PASSENGERS [2016]

PASSENGERS [2016]

I watched this film about a week ago with my friends in 3D, so let’s talk about it now. So, is this Chris Pratt-Jennifer Lawrence starrer any good?

The movie starts off with a contingent of about 5,000 people in stasis, going off to a new planet named Homestead II in a starship named Avalon; a journey which lasts for 120 years. Along the journey, Avalon collides with a large asteroid that happens to be in its path. The resulting impact fries some important conections in one of the passengers’ hibernation pods. As a result, Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer, wakes up from his stasis, and gets out into the huge starship. As he wanders around, he makes contact with just the ship’s bartender Arthur, who is really an android.

Of course, he is surprised to discover that he is the only one awake in this journey, and finds out after asking some questions that the journey is still 89 years from completion. This really puts him in a binder, as for all he knows, he’s just going to die in the ship, alone for ever. After trying every thing he could to get into stasis again and failing, he is pushed to the brink of suicide. But then, he notices the beautiful Aurora Lane in one of the hibernation pods, and grows to like her more and more after reading her writings. Now, a new quandary strikes him; does he bring Aurora out of stasis for some company and love, or does he let her be?

This is how the film begins, and revealing any more might spoil the story, such as it is. Because even though the concept looks good on paper, it isn’t all that great on screen, because of the events that keep transpiring. It is really slow, and I found myself dropping off on multiple occasions. It actually felt sort of like the space version of Titanic to me at a certain point, and not in a good way. Nothing much happens for a substantial period of time in the film, which really sucks because the acting is pretty solid. Chris Pratt as the unfortunate Jim Preston is brilliant in most every way. Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora Lane looks great and does well in her role as the writer, and so does Michael Sheen as the android bartender Arthur. Laurence Fishburne has a cameo role[sort of] towards the later part of the film, and he does great as well. The CGI is undoubtedly one of the strengths of Passengers. The starship Avalon has been amazingly well-rendered, and the infinite space looks nothing short of gorgeous from the interiors of the ship.

Overall, I myself wouldn’t really recommend this film to you unless you are a true-blue fan of the lead actors.

RATING : 6.3/10

PROS :
– CGI is great
– solid acting

CONS :
– weak story
– way too many unnecessary events prolonging the film
– ending isn’t all that satisfying

 

BLACK MIRROR [SEASON 1]

BLACK MIRROR [SEASON 1]

These days, I’ve started watching more TV series than I’ve ever watched before. Excepting my marathon through Breaking Bad, that is. In the course of my browsing through some shows I should watch, I came across Black Mirror, a British show about how technology can influence our lives in negative ways. So I thought to myself, “Hey, let’s try this out!”

Black Mirror is a show of just 3 episodes, each of which are about 40 – 60 minutes long, with each of the episodes containing their own self-contained story. The show goes where no other show has gone in its exploration of the dark things that just may happen due to over-dependence on technology. The first episode has one of the princesses of Britain kidnapped, with the ransom being that the Prime Minister has to perform a degrading act if he intends to get back the princess alive. And the other episodes are set in different locations and timelines too, probably, with their own tales to tell.

The acting in Black Mirror is pretty solid throughout the show. And the settings for the incidents are unique from what most would have seen in TV shows[unless you watch sci-fi stuff all the time]. The writing is pretty good for all the episodes, too. But what I found to be a bit inconceivable in the show, was the technology being used. Some of it felt a bit too far-fetched for me, but who knows, it might become the reality of the future. But the biggest weakness to me, was that it wasn’t altogether as special as I’d hoped; maybe my expectations from the show were a bit too unrealistic, but what I felt was that the later episodes couldn’t hold a candle to the pilot episode.

If you want to watch a psychological drama in a somewhat futuristic setting, try out Black Mirror.

RATING : 7.8/10

PROS :
– unique settings
– cool concepts
– good acting

CONS :
– later episodes aren’t as good as the pilot
– technology shown seems a bit too far-fetched, for now

 

SUICIDE SQUAD

SUICIDE SQUAD

So I’ve gone out to watch Suicide Squad with my friends, most of who are avid superhero comic fans. Although not a fan of such stuff myself [with my interest lying more towards the anime side], I must admit I was curious myself to check out this film. A movie featuring super-villains as the main protagonists? I don’t think this has been done before, not in my memory at least. But my memory has been known to fail me at inopportune times, so well.

A US intelligence officer, Amanda Waller, decides to recruit the most infamous super-villains to carry out a top-secret mission in exchange for a reduction in their prison sentences and some small perks. The agency into which they’re being recruited, Task Force X is an organization which performs black ops missions, and this agency decides to use these infamous villains for deniability in the event of something going haywire. The villains, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang and others are all gathered up, supplied weapons and then choppered off to Ground Zero to complete the mission. While at the same time, the Joker is mounting a rescue operation for Harley Quinn. What is the mission? And can Joker get Harley out?

The squad in question…

The plot progression is generic, and is something the viewers have seen time and again. It isn’t the high point of the movie by any means. The movie is funny, although some of the gags do fall flat. Action scenes are great, as is expected from a super-hero film, or a super-villain one, for that matter. Of course, the events transpiring throughout are always to set up the next explosive set-piece. Especially the Deadshot scene. But it isn’t all action either. Some of the scenes are actually meaningful. The interactions between Harley Quinn and Deadshot especially, are really good to watch, and in general these interactions between the different member of the titular suicide squad are good to watch.

Far as acting goes, it was pretty good. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is the right mix of crazy and hot, and she really freshens up the screen whenever she’s on it. And Will Smith as Deadshot is great as well. Killer Croc generally stands around and growls whenever he isn’t busy tearing the enemies apart. Jay Hernandez as Diablo is really cool when he shows off his skills. And Viola Davis as the ruthless intel officer Amanda is good in her role. Cara Delevingne as the antagonist feels somewhat random though. And towards the end, some of her scenes end up being unintentionally hilarious, although the situation is dire. I myself wasn’t a fan of the Joker played by Jared Leto [an actor I do admire for movies like Requiem for a Dream among other]. But it may just be my own personal opinion.

The soundtrack of the movie consists of songs from artists as varied as Eminem to the rock band Queen, and everything in between. And the songs are all awesome.

Overall I would say that if you are a fan of the DC Universe, you should watch this film. No, it is not a perfect film by any means, but you’ll have fun throughout its 2 hour run-time. And if you are an action junkie, then definitely watch it.

RATING : 7/10

PROS :
– Harley Quinn and Deadshot are awesome
– great soundtrack
– interactions between the squad members
CONS :
– generic story
– antagonist is a bit random
– Joker was a bit meh to me

STRANGER THINGS

STRANGER THINGS

This show wasn’t even on my radar. Until I started seeing just about everyone talk about how great it was. But I started getting curious about the show once I saw Stephen King recommending it on Twitter. So what did I do? Start watching Stranger Things, of course.

Stranger Things is set in the year of 1983 in a sub-urban Indiana town in US. We have four geeky friends Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair, Dustin Henderson and Will Byers. They of course get regularly bullied at school for studying what’s being taught by their teachers. After a 10-hour session of Dungeons&Dragons at Mike’s house during a weekend, Will disappears under mysterious circumstances on his way home. Now starts a town-wide search led by the alcoholic Chief Jim Hopper, the head of the town’s police force. Will’s mother Joyce Byers, starts having some really freaky experiences at their home, while the three remaining friends decide to search for their friend Will on their own. Meanwhile Nancy, Mike’s elder sister, starts making out with Steve Harrington, a popular guy in her school. During their searching expedition in a freezing rain, Mike&Co. find a girl with a shaved head, and Mike decides to take her home to give her a place to recuperate. Little do they know that she’s got mad skills[read : psychokinesis]. What does this girl have to do with Mike’s disappearance? Watch on to find out.

    The rescue party…

With government conspiracies, alternate-dimensions, telekinesis and some good old jump-scares, this show really packs a lot of ammo for the viewers. The story is pretty great; what’s even better is the way it has been presented. The screenplay is top-notch for this show, with three separate arcs being handled more than competently. It’s all too easy to have multiple arcs where some of them really kill off the pace and mood of the story, but Stranger Things is made of sterner stuff. And I also like how they did not over-use the horror sequences; quite often we see shows which overdo the jump-scares and come off worse for wear. But this show doesn’t fall into that trap.

Acting is brilliant in Stranger Things. The four kids playing the friends all do a great job at being the science-loving geeky types. Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin, is pretty funny too. Natalia Dyer who plays Nancy is somewhat annoying as a character, but that’s exactly how the role was supposed to be, so no complaints on that. Winona Ryder is stellar in her performance of a concerned mother who doesn’t give up hope for Will even though she has to deal with all sorts of stuff, and with David Harbour[Chief Jim Hopper], they together make a fantastic lead. But the one who really carries the show is Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven, the girl of few words and mad skills. She is sensationally good in her role. I may have missed out on a few other actors, but it’s only because there are so many of them in the show who have been well fleshed-out.

Only thing that really seems a bit unbelievable to me, is the Wheeler parents’ lack of any knowledge whatsoever about their kids’ lives. But hell, we’ve seen stranger things than that, right?

With brilliant use of jump scares alongside the persistently bleak ambience, Stranger Things is one of the best shows of this season, and becomes yet another reason for Netflix sign-ups to go through the roof. Recommended for everyone who wants to watch something awesome*.

RATING : 9.3/10

PROS :
– bleakly atmospheric
– Stephen King-like plot
– awesome cast

CONS :
– Wheeler parents felt a bit too off to me

* Those with photosensitive epilepsy should keep away from watching Stranger Things. The show makes heavy use of strobing light effects during some of the scenes.