New Delhi: A bunch of mid-sized films vie for attention this week as the summer gets underway, promising more big-ticket offerings progressively.

Rani Mukerji-starrer Hichki, directed by Sidharth P. Malhotra, is one of those inspirational films that careens dangerously between being strongly inspirational and insipidly utopian, says Gulf News. While Mukerji and her gang of students come out with flying colours on the acting front, the film isn’t high on novelty. The twists and conflicts are painfully predictable. Hichki is intent on communicating life-affirming philosophies such as “there are no bad students, but just bad teachers" and “conquer your fear and fly free", but there were moments in this drama which are laboriously didactic.

Hichki, beyond doubt, belongs to Mukerji as she gets into the skin of the character and stays in the body language of a person with Tourette syndrome throughout the film, says Khaleej Times. We are briefly introduced to the lives of the children but don’t really know their back stories. This makes it difficult to empathise with them and you don’t really connect with their struggles. Although they are central to the film, you don’t move with their emotions and that is probably the weakest part of the script. Overall, the film is predictable as it follows the story of underdogs whose lives are changed with a stubborn teacher rooting for them.

For Hollywood fans, American science fiction action film Pacific Rim Uprising, directed by Steven S. DeKnight and starring John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny and Jing Tian, comes to India this week. Forbes calls it the Saturday morning cartoon version of Pacific Rim. Like all too many movies of this nature, it plays like an extended pilot for long-form storytelling that we’ll probably never get to see, even if Uprising does its job as a singular stand-alone narrative. While it lacks the grandeur and mythmaking of Guillermo del Toro’s original, it offers superb special effects work, a surprisingly restrained story that offers a genuine plot twist or two and some solid character work. Most importantly, it offers Boyega in a truly winning leading man turn that makes the movie worth watching on that merit alone.

The movie balances amiable humour and standard believe-in-yourself bromides with better-than-average action sequences, says The New York Times. As sequels to sci-fi action thrillers showcasing giant metallic fighters go, Pacific Rim Uprising is adroit and enjoyable.

Horror film The Strangers: Prey at Night, directed by Johannes Roberts and starring Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman, is so programmed it could be a video game, says Variety magazine. There’s no real terror or dread in it, just the same old meat-puppet gore and cattle-prod scares served up with a kind of ritualized self-satisfaction. There’s nothing very clever about the staging, and the whole killers-in-ironic-smiling-masks thing has been done so often that it has lost just about all its nightmare creep value.

In the south, Telugu family drama Needi Naadi Oke Katha, starring Sree Vishnu and Satna Titus and directed by Udugula Venu, is a realistic, honest and thought provoking film, says telugu360.com. It is relatable not only to unsuccessful youth, but also to successful ones. However, the sentimental, preachy, single thread film may have limited commercial appeal because of its genre.

Punjabi war film Sajjan Singh Rangroot, directed by Pankaj Batra and starring Diljit Dosanjh, Yograj Singh and Sunanda Sharma, combines a new angle on the First World War with an old-fashioned appeal, says The Guardian: a broadly fictionalised commemoration of those Sikh soldiers who served in the British Indian army, it flits between the usual barrack-room bonding and memories of girls back home before launching into final-reel shows of heroism and sacrifice. It’s aiming for undemanding, foursquare matinee viewing rather than anything probing or lasting.

Hindi film Shaadi Teri Bajayenge Hum Band, Telugu comedy drama Rajaratham, Marathi film Baban and Bengali drama Rong Beronger Kori haven’t inspired any reviews yet.

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