Pitch Perfect 3 Review

No matter how close you are to your team, there comes a day when you have to carve your own niche and follow your dreams to make it bigger and better in life. Pitch Perfect 3 is exactly that. A commitment that started in 2012 with a triumph went on to establish a cappella in the most commercial form possible has now reached its final step and oh, we couldn’t be more delighted.

The new film doesn’t add anything revolutionary to the Pitch Perfect formula but adds on to what made it a franchise 5 years ago. There’s drama, humor, catchy numbers, commitment and also a bit of action. The Bellas, three years after their college, are now out in the real world, stuck in the drudgery of dead-end jobs. Even Beca (Kendrick), having established herself as a record producer, gets canned from her latest gig after a run-in with an eccentric rapper. So when the Bellas are invited, by one group member’s military father, to join a USO tour of Europe, they grab the chance to seize the day, after escaping a ‘hostage situation’ in their own style.
In one way or another, the franchise is about all about the glory of showing off skills and winning in the end, and the Bellas do it from the start when they perform Sia’s Cheap Thrills, spinning around in red-and-white striped halter tops, till the last number where they declare their ‘Freedom’ from the group. While the first film can be considered a modern classic, revolutionising and bringing forth the traditional acapella singing, the second one was a draggy affair with Bellas trying to win back their pride. The third is like their graduation film, where they realise that there’s more to life than just performing with your sisters.

Directed by Trish Sie, the movie is bubbly, fast, and a showcase for the personalities of its stars individually. While Anna Kendrick as Beca has always got her individual say in all three movies, the final film of the franchise focuses on the lives of others as well. Though Kendrick and Wilson shine out the most in their own different, weird but lovable styles.

John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks are back on deck as the play-by-play commentators John and Gail, who are now making a documentary film on the lives of Bellas. Talking about the performances, Kendrick holds the picture together with the ever-loved skeptical attitude and airy diligence. Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy gets to dig her past a bit and there enters a somewhat absurd but entertaining action-plot. Both the ladies prove that they deserve better films and make sure to make this graduation of the group as fun as possible.

In the end, when Bellas go on stage for the last time together, doing a percolating rendition of George Michael’s Freedom’ 90, it appears as a fitting end to their journey as a group of women who kept it real and funny, in the land of cheeky ‘chick-flicks’. The Bellas and the franchise had a good run and it’s only justice to stop it here. There’s a limit to the point one can be fatally catchy, and we don’t want the harmony to end now, do we?

Rating: 3/5

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Tweet Review

There may be evil on this train, but there’s also a lot of star power. Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is perhaps one of the most famous whodunnits ever written and has been adapted for the silver screen earlier as well, but perhaps never like this.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the film features the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi and Johnny Depp. Branagh, of course, plays Hercule Poirot, “the world’s greatest detective”. The uber-luxurious Orient Express is stranded in the middle of European nowhere, having run into a snow bank, but the marooned passengers have other things on their mind. One among their number has been murdered and the rest are the suspects.

And that’s a wrap! Thank you for staying with us throughout the investigation. 

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Tumhari Sulu Review

Cast: Vidya Balan, Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia, Vijay Maurya, Malishka Mendonsa

Director: Suresh Triveni

Delivering a knockout performance as a middle-class housewife whose life changes when she becomes the host of a late night radio show, Vidya Balan is the beating heart of Tumhari Sulu. Sulu is a force of nature in a cotton sari, a happy-go-lucky homemaker with a ‘can-do’ spirit; the sort of woman who’s determined to grab more from life. Unwilling to be weighed down by her domestic duties, or shamed for the fact that she’s a “12th class fail”, Sulu will take a shot at anything. “Main kar sakti hai,” she says and charges full steam ahead, coming in second in a lemon-and-spoon race for school parents, winning home appliances in random contests, and dreaming up ambitious business plans that she’s convinced she can make a success of. Vidya imbues Sulu with innocence, naiveté, vulnerability, and an infectious optimism. Sulu loves being a mother and a wife, but that look on her face each time she spots her airhostess neighbors is telling of her dreams and ambitions. She’s complemented nicely by Manav Kaul who plays her loving husband Ashok, himself stuck in a dead-end job, but consistently supportive of her need to fly. It is her unshakable confidence that drives her to badger a radio station boss (Neha Dhupia) into giving her a late night call-in show.

It’s a winning premise, and the film’s writer-director, ad-man Suresh Triveni, creates a world that is instantly recognizable, giving us characters and scenarios that feel authentic. Some of the best scenes involve Sulu’s disapproving older twin sisters who constantly berate her for flitting from one hobby to another, while stressing that they hold ‘respectable’ bank jobs themselves. Just watch how they react in horror to the news that she chats with lonely callers in the night in the name of a job.

Triveni astutely captures the beats of middle-class life in suburban Mumbai through little scenes between Sulu and Ashok. In a lovely throwaway moment she complains that he never puts on the air-conditioning in their car.

Post intermission, however, the script begins to flounder. The conflicts feel forced and manufactured, particularly a subplot involving their son and his troubles at school. There is potential to dig deeper and ask prickly but important questions about patriarchy, ego, equality in a marriage, and male pride. But the makers have little interest in exploring uncomfortable territory, preferring instead to resolve conflicts quickly and painlessly. As a result, Tumhari Sulu is warm, and light, and funny, but it’s missing heft.

The supporting cast – including Neha Dhupia, and particularly Vijay Maurya as Sulu’s producer Pankaj – is in good form. Manav Kaul is especially strong, bringing so many shades to his role as an inherently decent man and encouraging spouse who finds himself in a conflicting situation.

But Tumhari Sulu belongs to its leading lady, and Vidya Balan is so good in it, she glosses over many of the script problems and gives us a protagonist so compelling it’s hard not to succumb to her charm.

I’m going with three out of five.

Rating: 3 / 5

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Justice League Movie Review

“Hope is like car keys, you think you’ve lost it but if you look for it it’s always nearby…” these are the lines by none other than Superman which opens Justice League and half an hour in the film you get to know why. Throughout the film you keep the faith that the grandeur which was promised is ‘somewhere near’ and it does show up, just not in the manner you expected.

DC has been building up to this gathering of superheroes since Man of Steel (2012) and gave a rather sad glimpse of it in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, and later in its most successful film Wonder Woman. However, the build-up fails on many levels ranging from character introductions to the script and the big, CGI mayhem that they like to call a climax.

However, despite it jaded treatment of ‘good over evil’ and a predictable storyline, the film isn’t a complete failure. Justice League lies somewhere between Dawn of Justice, DC’s first multi superhero starrer that became a meme of how not to make a comic book adaptation; and ceiling-breaker (of notions and box-office) Wonder Woman. The film has an adequate amount of high-spirited larks: no more, no less. If fans get excited about it, that’s mostly because they’re excited about getting excited. Yet the movie can’t be called a cheat as it provides enough entertainment for a viewer enjoy this lighter, funnier, high school-ish reunion. However, hardcore comic fans will feel the pang of disappointment while laughing at Flash’s (Ezra Miller) goofy antics. The film can be called an act of franchise penance. It gathers up around half a dozen comic-book immortals and lets them figure the threat out and form a team with bombastic action and old-school ‘great men’ humour.

The director, once again, is Zack Snyder, though Snyder parted ways with the project in March following the tragic suicide of his daughter. About four-fifths of principal photography had been completed, and the post-production process (including the rest of shooting) was overseen by Avenger’s helmer Joss Whedon —an unusual choice, given that the Avengers from MCU series competes directly with this one.

Key moments from the film includes a soft-rock rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows, all as a way of dramatizing how badly America has been doing since Superman was killed. From there, it’s on to Batman fighting off an alien metallic beast, which turns out to be one of Steppenwolf’s army of Parademons — and Wonder Woman foiling a terrorist attack by slowing herself down to bullet time to knock away dozens of shots, as Gadot maintains her rock-steady killer gaze.

Now that Superman is no longer around, it’s fallen to these two to assemble a league of superheroes, even if, by now, we’ve been through these ritual assemblages once too often — in every Marvel film that you can name.

There’s Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the haunted man-machine, a former athlete who was rebuilt by his father (Joe Morton) after an accident into a cybernetic weapon who appears in a hood (literally and metaphorically). There’s Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the tattooed Neptune with attitude who’s an amphibious master of the oceans, as well as the group’s token roughneck brother. And there’s The Flash, who can move at lightning speed and is the group’s youngest entertainer who bears a certain burden of keeping the tempers of others in check by his millennial intelligence and innocence.

Steppenwolf, who threatens to achieve total dominion over everyplace and everyone, has gathered three ancient boxes of pulsating energy known as Mother Boxes. They are boxes. Bursting with light. And great power. It all plays as more than a bit arbitrary, given that their power, like Steppenwolf’s, is metaphysical, while the climactic battle is more rooted in the corporeal — lots of gut punches and swinging broadswords and limb ripping.

It’s a disappointment that despite being the most critically celebrated superhero of them all, makers fail to utilise Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman to its full potential. Maybe it’s time they realise that only this fierce woman has the caliber to take the franchise ahead without much help. Also, a standalone Flash film is going is anticipated after the hilarious debut of Flash. This man can give DC’s it’s very own Homecoming.

Overall, Justice League is like a baked cheesy- potato dish, which has no nutrition but you can’t resist its temptation. A decent follow-up to disastrous Batman vs Superman, the film still has hope to get better, only if they let Wonder Woman to lead and not any other way around. Watch it for all the five years of excitement and to see the team standing against the sunset- a scene that will definitely bring the cartoon series nostalgia back in some form. Oh and also for the ‘promised hope’, that is lying somewhere inside the series; we just need a Patty Jenkins to find it and execute in next one.

Rating: 2.5/5

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Qarib Qarib Singlle Review

function collapse(){$(‘.qr’).toggle(500, function() {if ($(‘.qr’).is(‘:visible’)) {$(“.expup”).css(“background”, “url(https://images.news18.com/static_news18/pix/ibnhome/news18/exp-uparrow.gif)”);} else {$(“.expup”).css(“background”, “url(https://images.news18.com/static_news18/pix/ibnhome/news18/exp-downarrow.gif)”);}});}Romance has been the core soul of Hindi Cinema since the time it began. From the tragic heartbreaks in the era of Guru Dutt and Dilip Kumar to the exotic romances in Yash Chopra’s vision, love is an emotion depicted in every form in Bollywood. However, Tanuja Chandra’s latest film Qarib Qarib Singlle gives an interesting take on the age-old formula of man-woman romance, which is refreshing, relatable and charming at the same time. Starring Irrfan Khan and Malayalam actress Parvathy in lead roles, Qarib Qarib Singlle is all about middle-aged romance in the times of dating apps.

The romantic comedy begins with an emotionally tattered widow Jaya (Parvathy), a disciplined, reserved and classy woman who makes an account on a dating website under pressure, only to meet a flamboyant, rich, sensitive and talkative Yogi (Irrfan). Right from their first meeting, he gets on her nerves, and by the third date proposes a trip to Jaya covering Rishikesh, Jaipur, and Gangtok to meet his exes. While Jaya has two minds about the trip, she still finds her on the plane to begin the journey. That marks the start of a rather off-beat, ‘almost’ relationship where neither of them confronts about what they are until the film’s climax.
There is a certain familiarity with the story and the conversations between the two characters are as authentic as they can get. The film has no romantic dance chases, no heartbreaks, no dreamy sequences and no melodrama to profess love, yet the charm and filmy-ness remain intact. Now, the film doesn’t give you any ‘#romancegoals’ but the way new-age dating has been discussed in the film will make you smile and gives out a sense of familiarity, even if you are nowhere near ‘middle-age’. Tanuja Chandra has dealt with the complexities of a middle-aged woman and relationships in modern age really well. And the fact that despite being all 2017, the film has a classic, old-world tone underneath. Maybe, that’s why the way Jaya and Yogi act doesn’t appear corny or superficial, but very real.

Irrfan and Parvathy do their jobs perfectly. While Irrfan makes you simultaneously love and get irritated by Yogi’s habits, it is Parvathy’s fresh presence that keeps you glued to the screen. Both the actors look natural playing characters everyone has witnessed at least once in their lifetime. While Irrfan’s Yogi keeps the screen vibrant, Parvathy balances it out with her serenity.

Qarib Qarib Singlle is a clean, authentic story of an ‘almost’ relationship, just the way millennials like it. The film is rooted in real life and the differences between the characters keep you invested. This Irrfan Khan, Parvathy starrer is definitely worth a watch for its fresh pairing and storytelling. A ‘Qarib Qarib perfect’ love story of two almost single people.


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Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

function collapse(){$(‘.qr’).toggle(500, function() {if ($(‘.qr’).is(‘:visible’)) {$(“.expup”).css(“background”, “url(https://images.news18.com/static_news18/pix/ibnhome/news18/exp-uparrow.gif)”);} else {$(“.expup”).css(“background”, “url(https://images.news18.com/static_news18/pix/ibnhome/news18/exp-downarrow.gif)”);}});}Gear up Marvel fans, it’s time for next Thor movie, indicating that the next (highly anticipated) Avengers film just around the corner! Like its predecessor, Thor: Ragnarok, appears just like a filler in the vast Marvel Universe. However, unlike them, it’s much more entertaining and engaging. Full of jokes and punches, the film ventures into the lighter side of the verse, a space that’s getting crowded post-Deadpool in 2016.

Loosely borrowing from the Norse doomsday myth, Thor: Ragnarok finds the god of thunder banished to a distant planet and forced to fight gladiator battles against his “friend from work,” the Hulk, essentially giving fans a “Planet Hulk” movie despite Marvel repeatedly denying that fans would see the popular storyline in a film. At the same time, the thunder god must try to return to his homeworld of Asgard to prevent the goddess of death, Hela, from destroying his home and killing everyone in it.

If fans may remember, the storyline of Thor always felt outworldly and even Academy Award winner Natalie Portman couldn’t bring the life into the films (an underused Jane Foster is a classic example of how not to present a woman in a superhero film). Changing that, Thor Ragnarok does a better job at that and though the male-female ratio is debatable, it is still a progress. The chopped haired Thor appeals to the eyes and the easy, conversation humour just makes this inter terrestrial, biblical bearable. The film is loaded with jokes, digs at each other and even previous Marvel outings. It’s fun to see the light-weightiness of Avengers Universe post Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 1, which hopefully will get balanced by a dark, more serious Black Panther in February 2018. What works most for the film is the fact that Thor’s not so solo this time around, with cameos/co-starring opportunities for the Hulk, Doctor Strange and a few leftover bits of Tony Stark’s wardrobe. And while it’s not saying much, Thor: Ragnarok is easily the best of the three Thor movies, because it’s relatable, neatly presented and full of fun.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki is just a cherry on the cake. It’s been a while since we saw the God of Mischief at his best, but this time around the man lives up to his title. Tout, clever, yet reeking of hilarious expressions and opportunities, but the nit-picks between the two brothers will tickle your funny bone. Hulk is another big baby you’d just want to cuddle (good luck with not getting smashed). Jeff Goldblum as Gamemaster is convincingly authoritative in the most humourous way possible.

Cate Blanchett could’ve been given more screen space to establish her title of Goddess of Death, but considering the Marvel on in a fun mood, while making this one, it’s only fair that the doom appears as less as possible.

At the risk of mixing the DC and Marvel universes, Asgard is one of those places that, like Superman’s home planet of Krypton, exists to be destroyed, and director Waititi’s challenge with Ragnarok is how to fulfill a prophecy and still make it feel like a happy ending. It does it in a way, only to be followed by a concerning frown in the post-credit scene.

Third time is a charm, and Thor: Ragnarok is proof. While, still a filler and the weakest solo Avenger movie of all, this installment is much better, crispier and lighter. Once in the theatre, you are going to enjoy this mess with all your heart. Just don’t expect a breathtaking discovery in terms of the almost looming Avengers: Infinity War, there’s still Black Panther for it.

Rating: 3/5

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