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Mother's Day (2016)
A perfect Mother's Day gift if you hate your mother
Well, this was worse than I had expected. A movie about Mother's Day should invoke feelings of love and gratitude towards mothers and show a strong bond. Sadly, this movie did neither or rather the attempt towards showcasing that was pretty horrible.
The movie was completely incoherent with a bunch of different stories thrown in the mix with neither regard for any logic nor an effort to make the audience feel anything for the characters. The pace of the movie was haphazard and there was no flow. There were abrupt ending to scenes or the scenes following didn't make any sense.
In addition, the movie makers probably asked each one of the actors (except a couple of them maybe) to showcase the worst acting of their careers. I would recommend completely skipping this train wreck even when it comes out on DVD or Netflix.
Dirty Grandpa (2016)
Nothing new here
Nowadays people seem to be running out of ideas for making comedy movies. I had a little hope given the cast, but it was nothing special.
How many times have we seen the same elements in movies? Having second thoughts after getting engaged to a controlling fiancée, a grandpa who just lost his wife, taking a road trip, meeting an old acquaintance, a shady drug dealer, having a drug and alcohol filled night with shameful acts, two (supposedly) funny cops, unnecessary expletives and bad puns, the list just goes on.
The performances were not stellar either. The movie was pretty forgetful and not funny (a few chuckle worthy moments but that's about it). It's a shame really, that an actor like Robert De Niro is choosing such movies.
Learning to Drive (2014)
Simple story but falls short
Learning to Drive is about how two lives intersect, one of Darwan (a taxi driver and a person who gives driving lessons) and the other of Wendy (a book critic with a failing marriage) Wendy and her husband take a taxi where they have a fight over the husband's cheating. Darwan is the taxi driver. Later on, he comes back to Wendy's place to return a folder Wendy left behind in the taxi. That's when Wendy notices the driving lesson placard on Darwan's car. She decides to get driving lessons from Darwan, having always relied on her husband to drive and striving to be independent and visit her daughter in Vermont. Meanwhile, Darwan gets married to Jasleen, a woman from his native Indian village, in an arranged marriage setting.
The portrayal of Darwan by Ben Kingsley was very well done. Being an Indian myself, the mannerisms and behavior of Sikh people shown in the movie were pretty close to reality. Ben's Indian accent was also good without being too typical.
While the premise is good, the story simple, there were a few flaws. I thought the character of Wendy wasn't given enough attention. The events in her life do seem haphazard and there was no character development. The mother-daughter relationship of Wendy and Tasha also seemed stretched and unnecessary. Yet another issue, Jasleen is from Darwan's native place, yet they don't speak in Punjabi or Hindi at all, especially given that Jasleen's English is not that good.
With that said, the chemistry between Wendy and Darwan was good and there were a few funny moments. Overall a 6/10 for me.
No Escape (2015)
The horrors of being in the wrong place at the wrong time
Traveling to countries where you don't speak the native language is a daunting experience. Couple that with a political turmoil and it becomes a nightmare. Jack Dwyer is an engineer who is moving to an unnamed SE Asian country (most likely Cambodia) for work with his wife Annie and two little girls. On the flight, he befriends Hammond.
While staying at a hotel, he notices some things not quite right. The internet connection and the telephones in the hotel are not working. Little does he know, the prime minister of the country is killed in a coup and now the rebels are killing Americans. Jack is outside looking for a newspaper when he is caught in a mob violence against the police. When he finds out the motives of the rebels, he has to go back and protect his family. The movie then follows his struggle to keep himself and his family alive and find a way out of the country.
This movie was really intense and edge of the seat thriller. It was pleasantly surprising to see Owen Wilson in a serious role and he acted superbly so I'm looking forward to more such roles from him. He was supported well by Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan and the two girls who all did a very commendable job. What I liked was the rapport between the family. There were no cheesy dialogs and a few light moments to combat the otherwise gritty nature of the movie. This was one of the few movies where I didn't really mind the hand-held camera work and it seemed to add to the effect.
While the movie is going on, you frequently are questioning "What would I do in this situation?". Jack is constantly trying to keep "10 steps ahead" as he puts it. I would have liked to see more of the reason behind the turmoil (it is explained very briefly) and then also more of a conclusion. A nicer soundtrack would have also worked wonders. Some more explanation behind some of the coincidences, like how Hammond succeeds to find the family in particular situation would have been good. But otherwise, it was a very well made movie.
Summer movies are all about fun and entertainment but this movie provided a very different experience and I'm glad I saw it. Words of caution, this movie is VERY violent so bringing kids along might not be a good idea.
Feel good but predictable movie
I was hoping for much more from this movie, but it turned out as per my expectations. I've read articles about K9 units and have a lot of respect for the well trained dogs and the countless lives they have managed to save.
Kyle is a marine accompanied by Max in his missions. Kyle has a lot of trust on Max and pays attention to any clues he gives. Unfortunately, during a mission, Kyle is killed in combat. Max survives but now is suffering from PTSD and misses Kyle. Kyle is survived by his veteran and strict father, mother and younger brother Justin. Justin is the typical teenager spending most of his time playing video games and is generally critical of the marines.
Since Max is no longer fit to serve in the marines, they bring him back to the Wincotts. Max takes an immediate liking to Justin while being aggressive towards everyone else. The Wincotts decide to keep him as a pet. Justin has a friend named Chuy. He meets Chuy's cousin, Carmen and befriends her. Carmen helps Justin train Max, having a childhood raising stray dogs.
Tyler, Kyle's companion decides to pay a visit to the Wincotts. During the whole mission, Tyler's activities are suspicious and Max does not like Tyler at all. The Wincotts ignore Max's aggressiveness towards Tyler thinking he is always like that towards others. The movie is about finding Tyler's true intentions and Max's adventures with Justin, Chuy and Carmen.
The premise sounds good, however the story is pretty predictable: 1.Good guy and good dog - check 2. Good guy's stern father who has served before and ignorant teenage brother - check 3. Good dog likes only good guy's brother - check 4. Good dog helps catch bad guys and saves good guy's brother - check 5. Good guy's brother eventually understands good guy's hard work and misses him - check
I must admit though that Max and the other dogs were very well trained for the movie and all their scenes are pretty good. Acting wise, no one really shines. Justin, Chuy and Carmen played their part well. Children would enjoy this movie, it has a bit of violence but not too much.
If you want a feel good movie without too much expectations from the story line and acting, do watch this movie in theaters. I would recommend waiting for this movie to come out on DVD. Oh, and don't miss a little video of Max's training during the credits.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Visually stunning, action-packed yet lacking
I was lucky enough to catch an advanced screening of this movie. After watching the trailer, I was really excited to see this movie and it did live up to my expectations to a certain extent. Max (Tom Hardy) is a cop on the run in a post-apocalyptic world which is now a barren wasteland. He is captured by Captain Immortan Joe and his gang for his blood. There, they seek to turn him into one of their own by branding him. Immortan is an evil lord in charge of the only water and oil supply. He uses his reserves as a means of power over other humans and he has a large gang (War Boys) to keep everyone in check. Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is working for Immortan but then decides to make a run for it with a few other women (fertile women are in a short supply as well) to a greener land. She makes the escape in a truck filled with 3000 gallons of guzzling (water or oil) to make a deal with a small pack of motorcycle riders in the desert. As she is chased by Immortan's gang, she unwittingly takes Max who then offers her help to escape the gang. The rest of the movie is then set of the various chase scenes and the attempts of Furiosa, Max and the girls to escape to the green land. The cinematography and the visual imagery is certainly stunning, worth experiencing on an IMAX screen. The chase scenes and the landscape (especially a few scenes in moonlight) were absolutely amazing. The various concoctions of war vehicles is amazing as well. There were a few elements of humor as well paired with some really weird things (women's milk supply, the various outfits and characters including a guy playing a fire breathing electric guitar throughout the chase scenes). The music definitely adds to the atmosphere as well, not to mention the various stunts. The action really gets crazy towards the end. On the other hand, there were some things I found lacking. Character development is certainly missing and there's definitely nothing significant there to make a connection with the various characters. The dialogue is ordinary and cliché. The ending is predictable and certain things don't make sense (like how a gang with tons of ammo and better equipped vehicles) is unable to stop Furiosa and Max. One thing is certain, it was different and entertaining, hence a 7/10
The Guest (2014)
A very interesting movie
I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for this movie. I thought it would be a suspense thriller given the synopsis but boy, this movie was a different ride altogether! Dan Stevens plays David, a soldier looking for a place to stay overnight. He comes to the Petersons to deliver a message from their son, who has fallen. Sheila, the fallen soldier's mother is reluctant at first but allows him inside their home. After seeing a photo of him and her son on the field, she is convinced and invites David to stay at their place. A day turns into a few days. The family members slowly get to know and trust David through the various interactions with him.
David's stay soon becomes interesting with a lot of mysterious deaths. Somehow the family members are skeptical about David's involvement in those.
The suspense building up to the reveal was intense. I was thoroughly engaged in the movie and confused at the same time about David's character. Who is he? Why is he doing some things? What's his motive? were all questions running through my mind.
The movie gets slow paced for a while but there are some really interesting developments and events that make the wait worthwhile. The soundtrack is amazing and plays well with the flow of the movie. Dan Stevens acting was terrific, his portrayal of David was truly terrifying.
I see this as kind of a modern take on the thriller genre. I can't give it a 7.5 so it's a 7 for me. Don't go by the trailer and mistake this for what it is. Give it a try. Surely, a movie that ends with the line "WTF?" wouldn't be boring.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Fun fest with a Michael Bay touch
I was stoked for this movie since I've been a big fan of TMNT for most of my childhood. On the other hand though, I was kind of doubtful this would reach the likes of the Batman reboot.
Shredder and his Foot Clan are wreaking havoc on New York City. Megan Fox, who plays April O'Neil is a struggling journalist who is on the lookout for some exciting story for Channel 6 news. She stumbles across some Foot Clan activity and sees a vigilante fight them off. Unable to get a clear shot of him and with her coworkers not believing her story, she is desperate to find another situation. Enter the subway station attack, where she is conveniently present and held hostage by the Foot Clan who are looking to fight off vigilantes. She follows them and gets introduced to them.
How Splinter and the turtles evolved are revealed in the movie so one does not need to know their origins. Later on, we learn that William Fichtner, chairman of Sacks enterprise has devoted to fight off crime in the city. The journey then begins to fight off Shredder who with his Foot Clan are prepared to release toxins in the city.
The premise was good, however there the execution was poor. How April manages to conveniently find and help the turtles with no major brain power required, how turtles are conveniently stocked with gadgetry and knowledge about computer systems and with an over clichéd plot of releasing toxins in the city (haven't we seen it all too well before?), the movie was all too predictable. Not to mention the special Michael Bay touch, unnecessary shaky cam in some situations, an over the top fight scene on the snowy slopes of a mountain and poorly written script (Will Arnett's character was a mess).
The CGI effects were good though, the turtles didn't look like men in costumes, the fight scenes were good and every scene of Michelangelo was funny (thankfully!). Megan Fox's acting wasn't too bad either. If you want to relive a part of the childhood craze, go see this movie but be aware that this is no Oscar worthy endeavor.
There often comes a movie which is based on a ridiculous premise that is somewhat entertaining. Lucy is one of those.
There's no formal introduction of the character of Lucy except that she's living in Taipei. How she got there, who she is, what she does for a living are all left to the viewer's imagination. She somehow gets mixed up in affairs that led her to be a victim of CPH4 (blue crystals) ingestion in large quantities. (We're told by Morgan Freeman that CPH4 is produced by a pregnant woman's body in small quantities to help the foetus develop bones).
The more CPH4 gets ingested, the higher percentage of brain she uses and unfortunately, the more ridiculous the movie gets. Lucy uses her enhanced brain usage to free herself from the captors and "gather" information about whereabouts of the other victims as her body is now craving more CPH4. She can now see the inner workings of trees and people and manages to diagnose her friend as well. She then ends up in France and makes allies with a cop to track down the other victims and contact Morgan Freeman, all while bad guys are trying to hunt her down.
The visual effects and action sequences are good but they can't salvage a poorly scripted movie. One of the ridiculous moments is a call Lucy places to her mother. Any sane mother would have asked "Are you high or on drugs?". I don't know how other audience members kept a straight face through that. Plus there are numerous other hilarious metaphors.
The final moments are over the top where Lucy becomes an all knowing all encompassing monster as she devours all the remaining CPH4, while the cop is trying to fend off bad guys and Morgan Freeman and other neuroscientists are watching in awe. And then as Morgan Freeman suggests, she manages to "pass on" her information.
Scarlett's decent acting might be the saving grace for this movie. If you like movies like Crank, then this might be good entertainment. Regardless, remember to use only 10% of your brain while watching this.
Earth to Echo (2014)
Terrible shaky camera ruins an otherwise good film
I was really excited about this movie after watching the trailer. Unfortunately, I think the trailer picked up the most stable of the shots.
Although there was a strong resemblance to E.T., and I could relate to The Goonies too a little bit, the movie got off to a good start and it maintained the pace throughout.
Three buddies, Tuck, Alex and Munch are soon to be separated by a construction project causing their families to move. Tuck, an amateur videographer almost always has a camera handy and tapes all moments with his friends. A few days before the move, all their cell phones start behaving weirdly. Alex discovers it's a map and soon their last night together turns into an adventure. Tuck tapes the whole adventure and we see the story from whatever was taped (found footage).
Cons: 1. Shaky cam - I'm usually neutral to shaky cam. I know it's supposed to be amateur footage, but why subject the audience to a dizzying IMAX screen of shaky cam the entire length of the movie? I was fortunately sitting in the back but I felt sorry for the people in the front rows. If you're prone to motion sickness, do not watch this. Even I take better videos than this with my hand-held camera.
2. Screen time of Echo - Given that the movie is about an alien, the screen time of Echo is very less. I would have loved to see more of Echo definitely. The departure of Echo is rather abrupt.
3. Unnecessary character - Emma was definitely a purposefully introduced and totally unnecessary character.
Pros: 1. Good acting - By all the three kids. They did their part well.
2. Good soundtrack - I think the music plays only for a few minutes in the movie but I liked it.
3. Good graphics - The graphics were really nice. Echo and rest of the sequences were well done.
Like another review, I would consider this more of a good rental movie than one that's good to see in the theater.