plot is not everyone would be able to relate to every woman. But definitely, they would be able to relate to one aspect of it.
High Points: The plot and the premise is an interesting one, the narration style of using text from the book for the transition has worked well, The lead characters have performed well, in particular, Rathna Pathak’s performance.
Low Points: The story touches some sensitive subjects which many might find hard to digest, Due to the content this is an Adult movie.
Overall Lipstick Under a Burka is a bold movie that paints the picture of various stereotypes women are subjected to. Not all that one dream is as “Rosy” as the reality is.
Worth a Watch
Vikram Vedha Review – Vikram Vedha is a Tamil Neo Noir film directed by the duo Pushkar and Gayathri. The film released in 2017. The plot is akin to the folklore tales of Vikram and Vethal where Vikram was a righteous king who set out to the deep dungeons to capture Vethal. Vethal kept telling him tales where the lines of right vs wrong were blurred. In the end, the Vethal asked a riddle as to what is the right thing to do. Once Vikram answered it escaped. The movie starts with the animated version of this and the story has the same theme with a police officer and an encounter specialist Vikram after a deadly gangster Vedha.
Madhavan plays the role of the encounter specialist Vikram and Vijay Sethupathi plays the role of Vedha. The plot is definitely a very interesting one that can keep you glued to the seats. Vijay Sethupathi has literally rocked the show in his role as Vedha. From a characterization perspective, this is written strongly as well and has a good character arc. Madhavan too has equally performed well in bringing out the demeanor of an encounter specialist. The movie starts with what appears to be a casual outing for the police team and ends in a deadly encounter mission. Very nicely done and it sets up the tone of the movie and establishes Madhavan’s character very well. Even before Vedha appears on the screen there are tales about him which establishes him as a deadly demon. And when he appears it stays up to the expectation. When he narrates the first story it is quite gripping and the twist of his escape from the situation is also well planted. The movie had been extraordinary till this point.
Post this there are more occasions he narrates the story to Vikram but quite unsure as to why Vikram listens to it patiently. He is shown to be a cop who doesn’t take even seconds to leave the bad people alive. Why does he have to listen to Vedha is still a question. When Vedha knows he would escape from the situation why does he have to tell a story to Vikram is also not established well. We did not know why Vethal told stories to Vikram as well isn’t it. That’s the only analogy I could draw for this.
Shraddha Srinath and Varalakshmi’s roles help in moving the story forward.
High Points: Vikram and Vethal as a plot device, Vijay Sethupathi and Madhavan’s performance, The initial story narrated by Vedha, The background score, and cinematography.
Low Points: The screenplay has many loop holes in the second half and it is hard to reason out why Vikram’s and Vedha’s behavior changes.
Overall Vikram Vedha is a Flamboyant and stylish encounter that would make you whistle at many moments. If you are able to ignore the loops holes in the screenplay you would enjoy this very much.
Worth a Watch
Baby Driver Review – Baby Driver is an English Action film released in 2017. Baby is a young getaway driver who helps in escapes of robbery planned by the mastermind Doc. Baby is usually kept out of the Robbery scene, but during one of the heist when the Doc has Baby visit the Robbery scene hell breaks loose.
The movie has some excellent action sequences and would entice all action movie lovers. Director Edgar Wright keeps the audience right at the edge of the seat from the word go. The scenes are cleverly edited to suit the rhythm of the song. As the focus is only on the driver the heist scenes are not shown but the focus is rightly kept on the escapades. The opening scene where the Baby driver is introduced, he is listening to loud music and singing along with it as he waits for the heist to complete. Once he starts the car and escapes you come to know about his skill in driving. Within those few minutes, the character of Baby Driver is well established. A very good example of character introduction. Adding a layer of tinnitus problem to Baby driver makes it very convincing to have music in the story. The music tracks add an additional layer to the whole story. Every driver has a lucky track is a catchy punch line.
The ending looks a bit ordinary when compared to the whole movie. However, the characterization, action sequences and the music itself provide a lot to enjoy the ride.
High Points: Car chase sequence, editing the scenes along with music, the tracking shot of Baby getting coffee for the team, the music he creates based on the everyday dialogues he hears.
Low Points: A very predictable ending to the story
Overall if you are an action movie lover and enjoy good music then Baby Driver is the movie just for you. Watch it in the theatres.
Worth a Watch
Maanagaram Review – Maanagaram is a Tamil thriller released in 2017. The movie plot revolves around events that happen around Chennai on two nights where the incidents affect people who were strangers to each other till then.
Director Lokesh Kangaraj has created a well-knitted screenplay in his first full-length feature film Maanagaram. His short film Kalam in the anthology of shorts released under the name of Aviyal had been interested in how situations create difficulties and situations make it easy when unexpected. Maangaram follows the same pattern on a bigger scale. The lives of a Don, a police officer, a jobless youth stalking his love, HR manager, a new employee, a taxi driver, small-time kidnappers and school boy cross each other on a fateful night in Chennai. The knots get more complicated as the movie progresses and it makes the proceedings very gritty. The screenplay is engaging right from the word go.
The screenplay is engaging right from the word go. The eerie and uneasiness of a big city is created very well by the director in the first few scenes. When you start hating the city there is this dialogue “People would complain and speak wrong things about this city, but they would never leave it” He has created a very nice character to the city itself. Although it is dark it is very enjoyable. The performances of the lead characters help in moving the story ahead. There is also dark humor in the scenes where Ramdoss comes in. In particular, the episode of him walking into the school to kidnap a boy is hilarious.
High Points: A gripping screenplay, performances of the lead actors, dark humor. No songs which could have otherwise slowed down the pace.
Low Points: Due to the genre this may not appeal to folks who expect a linear tale with one protagonist.
Overall Maanagaram is an excellent first movie from Lokesh Kanagaraj. If you love dark action thrillers, don’t miss this one.
Worth a Watch
The Salesman Review – The Salesman is an Iranian drama released in 2016. The couple Emad and Rana move into a new apartment after their current apartment building collapses. Some unforeseen events happen that change their lives forever.
The movie has won the Academy Award for foreign film category for 2016. Director Asghar Farhadi creates a very emotional drama drawing parallels to the “Death of the Salesman” play by Arthur Miller which the couple is enacting in the theater. The screenplay keeps you guessing until the end. The movie is quite engaging and there is never a dull moment. The climax as it unfolds explores the struggle between anger and forgiveness.
Shahab Hosseini’s performance is a standout in the entire drama. In particular, the way he has performed during the climax portion is impeccable. His performance is ably supported by Taraneh Alidoosti. Her looks convey more powerful emotions. Unlike some run of the mill thrillers where an action is thrilling here the way the characters react to a particular situation causes the thrill.
After such a powerful climax I felt bit hanging in the ending as it was open ended. I couldn’t immediately connect the interpretation that the director wanted us to have. However only later I got the emotional conflict portion between anger and forgiveness. You might be able to draw a different interpretation. If you do share it in the comments section. Although this is a well-made movie, I wasn’t sure if this is path breaking to win an academy award compared to the other nominations we had in that category.
High Points: A very engaging screenplay, The performance of the lead actors, the powerful climax and the conflict drawn between anger and forgiveness.
Low Points: If you haven’t read or watched the play “Death of a Salesman” you would find it hard to understand the parallels. The ending leaves you hanging for you to decide the conclusion.
Overall The Salesman is an excellent thriller drama and stands apart from the run of the mill thrillers. You would enjoy this more if you have watched the play by Arthur Miller. The climax being open ended may not connect with everyone.
Worth a Watch