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Reviews

Avengers: Infinity War
(2018)

Great Effects But Wish They Kept Things Simple
For a non-Marvel follower like me, this movie was too much for my senses. I did enjoy the effects and much of the action(atleast those that involved the characters Wanda or Vision because I found their relationship adorable) but felt for a sci-fi movie that's intention is to simply entertain, this one took itself too seriously and has left audience like me wondering that things could have been kept really simple. I wanted to be entertained the old fashioned way - a bunch of super heroes on Earth save the planet from a huge, aggressive, alien guy(or whatever Thanos is). Fight against him & finally destroy him, that's it. But here the story takes on many layers, I think with the objective to stimulate our minds and keep up thinking deeply about the characters. But these are comic characters, why complicate them? Maybe Marvel comics are for adults, not for kids. And I thought comics are created with primarily kids in mind...

The performances, music, effects, action - all were mighty impressive(with whatever herculean budget that must have been offered, they better be) yet because these type of complex story telling is not my cup of tea, I rate the movie a 6/10.

Verdict - if you are a Marvel fan, you'd probably love it I guess. Others, I wouldn't recommend it. Give me a B-grade monster movie any day.

Rampage
(2018)

A Typical "The Rock" Entertainer
As an entertainment, Rampage delivers. I was surprised to later learn there was Marley Shelton among the cast. I couldn't recognise her in the movie maybe because she was in a space suit and shows up only in the first 10 minutes of the movie. Wish there were more reels of her. Dwayne Johnson is undoubtedly the main attraction here besides those gigantic creatures. Naomie Harris convinces in her role as a genetic engineer who sides with Dwayne to bring the creatures down. I did feel actors like Jeffrey Morgan(who made the character Comedian in Watchmen so memorable) was wasted here although he also contributed majorly to make this movie very watchable in his role as a veteran government agent with a dry wit. Malin Akerman also scores in a negative role as the chief of the rogue corporation Energyne.

Although there's not much to mention about the story, how it's delivered is where it scores. It doesn't bore, the action is relentless and there's enough humor too. I don't see much flaws but felt the movie could have added few more of those monster creatures into the story than just the three odd ones for all that CGI & thrills. Also, why was the need to add some tongue in cheek sexual lines in few scenes? Really it wasn't necessary.

Verdict - another timepass entertainment from the Rock that clicks.

A Quiet Place
(2018)

Very Creepy & Suspenseful, Wish the Action Was More
A Quiet Place is a no-nonsense scare movie that has a good mix of family drama too. As in the Alien(1979) movie, we get to see only glimpses of the beasts as the movie progresses and they finally show themselves in all their terrible self towards the end.

The performances are excellent especially from Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott. She manages to get the most footage and like Ripley in the Alien, she gradually learns to kick some a** for good especially towards the final scenes of the movie. John Krasinski(also the director here) makes his presence felt as the doting husband of Evelyn, father of 2 kids and who would go to any extent to save them from slaughter of these ruthless creatures. He's as good a director as an actor, the direction would get slightly more marks. Millicent Simmonds & Noah Jupe as the Abbott kids also convince in their roles especially Noah who's so natural & confident in front of the camera.

The only flaw I can think of is the action. When it comes right down to it, there isn't much as you'd expect from a typical man vs creatures movie except for the climax moments. Maybe the sequel which seems to be in the works will be the stage for a more & dramatic showdown but I still wish there were more of it in this movie too.

Verdict: Still, a very watchable creepy flick with enough tension to squeeze your nerves.

Orayiram Kinakkalal
(2018)

Good Performances But Violence Spoils the Fun..
What I quite liked about Orayiram Kinakkalal is to see Biju Menon in an innocent, cho chweet, gentleman role. He clicked very well in such a character. His performance and some comedy at the first half of the movie made me assume that this'd be a fun flick but the second half changed that, to my disappointment. Then comes the serious drama and suspense which is all ok but why the need for violence in a story that begins and progresses in a fun, light mood? There's more than one scene of characters being shown shot in point blank range on the head and chest....

The performances were mostly good. Roshan Mathew excelled in a negative role and so did Kalabhavan Shajon who showed a mix of goodness & aggression in his character as CI Shajahan. Sakshi Agarwal as Biju Menon's wife is pretty and gives a decent performance. Saikumar's character as a "ruthless" money lender is the other performance that I liked besides Biju Menon and provides most of the comical relief in the movie. Sharu Varghese in a supportive role as Sherin is also very pretty and makes an impact especially in the later half of the story.

Verdict - the violence in few scenes spoiled my overall positive impression of the movie but it's still a watchable movie thanks to the good performances and suspense.

Kuttanadan Marpappa
(2018)

A Thumbs Up, Fun Movie for Family Audience
Kuttanadan Marpapa has many names famous for comedy among their star cast - Innocent, Dharmajan, Ramesh Pisharody, Salim Kumar, Soubin Shahir, Aju Varghese, Hareesh Perumanna and the list goes on. As expected, the movie is a fun entertainment from start to end. The movie is nearly 2hrs 30mins yet one doesn't feel bored as the above actors constantly engages in witty one liners and no comedy felt old or repetitive.

Kunchacko Boban's charm ensured that he didn't get really overshadowed by the veteran actors mentioned above. Aditi Ravi as the other lead character Jessy gave a convincing performance and Surabhi Santhosh as her sister also impresses. Santikrishna stunned us all with her touch of comedy and is a refreshing presence in this movie. The songs are also pleasant to hear and there's an unpredictable twist to the end too.

I don't see much flaws here, just one or two scenes dragged. Either way this movie is an absolute timepass, popcorn entertainment for family audience.

Sudani from Nigeria
(2018)

A Simple, Sincere, Clean Movie
This movie is probably the first that I've seen of Soubin Shahir in a lead role. The Nigerian actor Samuel Abiola also gets as much footage as Soubin and so looks like there are 2 lead actors here. Both give a sincere performance, especially Soubin. Maybe this is the most important role he has done yet. The story here is as much about the highs and lows in the life of Majeed(Soubin) and Samuel(Samuel) when they cross each other's life as football manager & player respectively as it is about two lovable ummas(mothers) who take it upon themselves to take care of Samuel when he gets injured and gradually recovers his health. The two ummas are superbly portrayed by Savithri Sreedharan(Jameela, Majeed's mother) and Sarasa Balussery(as Beeyumma, Jameela's neighbor). If there's anything unforgettable about the movie, it's the performance of these two women who are experienced theatre actors in real life. Sudani movie happens to actually be their entry into cinema and what a debut performance by the two!

With regard to the story, I'd say the beautiful moments actually come only towards the last 15 minutes of the movie. If not for those final scenes, I'd rate Sudani a 6/10. There's lot of humor and rest of the movie doesn't bore but I didn't feel quite entertained too. There was lot of focus on Samuel's physical struggles as he recovers his health which isn't something that can really interest the viewers as entertainment. But I must say the climax was a stunner and touches one's heart deeply.

direction - 7/10 story - 7/10 performances - 7/10

Verdict - not a typical entertainer that you'd expect but still a clean, watchable family movie that doesn't bore either.

Poomaram
(2018)

Excellent Direction, Performances and Climax
Poomaram is one of the pleasant surprises in Malayalam cinema this year. I'm yet to see director Abrid Shine's other works but he's an excellent director. Some of the credit surely goes to him for the exceedingly well performances by the many who make their debut as actors in this movie.

Almost all of them act effortless in front of the camera as though they don't see it. Kalidas as Gautham, the chairman of Maharaja's college convincingly portrays the tension & expectations of his post as he encourages his college mates to aim for victory in the inter-college youth festival. He sometimes has these dramatic expressions and would look much better if he puts on bit more weight. Yet he makes a very good debut as a lead actor. Neeta Pillai, also in her debut as an actor stuns us as the confident, determined Irene, the chairman of St Teresa's college. One notices humility and spontaneity in her performance - the traits of any good actor. Her speech especially in the initial scenes to motivate her college to win the fest almost gave me goosebumps and there were loud claps in the theatre. Those who portray her college buddies Malavika, Maria & Preethi are also new to the camera and deserve mention. Architha Anish as Malavika, a classical dancer and a strong asset for St Teresa to get the trophy breezes through in her role. She's been a Kalathilakam couple of times in real life too. Wish I knew the names of few others too like the "mundiringa shirt" gal, I think her character name is Preethi and she's pretty too :) Among those who act as Kalidas's college mates from Maharaja's, a special mention for the gal who acts as Meenakshi(or Meenu), she's a natural. Another debutant, Ammu Govind also does very well as a singer from Maharaja's & who has a cute crush on Kalidas. And how can we forget veterans like Joju George? As a witty police officer, he was the much required comic relief for Poomaram or else it could have been criticized as too serious and focused simply on the youth fest drama.

Poomaram's flaw, I feel, is the "documentary effect" it has on the audience. The camera cleverly captures many realistic moments among college students, teachers and parents as they get ready for the fest and we almost forget this's a movie. If not for few absolutely hilarious scenes that take place like the one in a police station or a quarrel between judges & teachers, Poomaram would have looked too serious for its own good.

Verdict - whatever be the flaws, this movie hardly bore me. The direction, performances, music and suspense are first rate...and it all ends in a brilliant, unpredictable climax! Go for it.

Tomb Raider
(2018)

Alicia Vikander's Good as Lara Croft, Action Could Be Better
I think Alicia Vikander makes for a good Lara Croft and could get better with sequels. As this movie is an intro to how she eventually becomes the Lara Croft the adventurer & figher(if need be), we see lot of her struggles as she gradually toughens herself to take on the world. And that pain, fear & vulnerability are very well done by Alicia. In general, I liked the first half a lot as it was quite fast paced and fresh with the action. Lara's escape from the clutches of Trinity in the first half is the highlight of the movie.

Things change, for the not so better, in the second half. The dialogues felt so predictable and even the action or the fights don't quite grab our eye as much. There also comes a moment when Vogel who is the head of the Trinity team that hunts for the mysterious tomb gets a chance to kill Lara without any trouble but waits & waits & waits to get distracted by an explosion! Also actor Daniel Wu got a weak role(as compared to many major characters he has played in other action movies) as a ship captain who helps Lara in her adventure. Those who have seen Jackie Chan's New Police Story especially would never forget Daniel's negative role in it. Besides Alicia, the only other actor whose presence I liked here was Nick Frost who gives a good comic relief in a short cameo.

Verdict: watchable thanks to good action especially in the first half and Alicia Vikander's earnest performance.

The Shape of Water
(2017)

I Didn't Like the Shape of the Story..
At first, congratulations to Guillermo del Toro for the Best Director Oscar for this movie. I guess one of the main reasons for that is how he got all the actors to deliver excellent performances especially Michael Shannon(as the ruthless colonel Strickland) and Sally Hawkins(the mute cleaning woman Elisa who falls for the amphibian man). The movie also offers beautiful visuals(of a 60's era) and also the effects are masterfully done.

So, on paper it seems like a fascinating movie but ends up as a surprise disappointment. For one, I don't understand the need for a sexual scene that involves Strickland or even if we were to ignore that, the use of graphic violence many times. As a viewer, I could already feel the brutality of his character in many scenes that didn't have an explicit display of blood or gore. Maybe the writers were not confident they could deliver a wonderful cinematic experience without them. Some moments were even unintentionally funny. There's a song & dance routine like in Bollywood between Elisa & the amphibian man, thankfully that gets over within a minute. And the climax encounter between this amphibian dude & Strickland where in those final brief moments, we see this thing all of a sudden emote and fight back like a pissed off lover! Another aspect of the movie that annoyed me is a remark by one of the characters Zelda(very well essayed by Octavia Spencer), Elisa's close confidante at work, about her dislike for people who biologically look a certain way. It was a minor conversation but I found it offensive and irrelevant to the story.

So unfortunately, Shape of Water is a thumbs down for me. It could really have been an otherwise epic cinema. If you still want to, watch for the shape of performances and the beautiful cinematography.

Power Rangers
(2017)

Entertains Well, Kids Would Love It More
Power Rangers has decent action, good effects, performances and grabs our attention from start to end. I'm also glad that they made the movie very viewable for kids - minor violent scenes, no nudity or sexually laced scenes and even vulgar language used is almost zero. All of the actors who don their ranger roles are good especially Darce Montgomery and RJ Cycler, both are very expressive. Elizabeth Banks in a negative role as the evil Rita nails it very well. There's also lots of humor. What felt like a flaw were the final scenes. The encounter by the Rangers with Rita's army was kinda ok, not as intense as one would expect from a climax fight. Also, the Rangers are pushed down a pit by the giant Goldar, Rita's henchman and what happens next to them(a transformation) didn't make sense to me although it looks cool.

Overall, a good fantasy action entertainment for kids, they wouldn't get bored.

Bonsai
(2018)

A Decent, Family Movie, Climax Could Be Better
Bonsai has many positives to it although I'd hoped for a positive climax...it ends on a sad note.

The cinematography is lovely and we get to see beautiful, dense forest areas. Santhosh Peringeth makes a good debut direction. It's also a debut movie for the young Haritha Hareesh(already an accomplished singer) as an actor. For her first movie, she's confident and does well. I think it's also a debut for the other child actors Ajin and Sudev, and also for the very pretty Anagha Janaki(as Manoj K Jayan's love). Ajin is a natural on screen as this tribal boy with big dreams and Sudev is also very good as his close friend. Lena as Haritha's mother is ok, she seemed to be conscious in few scenes which is a surprise. Manoj K Jayan also makes an impact as a cycle aashan. His scenes with Ajin is the highlight of Bonsai, wish there were more scenes of them together. Rajesh Sharma as Ajin's father Chemban is brilliant and is my favorite performance from the movie.

Where does the movie slip? I felt few scenes that involved Haritha in her apartment tend to be repetitive(her character is shown to do the same thing over & over..). Also, I personally don't like how the movie ends. The story of Bonsai revolves around the two children Ajin & Haritha and what they value a lot therefore, I wished the climax would not have been as sad as it turns out to be.

Verdict - the end disappoints however it depends on how you view it. Bonsai is still a clean, family movie that also showcases nature so beautifully it touches your soul.

The Cabin in the Woods
(2011)

A Decent Entertainer of Fun, Gore & Horror
Cabin in the Woods is like a horror comedy. There's lot of humor amidst some of the gore. It doesn't take itself seriously yet the horror is well done and the effects are first rate too. In a genre like this, one would expect lot of jump scare scenes but this movie doesn't offer much of that. Instead it offers a variety of hideous creatures, zombies or spooky beings(an army of nightmares..) and also nice suspense. The entertainment is especially towards the final scenes when all of these monsters go out on their bloodthirsty rampage. It was comical yet a satisfying feast of mutilation & slaughter :) But the gore is also not too graphic in my opinion, they keep a balance because I think the intent is to simply entertain at the end of the day.

The cast performance is good especially by Fran Kranz as the constantly "high" Marty. Wish there were more scenes of Thor, I mean Chris Hemsworth in this movie but does his support role well enough.

The only flaws I could think of are the final scenes again. Although it was fun to watch all the monsters on the loose, it felt as though there were too much of these things running all over the place and that messed up the spook factor a bit. I also didn't like how it ends - how the "ancient ones" reveal themselves in the end was a disappointment.

Verdict - a typical slasher, horror movie that blends well with your popcorn & soda, don't expect too much that's all..

Captain
(2018)

Sincere Performances But Movie Has Lot of Flaws
Was Captain a movie made in memory of the late football captain VP Sathyan? I ask the question with disbelief because the movie has lot of flaws which were avoidable. A critic for a prominent website mentioned that one of the highlights of Captain is its "attention to details". Huh? There's a scene where India plays South Korea. Not even a single player shown among the "South Korea" team looks like a Korean. They look either European or probably even Middle East. How can a South Korea team(of the 80's or 90's) not even have a single Korean national in it? And another unintentionally funny scene shows one of the players clearly do a somersault when as per script it's supposed to be a fall due to a trip by the opposite player. I think now that critic was being sarcastic in his article. Where the details could have been actually avoided was a toilet scene where Jayasurya's supervisor orders him to clean a toilet. The camera focuses a long time on the dirty toilet...

The cast performance atleast was good. Jayasurya as Sathyan gave a heartfelt performance yet when sports movies are made, the cast choice needs to be quite apt. Most football scenes of his are weakly done - maybe a high kick here or there, even so they got it done by a double I'm sure. All you actually see Jayasurya do is run a few paces with the football or do some feeble passes.. If the movie makers were really sincere, it'd have still been possible to get an actor with some dribbling skills like how Shreyas Talpade was chosen as a cricketer for Iqbal. Maybe they didn't have much budget but is that an excuse? Either you make a good tribute or you don't. Anu Sithara as Jayasurya's love also makes an impact. Renji Panicker's role as a coach was not well handled although he could deliver few "punch" dialogues about how a footballer should be. Siddique as a wanderer who has profound knowledge of the game is the best among the cast and something positive to take out of an otherwise disappointment cinema.

Verdict - Okay..

Black Panther
(2018)

Less of the Panther, More of His Toys...
I had a huge expectation about this solo Black Panther movie after whatever little of him in Captain America - Civil War movie left me very impressed. I mean, that movie was the first time I got introduced to the Black Panther character and I was instantly bowled by his black suit, mask and how he fights(no guns or fancy gadgets, just his claws & kicks..). But with this solo venture, I didn't get to see him in a pure fight except for the intro encounter with some rogues in a forest. The action in the rest of the movie is more about his fancy gadgets, Spiderman like jumps or other visual effects show off. When I entered the theatre, Black Panther was my fav Marvel character. When I left, it ceased to be. That tells it all. They made him like the James Bond or the Iron Man of Wakanda with all the latest gadgets to save his a**! Black Panther's USP, I feel, is his hand to hand combats, kicks and ofcourse that suit that can take on anything earthly atleast. Making him fly around like Spiderman or use toys makes him no different from other Marvel or DC super heroes and one loses interest eventually.

The movie is otherwise a decent entertainer especially the first half. There are lot of hilarious moments as well especially among the Panther and his sister Shuri or from the hugely built Mbaku, the chief of another tribe whom Panther fights for the throne. Among the performances, Chadwick Boseman fits into the Panther role very well. Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Panther's love is breathtakingly beautiful. Martin Freeman also makes his presence felt but somehow I think these kinda roles don't suit him at all or explore his potential the way the Hobbit did. My fav performance among the cast is from the brilliant Andy Serkis as the ruthless trader Ulysses Klaue. It's refreshing to see him perform purely as an actor for a movie than just prance around in a body suit. And finally the climax...well, I didn't stay back for the post credit scenes but it wouldn't have made me any less disappointed. Really the story could have done less with the technology in Wakanda or the glory of metal vibranium and more about the man T'Challa(the Black Panther), some realistic action and his emotional struggles to save his family or the world.

Verdict - a nice entertainer but next time let the Panther hunt without his toys!

Aadhi
(2018)

Pranav Mohanlal Makes A Very Good Debut
One thing is for sure, Pranav Mohanlal works hard as an actor and since he's also multi-talented(music, does some neat stunts etc.), he can go really far. He's also a natural in front of cam like his father but ofcourse, one notices the nervousness in few scenes which is normal for a first movie. The action is the highlight of this movie and it's a treat to watch this young, humble guy do lot of the stunts & fight scenes himself.

The other pros of the movie are the suspense and rest of the performances. Jagapathi Babu again makes an impact with a negative role. There are other prominent actors in the cast as well like Siddique, Lena, Sharafudheen, Anusree etc but I must mention Tony Luke here who gets a smaller role comparatively but he has a good screen presence(maybe due to his model background) and is a confident actor.

What I didn't like about the movie is some of the violence, especially a scene when a good guy who tries to save Pranav gets shot. That was a bit too graphic. And the final scene that involves Pranav was slightly comical, there wasn't a need for him to do stunt there again.

Verdict - whatever the flaws, Pranav makes a sensational entry into Malayalam cinema and can stand on his own for sure. A thumbs up just for him.

Hey Jude
(2018)

Above Average Movie with Lots of Warm Moments
Hey Jude has many good moments but somehow it disappoints a bit as a package. I think it could be the slow pace here & there or the climax when Jude(Nivin) meets Crystal(Trisha) in the beach after a long gap. The reunion fell short of the reaction one would expect between the two oddball characters who really like each other.

Nivin Pauly has put his heart into his performance. He's simply adorable as this genius kid who's awkward in social situations or among girls. Trisha makes a lovely debut(and a strong role too) into Malayalam cinema and hope we can get to see more of her here. Nivin & Trisha also have a cute on-screen chemistry. Siddique gives an excellent support to the main cast but I felt some scenes focused too much on his character which wasn't necessary and distracts us from the main story of Jude & his struggles. Neena Kurup as Siddique's wife also get a good role and I'm glad that she got this film after the blink & miss role in Street Lights. Another performance to mention here is Apoorva Bose as Jude's sister, she is a natural.

Verdict - despite the flaws I mentioned, it's a nice, sincerely done movie with lots of positive, feel good & comical moments..I think it'll do very well later as a DVD release.

Padman
(2018)

An Epic Movie....Almost!
At the start of the movie Padman, there's a disclaimer that it is an inspiration from the real "padman" Arunachalam Muruganantham's life and there's some dramatization too etc etc which is fine because it's cinema and some drama may be required to pull in viewers. I actually liked some of the fiction shown because there was some good suspense & comedy yet it remained true to the main plot - the character Lakshmikant(Akshay Kumar)'s constant efforts to bring a positive transformation in the life of women around him. But, towards the end, a major character falls in love and the ensuing drama or disappointment felt unnecessary and even distracts us. It looked as though the movie makers weren't confident of their product's success unless they rope in a little 'masala' here & there. They shouldn't have. The audience would have still loved Padman. The extra flavor only ruined the dish from being a masterpiece.

If I were to ignore that flaw, Padman is quite adorable & inspirational. All the actors put their heart into it. Akshay rocked, his shining moment was when his character takes the stage like how Arunachalam did and wows the audience about how & why he became pad man. Sonal Kapoor as his encouragement & business partner was a natural. But my favorite performances in the movie were from two actresses, Radhika Apte as Akshay's wife and Jyoti Subhash as his mother. Both were brilliant especially in emotional moments. A national award for Radhika? Only time would tell.

Verdict - Would I bring my family to watch it? No, because although not vulgar, some scenes are bold for conservative audience and they were not even relevant. Yet Padman gets my thumbs up because despite any flaws, it's a fun & feel good cinema, an entertainment with a message that delivers.

Street Lights
(2018)

Racy and Suspenseful But Why is Mammootty Here?!
I think Street Lights may become an above average success thanks to Mammootty's presence but I'm disappointed to see him here. I wouldn't say this movie is bad although I've some issues with the story like violence in it especially what Mammootty(as police officer James) does to one of the characters in the end. Why is Mammootty even here?! For an actor as accomplished as he is in Indian cinema, it's a disappointment to see him in such role that could have gone to any youngster or lesser experienced actors. For a person who's in his late 60's, he, undoubtedly, still keeps himself quite youthful and maybe his fans love to see him still play the hero but why indulge in unnecessary violence for movies even after thirty years in the industry?

If I were to mention any plus points here, I'd say the movie engages from start to end especially how each character in the story, coincidence or not and directly or indirectly, become an important ally to help James hunt a dreaded criminal down. The performances from everybody in the cast are good, especially I must mention child actor Adhish Praveen. He was excellent, he even got a better role than Mammootty!

Verdict - watchable yes but do I recommend it? The violence put me off, so no..

Shikkari Shambhu
(2018)

Unpredictable, Suspenseful Thriller
I feel Shikkari Shambhu has it all - comedy, romance, drama, suspense, unpredictability, fight scenes.. yet it isn't one of those cliched commercial movies that bore you. It engages right from the start, thanks also to its beautiful camera work amidst scenic jungle, some nice songs and even the support cast get meaty roles like Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Hareesh Perumanna, the very pretty Alphy Panjikaran(who makes a good debut here), Maniyanpilla Raju, Aji John(a director in his own right) and Salim Kumar(hilarious as a cop). There's some tense suspense at the start, then lots of comedy and it ends on a mix of suspense & emotion - all the while, the movie entertains and engages our attention masterfully. The lead pair here are Kunchacko Boban & Sshivada Nair. My favorite performance is from Sshivada and Hareesh Perumanna. Sshivada is a natural on screen and Hareesh is one of my favorite comedians in Malayalam cinema. His humor is constantly fresh and I think he's one of the most understated comedians around. And yes, let's talk about the tiger too! Visual effects are involved and although it doesn't look as realistic as one would expect, yet I'm impressed overall because this movie is otherwise so good in terms of story and performances.

Verdict - somebody or something has become a nightmare for the villagers of Kurudimalakaavu. Did the tiger do it? Can our Shikkari Shambhu be a Sherlock too and find out what really happened before time runs out? Enjoy the hunt :)

Queen
(2018)

A Disappointment despite the Comedy & the Performances
Queen is a debut movie for the director, writers and also for the lead actors in the cast if I'm not mistaken like Dhruvan, Eldho Mathew, Ashwin Jose, Jenson Alappat etc. All of them have shown good potential here. There are some hilarious dialogues & moments throughout the movie and some really good performances especially from Saniya Iyappan who emotes effortlessly and is the life of the movie. I felt they could have given her more dance moves in the hit song Podipaarana as she has proven herself as an excellent dancer in shows like D4 dance in Mazhavil Manorama. It could have helped that song to be more popular, and in turn the success of the movie. Some of the major actors who play her classmates & buddies in the movie also give good support like Dhruvan as Balan(with more movies, he can do well as a hero), Eldho Mathew as Eldho(good but struggles in heavy emotional scenes), Arun Das as Jaban, Ashwin Jose as Kooli, Jenson Alappat as Madapravu or Sooraj Kumar as Varkichan - the last four especially are really funny. Veteran actors also make their presence felt here like Salim Kumar as advocate Mukundan(excels in the court scenes), Vijayaraghavan as the college principal or Sreejith Ravi as a minister. There's also good suspense, songs are also pleasant to hear and the editing was also smoothly done.

Despite all the good work, I am quite annoyed by some aspects of the story which lacked sensitivity. Dhruvan delivers a patronising line in the climax, which in my opinion, undid or contradicts any women-centric messages in Queen until that point and could make critics even label this movie as sexist. Also in many scenes, disability of a character(he's unable to speak) is openly mocked which is a big NO, even if they may look funny. They also contradict those moments in the story where our lead guys come together to help their college be more disable friendly.

Verdict - Good suspense & performances, funny, nice songs but just few scenes can spoil the impression of an entire movie unfortunately...

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
(1980)

Yoda and Darth Vader Make the Movie Very Watchable
Compared to the prequel A New Hope(1977), this movie has lesser action I felt, but some intense drama which still make it good entertainment. Some of the best scenes here involve the Yoda & Luke Skywalker and those between the latter & Darth Vader towards the end of the movie. There's some good action for sure but not as much as you'd have expected or hoped from a Star Wars movie. Not that I mind because I liked a lot of the conversation between the characters especially what Yoda says about the Force & how to use it to Luke Skywalker and when Darth Vader spills the beans on who he really is to Luke. Those scenes which had some emotional or spiritual touch to it almost gave me goosebumps. The performances are good especially from Mark Hamill as Luke. The only flaw I could think of here are some of the visual effects which stumbled a bit at places but still impressive enough.

Verdict: a very watchable entertainer & sequel to the first Star Wars movie.

Star Wars
(1977)

Glad I Saw the First Star Wars Movie, Finally
The first Star Wars I got to see were the ones made from the period 1999 to 2005. I saw them all. At the time I found them quite funny and didn't like as much as I assumed. Later, when Star Wars by JJ Abrahms came out in 2015, I saw it mainly 'cause I'm a fan of the director. It was good but again I wasn't impressed as much but now I realise that's because I didn't have any clue about who these major characters are like Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewie or Princess Leia. What prompted me to finally see A New Hope was the 2017 release starring Daisy Ridley. That movie was awesome and I decided to see the rest of the Star Wars I missed. Now, after A New Hope, I finally understood who these people are and also appreciate the passion of some of the veteran actors like Harrison Ford, the late Carrie Fisher & Mark Hamill when they came back nearly four decades later to be in the new sequels.

The effects in this movie is still good for a 1977 movie. But more than the effects, I liked the story and there were many intense action scenes especially towards the end when the Rebel Alliance were hellbent on destroying the Empire's Death Star space station but closely pursued by Darth Vader & his army. Some of the action between the characters didn't convince but those were minor flaws in this otherwise first class thriller.

Verdict: I'm glad I finally saw it. The force(entertainment) is strong on this one :)

Aadu 2
(2017)

A Funny, Silly Entertainer
Aadu 2 is a relentlessly funny movie with lot of crazy characters and the performances are very good. Jayasurya ofcourse is the life of the movie but some of his action scenes especially get a little too serious & dramatic which were unnecessary in this otherwise hilarious entertainment. The rest of the cast also make their mark very well like Sunny Wayne, Vinayakan, Saiju Kurup, Dharmajan, Indrans, Mamukoya etc but my favorite among the lot is Vijay Babu as the SI Sarbath Shameer who gets himself into unexpected trouble at every turn. I felt the makeup in few scenes on certain actors could have been neater, they become noticeable when the closeup shots were involved. Except for that and some too silly scenes, this movie is generally a good timepass. Verdict - watchable with family & friends but don't forget to leave your brains behind :)

The Maze Runner
(2014)

Good Scares, Suspense and Performances
I like this movie not for its story but for the brilliant suspense, scare thrills, sound effects and the performances. The horror doesn't go overboard either and takes its time to grow on you and gets relentless only towards the final scenes deep inside the maze. The cast is good too especially few of the boys from the maze like Dylan O'Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter(very good as Gally the bully :)). Even the end was quite unpredictable.

What I don't really get is the story. The people who built the maze intended something(revealed in the end) from it which didn't convince me well - all that complication just to find out a.......(spoilers) - which is why I'm not keen to watch out for any sequel that follow as hinted by a major character in the climax. Yet don't let a bunch of very young actors & a maze make you underestimate this movie. It engages you all the way and is watchable with family too.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
(2017)

The Jumanji I Saw 22 Years Ago Still My Favorite
I still remember the fun I had when I watched the late Robin Williams's Jumanji in 1995 at the theatre. I think that was the first movie of his I saw and it was such an entertainment. 22 years later, to see another Jumanji again at the theatre was a mixed experience. This time, the visual effects expectedly were miles ahead and there's the fun & adventure too but somehow I cherish the earlier Jumanji more. It had a sweet innocence to it that I don't see in the new movie..

If I were to mention the pros first, the performances, besides the effects, are really good. There's lot of humor and the suspense is nice as well. Dwayne Johnson is a confident actor but I felt in few scenes, there was some self indulgence(a bit too much attention to his muscles or strength) that could have been avoided. Jack Black as "Bethany" was funny but for some reason I felt his presence or talent was wasted here as compared to his meatier roles in works like King Kong or Shallow Hal. The gorgeous Karen Gillan was my favorite here especially in a confrontation scene(a mix of comedy & action) with the enemy at a transportation shed. She was brilliant in that. Kevin Hart(as Dwayne's buddy, Fridge) brings the house down with his wit in most scenes.

Despite the good cast and the effects, I felt the adventure or action(save for a few scenes) was mostly a disappointment & predictable. I expected a lot more especially when this is a story set in a vast jungle and our characters are on a mission to restore a jewel on statue while they also ward off dangerous animals & bad guys. Also, it's not a 100% children movie due to some suggestive dialogues or scenes which is why I miss the earlier Jumanji more.

Verdict - An entertainer no doubt but pales to the charm, innocence & magic of its predecessor.

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