Thursday, September 15, 2016

Narcos (2016) - Season 2

After the much acclaimed first season, now we see Pablo Escobar's fall from grace in the new season of Narcos on Netflix. I found season 2 slightly better than the previous one, which means I really enjoyed it!

The first season took place over a span of more than two decades (early 1970's to 1990's) and told the story of Pablo Emilio Escobar Gavirilla's rise to infamy and notoriety. Season two takes place in a year and depicts the last days of the Medillin cartel. So there is a dissonance in the story coverage between the two seasons, but season 2 still manages to fill it with excitement and thrills! I even liked the pacing better in this season, and literally binged the whole show in two days - a feat that I couldn't do for the first season!

Another improvement over the previous season (which might seem very nit picky) was the colour composition; this is particularly important for a show like Narcos that requires you to read the subtitles to understand the Spanish dialogue (which is almost 70% of the whole show). The first season had white backgrounds in many scenes, and reading the white subtitles over a white background was really difficult. This season they had probably taken that into account, and it made my experience much more enjoyable.

Wagner Moura did an exceptional job as Escobar. His presence on screen is not comparable to any other actor on TV (or even most movies). I also liked Pedro Pascal's Javier Peña - he had an interesting arc throughout the season. Boyd Holbrook's Agent Steve Murphy was the least interesting character, as he was in season 1 as well.

I know Narcos has been renewed for seasons 3 and 4, but I am not invested in the remaining characters to return to the show. But of course it is too soon for passing that kind of judgement.

Season 2 was a 9/10 for me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sully (2016)

In a season where there is a dearth of good movies, a rather okay one seems impressive! The real-life story on which the movie is based is a miracle indeed. Instead of this dramatization, a documentary about the event and its aftermath would have been a better product.

At 96 minutes, Sully is not a long movie by any stretch of imagination. The event on which it is based on - the miracle on the Hudson - took place in 208 seconds. So the adaptation is almost 28 times longer than the source. What I am trying to say is that at even 96 minutes, Sully (2016) had some fluff which needed to be cut out; the phone conversations between Sully and his wife were cringeworthy, and if I am not mistaken, the movie showed the crash landing maybe five times (at least three times more than we needed)! In short, I believe Clint Eastwood (the director) could have cut to movie to 70 minutes and still hit all the notes! Of course, nobody would go to the movie theatres to see a 70-minute movie - so maybe he had no choice but to fill it with fluff! 

Having said the negatives, Clint Eastwood captured the claustrophobic atmosphere of the cabin really well. The evacuation scene was also shot beautifully. I felt I was there, and it made me nauseous!  In addition to direction, Tom Hanks needs to be commended on his performance. I felt he really was a pilot in real life. 

I have seen Captain Sullenberger's interviews on talk shows. He is a modest man and has a charming personality (which I didn't see in Hank's performance, but maybe the real Sully was as tense after the event...). Captain Sullenberger, in addition to telling the story of his miraculous landing, also likes to shine light on the humanity of the New Yorkers int he aftermath of the event. The movie tried to do that too, but most of the focus was on trying to vilify the aviation committee - Clint Eastwood tried to turn the aftermath into a courtroom drama, rather than humans helping their own kind!

When I left the movie theatre, I didn't learn anything new, and I didn't have a positive/enjoyable experience! Overall, I'd give it a 4/10. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

We had to have a movie in the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise (the second longest running movie franchise after James Bond). It's fast-paced, the story is Trekkie-friendly (I guess), but it doesn't invoke any feelings in you.

The Enterprise crew returned for the third outing in the rebooted franchise - well, everybody except for JJ Abrams whose absence was visibly apparent. I do not consider myself a Trekkie by any stretch of imagination. I have seen a few episodes of the original show from the 60's, and also the first two movies in the rebooted franchise. I found myself caring for the characters in the 2009 movie; they were well-developed, and the movie spent time introducing them to the audience. Into the Darkness (2013) had good performances and exhilaration action. Beyond (2016), however, lacks both.

Justin Lin (the director) jumps right in to the action with little time spent on the characters themselves. Maybe he's not to blame. People are expected to be familiar with these characters. I, of course, remembered them all and their roles, but had forgotten why I should care for them. The movie did little to remind me why. There are many action sequences, but the green-screen effects were distracting, and I did not get excited or thrilled even for one second.

I saw it on the Barco screen format. More specifically, there were three screens at the auditorium, and they were supposed to give the audience a much wider field of view. Almost 1/3 of the movie utilized the wider screen. It was obviously a different and also pleasant experience; but at the same time, constant switching from one screen to three disrupted my immersion into the movie.

Star Trek Beyond ends with what felt like a backdoor pilot to a new TV show. I actually felt the last 20 seconds of the movie did more damage than good... Anyhow, Trekkies have probably seen it. Non-Trekkies won't lose anything if they skip this one. Overall, I'd give it a 6.5/10.