Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Series of Mediocre Films

It seems like Hollywood doesn't have a lot of great films lined up for the latter half of 2015. As such, it comes as no surprise that the last three Hollywood movies I have watched in the theaters have been mediocre at best. Here's why.

Ricki and The Flash

Though I won't be surprised if Meryl Streep is still nominated for an award in some category, let's just say her performance in Ricki and The Flash was not her best. In my opinion, her real life daughter, Mamie Gummer overshadowed her performance with her commendable portrayal of a distraught woman.

Streep plays the character of a rock star who abandoned her family in pursuit of her music career, leaving her kids in the care of her husband played by Kevin Kline. When her daughter, played by Gummer, is going through a tough time because her husband left her for another woman, she returns to mend her strained relationship with her kids.

I feel the writer Diablo Cody spent too much time on having Streep sing than developing the characters and fleshing out the story. Directed by Jonathon Demme, this comedy drama was not as great as Streep's films usually are much to my disappointment. 

American Ultra

Written by Max Landis and directed by Nima Nourizadeh, the main premise of the action comedy, American Ultra, revolves around Jesse Eisenberg. He plays the role of an awkward stoner, who suddenly discovers he has fighting capabilities he didn't know he possessed when people try to attack him. It turns out he is actually a trained CIA agent, who has been deemed a liability by Topher Grace's character. Grace's character has sent orders for him to be killed, whereas Connie Britton's character is trying to save him. It was a bit hard to believe the likeable Grace as an arrogant villain taking undue advantage of his position at the CIA but nonetheless, he made a good attempt in portraying one. The supporting cast included Kristen Stewart, Tony Hale, Bill Pullman and John Leguizamo.

At first, I kept thinking that the movie was a bit weird but as the story developed, I realized how interesting the concept was.  So where did the film fail? Honestly, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Perhaps it was the acting or maybe the casting should have been different. Except for Grace, most actors including Eisenberg, Stewart, Leguizamo and Hale didn't bring anything new to the table and their performances seemed similar to their past ones. Except for Eisenberg's cool action sequences, his performance seemed very similar to his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Hale's character reminded me a lot of the character he plays on the HBO show, Veep. Leguizamo's and Stewart's characters also seemed familiar. If their performances were what was expected of these characters, then perhaps the blame lies on the screenplay or the director for not providing them much potential to showcase a different performance.  

Fantastic Four 

Though almost everyone really hated the reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise directed by Josh Trank, I didn't think it was too bad - perhaps because I had really low expectations. Though the story was interesting, I think the execution was poor. It was not as great as the Fantastic Four with Jessica Alba and Chris Evans.

Miles Teller plays the role of Mr. Fantastic, whereas Michael Jordan plays the role of The Human Torch. Kate Mara portrayed the role of Invisible Woman, whereas Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell portrayed the roles of The Thing and Doctor Doom, respectively. Among all the actors, I believe Teller and Mara are extremely talented based on their performances in Whiplash and the Netflix show, House of Cards, respectively. However, they both looked bored in this film perhaps because the screenplay or the director didn't allow them much potential to showcase their incredible talent. Based on all the rumors surrounding the film, who really knows? Let's hope the next installment is way better!

Friday, August 21, 2015

What an Awesome Film!

Based on the 2011 Hollywood film, Warrior, Brothers starring Sidharth Malhotra and Akshay Kumar in leading roles, recently hit the theaters. Since I have never been a fan of UFC, I was hesitant to watch this Bollywood movie given the main premise involved fighting and I wasn't sure if I would like it. However, I absolutely loved it! 

For those of you who haven't seen the Hollywood version like me, the story revolves around two estranged brothers. Their alcoholic father, played by Jackie Shroff, was a fighter and returns from jail to find out his family has fallen apart due to severe mistakes he made in the past. Both brothers end up participating in a fighting championship for different reasons: one to release his pent up anger and one to support his family. To find out what mistakes the father made that led to the brothers becoming estranged and which brother comes out the winner, go watch the film!

The movie was indeed very well-paced. The way the story unfolded about the family's past through songs was really enjoyable to watch. Even Jacqueline Fernandez gave a good performance as a troubled mother and the concerned, supportive wife of Kumar's character, which was refreshing to watch. It is no surprise that Shefali Shah, who played the mother, gave a commendable performance. The costumes and makeup of the female characters were not flashy but simple and fit the premise really well.

Though I don't enjoy watching fights, my heart was racing with every fight in the second half of the film. I felt I was personally invested in the characters of the brothers and was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see which brother would come out the winner. I think a huge credit to the actors who played the roles of the commentators for creating such an edgy atmosphere during the fights.

No doubt Kumar is an ageless and a great actor. I am really happy to see Malhotra maturing as an actor since he starred in Ek Villain. He really transformed his physique for this role and it is commendable to see such dedication by an actor.

Kudos to director Karan Malhotra for a great job!