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Monsoon Shootout and The Problem With Mainstream Desi Movie Critics

Uncharted territory. It's not something we always consider when it comes to reading reviews, whether it's a book or a movie or a game, we just assume the site put an appropriate critic for the work of fiction at hand, or forgot to consider the fact a single person can't judge everything properly. It's not exactly hard to find patterns in a critic, sooner or later, and you can often see signs of them simply not being the right person. So what do most people do internationally in this case? Find an appropriate person to review the type of work that's being reviewed.

It's another case when it comes to websites found in countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. They expect the same critic to be able to review everything in one category. They'd review the 1200th generic 'masala' film where the protagonist is a normal human but punches someone through the ozone layer and harasses a girl into falling in love with him, as well as that indie film with Academy Award winning performances and themes of philosophy and the exploits of human nature.

This results in people reviewing things that are completely out of their comfort zone, and the results are often grave. I'll give an example with something that's been plaguing my mind recently, Monsoon Shootout and its treatment by the mainstream critique.

When I got my first impression of Monsoon Shootout, I was expecting a hit and, mostly miss type of indie flick that tries to set itself apart but fails to deliver and just ends up being one of the not-as-bad movies that fall onto the pile of Bollywood. Which is why I took ages to actually watch it, too. However, once I eventually started watching it, the movie instantly stood out as something better than average at the very least. I went in blind so I was completely surprised by its artistic style, the noir atmosphere, themes of morality, choices and consequences and as soon as the first choice of the protagonist was explored I was hooked into it, and it surprised me with how well it executes its ideas of having different choices with different outcomes for the protagonist to choose from and how it does not fall short of its intriguing plot and characters. The unconventional-for-Indian-cinema 1 hour and 26 minute run time was a welcome decision and the filmmakers did not make it any longer than it should have been.

To put it briefly without spoiling anything, the movie is a raw and gritty story about a new police officer who is thrown into the dark depths of his city as he is put on cases involving gangsters, and the turning point of the movie is when he comes face to face with Nawazuddin Siddiqui's character, and is faced with three decisions: the option he considers right, the option he considers wrong, and the option that comes inbetween. The entire movie is packed with intriguing decisions, consequences and raw performances from the cast, mainly Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vijay Varma who prove that with the right cast, script, and direction, the Indian cinema is not lacking as we are often mistaken into believing by the mainstream 'formula' movies. Although I haven't formally reviewed it, I definitely recommend it to everyone reading this.

The movie was first screened in the Cannes Film Festival, and was very positively received with international praise towards the acting, direction and artistic execution of the entire plot and how it does not fail to deliver, with some even assuming it would be a box office success when released in India. However, what really happened when it was released in India was quite the opposite.

It received mostly subpar-to-average reviews, with some even calling it a failure. Going through most of the reviews, one thing you see present in almost all of them is the complaint that the movie 'fails to execute its concept'. Which brings us back to where this article started; uncharted territory. These critics have given high scores to the mainstream movies such as 'Main Tera Hero'. Monsoon Shootout is not a perfect movie, but one thing it did not do, whether you enjoy it in general or not, is fail its execution. It takes its concept, its script, its artistic direction, and it combines them all beautifully and makes the best out of what it could do. Whether you enjoy the final result or not, it's undeniable that it did execute what it had in mind and that too beautifully. The thing is, when you review something you're not really too familiar with you can't deny what you're hired for. What comes out of this is that the critic tries their best to fit into this new world and can be rather pretentious in reviewing said film because they judge it with unrealistic standards and use words they think would be appropriate to criticize it with even if it does not work in the context.

At the end of the day, reviews are of course something we read and either agree with or dismiss, no one loses anything and we go onto the next site to see what the other person said. However, it's not so simple for the people who actually make these films, and such critique can cause the movie to be a box office failure, shooing off an entire breed of people who may have loved it and prevents it from paving the way to a new, more mature cinema where bold movies don't mean films that just add more sexuality than considered normal; but movies that take risks and execute them into beautifully crafted movies that more people understand.

It's no insult for a critic to know their territory, and for one person to judge every genre, the quality and credibility of their criticism is lowered regardless.
Published On Entertainment Ghost At Saturday, August 18, 2018

Movie Review: Black Panther (2018)


Black Panther is the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe based on the comic book character of the same name, written and directed by Ryan Coogler, with Joe Robert Cole being a co-writer. The movie has a rich cast featuring Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, along with Michael B. Jordan, Martin Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Lupita Amondi Nyong'o, Danai Jekesai Gurira, and Letitia Michelle Wright in the main roles, with others also serving their purpose in the plot. Surprisingly despite a long cast of 'main' characters and other notable actors also in place, it does not really feel like anyone is 'just there', every character has been given a decent role in the plot as well as given good screen time which makes you feel like 'they do have a point for being there'.

The plot of the movie is well structured and one of the better ones we've seen from MCU, like Spiderman: Homecoming, the character of T'Challa was already introduced in Captain America: Civil War and was not exactly given an origin story, instead we get into right when he is about to be crowned king after the death of his father(which we see here as a news report and a flashback, which happened to be a vital scene in Captain America: Civil War) and then we see his life move onward as king and the threat he would eventually struggle against, in the face of Erik Killmonger, a person who is a worthy antagonist for someone as powerful as Black Panther. Erik's character is being seen as a massive improvement for the MCU in terms of villains, a part where they tend to fall short. And while the character itself is nothing groundbreaking(and nor is the overall plot of the movie), he definitely is a marvel in the world of comic book movies which more than offer have lacking antagonists(something the Netflix Marvel shows arguably has been consistently doing better) and is one of the most solid villains you'll be seeing in a long time. He's a badass, he's got a vibe and he has a backstory which makes you think twice before outright labeling him as a bad guy, with a lot of the audience actually siding with him. There's also a twist or two here and there which, if may be predictable, still works and makes the plot more intriguing than it already works. The only character I felt, while not useless, was not really entirely necessary either, was Martin Freeman's. To roughly quote a friend of mine who watched the movie, 'I guess they just needed a good white character for the sake of it'.

The atmosphere of the movie is one of the most important bits, whether it's visual, in the writing, or the music. Speaking of which, it seems like Marvel is finally hiring people to do their OST this time, because we have been seeing an improvement with the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor Ragnarok and now Black Panther. Black Panther is full of rich soundtracks that are perfect for the atmosphere of the movie and make it all even better, and some of the characters have their individual tracks which is music you can actually listen to without the movie and enjoy, such as Erik Killmonger's theme for example. And it really differs for the themes linked to the characters themselves not just the scene, like more native characters to Wakanda would have more atmospheric tunes to their homeland while someone like Killmonger has a more ghetto feel due to his upbringing in the states.

Final Verdict:

Black Panther is a 9 out of 10

The movie also finds the right balance of seriousness and a small touch of MCU comedy, not overdoing either of the elements unlike some of the previous films. While Thor Ragnarok felt like an outright comedy film, Black Panther feels very serious and intense, while also giving human personalities to the characters which can be quite humorous at times. Whereas when it's time for action there's no joking around, and the movie has some of the best directed action sequences in the MCU, which have just the right touch of intensity and cool visuals and keep you interested in more. The 3D is also very well utilized and isn't distracting, but rather something that improves on an experience that is already a visual treat.

There's no complaints with Black Panther, it's worth the hype you've seen around. The movie is absolutely solid and delivers well in every regard, whether it's story, action, acting, visuals or music, it does not fall short in any way. You should definitely go ahead and watch it and it might end up being a movie you revisit the theater for because you can't have enough of it.
Published On Entertainment Ghost At Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How To Disable 'Articles For You' and Get The 'Bookmarks' and 'Recent tabs' Buttons Back in Google Chrome Version 60 for Android

Since the new version 54 update enrolled on the Google Chrome of Android, it replaced the 'recent tabs' and 'Bookmarks' buttons on the homepage with 'Articles for you', which is basically random news posts from different websites. And on version 60, they altered the previous method of disabling the 'Articles for you' and getting the bookmarks back.

The 'Articles for you' homepage in Chrome version 60.

Several people are having trouble figuring out how to remove the 'Articles for you' from their Chrome and go back to the usual homepage with the 'Bookmarks' and 'recent tabs'.

Here's how you can get the original home screen with the bookmarks and recent tab buttons back and disable 'articles for you':

Firstly, open Chrome on your Android device, and enter this url in the address bar:

The url will open this screen.

Afterwards, tap on 'Default' on the 'Show popular sites on the New Tab page' option, and choose 'Disabled' from there.

Then, open this url in your address bar:

The url will open this screen.

Then tap on 'Default' on the 'Show content snippets on the New Tab page', and choose 'Disabled' from there.

After that, simply relaunch your Google Chrome and the homepage will be back to normal, with 'Articles for you' disabled and 'Bookmarks' and 'New Tab' buttons back. That's all!

Back to the normal layout.
Published On Entertainment Ghost At Sunday, September 10, 2017

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)


Spider-Man: Homecoming is the the sixteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie is directed by Jon Watts and while the story is by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. It's produced by Marvel Studios, Columbia Pictures and Pascal Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.

The movie features a cast of Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Zendaya, and Marisa Tomei in leading roles, with other actors such as Tyne Daly and Michael Mando making shorter appearances.

After the original Spider-Man trilogy got rebooted, and we had one good movie after the mixed feelings Spider-Man 3 left us with, things were looking up. But unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 went downhill, and we eventually had another Spider-Man getting it's sequel canned. With Sony not left with much to do rather than another reboot that may or may not have worked, things looked grim for the movie career of the web slinger. We'd watch more and more MCU movies and hope Spider-Man pops up in the next Avengers. Then we had Captain America: Civil War(which is technically an Avengers movie anyway), and we were all shocked to see our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in it's comic accuracy glory. And like a dream come true, Sony and Marvel struck up a deal and we finally got the Spider-Man movie we deserved since the Spider-Man 2 in the Sam Raimi trilogy.

I have to say, I was excited and had a nerdgasm seeing one of my most favourite superheroes finally get the adaption he deserved, one of the rare times I actually said 'whoa' and repeated lines of characters in awe while watching the movie(before you lynch me, I wasn't remotely loud) and I knew I had to take a little break before I write the review to avoid any bias under the hype of watching the best Spider-Man movie I had been waiting for since years.

Without wasting more of your time, lets get onto the review.

Spider-Man: Homecoming, despite being a reboot, is actually not an origin story, taking place before and after Captain America: Civil War. In the MCU chronology, it is set in present time and while it's advised to watch Civil War before getting into this one, it also wont make *too much* of a difference if you watched this first instead as the movie is pretty self explanatory, also featuring a short 'recap' recorded by Peter Parker himself.

As stated above, the movie does not waste time making you watch Uncle Ben die yet again and takes you into the life of a high school Peter Parker who has been Spider-Man for quite a while now, struggling to maintain his grades as well as his life as a hero and impressing Tony Stark(also correcting his posture when confronting criminals so he can finally be somewhat intimidating). Things take a different turn when Peter figures out that a group of men have started making and selling new weaponry with alien technology and tries to confront the gang, but not long until he realizes their leader Vulture is not one to be taken lightly.

It's honestly amazing that we are living in a time when superhero movies can actually afford to have characters from other movies intervening in the plot and making an impact. Iron-Man in a Spider-Man movie? Sign me up. A common concern was raised regarding Tony's appearances in the movie, fearing he may be emphasized on. But the movie managed the character perfectly, not overdoing it by any means. Not just Stark, all characters fit in perfectly like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle and have a fair time of role, while also not holding onto cliches from the previous 5 Spider-Man movies we've had and giving a new touch to every character, giving us an amazing Spider-Man that is comic-accurate in his wit, intellect and overall personality, and giving us the version we really deserved. Speaking of characters, the Vulture is one bad-ass antagonist that actually makes you acknowledge his presence. You don't think 'yeah another guy Spider-Man's going to send to jail', rather you feel like 'holy -, how's Peter gonna take on this guy?', and to make it better the character is not one-dimensional and has been given good depth, which makes him an interesting yet fearsome foe that Spider-Man really is challenged by in the movie.

The story of the movie is well structured(but do not use your phone on this one, or you'll have no idea where it's going for the first half) and isn't too much to take in for a first Spider-Man film in the new trilogy, while also keeping you wondering what happens next, being packed with a couple of surprises you might not expect and a large arsenal of easter-eggs and references to catch up on. The movie also incorporates more comedy than you'd expect after watching the previous Spider-Man films, but it also has it's serious moments to balance that, giving you the experience you've been hoping for being a fan of the comics. Speaking of it's moments, while the fights are good, you might feel slightly lackey there because if you were expecting a long fist fight against Vulture, I gotta say you'd be slightly disappointed as they went for more story-telling than beat em ups in the film(it is something I believe should be more balanced in the sequel). But, it's all made up by the rescue scenes of the movie which are really well written, acted and shot and the ship sequence gives you a slight nostalgia with the train sequence of Spider-Man 2, while also not being a cliche and having it's own touch.

The 3D of the movie was well made, it wasn't overdone yet it really bring out some parts of the movie, especially with the Vulture. It was eye candy looking at that suit design and the animation, and only left me wanting more of it after I was done. The soundtrack of the movie was also pretty good and fit every part of the movie very well, equally establishing a tone of intensity while also having it's teen moments, and the sound effects really made every scene standout and made you feel the heat of the moment.

On an unrelated note which does not affect the movie directly, Marvel should have advertised the movie a bit better. Like I expressed my dismay with Captain America: Civil War, Marvel showed too much footage of Spider-Man: Homecoming in promotional content to the point watching the movie feels quite like you have already seen it. This is something the DCEU is recently doing better, such as with Wonder Woman, as well as Fox with Logan where you could not even tell who the antagonist was. So Marvel should really start being more clever with the reveals.

Final Verdict:

Spider-Man: Homecoming is an 8.5 out of 10

Living up to the hype and expectations, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the amazing Spider-Man film we've all been waiting for, and is the single best Spider-Man movie we've had since Spider-Man 2. A well made story, a perfect Peter Parker *and* Spider-Man(that's right, we don't have to pick one actor for playing one part of the role better anymore), and setting up it's own identity while also paying homage to the previous ones, it becomes a dream come true for every fan of the comic and will leave you shooting webs in your dream.

The movie is definitely recommended and I will go myself for a rewatch. Only thing keeping it from a straight 9 out of 10 is the lack of better fight scenes, but do not be fooled by that lack of a .5 because Spider-Man: Homecoming is a great film and most definitely everything you've been waiting for.

Published On Entertainment Ghost At Thursday, July 13, 2017

Underdeveloped Art in Developing Countries

In developing countries, being an artist is no easy job. Pretty much everyone struggles until there's a miraculous exposure, or they move to another country with a better appreciation for artists after which the country of origin suddenly loves them and feel proud over it(although I'd feel guilt rather, that we couldn't give the artist a break in our own country and they had to go to another for us to realize they were worth something).

But we often over look two things, which are the lack of artistic creativity as well as people forcing artists to hold back on it. Why? One reason. Patriotism. A lot of people with the capability of creating things unfortunately hold themselves back by basing their characters to be in certain countries or followers of certain beliefs and limit their options with how far they can go with that story and idea. And if the artists themselves don't want to do that, people often try to force them into it, saying they should use their project to portray their country or religion in a better light for the world through their stories.

Now don't get me wrong, I do believe it's cool to do that. But not everything can happen everywhere, certain stories fit certain types of characters and settings better. If you try to force them to specifics, it kills the point of both. You're showing the place to be something it isn't, as well as having completely unrealistic characters for someone of that origin. It only ruins your project as a whole and does not end up fulfilling either of the intentions. However, if you actually have something that fits the atmosphere, has characters that actually act the part and can make it all work, then that is exactly what you should do, and some do it as well of course. But unfortunately that number is smaller, and most of the times people just sacrifice their creative freedom by limiting it themselves, whether by themselves or unfair pressure.

A much better way, however, that we tend to ignore which actually portrays your nation in a better light is by appreciating the artists when they're trying to make something. Support their work, treat them like you would when they would become famous in another country. As art grows, the other countries will undoubtedly start to notice and actually see the fact it's coming out of your country. That is something that will legitimately make them see everything in a better light, rather than poorly constructed stories about a generic superhero with no development simply being from your country. Fictional adaptions are going to be taken as just that; fictional. If you actually make your country able in terms of production, that is something that actually improves it's scene, something that makes people notice it and realize it's not all bad, rather has unrelenting potential.

So instead of holding artists back(and yourself), let them and encourage them to make good things. Appreciate them, support them, and spread them. It is the only way you can shed some positive light on your countries and beliefs artistically, not through forcing it into fiction when it does not fit in but rather producing quality content.
Published On Entertainment Ghost At Monday, June 26, 2017