Insurgent: The Movie

The highly anticipated second installment of the Divergent series.
I had long figured out, if a movie is based on a novel, the only way to enjoy both is to watch the movie first and then read the book. I deviated from my own set rule and as a result found Insurgent a huge disappointment.

Comparison between the book and the movie is inevitable. Insurgent as a book had two very strong plot lines running parallel to each other and at times crossing over. Relationship and action, both an integral part of the story.

Insurgent as a movie showcased only the action, not realizing, the actions a lot of times were a direct result of the relationship turmoil the characters were having with each other. The relationships were volatile, changing, shifting, disintegrating, and solidifying and hence affecting the character’s decision to run, fight, betray, take revenge, kill or forgive. The most important was the relationship between Four and his abusive, cruel, power hungry father Marcus. This was the backbone of Insurgent and got a screentime of a whole 30 seconds. As a result, the movie seemed choppy, disjointed and one dimensional.

But if the movie is seen as an individual entity, it has it’s moments of glory albeit only in its special effects.
Shailene and Theo would have had a lot of chance to show their acting prowess if the movie had stuck to the books. But instead they were reduced to just the medium around whom the special effects were created.

Octavia Spencer as Johanna was a very wrong choice. In the book Johanna is a tall, white, slim woman, with a scar running from her eyebrow to her lips rendering her blind in one eye. Octavia is short, plump and black with no scar or blindness. Naomi Watts looked the part but had not much to do. The only one who came out a winner was Kate.

I am aware I have ruined Allegient for me too when that comes out.

What do you get when you take a Bond movie and put four James Bonds in it? You get 4 times the action, 4 times the adrenaline rush, 4 times bigger a canvas, 4 times craziness and 4 times more fun. Or you can say you get Furious 7.
This is as craziest over the top movie as it gets. And it is a whole lot of fun. I was turned into an adrenaline junkie wanting more and more of that action. The movie’s fast pace, crisp taut editing, breathtaking locales, outrageous mind blowing stunts made the experience a total thrill.
I know it had the Paul Walker emotional quotient woven in every frame where he was present, and the tribute at the end was poignant, emotional, classy and made its mark but the movie belonged to Vin Diesel. He dominated every scene with his powerful presence, charisma and effortless portrayal of his tough and his softer side.
Tyrese Gibson cut himself a special place among all the muscles and explosions with his perfectly timed comic relief.
I don’t think I have ever loved a bad guy in a movie as much as I loved Jason Stathum. The fact that he wasn’t killed off in the end gives me hope I’ll see him again in the next installment and so does Kurt Russell who came in like a comet and disappeared without a trace.
All in all I got 4 times my money’s worth and I am furiously praying for part 8 to come fast.


Ok, here is the thing, I was skeptical when I started hearing about Cinderella and how she is portrayed as a girl of today, strong, powerful and not a damsel in distress. I could not but envision this new Cinderella in ripped jeans and AC/DC t-shirt, partying it up in a nightclub when she is approached by a prince with piercing and tattoos. She, dancing the evening away in her Jimmy Choo till the clock strikes 2 (last call), then runs out leaving her one Choo behind, jumps in a Uber cab and disappears.
So I sit in the theatre almost scared to open my eyes not sure what version of my favourite childhood fairytale I’m going to see.
And then the movie unfolds. It was a dream I didn’t want to wake up from. The lush green meadows, the snow capped mountains, blue flitting birds, sparkling sky and a victorian stone house with a quaint little garden in an enchanted corner of a kingdom far far away.
In this picture perfect landscape wafts in a breathtakingly beautiful damsel (not in distress), with hair spun out of gold, soft and kind eyes like a doe’s, laughter like bell chimes, our very own Cinderella (Lilly James). She was everything I ever thought Cinderella would be and more. But I was just starting to snuggle in to the deepest layer of my perfect dream made even more perfect by the devilishly beautiful stepmother (Cate Blanchett), the annoyingly funny stepsisters (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McSera) and the magical fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter).
With all these very special ingredients and with a little help from the visual arts and costume departments Kenneth Branagh weaves an exquisite tapestry, wondrous to behold. It’s spellbinding, it’s emotional, it’s hilarious and it’s charming.
Did I say charming? The charming part is all Richard Madden….the perfect prince.
And together it’s sheer magic.

The Imitation Game

After watching The Imitation Games, I battled with myself trying to figure out which aspect of the movie I should focus on.
The part where we as human beings were an epic fail, when we asked a civilian, a college mathematics professor to join the British Intelligence Service to break the Enigma Code, which cut short World War ll by almost 2 years and as per historians, saved over 14 million lives and then promptly jumped on our moral righteous high horse and awarded the man with a choice– 2 years in prison or chemical castration ‘ hormone therapy ‘ for being a homosexual. He chose the later and after a year of ‘ treatment’ killed himself.
Or I should just focus on the man who came into our lives as a crazy narcissistic brainiac Sherlock, then introduced us to Julian Asange in The Fifth Estate, and went on to be the odd son in a dysfunctional family in August – Osage County, which he followed with the gold loving, fire breathing, terrifying Smaug and finally gave us the brilliant mathematician, at times crazy, socially awkward Alan Turing….. Benedict Cumberbatch.
While watching the movie one realizes and appreciates the saying ‘ less is more’. To portray the horrors of war one doesn’t need reels of gruesome war scenes. The horror can be equally effectively projected in subtle ways. As a result, the focus of the film never wavered from the actual topic- Alan Turing.

Although there were quite a few well known faces in the movie, Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Allan Leech ( Downton Abbey), Charles Dance ( Game of Thrones), the only person who stays with you after you leave the theatre is Benedict Cumberbatch. His stellar performance captures Turing’s passion, brilliance, awkwardness, helplessness, fear and finally his resignation to his fate, to perfection. His Oscar nomination is rightfully earned.
On a happy side note: In 2013, the Queen gave Royal Pardon to Turing. I am sure he is beside himself with joy and hanging upside down from the branch of a golden apple tree in heaven. Oops, sorry. Hell not heaven. For a moment I forgot he was a homosexual.


GONE GIRL: There were lots more “Gone” than just the girl in the movie. Like
1. A marriage ‘gone’ wrong
2. A wife ‘gone’ off her rockers
3. ‘Gone’ was any logic
4. ‘Gone’ was any rhyme or reason
5. ‘Gone’ was any feeling of satisfaction after watching the movie
6. ‘Gone’ was any justification for spending my money
7. ‘Gone’ were 2 hours of my life I will never get back

Now lets talk about what all were present
1. Ben Afflec
2. Ben Afflec
3. Ben Afflec
4. Ben Afflec
5. Ben Afflec
6. A creepy but brilliant Rosamund Pike
7. A sense of horrified disbelief

That pretty much sums it up.

Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious project yet. A movie that spans across 3 planets, 2 galaxies, a warm hole and a black hole, a story more abstract than Inception, more fantastic than the Batman trilogy and more magical than Prestige.

A world in the verge of extinction, a community struggling to survive, a government disqualifying everything science achieved in space.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughe), an astronaut who is forced to become just a farmer in order to survive on a dying planet, is asked by NASA to take an epic journey across galaxies to find a new home for mankind.

True to the movie’s promotional catch phrase, it is definitely an IMAX experience. We witness a side of Nolan we had never seen before. His grasp of human relationships and weaving that emotional quotient in an otherwise sci fi thriller was brilliant. As you watch the drama unfold, the sheer magnitude of the canvas makes it almost impossible to wrap your mind around. Your every sense is fine tuned to a degree where they react to every blast and every pin drop, every dust storm, 100 ft waves, frozen clouds and massive expanse of barren, icy planet land.

But at the same time, your mind is in free fall. Desperately trying to grasp a shred of understanding but very soon loses any sense of time and space.

‘Inception’ was an absurd and abstract idea but as one sits watching the movie the whole concept seems legit and credible. But ‘ Interstellar’ with it’s constant name dropping of quantum physics, relativity and gravity, never could achieve credibility for this outrageous concept.

It still didn’t matter. It was a 3 dimensional audio, visual treat like no other up until Nolan succumbed to the gravitational pull of cliche’d Hollywood drama and dragged us into a black hole from which when we finally emerged, everything had changed.

The secret weapon in Nolan’s arsenal which I am sure was intended to be something similar to a spectacular meteor/star shower, was actually the reason why the movie did a full 180° on it’s axis and from incredible it just became Meh.

But it’s still a must watch, if not for anything else, then at least for the visual splendour. I never thought there was any room left for my love and respect to grow for Matthew McConaughe but seeing him in one particular scene my heart swelled with so much pride and emotion that I couldn’t breathe. Ever dependable Jessica Chastain and Mackenzie Foy as Murph were unadulterated brilliance. ***1/2

Million Dollar Arm

When ‘City Of Joy’ came out, there was a lot of talk about how Hollywood showed India as a slum dump. In it’s defence, the novel on which the movie was based was about the time spent by a man from the 1st world in abject poverty in the most depraved part of an Indian city. Then came ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. The name itself has ‘slum’ in it. So the western world again after a couple of decades was treated with the spectacle of India, the land of the poor. I admit, ‘rags to riches’ sells better.But ‘Million Dollar Arms’ has no excuse. When JB Bernstein who drives a porche and lives in a multi-million dollar bachelor pad in upscale LA decides to set up office in Mumbai and is ready to give away $100000 as prize money, it was in the heart of a slum. A place where it stinks of garbage, A/C breaks down, his neighbours are all below poverty line, and he even gets diarrhea from the food. Stereotype much? He even shows via Skype where he was living to his neighbour back in LA. When he finds the boys and flies back to LA, we are treated with an aerial shot of skyscrapers, freeways, fast cars ; all the grandeur and glory of United States of America. Not a good start.
But here is the deal. If a movie can rope you in (in this case a super pissed me) slowly but surely as it unfolds in spite of it’s cliches, faux pas and predictability, it has done something right. John Hamm’s journey from a man who’s idea of commitment was directly proportional to amount of $$ to be gained, to the father figure of two scared, homesick boys who’s sparkling dreams to make it big in America was getting hazy and dim by the hour, was measured, with the right dollop of emotion and humour. Unlike the baseballs, Hamm seamlessly portrays a self centered businessman and an endearing father figure/older brother. He is the highlight of the movie no doubt. His charm is almost tangible. A R Rahman’s music score blends beautifully with the flow of the movie although it’s not clear to me why he ended the movie with a south Indian song when Hamm operated out of Mumbai and the boys were from Lucknow.It’s an uplifting movie about dreams, hopes, perseverance and the realization of the impossible. And I am officially a John Hamm fan.

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