Friday film wrap: 'Notebook', 'Junglee' compete with 'Us', 'Dumbo'

  • Romantic drama Notebook has an unremarkable lead pair but an underwhelming dull love story
  • Action thriller Junglee directed by Chuck Russell starring Vidyut Jammwal, Pooja Sawant, and Asha Bhat is not a patch on Haathi Mere Saathi

NEW DELHI : It’s a very crowded week at the movies.

Romantic drama Notebook directed by Nitin Kakkar, starring Zaheer Iqbal and Pranutan Bahl, has an unremarkable lead pair, an underwhelming dull love story in which the actors don’t share the screen for nearly the entire duration of the narrative, some of the most ravishing views of Kashmir yet, a bunch of adorable children and a soundtrack with a few good tunes, says Scroll. Location is everything, the dictum goes, and it applies firmly to Notebook, injecting a suggestion of sublimity into a stilted romance with simplistic politics.

The two-hour romantic film is an easy breezy film with almost no drama, says India Today. Notebook has an interesting concept, that of two people falling in love without meeting each other, but the film fails to move beyond that one-line plot. By the time the film picks up pace, the end credits roll, making it a tad disappointing.

Action thriller Junglee directed by Chuck Russell starring Vidyut Jammwal, Pooja Sawant, and Asha Bhat is not a patch on Haathi Mere Saathi, which is supposedly the initial inspiration for this film, says Firstpost. Russell’s action thriller has the right intention, but much is lost between intent and execution.

Comedy drama Gone Kesh directed by Qasim Khallow starring Shweta Tripathi and Jitendra Kumar is a disarmingly simple and well-acted story that resists the temptation of looking good in order to feel good, says Film Companion. Gone Kesh understands that you don’t need a flesh-and-blood “villain" in social-stigma stories; the villain is omnipresent, in the gaze and the outlook and the perception of civilized society.

The Least of These starring Sharman Joshi, directed by Aneesh Daniel, is a film whose odd balance between storytelling styles — blending Indian melodrama with the hallmark tone of American faith-based cinema — makes it a tough sell in stateside theaters, says The Hollywood Reporter. While its messages of selflessness and transformative charity would resonate with the audience that keeps Christian moviemaking afloat, it's doubtful that a large share of that demographic will be able to adjust to the sensibility.

American horror film Us directed by Jordan Peele starring Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke and Shahadi Wright is a thrilling tale of survival horror which has cogent things to say about the American experience, duality, and the apathy of privilege, says Empire magazine. Yet the key is that the subtext never overwhelms the text. It’s the scares and the character work that take centre stage.

Fantasy adventure Dumbo directed by Tim Burton starring Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green lands in the multiplex big top with a dull thud, says The Guardian. It is a flightless pachyderm of a film that saddles itself with 21st-century shame at the idea of circus animals, overcomplicating the first movie, losing the directness, abandoning the lethal pathos, mislaying the songs and finally getting marooned in some sort of steampunk Jurassic Park, jam-packed with retro-futurist boredom.

Romantic drama Five Feet Apart directed by Justin Baldoni starring Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse is trite, familiar and shamelessly manipulative, says The Washington Post. Richardson may be the best thing about this Velveeta-slathered heap of lukewarm cliche, but she is merely a vicarious vehicle for thwarted teenage longing directed at the bad-boy dreamboat heartthrob of countless high-school-girl fantasies.

Tamil thriller Super Deluxe directed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja starring Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh Faasil, Samantha, and Ramya Krishnan is a unique, ambitious, insanely detailed, blessedly amoral drama that’s as epic as it is intimate, says Film Companion. It’s a long, slow fuse that keeps you on edge about when it will explode, and when it does, it’s a big bang.

Tamil horror film Airaa directed by KM Sarjun starring Nayanthara, Kalaiyarasan and Yogi Babu is a horror film that looks good on the surface, says The Hindu — a strong cast, good camera work and mildly-scary scene staging — but cheats you in the end. It is the cinematic equivalent of a batsman leaving a ball alone when he is required to score a six off the last delivery.

Malayalam political thriller Lucifer directed by Prithviraj Sukumaran starring Mohanlal is a riveting political thriller, says Film Companion. Sukumaran has gone big with his first film and the ambition is there for all to see. The first half is built on a tight plot but the second half, especially towards the tail-end, is found wanting.

Kannada action drama Panchatantra starring Vihan Gowda and Sonal Monteiro directed by Yogaraj Bhat might be a tad loud and a little long, but it is entertaining and engrossing for those who like their commercial films with all emotions yoked in together, says The Times Of India.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Tamil action drama Final Score, Telugu films Lakshmi’s NTR and Prema Antha Easy Kadu, Kannada movies Londonalli Lambodhara, Ravi History, Gandada Kudi and Rugged, Marathi drama Aamhi Befikar, Punjabi family drama Rabb Da Radio 2, Bengali films Kia And Cosmos, Googly, Sweater and Dwikhondito and Odia drama Biju Babu.