Sreedhar Kajeepeta's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
19 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It is reasonably amusing, quirky, and crisp. But, before we get into the content of the 'Second best exotic marigold hotel', let us talk some numbers. And from that angle, you might even find the movie to be kinda smart too, if only a bit undeservingly so.

It was made with a modest budget of $10 million and thus far (just a little over a month into its run) it has garnered global ticket sales of ~ $60 million. At this rate, it could very well be a $150 million hit when it is all done (its first installment made almost as much with a similar budget). Now, compare that with a 2013 mega hit from Bollywood, Dhoom 3, which, with a budget of $20 million, made only $85 million by the end of its run. 'So, why should we make this comparison?' 'Marigold Hotel 1 & 2' fit into an unofficial genre called 'Bollywood Lite' or 'Bollywood from Britain (mostly)' which concoct drama, light humor, part celebration and part mockery of Indian backdrops, and imitation (or even worse, copy and paste, as is the case here) of Bollywood song/dance sequences with hybrid star casts (whose Indian participants often belong to the support cadre in mainstream Bollywood, at best). Yet, as we can see from the numbers, these sandwiches made of Bollywood leftovers seem to be serving quite a meal to the global audience. Doesn't that call for a shout out to Bollywood to wake up and smell the coffee and to rise up to serving 'Diet Bollywood' to global audience? And, while at it, if they can make this emerging genre more known for wholesomeness (more original, compelling, objective, and entertaining ), ridding it of the fixation on ridicule, all the better. One can, however, argue that the tier 1 players (the so called superstars) wouldn't 'stoop so low' as to playing in a hybrid cast or with such lite content (i.e no melodrama). True, but how about the tier just below that? As for the off-screen talent, there has been so much of it on display lately (but all in Hindi for domestic market only vs in English and for the world) with the new breed of writers, producers, and directors. If the idea brings with it the specters of experiments like late Krishna Shah's Shalimar (1978), we must realize that it was way ahead of its time and that it was a bi-lingual that used dubbing and had two versions of content. Also to note here is the success of recent efforts of this ilk such as 'Hundred Foot Journey' which is from Hollywood but co-produced by Reliance of India.

Now to go back to the content of this movie, it is a classic case of taking the above 'masala' of ingredients, and throwing it all up on the screen and watching what sticks. And, a decent amount of it does, thanks to some unaffected performances, brisk visualization coupled with script/dialogue, and a marked absence of melodrama (even by Hollywood standards). The fact that it is all loosely strung together into a love story that moves from Sagaai (Engagement) to Sangeet (Family Dance) to Shaadi (Wedding) doesn't hurt either, in spite of the plot being wafer thin and anaemic. Funny how such numbers from 8 years ago as 'Ye Ishq Haaye' from 'Jab We Met' (2007) and the title song of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007) can sound rather refreshing when interlaced with the jaunty narrative, as opposed to in the timeworn 'here comes the song break' style....;-)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The grand finale and part-3 of The Hobbit was meant to be about the so called Battle of the Five Armies, but it is instead the part-2 of part-2, the demolition (not desolation) of the Smaug, that really steals the show, even though that piece all but lasts the first 15 minutes of the movie. The setting of the stage for the battle is rather lame and force-fitted, and the battle itself, while equipped with a smattering of a wow effect here and there, is quite insipid and underwhelming.

Tolkien's fans may care for the content, but it is Peter Jackson's wizardry of movie making that's the real draw here. One only wishes that he picks more aesthetic, compelling and universally appealing content for his next adventure(s).

The HFR 3D plus Dolby Atmos technologies are put to good use for a flawless and lifelike viewing experience yet again.

Exodus: Gods and Kings
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Talk about falling flat on one's face while trying to carry the weight of the plaques with the ten commandments on them.

That's what Ridley Scott accomplishes with 'Exodus..', his modern day rendition of Cecil B DeMille's classic of 1956. As with the core elements of the mythology, where the God of the oppressed (Hebrews) punishes the establishment (Egypt) with a series of plagues, the audience feels equally condemned to sit through this lifeless, poorly cast, awfully acted, horribly written, highly confused, and awkwardly coy counterfeit of a production.

Such lines as "I am here on business", "..from the economy standpoint..", "..reports have it that...", a dry boardroom like "thank you", and "we made long strides..." etc should give you a taste of how much deeper attention was given to crafting this period drama (of 1300 BCE).

As soapy and occultish as the original was, this version only makes you want to make a dash for it yet again...Technology (3D photography and special effects) is the only aspect of redemption in this colossal (reportedly $140M) disaster.

Interstellar (2014)
23 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The subject matter (a theoretically viable Space exploration beyond what has been humanly possible so far) and the premise (that the Earth has become inhabitable and the only way to save the human race is either to take them all to 'another place' that's safer, per plan A, or, as in plan B, at least export some fertilized eggs to start a new generation there - a la artificial Panspermia) are compelling enough. Right? Now, add an occasional spectacular IMAX visual and complement it all with Hans Zimmer's haunting background score, and you think you are onto something wholesome. Wrong! In Christopher Nolan's hands, it has to also have a lot of murky and irritating style of narration, and hence, what you end up getting served with is something that while interesting is also very inelegant.

In a sci-fi work product, the 'fi' part is obviously left to the storytellers and we understand that they can do whatever they think gives them the most dramatic value, but here we should also take a moment to clarify any inadvertent (we'll give that benefit of the doubt to Nolan) misrepresentations that the plot (and in this case, even the title) comes with. That 'another place' in the story here is not at an 'interstellar' location (meaning another star in Milky Way galaxy, but is at an 'intergalactic' point). By the latest count, scientists have identified a total of 108 potentially habitable planets in our own galaxy, but to get a sufficient gap of time spent in space travel so the story's human drama can span across generations, Nolan makes his character, Dr. Brand, pick another galaxy in the search for a life-friendly planet. Having said that, it is reported that Nolan used respected scientists to visualize wormholes (aka Einstien-Rosen bridges, theoretical shortcuts to reach another point on the SpaceTime graph) and blackholes (which in the story hold the clue for defying gravity so an entire population could be thrown into orbit). That's good, but, be it the visuals related to space or the dust storm apocalypse here at home, his handling looks rather symbolic and minimalistic, and doesn't convey the full context, scope, and grandeur that the subject matter requires to keep the audience on board all the way through the 3 long hours.

All in all, rich for its imagination and rather patchy and shoddy for its realization.

Magic in the Moonlight
23 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

When it comes to explaining the unknown, in the perennial debate between 'science' and 'religion', it is often said that while the former is bold enough to say 'I don't know, but I will try to find out' the latter is too quick to conveniently end the argument by saying "I know, and the answer is God'.

But, what if the question was trickier and it read as 'Is there magic in life?'
Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight (2014)', uses a little fable of a story (a light-hearted period tale set in the 1920's on the opulent French Riviera) to offer a bit of counsel to the former to be not too quick with the 'I know, there is none' answer.

With a charming and well-enacted script that's rather breezy, he incites rationalists to go on the high road one notch up, and enjoins them to be less condescending, strict, definite, and brusque with their disagreements, if only to 'live fuller, and let live more (as in subscribing more to 'to each their own')'. Of course, not all rationalists are as boorish as Colin Firth's character, Stanley, in the story, but that much cinematic license must given for the point to be made and for the resulting good laughs.

A decent supply of Wood Allen's clever lines and humor ('A close call often wakes one up', 'Poor humans..Even with a clean life of no crimes, they all are sentenced to death') and great acting by Colin Firth and Emma Stone, make this one as enjoyable as his other recent hits, such as Midnight in Paris (2011) and Blue Jasmine (2013), if not more sumptuous...Highly recommended!