100 Word Review of Venom

Venom
We caught Venom on the day of its release, and boy am I glad we did.
The movie has a sort of dark sense of humor to it, but not a Deadpool kind of dark. The character itself could easily belong in a movie like Alien, but they’ve made him funny and that makes him likeable to the audience.
Venom packs a real punch, with out of this world special effects that will have you saying “Whhaaaaat?!?!?!!” I even found myself screaming with Venom during a fight scene- that kind of thing doesn’t happen all that often.
Go watch it!

Watch the official trailer on YouTube

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Jurassic Park (Novel vs. Movies)

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So as I hoped in my last post, I did finally get around to reading the Jurassic Park novel by Michael Crichton. In fact, since the time of my last post, not only have I finished the novel, but I’ve also seen the classic 1993 movie of the same name.

I can’t but help compare the book, which mind you I read for the first time, and the movie, which I have probably seen tens of times and loved ever since I was a child. After having read the book, the lack of detail in the movie really surprised me. A lot of important scenes that I would have liked to have seen in the movie were entirely cut out. In fact, its not just scenes, but some entire segments of the story line that were altogether omitted or significantly cut short. One scene that comes to mind is the ordeal of Dr. Grant and the kids as they tried to escape the T-Rex while they floated downstream. I take some solace knowing that some of these “missing” scenes do kind of show up in the second part, but still…its not the same.

I love the movie and always will, but certain omissions and liberties the producers and directors have taken, like changing the entire end of the movie left me flabbergasted and furious. Nonetheless, credit must be given where it is due. The very fact that they were able to make such a movie in 1993 is in and of itself incredible, especially given that special effects for movies were still in their nascency at the time.

Now that we’ve re-watched the first part, we’re really looking forward to watching the rest of the movies in the series again-The Lost World (1997), Jurassic Park III (2001) and Jurassic World (2015). The latest iteration Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom releases this summer and we can’t wait to catch it on the big screen.

Hope y’all have a great summer!

Enhancing your Reading Experience

Over the last few years, I’ve come to discover a little trick that helps make reading even more enjoyable and addictive than it already is. The secret? Movies!

Confused? Let me explain…

Reading a book that was made into a movie gives you a much more immersive experience as a reader. Let me elaborate by explaining the 2 main ways to do it:

Reading the book before watching the movie

This format allows you to enjoy the book, and then enjoy it again through the movie. Seeing the characters from the pages of your book come alive on the big screen is a thrilling and delightful experience.  What’s even better, is that having read the book, you can tell if and when the movie has skipped over or abbreviated certain parts of the story, or even changed it. I simply can’t contain my excitement when the Honey Bee and I watch a movie whose book I’ve already read and am able to comment on the story-line, the performance, visual effects, etc.  and whether they match up with what I imagined while reading.

Some of the books I’ve read following this format include: The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, The Lincoln LawyerInferno and The Sphere. The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons were great books, but could have been better adapted to the big screen. Not to say the movies were bad- I probably watched them multiple times. All I’m saying is that they could’ve been better.

The Lincoln Lawyer was a really great book, and I think they did a great job at adapting it to the big screen. The Sphere, on the other hand, was a book that had a lot of unrealized potential, and the movie only made things worse. Even with Dustin Hoffman playing the lead, the movie was unable to improve on the unfulfilled potential of the book.

Watching the movie before reading the book

My favorite part of watching the movie first is that when you later read the book, you can imagine the characters. You see the actors from the movie playing their roles in your mind as you read along.

The most obvious downside to this is that you can’t share your experience with anyone, unless you can convince your friends to watch the movie and read the book with you.

Some of the books I’ve read following this format include The Firm and Freedom at Midnight (book reading in progressmovie is called Viceroy’s House). Both books were excellent, and the movies were great too. Hopefully one of my next books on this list will be Jurassic Park (obviously I’ve already seen the movie).

Regardless of the reading format, what really hits home for me is being able to visit the city the book is based in. For example, I was living in France and able to visit Paris while I read The Da Vinci Code, something that really blew my mind and endeared the book to me. Similarly, I was able to visit Florence, Italy right after reading Inferno. In both cases, walking the same streets where the primary character, Robert Langdon, ran through trying to save the world and seeing the monuments and buildings he talked about really helps develop a personal connection with the character and the book.

Undoubtedly, both styles have their advantages and disadvantages and it is hard to choose one over the other. Nonetheless, what is undebatable is the extent of your immersion in the storyline and the deeper connection you develop with a book when a movie is based on it. That’s my little secret and the reason I now always try to read books that have a movie based on them. Try it, there are plenty!

Happy reading, and watching (or vice-versa)!

 

Introduction to Marvel & DC Comics

Yesterday, we finally saw The Justice League. Although I have always been a fan of The Avengers type of movies, I never really felt the pull to watch this movie. Boy, was I wrong! The movie was just as good as any of the Avenger movies, and it introduced me to the awesome world of DC Comics movies.

Effectively, DC Comics is trying to replicate the success of Marvel. Marvel has created too many movies to list, but basically they started off with single character focused movies (like Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Spider Man, etc.) and then transitioned to having these characters make crossover appearances in each others’ movies and eventually appearing together in the same movie. Now, Marvel continues to build on the Avengers franchise, while still also occasionally doing single character focused movies to develop each character’s personal story further.

DC’s approach is very similar, but not exactly the same. DC started by focusing on making a very limited number of movies about a handful of headline characters from their portfolio. Then, they immediately jumped into making movies where lots of their characters appeared together, without previously introducing the audience to these newer characters. Recent blockbuster movies from their stable include Man of  Steel (2013), Batman vs. Superman (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), and Wonder Woman (2017). In fact, by simply taking a look at their DC Extended Universe Wikipedia page,  you see that going forward they plan to continue building on the Justice League & Suicide Squad franchises, while at the same time focusing on individual characters from that franchise, and over time even introducing further new characters. For example, upcoming movies include Aquaman, Green Lantern, Cyborg, etc.- all characters that have already been introduced in the Justice League franchise.

As I mentioned earlier, we loved the Justice League movie, as well as Man of Steel, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. A number of references were made in the movie to Batman vs. Superman, and being a fan of both, I am going to ensure we watch it this weekend.

If you’ve loved the Marvel movie universe as much as I have, I would definitely encourage you to explore the DC world. It has a lot of comic book characters that are much larger and better known universally, like Superman and Batman. I am certain you won’t be disappointed. And who knows, maybe one day the 2 studios might decide to collaborate and blow our minds by having the Avengers and the Justice League work together.

 

 

 

 

Watching Forrest Gump

 

For years, ever since we got married, it has surprised me that the Honey Bee hasn’t seen one of the best movies ever made-Forrest Gump. So last week, I made her sit and watch the whole two and a half hours of it. She got a little antsy around the 2 hour mark, but she hung in there for the most part. Over the last few years I have come to discover that the only way to get her to sit still for a long movie is by watching it in the movie theater or in an airplane.

As expected, she liked it. Maybe not as much as I did, but that’s understandable. Tom Hanks’ performance was spectacular as always (and in line with my earlier post about him). But apart from Tom Hanks, what I really like about this movie is that it is one of the earliest movies I know that is based on historical fiction. The story-line of the movie is exceedingly well intertwined with important historical events that actually took place.

For those of you that haven’t watched it yet (I say yet because I have no doubt you WILL watch it at least once in your lifetime), let me give you a  quick background without giving away too much. Forrest Gump is slow-witted, but good at heart southern boy. Encouraged by his loving mother, he keeps pushing forward and breaking out of his comfort zone. He goes out into the world and leads a spectacular life, participating in landmark moments in American history and making some life-long friends along the way.

If you haven’t watched it yet, I’d strongly recommend you take advantage of tonight being a Friday night by curling up on the sofa with a warm blanket and a hot cup of coffee and watching this movie. For some reason, they took it off Netflix, but you can find it from other sources online.

Here’s a link to the trailer if you’re still on the fence: Forrest Gump Trailer

Baahubali: A Global On-Screen Phenomenon

Move aside Game of Thrones, there’s a new epic saga in town.

A couple of days ago, the Honey Bee, accompanied by friends, went to watch the second of 2 part Indian movie-Baahubali (meaning the one with strong arms). Apparently, this movie is all the rage in India, and is making some pretty big waves in other parts of the world as well. This historical fiction movie set in ancient times involves a Game of Thrones like situation involving warring kingdoms and families. Specifically, Wikipedia describes is as “a tale of the lost rightful heir of the fictional kingdom of Mahishmati, who learns about his true identity while falling in love with a rebellious warrior, who (among with her group) intends to rescue the former queen of Mahismati.

At the time of its release in 2015, Baahubali: The Beginning was billed to be the most expensive Indian movie ever made. It became the highest grossing film in India and the third-highest grossing Indian film worldwide. Its release was a big deal and the movie premiered in several thousand movie theaters worldwide. Even more interesting is the fact that the movie was not originally made in Hindi, but in Telegu (a southern regional language).

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Baahubali 2: The Conclusion released earlier this month with an even larger bang. It premiered in over 9,000 screens worldwide and was dubbed into Hindi, Malayalam, German, French, Japanese and English. It became the highest ever grossing film of all time with a budget of US$ 39 million, a little over half the budget for India’s much publicized mission to Mars.

For some reason, we entirely missed the wave of popularity and virality the first movie brought with it. But not this time. After the Honey Bee saw the second part and told me all about how great it was, I was almost entirely convinced that I needed to watch it. However, what really pushed me over the edge was an article about the movie in the Wall Street Journal.

So a couple of days back, we finally watched the first part. The Honey Bee couldn’t contain her excitement as we watched the plot unfold. Apparently, as she explains, there are a number of plot secrets and connections between the parts. Having already seen the second part, she was making all those connections, while I was still trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Without giving away too much of the story, let me tell you there is nothing even remotely small about this movie. The storyline, the characters, the special effects, the battle scenes, everything is larger than life and leaves you astounded. An over-the-top, fast-moving plot, combined with (very) short song & dance numbers keep you enthralled from the very beginning to the very end. In fact, after the movie ended I sat there stupefied in my seat, and it took me a couple of minutes to recover from the awesomeness of this movie.

So, whether you’re simply tired of the long-drawn-out Game of Thrones, or whether you’re awaiting the next season, I would strongly suggest you watch this movie. In the meantime, we’re going to make sure we watch the second part in the coming weeks.    

Watch the trailer for the first part here: Baahubali: The Beginning Trailer

 

 

100 Word Review of Life

As a child, I steered clear of such movies for fear of insomnia. While Life has an undeniably gory aspect to it, it was well-mixed into the story-line and a far cry from the goriness of Alien.

The movie is set in the near-future when an unmanned mission to Mars returns with soil samples to be studied at the ISS. We discover dormant life in those samples, and that’s where the movie picks up from.

Without giving away more, I’d recommend this flick for its realism and nail-biting story-line. An authentic treat for sci-fi aficionados with an appetite for goriness.

Watch the official trailer on YouTube

Travelling with Tom Hanks

Let me preface this blog by telling you that we love Tom Hanks and his movies. He is a great actor and an even better person. We simply observed an interesting trend and decided to make some light-hearted humor of it.

We recently saw the movie Passengers, after which we came home and turned on the television. As luck would have it, another space movie was on: Apollo 13. As we watched, we got into a discussion about Tom Hanks’ movies. We talked about how the vast majority of his most memorable movies in the recent past have tended to involve a combination of him, some form of transportation and bad news.

Upon combing through his filmography, I found even more movies that fit this theme than I expected. Here is a cherry-picked list, ordered chronologically, that makes my point. It is also interesting to note that most of these movies are either based on, or adapted from real life stories.

Forrest Gump (1994): Tom Hanks is on a boat. Upon seeing an old friend and colleague, he jumps off his boat and swims to the shore, leaving the boat to crash. In another scene he is sailing with the same friend when a fierce storm hits, tossing the boat around dangerously. Later we find out that they survived, but all the other boats around them sank.

Apollo 13 (1995): Tom Hanks flies in a space shuttle on a mission to the moon. En route, it develops serious technical problems that jeopardize its return to Earth.

Cast Away (2000): Tom Hanks flies in an airplane that is going thcathrough a violent storm and experiences an explosive decompression. The plane crashes and he is stranded on a deserted island for a long time.

Catch me if you Can (2002): Tom Hanks plays a police officer who finally managers to arrest the evasive Leonardo DiCaprio in France and has him extradited to the US. On the plane ride back, he delivers bad news to DiCaprio telling him that his father passed away.

Road to Perdition (2002): Tom Hanks is travelling on a ship and poisons a co-passenger.

The Terminal (2004): Tom Hanks has flown into JFK and upon landing (safely) finds that his passport is no longer valid due to the outbreak of a civil war in his home country Krakozhia. He is therefore nationless and not allowed to leave the airport. The movie deals with how he spends 9 months living at the airport as a stateless person.

Angels & Demons (2009): This movie makes it to the list because near the very end, Tom Hanks boards a helicopter with an explosive canister. The helicopter flies straight up and explodes, saving the population below but destroying the helicopter.

Cloud Atlas (2012): Tom Hanks plays a nuclear scientist that is flying in an airplane that blows up soon after take off.

Tom Hanks stars in Columbia Pictures' "Captain Phillips."Captain Phillips (2013): Tom Hanks plays the Captain of a container transport ship that is sailing near the Somalian coast when it is attacked and hijacked by pirates. Later, he is taken hostage by the same pirates on a smaller lifeboat. Twice in the same movie!

Sully (2016): Tom Hanks plays the Captain, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, piloting an airplane taking off from New York’s LaGuardia airport. Soon after take-off, the plane suffers a series of bird hits that render the engines inoperative, forcing a crash/controlled landing on the Hudson River. So, not only does he not make a good co-passenger, but his luck rubs off when he plays the pilot too!

There you have it folks. I think this is proof enough that this is not simply a mere coincidence. Tom Hanks, and forms of transportation just don’t mix well. So the next time you find yourself on the same boat/ship/plane/helicopter/space shuttle (and maybe even at the same airport) as Tom Hanks, you might want to think twice, and get the hell outta there! 😛

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100 Word Review of Passengers

Set far in the future when humans have started colonizing far-flung planets, this sci-fi production understandably takes some liberties. But that doesn’t take away from the mind-boggling visuals and great performance delivered by Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt and Michael Sheen. A funky sense of humor and constantly evolving story line keep you glued to your seat and you won’t even want to blink, out of fear of missing out. In flirting with various ethical dilemmas, the movie provokes thought and debate about how you would’ve dealt with the situation.

To wrap it up, a definite must-watch on the big screen.

A weekend afternoon in Barcelona

So, this weekend the Honey Bee and I visited Barcelona’s famous and authentic N.A.P. Italian restaurant for lunch. As always, the place was packed. Knowing how grrrreat the food is, we decided to skip the first course and get straight down to business.

Yes, that's right! I love pizza!
Yes, that’s right! I love pizza!

We munched down on a mouth-watering ricotta cheese and mushroom calzone and a scrumptious Margarita pizza. To be honest, I’ve never really been a fan of calzones but NAP’s calzone has changed that forever. All this accompanied, by some great wine really made it a good afternoon. The grand finale was the dessert- delicious panna cotta topped with a delicious forest fruits sauce. As we ordered the check, something on the deserts menu caught my eye and I had to have it. It took a lot of will power and determination to fit anything more into my already full stomach, but I did it. A tall and heavily chilled shot glass of limoncello. What an afternoon! As the Italians would say “Meraviglioso!”

A short walk (on the beach side promenade) later, we decided to catch a movie. Thanks to some good timing and quick thinking, we were able to save € 9 on the cost of the tickets, by investing € 1 in membership at the theater. Nothing better than the feeling of bagging a great deal!

Tickets in one hand, snacks in the other and stomachs & souls content with delicious food, we caught the late afternoon showing of The Jungle Book. Growing up, my brother and I used to look forward to catching the animated cartoon version in Hindi on national television every Sunday. Most people may not know this, but the movie is set in India. And it’s no surprise given that the British author Rudyard Kipling was born and spent quite a few years in the country.

In fact, it may surprise you to know that almost all the names used in the movie (and the book) originate from the Hindi language. For example, the name of the mother wolf, Rakhsa, actually means protector, as she was the protector of her cubs (and Mowgli). Similarly Baloo, the name of the bear, actually comes from the Hindi word bhalu, meaning bear. Also, Bagheera from bagh meaning tiger and bandar-log, the name used to refer to the monkeys, literally means monkey people. I could go on and on.

As for the movie itself, I found it a little slow at the offset, but it picked up its pace about 30 minutes in. The esoteric assortment of voices also made the movie a fun experience for adults. Who could have ever imagined Bill Murray (of Ghost Busters fame), Ben Kingsley (of Gandhi fame), Idris Elba (of Pacific Rim fame) and Christopher Walken (does he really need any introductions?) in the same movie together?

Overall a great movie especially, for kids. For adults a good movie worth watching once, regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with the series.

 Another afternoon well spent!