Ready Player One – Ready Player One is an English action fantasy movie released in 2018. In the year 2045 virtual worlds are an escape route for people not doing great in reality. The master game creator Halliday leaves a message prior to his death about an easter egg in his famous game Oasis. The one who finds it would inherit Halliday’s wealth and control Oasis in the future.
The movie is based on author Ernest Cline’s novel under the same name. Spielberg has given a visual form to the novel and it has worked very well. The fans of movies like The Matrix and Inception would find similarities of the plot switching between the virtual and real world.
The first 10 minutes of the movie takes the viewers on a journey of the world in 2045. The scenes in the stacks as Wade climbs down from his house gives glimpses of people’s addiction to the virtual world and it has a striking resemblance to the addiction to mobile devices we see around today.
The movie gets on with the actual challenge from the word go, the pace of the screenplay is quite racy and maintains the pace. It is akin to the most happening virtual world. There are very fine references to many movies in the virtual world, that every movie buff would enjoy. The visual effects of the virtual world as well the stack in the real world is very stunning.
High Points: Racy screenplay, visual effects and the construction of virtual worlds, memories of some famous movies.
Low Points: Folks who find the concept of virtual world and gaming world as a silly manifestation of reality may not connect with the movie.
Overall Ready Player One is a visual treat for movie buffs, particularly if you love movies in the fantasy and action genre. Spielberg has given a movie that has much appeal to the newer generation.
Raid Review – Raid is a Hindi crime thriller released in 2018. Amey Patnaik is an honest IRS officer, he conducts an IT raid in a powerful MP Rameshwar Singh, which ends up being one of the longest raids in the history.
This is based on true events that had occurred in the early 80s. The movie is gripping right from the first scene. Ajay Devgan shines well in the role of the IRS officer who is fearless and honest. The movie is precise and to the point. There is no unnecessary introduction build up, a song to please the fanfare, nor does he remove the shirt to show his muscle power. Rather a simple incident of not been able to enter the party due to dress code and how he adheres to the rules establishes the character well and the movie jumps right into thick of things.
A lot of research seems to have gone into the actual process of a raid. The moment the door of the MP is knocked on the wee hours of the morning, the pace of the movie picks up and gets engaging. The swag of Ajay Devgan at times of conflict is subtle yet powerful. Ileana although having limited scope, yet her character brings in the emotional connection to the story. Saurabh Shukla is a brilliant choice for the role of the MP. He has played the part of a very cunning, menacing MP very well. The end climax is a bit dramatic which seems to have been done for the commercial success of the movie. But nevertheless, it is enjoyable.
High Points: Gripping Screenplay, Ajay Devgan’s performance, Saurabh Shukla’s performance
Low Points: an Overdramatic climax
Overall, It is a very gripping IT raid that will hold you in your seat till the end. Do watch it in theaters.
Thaana Serndha Kootam Review – Thaana Serndha Kootam is a Tamil heist movie released in 2018. Iniyan aspires to become a CBI officer. When he is denied the opportunity due to a corrupt CBI officer, he becomes a con man to teach to teach a lesson to the CBI officer.
The movie is based on true incidents that happened in 1987. It is adapted from the Hindi blockbuster Special 26. Director Vignesh Shivan after his much successful outing with Naanum Rowdydhaan chooses a plot that can guarantee success. However, he is seen too uncomfortable to step out of his comfort zone which spoils the engagement factor that is required for a heist script. His choice of cast is quite interesting one including Suresh Menon coming back to the screen after a long break, Karthik, Ramyakrishnan, and Senthil. The movie has the right set of cast, technicians, music composer needed make it an interesting and engaging tale.
Although Vignesh Shivan has teased the audience with the usual cliches that they would normally see in a movie and changes course, he has still recreated the same cliches at the later point in time. The romance portion between Suriya and Keerthy is an interesting one in isolation but it doesn’t fit well into this tale. He has also mixed comedy into the movie akin to his previous outing. Only few comedy scenes make you laugh. The biggest minus for the film is the lengthy and boring climax.
Why do Tamil directors have the pressure of justifying everything a hero does and create the character of the ones who would oppose the hero as a tainted one?
High Points: Ensemble of cast, background score, romance portion between Suriya and Keerthy Suresh
Low Points: Cliched sequences, a comedy that doesn’t work always, climax.
Overall Thaana Serndha Kootam aspires to be an improved version of Special 26 but just ends up to be a mashup of Naanum Rowdydhaan and VIP. You can watch this when played on TV/DVD.
Wait for TV/DVD
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
Aruvi Review – Aruvi is a Tamil social drama film released in the year 2017. Aruvi a girl is being interrogated for her involvement in an incident that puts her under suspicion of being a terrorist.
A team of new faces has come together as a team to create a movie that is very sincere to the script and the plot. Without any commercial frills, the movie has the material that would keep the audience engaged throughout. The most striking performance comes from the lead star Aditi Balan who has performed the role with ease and she creates an impact that was intended by the role. The first 20 minutes of the movie revolves around the growing up phases of Aruvi with flashback sequences. Songs and humming have been used as the part of the background score for these sequences, that has striking contrast against the present day dark and gloomy interrogation. The growing up phase through a series of montages brilliantly covers the growing phase of a girl. This one is a fantastic example of using visual language to precisely convey the story on screen. The entire growing up phase is compressed into a ten-minute sequence without any explicit narration.
The holding back of suspense of what bought Aruvi to the place she is in right now has been handled brilliantly. Though an emotionally heavy subject, the director has handled by adding some humor to it like how Aruvi sees her life despite the condition she is in. Kudos to the director Arun Prabhu Purushothaman for handling a very sincere script with new faces so well. Also, the movie is not at all preachy with some message.
High Points: A very strong script, no unnecessary commercial cliches, performance of Aditi Balan
Low Points: Any low points can be easily forgotten and forgiven due to the good execution of the script.
Overall Aruvi is a very sincere attempt that would go a long way in setting an example of how a script based on the story without commercial cliches and without being preachy would still work well with the audience.
Must Watch – for the novel attempt
Theeran Adhigaram Ondru Review – Theeran Adhigaram Ondru is a Tamil crime thriller released in 2017. The movie is based on a true story where a cop and his team has to solve the mystery of people getting attacked and killed at their home for jewels and money.
Director H Vinoth comes up with yet another compelling tale after his Sathuranga Vettai. I loved Sathuranga Vettai very much for its dialogues and screenplay. So naturally, I had expectations around Theeran. Vinoth did not disappoint at all. It is a very racy thriller right from the word go. Karthi has essayed the character of Theeran very well and is a strong backbone for the movie. Bose Venkat has ably supported him throughout the movie. Vinoth has cleverly mixed some of the commercial elements into the movie without much adulterating the compelling tale. Abhimanyu Singh as Oma has performed very well as the villain. The scenes involving him certainly send some shivers down the spine.
The amount of research done by Vinoth is evidently visible. Right from the police training scene to the history animation he has given much attention to the details. The love portion involving Rakul Preet Singh and Karthi is interesting too and blends in well with the theme of the story. Wish our commercial film directors do this instead of bolting on romance and comedy scenes to the movie.
High Points: A well-researched plot, engaging screenplay, location selection, performances of Karthi and Abhimanyu Singh.
Low Points: There are certain scenes made over dramatic in the second half which seem to be touching the border of going overboard. But these scenes do not become a huge distraction.
Overall Theeran is a well researched and an engaging cop thriller based on true events. Vinoth has yet again struck with an engaging drama that keeps the audience entertained with some power-packed performances.
Mersal Review – Mersal is a Tamil action drama released in 2017. Maaran a doctor who charges just 5 rupees for treating patients is suspected to be on a spree to kill people in the medical profession.
I watched Mersal after much of the hype around it settled down. There has been a huge expectation on the movie after the success of Theri at the box office. Director Atlee has stuck to only commercial elements that work for any mass hero movies to create Mersal. Vijay has a triple role to play this time. Evaluating this movie from a commercial mass masala film genre, it falls short of engaging throughout. The story is based on some superficial philosophy and wherever the screenplay drags Atlee has used the dialogues around the glorification of Tamil and Tamilan to appease the audience. However, this does not fit the tale. Too many characters with 3 heroines and 3 Vijay there is very less time on the screen to complete their introduction and get to the story. Although Vijay tells he needs 15 minutes of time to explain the flashback, it actually runs for 45+ minutes and slows down the movie even further. Using the same structure of a 3 act play for the flashback was a bad idea. If this has been inspired by Aboorva Sagodharargal they could have taken a leaf out of the movie to keep the flashback short and quick.
Like I said before the screenplay is inspired by many mass commercial movies. Satyaraj himself says after hearing Vijay’s story that it feels like a Shankar film’s story. Throughout the movie, Satyaraj’s role is to listen to stories and flashback. They could have avoided this patchy non-linear screenplay altogether. SJ Surya’s role as the villain is a treat to watch.
High Points: Vijay’s screen presence, AR Rahman’s background score, SJ Suryah’s role as villain
Low Points: Too many plot holes, Dragging screenplay, Cliched done and dusted scenes.
Overall Mersal is a mixture of Shankar, Murugadoss and Vijayakanth movies put together. If you are an ardent fan of Vijay then there are many fan moments to enjoy in the first half. However, when reviewed as a wholesome product it fails to cross the line.
Wait for DVD/TV