The Ritual | Netflix Original | It’s always a decent horror-thriller when there is good acting, average CGI and good cinematography.

The important things first, there is nothing special about this Netflix Original and there is no way this movie is going to be discussed over lunch the next day.  The movie is predictable through and through (aren’t most of the horror flicks so ?) and it ends up being a good time pass watch.

The Ritual , begins with 4 friends reuniting 6 months after the tragic death of their friend , Robert. It was Robert’s idea to go trekking in Northern Sweden to explore the Scandinavian wilderness. Luke (Rafe Spall), the main protagonist,  had witnessed the murder of his friend and was carrying the guilt throughout with him, while the other friends although not visibly, carried an animosity towards Luke over the incident. 

The movie is quite gripping over the first hour or so but then slowly fizzles out towards the end.  The performances of the lead quartet definitely works in favor of the movie when compared to the other over-the-top, underwhelming performances put up by regular medium budget horror movies. The setting for the film was perfect with the great Swedish wilderness quite stunning in itself with every frame. It’s a photographers dream but the person within the photographer would struggle to shrug off the eeriness.

On the whole, this is a pretty decent one time match. Its not a match to Dark or Stranger Things but would score well above the recent Jigsaw and Rings.

Parks and Recreation | Netflix | One of the best modern Sitcoms

I was probably very late to the party when I had started watching Parks and Recreation . A failed attempt at ‘The Office’ and ‘Arrested Development’ meant that I had almost lost faith on there being another binge-worthy sitcom among the modern day contenders. It was without much of an expectation that I started watching Parks and Rec and the low expectations probably went a long way in me ending up liking the series.

Parks and Rec is centered around the very ambitious Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) who is a Deputy Director at The Parks and Recreation in a small town, Pawnee, Indiana and her colleagues. The series stars at a very slow pace with the introduction to characters taking its own sweet time. Leslie, is a hard-working, passionate, self-driven lady who wants to help everyone around her. Nick Offerman plays the government hating, privacy loving, steak loving, ‘hard-working’ head of the Parks and Rec department , Ron Swanson who also happens to be the boss off Leslie. He carries his contempt for human company and modernism throughout the series and that makes him a special character. Aubrey Plaza plays April Ludgate who is a socially awkward, brilliant, yet lazy intern and Chris Pratt (the reason I started watching the series in the first place) plays Andy Dwyer the lovable, dumb, fun loving wannabe rockstar of the ‘Mouserat’ band – some of the scenes involving him made me literally fall on the floor laughing. Aziz Ansari plays the tech-savvy, ‘stylish’ and hip Tom Haverford who feels and knows he is meant for big things but would never work for it. The epitome of coolness  Donna Meagle  played by Retta and Jerry Gergich (Jim O’Heirthe simpleton and the guy on whom the rest of his office picks on all the time for very little fault of his forms the rest of the Parks and Rec department. The wonderful and beautiful Rashida Jones who plays Ann Perkins the best friend of Leslie and probably the lynchpin surrounding whom the whole series waltz around forms a wonderful partnership with Amy her troops. Adam Scott and Rob Lowe comes in at a later stage to add more fun to the whole series.

There is this massive list of guest super-stars including Paul Rudd, JK Simmons, Sam Elliot, Senator John McCain, Heidi Klum, John Ham, Michelle Obama, Ginuwine, Andy Samberg, Chris Bosh, Kristen Bell and my favorite Joe Biden, if the previous para did not intrigue you enough.

It’s on the cuteness and fun scale that the show scores over many of its challengers. When ‘The Office’ borderlines awkward, Parks and Rec scores due to its genuineness. Its all about how Leslie is hell bent on bringing happiness for the people in her life, even if it means that at times she takes the decisions for them or she quashes their decisions for them. Every character is a sea apart for one another in the way they view life and go about with their life but then they all gel so well together as one cohesive unit that makes the Parks and Rec a jamboree of happiness and fun. There are some filler episodes in between that can be expected even in the best of the sit-coms (except Friends of course!) but I thoroughly enjoyed binge watching the fun team of Parks and Recreation and would definitely recommend it to everyone (especially since its now available in Netflix) who wants to just sit back and relax after a tough day at work.

Dark | Netflix Original | Spine-tingling, gripping and one of the best takes on Time Warp.

If Netflix ever were a Football Club, they would easily annihilate every single one of their opponents and would owe that all to their ridiculously good scouting network. The gems they unearth and produce around the globe is truly awe inspiring. It was only logical that I followed up Bright with Dark. 😉 Dark , for me, is the best ever mystery series to deal with time warp and the paranormal/supernatural. It obviously has to be if you end up binge-watching a series till 6 in the morning. Yet, the Season conclusion left me with more questions than answers (I hate it when the makers do that). We would have probably paused a hundred times in between all that to discuss and digest what we had just seen. Blink and you miss something significant.

The series begins with the Einstein quote ‘The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion’ and from then its all an illusion. The story surrounds the disappearance of young kids (too many of them these days – The Five , BroadchurchStranger Things. et all ) from a  German town Winden and a young father commits suicide leaving his son Jonas Kahnwald with no answers. Ulrich Nielsen, the cop father of the young boy Mikel who goes missing, Charlotte Doppler the police chief & Hannah Kahnwald, the wife of the ‘young father’ form the crux of the story which spans over 3 periods – 2019, 1986 and 1953. This is pretty much all that I could give in summary without going into any of the spoilers and this is where i leave it.

Everything from the direction, cinematography, locations, BGM, story and characters are all top notch. The makers Baran bo Odar, and Jantje Friese takes you along on a ride that you wish never ended and at the same time gave you at least some of the answers to the million questions that formed in your head while watching the series. To summarize, it’s a masterpiece from Germany and if you can look beyond the obvious flaws of a some of the dialogues that were lost in translation, while dubbing and the ridiculously irritating open-ended season conclusion, you are in for a thrilling experience.

4.5/5 from my side. The 0.5 deduction was for making us wait for a season to get some of the answers.

Bright | Netflix | An awesome idea, decently executed and opens up the avenue for a future franchise.

Will Smith & Joel Edgerton star in this modern day adaptation of a world where Orcs, Elves, Humans and fairies all live together. Each fighting their own demons and at the same time despising the other kinds to extreme ends. To add to the mix, there is a bit of magic and a possibility of a big bad monster as well.  Netflix must keep on experimenting and spending money and resources on stuff like these. The makers did a better job with Bright  when compared to Suicide Squad  and it was certainly on par with End of Watch.

Will Smith stars as LAPD Officer Daryl Ward , who is back in duty after being shot by an Orc while his partner and first ever Orc to be part of the LAPD force Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) was with him. Like almost all other mystical worlds this story too surrounds a prophesy where a rogue Elf (Leilah) who is part of the Inferni, tries to get her hands on three magic wands that would resurrect the dark lord. There are references to a war fought 2000 years ago where the Elves and Humans fought side by side against the Dark Lord who had the Orcs on his side (that sort of explains why the different races hate each other). Without going too much into the story, the movie is about the two officers and their fight to protect an Elf – Tikka (Lucy Fry) and the wand (the power of which is  infinite) she wields which the Inferni and the rest of the evil world wants. The wand however can be wielded only by the Bright – those who would not be burned to ash upon holding the wand.  

The movie scores well on comedy, action and theme. There are a few confusing elements which I think would probably be explained in the future parts of the franchise (one can always hope). Will Smith as always is super with his comic timing and some of the dialogues although thrown in during intense scenes would have you in splits of laughter. Reminded me of the good old days of MIB and Wild Wild West.  I think the critics who had slammed this movie prior to its release got it wrong big time. Its not without its fair share of flaws but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to all Netflix fans (I think that should be a thing already) and the fans of mystical fiction. 

3.5/5 from me.

The Indian Detective | Netflix | Russell Peters should stick to stand up alone.

 

I had reasonable hopes on this one since the trailer came out a few weeks ago but I was so disappointed with the end result that i rue the 3 odd hours that i spent watching this mini series. The series offered nothing in terms of comedy, action or for that matter any form of entertainment.

Russell Peters stars as a Canadian police constable Class IV who gets suspended while performing a drug bust which goes terrible wrong due to a unreliable witness. This and the lack of reciprocation of affection from his fellow officer Christina Cole , leads him to fly back to Mumbai to meet his father Anupam Kher , who was hospitalized. From there Doug D’Mello (Russel Peters) get entangled with the business of a lawyer played by Mishqah Parthiephal and the chase is on to catch a drug king pin. 

I should have listened to my better judgement and aborted the ship 10 minutes into the show and ended up regretting not doing that later on. All the characters who spoke a combination of Hindi & English were horrible with the accent and even worse in the acting department. Direction was poor and the script was a patched up version of typical hindi serials which use the period drama dialogue delivery style.

Fans of Russel Perters, I urge you guys to stay away from this if you do not want to end up hating the man. I would not even give it a 1 star out of 5.

United at Hawthorns

  • United had it too easy in the first half and for a neutral this match would have been as boring as it gets.
  • I do not know what’s with Lukaku and his celebration of no-celebration. Gets to the nerve when you are happy watching your team score and then watch the joy getting killed by the way your team celebrates the goal.
  • I do not know what Rojo brings into this team. He is ridiculous every single time he plays for us.
  • Pogba should be back next week and hopefully that would revive the team a bit.
  • This week like almost all other weeks this season has been about City and they way they play. Honestly the City game much more fun to watch.

Glitch Season 2 | Netflix Original | Almost as good as the first season.

Ever since stumbling upon Glitch a year ago I had been waiting for Season 2 so eagerly and in fact this was a Netflix original that I was looking forward to, a lot more when compared to Stranger Things.  The Aussies do know how to make an engaging paranormal series.

Glitch is about a small town policeman James Hayes , who is called to a local cemetery in the middle of the night where six people who had died, spread across centuries, comes back to life in perfect health and with no memory of their identities. A local doctor Elishia McKellar , who is called to the scene helps them out and as it turns out one of the ‘risen’ ones is the coppers wife Kate Willis who had died a few years ago. From there the story unfolds with the mysteries surrounding the ‘risen’ ones on how they lived their lives and how they died. There is of course the mystery of how they came back from being dead for centuries/years and how they were confined to the boundaries of Yoorana, Victoria (the place where the story is based out of).

Season 1 was absolute beauty in terms of binge-worthiness mostly due to the theme and the intrigue surrounding the lives of the ‘risen’ ones. The creators Tony Ayres, &  Louise Fox did an excellent job in keeping the series engaging throughout. Season 2 which came out a few days ago had too long a wait preceding and yet it turned out to be a pretty good watch and I would definitely suggest this to anybody who is into crazy unexplainable paranormal mystery/thrillers.

Newcastle at United | Pogba returns, Martial and Rasford impresses.

Today’s result was as routine as any before the match at Anfield and we all know from what has happened throughout this season, an international break can make or break momentum. All you need to do is ask United or more recently Arsenal or Spurs. The match did expose that one vital cog United was missing on, one Mr Paul Pogba – the swag is back. The MOTM for me was Marcus Rashford for the two very incisive, selfless moments. My thoughts on the match and the rest of the match day can be summarized as below:

  • There is still life left in Arsenal. It was a deserving win against a team who were on upward trajectory.
  • The return of Pogba has brought back the expected swagger back to the United side. Say what you may, but the ease at which he controls the pace of the game gives a boost to every single one of those United players. Now the wait is on for a similar performance against one of the bigger teams.
  • Martial and Rashford can start together and both of them have their own way of influencing the game. The way Martial lures in 3 defenders every time he has the ball at his feet is proof of respect the he garners from his fellow professionals. Rashford at the same time works so tirelessly for the team and times can be so frustrating.
  • First goal conceded at OT, Zlatan returns and Lukaku ending goal drought being the other highlights.
  • It’s not often that a traveling team comes in with an intention to play attacking football. Credit to the Magpies there and there will be other teams who would come in and try block United out and that would be when we can really gauge the attacking intent of the team.

~ j

Broadchurch | Netflix | Yet another reason why British shows are leaps and bounds above the rest.

Broadchurch , is a British crime-drama thriller based on a small coastal town by the same name. I just got done with the first season and it has been nothing short of outstanding till now. The story begins when a young boy is found dead at the beach and investigation begins on what transpired on the night of the death. A new DI, Alec Hardy (David Tennant) heads the investigation along with DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) as the story unfolds on the lives and lies of the closely knit Broadchurch community. It’s not often you get a crime-drama which shows in proper depth how a family and community deals with the death of a close one.

 Olivia Colman does a wonderful job in the role of DS Ellie Miller, the detective in charge of the murder investigation of Danny Latimer, the kid who gets murdered. She, with her family, were close to the Latimer family as well as all the suspects involved and the makers did a wonderful job of exposing the frailties and apprehensions that an event like this can cause on a community as close as Broadchurch. The Latimer family (played by Jodie Whittaker ,  Andrew Buchan & Charlotte Beaumont) had their own share of secrets before disaster struck them. All three of them played their roles to perfection. DI Alec Hardy’s character was the now clichéd grumpy, middle-aged cop with a shady past and is all about the job on hand. 

There are quite a few subplots which make for some compelling suspects in the form of suspicious close friend Nige, the reckless boyfriend of the daughter, the best-friend of the dead kid who seemed to have not liked him as much as people made it to be, a pastor who seemed to invoke curiosity, a tempestuous old lady who is new to the town and an old man who had a secret past and had employed the deceased kid. Then there is this trio of journalists who always seemed to thread the thin line between responsible and irresponsible journalism.

Yes, the story is not just about a murder, its about a town which finds itself in a conundrum where its impossible to move on or stay still. Broadchurch is just one of the many shows where British Crime shows are the real winners when it comes to binge-worthy quality TV. Its like carrying the baton forward from where shows like Luther , River , The Five , Sherlock & Shetland left off.

****/5

~j

 

Wheelman | Netflix | The Ultra Low budget Fast and Furious.

Wheelman  is a one time watch with a sizable share of pretty decent car chases. If the Fast and Furious franchise had a baby with The Transporter series, that mini movie would have been this Frank Grillo, who is the Wheelman. The movie revolves around a bank robbery job gone wrong when the getaway driver (Frank) ends up double crossing his partners as somebody who had inside knowledge of the job double crosses him.

As is always the case, the hero has a family and a teenage kid whom he needs to protect and super fast car to get him around in his fight to earn is freedom and get back at the people who put him in a bind in the first place. The movie is not about the story but about the situations the hero finds himself in and even though it spans close to 1.5 hours there are very few dull moments in between all the melee that ensues.

The various chases throughout the movie, strung together in a shoestring budget, were all top quality, edge of the seat stuff and that is pretty much all that the movie is about. Wheelman turned out to be one of those rare movies where you really didn’t have to watch out for bloopers as they were sprinkled throughout the movie and would have been too hard to miss. On the whole I would say its one movie that would not make you regret the time spent and at the same time one that you wouldn’t remember much of in a couple of weeks time. ***/5.

~j