November 26th, 2016


Movie Critique 2016 – 07/17/2016: Planes

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars:  5 / 5
Recommendation: If you want fun, laughs, and also learn about integrity and courage, this is the movie to watch for.

Planes is a 2013 American animated sports comedy film produced by Disney Toon Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It's a spin-off from Pixar's Cars franchise. A very distinguished line of actors have provided their voices to the characters in this movie, including my favorite Priyanka Chopra and Brad Garrett. The basic plot is about Dusty Crophopper, a crop duster plane, who want to be part of the Wings Across the Globe race and win it fulfilling his dream of becoming a racer.

This is one of the favorite movies of my nephews so much so that at least one of their birthdays have been themed around Planes. And they are crazy about Dusty and El Chupacabra. This is for them.

Dust Crophopper, crop duster plane dreams of becoming a racer and his fuel truck friend, Chug encourages him. With added encouragement from his forklift/mechanic friend Dottie he enters the qualifying race to be in the top 5 so he can get into the Wings Across the Globe race. Although he finishes sixth, later he is called in for the race as one of the top 5 was disqualified. Skipper Riley, a reclusive navy war plane, initially doesn’t want to, eventually helps train Dusty. But one thing that Dusty doesn’t overcome yet is his fear for heights by the training ends.

Dusty heads off to the race meeting at JFK in New York city. And the race across the world in five legs begins. First leg from New York to Iceland. Second Leg from Iceland to Germany. Third Leg from Germany to India. Fourth Leg from India to Nepal. Fifth Leg from Nepal to China. Sixth Leg from China to Mexico. The Seventh and the Final Leg from Mexico to New York City.

During the race he meets Sparky - forklift for Skipper Riley,

El Chupacabra - a royal Mexican race plane,

Rochelle - a French-Canadian racer that El Chupacabra falls in love with, Bulldog - a British Comet plane,

Rip Slinger - a custom-plane who is a three-time champion and would go to any extent to win the race the fourth time and Dusty's rival,

Ishani - a Pan-Asian champion from India on whom Dusty has a crush,

Franz aka Von Fliegenhosen- a German Aerocar who is a fan of Dusty and upon his advice Dusty removes his extra sprayer stuff that makes him a much lighter plane to fly, gets his chance to be in a carrier USS Flysenhower - named after the real carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower where Dusty learns a few truths about Skipper Riley.

The race to finish doesn’t come with easy lanes from Dusty. Despite making friends, he gets sabotaged by Ishani and Rip Slinger so his could finish last. He manages to finish first in the fourth leg even though he had been given ill-advise by Ishani. He continues with his race passing all the hurdles and finally finishing it out on the top.

A movie filled with comradeship, integrity, hard work, teamwork, trust and above all being truthful. A perfect movie for my nephews to grow up watching and learn. Another fun movie to watch any day to lift your spirits and get some laughs.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) The Tractors that were seen in Cars are shown here when the racers are in India. Nicely connecting both the films.

2) When Ishani and Dusty fly over Agra and visit Taj Mahal, the song "Dum Dara Dum Dara Mast Mast" from the 2007 Indian film Guru ( = Teacher) is played in the background.

Here is the video for the actual song.

3) iPad or a Touchpad we use is called as a SkyPad in the movie. Pretty close and pretty funny.

4) El Chupacabra romances Rochelle with this love serenade by the song "The Love Machine" by the Motown group The Miracles. The song was recorded in 1975. Although in the movie El Chupacabra takes it low and slow, the original song has much faster beats.

Here is the original one:

5) The end credits show the entire movie while the names are being displayed. Interesting concept.

Movie Critique 2016 – 07/18/2016: Shark Tale

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars:  3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Missing Godfather but at the same time want only the laughs, well here is the one that will cover all the points.

Shark Tale is a 2004 America animated-comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation. The basic plot is about a small fish who claims to have killed the son of a Shark mob so he can go up the ladder in his community.

In Reef City, a blue streak cleaning wrasse named Oscar, works as a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash - a job he doesn’t particularly like but follows his father's footsteps. But he dreams of becoming big, famous and rich one day - a dream that leads him into sea-horse races and him owing "five thousand clams" to his boss Sykes, a pufferfish. His best friend Angie, an angelfish, loans him her pink pearl that her grandmother had given her for pawning so he could clear off his loan. Instead he bets on a sea-horse named Lucky Day but loses the money putting him under the wrath of Sykes who orders his jellyfish enforcers Ernie and Bernie to dispose him off.

The very same place where Ernie and Bernie are taking Oscar, Frankie - a great white shark and oldest son of the crime lord Don Edward lino - takes his younger brother Lenny - a vegetarian great white shark - to train him into a killer. But Frankie gets killed by an anchor that drops from a passing ship right were Oscar is tied. In an attempt to escape Oscar kicks at the dead shark, which Ernie and Bernie mistake it for Oscar killing the great white shark. Instantly Oscar takes this opportunity to cash on that and goes back to town as a SharkSlayer. This lie gets him to the "top of the reef", Lola - a beautiful lionfish and a opportunist - as a girlfriend, Sykes as a manager and the rich and fame he was always looking for. But, he gets tied up with Lenny who after Frankie being killed didn’t want to go back, and since he is the only one who knows the secret, Oscar keeps him along. And loses his best friend Angie.

The rest of the plot continues how Oscar tries to live the lie, how Don is on the hunt to take the Shark Slayer down, how Lola is ready to show her claws while Angie suffers in pain, how Lenny learns to stand-up to his father, and finally how Oscar comes out with his truth, faces Don and finally turns his life around by quitting to dream but make his dreams come true in the right path.

The first time I watched it I was impressed by the way the film makers mimicked the human world above in the world below under water. The replica of NYC Time Square, replica of a car wash that is dubbed as a Whale Wash,

the mobs,

the horse races but performed by sea horses,

replica of The Projects in Bronx, high-end Manhattan - everything tying it so close to making you feel human even though the movie is under water. Jack Black, Renee Zellweger, Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorsese and Robert Di Niro - A cast as such these can make no mistake in delivering of their roles. The fishes were all created around the actors' faces which made the movie all the more real. References to Godfather is not lost at all. The only negative was the loud mouth of Oscar, but perhaps that was how he needed to be - obnoxious and loud before turning out right.

A very thoroughly enjoyable movie that gives you silly laughs and at the same time hits you on the serious aspects of life.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) There is a Walk of Starfishes that resembles closely to Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2) The local news reporter, Katie Current, is mimicked after the then Today show host Katie Couric.

3) All through the movie the signature tune of the movie Jaws plays periodically. I would always get a shudder but in this movie it got me a lot of laughs. :)
4) Peter Falk plays the role of Don Ira Feinberg, an elderly leopard shark and leader of a mob of criminally-inclined leopard sharks. I fondly remember him for his role as Columbo always.

Television Critique 2016  – 07/19/2016: Wuthering Heights

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: A powerful drama with an edge of insanity, vengeance, love that makes one rethink every decision one makes.

Wuthering Heights is the 2009 2-part TV adaptation of the 1847 novel by Emily Bronte. This books has been adapted into several TV movies, series and films. This is one of the many adaptations which I have watched quite a number of times and liked it. To know why, please read the review below.

I haven't watched any of the adaptations yet, but this is the one of the few that had told the story of two generations of Lintons, Earnshaw and Heathcliff - without omitting anything from the novel.

This novel had created quite a shock and sensation when it came out in 1847 as it was against the ideals of that time with respect to religion, morals, social class and gender equality. First time I read the book, I always wondered who would be the perfect one to portray the role of Heathcliff. I have to say Tom Hardy became Heathcliff when he walked into that role - every bit cruel, dangerous and yet so much in love with only one person in his life (two if we consider Mr. Earnshaw who raised Heathcliff). He has done justice to the role. And so has Charlotte Riley when she becomes Catherine Earnshaw to the core.

The story as everyone knows is a complicated plot with twisted minds of the characters with extreme emotions of love, jealousy and vengeance. So much vengeance that it almost seeps into the second generation. An anti-hero driven by sexual feelings and vengeance. A married woman running around in her night skirts and having trysts with her husband. Such a powerful drama with so much of darkness in it, I always wonder if Emily Bronte was affected by her own book. For there is not a single thing about this book that will not make your heart twitch, and the exact emotions I felt from this TV series too.

The plot however opens differently compared to the book. They show the second generation first - Heraton Earnshaw (Son of Hindley and Frances Earnshaw), Linton Heathcliff (Son of Heathcliff and Isabella Linton) and Cathy Linton (Daughter of Edgar Linton and Catherine "Cathy" Earnshaw) - creating quite a lot of confusion before the actual story begins. Thirty years earlier Heathcliff was brought in as an orphan by Mr. Earnshaw to which Cathy -his daughter - openly accepts while Hindley - his son - despises. The animosity grows between the boys and so does the love between Heathcliff and Cathy. Heathcliff loves Cathy. But once their father dies Hindley takes over the estate along with his pregnant wife Frances and things change considerably leading Heathcliff to be beaten and abused often at Hindley's hands. Cathy starts doubting her love herself, Frances giving birth to a child and dying childbirth, Hindley taking to heavy drinking, Heathcliff finding about the real feelings of Cathy towards him and feeling betrayed in every way, Heathcliff running away from Wuthering Heights and Cathy getting engaged to Edgar. Heathcliff however returns rich on the day of Cathy's wedding, Heathcliff leading into taking revenge against the Earnshaws for all the betrayal they have committed, Heathcliff luring Isabella in order to hurt Catherine and in the end going crazy of losing her permanently.

Powerful dialogues also add to this drama that makes it a better version.

Catherine: How can you smile?
Heathcliff: Cause one day I shall pay back him in pain and anguish.

Heathcliff: [bending over Cathy's coffin] You said I'd killed you... Haunt me then... Be with me always... Take any form, drive me mad but don't leave me. In this abyss where I cannot find you... I cannot live without my life, I cannot live without my soul...

Heathcliff: As Hindley was flogging me, I chanted a curse you know... He has lost the only person who ever loved him.
Cathy: [aghast] You cannot welcome the death of a baby's mother!
Heathcliff: I will welcome anything that makes Hindley suffer.
Cathy: [quietly commands Heathcliff] Say you're sorry for talking like this my love...
Heathcliff: [shrugging] I am not sorry.
Cathy: [sadly] Sometimes I think your true passion is hate rather than love.

A well-made TV series for such a heavy concept and controversy tied around it. I have to watch the other ones too to see how they turned out. If you have not watched this yet, do look on Youtube for the series. It's worth the watch.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) Some of the famed adaptation of the novel are below. Certainly adding to my collection of posts to blog about. ;)
a. First adaptation of this novel was filmed in England in 1920.
b. The most famous however was the 1939 Wuthering Heights starring Lawrence Oliver and Merle Oberon.
c. In 1970 film Timothy Dalton portrayed the role of Heathcliff.
d. In 1978 BBC adapted the novel into a five-part TV series Ken Hutchinson, Kay Adshead and John Duttine.
e. In 1992 film Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche played the lead roles of Heathcliff and Catherine.
f. In 1996 the Indian Hindi film Dil Diya Dard Liya was made as an adaptation from the novel. Although it did not fare well.