How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) – Movie Review

Their Final Quest.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is an animated action-fantasy film written and directed by Dean DeBlois. The film is a third installment in the How to Train Your Dragon film series.

The film continues the adventures of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his buddy dragon Toothless, where they are rescuing dragons captured by warlords and bringing them to Berk. And their efforts have resulted in the island becoming overpopulated with dragons. In response to tackle this situation, Hiccup sets to find the “Hidden World”, a safe haven for dragons, which his late father Stoick (Gerard Butler) always talked about. Meanwhile, warlords hire an infamous dragon hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) to hunt down Toothless.

The first two films were all about how Hiccup and Toothless become the bridge for bringing peace between humans and dragons. But this film tells that why dragons and humans can’t live together, which is actually contradicting its previous storyline. The one more problem I had with the storyline of the film is that it again goes on exploring Hiccup’s true strength without his dragon, although he has already done so many unbelievable things in the previous films. So it doesn’t make any sense to revisit the similar character arc. And that is why I personally felt that maybe it is a good standalone film but an unnecessary sequel.

As always, The chemistry between Hiccup and Toothless is really fun to watch. A furious dragon, with the expressions of a cute little cat, who won’t adore that? The villain is one more enjoyable part of the film. The film also explores the romantic side of Toothless by introducing a female light fury, and how it impacts Hiccup and his friendship, which was actually something new and interesting. The visuals and action sequences (the animation) by DreamWorks Animation are striking in a true sense; A good visual treat. Overall, the film is all about its characters and an emotional message about love, friendship, and family embedded in it.

Verdict : Not as good as its prequels but a fair conclusion to the Dragon trilogy.

Rating : 3.5/5

Check trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkcucKDrbOI

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Stree (2018) – Movie Review

She is coming…

Stree (A Woman – in English) is a comedy horror film directed by Amar Kaushik and produced by Dinesh Vijan and Raj and D.K. The film is based on the Indian urban legend about a witch who knocks on people’s doors at night.

The film sets in the strange and small town of Chanderi, which is haunted by a ghostly woman named ‘Stree’, who abducts men during the nights of the festive period. The film opens with a tagline saying, “The film is based on the ridiculous phenomenon”, and yes, as the topic of the film is completely fresh and unusual, it successfully delivers the same. The film revolves around Vicky (Rajkummar Rao), a skilled tailor in a town, who falls for the mysterious girl (Shraddha Kapoor), who also only appears during festival season. As the festival starts, Vicky’s close friends start disappearing, which makes him set out and confront the ‘Stree’ and bring his abducted friends back, with the help of librarian Rudra bhaiyya (Pankaj Tripathi), who has analyzed the myth of evil spirit ‘Stree’.

As the film’s trailer had suggested the film is the really good combination of its comedy and horror aspect. This type of combination was previously seen in Go Goa Gone (2013), a brilliant horror comedy film, which was directed by Raj and D.K, and Amar Kaushik was on the assistant director’s team, so the same flavor of comedy can be seen in Stree. The film is a mixture of satire, dark comedy, and ample but impacting horror. Along with all these elements the film also talks about a common woman’s condition in India and gives a clear message that all women should be empowered and respected and should be considered as a powerful human being as men.

There are some jump scares in the film, which with the screeching background score and subtle visual effects works really well. The performances are top notch, every single character in the film gives the outstanding performance. Rajkumar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi are among the proven talent pool of the industry and they actually steal every scene they are in. It’s not a perfect film, the film feels a bit longer at some places, and there are some flaws and loose ends, but those can be expected in its scheduled sequel.

Verdict : A fun ride for comedy lovers with some flavor of horror.

Rating : 3.8/5

Check trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzeaGcLLl_A

Tc Gn: Take Care Good Night (2018) – Movie Review

Be Alert! Be Safe!

Tc Gn: Take Care Good Night is a Marathi language crime-drama thriller film directed by Girish Joshi, which is also his debut film as a director. The film actually explores the Techno-thriller genre in Marathi industry, which is first of its kind.

The film revolves around Avinash (Sachin Khedekar), who chooses to take a voluntary retirement from his job after a long service and live a relaxed life with his wife Aasavari (Iravati Harshe) who is a counselor and his teenage Daughter Sanika (Parna Pethe). Not so long into the film, while returning from his Europe trip with his wife, Avinash realizes that his life’s saving of around 5 million has vanished from his bank account. After this completely shattering event, Avinash immediately seeks the help of a Cybercrime branch and Inspector Pawar (Mahesh Manjarekar) to find whoever is behind it. Soon after this fateful event, someone threatens to upload the private video of the Avinash’s daughter Sanika on the internet, which endangers the family’s stability and pride. What is this unknown cyber criminal’s motive and will this family be able to win the fight against him?

The film is 110 minutes long, and throughout its runtime, the screenplay unfolds the gripping story, which keeps the audience on the edge of their seat. The story is very well put on the screen as it keeps the audience guessing until the end. The film is an intriguing techno-thriller, with nail-biting suspense component, and informative in its own way.

Throughout its runtime, the film discusses cybercrime, social engineering, phishing, and how we can be preventive about these, which manages to create awareness about it. Even if one is not a Techno-savvy, but just by having some basic knowledge of Internet frauds one can prevent these from happening. The film also talks about family dynamics in the modern world and parent-children relationship. At some places, the story loses its pace but picks it up eventually. The film fits really well in today’s time, and with some top-notch performances entertain the audience to the fullest.

Verdict : Nobody should miss this gripping and informative crime thriller. A must watch.

Rating : 4/5

Check trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVoQqFfUcug

Mulk (2018) – Movie Review

Freedom. Equality. Fraternity.

Mulk (Country – in English) is a drama film written and directed by Anubhav Sinha who is mostly known for his directorial films Tum Bin (2001) and Ra.One (2011). The film stars Rishi Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu in lead roles.

The film sets in Benaras and revolves around a Muslim family(Don’t want to mention these words, but yes, the film is about this only), who are living in harmony in their neighborhood without any communal conflicts. Not so long into the film, the family gets trapped in the dark controversy of law when one of the family members commits the terrible act of terrorism in the name of ‘Jihad’. Now, as being the head of the family, Murad Ali Mohammad (Rishi Kapoor) and his daughter-in-law Aarti Mohammad (Taapsee Pannu) must take the responsibility on their shoulders to reclaim lost honor of the family.

The film discusses the very sensitive and important topic in India, which is a Hindu-Muslim communal conflict. And yes, the film brilliantly handles the topic and tries to put in it in a simpler way possible, which can be understood by a common man. Along with it, the film also penetrates the prejudiced thinking of a common man towards an act of terrorism. The film keeps on questioning the false beliefs which are very common among us regarding terrorism, communal and religious conflicts, casteism etc, and the film firmly talks about the true definition of terrorism, which is clearly not related to particular community or religion (every responsible common man should think about). The philosophy and the idea on which the film is based, it is excellent.

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The cinematography of the film is very understated and looks real. At some places, there’re shaky camera movements, but those are OK. The background score lifts up the thrill component of the film and serves just right. The characters are very well portrayed, kudos to the team, and each of their performances is outstanding, which make an audience feel for them. What a brilliant cast, the actors who can talk with their eyes; along with leads, Ashutosh Rana as the prosecution lawyer Santosh Anand, Prateik Babbar as Shahid Mohammed, Rajat Kapoor as Danish Javed, Kumud Mishra as Judge, Manoj Pahwa as Bilaal Mohammed, and seeing this brilliant cast on-screen is worth having experience.

Verdict : Every thoughtful, understanding and responsible person should watch this without any single biased thought. A brilliant drama film which talks on the sensitive and solid topic.

Rating : 4.2

Check trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MjC30zo1KA

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) – Movie Review

Some missions are not a choice.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is an action spy thriller film co-written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. It is the sixth installment in the Mission: Impossible film series, and the second film to be directed by McQuarrie, after Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015). It’s been 22 years when the first Mission: Impossible came out in 1996, and still today Tom Cruise is shining in his role of Ethan Hunt.

The film follows two years after the events of its fifth installment, where Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) has been captured, and the remains of his organization The Syndicate have reformed into a terrorist group known as The Apostles. After Ethan’s (Tom Cruise) mission to fetch plutonium went wrong and the plutonium is taken by the Apostles, he must race against time to get those back before the nukes go off. In this mission, Ethan is accompanied by his former allies cum IMF agents Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames). The film also stars Henry Cavill with his legendary mustache as August Walker, a CIA assassin working for the Special Activities Division tasked with monitoring Ethan and his team.

The film is a full package of high-octane action sequences, chase sequences, and breathtaking stunts. Apart from its action, the film’s direction and the story is very crisp and to the point. The story never loses its pace, and chunks of exciting and thrilling moments keep on happening which keeps the audience engaged. The film is shot really well, especially the action and the stunt scenes, with a slightly shaky but impressive effect to make it feel real. Acting wise, the film is fair enough, and especially the comedy moments blends really well with film’s thrilling tone. Many critics hailed it as the best installment in the series, with some considering it one of the greatest action films of all-time.

Verdict : A fully action-packed film and totally worth a watch.

Rating : 4/5

Check the trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb49-oV0F78

Skyscraper (2018) – Movie Review

Don’t Look Down.

Skyscraper is an action drama film written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. The film stars Dwayne Johnson in a lead role. This film is the second collaboration of Thurber with Johnson, following Central Intelligence (2016).

The film follows a former FBI agent Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), who lost one of his legs in one of the hostage rescue operations, and now lives with his family and assesses security for skyscrapers. The film centers around 3,500 feet and 240 stories tall skyscraper in Hong Kong called as “The Pearl”. The film centers around 3,500 feet and 240 stories tall skyscraper in Hong Kong called as “The Pearl”. As the construction of the Pearl nears to completion Zhao Jong Li (Chin Han), the high-level Asian financier and the owner of the Pearl dedicates the task of inspecting it to Sawyer before anyone can live there. Not so long in the film, a group of criminals takes over the Pearl and sets it on fire from its 96th floor. Now, while fighting with the criminals and uncovering the deadly conspiracy, Sawyer must rescue his family from this newly built burning skyscraper, who are trapped in it.

The film is receiving mixed reviews from the audience, who are praising Johnson’s performance but criticizing the script as clichéd and too similar to The Towering Inferno (1974) and Die Hard (1988). The trailers had clearly suggested that it’s going to be a rescue story set in a skyscraper, which basically has nothing new to serve as a plot, so the sole reason remains to watch this film is Dwayne Johnson. It is a typical action film with some cool action sequences, just keep your brains aside, eat your popcorn, and enjoy the film. By the way, the poster looks cool, isn’t it. 😛

Verdict : A typical action film, watch it only if you’ve nothing else important to do.

Rating : 3.2/5

Check out trailer here :

Soorma (2018) – Movie Review

The Greatest Comeback Story

Soorma (Warrior in English) is a biographical sports drama film based on the life of hockey player Sandeep Singh. The film is co-written and directed by Shaad Ali.

The film depicts the extraordinary story of the international hockey player Sandeep Singh (Diljit Dosanjh), through his first step in hockey, his love life, his surprising rise in the world of hockey, and mainly the accidental gunshot injury which paralyzes him and puts him in a wheelchair. This fateful catastrophic event completely breaks him and his dreams, but against all odds, Sandeep gets back on his feet and makes the greatest comeback to international hockey.

Along with Diljit Dosanjh, the film also stars Tapsee Pannu as Harpreet, a really good hockey player, Sandeep’s love interest, and the sole reason for Sandeep to learn hockey. Angad Bedi as Bikramjeet Singh, who is playing Sandeep’s kind and supportive elder brother. And Vijay Raaz as Harry, Sandeep’s stubborn and quirky Coach.

Unlike most other real-life sports films, this one is not just only about a struggle and rise, but it also tells the story of a fateful fall and an epic comeback. The story is good and inspirational but is crunched in the runtime of just two hours. The movie was high on content and drama that it could have been made of at least three hours, which would have let some really crucial moments to breathe and would have been much more impactful to the audience. The first half of the film almost make audiences remember the storyline of Sultan (2016). The film definitely gives Chak de! India (2007) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) vibe to the audience but does not reach that level of maturity and sincerity. The performances by all the actors are really good, no doubt in that. The film definitely inspires throughout its runtime, and finally treats the audience with the India-Pakistan match. 😉

Verdict : The film is worth to watch, has some little flaws but can be neglected.

Rating : 3.7/5

Check out trailer here :

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – Movie Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp is an action adventure superhero film based on the Marvel Comics. The film is the sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man, and the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Peyton Reed, who has also directed its prequel, and it is produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

The film features team-up of Marvel Comics characters Scott Lang/Ant-Man(Paul Rudd) and Hope van Dyne/Wasp(Evangeline Lilly). The film picks exactly where Scott Lang had last appeared in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, where he has placed under house arrest, for helping Captain America as the violation of the Sokovia Accords. And because of the same accords, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope go into hiding, while continuing their efforts to bring Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) back from quantum realm. In this installation, the film explores more on the quantum realm front, as these events will directly lead to the next installment of the Avengers film, the conclusion of the epic Saga.

Along with the main plot of bringing Hope’s mother Janet back in the real world, the film also comprises of some more subplots. Ava/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a quantumly unstable masked woman, who can phase through matter, is trying to steal PymTech from Pym and Hope to fulfill her own plans. Then there is a guy named Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a black market dealer, who is also trying to get his hands on PymTech. Both of them are actually playing the villain characters, but they aren’t real ‘villain’ villains, means they are no match for our superheroes. And many of the Marvel films also suffered the same problem of not having a strong villain character (there are exceptions), and this film is no exception to that.

The film is a fun ride at its core but it’s just momentary. The film persists the charm & humor part of its prequel, but it fails to deliver the solid story because of the inclusion of weaker and unnecessary subplots. The film relies so much on the moments of laughter and the cast’s performances to overcome its plotholes. The film has a very straightforward story and fits nicely in the MCU’s timeline. The visual effects are improved in this film, and some of the action sequences are really well shot and are truly surprising. And yes, there are two after credit scenes, just don’t miss it.

Verdict : A nice sequel and a decent addition to MCU’s filmography, it has some drawbacks but surely can be neglected.

Rating : 3.7/5

Check out trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUkn-enk2RU

Sacred Games (Season 1 – 2018) – Review

The Game has just begun.

Sacred Games is an Indian crime-drama web tv series by Netflix directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. The series is based on Vikram Chandra’s thriller novel of the same name. The novel was adapted by Smita Singh, Vasant Nath, and Varun Grover. The series consists of eight episodes which were made available on Netflix for streaming on 6 July 2018.

The series tells the story of Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), a righteous and jaded police officer, whose paths intersect with Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), the self-obsessed notorious gangster boss. Sartaj, who is at conflict with the questionable moralities of the police force, when receives a cryptic message from Gaitonde and learns about the lurking attack on Mumbai, starts his own investigation to prevent the attack.

The series chronicles a diabolical plot, one depicts the efforts of an honest police officer caught between corruption, dirty politics, and deadly conspiracies, and still has all the will to do the right thing, another one sets in the flashbacks of past exploring the rise of all-powerful Ganesh Gaitonde, a mob boss with delusions of grandeur, operating out of a Mumbai ghetto called Gopalmath, and how they both become part of these sacred games.

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Overall the plot is intimidating, and as the trailers had suggested, which were released a couple of months before, it is truly intense, darker, grittier than ever, and maintains that thriller vibe throughout. According to one interview, the Gaitonde’s gangster life portion has been directed by Anurag Kashyap, and it’ll definitely make the audience remember his previous directorial film Gangs of Wasseypur (2012). And the other part following the present day story of Sartaj’s character showing the underbelly of the society has been directed by Vikramaditya Motwane. Structurally, it is a well-put story, and well-shot as well. The lightings, costume design, camera angles, background score, and instrumental music are remarkable.

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Undoubtedly, the casting of characters is top notch, and this can be seen in their grounded and compelling performances. The role of a brash and brutal gangster is not new for Nawazuddin, but here it feels totally different from his previous portrayals, he steals every scene he’s in, and unknowingly audience loses the moment when they start feeling for an unquestionable baddie. For Saif Ali Khan and his character Sartaj, this series has become a point of redemption. It’s a stellar performance by Saif, he has literally embodied the broken persona of a mistreated cop who can go to any limit to set things right. Along with leads, the supporting cast is also impressive. In particular, Radhika Apte as the investigating RAW agent, Neeraj Kabi as Sartaj’s commanding officer Parulkar, Jitendra Joshi as constable Katekar, Jatin Sarna as Gaitonde’s henchman Bunty, Girish Kulkarni as Minister Bipin Bhosale, and Kubra Sait as Kukoo. Every single character in the series has their own character arc which creates the emotional gravity, and it’s just moving.

At its heart, it’s the raw and scary story told in a brilliant way, the story of Mumbai city where all this drama plays around religion, politics, corruption, and Bollywood. There are multiple themes run at a time in a story, one of which is a theme of corruption in the system, it gives a closer look at how it is crumbled from inside, and even if one tries to rebel will eventually have to compromise at some point. Another theme is the theme of religion, “The biggest business in the world is religion. Under the garb of faith, they make fools out of all of us.” when Gaitonde delivers this line, it firmly hints that what is going to come ahead, the catastrophic consequences of religious polarisation. For an international audience, India’s communal divide appears akin to the US’s institutionalized racism. Most of the parts of the story play in parallel with real-life past events which makes it relatable and interesting. The use of symbolism throughout the series can be seen, either in visuals or in monologues.

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There are intriguing endings to every episode, and in no time, the viewer goes for the next one, just like that. From the starting point, there are many characters been introduced one by one, episode by episode, and we actually need to keep track of them, as their paths are definitely going to cross somewhere ahead in the story. It is the mix of likable and unlikable characters, the good and the bad ones, which are going to intertwine in the interesting, upsetting and uncomfortable series of events.

At last, “streaming is liberating”, as it is the web tv series, there are no constraints of the censor board. Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane waste no time in exploiting the opportunity offered by a platform free of censorship to make a powerful and hard-hitting statement. The series doesn’t hold back while portraying an unapologetic content like a real gangster life, scenes of gore and bloodshed, sexually explicit scenes etc. Plus the brilliance and thoughtfulness of makers keep it understated and yet impacting.

Finally, with no doubt, on the global platform, Sacred Games has successfully made its mark and has earned the prestigious position among top international web tv series. Even the Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 91% approval rating based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3 out of 10. On IMDb, it is on the 25th rank as a top rated tv series, with an astonishing average rating of 9.4 out of 10.

Verdict : Without any second thought, just watch it, and get lost in Sacred Games.

Rating : 4.6/5

Ocean’s Eight (2018) – Movie Review

The Con is On..

Ocean’s Eight is an action-comedy heist film directed by Gary Ross and written by Ross and Olivia Milch. The film is a spin-off from Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy.

The film follows the almost similar storyline to that of Ocean’s Eleven (2001). In an opening scene, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the estranged sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney), gets paroled from prison and seeks for her former partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett) to convince her to join her next heist which she planned while serving her jail sentence. And so on, Debbie and Lou assemble the rest of their all-women team, making Ocean’s Eight. Now this time, it’s not a casino, Debbie plans a highly sophisticated heist to steal the Toussaint, a $150 million Cartier necklace, from the Met Gala in New York City.

First of all, Except for an ensemble cast, there is nothing new in the film. As said earlier, the film follows the similar sequence of events to that of Ocean’s Eleven. Another thing is that even the heist goes so smoothly without any hindrances, that it feels one-sided, it feels like nothing is at stake, or there is no moment when one of the leads get in trouble while doing something, everything happens just like a piece of cake. The only watchable thing in the film is the performance by its leads, especially Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett. Once again, the witty interactions, the moving direction, and the playful background score keeps the film alive.

Verdict : A one time watch for performances.

Rating :  3.1/5

Check trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFWF9dU5Zc0