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Samsung had been playing a rather lackluster game in the budget smartphone segment in India which comprises of the smartphone market priced between 7k and 13k. And by this I mean it didn’t have smartphones in this segment that could compare to its competition in terms of the specs that were being offered. But it seems like Samsung has learnt from the past and is now ready to make amends in the segment. And this is rather clear in its introduction of the new Galaxy M series smartphones with much better specs than its predecessors. We have already reviewed the Galaxy M10 in detail and found it to be an impressive offering in its segment. Now, here’s my review of the Samsung Galaxy M20 which is the higher variant between the two M Series smartphones launched so far.

Samsung Galaxy M20 Review: Hits the sweet spot with its battery

Samsung Galaxy M20 Review: Hits the sweet spot with its battery
Samsung Galaxy M20 Review: Hits the sweet spot with its battery

Design of the Samsung Galaxy M20

Right off the bat, the first aspect that anyone notices about a device is how it looks, and the Samsung Galaxy M20 shares its physical traits with affordable sibling Galaxy M10 and some of the other smartphones in this segment. It comes with a waterdrop notch like Honor 10 Lite, which has been termed as ‘Infinity-V’ and is a first for Samsung. As a matter of fact, this is the first time that the South Korean company has incorporated the notch design into its smartphones. It seems like an attempt from Samsung to incorporate itself into the segment by picking up design cues from other smartphones and pick up designs that are trending.

Unlike other smartphones that are there in this category which include the Redmi Note 6 Pro, Honor 10 Lite which have metal or glass back panels, Samsung went for a polycarbonate back panel which has rounded corners to meld into the display. The back panel has the dual-camera setup in a vertical arrangement on the top left corner with the flash below it and the fingerprint sensor on down the middle. The device has two microphone openings, one on the top panel and another on the bottom beside the single speaker grille, 3.5mm port and a USB-C port. The volume rocker and the power button are on the right hand panel while the left panel houses the hybrid-SIM slot which has separate slots for two SIM cards and a MicroSD card of up to 256GB.

Moving on to the display of the Galaxy M20, it features a 6.3-inch FHD+ (2340 x 1080p) PLS TFT display which is Samsung’s own technology similar to TFT. The color reproduction of the display is bright and typical of Samsung’s saturated displays, which is impressive by all means. One of the more appreciable aspects of the display is that it is quite bright and you would not have any any problem with its outdoor visibility.

There were two things that surprised me, which was how light the smartphone is considering that it is packing a 5,000mAh battery and is not much heavier than the 3,300mAh packing Galaxy Note 8 which I use as my daily driver. The other thing that surprised me in terms of the design of the smartphone is how well Samsung has incorporated a proximity sensor as well as ambient sensor on the upper thin bezel, and it surprisingly works well too.

The volume rocker and the power key seems much better than the previous Samsung phones in this segment and are much more solid now without anything feeling loose. This has been typical in the mid ranged and the costlier Samsung smartphone, and the inclusion in the budget segment is an improvement of sorts for the company. The inclusion of Type-C for charging and interface with other devices is also an improvement and the fact that this comes with fast-charging capabilities also earns a thumbs up.

Booting up to the software of the Galaxy M20, I observed that Samsung has stuck to its Experience UI despite having introduced the new OneUI which has been professed as a big improvement over the previous one. Galaxy M20 does not yet have Android 9 Pie and is still stuck at Android 8.1 Oreo after the January 2019 security patch. The UI itself is no different from what we have seen in the previous Samsung devices, and we hope Samsung brings OneUI to this segment of devices as well.

Performance of the Samsung Galaxy M20

There are a few firsts for Samsung with the new Galaxy M smartphones and the inclusion of a whole new Samsung Exynos chipset in the Galaxy M20 is on of them. The Exynos 7904 processor that has been used in the Galaxy M20 is a new processor that has recently been launched by the Samsung. It is an octa-core processor which has two ARM Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 1.8GHz for high power tasks and six ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.6GHz for the regular tasks. The processor uses Mali-G71 GPU which is efficient enough to run games like PUBG Mobile without a hitch on high graphics.

The Samsung Galaxy M20 variant which I reviewed had 4GB RAM which was capable of handling heavy apps and switching between them frequently seemed snappy and went about without a hitch. Even using apps in the split screen view didn’t seem to deter performance of the device. One of the concerns that I had was whether the background apps are killed after a while, and it seems that it usually takes a long while before the app is killed and only an iteration is there in the background apps. I noticed that the smartphone produced negligible heat when playing games like Asphalt and PUBG Mobile even at longer stretches which is definitely one of the bigger positives considering how important smartphone gaming has become.

Moving on to the battery performance of the Samsung Galaxy M20, it has been impressive to say the least. I will mention outright that generally I am not too heavy a smartphone user and in my regular medium use of the smartphone, it easily lasted 1.5 days with a single full charge. This includes a couple of PUBG matches a day, a couple of product shots, 30-40 minutes of streaming high quality video, browsing social media for the rest of the day. But to test out the extended battery capability of the device, I extended the usage and the gaming hours to match heavy usage and the battery still lasted about a day on a single charge.

Now coming to the Galaxy M20’s camera capabilities, I have to admit that I had expected much better results considering that Samsung excels in optics. It is one of the primary talking points of its higher end smartphones, the company never ceases to surprise me with its below-par optics in the budget segment. The daylight shots seem perfectly fine which is expected, but the quality deteriorates as the light intensity decreases and so does capturing correct colors. The rear-camera combo of 13 megapixel primary sensor with a lens of f/1.9 aperture and a secondary 5-megapixel sensor and 120 degree field of view lens. The front camera is not too better off and the software has a tendency to overexpose the background in bright light to adjust the skin tone, while in low light it has difficulty in maintaining accuracy.

The software integration of the Face Unlock is pretty accurate (slightly slow), but definitely better than the Galaxy M10. The fingerprint sensor is pretty snappy and seems at par with even costlier devices.


The Samsung Galaxy M20 is a definite improvement over the previous Galaxy On series and Galaxy J series smartphones that we have seen. It shows that Samsung is willing to move towards making better phones for the budget segment, even though it has not reached there yet. The Galaxy M20 has impressive battery backup and the great display with performance which is quite up to the mark. But one of Samsung’s old faults of not incorporating better camera modules persists, considering the competing brands excel in the camera department especially.

In terms of the pricing, the variant I reviewed with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage is priced at Rs 12,990 which seems like fair pricing for the device even when comparing its positives and negatives to smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro and Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2.

If you’ve had a poor experience with something—say a restaurant, book or salon visit—take a minute before leaving a negative review. Is it worth it?

Write a Positive Review Instead of a Negative Review

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On our post about writing creators thank-you notes this holiday season, Traffic Cone Number 3 offered this great bit of advice:
One piece of advice I got that I practice is that whenever you feel compelled to leave a complaint or a negative review about something, take the time to leave a positive [re]view for something else. Two reasons, negativity tends to dominate sometimes, people are more motivated to speak up more when they are displeased, so it helps even things out. Secondly, it helps your own mental well-being. Makes you less likely to dwell on the negativity.
It’s a bit of a twist on that classic advice, if you don’t have anything nice to say... write something nice about something else instead. It’ll be better for your mental health not to stew in negativity, and it will help something you do like surface in algorithms.

This isn’t to suggest you disregard all bad behavior or poor service—sometimes the waiter really is being discriminatory, or the service isn’t what the business claimed it would be. But if you have a one-off bad experience, take a moment, and then consider leaving a positive review on something you do like. You’ll feel a little bit better.

Namaste England
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Seal, Alankrita Sahai
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah

I’m not sure there’s a word in the English dictionary that can accurately convey just how boneheaded the characters in Vipul Shah’s Namaste England are. This is a movie about stupid people who do stupid things while stupidly trying to convince themselves and others that they’re doing it for love.
Namaste England Movie Review: Arjun, Parineeti's Film Lacks Common Sense
Namaste England Movie Review: Arjun, Parineeti's Film Lacks Common Sense

Namaste England Movie Review

If every idiot character that ever appeared on screen had to take an IQ test, Param and Jasmeet, the protagonists of this film, would rank lower than Harry and Lloyd, the imbeciles from Dumb and Dumber.

Arjun Kapoor is Param, a boy from the Pind, who falls for Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) the moment he spots her during Dussehra celebrations. We watch his interest in her, and their subsequent romance, develop strictly over various festivals, which made me want to ask if they have any contact in the months between Diwali and Holi for example. But let’s not digress.

The pair is promptly married after progressive Param promises to support Jasmeet in pursuing a career after they’re wed. In fact he’s such a nice guy he agrees to move to England so she can follow her dream. But an entirely unconvincing series of plot twists leads to Jasmeet heading westwards, leaving Param heartbroken and unable to follow after her.

It’s brave that Parineeti Chopra agreed to play a character so singularly manipulative and unlikeable. She hurts the man she loves repeatedly, she uses him to escape her own strict family, and like Param tells her at one point, she’s so selfish she’s happy to be in a relationship with a city than with a person. Add that to the fact that Jasmeet is also fantastically foolish, and you’ve got a heroine with practically no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Param, meanwhile, is just a doormat with very little self-respect, and not particularly smarter than his wife. Arjun and Parineeti are hardly at the top of their game here, and it’s easy to blame the actors for this film’s shortcomings, but the truth is that Namaste England wouldn’t be a lot better if Aamir Khan or Meryl Streep were in it.

Which brings me to wonder how a film like this was made in the first place. Why no one – from the actors, to the studios bankrolling the project, or frankly anyone who’d looked at its ridiculous script – asked why good money was being pumped into such drivel? That will be one of Bollywood’s big mysteries.

In 2007, Vipul Shah made Namaste London with Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, and it was a pleasant enough entertainer with catchy songs and good chemistry between its leads. In Namaste England, Shah and his writers attempt to recycle some of what worked the last time around, including a rousing patriotic monologue by the hero addressed to a snotty India-basher. Alas, this scene has none of the impact of the original. It feels tired, recycled, and rote.

It’s hard to apply a traditional rating yardstick to a film that’s bereft of logic, or possesses even a modicum of common sense or plausibility. I’m going to skip rating Namaste England. Yes, this is that kind of awful film.

A rainy evening tinged with the lingering taste of aphrodisiacal mangoes and lilting verse is responsible for the arrival of a storm in the Kaushiks’ Delhi home19 weeks later. Three generations must confront an uncomfortable reality when it is revealed that the parents of a teenage son and a twenty-something young man are expecting their third child.

The boys—Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) and Gullar (Shardul Rana)—are aghast and embarrassed. Their grandmother (Surekha Sikri) is disgusted. The neighbours gossip and friends snigger. The parents-to-be are made to feel ashamed about their late-night activities, because the notion that adults are intimate with one another is somehow repugnant in a conservative, middle-class society.
Movie review: Badhaai Ho debunks age-old taboos
Movie review: Badhaai Ho debunks age-old taboos
As it turns out, it is problematic even for a seemingly progressive upper middle-class parent, which we see when (Sheeba Chadda) tells her daughter Renee (Sanya Malhotra) that her boyfriend Nakul’s family is akin to a “circus”.

Writers Shantanu Srivastava, Jyoti Kapoor and Akshat Ghildial and director Amit Ravindernath Sharma weave a delightful love story about the enduring romance between Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) and Jitu (Gajraj Rao). This couple, in their middle years, oscillates between coy delight at the prospect of a newborn and humiliation and hurt when facing their family and community.

Gupta and Rao are the scene-stealers in this slice of life film. Through small gestures, delicate expressions and quiet conversations they convey vulnerability, excitement, trepidation, pride, confusion and hope, as they absorb the salvo of judgment, envy and, finally, acceptance.

Priyamvada is often relegated to the background, but credit to Gupta that her emotions and angst radiate into the foreground, doing a delightful dance with Rao who compliantly takes cues from the stronger personalities in his world. He is wonderful in the interlude when he briefly feels emancipated.

Sikri is fiery as the caustic, blunt and controlling mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. Khurrana slips back into a part he has perfected—that of the regular middle-class Delhi boy-next-door trying to navigate out of a dilemma.

This time he has to overcome his own prejudices and embarrassment borne out of a concern for ‘what people will say’. Rana and Malhotra are able co-players.

Dialogue writer Ghildial coats a taboo topic in a veneer of humour. The screenplay builds in just the right amount of emotional nudges and Sharma’s direction binds together all the elements to deliver a satisfying watch.

Baaghi 2 movie review: The Tiger Shroff starrer has more fight than bite
Baaghi 2 movie cast: Tiger Shroff, Disha Patani, Manoj Bajpayee, Randeep Hooda, Deepak Dobriyal, Prateik Babbar Baaghi 2 movie director: Ahmed Khan Baaghi 2 movie rating: 2.5 stars When Tiger Shroff stands, arms akimbo, pectorals gleaming, eyes glaring, beautifully chiseled jawline straining, we can believe that his enemies—be they a muscle-bound duo or countless machine-gun rattling baddies—will drop like flies around him. And they do, in droves: this is a promise both the film and the hero keep.
When Tiger is on the move, kicking, jumping, punching, wielding guns and knives and bombs, Baaghi 2 delivers. It falters when it dives into ‘emotion’, trying to get our Army jawan hero in touch with his softer side. The love story is saggy. The pretty Patani, who debuted with sparkle in M S Dhoni, comes off insipid and out of her depth here. The trouble with a full-on masala film going in search of a plot is evident in the way the film unspools.
The bare bones are borrowed from Telugu thriller Kshanam, but the fillings are all strictly Bollywood: the attempt to create difference gets diluted. After a while, inevitably, all the bang-bang starts feeling familiar, whether it is happening on the streets of Goa, where much of the film is set, or in some jungles, location unspecified, where the long-drawn climax takes place. Tiger is cleverly surrounded by a splendid supporting cast. There’s the fully-in-the-groove Manoj Bajpayee as a sardonic cop; Randeep Hooda as the reefer-smoking hippie undercover agent; and Deepak Dobriyal as a shady-but-good-hearted car dealer with a side business in powder.
They lift the film every time they come on, knowing their place in the pantheon (the hero is on top, everyone else is below, waiting for their dialogue), and shining nevertheless. You wish they had more to do, even Prateik Babbar who returns to the screen after a long gap, and tries too hard for menace as a drug-addled crazy. You wish that this was a real ensemble cast, with equitable sharing rights, because then it would be so much more interesting.
We are left with the invincible hero in the snaky villain’s den, battling one man after another, scything through one attack after another, in his latest desi-Rambo turn. Finally, it all comes down to Tiger, and he burns bright only up to a point. An even bigger sin is in the way the film tries to re-jig Madhuri Dixit’s iconic “Ek Do Teen”: Jacqueline Fernandez, an efficient bumper-and-grinder left to herself, comes on, and our eyes glaze over.

March 02, 2018 , ,
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Review: The Smartphone that makes you sit up and take Note
In a market as competitive as the Indian smartphone market, every company strives to achieve the number one position. But what happens once they achieve it? Ever since Xiaomi joined Samsung as the top-selling smartphone in Indian smartphone market at the end of Q3 2017, as per IDC, it was only a matter of time the Chinese company took the title for itself. And that’s what has happened. According to the latest figures from IDC, Xiaomi has been crowned the king of the Indian smartphone market beating the chaebol during the fourth quarter of the year 2017, creating a certain pressure on Xiaomi to remain the leader. It’s one thing reaching the top but to sustain it is a totally different ball game. Perhaps that’s why Xiaomi has been a bit quieter than other brands. While others have made a lot of noise about launching new handsets, all this time Xiaomi was sitting tight. We’re in the second month of the year and Xiaomi has finally decided to launch its products in India, which are going on sale tomorrow for the first time. Among all the launched products -- the Redmi Note 5, Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Mi TV 4 -- recently, here we are going to talk about the Pro edition of the newly launched Redmi Note 5 . The India launch marks the global entry of this device which comes with certain features worth your attention such as a completely new Snapdragon 636 processor, the 20MP front camera and a dual rear camera setup, because of which, the company is calling it ‘India’s camera beast.’ We played with the device for a few days and here is our review:
Redmi 5 Pro Design and Display Given the obsession of the smartphone world with the 18:9 aspect ratio of the display Xiaomi too has incorporated this for the Redmi 5 Pro . But this isn’t the first Xiaomi phone to come with a bezel-less design in India as it had introduced this feature with its flagship device the Mi Mix 2 last year.
However, with the Redmi 5 Pro, now it won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Due to the bigger display, the capacitive keys are now on-screen keys. The front is as usual dominated by the display along with the selfie camera, earpiece and the usual array of sensors on the top edge, with a layer of 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass on the top with rounded display corners. The curves make the phone easy to hold and facilitate smooth operation, despite sporting a 5.99-inch screen size. Turn the smartphone around and you will first see a vertically placed iPhone X like rear camera setup, where the LED flash is housed in between the two lenses.
Frankly, this is not the first time when an Apple design feature has made its way to other smartphones. Remember when the dual rear camera setup of the iPhone 7 Plus was unveiled, how many handset makers got "inspired" by the design? Moving on, the back panel also has a centrally placed fingerprint sensor and the Mi branding below it. The handset comes with a micro-USB charging port (we fail to understand why) that is placed at the bottom, along with 3.5mm audio jack and the mono speaker.
There's a volume rocker and power button on the right, while the left side has a SIM card tray. The top of smartphone has the IR blaster that lets it control devices such as a TV. Coming to the display, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro has a 5.99-inch screen with a FHD+ resolution of 2160x1080p. The display comes with features such as Reading mode, which reduces the blue light emissions; Schedule that lets you customize the period of this reading mode; Contrast and colour selection and text size options. The images were quite sharp and we did not see any pixelization.
The sunlight legibility is not one of the best suits of the device and we also felt the display looks slightly dimmer, when viewed from a certain angle. Overall, we can say we did not have any complaints with the slim body design and is definitely going to grab some attention, even if it’s just for the rear camera panel.
Performance and camera Let’s talk about the specs of the device as it comes with a noteworthy feature. Debuting along with the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Pro is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, making it the first smartphone in the world to be powered by it. This new chipset features the newest Kyro technology, claimed to be seen in the 800-series chipset. Apart from this, the Note 5 Pro has 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. The device runs Xiaomi's MIUI 9 skin based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, and should hopefully receive an Oreo-based update as all major launches of this year now are expected to come with the latest operating system.
The MIUI 9, like the typical Xiaomi UI, has no app drawer and therefore all apps are placed on multiple home-screens. It comes with an app lock feature and dual apps space customized theme option. The leftmost home screen comes with quick cards that show the frequently used features and information. It is placed in the form of cards, similar to Today's page in iOS, that show shortcuts, calendar, take a note and more. This can obviously be customized as per the user and comes in quite handy once you start depending on it. One thing that we must point out is that even though the handset has a third-party theme support, these apps are not yet optimized for the 18:9 aspect ratio of the display.
There is a blank black patch that comes on the lock screen if you select any app and it surely gets on your nerves after a point. When we asked Xiaomi about this, they said, "Starting this month, all official themes from Mi India will be adapted to 18:9 aspect ratio. Also, third-party theme developers are being pushed to adopt their themes for 18:9 phones." In short, right now you get only two native themes that are fully supporting the display. We ran Antutu and GeekBench 4 tests on our device. While the phone scored 100031 in Antutu Benchmarks, the single-core and multi-core scores on GeekBench 4 were 1772 and 4227 respectively. During our testing, we found the overall performance of the Xiaomi Note 5 Pro to be simply incredible.
The phone handled multi-tasking of random app in a smooth lag-free way. We did not encounter any frame freezing of any kind. Both the call quality and the Audio quality are also quite good. The issue persists with the speaker placed at the bottom as the sound gets muffled when the device is placed in a landscape mode. The Xiaomi Redmi 5 Pro is backed by a 4000mAh battery that easily lasted us for more than a day of average use that included playing games and browsing social media apps, with Wi-Fi turned on. Moving on to the cameras, the Xiaomi Note 5 Pro comes with a -- iPhone-look-alike -- dual rear camera setup of 12MP+5MP RGB sensors. The primary 12MP camera has a 1.25µm sensor and a f/2.2, while the secondary camera has 1.12µm sensor and f/2.0. As per Xiaomi, the secondary camera comes in handy for depth sensing in the portrait mode as well as capturing 'additional information' in low-light shots.
On the front, the device a whopping 20MP camera, not seen something on a Xiaomi device before. This front camera comes equipped with Beautify 4.0 AI algorithm and a dedicated selfie-light, clearly marking its move to capture the selfie-crazed generation of the country. The camera app is pretty simple with options to make a video, a short video (it is preset to 10 seconds), capture a picture in square mode, portrait mode, panorama and manual mode. It also has native Instagram-like filters for the users. In our experience, the camera of the smartphone is excellent.
The colours were sharp and true to the actual shades. The Bokeh effect was also bang on where the camera was able to completely focus on the foreground. Even the selfie camera will amaze you with the precision of its Bokeh effects. Also, the beautification feature surprisingly looks realistic rather than making one look like an anime character. The otherwise perfect front camera just falls short of capturing detailed low-light images. But overall, the Note 5 Pro does stand up to the camera beast tag it comes with.
Verdict The Xiaomi Note 5 Pro is hands down a great phone. It has a powerful processor and a good camera, not just on paper but in experience as well. The FHD+ display in an 18:9 aspect ratio is an added perk. The device comes in two storage variants of 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage at Rs 13,999, which is dirt cheap for the kind of specs it offers.
There is also a 6GB RAM variant that comes at Rs 16,999, making it the first Xiaomi Note phone to have 6GB RAM variant. Personally, we feel, 4GB will be enough for a casual user, but for those who want extra, even this variant doesn’t qualify as over-priced. With so many things going for it, it’s hard but to not absolutely recommend the Note 5 Pro. Competition better up their game as Xiaomi with Note 5 Pro clearly has

Star Wars - The Last Jedi Review Roundup
Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ review roundup: Questions are answered, rules are broken : Two years after Star Wars was resurrected with The Force Awakens, we have our first sequel since Revenge of the Sith. Thankfully (at least based on the early reviews), it appears that the franchise has taken a welcome step forward under the direction of Rian Johnson, best known for Brick and Looper previous to this. After premiering earlier this week, the first reviews have flooded the internet this morning, and though there is some variance and a few naysayers, the overall reaction has been overwhelming positive. In general, reviewers say that The Last Jedi is a fresh start for the franchise that breaks plenty of rules while still respecting the universe. There are tons of reviews to check out all over the internet, but here are six to get a basic idea of the early reaction:
The Verge Tasha Robinson of The Verge was struck by how willingly The Last Jedi solved mysteries and answered questions:
It’s surprising how neatly and succinctly Last Jedi wraps up the open-ended stories — there are still plenty of details left to address about the new characters’ pasts, but the film answers the trilogy’s biggest questions to date with a directness that feels blunt and pointed: “You need to move on, and you can’t until you have your answers. So here are those answers.”
The Guardian For The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw noted that even the “muddled” story wasn’t enough to dilute the experience:
The Last Jedi gives you an explosive sugar rush of spectacle. It’s a film that buzzes with belief in itself and its own mythic universe – a euphoric certainty that I think no other movie franchise has. And there is no provisional hesitation or energy dip of the sort that might have been expected between episodes seven and nine. What there is, admittedly, is an anticlimactic narrative muddle in the military story, but this is not much of a flaw considering the tidal wave of energy and emotion that crashes out of the screen in the final five minutes. It’s impossible not to be swept away.
Variety As did many others, Variety’s Peter Debruge noticed that The Last Jedi has a surprising sense of humor:
Revealed as a bearded and cloaked recluse at the end of “The Force Awakens,” Luke is funnier than we’ve ever seen him — a personality change that betrays how “Star Wars” has been influenced by industry trends. Though the series has always been self-aware enough to crack jokes, it now gives in to the same winking self-parody that is poisoning other franchises of late, from the Marvel movies to “Pirates of the Caribbean.” But it begs the question: If movies can’t take themselves seriously, why should audiences?
BBC Writing for the BBC, Nicholas Barber highlights the similarities between The Last Jedi and Empire Strike Back:
Echoing The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi opens with the baddies’ heavy artillery turning a rebel base into a firework display. A zippy dogfight follows, and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is established as an insubordinate hothead who is frowned upon by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and her purple-haired right-hand woman Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). The plot then splits into two strands, exactly as the plot of The Empire Strikes Back did.
USA Today In his review for USA Today, Brian Truitt points to two standout performances that gave the movie weight:
The Last Jedi is Driver’s to rule as much as Force Awakens was Ridley’s, and he’s awesome in it — Kylo is blockbuster cinema’s most magnetic and unpredictable antagonist since Heath Ledger’s Dark Knight Joker. Just as good is the original Star Wars hero: Hamill lends gravitas, warmth, power and even humility to old Luke in a memorable performance.
CNN Finally, CNN broke with the crowd, calling The Last Jedi “unsatisfying” and many of the new characters “disposable”:
Carrie Fisher’s death last year serves as a somber footnote to the movie, and beyond her warming presence, there’s a lovely dedication to her in the closing credits. What precedes that overall, alas, represents a creative step back, not a leap forward. Optimistically, “The Last Jedi” leaves plenty of intriguing possibilities for the climactic installment. But there’s also the kind of room for improvement that remind us when it comes to “Star Wars,” such hopes — new or otherwise — spring eternal.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will release in theaters this Friday, December 15th.

Sathya movie review: This Sibiraj and Varalaxmi Sarathkumar film is a gripping tale
Sathya movie cast: Sibi Sathyaraj, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Remya Nambeesan
Sathya movie director: Pradeep Krishnamoorthi
Sathya movie rating: 3 stars (Click Here For Download)
It is the classic case of remake-citis. Every remake is bound to be accompanied by side-effects, a round of comparisons. This week seems to be the remake week as the Tamil versions of two major hits from other languages, Kshanam (Telugu) and Ulidavaru Kandante (Richie) are hitting the screens. The biggest advantage I had in watching Sibiraj’s Sathya, the remake of Kshanam, was that I was new to the film. However, after saying that, Sathya is a gripping tale that doesn’t compromise on the narrative keeping you invested till the end. Accompanied by some great music and apt performances, Sathya is a good comeback vehicle for Sibiraj after the tepid Kattapava Kanom.
Sathya (Sibiraj) gets a call from his ex-girlfriend seeking a favour after four years. He travels to India to meet her and finds out that her daughter is missing. Was the girl kidnapped? Did she exist in the first place? These are some of the questions he seeks to find the answer for. The screenplay is gripping, shouldered by Sibiraj. The heavy-bearded look suits the actor; he looks good as the eponymous Sathya and delivers a satisfactory performance, barring a few places where he looks stiff. Varalakshmi is a good addition. After Thara Thappattai, Vikram Vedha, Nibunan and now Sathya, we can safely say that Varalakshmi has become the face of Kollywood’s definition of a ‘bold’ woman. It made me wonder how it would be to see her in a role that (doesn’t show her in a position of strength; something like Ramya Nambeesan’s role in this film. Some food for thought)
Conversational humour in Sathya is on dot, thanks to convincingly natural dialogues. While it is tough to buy Yogi Babu as an NRI corporate employee, it is impossible to not laugh when Sibi says “Enaku nadika varathu” and he responds “Adhan ooruke theriyume!”. Anand Raj’s dialogues are another great example, especially when he goes, “Arai bodhai naaye” in an interrogation scene. The no pretence dialogues aids a tight screenplay that doesn’t let you look away. Sathya’s narrative doesn’t compromise much; it diligently sticks to its objective as thrillers should.
I had liked Simon K King’s feel-good “Vizhiyile” in Ainthu Ainthu Ainthu, but “Yavvana” in Sathya is pure joy. So is grungy “Sangu” sung by the music composer himself. Sathya’s music aids the high-paced drama well and should definitely open up more doors for Simon.
Without the baggage of being a remake, Sathya is a solid thriller. It does all it can to satisfy the expectations of a pair of fresh eyes. The question to ponder upon is how faithful should remakes be. There are two sides to it — why fix something that is already good and on the other hand, if it is good enough why remake it? A discussion for the future, I guess.

December 08, 2017 ,
Richie movie review: This Nivin Pauly starrer works in parts
Richie movie cast: Nivin Pauly, Natarajan Subramaniam, Shraddha Srinath, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Prakash Raj
Richie movie director: Gautham Ramachandran
Richie movie rating: 2.5 stars
There is a scene where Richie and his father (Prakash Raj) are having a conversation at the church. Prakash Raj is a pastor and Nivin waits for him to step out, his profile perfectly aligned with the spine of the Cross. As Prakash Raj steps in, they take the opposite sides of the cross — Ritchie on the right (pun intended). The scene, for me, is a clear example of the tone Richie takes, in contrast with Ulidavaru Kandante. While essentially both films document the story, Richie is a detailed version of Ulidavaru Kandante. There are several new angles added to the story in form of explanations as to why the characters do what they do. Unfortunately, they don’t sit well with the chaos the narrative style generates. The clash between wanting to be sure the audience understand everything and to also have a convoluted narrative dampens Richie’s effectiveness; something I had loved about the original.
Another major difference is how both films treat their characters. Richie’s characters are much more fleshed out; especially its titular role. While Rakshit Shetty’s version saw Richie accept his ‘professional rowdy’ tag easily. He embraces it with open hands rather. On the other hand, Gautham’s version sees a Richie who seems to repent the life that he could have had. A change that weaves in a stronger emotional conundrum, making the movie more complicated than what it is. The plot change also brings a philosophical angle of forgiveness. Maybe it was done because Nivin is essaying the lead role; that we had to sympathise his struggle. Or maybe not. The fact is that Richie’s story goes beyond the original, a trait that is admirable in remakes.
Promoting Richie as a Nivin Pauly film might be counterproductive for the film, especially with Nivin’s fans who might have expected to see more of their star. Rakshit Shetty wasn’t the star he is now, at the time of Ulidavaru Kandante. For the kind of star power Nivin has in Tamil, the screen time the story gives him is limited. His fans would expect more. It is a daring choice taken by the actor and he makes the best use of it. Nivin definitely looks the part. It is the dubbing that doesn’t sound quite right. Despite the effort, we can sense that the words don’t roll of Richie’s tongue as easily as it should for a don. Nevertheless, it’s a good debut for the actor.
The staging and lighting in Richie, however, is remarkable. The film’s dominant red shades in its lighting; hues and colours that aren’t natural but gel well into the frame. The shades make Richie look slightly exotic, giving a comic book feel to the movie. Richie sounds the same as its predecessor, thanks to retaining Ajaneesh Lokanath’s work. As it does in the original, the music further adds Nivin’s swagger on screen.
Effects of remake-citis are bound to affect Richie as well. Comparisons are unavoidable. Which brings me back to question, do remakes need to be faithful? Are we okay when things are changed about the movie we like?

Bareilly Ki Barfi Movie (2017) | Reviews, Cast & Release Date, Trailer And StoryBareilly Ki Barfi is an upcoming, 2017 Indian romantic comedy film, directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari. The film will have Rajkummar Rao, Ayushmann Khurrana and Kriti Sanon in the lead roles. It is scheduled to be released on 18 August 2017.

Bareilly Ki Barfi is directed by Ashwiny Iyer, who previously helmed critically acclaimed Nil Battey Sannata. The trailer of the film will be released today, while it is all set to hit the screens on 18th August. It will clash with Shraddha Kapoor’s Haseena Parkar at the box office.
On the work front, Ayushmann Khurrana will be next seen in Shubh Mangal Savdhan opposite Bhumi Pednekar. The film is R S Prasanna and produced by noted filmmaker Anand L Rai. On the other hand, Rajkummar Rao will be next seen in Newton, which has won many accolades in the International film festivals.
After releasing the 1st quirky poster, the makers of Bareilly Ki Barfi have now launched a new poster of the film. The poster features the ensembled cast of Kriti Sanon, Rajkummar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana.

The lead characters are seen in a candid look, while the background of the poster looks very vibrant and colorful.

A new poster of Kriti Sanon, Rajkummar Rao, Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Bareilly Ki Barfi has been released and it as quirky as the first look of the film.

The poster shows the three actors sitting on a cart, laughing away. The first look of the film featured just Kriti Sanon reading a book titled Bareilly Ki Barfi. The second poster, however, features the male actors, as well.

The film is being directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, whose last venuture Nil Battey Sannata was appreciated both by the audience and critics.

Ayushmann Khurrana tweeted the poster on Twitter. Here's his tweet:

Bareilly Ki Barfi
Hindiबरेली की बर्फी
Directed byAshwiny Iyer Tiwari
StarringRajkummar Rao
Ayushmann Khurrana
Kriti Sanon
Narrated byAyushmann Khurrana
CinematographyGavemic U Ary
Edited byManan Sagar
Junglee Pictures
BR Studios
Distributed byZee Entertainment Enterprises
Release date
  • 18 August 2017 (India)
  • [1]
The film is a story of three young characters. Story of the movie revolves around all three of them. Ayushmann Khurrana is a printing press owner whereas Rajkummar Rao is working in the printing press under Ayushmann Khurrana. Kriti Sanon is playing the female lead in the movie, playing the role of a young contemporary girl in Uttar Pradesh.

  • Rajkummar Rao
  • Ayushmann Khurrana
  • Kriti Sanon
“It’s a unique rom-com rooted in Uttar Pradesh. We start shooting in the first week of October in 2016 after conducting a few workshops with the actors in September,” says Priti Shahani, President of Junglee Pictures.

Priti shares that in the film, Ayushmann owns a printing press, Rajkummar is an author and Kriti plays a liberal thinking UP girl.

Khurrana owns a printing press, Rao is an author and Sanon is a tomboyish girl who follows her heart and does what she wants to. The shooting had kicked off in Lucknow in October 2016 and the team has wrapped up their first schedule.

The film is being touted as a romantic comedy. The film is also set to clash at the box-office with Shraddha Kapoor's Haseena Parkar. Both films are in stark contrast to each other. While is a dark crime film, Bareilly Ki Barfi comes off as a fresh take on romance.

The posters of the film also exude a similar colourful vibe.  Although it was slated to release on 21 July, the film  will now hit the screens on 18 August, 2017.

June 29, 2017 ,
Will Ferrell finally cranks out a decent comedy with The House after two duds in a row
Rating:Three stars

Director : Andrew J. Cohen (feature debut)

Starring : Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Ryan Simpkins, Nick Kroll.

Verdict : Pays to be careful who you get in to bet with

HAD funnyman Will Ferrell been listed on the stock exchange, his last two films (Get Hard and Daddy’s Hom e, one-star wonders both) would be deemed sufficient grounds for a complete suspension of trading.

The problem in recent years — the rut set in around the time of the flat political farce The Campaign — is that Ferrell’s prolific output as a producer has diminished his instincts as a comedian.

He’s now a salesman first, and a showman second. Quite often a Will Ferrell interview will be far funnier than a Will Ferrell movie.

Thankfully, Ferrell’s new marquee release The House — marking his first lead role in quite some time — represents a welcome, if not sizeable increase in his ailing share price as a comedy draw card.

Ferrell and Amy Poehler (also a busy producer these days) play Scott and Kate, a cash-strapped couple who start an underground casino in their neighbourhood.

The reason why the pair flout the law so brazenly is simple enough.

Their only child, daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) is about to start college, and a much-needed scholarship that would have paid the huge tuition fees has been cancelled.

As soon-to-be empty-nesters with empty pockets, Scott and Kate are desperate enough to try just about anything.

So when their gambling-addicted friend Frank (a scene-stealing Jason Mantzoukas) comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme that can be conducted at the rear of his property, the game (and the gaming) is on.

After a very pedestrian opening act, The House is capable of getting very funny very quickly when its goes off-script, and lets loose with the silly and surreal stuff that has long been Ferrell’s strong suit.

In particular, a series of weird references riffing on the old Scorsese-De Niro classic Casino lifts The House out of many a potential flat spot.

Scenes where Scott, Kate and Frank are forced to deal with cheating and non-paying customers are where the biggest laughs can be found, with a few even straying into the did-that-really-just-happen? zone.

There are also some very amusing sequences about cramming the usual trappings of a gambling den (including slot machines, standover men and, umm, unsanctioned boxing bouts) into a suburban lounge room.

Just don’t go trying any of this at home, OK?

Nothing truly classic happening here in The House, but in a year that has been deathly for worthwhile comedies, this is an easy kill for a dependable number of laughs.

June 29, 2017 , ,
Wonder Woman Is About to Beat Suicide Squad at the Box Office
Fans of DC Comics movies got a big win when Wonder Woman hit theaters last month. The story of the Amazonian warrior has shattered records as well as longstanding industry misconceptions about just how well big blockbuster movies about female heroes, starring female actresses, and crafted by a female director, can do in the industry.

As Wonder Woman continues its impressive theatrical run, DC Extended Universe fans will be able to count one more milestone in the "win" column: Wonder Woman is about to overtake Suicide Squad at the domestic box office.

As Deadline reports, Wonder Woman grossed $3.9M at Monday night shows, putting the film's domestic total at $325.09M, just shy of Suicide Squad‘s final domestic total of $325.1M.

Why It Matters: For DCEU fans this is a nice win in the argument for why DC Comics cinematic universe is still a worthy endeavor, with a certain level of quality that audiences respond to. Suicide Squad is generally regarded as the weakest film in the DCEU, so the fact that it earned so much money domestically only added fuel to the 'money doesn't equal quality' argument against DC and Warner Bros.'s accomplishments. Wonder Woman is supposed to be a big creative turning point for the studio, so having it become the highest earner would be a powerful statement.

As it stands, Wonder Woman has surpassed Man of Steel's $291 million domestic earning; the bigger challenge will be reaching Batman v Superman's $330 million domestic run. If Wonder Woman can equal or even surpass that milestone event film, then DC and WB will have all the brand correction they needed, setting the stage for Justice League to achieve a major (billion dollar?) box office victory.

Wonder Woman is in theaters now. Did you enjoy the movie? Let us know with your ranking in the Movie Database below!

June 29, 2017 , ,
Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

STORY: 1600 years ago, the first Transformer on Earth gave a wizard a wand to defeat evil. Cut to present day, the ultimate evil plans to return for the wand, unbeknownst to humans and other Transformers who are fighting their own war.

REVIEW: Harriet Tubman — the iconic abolitionist who rescued slaves, later worked with the suffragettes, and will be the first woman to appear on American currency — was part of a secret society that knew about the existence of Transformers on Earth. Or so this movie atrociously suggests.

Director Michael Bay breaches the limits of farfetchedness with this entrant in the Transformers franchise. And that odd Harriet Tubman anecdote is the least ridiculous thing in its mythology.

Transformers, we’re told, helped King Arthur in his battles. His wizard, Merlin, was handed a magical staff by a Transformer, and the staff is the key to all creation on the planet of Cybertron. As Cybertron begins to decay, an evil queen leads it closer to Earth to attain the staff. Cade (Wahlberg), is the titular last knight who can stop the planets from colliding, and Vivian (Haddock) is the last surviving descendent of Merlin, who can find and yield the staff.

If you thought that was all too convoluted, don’t worry, Mark Wahlberg probably thinks so too. His disinterest in the movie’s proceedings is almost visible on his face. Haddock is restricted to running in pretty clothes, while Anthony Hopkins — his presence here is as surprising as the movie is not — manages to bring a morsel of intrigue with his part.

By now, the world has accepted the Transformers movies to be unabashedly mindless, full of VFX explosions, goofy bro-humour and stereotypical female characters. In that sense, this movie delivers. It is 154 minutes of sensory overload. The most watchable bits have Jim Carter voicing Cogman, who is a cross between Star Wars’ C-3PO and Beauty And The Beast’s Cogsworth. Much more of Cogman’s wit and humour suffused with the deafening roar of car-wars would have made this a tad more watchable.

Tubelight Movie Review: Salman Khan Is The Worst Thing About Tubelight
Tubelight Movie Review: Salman Khan and Matin Rey Tangu in a film still

Cast: Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Zhu Zhu, Matin Rey Tangu, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Om Puri
Director: Kabir Khan
Rating: 1 star (out of 5)

First things first, it's great to see Om Puri one last time. Puri was one of the very finest actors our country ever produced, and Kabir Khan's Tubelight marks his last filmed performance. Sure, he looks like he's walked straight off the logo for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and is given trite platitudes to mouth instead of actual dialogue, but it's still wonderful to watch him chew on watermelon and tell us how faith can move mountains. In fact, say I, we should all be grateful to Khan and Tubelight for illustrating to us just how true it is that dear Mr Puri is, indeed, now in a better place.

Tubelight Movie Review: Salman Khan Is The Worst Thing About Tubelight
Tubelight Movie Review: A still from the film

In Hindi movies, every Khan has his day. Kabir's came two years ago with the emotionally impactful and highly effective Bajrangi Bhaijaanwhich I enjoyed thoroughly. This time, it's Sohail Khan's turn, and he gets to outshine his celebrated brother simply by keeping a straight face. Tubelight is a Salman Khan film that kept me longing to have Sohail back on screen, and those are words I'd never thought I'd type.

Tubelight Movie Review: Sohail and Salman Khan in a film still
Tubelight Movie Review: Sohail and Salman Khan in a film still

As with war, any escape is valid, you see. Tubelight is a remake of a 2015 American release called Little Boy, a film which sounds obnoxiously manipulative to begin with, and - going by synopses - the Hindi rendition seems slavishly faithful. Well, as faithful as it can be considering it stars a man 40 years too old to play the lead.

Little Boy is about an eight year old child coming to grips with the futility of war, indulged by townsfolk to believe in his own magic. A child who lives on mollycoddling and affirmation? It's not hard to see why Kabir would cast this particular actor, though it is intensely problematic that the Salman Khan public relations initiative is plumbing such shameless depths. The message being sent out with this film is: poor little superstar who doesn't know better.

There might be something to that. Salman hasn't had to actually act for a while now, though he has been making more of an effort in Kabir's films. With this one, alas, he goes "full retard" as Robert Downey Jr dismissively scoffed in Tropic Thunder. While Khan could hardly be expected to pull off a Forrest Gump, what we get here is even worse than Koi Mil GayaTubelight is the story of a developmentally disabled man whose superpower is making constipated sounds.


Set in September 1962, the film is about Laxman Singh Bisht (Salman) whose brother Bharat (Sohail) has gone across the border to fight in the Indo-Chinese war. Here, period authenticity and detailing basically equals to everyone wearing sweater-vests. The film is set in a small, fictional hamlet, where Laxman is loved and laughed at in equal measure, until one day a travelling magician (who also appears to moonlight as a motivational speaker) uses him in a trick and shows him he can move a bottle with his mind.

This leads to Salman trying to move mountains and stop wars by sticking his arms out and grunting earnestly, over and over. These are supposed to be emotionally hardcore scenes depicting naive wholesomeness and a good heart. They come across unbearably farcical, crippled by what is possibly the worst performance of Salman's chequered career. Tubelight means well, an anti-war movie that illustrates the pointlessness of battle and the importance of not actively hating those you are at war with, and while its simplistic message is timely and admirable, the film is rendered unwatchable because of the leading man.

Tubelight Movie Review: Salman Khan in a film still
Tubelight Movie Review: Salman Khan in a film still

Kabir has always been good with war sequences, but while the ones in this film are mounted on an impressive scale and efficiently shot, the choreography is baffling. A row of soldiers stands in position, and when enemies open fire, they all fall to the ground, shot in the right shoulder at the exact same time.

Everyone besides Salman is good here, which is again a new thing to write about a star whose screen-presence and spontaneous charisma has carried him through many a horrid film. We get fine performances from bright Chinese actress Zhu Zhu and, most memorably, moon-faced child Matin Rey Tangu, who should have swiftly replaced the lead. These two play Indians of Chinese origin, facing hostility and prejudice during the Sino-Indian conflict, and it must be emphasised how unforgivable it is to cast a Chinese actress alongside a kid from Arunachal Pradesh here, as if to say it's all the same.

Tubelight Movie Review: Salman Khan and Matin Rey Tangu in a film still
Tubelight Movie Review: Salman Khan and Matin Rey Tangu in a film still

Alongside the Khan brothers who look to have been inflated with tyre-pumps, there is a strong cast, the norm at a time Indian casting directors have come good. We have the infallible Brijendra Kala smiling, possibly at the thought of his cheque, while Yashpal Sharma hams uncharacteristically hard, chewing on and repeating each line a couple of times as if to make it more palatable. Meanwhile, supporters of arthouse cinema may find it therapeutic to watch a strong thespian like Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub wallop the megastar a few times.

Zeeshan, in fact, is particularly good as a knock-kneed meanie, but there's only that much he is allowed to do, as this film - and everyone in it - constantly makes way. It's the Salman Khan show, and here he is bobbing his head and widening his eyes, with all the expressiveness of a hurriedly drawn thumb-puppet.

Faith may indeed move mountains. It's a taller ask to make the mountain act.

Satish Kumar

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