Film Review: Darlings (2022)

Badrunnisa (Alia Bhatt) and Hamza Shaikh (Vijay Varma) are young lovers. On one of their dates, Hamza surprises her that he is getting the job and will marry her soon. After three years of marriage, Hamza is addicted to drinking which makes him a wife-beater.

Darlings is one of those millions of brown society marital stories where the couples try their best to stretch the bond in the early years of marriage and also believe that once their munna (baby) arrives in this world, he or she will become the blessing and the fights will decrease. And the couples will spend quality time. Alas, the alcohol is strong enough to intoxicate and destroy the marriage.

I am not sure whose idea was it but I opine that Darlings has missed their chance to address a highly sensitive social, domestic, and marital concern – domestic abuse. Instead of utilizing the plot and using the best source of Aliya, Vijay, and Shefali, and nailing a staunch reality into a significant family drama, the makers chose to make Darlings a dramedy.

Most of the methods of cinematic appeal for Darlings is senseless and clueless. The continuity of the screenplay raises a lot of hows and whys. Unimpressive direction proves that the debutant director Jasmeet K Reen is a complete novice.


MINUSES

Let me write you a few of my bullet disagreements:

1. UNDEVELOPED PROCEEDINGS

In scene 1, Hamza breaks the news to Badru about his job and marriage, and hugs. In scene 2, three years later, Hamza beats Badru for a bad dinner. I get it, the makers wanted to send a chill in the audience with this shocking development but where is the impact?

The audience missed three years of unwanted marital decline that caused the downfall of the marriage. Hence, the development of the central characters, their chemistry, and the entire fallout of marital respect that fluctuates between love and rage is absent which makes the proceedings flat. For this factor, I understand that television dramas play a vital role but the films can still highlight a few minutes of my objection above and justify the screenplay.

2. DRAMEDY???

A subject so crucial and sensitive is taken too lightly and irresponsibly that compromises realism. After the death of the child, how can there ever possibly be comedy at all? All the sequences with the police and police station were utter nonsense. The art of lying in Indian films is the fakest of all fakes that I have never understood. And Darlings maintains the tradition of the characters lying to the other and the latter buying it.

3. WHERE IS THE DOMESTIC ABUSE???

A film based on domestic abuse doesn’t have enough much intensity to dramatize the marital violence besides that shocking scene where Hamza lets Badru fall resulting in a miscarriage. On a few occasions, when Hamza is about to beat Badru, the scene shifts towards the salon where the salon lady routinely hears the screaming. Why not dramatize violence and make the audience cold? When Hamza breaks Badru’s finger with a high-heel sandal, the scene doesn’t show the hit but we listen to the cracking sound.

4. PLOTHOLES

In almost every couple of scenes, there is a plothole. Darlings is a directional disaster where most of the scenes raise questions and make no sense. How come not a single neighbor wakes up or shows up spectating Hamza throwing Badru out of the house late at night? How come the hospital didn’t report to the police the domestic violence that resulted in miscarriage. Section 312 in the Indian Penal Code imprisons such for a minimum of three years, and perhaps with a fine also. Why do the mother and daughter plan to torture Hamza for killing the child instead of making a police case against him as they were intending to do earlier until Badru gave him a chance? Why is Zulfi speaking in sign language and making the mother and daughter guess where Hamza is when the police squad is not with them? Again, how come no one spectates in the society that not one but three people are trying to throw Hamza from the terrace?


PLUSES

If there are pluses, that lies only in the performances. Let me brief you on those:

1. ALIA BHATT

The central casting is Darlings’ positive frame. Alia Bhatt’s performance shuts every possible disagreement that she cannot perform. Those who encourage boycotting films because Alia features are fooling themselves. Her existence and presence in the film are one of the major reasons why at 29, she can run the business of her films on her own despite Bollywood being a typical male-oriented film industry. Her emotional fallouts and dramatizing pain and disappointment are always spot on.

2. SHEFALI SHAH

A versatile actress like Shefali knows what true dedication is portraying an important character. Even in her comic stance, Shefali as Badru’s mother makes you forget for a moment that some of her scenes were funny but her funny performance converted into awkwardness while applying method acting. Out of nowhere, she tells the story of a frog and a scorpion. Asks Hamza to keep hitting his head on the wall. But she goes to another parallel when Hamza hits her or when she confesses.

3. VIJAY VARMA

The biggest responsibility of the antagonist is to create hatred for himself/herself and Vijay as Hamza does that. His physical presence is a piece of genuinely bad news for both mother and daughter. And his mental breakdown gives you a precise idea about a violent husband. It was an excellent performance.


CLOSING REMARKS

Darlings surprisingly has met immense respect from the critics and the audience. They all are entitled to their opinion. I firmly believe that Darlings has missed the chance of portraying realism about domestic abuse with a distinction that held a lot of promises due to its quality casting.

RATINGS = 4/10

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is recalled to Top Gun for a mission where instead of being a fighter pilot, he has to train the Top Gun graduates. While returning to Top Gun, Maverick’s emotional phase meets new parallels, he reunites with his former girlfriend and faces his best buddy Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw‘s son Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw who is infuriated for genuine reasons. More than that, Maverick is still heartbroken by Rooster’s demise.

It is a crazy theory that one of the most iconic, memorable, and beloved films of all-time, Top Gun, can be thought to fetch a sequel after crossing three decades with the same poster boy and results in the legacy of the work meeting new heights. Top Gun: Maverick is unarguably the most ideal sequel one can dream of for their favorite film. This film exceeds all the expectations. It is a groundbreaking success and in my opinion, a cinematic masterpiece dramatizing aviation. You watch such incredible flying sequences and your eyeballs dare not to locomote for a microsecond.

Tom Cruise at 60 shows no signs of slowing down. He along with Top Gun graduates who are young pilots learned to fly fighter jets. They all were put through extensive three-month training to avoid air sickness. While shooting the scenes, the cast was sitting in the fighter jets behind the military pilots. And obviously, they didn’t get to sit straight in F/A-18. They had to go through Cessna 172, then Extra EA-300, then L-39, and eventually F/A-18 when the cast had built a strong ‘G tolerance‘. The young cast can exert that physical pressure but someone at 60 has to be a metahuman. Tom Cruise cruises his life towards extraordinary bounds. This is exactly why Tom Cruise is globally respected and recognized as a true superstar.

One of the most distinguished aspects of the old Top Gun film was the rivalry between Maverick and Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky. With the new film moving in a different direction, it was a blessing to see Val Kilmer somehow reprising his role and face Maverick for that one memorable scene. Writing off the Iceman character from the franchise once and for all was the right idea.

Miles Teller as Goose’s son Rooster was the perfect choice who facially reminds us of Anthony Edwards as Goose in the old film. This character was added with the burden of the emotional tragedy that became a complaint towards Maverick especially when the latter wasted a few years of the former’s career. Rooster’s significance to Maverick is so much Donnie Creed to Rocky Balboa.

The writing of this film never disappointed. I liked the pressing about Maverick’s character that despite old age, he wanted to fly and fight. Because this is what he meant to do. He is not a teacher but a naval aviator, a fighter pilot. His repeated insubordination didn’t let him grow further. Or maybe he chose to refuse to obey orders so that he could remain at his post for the love of flying.

The most impressive part of the writing that was followed from the old film is the introduction of the old flame, Penny played by Jennifer Connelly. This character was mentioned twice in the old film but was never shown who she was. Thirty-six years later, we all actually happen to watch this girl coming back into Maverick’s life, and is so exciting. Not sure why Kelly McGillis was not brought back. Could have been equally exciting to see her again meeting Maverick at some point in the film.

With the passing of thirty-six years between the two films, I also liked the recognition of moving ahead from manned aircraft to remote-controlled drones as noticed in the first scene. In order to avoid the shutting of Mav’s scramjet program, he flies the prototype to Mach 10 after which Rear Admiral Hammer Cain warns Maverick that the era of crewed fighter aircraft will soon end.

There was one thing I felt missing in the flying sequences in the old film – a birdstrike. This happened here and I am glad the makers showed the consequences of such tragic incidents. There were many breathtaking flying sequences but the one that screamed my soul was when the team struggles to escape from the SAMs after destroying the Uranium enrichment plant.

I was not convinced by a few factors in the screenplay. For example, the new rivalry between Rooster and Hangman was not detailed as Ice and Mav and therefore looked forced to remind us of the old rivalry. The character of Rooster is not much significance to the film as it should be for a strong supporting role. Mav takes command of the story in its entirety that Rooster looks like filling the minutes. The writing of Rooster lacked the strength to build its own importance in front of Maverick. The way Mav and Rooster stole F-14 from the destroyed air base looked like the writer was running out of ideas. It looked flat to me.

Top Gun: Maverick, in addition to the points I praised above, is the winner in the sound department as well as cinematography and direction. The writing of the film showed that the writers were faithful to the Top Gun legacy and therefore, gifted a respectable and very dedicated sequel to the audience.

RATINGS = 8.6/10

Film Review: Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

A God killer is on the run killing Gods all over the universe which alerts Thor. And during the course of fighting against all odds, Thor reunites with doctor Jane Foster who, to his surprise, has the powers to wield Mjolnir and has become the Mighty Thor.

The plot had the potential to enrich the Thor franchise but unfortunately, once again, a Thor film is obsessed with forced humor destroying any chance to address the haunting excalibur that is spreading great suffering. All four Thor films were alarmed with incredible threats but made the joke out of everything that resulted in the supremely outrageous outcome.

It was annoying to observe how Thor and his team were being funny despite the children of Asgardians being kidnapped. The entire Zeus sequence was terrible. What was Russell Crowe doing? He could have such a command on a dynamic role but Zeus turned into some funny fat old fart. Absolute mockery. The appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy was unnecessary.

At a budget of $250 million, the film definitely deserves praise for its striking visual effects and sound. But one factor that struggles to keep this film above the knees is Christian Bale‘s Gorr who was undoubtedly the best thing that happened to Thor: Love and Thunder. Every shot that had Bale was worth watching. It was as if Bale had strictly demanded the director Taika Waititi to be sober when he shoot his scenes. And then the whole understanding of Gorr’s fury was well executed. There was particular angst that troubled Gorr for not overcoming the tragic passing of his daughter and blaming the Gods for it.

The best and the most captivating scene of the entire film was the opening scene with Gorr losing his daughter. And to some extent, Gorr’s reunion with his daughter was also dramatized well. And this is where I am lost in Taika Waititi, he has two different dimensions of shooting a scene. He can make the entire sequence pledged with mockery by adding needless jokes. Or, on the contrary, will give an impact on the sensitivity and motion of the subject.

Why Thor got the fourth film is beyond my understanding. And Disney Studios are now going for the fifth. It is a one-timer silly film that is needed to be watched for the sake of being in touch with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and to watch Bale’s stupendous performance.

RATINGS: 3.5/10

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion (2018)

Previously, I wrote comic book reviews about the first two volumes of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá‘s The Umbrella Academy, Apocalypse Suite and Dallas. The Netflix show with the same title that Steve Blackman ran and wrote had smart writing for any adaptation, complex but a method that suits the television audience and to a razor-edge point where the viewers can be convinced with.

The third season detailed the Sparrow Academy which was depicted by the end of the second season as a dramatic cliffhanger. It was more shocking for the comic geeks because the Sparrows are not really much introduced to comics. I happened to read the third volume, Hotel Oblivion, as the title gives me or every one the precise impression that the third season is based on this book which is true but not entirely. The Sparrows show up to the Umbrellas at the end of the book just like the show’s second season as mentioned above.

That makes Steve Blackman’s writing the show in a very different direction really cool. We buy what we watch and there surely is a behind-the-scene geekery-geekery-gock discussion about the fourth book proceedings to refer to on the television. When will the fourth book release, no idea but Steve Blackman’s idea about the show’s fourth season will now test him. Because so far he has done a really good job.

One major difference between television and comics is that Hotel Oblivion is a hotel in the former but a prison in the latter. A prison that is designed by who else than Sir Reginald Hargreeves himself for the most dangerous villains his babies have fought and defeated. There is no chance of escaping this prison unless they use a teleportation device, televator. But utilizing the televator will also not be enough because Scientific Man monitors Hotel Oblivion from space.

Scientific Man is The Umbrella Academy’s Doctor Manhattan with a better costume. While reading the fifth issue, surely his appearance to every reader like me was a surprise. He entered the scene like a messiah or a Superman. And I am not understanding why was this character not involved in the latest season. Or did he show up if I am mistaken?

The stories of both the television and the comics are extremely different. My whole enthusiasm to read Hotel Oblivion to broaden my understanding for the third season altered because, in the comics, the Umbrella Academy fights against the Murder Magician, a hypnotist, and Obscura, the jewel thief. Both of the villains manage to escape the Hotel Oblivion.

Speaking of the hotel, there is no mention of Hotel Obsidian in the comics. Hotel Oblivion is a one-dimensional prison built by Hargreeves to torture his villains. But the third season, I opine, edges over this idea in writing the third season. Steve Blackman introduced the concept of Hotel Obsidian, a hotel where Klaus used to get drunk more often. When the Sparrows show the Umbrellas the exit door, they take shelter in this hotel and later on discover the mysterious routes that take them to a bizarre version of Obsidian which is Hotel Oblivion.

Just like in previous books, Hotel Oblivion maintains dysfunctionality in the siblings. They are again scattered. Spaceboy is walking on the streets of Tokyo. Number Five is a hired assassin. Vanya again has a shorter appearance like Dallas and continues her physical therapy. But this time she is interesting to read when Vanya and her mother have a deep conversation in the fourth issue where the mother explains what makes her daughter so special.

Hotel Oblivion also deserves to be praised for developing the understanding of Hargreeves. A thought about Hargreeves creation to be a blessing also juxtaposes his vision on a broader scale whether he ended up being a villain after the revelation of his prison plan that happened after his death.

Just like the previous two books, the main issue covers and the introduction of the issue names had impressive drawings as well as some portions of the stories. Gabriel Bá’s illustration really reflects a darker image of the happenings. Notice his detailing in the fifth issue when all the villains march together. Or the nuclear reaction in the final issue. The comic-book partnership of Gerard and Gabriel is the key to The Umbrella Academy being an exciting brand to follow.

I think the third book was an offshoot to step into major parallels. The seven-chapter identity crisis story gave new meaning to thinking about renewing a universe. It was an interesting idea. Hotel Oblivion is completely different from the first two books, it is like waking up during a road trip to experience a totally new world.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion Issues 1-7 (2018-2019)

DOWNLOAD

https://getcomics.info/other-comics/the-umbrella-academy-collection/

SUPPORTING VIDEO

I found this comic-book review about Hotel Oblivion very genuine. Watch and listen to them.

Film Review: Elvis (2022)

Nothing extraordinary to explain what Elvis is about. It is a bio-drama about the life of the king of rock’n’roll, Elvis Presley.

Elvis is the fictional narration of Elvis’ manager Colonel Parker. Austin Butler plays Elvis and Tom Hanks plays Colonel Parker. Baz Luhrmann returned to the director chair after nine years to direct easily one of the most difficult projects to execute for a film project when it comes to a biopic.

Why do I call the project difficult? Because I opine that such iconic figures from any walk of life who had a lot of events in their lives need broad detailing and that is possible only in a limited series or a television drama divided into seasons. Due to very limited screen time, no film can come up with a story that has too much to tell in one go. And this is the exact reason why Elvis for me fails to impress me as some quality bio-drama.


MINUSES

Let me highlight a few points that disturb the edge.

1. A Road Runner Screenplay

From the start, this film is about competing in a 100m sprint race. Result? No development of any particular chronicle due to lack of breathing. The screenplay suffocates between Elvis’ childhood and fame.

2. Performances, Performances, and Performances

One after the other, Elvis performs and performs. Baz Luhrmann gives less concern to some sensitive contents that needed more intense dramatizing. Elvis’ relationship with his mother alone takes more than half a film as her character was that important. But due to limited time, Baz restricted most of the important things and focused on Elvis-Colonel chemistry. His army life, passion for karate, and two other relations with Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden are fully ignored.

3. Perplexed Aesthetics

Elvis is a confused script where the derivation and enthusiasm of the audience override. First, the film begins with the Colonel being the narrator and clearing the air to the fourth wall of why is he not to be blamed for Elvis’ demise. But in the second half, Colonel is visibly at fault with no audible commentary to reason any further. Second, Elvis is dramatized in a way that he was innocent of Colonel’s deception. So the motive of narration and the principle method of addressing the whole film in a particular way fails again.

4. Historical Inaccuracies

Too much liberty has been taken from the historical account. Neither Colonel met Elvis in the carnival nor convinced him at some mirror maze. The colonel was not even in the show where the female spectators couldn’t hold themselves watching him perform for the first time. The meeting at the Hollywood sign never happened. His famous number ‘That’s All Right’ is not depicted accurately. Elvis deceives the audience by trying to frame the screenplay as the true story of the legend.


PLUSES

Elvis doesn’t entirely suffer from lies and the points I have raised above. There are plusses that deserve to be mentioned and praised.

At the start, the young Elvis goes to the gospel church and reinvents himself. The entire sequence establishes his case where his passion for different music genres and the dance moves came from.

Then the first live performance was directed really well. Even if the sequence was not inspired by any true incident, that shot was necessary liberty to describe the first shockwaves of listening and watching to Elvis. Colonel’s description of Elvis from that scene as ‘A Taste of Forbidden Fruit’ is the most perfect one-liner I can listen to about a music legend used in the film.

Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker will eat the sympathetic Elvis loyalists as the cruelty he imposed on his troubling life is painful to cause heartbreak, especially when Elvis collapses and Colonel orders to make him ready for the show. Tom Hanks displays a performance that successfully sparks hatred and annoyance. It was necessary and the legendary actor nails that.

And the biggest delight and the most positive angle of the film is Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis. Thank God Harry Styles was not finalized. I cannot imagine any actor giving his utmost effort to physically present Elvis out from the role on par or better than Austin Butler. This is an Oscar-worthy performance. This guy actually sang those tracks in the film, no singer playbacked him. The dance moves and some of Elvis’ memorable performances are so magnificently and accurately portrayed. The emotional fluctuations and breakdowns are so well acted throughout the film. Had Baz committed a mistake in choosing his Elvis, the film would have met the disaster. A huge burden of the film and Elvis’ legacy are well carried.


ELVIS
Copyright: © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Hugh Stewart
Caption: AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

CLOSING REMARKS

Elvis rejects being an authentic biographer and chooses to captivate and entertain the young audience about how Elvis and his music defined the era. Elvis focused on what took the king to become easily the greatest music entertainer until the arrival of Michael Jackson. The film is depicted from the colonel’s angle and it would have been so meaningful if the film was depicted from Elvis’ angle.

RATINGS: 5.5/10