John Wick 3: Parabellum – Just for the action.

I was shocked to see the amount of people in the theater, cheering and applauding, for Keanu Reeves (as John Wick). My question to them is that where were they in the first two parts?

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Yes, there is a huge audience for insane action films with a hint of the thriller genre in it. Yet, I still remember vividly, there were ten or probably fifteen people in the theater, when the first John Wick (2014) had released. I am glad, for Keanu Reeves, for the fact that his fans have outnumbered the amount of how many there were before this. But were they really fans? When many of them weren’t even present in first two parts of this series?

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Let’s now get to the ultimate topic. The film. Look, it has always been a mediocre story-line when spoken about John Wick films. The director, Chad Stehalski and writers Derek Kosltad (lone writer of the first two parts), Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Marc Abrams tried their level best to evolve the film, making it vast, including more actors and better villains. It is also appreciable that in that ‘vastness’, it’s not only guns what he is playing with this time, it’s horses, dogs, knives, axes, swords and motorbikes too.

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The drawbacks of this film might not be too many but one is that too much of Keanu’s physical skills were being displayed, where he looked fatigued and laid back. Now, there was an action scene [might be interesting for some], a fight scene rather, with one of the Japanese foes, where too much of screen time was being used and it literally felt elastic, given the fast-paced state of the film. Nonetheless, the background score excelled and the comedy content, taking a good portion in the film, also, makes it worthy of the extra point.

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Fortifying actors who reprise their roles, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Randall Duk Kim and Lance Reddick and the new ones, Asia Kate Dillon, Halle Berry, Angelica Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Jerome Flynn are simply fantastic, in their little roles.

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With all that being said, John Wick 3: Parabellum proves to be slightly better than it’s previous two parts. I will remind you to watch the first two parts before going for this one. It is not a standalone. It is connected.

3.5/5

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Aladdin – Ecstatic. A perfect remodel.

It is one of those jubilant films which you could watch more than once. It definitely makes you sentimental and glad at the same time, bringing those precious memories back, which you loved and adored in the early nineties.

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Guy Ritchie (direction and screenplay) and his co-writer, John August had two main responsibilities. First, not to make too many changes to the story and second, to bring the exact same feel of the cartoon film Aladdin to the moviegoers, in this realistic form/version. They did it. To all those critics who gave this film a mediocre or below average rating, I want to be on the contrary. It is a semi-musical [according to me]. Be prepared for that. Even the cartoon film was, where the characters would express their innermost feelings through the medium of a melody. It didn’t seem weird, even after twenty six years.

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Mena Massoud (as Aladdin) & Naomi Scott (as Princess Jasmine) are confident and are more than apt for their roles. You will understand that from their first respective shots. It is quite fascinating how they managed to sing their parts themselves, so tunefully, which really brought relevance to their characters. It is quite better than making a professional sing for you.

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There couldn’t be a better Genie in a half-animated Aladdin than Will Smith. He has agreed and followed the rules of a musical. He hasn’t hesitated and has shown a full spirit towards his role. He is singing, dancing, having fun and all so gracefully. Smith is one of the vital reasons I would recommend this motion-picture to everyone. The flavor he brought to the film is the tastiest you’ll ever get. Two characters, which I found to be a little less convincing were Jafar (played by Marwan Kenzari), in terms of his ability to portray the antagonist, and The Sultan (played by Navid Neghaban), who, when compared to the cartoon film, was cute, fun-loving, jolly and sometimes childish. Herein, he is rigid, not all over the place, a little strict and adamant.

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The parrot Lago (played by Alan Tudyk), which was played by Gilbert Gottfried in the 1992 animated film of the same name, sadly has a very limited role (alike The Sultan) in the flick. Numan Acar played the splendid Hakim. Furthermore, the soundtrack is remade by same composer of Aladdin (1992) Alan Menken, elegantly. He is accompanied by Golden Globe winner duo, Pasek & Paul, in making the background score and music flawlessly.

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What’s new about the film? Just a little. New generation music and dance (hip-hop, rap, beat-boxing etc.) obviously because Will Smith is in it. Also, the magic tricks genie performs, while exaggerating his powers, have been added with things which weren’t available back then, in the 90’s. An addition of a character, Dalia (Princess Jasmine’s handmaiden) didn’t seem unnecessary.

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Aladdin is the most perfect adaptation of it’s animation film. There is nothing to dislike in the film. With a world class direction, graphics, plot and soundtrack, it will keep you entertained and delighted till the end.

4.5/5

Sacred Games – Game changer.

I tweeted, tagging the cast and creators of this show post watching it, lauding and being really glad about India upping their game with this masterpiece. Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane have created a prodigy, after all.

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It is said that novels are much better than shows which are based on them. But, I think Kashyap (director) and Varun Grover, Smita Singh & Vasant Nath (screenplay writers) flipped that scenario by making this so craftily. Undoubtedly, it is based on Vikram Chandra‘s novel of the same name from 2006.

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About a year from the release of this glorious show, I had heard confirmations of Khan making his debut on a TV platform or rather web series which made him the first out of all Bollywood actors to do so. I was skeptical yet felt proud. Then when the poster released of this and Nawazuddin Siddiqui was seen playing an antagonist. There went my skepticism, out of the window, almost instantaneously.

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Let’s see what we have here. Exceptional veteran actors (Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Saif Ali Khan, Pankaj Tripathi, Aamir Bashir, Neeraj Kabi, Chittaranjan Tripathy, Samir Kochhar, Saurabh Sachdeva & Girish Kulkarni) and proficient new ones (Jatin Sarna, Rajshri Deshpande, Kubra Sait, Surveen Chawla, Geetanjali Thapa, Anil Charanjeet, Radhika Apte & Vikram Kochar). A well-written and conceptualized story (Grover, Singh & Nath). A mind boggling background score (Alokananda Dasgupta) and musical track (Phenom, Divine & Rachita Arora). Plus, to top it off, a phenomenal direction (Kashyap & Motwane) and superb photography work (Swapnil Sonawale, Sylvester Fonsenca & Aseem Bajaj). You cannot go wrong. Sacred Games is my Netflix recommend, if you STILL haven’t seen it.

4.5/5