Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

star-wars-rogue-one-poster

Rogue One: A Star Wars story is the first of the anthology Star Wars movies that will release every alternate year. It’ll be very hard to tell a Star Wars without rooting it in the wide, and often confusing Mythology of the universe. They decided to look to the period between Episode III and Episode IV, the original movie.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tells the tale of how a group of Rebels get hold of the plans of the Death Star and transmit it to the Rebel Alliance. The movie stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, the daughter of the scientist who is working on the Death Star against his will, Galen Erso, played by the magnificent Mads Milkkensen; Jyn is brought into the Rebel Alliance, against her will, to locate a pilot for the Empire, who has gone rogue, and is looking for Saw Garrera, an old friend of both Jyn and Galen, to deliver a message to him about the Death Star. The Rebel Alliance wants this message, but also wants to kill Galen, unaware of the circumstances under which he is working for the Empire. The initial teasers and trailers, though, portrayed a different Star Wars Story, but the reshoots, I’m told, have made all the difference.

As soon as I came out of the movie, I had exactly one thought: this is the best Star Wars movie I’ve seen. But the reason for this is because it was released as a prequel and not the first in the series. If Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the first of series of Star Wars movies, then, I’m sure this movie would’ve flopped. The charm of this movie lies in the fact that it is the eighth live-action movie in the franchise. It is so deeply rooted in the mythology that it is hard to imagine this movie as a first – as a someone’s first Star Wars film- rather than a prequel. But anyway, seeing as how, and when it is placed, and not separated from the rest of the franchise, I think it is the best movie of the series.

Though, I will admit that the characters aren’t all that great, the first act is quite slow, and hard to ease into for a first time inductee. Apart from that, I do love it a lot. Felicity Jones’ Jyn was brilliant, but the actual stand out was Alan Tudyk’s K2SO, the Imperial Droid whose memory was wiped and is now with the Rebel Alliance –  it seems as though the memory wiping, and the rebel alliance induction has given him a heavy dose of sarcasm in his circuitry.

I was pleasantly surprised by how good the recreated Governor Tarkin looked in the movie; I was terrified the days leading up to it thinking it would look horrible, and weird. And I was surprised by the surprise recreation in the final scene of the movie, which directly connects this movie to the original Star Wars, or how it is now known – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

You can see the connection to the new line of movies with a rebel pilot gone rogue, and the hints and flavours of John Williams’ score for The Force Awakens. Michael Giacchino’s score reminds me so much of the original movie’s score.

The movie, every moment of it, reminds me of something else in the franchise, and that is probably why I loved it so much. Every aspect of it is so familiar – from references to Star Wars Rebels, to the returning characters,  to the opening shot of the blue Bantha Milk, to the recreations. It was beautiful. It is beautifully retro, and modern at the same time. 

The writers of the movie, Weitz and Gilroy, have done a brilliant job in weaving in the references, and creating quite the enjoyable movie, but I do wish they had done a slightly better job with some of the characters. Gareth Edwards, who did wonderfully with Godzilla, succeeds once again in making a visually beautiful film. He manages the large sets brilliantly, and I must commend him for the final few minutes of the movie, especially where Vader comes out of the shadows with his lightsaber at the ready – my mind was going all over freaking out, and my eyes were busy orgasming at the beauty of it. Every scene that Darth Vader is in, he looks stunning, and the scene was shot, and directed brilliantly.

So, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, remains my favourite star wars movie since 1977. And we have to wait until next year for Episode VIII.

Arrival Review

**This contains spoilers**

I’m a little late to the party, but nevertheless, I watched Arrival just earlier today;I’ve been waiting for so long to see it! It is based on Ted Chiang’s brilliant novella, Story of Your Life, that won the Nebula Award for best Novella in 2000.

The movie follows Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist, as she is called on to decipher, and translate the language spoken by an alien race that mysteriously appeared in 12 different locations on Earth.

The movie opens to Louise’s daughter dying from cancer, where Louise, very subtly, gives away a major bit of the movie, but one wouldn’t know unless they had previously read the novella. Nonetheless, it opens to the daughter dying. From the get go, the movie has marked itself different from the source material.

From there it moves to the arrival of the Aliens, the so-called Heptapods. Dr. Louise Banks, a distinguished linguist, who has previously worked for the government, is called to help translate the language of the Heptapods, and then, subsequently, communicating with them.

When she is brought to the space ship, she enters a sort of cavern, that is within the space ship that takes them to the “looking-glass,” the device that helps them communicate with these aliens, there is an interesting effect that it has on gravity. She jumps, and lands flat on the sides, and that becomes the down as far as she is concerned (that is, her ‘upright’ is parallel to the plane of the ground. This bit wasn’t in the book, but it was an interesting addition, and I loved it a lot.

She teams up with Ian Donnelly, a theoretical physicist, who is tasked with deciphering their physics and mathematics.

She very quickly figures out that the spoken language is completely useless to the humans, for it is completely unpronounceable by us. She then moves on to their written language, and that seems to be an easier way for the two to communicate. She is building up to asking them the most important question as far as the Military is concerned: “What is your purpose here on Earth?”

A random fun fact: while they are analysing the written script, I caught a glimpse of Mathematica software as their tool. I find this really exciting because I have to use it for my work as well.

When she gets around to asking that question, the answer scares them, and confounds them: “Offer weapon.”

Upon receiving this answer, the Chinese government plans an attack against them. And back at the military base, an explosive is hidden within the ship, and goes off while Louise and Ian are still inside trying to get more information out of them.

Due to this blast, and a couple other things, things escalate very quickly and a bad situation turns far worse. And while they are supposed to evacuate, Louise tries to communicate with them once more, and when she returns, she finally manages to decipher their final message.

While all of this is happening, while she is learning the Heptapod script, she starts experiencing some sort of visions, that is later revealed to be her future. She is remembering the future, and that is because of this neat trick that when you immerse yourself in a language you also start thinking in that language. Since the Heptapod script is non-linear, this leads them to the conclusion that they experience time non-linearly and because of that, Louise, too, has started to do the same.

First off, I absolutely loved the toned down performances by the cast, and, though it’s been said enough already, especially Amy Adams’ performance. She portrayed Louise Banks brilliantly, and I thought it was wonderful.

The script expanded on the universe that Ted Chiang created, and it did so really well. Though, the script did leave out some of the interesting bits of the novella, mainly the physics bit; when the physics bit is happening in the novella, they figure out that the Heptapods find complex mathematics, like Fermat’s principle of least time, more fundamental than they the things we find fundamental. I liked that speculation on physics, the book took care of it really well, and I’m sure they could’ve spent five minutes talking about it; I’m just a bit upset about it.

They changed a lot of the final act of the book; the book’s end game is very different from the movie’s endgame. The movie’s themes are also far more complex than the book’s. I really liked the way they depicted the Heptapod script in the movie, it looked a lot like squid ink writing. The Heptapods, themselves, looked a lot different than I imagined them. Finally, the way the memories of the future, the way it was depicted, I thought it was done really well, a good way to adapt that bit from the source material.

I think the movie is a brilliant adaptation of the novella, and it stays true to the source material, and manages to maintain the concept and the feel, without making it an exact, word-for-word copy of the novella.

I honestly believe that this is one of the best, most innovative, science fiction movie of this past decade. Far superior to Interstellar, or The Martian, or Gravity. (I don’t particularly like the first and the last in that list.)

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Evelyn Greenslade: How was America?

Muriel Donnelly: It made death more tempting.

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the sequel to the 2011 movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The movie stars Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Dame Judi Dench, Richard Gere, Bill Nighy and more. This movie takes place a couple of years (or months) after the previous movie.

Sonny (Dev) and Mrs. Donnelley (Smith) are in the U.S. trying to get funding to build a second hotel. They leave the meeting, having convinced them and they agreed to send an inspector. The two return to the hotel to see that the wedding preparation is going quite well. A little later, two guests arrive at the hotel and Sonny thinks that Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) is the inspector and hence treats him better than the other guest, Lovinia Beech.

The movie is just brilliant. It was well written, the dialogues were brilliant and absolutely gems. Sonny and Mrs. Donnelley had the best dialogues in the movie. Their acting was superb, and what else can one expect from a movie filled with the greats such as Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.

The scenes were shot beautifully and the music just complimented the scenes. Especially the final dance number! That was the single most cutest thing I have ever seen in a movie. All the “oldies” dancing to Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was the best thing ever and was just the icing on the cake!

I absolutely loved this movie and I’m so glad that they didn’t give it a sad ending.

 

 

8.5/10

 

 

 Sonny Kapoor: It takes team work to make a dream work.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on Mark Miller and Dave Gibbons’ comic series The Secret Service. A movie starring Colin Firth as a badass super spy, who wouldn’t want to see it? I mean, Colin Firth (*heart eyes*)!

So the movie follows Harry Hart (Code Name: Galahad) as he train Eggsy to become a part of the Kingsman. Climate Scientist, James Arnold, was kidnapped and dragged into a nefarious plan by Valentine and his hired assassins led by Gazelle. He is trying to ‘cure’ the world of the global warming problem.

The movie is hilarious and a true non-superhero comic book movie. This movie is unafraid of digging into its comic roots and give us a movie that is hilarious and absolutely brilliant in every way. Colin Firth, Teddy Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong and Michael Caine acted brilliantly. Matthew Vaughn’s direction was superb!

**Spoilers**

I see that Colin Firth died in the movie, but the rumour is that he is there in the sequel as well. I hope to see how they play it out.

 9/10

Gone Girl Movie Review

Oh my gods this movie.

When I heard that this book was going to be adapted into a movie, I was terrified. I did not want one of my favourite thrillers to be ruined by a terrible movie adaptation. Then I heard David Fincher was directing and Gillian Flynn, the writer herself was helping translate it to the screen, I was excited.

Excited, but cautiously excited.

The movie open to Nick looking at Amy’s skull, much like the book. This scene is crucial in setting the tone for the rest of the movie. We then see Nick talking to his sister, Margo and we return to his house to find the door open and a missing Amy. It was the day of their 5th anniversary. We are also shown, through flashbacks, the story of how Amy and Nick met and how they got married.

When the police arrive at the scene, they start suspecting Nick, but they don’t go all out against him. Nick tries to follow the clues that Amy left for him as a treasure hunt for their anniversary. Nick also carries out his own investigation to try and find out who has taken his wife.

As the movie progresses, we are shown how Nick changes as time goes on in Amy’s flashbacks and these flashbacks don’t paint a very good picture of Nick. It seems as though someone is framing him and he believes it is his wife. He hires Tanner Bolt, a lawyer to help defend him.

In the second half of the movie, we see Amy planning her escape how she intends to frame her husband for her disappearance and her apparent death. She has fled and has everything planned to the T. But soon, things start going awry. She turns to her ex-boyfriend Desi Collins.

Collins houses her and keeps her captive. She feels the need to escape, makes another plan to take care of her situation. She returns to her husband all bloody and cries rape. But Nic doesn’t trust her and he tells her. She manipulates him into staying with her and this is the twisted version of a happy ending that Gillan Flynn gives us.

Now, what I loved about this movie is how close an adaptation to the book it is. And it is a difficult book to adapt! The thing about the book is that  it sets the tone for the character form the very beginning and it lays suspicion on Nick. The movie, does a brilliant job in doing the same. David Fincher manages to direct it beautifully and the music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross compliments the scenes perfectly.

Ben Affleck’s acting is surprisingly very very good. NPH’s darkly comic take on Desi is also perfect; no one else could play it better. But the person who stole the show was Rosamund Pike. Her portrayal of Amy is brilliant and perfect. She was cold, and terrifying and scary and all kinds of deranged. Rosamund Pike scares me; I will have nightmares about her.