Kong: Skull Island (2017)

K: SI is a fun, exhilarating, stylized extravaganza of a monster movie. The action scenes are superb, yet the film is satisfactorily well-written. There is limited character-building as the film zips through one stage to another: the whole introduction and the set-up to the movie is done before the run-time reaches it’s one-fourth, allowing enough time to fit in two inter-monster fights and a large number of monsters- each one more imaginative than the last.

3/4

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Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Review

There are no spoilers in this review.

CA: CW continues the Marvel universe storyline, by expanding it towards new horizons while bringing together all the plots of the previous films to a surging peak. Also featuring the superhero showdown we have all been waiting for- Civil War culminates the Captain America film trilogy and pushes it up to be among the top superhero movies of all time.

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★★★☇ (3.5/4) | Released: May 6th, 2016.

What I loved best of the many things lovable in the movie are the deftly shot action sequences, heavily similar to those in The Winter Soldier- the Russo brother’s previous CA film. The latest Marvel ensemble film is a breakthrough of the stereotypes that bind this genre. It contains elements of a spy-thriller, heart wrenching melodrama, internal battles of guilt vs catharsis and above all, wit- that dose of fun that makes Marvel movies worth a watch even when at it’s lowest.

It is not just good guys fighting bad guys, but two friends forced to bitter positions due to unforeseen conflicts. Civil War is both a political thriller and an emotional study of the strength of friendship

The battle scene between the two factions of the Avengers, led by Iron Man and Cap America is the most joyous piece of superhero showdown ever filmed. And yet, it is not just over the top entertainment- it feels like the kind of film you get when a franchise is at it’s peak (and nevertheless, still growing).

I loved how the script worked intricately to conclude previously unsolved plots, at the same time tying in more characters into their world.

There is the whole Avengers team minus two (Hulk and Thor maintain an unexplained, suspenseful absence) that is, seven characters. Each of whom have their own fair share in the story, thanks to the intimate character arcs projected by the previous twelve movies in this franchise. It would be necessary to say that we enjoy watching these characters now, because Marvel made us root for them in the previous films. (Unlike DC, which would rather make ensemble films before giving the characters their own films.) In addition, we have the recently introduced Ant-man and two new characters: the Black Panther and Spiderman.

With so many characters, the movies biggest achievement is that it never feels exhausting.

Another achievement is how realistic (for a Marvel movie) and philosophical the film is. Touching themes like vengeance, heroism vs vigilantism, freedom vs responsibility, the movie is politically taut and thought provoking.

It’s been eight years since the franchise began with Iron Man. As the universe grew the films looked less and less as movies in their true sense, rather than a made for the big screen mega serial, with deep investment needed for each character. I think it would be fair to say that the franchise is now well past it’s halfway point; MCU is getting closer to the Infinity War conclusion and things seem to only get better.

FAN (2016): Verdict

Text written in bold may contain spoilers.

SRK’s artful and committed performance is clouded by a screenplay which seems hell-bent to free fall into absurdity and exhausting silliness. Fan wastes a potentially powerful plot by turning it into a fickle minded action film.

★☇ (1.5/4) | Released: 15th April, 2016

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Such great things have happened to such a normal guy like me. I am a nobody who shouldn’t have been able to do all this but I have done it. I tell everyone that there’s this myth I work for; there is this myth called Shahrukh Khan and I am his employee. I have to live up to that … I’ll do it, I am an actor. But I can’t start believing in this myth.

Fan is nothing but the epitomization of how Shahrukh Khan feels about being constantly hounded by his fans, though in real life he wouldn’t use that term.

Gaurav a local Delhi-ite, whose daily life consists of managing a cyber cafe and trying to woo a colony-vaali girl, participates in a local mimicry competition every year. The stage gives him a platform to showcase his love for Aaryan Khanna a Bollywood megastar, who himself seems to be broad characterization of SRK. He wins the award every year, only this time he decides to use the prize money to go to Mumbai and present his trophy to Aaryan on his birthday.

He travels without ticket to Mumbai (Aaryan travelled ticketless while coming to Mumbai to become a star) and stays at the same room at Dhobi Talao where Aaryan stayed.

Unluckily, but fairly obvious there seem to be scores of others like him and it seems a Herculean task to get an audience with the star. Gaurav is disappointed when he is not able to meet Aaryan, and decides to try some unethical ways to get the star’s attention. He succeeds in getting Aaryan’s attention, but in the wrong way. The star reports the inadequacy to the police who beat him up before Aaryan himself comes to make him see that his obsession can turn dangerous.

Gaurav is no need to say, hurt when he hears that the star ordered the police to beat him up. He goes home and tears away all the posters and pictures of the star he had collected.

Crushed on seeing his faith go unrewarded, he decides to defame the star. The film goes into edge-of-the-seat thriller mode as Gaurav creates nuisance at London and Croatia, both times making fingers point at Aaryan. Aaryan is arrested for his misbehaviour before he decides to take matters into his own hands and chase Gaurav over the clay roofs of Dubrownik.

It is at this point that you wish the film had stayed what it had wanted to be- a study of a fan’s obsession with a superstar. But, chase sequences and some fight scenes seem to be put in just to make you lose the little appreciation you may have built for the movie by that point.

The screenplay falters and seems inadvertently absurd. It doesn’t take long for you to realize how stupid the plot has become.

The story ultimately culminates into a fist-fight between Gaurav and Aaryan, the events which lead upto it so grim and sleep-inducing that I won’t even care to write about them.

There are ample tear-worthy moments in the film, but the movie does not earn it. The movie is dedicated to his fans by SRK, but that in itself does not create a good film. Fan, though was touted to be his break from the parodical cinema he has been making for the past three years. It doesn’t live upto expectations however. I wanted to love this film as I have loved Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Veer-Zaara, Mohabbatein and even the Don remakes. I guess I will have to wait some more for that.

10 things that will make you want to watch Batman v Superman

DC Universe is one week shy of expanding to a new film with Zack Snyder at it’s helm.

Among some of the reasons which have made this film one of the most anticipated movies of 2016, one is that it has done what has never been done in celluloid before: pitting two popular superheroes against each other.

If that and the super awesome trailer is not enough to make you hold your breath for this Affleck-Cavill starrer, here are some others:

1) It’s been long since Hollywood has released a dark, serious-with-itself superhero film.
Three years to be precise (since the film’s prequel i.e.Man of Steel). And since then we have been periodically been treated to the family-friendly, cartoonish Marvel films (which are cool in their own way but never so threatening)

2) Watch Ben Affleck perform as the dark knight.
Frankly Nolan’s trilogy have been so successful and memorable that it is difficult to not see Christian Bale as Batman when you think about the Gotham vigilante.

When WB signed up the ‘Gone Girl’ starrer for this film, it pissed of some of Nolan’s fanboys for good. Ben Affleck sure has a big one up his sleeve to do justice to Bruce Wayne.

However, not to worry. Early reviews suggest that Affleck is mind-blowing as the titular hero.

For the Nolan fanboys, Christopher Nolan also served as the executive producer for the film. Although I have no idea what that means, it is heartening to know that the man was involved in some way in the filmmaking.

3) The director Zack Zynder’s vision.

If you have seen ‘300’ and ‘Man of Steel’, you will know that Zynder is a very ambitious filmmaker- he doesn’t do movies for it’s sake and more importantly nor to please the generic audience.

It would be tasteful to see how he works works with this script.

4) This scene from the trailer.

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We all know that one important point that makes Superman super to Batman is that Superman is not human, he is an alien. And he can lift cars, helicopters and even gigantic aeroplanes easily. He can do all that stuff which Batman cannot even imagine to and yet this happens (see the image). Well, it makes the movie all the more mysterious and gives one more aspect to look forward to.

5) Another rather intriguing shot

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I freezed the trailer to better read what was written, as it appears as a fleeting shot in the trailer.

Does this mean that Batman’s arch-enemy gets some screen time in this film. If so, it must be something really pivotal and a very well guarded studio secret. (One reason to watch it first-day-first-show before the spoilers start sprout everywhere.)

6) And yet another one.

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Is it just me or does the font type and menacing nature in which it has been written remind you of the Joker.

7) A very, very different movie than we are used to from this genre.

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Honestly, the trailers and promos will leave you dumbstruck. Not by just the visual effects or anything, but the sheer dramatic potential that lies in the film.

Apparently, the writers reworked the script a couple of times and even shifted the release of the film by a year, to accommodate enough creative awesomeness in one film.

8) Wonder Woman’s first big-screen appearance

I don’t know much about this character (neither do most of you), other than that she holds a shield and is a part of the Justice League. It would be wonderful if they have included her back-story as well in the movie. And Gal Gadot looks ahem, amazing.

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9) It is in amazing 3D.

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And there is no other format that can give you your money’s worth for this scene, which apparently as shown in the trailer shows the destruction of the Wayne Tower, Bruce Wayne’s business headquarters.

(If you are ready to shell out a few extra bucks and travel the extra mile, this is one of the handful few flicks that deserve to be watched in IMAX)

10) Lastly, you will be missing out on the talk-of-the-town of you don’t watch it.

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That’s the reason all these blockbuster films turn out to be blockbusters anyways. Everyone would want to know and talk about the latest action sequence that blowed their minds away.

Lenin Pav bhaji: (Khau Galli) Churchgate

For those who are unaware of the term ‘Khau Galli’ translates to ‘Food Street’. There are quite a handful of such eateries distributed around Mumbai.

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Situated alongside a small by-lane (the khau galli) connecting fashion street to the SNDT college, you just have to look for the most crowded stall. Serving it’s eponymous pav-bhaji along with the usual chinese fare, the Lenin pav bhaji centre by far appeared as the best stall.

The bhaji had the right texture to it, not the watery bhaji that is served at the nearby Canon stall at CST. Priced at 35/- a plate, my only complain is that the pav was too dry. They also serve ‘Amul Pav bhaji’, but you have to dole out almost double of the above and the serving is not worth that extra money.

Talking about Chinese, the Manchurian and fried rice were well cooked and the right amount of saucy.

Go ahead and break a bread (read pav) after watching a match at the Wankhede stadium or if you are in the area; else give it a miss.