Monday, January 30, 2017

Inferno

Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, 
Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babett Knudsen

"His greatest Challenge.
Humanity's last Hope."


I read Dan Brown's novel "Inferno" when it first came out and even though the details are a bit sketchy, I still remember the main premise. A Dante obsessed billionaire named Bertrand Zobrist overly concerned about the growing population plans a biological attack that is guaranteed to claim many casualties to achieve his insane quest to protect and save the planet's dwindling resources. 

I also remember that Robert Langdon wakes up with amnesia in a hospital in Florence then travels with a perfect stranger, a certain Dr. Sienna Brooks all over the world finding clues to prevent this horrific attack. The book was very details oriented with numerous colorful characters, symbolical/ historical references and set in exotic locales. I was curious if they could successfully translate this engrossing novel into a worthy film. 

Tom Hanks reprises his role as symbologist/professor Robert Langdon and as usual he can really do no wrong even if he was presented with a really lame script. The film suffered from editing problems as most, if not all of the vital materials from the book were turned into a confused mixture of short yet fast paced sequences which lost its coherence. 

It had Professor Langdon and Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) literally running all over the world looking for clues which no one could relate to. I also found Felicity Jones's thick British accent quite distracting, I don't know why it bothered me so much. 

Most of the supporting cast played one dimensional characters, not properly fleshed out, so you have a tendency to forget their names. The exotic locales all molded together like clay, barely giving you enough time to admire the beautiful scenery and its symbolic relevance in the grand scheme of the lunatic billionaire.

Tom Hanks had barely enough material to work on in "Sully" and still gave a heartfelt performance which really says a lot about his thespian skills. On the other hand, "Inferno" had an overload of materials to absorb that having amnesia would be a welcome relief.

I liked the novel but this Ron Howard directed movie adaptation was quite a disappointment! Perhaps it is time that Tom Hanks hang up Langdon's Mickey Mouse wristwatch for good. He should think twice before he revives the symbologist for Dan Brown's 4th novel The Lost Symbol or demand a much better and well crafted script, next time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sully

Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart

"The untold Story behind
the Miracle on the Hudson"


This film is based on actual events which occurred on January 15, 2009 when Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River without any casualties among the 155 passengers + crew on board.

It was considered a miracle as the plane was still intact and all souls were saved. It was a quick decision on Capt. Sully's part as he felt the plane could not make it back to La Guardia airport in time. A calm demeanor amidst a crisis and armed with a confidence that can only come from years of experience as a seasoned pilot, his bold move affirms that Sully made the correct judgment call.

This Clint Eastwood directed film takes a look at the behind the scenes during the grueling hours that Capt. Sully and First Officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) endured during the fact finding investigation which followed after the emergency landing on the Hudson. While Sully was feted by the mainstream media as a hero for his actions, his decision was being scrutinized and analyzed by several agencies tasked to investigate the crash.  It is during these interrogations that we are shown flash back scenes of the suspenseful minutes before, during and after the emergency landing.

Sully is ably portrayed by THE Tom Hanks who can be relied upon to play any role, brilliantly. But the fact remains that the direction/angle that Eastwood concentrated on does not really reveal the true persona of Sully. So this won't qualify as a biopic but merely an interesting chapter in Sully's life. 

Even Sully's family wasn't portrayed effectively as we only see Laura Linney in a brief role as his patient wife who waits by the phone to hear any updates about her heroic husband. The passengers too are just nameless individuals not thoroughly fleshed out and they just happened to be on the ill-fated plane which was struck by birds upon take-off thus causing both engines to fail.

There is no doubt that Tom Hanks was the main draw of the film and he did a good job. So even if the story deserved to be told, it didn't quite take off as expected and it needed a miracle to succeed as an effective chronicle of a heroic incident.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bridget Jones' s Baby

Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth,
Patrick Dempsey, Gemma Jones,
Jim Broadbent

"Old Flame. New Fling. Big Problem."


After almost 2 decades, beloved Bridget Jones is back. She is now 43 years old, less chubby yet still her goofy adorable self. Now working as a TV producer, her career is thriving even though she is still very much single.

Renee Zellweger reprises her role as the charming Bridget complete with the British accent and dry humor without missing a single beat. Bridget is in a dilemma when she finds out she is pregnant and is not sure who her baby daddy is. The two 'culprits' are either Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), her ex-flame with whom she hooks up at a friend's wedding and Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey), an American billionaire she meets at a music festival. 

The film goes through great lengths to keep the audience guessing who is the father of Bridget Jones's baby. We are kept entertained with the corny (for want of a better word) and funny (mis)adventures of dear Bridget. She does her best to keep the two men in her lives separate from each other but we all know that eventually they are bound to cross paths and understandably, chaos ensues. 

All the lead characters (Colin Firth, Renee Zellweger and Patrick Dempsey) are older both physically and mentally yet they still retain the charming qualities which endeared them to us their avid fans from way back when the franchise first started. The movie and the novels on which it was based inspired many single chubby (or otherwise) ladies to never lose hope.  

It was refreshing to see these characters again even though the story veered towards the absurd and sometimes ridiculous scenarios which Bridget always finds herself in. The feel-good predictable conclusion is a fitting happily-ever-after ending for this much loved character.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Girl on The Train

Emily Blunt, Luke Evans,
Haley Bennett, Edgar Ramirez,
Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson

"What you can See can Hurt you"


This film adaptation of Paula Hawkins' novel stars Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson, a divorced alcoholic whose shattered life makes her prone to daydreaming. During her daily commute, she likes to imagine about the lives of the people whose houses she passes by while sitting on her usual seat in a train. 

It doesn't really do her any good (it evokes painful memories) as she also happens to pass by her old house where her ex husband Tom (Justin Theroux) now lives with his wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) the woman with whom he had an affair during their marriage and their young child. 

Rachel has specifically developed a fixation on Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (Luke Evans), whose home is a few houses away from her former residence. They seem like a 'perfect couple' until Megan suddenly goes missing and Rachel may or may not be involved in her disappearance.

I read the novel in its e-book version so it was mostly absorbed during bed time on a laptop in a dimly lit bedroom as I didn't want to disturb the hubby's much needed sleep. The novel was divided into chapters with each one focused on the three very different female characters namely Rachel, Megan and Anna.

Their different perspectives as the story tackled on the testy subjects of abuse, alcoholism and the portrayal of women as weak and needy characters was interesting but truth be told, it was messy and the writing wasn't good, at all. Yet it also held enough weight to convey its point across to the readers.

Emily Blunt as Rachel was the glue that held the entire film together. Her characterization of Rachel was visceral and her nuanced  emotions were as varied as the numerous mood swings of Rachel. Sure the film had its share of tension filled moments and enough suspense to keep you focused on the story, yet at the same time it lacked substance and depth to make it a well crafted form of narrative. 

This begs the question; why did it fail? I believe the novel itself was poorly written so the film didn't really have much to work on. But the movie remained loyal to the structure of the book. In that regard, the movie exceeded its expectations and it is just rather unfortunate it failed to be a riveting drama.
 

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