New Delhi: The absence of any major Hindi movies this Friday in the run-up to Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero next week has allowed Hollywood releases to take centrestage in theatres.

American superhero film Aquaman directed by James Wan starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson and Dolph Lundgren consists of extremely elemental dialogue exchanges surrounded by a flood of waterlogged action sequences, says The Hollywood Reporter. The film is so elemental in its tall-tale telling and its concentration on royalty and the overriding significance of battle that it feels closer in nature to myth than do most comics-derived epics.

The plot is honestly a mess: over-complicated yet predictable, says Empire magazine. What makes the film passably entertaining is that director Wan throws astonishing amounts of action at the wall, and much of it sticks (though not always together). There’s entertainment in watching something so outrageously over-the-top, exploding in such strange ways.

Ben Is Back directed by Peter Hedges, starring his son Lucas Hedges, Julia Roberts, and Courtney B. Vance is an honest, if uneven effort, says Vanity Fair. Roberts and Vance, both among the best performers working, could do this kind of film with their eyes closed. Maybe that’s a way of saying that even if it all feels a little low effort, you can clearly see their talent. And maybe that lack of fireworks is a good thing. The film doesn’t glamorize addiction, or make it irrationally melodramatic, or gussy itself up in bespoke tragedy.

Ben is Back is the latest American film or TV show to deal with drug addiction and recovery in recent months. The end results are mixed, but otherwise commendable in their own right. Buoyed by the affecting performances from Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, Ben is Back makes for a compelling (though uneven) exploration of addiction, according to screenrant.com.

Animated superhero film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld and Mahershala Ali is an infectiously fun take on comic bookishness, says Vulture. It feels like the first major animated film in ages to actively try something stylistically new that didn’t involve proprietary Scandinavian building blocks. The film is referential to 2-D drawing but still dimensional, a faint texture of crosshatching and Benday dots creeps in the corners and in the nooks and crannies of characters’ faces. It’s kinetic, often abstract, and relentlessly inventive.

Tamil thriller Thuppakki Munai starring Hansika Motwani and Vikram Prabhu directed by Dinesh Selvaraj is an uneven action drama, but the message lends it topical relevance, says The Times Of India. It all sounds exciting on paper, but the execution onscreen doesn’t quite match what we expect from a film in this genre. The tone keeps veering between gritty action and full-blown melodrama and this robs the film of intensity.

Telugu/Malayalam fantasy thriller Odiyan directed by V. A. Shrikumar Menon starring Mohanlal would have been a highly engaging film even for the fans expecting a mass movie had the length been trimmed, says The Times of India. Even then, the film banks on good performances, a well thought-out script and brilliant action sequences that family audiences would enjoy.

Marathi action film Mauli directed by Aditya Sarpotdar starring Riteish Deshmukh and Saiyami Kher fuses together the action and mythological genres and combines slow-motion brawls with acts of divine munificence, says Scroll. Predictable to a fault, with patches of humour and standard-issue action scenes, the movie coasts along.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Hindi films PK Lele A Salesman and Bhaagte Raho, Tamil action heist drama Johnny, Telugu romantic comedy Hushaaru, Telugu romantic drama Anaganaga O Premakatha and Punjabi romantic comedy Bhajjo Veero Ve.

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