Friday, 31 May 2019

Aladdin (2019)

I have shiny, dazzle-bright childhood memories of watching the fun, breezy, animated version of Aladdin (1992) at a cinema hall in Kerala and that is half the reason why I saw the live action remake. 

A spell of miscasting?
Director Guy Ritchie, largely aloof to the content's potential madness, serves up an uneven, abrupt start with songs that just don't fit, couple of actors who are clearly either miscast or misdirected (Mena Massoud is just about bearable as Aladdin, while Marwan Kenzari as Jafar lacks menace and villainy), though Naomi Scott makes up for it by looking absolutely gorgeous and every bit a princess.

I wished to be entertained, a lot more...
It takes Will Smith's genie to crackle, sparkle while doing a straight-faced "Hitch" kind of mentor for the hapless Aladdin for about 20 minutes of pre-interval LOL laughs. The joyous recreation of two jazzy original Alan Menken songs (Friend Like Me, Prince Ali) Will Smith-style (songs the fabulous Robin Williams literally owned) is a mean achievement. 

But the build-up doesn't scale any new heights in the second half and Aladdin ends up as a bearable, mostly unnecessary remake. 

I wish...Brad Bird was directing...
This version further consolidated my theory that the quirkiness of the Disney original could have been outdone again only in animation by a more animation-friendly director like Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2) or by telling a new story, instead of repeating more of the same old plot. Like, how about a madcap genie origin story, if Will Smith is up for it?  

The Will Smith Show
Go watch Aladdin solely for Will Smith's wisecracking, straight-faced comic timing and hip-hop moves and do not expect anything close to spectacular. 

I wish, I wish...
Hoping against hope now that Disney will not spoil the unforgettable memories I have of The Lion King (1994) and that Jon Favreau goes better than his decent The Jungle Book (2016) rendering in another (yawn, snore?) live-action remake of an animation classic.   

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Avengers:Endgame (2019)

First things first. Avengers: Endgame is a Marvel Studios classic! Say hello again to light feathery humour, endearing superhero bonding, relatable true-to-life dialogues and tight, breathless action sequences. 

Avengers: Endgame is a smashing, bonafide blockbuster, an epic popcorn crunching seat grabber that lives up to its hype. 

Following the shocking events of Avengers: Infinity War, we meet a group of defeated, melancholy superheroes who haven't given up yet.  

Without giving anything away, watch out for the subdued, dying Ironman, a mellow Captain America, a murderous Hawkeye, a pot-bellied Thor, wisecracking Rocket and other eye-catching superheroes. 

Relive comic book magic
Not everything seamlessly blends together in every scene, but the jokes all work, except for some pop-references (The Big Lebowski tribute, among others) that less aware audiences will miss.

The fun of superheroes mocking each other even in such desperate times, leading to the superb final hour battle brought out many appreciative hoots from the evening show audience. That funky kind of carefreeness gives a complicated Avengers: Endgame plot its summer groove.  

Three-hour spectacle 
The three hours glide away, thanks to the well-explained (if hazy at parts) troubleshooting story, unwavering direction, lively ensemble cast, and steady pacing. 

Screenplay writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus achieve quite a feat to keep the speculative audience guessing. With zillions of pre-movie theories that have been going around, the final outcome is beautiful - sad, unexpected, happy and satisfying, all at the same time. Minor grumble - the 3D doesn't add to the viewing experience.

Catch it on the big screen 
For Marvel fans who have lived the story and many story threads over the last decade, this will be an emotional goodbye, and what a fitting conclusion Avengers: Endgame has turned out to be. 

Avengers: Endgame is a celebration of everything we love about superhero comic book movies. It's not the best MCU movie ever, but up there with the best. I can't wait to catch the movie again next week.  

Don't miss Avengers: Endgame on the big screen! Marvel fans assemble!