My March Madness – A collection of reviews

Its been one hell of a month. I am almost done with my college and hence, have a lot of free time to pass. Thus, I chose to do the things which I won’t be able to after I get a job – sleep till late, watch as many movies and TV series I can and try to cover up some part of my Goodreads Reading Challenge (Following last year’s success, I gave myself a challenge of reading at least 25 books this year of which I have read only 3 till now and its already March, I found dust on my Kindle this morning). Scavenging through Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and any other online movies platform on which I can get my hands on, I came across some really cool stuff. So, in this entry, let me tell you about some of the amazing books, TV series and movies I went through. The order in which they are written here does not represent my preference towards them. All of these are just the highlight of my month.

Let’s start with the one I didn’t particularly like but was one of my most anticipated movie of the year.


Pacific Rim: Uprising

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I am a fan of the Pacific Rim. Mostly because of Guillermo Del Toro who hasn’t made even one movie which I don’t like. So, when I saw the trailer for Uprising, I was intrigued. The trailer promised a lot more action and stellar star cast.

Uprising is like the first film, but without everything good that one had. You will not feel emotionally connected to any of the characters to feel bad if they die or are about to die. The 1-liners are irritating and the Kaijus are unimpressive. They tried to build the background story for the characters, but they are too many. The first half is filled with discussions, backstories, explanations and technical terms. The second half holds some action but none of that is memorable enough. The visuals are definitely better than the transformers but without the emotional factor which the first movie had, it’s no better than transformers series. The climax can be pretty much summed up by this dialogue, ‘Fire everything you got’.
I just hope they bring more story in the third instalment. We liked the first one because it was different and badass. This is watchable, but not likeable enough.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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The Night – A novel by Elie Weisel1617.jpg

The book is written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. An American Jewish writer from Romania and also, an Auschwitz survivor. Everything in the books screams that the author remembers everything as it was yesterday. Some of the atrocities witnessed by him which he mentioned in the book are so heinous, it will leave you thinking for quite some time.
The book is edited by his wife Marion and a few chapters were added. One such chapter, in the end, is the speech Elie gave at his Nobel Prize acceptance ceremony at it will win your heart. It urges us to fight against the injustice happening in the world against humanity. It gives a feeling that even after enduring so much, he made sure that his life will be meaningful and he will not stay quiet about what had happened and what is happening still. And that spirit, of not just survival, but fighting till the end is with which the book finishes.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars


Annihilation

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Annihilation is a movie about a team which goes into the Shimmer – this eerie place which suddenly appeared on earth one day and is now spreading its range. The team’s objective is to find out what is happening inside which is making the previous teams to never return. The task seems simple enough but it’s not though.

The movie is directed by Alex Garland from the fame Ex Machina. With only two credits to his name, Alex has achieved wonders. Annihilation is as beautiful as it is engaging. It has so many things all in one package. The movie has the precise amount of obscurity which is essential for it to stick to audience’s mind and persist for a long time after watching it. I was really disappointed when they decided to halt the worldwide release and make it available on Netflix because the visuals are amazing. Natalie Portman was astonishing as a soldier scientist who goes into the shimmer out of curiosity to know what happened to her husband, the sole survivor who does not seem himself since he returned. Apart from her, I really liked Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character portrayal.

Annihilation is like Arrival (2016 movie by Denis Villeneuve) in so many manners. It is not quite an alien invasion flick. For the most part, you don’t know a lot of things but you’re so enthralled by the movie that you will most definitely stick till the end to clear all your uncertainty, even come back to some of the scenes to gain clarity.  I would love to see something like this again. It was original, visually stunning and captivating.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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The crucible – A novel by Arthur Miller

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No doubt this is a book which most adequate for inclusion in school programs. It is written in a simplistic manner so as to be understood by high school students but I wouldn’t call it childish, or immature in any manner. It is an interesting literary work and should be praised for it. But, I have doubts about what exactly the author had in mind about the message he wants to convey with it.
The describes how a mass hysteria engulfed the town of Salem where it felt like everyone was being accused of being either a witch or being associated with the devil in some way. The play perfectly describes how a rumour spreads and how a whole town gets convinced so easily when the motivation is fear – fear of God, fear of being hanged, fear of losing their loved ones and fear of bringing shame to their name. It describes how even a mistake can be enough to get you in trouble if the people around you are paranoid and convinced that the devil resides in the town.
What I couldn’t understand is why the play shows girls actually trying to spread the mass hysteria. Wouldn’t it be more effective if, in this work of fiction, the girls who were accused of witchcraft were actually innocent? Without that, I found it difficult to feel pity towards any of the characters, be it the accused or the accuser. Another reason, not one female character felt strong enough. They were either too timid or too silent for what was happening. I guess the author wanted to convey that that was the way women used to survive in that type of society – by hiding their desires and emotions and staying away from the centre stage in any situation.
Nevertheless, I am glad I read it. Through the tale told in this work, the author tried to bring to light how difficult it was for women at that time in Salem to open their mouth and not say something with offends someone in some way or the other.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.


Tomb Raider

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Although it has funny puns on previous movies, like, ‘I am not that kind of Croft’ and ‘Finally, a Croft with some sense’, it is very serious in its task to differentiate it from Jolie’s Croft.
I think people who are fans of the Tomb Raider are actually fans of Jolie’s portrayal of the character rather than the films. In this film, which is actually an origin story, you’ll see Croft scared, crying and getting beat up but eventually rising above. For that Alicia Vikander was a really good choice. She is funny and timid at the start but until the end, she will make you believe that she can pull this series off. Other than that, the series even has potential to go on a totally different path and create a prequel of it involving Dominic West in the avatar of Papa Croft. It depends on the success of this one, where this series is headed.
The movie has some nice twists and turns, some amazing visuals and stunts and a really cool follow-up story to build in the next film.
Go and watch it guys. It’s a Hollywood Masala entertainer.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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Veronica

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I love watching foreign language movies. Especially Spanish, as it is one language I understand a little bit. Also, one of the best suspense mysteries come from Spanish cinema (The Secret in their Eyes, The Invisible Guest, to name a few).

The plot of Veronica is pretty straightforward – A teen is followed home by a Demon after she and her friends played Ouija. You must’ve seen the post which went viral proclaiming that this is the scariest movie you would see in a really long time and how only 1 out of every 100 people was able to compete it. Let me say this – bullsh*t.

Not the most terrifying as many reviewers are saying but it sure is a good watch. Paco Plazza could not take it to the level of [Rec] which is one amazing found footage ass-kicking zombie flick.
What I liked most about Veronica is that something is happening all the time because of which the theme is always dark. My friends and I were making sure nobody makes a sound because of the anticipation that something or the other will sprung up from the closet or come out from below the bed. So, that sort of things made this movie an enjoyable one.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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 Counterpart – A Starz Sci-fi thriller

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Counterpart is based on this amazing concept. Something happened during the Second World War because of which the world got split into two parallel dimensions. Now, there is an organization which keeps the balance between the world by acting as border patrol at the gateway through which you can travel to the other dimension. It all becomes visible to a low-level employee when he found out that his ‘Counterpart’ – i.e. himself from the other world has come through and all hell is about to break loose.

The best thing about Counterpart – J.K. Simmons. He portrayal of two different persons, who share some portion of their childhood but have a totally different life after that, is marvellous. Although, the whole cast is amazing at what they do, though many times it feels like he is carrying the whole weight on his shoulder. The show has a political angle as well, which gives the creators pretty much every liberty to work around their own imagination. The finale will air on 25th of March. I hope they finish it at a high point so as the audience will be left wanting for more.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.



Now I can see I’ve been going on for so long! That’s it for now. March was a wild month for me. Can’t remember how many movies and TV series I saw. I promise if I remember something which I should’ve included in this list, I’ll cover it in my next blog. Till then, as Oliver used to say in Call Me by Your Name, ‘Later!’.

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