New Delhi: A spate of releases has left movie buffs with several options this week.
Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped, starring Rajkummar Rao, is a fantastic albeit loopholed survival thriller, says India Today. Motwane captures an entire panoply of emotions on Rao’s face—from irritation to anger to helplessness to fear. There are many close-ups and the actor nails nearly all of them. Besides the mostly taut story, the film relies heavily on its male lead and Rao does a fabulous job.
The Indian Express is not as impressed, calling the film uneven. There are not enough genuinely scary heart-in-mouth moments. Rao’s despair stays mostly on the surface when you want to see more of the soul. Given Motwane’s skills at creating emotions, and Rao’s ability to channel them, Trapped doesn’t take us as far over the edge it could, or should have.
Abbas-Mustan’s romantic thriller Machine, starring Mustafa Burmawala and Kiara Advani, is quite simply the worst film you’ll see in a long time, says Bollywood Life. Apart from a couple of supporting actors, the film is a messy affair with lame subplots, amateur performances and cringe worthy dialogues. The lack of logic doesn’t help.
Mantra, starring Rajat Kapoor and Kalki Koechlin and directed by Nicholas Kharkongor, effectively seeks to document the critical time of India’s economic liberalization and the long-drawn effects of the same that began in 1991, says Hindustan Times. There are nods to red-tapism in business, to the minister-businessman nexus, and the rise of the extreme right wing. In that, Mantra ticks all the boxes, and touches upon crucial issues that defined the period. But the links are weak, and the subplots episodic. You end up wishing more screen time had been dedicated to the smaller, more relatable stories.
For Hollywood fans, American musical romantic dark fantasy film Beauty and the Beast, directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline and Josh Gad, comes to India this week. Variety magazine calls Disney’s live-action remake of its 1991 animated classic a sometimes entrancing, sometimes awkward mixture of re-creation and reimagining. It justifies its existence yet never totally convinces you it’s a movie the world was waiting for. It’s not that Condon does anything too clunky or square. It’s that the material loses its slapstick spryness when it’s not animated. The sequence isn’t bad, it’s just standard.
Vulture.com calls it a lifeless recreation of the original, despite its considerable technological advantage. Unfortunately over two hours long, the film is padded out by a hugely unnecessary number of non–Ashman-Menken musical numbers and a pointless detour where Belle finds out what happened to her missing mother. At every turn, it seems to ask itself if what the original film did was enough, and answers with a definitive “no”.
Before I Fall, directed by Ry Russo-Young, and starring Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller and Kian Lawley, is a neatly written Heathers-meets-Groundhog Day high-concept package that delivers both technical polish and a toothsome yet likeable cast, says The Hollywood Reporter. The film offers a pretty right-on moral lesson but without feeling preachy and it’s especially refreshing to see that like several other recent films that target young women, the key to undoing the magic spell lies not in some “heteronormative” pair bonding between the heroine and the right boy, but in performing an act of sisterly empathy.
A.V Club is less impressed, calling it a mopey Groundhog Day for teens. A smarter movie would play up an element of wish-fulfilment, but Before I Fall never allows its mean girl to enjoy or even misunderstand her karmic punishment. Ultimately, though, the film’s real undoing is that it zaps all the fun and humour out of its time-bending premise, leaving behind a lot of moping to randomly selected pop cues.
In the south, Tamil comedy Kattappava Kanom, directed by Mani Seiyon and starring Sibiraj and Aishwarya Rajesh, is one of the films that would have worked big time if it was funnier and wackier, says Hindustan Times. Nevertheless, with an interesting premise about the lives of a few characters that revolve around a Feng Sui fish, it’s an amusing diversion from regular Tamil cinema. After a sporadically fun-filled first half, as a viewer you’re taken by surprise by the course the second half takes and the adult humour leaves you in splits.
Telugu action thriller Nenorakam, directed by Sudharshan Salendraa and starring Sai Ram Shankar and Rashmi Menon, works, thanks to a suspense-filled second half, says 123telugu.com. Salendraa does a good job of executing thrills and keeping the plot convincing. If you manage to sit through the routine and mundane first part, the film ends up as a decent watch.
Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Govinda-starrer Aa Gaya Hero, Tamil action comedy Bruce Lee, Telugu film Vellipomakey, Telugu romantic actioner O Pilla Nee Valla, Malayalam movies C/O Saira Banu and Alamara, Kannada crime drama Shuddhi, Marathi film Garbh and Punjabi movie Jindua.