Lost in Space Review | Netflix’s first authentic foray into Disney territory.

Lost in Space , is not your regular Sci-fi, supernatural Netflix Original. It’s more of a family friendly, time-pass, high-production-value, yet flawed series which makes you feel that somebody made it for Disney and ended up showing it in Netflix. Its a reboot of the 1998 namesake starring, Gary Oldman and honestly this one didn’t fare much better.

Set 30 years into the future, the Earth is now uninhabitable. The story-line follows the Robinsons who are part of a colonization expedition which crash lands on an alien planet and follows this family of five in their fight for survival and getting back on course to the real destination. There are a few other characters as well, since they had to stretch it to 10 episodes worth of material.  Parker Posey as Dr Smith, plays the villain and she is the most confusing character of all ! There are places where she does some silly, ‘evil’ things just for the sake of it. 

In short, this is one Netflix Original for the families. You will enjoy watching this with your kids or if you have to entertain someone else’s kids ! Mediocre acting and shoddy script-writing might make you lose temper at times – if you are watching it alone. The CGI and some of the scenes are breathtaking but half the time you are left clueless on what the end game is, with the villain 🙂

Lilyhammer | Netflix Original | As Good as a Comedy-Crime Drama could get !

Lilyhammer is a fabulous binge-worthy comedy/crime series that popped up in my Netflix feed out of the blue. It starts with the New York mobster and second-in-command,   Frank Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt) getting in line of the cross-hair, when the chief dies and the brother takes over the Mafia. Frank’s dog gets killed and he escapes by the skin of his teeth and before going all John Wick on the perpetrators he decides to do the sensible thing and turn States witness. In return he gets to choose any new identity anywhere in the world. However, he chose to go to Lilyhammer, Norway, as he loved the place when he saw the 94 Winter Olympics on TV and thus begins the adventure. 

Lilyhammer is more of a Norwegian production than an American one and it turns out to be a dark comedy version of The Sopranos and its only fair that Steven got the role. There is not a single dull moment in the entire series as the ex-mobster makes friends (more of partners in crime) in the ever lovable, ice-cold Lilyhammer. Every frame is absolutely postcard worthy  and every single character is a masterpiece in itself. It would be a crime though to not mention Torgeir Lien( Trond Fausa) who plays the dumb, lovable and fiercely loyal second-in-command as Frank tries to build his own Mob base in Lilyhammer. The makers Eilif Skodvin & Anne Bjørnstad deserve a lot of credit as well for churning out something so funny out of an otherwise dark theme.

I would recommend Lilyhammer to anybody who is into Dark comedy and Gangster shows. Watch it with subtitles ON as half of the conversation is in Norwegian – that’s however something you will not complain about. It’s fun, definitely just for adults and a perfect way to wind down after a stressful week at work.

Requiem (2018) | Netflix | Another decent British Supernatural Thriller.

‘Cold case of a missing kid’ seems to be the formula that works the best for most of the British Supernatural Thrillers these days. Requiem , too follows the trend when 23 years later, the case of a toddler who went missing in 1994 comes into limelight. The series begins in breathtaking pace and the subsequent episodes somehow goes meandering and is unable to keep up with the brilliant beginning.  It’s definitely not as good as DarkThe Five or Broadchurch but definitely better than 1922 and Collateral.

The series begins with an old man in a small Welsh Village commits suicide, followed by another suicide in London of the mother of a rising Cello star Matilda Gray (Lydia Wilson) right in front of her. The element of supernatural is laden in the very first shots itself. Matilda and her friend Hal Fine(Joel Fry) travels to the Welsh Village in search of the truth following the few clues left behind by her mother. The remainder of the season is all about the mystery of the two suicides, the missing kid and village filled with secrets. 

There are so many good things going on about Requiem including the very beautiful locations in Wales. The nature in itself casts its eerie shadow throughout adding to the mood of the series. The cast does a decent job and background music is very riveting. I do, however, think that the makers missed a trick by dragging the series on for 6 episodes. They could have wrapped it all up in 4 and could have made a much more entertaining watch out of it. The series did remind me of <Movie Name Spoiler !  > and was a bit too predictable in the end. In short its a decent one time watch if you are into thrillers belonging to the supernatural genre.

The Outsider | Netflix Original | Slammed by the critics, loved by us

The Outsider (Gaijin), starring Jared Leto, is the latest addition to those Netflix Originals that was slammed by most of the critics and yet turned out to be an enjoyable watch for me. This Netflix Original tries to experiment with the less talk and more acting type of storytelling which is not often seen in the genre of crime thrillers. For an out and out Jared Leto movie, The Outsider is more than 70% Japanese .

The movie follows the story of an American soldier imprisoned in post-war Japan who enters the Japanese Mob Family, Yakuza after befriending one of them while in prison. The support cast of Tadanobu AsanoKippei Shîna and Shioli Kutsuna are amazing throughout but no gaze goes past the intensity of Nick Lowell, portrayed by Jared Leto. The intensity and honestly he brings to his character is beyond words. The story telling style and the exhaustive usage of Japanese in the movie makes it difficult to convert ‘The Outsider’ into a fast paced thriller that it could have been. 

The way the movie ended was a bit anticlimactic and was open ended, probably with the intention of bringing out a part 2. I would go with the title ‘The Insider’ for part two though. I would recommend this movie to anybody who is a fan of Jared Leto and likes slow-burn crime drama’s.  Do not expect any classic dialogues as the dialogues itself are few and far between.

From the wife: Jared Leto has always been an intense actor. I feel he has done justice to the role. He has perfected the expression for pain, rage and dark amusement. You cannot help but feel sorry for the character even though some part of you is telling you that the character is part of local mob and does not deserve your sympathy. Watch it for Jared Leto and his incredible performance.

 

Collateral | Netflix Limited Series | A British mystery with more drama than thrills.

Collateral (2018), is a  new four part limited mini-series that was made by BBC and presented to the rest of the world as a Netflix Original. We were thoroughly intrigued by the trailer which promised a lot with the stellar cast. The 4 episodes of this mini series occur over four consecutive days. They have tried to address too many issues in this short mini series, which in my opinion might have muddles the waters a bit. Carey Mulligan as DI Kip Gillespe, Jeany Spark as Major Sandrine Shaw, John Simm as MP David Mars and Nicola Walker (one of my favorite mini screen actors) as a gay clergy were stellar in their roles. 

The series has bits about the pains of a homecoming soldier, the desperation of the refugees fleeing from their terror riddled home countries, drug abuse amongst young mothers,  LGBT acceptance amongst the English clergy, rank abusing Army superiors and the immigration stance that has ravaged all developed nations. They have bitten off more than can chew and it becomes glaringly obvious when you watch the characters struggle with their problems.

To summarize, I would say its a decent watch which promised a lot more than it eventually delivered. Too many issues and too little a screen time (and yet there were a few boring fleeting moments in between) might have acted against in making this an exceptional watch. Its a nice enough watch but nothing earth shattering.

Love Per Square Foot – Netflix Original Hindi – Worth a Watch

Netflix does it again! A much needed breathe of fresh air as far as Hindi movies are concerned. After getting used to the faster than average pace of English series these days, I had given up on Hindi movies when Netflix recommended this gem to me.

The plot starts with character introduction of 2 bank employees, each with a mediocre salary and a dream to own a house in the expensive Mumbai. They run into each other quite by chance and enter a business deal where they pretend to be married so that they can qualify for a housing scheme. They jump head first into this dream considering themselves practical till they realize that their hearts have a different plan. Add to this weird deal two different religions, a little bit of confusion, traditional parents, original and lovely music and a crazy boss lady.

It has the right combination of humor and drama. The story is very well written and the characters are extremely relatable. Perhaps what stands out is the impeccable comic sense even amidst all the drama.

Vicky Kaushal : Resembles a young Hiten Tejwani and delivers an amazing performance and is the star of this movie. For a change, he is an eye candy who can act.

Angira Dhar and Alankrita Sahai are fresh faces who play their role convincingly. They are both beautiful and confident and bring us a smile with their lovely performances.

Ratna Pathak Shah, Supriya Pathak and Raghuvir Yadav: I do not know why such powerful stars were part of this movie but their performance is simply delightful which shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

To summarize – it is a lovely movie that makes you smile long after it is done. (Am writing this review after a day and am still smiling). Go, turn on Netflix and watch this original today.

Mute | Netflix Original Movie | Barely watchable futuristic thriller.

Netflix has pretty much everything about the future sorted out and ready for us to witness. Mute follows the story of  Leo Beiler (Alexander Skarsgård) who is a mute bartender who goes in search for his missing girlfriend (Nadiraah- played by Seyneb Saleh) and Skarsgård is probably the only good thing about the whole movie. The story is set 40 years into the future in Berlin, which is filled with immigrants where all cultures collide. I had read somewhere that the film took the makers 10 odd years to complete and the end product did leave you with a lot of questions and ‘meh’ moments.

Paul Rudd , too put in a pretty good shift as one of the two cocky American surgeons who makes quick bucks by sewing up mob henchmen who get injured in ‘the line of duty’. The first few minutes were intriguing and as the story evolved I was left wondering what the end game was.  The plot is predictable, dialogues uninteresting and  the premises an odd juxtaposition of retro cars, contemporary technologies in a modern/old city ! 

I did want to like this movie but truth be told, it never ever lived up to the expectation and barring the stellar performance put in by Skarsgård , I might not have survived the 2 hour ordeal. 

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.

Netflix: Altered Carbon: No Spoiler Review

Altered Carbon: Author’s Rating: 4.5/5

Our time on this earth ends due to the limitations of our human bodies? What if human consciousness could be transferred from body to body thus making us essentially immortal? And if this is indeed possible, then would the richest amongst us be nothing less than the New Gods? And what happens when ennui hits these new gods with human minds\bodies and too much time on their hands? This interesting concept is explored in delicious detail in this new Netflix Series.

History is written from the perspective of the winners and survivors. A freedom fighter(of sorts) with special skills is woken up after 250 years to be branded a terrorist from the past. He is offered a chance at freedom with full pardon and a lot of money if he could but explain an intriguing and perplexing death of an immortal. In this new world, he has no rights and is the exclusive property of the person whose death he is trying to solve. A cop and a few low lives also take an interest in him for reasons explained throughout the series.

In this age on immortals, what is the extent to which one would go for love? And does one love the soul or the body that the soul is in? Can a love be so strong that it transcends centuries and bodies with a blood trail so huge and wide?

Beautiful acting by the cast. Definitely binge worthy and there is a twist in every episode and all characters and sub stories come together beautifully at the end. Joel Kinnaman did a great job and is now an actor whose career I would be following starting today. Having been a fan of Will Yun Lee since Elektra, it was a pleasant surprise to see him in this as I had not noticed him in the Cast before starting the binge.

Note: The series has a lot of nudity- full frontal and otherwise, but the lovely physiques of the actors involved and the amazing direction adds to the main story without taking anything away and makes every scene look like art.

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.