X-Men Apocalypse – Great entertainment!

While technically this is the 7th X-Men film, after the reboot in First Class this is the 3rd in the new storyline and I was curious how they would bring all of the X-Men together. Apocalypse became the perfect fulcrum for that.

They have taken one story liberty in the way Apocalypse is resurrected (in the comics, Nathaniel Essex aka Mr Sinister does it), but overall they’ve stuck to most of the original source material. Also, with the way the screenplay plays out, this ends up becoming a great ‘coming-together’ film.

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The film is slick and does not drag. You need to pay attention to keep up with all the characters and who they will end up becoming. While the fight & action sequences are fabulously shot / created, time is also spent on the human / psychological aspects of the X-Men.

Fantastic cinematography, excellent Animation & VFX work with very cool physical & CG production design makes the film a visual treat.

Overall, very well done by director Bryan Singer.

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The best part about the performances & the cast is that despite having so many characters, all of them have their own individual stories, interpersonal relationships and character arcs. Apart from Angel and Psylocke who have limited exposure, everyone else does fabulously well on screen. The Prof, Quicksilver & Raven stand out.

All-in-all, X-Men Apocalypse is a 3D Imax viewing experience not to be missed.

P.S. Stay till after the credits and you’ll see the origins of the next Wolverine / first Gambit film…

Pele – a film fit for the legend!

To start off, this is very much a film that is fit for a man who is this much of a legend and this much of a rags-to-riches story that Pele was. Also, and this may come off a little strange, but I got a major ‘Iqbal’ deja-vu when I was watching Pele.

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About the film. It is a pretty realistic depiction of the journey of Pele from a kid in a small village in Brazil to his first world-cup tournament win.

The film is short & crisp and while it does chronicle Pele’s journey, it does take breaks now & again to indulge in humour, in situational comedy & situational drama. Actually makes the whole film-watching experience more fun. Well structured.

Also, while it is humanly impossible for any filmmaker to accurately depict how destitute Edson Arantes Do Nascimento’s life & childhood actually was, the production design, performances & the performances give us a good idea of the same.

The football itself looks quite realistic but at times it looks like the physicality of the sport & of the stadia had been scaled down to make it more cinematic friendly. Can’t blame the makers coz shooting sports is so damn hard.

The cinematography, editing and production design is fabulous. The background score is, without doubt, the highlight of the film with A R Rahman delivering a fabulous score which lifts the film significantly.

Performances are great. Especially the kid who plays the younger Pele. The teenager Pele looks more like the real one but the younger kid has more spunk in his performance. Both kids are fantastic footballers too. The actors playing Pele’s parents, coach & his teammates are all perfect in their roles. A cameo by the real Pele rounds off a fabulous ensemble performance.

All-in-all, this is a must-see film in the theatre. With your kids for sure.

Money Monster – there’s more to it than what meets the eye!

At a superficial level, Money Monster seems like a film about a regular guy who lost all his money & is taking desperate action to right a wrong. It has a few cliché characters like the pompous & seems-to-be-popular TV show anchor, the corrupt money-stealing corporate CEO, etc etc. The narrative that plays out is almost expected.

But it is the subtext which is told from time to time during the film which is thought provoking. About what money has become today. And in today’s digital age, what money combined with stock markets and intelligent ‘financial programming’ has ended up becoming – a monster!

Coming to the film per-se, its a above average film. Not outstanding, but better than ‘good’. Jodie Foster directing Clooney & Julia Roberts should have, honestly, been a better film than this. Anyway, the cinematography, editing & sound work is great and lifts the writing & direction of the film.

While Julia Roberts & George Clooney play their parts perfectly (Clooney has a couple of awesome scenes where he dances), the surprise winner of this film is Jack O’Connell (the guy who plays the hostage taker). He plays a not-so-bright, middle-of-the-road, regular American guy perfectly with all his imperfections, trepidations and frustrations with respect to money.

All-in-all, a film worth watching for sure. Not much of a big-screen extravanganza though. You could very well wait to see online / on TV.