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Logan Lucky Review (2017) | Steven Soderbergh Returns to Heist

It’s one hell of a sight to see Steven Soderbergh get back to heist movies. Logan Lucky is as ravishing as his Ocean’s franchise used to be. It has a star-studded cast, a great story, great humour and is really satisfying to watch. Almost manages to take you back in time to the Ocean’s.

Logan Lucky is smart, inventive and funny and that’s what makes it an enjoyable flick. The cast does a fabulous job with Channing TatumAdam Driver and Daniel Craig literally driving the story forward. People who make the plot even more entertaining are characters portrayed by Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid and Seth McFarlane.

Direction and Theme of Logan Lucky (Spoilers)

Steven Soderbergh is still great with the camera. Writing credits for Logan Lucky goes to Rebecca Blunt and it’s apt that Soderbergh took this project under his wing. His reach is diverse when it comes to choosing actors. And Logan Lucky has got plenty of big names to showcase. The best thing is that he simply aces situational humor to crack you up which never bores you even for a second.

Meet the Logans

The movie begins with Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) being fired from a job on account of him being limp. He had been working as a construction worker for Charlotte Motor Speedway until he was let go one day out of the blue. If his day couldn’t turn any worse, his ex-wife Bobbie Jo Chapman (Katie Holmes) breaks it to him that she plans on moving to Lynchburg with her new husband thus making it difficult for Jimmy to visit their daughter Sadie Logan (Farrah Mackenzie).

logan lucky brothers channing tatum and adam driver

Furious he is drinking at his brother Clyde Logan’s (Adam Driver’s) bar where he gets into a fight with Max Chilblain (Seth MacFarlane) and his friends. He has clearly hit a rock bottom and that’s when he becomes desperate to rob Speedway.

Cauliflower.

He talks with Clyde about his plan to do so, sharing with him the knowledge he had garnered on pneumatic tube system when he was working for the company. Speedway used it to move cash across its main vault.

Logan brothers also include their sister Mellie (Riley Keough) into their plan thus making it a family thing.

Meet The Bangs

They hire Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a safecracker to safely crack the safe.

I am incarcerated.

Probably one of the most intriguing things to watch in the flick is Daniel Craig’s performance as Joe Bang. He becomes something we are not used to watching him as. The actor changes his entire personality making you forget that he is the guy who plays Bond, James Bond. And that’s one sign to make out a good actor.

Daniel Craig in Logan Lucky movie

Joe Bang comes at a price. They are forced to hire Joe Bang’s brothers Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson) too, who by the way crack you up with their daft acts.

I know everything there’s to know about computers. Okay? All the twitters! I know ’em.

The Plan in Logan Lucky

The plan is to break Joe Bang out just for the robbery and then sneak him back in before it would raise an alarm. To help him from the inside Clyde intentionally incarcerates himself for a delinquency. Watch out for that bit! So funny.

Mellie, Fish and Sam put cockroaches in the main vault of Speedway to get its proper dimensions.

Joe and Clyde create a riot inside to veil their absence from the prison and then escape via the infirmary under delivery trucks. They are picked up by Mellie who drives them to the Speedway. The dimwit Bang brethren blow up the generator forcing everybody to switch to cash. When the cash begins to flow in really fast, Joe creates a working bomb out of mere gummy bears, bleach, and salt.

Is it twenty or is it thirty? We are dealing with Science here!

They even hire a guy to bullshit the security sent to investigate the smoke coming out of the tube.

The plan stays foolproof throughout. The only problem happens when Clyde ends up running into Chilblain. That and Clyde’s prosthetic arm getting sucked in by the vacuuming machine.

The Big Reveal

The best thing Logan Lucky does is what it does with its climax. It creates an impression as if Jimmy had a change of heart and he leaves all the money behind, tipping off the police about the money whereabouts. Clouds of doubts are created deliberately forcing you to think in that direction. But just as you are about to feel frustrated by the flick’s ending, just as much Joe Bang and Clyde supposedly might have been feeling at one point, you realize that Jimmy is way smarter than he looks.

We find out that Jimmy had simply returned some of the cash from the whole sum to stop the tailing investigations. He had midway, along with Mellie, arranged to hide the cash in a dump. He had also retrieved Clyde’s arm in the process doing all the right things.

As the movie ends we realize that the crew ends up becoming safe and happy after all, but the pain in the tooth is still there in the form of Special Agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank). We see her sharing a drink with Clyde in the end. It leaves all the threads open leaving the audience in a whirlpool of speculation.

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That Emotional Touch

The movie resorts to playing in with its soft corner by using the youngest of all Logans – Sadie. The only thing unselfish about the movie is the father-daughter angle, where Jimmy wishes to provide for Sadie and really be there for her. As the movie begins we see Jimmy telling Sadie about why he loved the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver the most. The significance behind it that made him love it even more.

As Sadie takes the stage for her pageant show, where she plans on singing Rihanna’s Umbrella, she finds Jimmy show up at the entrance. She then takes the bold move of changing the song and singing her father’s favourite song instead to make him proud and happy, eventually winning the trophy as well.

The Sense of Satisfaction

The most satisfying thing probably isn’t just watching Jimmy get away with it. But him having a big heart to leave some cash for even the most insignificant people involved in the heist in one way or the other. Even the ones whom he caused minor inconvenience, ends up getting a wad of cash. Even a girl from the school Sylvia (Katherine Waterston) who just put a band-aid on him.

With that, we know that Jimmy isn’t a bad guy after all. He is just a reflection of maybe a fragment of us. Our anger that forces us to become something that we are not. And the picture is so satisfying to watch that it tempts you into becoming a smartass like Jimmy and get what you are really worth.

logan lucky bang brothers

Minor Issues

Surprisingly I don’t see why Sebastian Stan was even included in the movie for he didn’t have anything to do with the plot. His presence merely felt like a jest the writer wasn’t aiming for but somehow Steven was convinced to rope in a huge name. It is like his regular wont of adding up as many valuable personalities he could lay his hands on. This time it was the Winter Soldier I guess that he had in mind.

However, tempting the idea of robbing might sound or how cool the idea of being a smart ass like Jimmy might appear to be, the flick after all, in a way propagates crime, and delivers a wrong message. That’s the only flaw one could see if one squints too much.  But at the end of the day, you must remember a movie like this is supposed to be looked at, just for fun. Hope nobody takes a wrong message from it.

The Final Verdict

Logan Lucky is a hoot. It is really satisfying to watch. The humour will keep you constantly riveted to the story at all times. Even though there are tons of heist movies out there, the subtle entertainment it slips in is unlike we have seen in any of the others. It is a movie that should not be missed.

You can check out another amazing movie review of one of Adam Driver’s movie here.

Check out the trailer of Logan Lucky here:

Alien Covenant Review (2017) | The Monstrosity Continues

Ridley Scott‘s Alien Covenant turns out exactly what we expected it to be. Filling in the shoes of a proper sequel Prometheus deserved. It is properly written in terms of story for the better half, then for the remaining half banks on mere cheap thrills to escape from what it aspires to be. Owing to that it ends up having a predictable story-line written to reach a certain end. And you see it coming from far away.

Ridley Scott does make great sci-fi and space movies. A wink at his last project The Martian of course. There’s no doubting him when there is the concept of space entailed. But it is that sense of complacency around this topic, I guess, that is making him a tad predictable. He has been overlooking a lot of things whilst doing so, and that’s not good news for his fans. For instance, he has tuned down considerably on horror. The concept of an alien on the ship is no longer giving us the chills. Why is that? Too much of it? I don’t know.

The Timeline of the Alien Franchise

Alien Covenant is on perfect lines of the Alien timeline which is appearing to be filling in all the right gaps. With the prequel Prometheus setting a new benchmark to pave a purpose, connecting everything has become a lot more fun. Alien Covenant answers a lot of questions and that makes delving into it an intriguing affair.

Here is the timeline we have so far:

93 AD – An Engineer sacrificing himself in a waterfall scene from Prometheus.

2023 AD – Weyland’s speech.

2089 AD – Discovering a star map in Scottish cave

2093 AD – Prometheus expedition.

2094 AD – Destruction of Prometheus. David and Elizabeth Shaw survive.

2104 AD – Alien Covenant film

2124 AD – Alien film

2183 AD – Aliens film

2184 AD – Aliens 3 film

2386 AD – Alien: Resurrection

Forgotten the previous parts? You can order the Alien Anthology from here:

Michael Fassbender as David: Case Study (Spoilers)

Michael Fassbender as David remains the heart and soul of the movie. Just like the prequel where he is the root of the evil, he imparts direction to the Covenant tale as well, showing up at just the right moment. Michael Fassbender also plays Walter who is an advanced android version of David, built to take care of the Covenant ship.

The conversation the duo has wherein David teaches Walter how to play a flute is deep in a way if you pay attention. David is trying to earn Walter’s trust, one of his own kind, at the same time trying to expand the dormant code in him. With Walter bound by his inabilities to channel creation, David helps him show that creation is possible for everyone.

It is poetic in a way if you realize that in real life too people are often convinced that they are not up for creation. But the truth of life is that creation is everything, and that’s what David intends to do. We can find him being mesmerized with the concept of creation when he helps a Facehugger incubate the captain.

The Crime of Our Species

David gets the primal truth behind it. The only setback is that he considers our species to be unworthy of existence. The poetic thing in this whole setup is that just like Engineers created us and then found us to be detrimental, they decided to kill us. In a similar fashion, we too created an android like David, and then by the end realized, his kind should be stopped too, like Walter trying to kill David on discovering about its deformities.

Michael Fassbender as David playing God in Alien Covenant movie

That’s the circle of life that keeps on going. It is befitting in a way as per Shelley‘s poem that David quotes:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.

The conversation David has with Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) in the prologue takes us back in time when David was created. With Weyland asking David to serve him and then asking him to join him in seeking answers about his creators has been beautifully presented. David chooses his own name by looking at the eponymous Michaelangelo’s statue. In a way, it depicts his power to be able to do wish for things the way he likes. He isn’t meant to serve, it’s clear from his gestures. His loathsome demeanour to be asked to serve him tea lets you feel how grand he wishes his life to be, and he hates being tied as a servant. He is quick to sense malevolence as well, and his reaction to it is well calculated.

Alien Covenant: The Plot Thickens

When you look at the plot of the movie it is in a way similar to that of the original Alien movie with a crew encountering a signal in space coming from a planet. In reality, they were headed towards Origae-6 as their mission to colonize a planet favourable for life. However, they encounter a radio transmission coming from a nearby planet that forces them to check it out since it promised an atmosphere resembling that of Earth.

On reaching there with a Lander to investigate, they find the crashed Prometheus ship (from the prequel) and discover that it was once piloted by Elizabeth Shaw. On their way back two of their team members get infected by alien spores. We are introduced to Neomorphs then who burst out from the infected people, and attack the rest of the crew. Their Lander gets destroyed in the process, Walter loses his hand trying to save Daniels (Katherine Waterston); that’s when David appears out of nowhere scaring the Neomorphs away.

They follow him to a temple like structure which used to be inhabited by Engineers on the planet. David claims that while arriving on the planet, one of the black goo containers accidentally dropped killing all the Engineers in the process. Also, that owing to the chaos, the ship had crashed and killed Shaw.

Neomorphs Return

One of the surviving Neomorphs attack one of the crew members, who is then later killed by Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) fuming David up. On demanding to know what was he doing on the planet, David takes Oram to a chamber of eggs where Facehuggers laid dormant. He reveals that he used black goo as a catalyst to experiment on wasps to create a Xenomorph the ones we used to see in all the Alien Movies.

He then coaxes Oram into taking a closer look, tacking him against a Facehugger that goes on to kill Oram and then later becoming a Protomorph – an advanced version of neomorph. Walter figures out David’s truth that it was him who had killed all the engineers on the planet by releasing the black goo, and Shaw too who had ended up being a mere sacrifice for his experiment.

Sensing danger David shuts Walter down and attacks Daniels. Walter being the advanced version of David, restarts himself and then confronts David, the fate of which we are deliberately not shown. (You think it was hard to guess?)

protomorph from alien covenant

Meanwhile, the Covenant arrives on the planet to extract the remaining crew with the help of some intermittent communication and a beacon that Daniels uses. The Protomorph follows them attacking the ship trying to make its way inside however is killed by Daniels who uses a crane arm to slay it.

Another Protomorph

There is a Protomorph loose inside the ship after the Covenant is inbound for Origae-6 once again. It had gestated in one of the crew members somehow and goes on to kill two more. With the help of Walter on the controls, Daniels manages to flush it out in space.

As the crew return to their pods for stasis once again, Walter is busy tucking them into sleep. With Daniels being the last one to go, she tells Walter about her dream to build a cabin on Origae-6. But when she realizes Walter doesn’t understand what she is talking about, she sees through him since she had confided about the cabin with Walter once. She realizes it was David all along!

David closes the stasis pod deliberately after which we find him planting two Facehugger embryos amongst the remaining human embryos as the curtain falls.

Major Drawbacks

I think in an attempt to meet what Alien had originally set out on achieving, Ridley Scott has lost focus from the primal question of our existence. While the reason to love Prometheus was to have that inquisitiveness in us to find out the true cause of our origin, with Alien Covenant that question has simply ended up becoming a riddle. While there was so much we could have done with how Shaw could have at least had a shot at knowing more about Engineers, Alien Covenant simply destroys everything in its wake. It doesn’t even let us have a good look at them, or to figure why did they make us in the first place. More importantly, if we were mere experiments like David, why were they bent on killing us?

Instead of answering or even venturing into that enclave Ridley chooses to thrill fans with cheap shots of a Protomorph attacking people in the bathroom, letting them bask in the gore of chestbusters and spinebusters, finding it important enough to show the cliched act of jettisoning, of deliberately keeping people alone to become bait meat and other such dispensable bits.

The predictable stuff that you see from miles away was David cutting his locks to look like Walter. And then Ridley Scott intentionally cutting off the frame to not show the fate, David and Walter were about to come across in their face off. It is almost like he thinks he is being clever but the whole world knows there was nothing subtle about it. You can see the movie being rushed towards its climax as if the only surprise Ridley wished to keep was David under the wraps. It would have been great if Daniels had seen through the android she was always around. But alas! she was too dumb to see through what we figured hours ago.

The Final Verdict

Alien Covenant is great when you have stories to connect. It sieves right in with the timeline it is successfully augmenting itself to. It feels great if you look at the plot from David’s perversion, he is on his way to become a creator himself after all. The flick almost makes you want to question, what if our creator is a monster akin to David?

The movie is great in terms of theatrics, gives you ample focus to focus on, and is well written. But at the same time, it banks on those age-old cheap thrills which are no longer as breathtaking if you have been following the franchise up closely. We are way past waiting for an alien to show up from behind to sneak attack us.

You can check out the trailer of Alien Covenant here:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review (2016) | Recreates Magic

Years of missing J. K. Rowling’s genius on the big screen finally felt quenched with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. It flickered in me those familiar goosebumps I used to get on witnessing the Warner Bros Pictures logo hit the big screen. It would sublime that renowned rad symphony that went Na-Na-Na-Na-Na in the backdrop.

Direction of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fewer directors could ace a prologue in such terse frames than David Yates himself. The beginning of the Fantastic Beasts movie is so laconic, and yet so colloquial that you can’t stop yourself from feeling mesmerized by his fleeting frames.

still of Tina and Newt in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie

Years of directing Harry Potter franchise has chafed off its shine on him. It becomes evident the moment Yates gets behind the lens. There is plenty of experience under his collar that he has garnered over time, and it has prepared him upfront to deliver some fine seamless finishing.

David Yates’s work speaks volume when you find him easing into the magical world without us realizing it. It is apparent with his overtly long and meandering walks alongside our protagonist that only stops when he successfully wraps up his scene. He is that kind of a genius that magically seems to get better with magic.

References and Comparisons (Spoilers Ahead)

Comparisons ensue when you place it against the likes of one of the best Hogwarts franchises of all times. In Fantastic Beasts movie, the frequent disappearing acts seem to happen effortlessly. There is more magic entailed here which acts as a great plus. What makes it further embellished? None other than the movie’s thrilling 3D effects. They are absolutely ravishing! David Yates makes sure there are plenty of them sandwiched at odd junctures to aggrandize the flick’s theatrics.

Fantastic Beasts franchise appears to be much darker than Harry Potter series if we take their first epicsode into consideration. But as far as storytelling pace is concerned, Potter franchise would beat it to pulp any day. There are references galore from the Potter world that don’t hold back from tingling your inner “pensieve”.

Calling Hogwarts Hogwash is a smart jest deliberately put to show what others think about the best school we know hitherto. That remark brings a smile to your face as it tries to wryly devalue our favourite fantastical school. Then at one point you hear the word Dumbledore and you can’t pay attention enough. The fact that Dumbledore supported and believed in Newt Scamander even though he was expelled helps you to accept him more easily. Then doors get opened with the only opening charm that we have ever come across: Alohomora. All of it takes you back in time.

Fantastic Beasts

Since the primal theme of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is revolving around amazing creatures, we find it as one the major driving plots. But J. K. Rowling loves to make connections, and everything connects so beautifully that the end result becomes really satisfying. You don’t really see the end coming from miles and it kind of flabbergasts you.

Out of all the amazing creatures that were unleashed in New York, Niffler is the most adorable of all. The creature was first referenced in Harry Potter series where an allusion of sorts was made when Lee Jordan  had released two of these fantastical creatures to trouble Dolores Umbridge. It is a cute little thief who has an inbred penchant for shiny things.  We see plenty of it to fall in love almost immediately.

still of niffler in fantastic beasts movie

Then there is a creature called Bowtruckle that has letting go issues. It looks like a stem cum mantis and stays most of the times hidden under Newt’s collar. Swooping Evil is one of the most badass creatures which assists our protagonists during desperate times.

Demiguise‘s power to grasp futuristic events has been beautifully portrayed. The concept of Occamy ‘s, the serpent’s, behaviour to occupy space is brilliantly thought of. Thunderbird is one of those titular fantastical beasts that reminds you of Buckbeak from the HP saga. However, this one has weather control under its aegis and is closely related to a phoenix.

You can pre-order Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them here:

Downsides

If we squint hard at its downsides, the first one would be the introduction chapter to the Beasts. It is almost abrupt, something that takes away the joy from a well written account. The need of the hour was the wonderment that it was supposed to tag along whilst launching each creature. We have been fed fantasy so much in the past that the way Yates introduces them ends up becoming a tad forgetful.

Do you remember how Buckbeak made a lasting impression, and is still remembered whenever you get a faintest reminder of its colossal import? To match that level of recognition David Yates should have resorted to some awe-inspiring calm.

Then there was this moment when Newt takes Kowalski into his suitcase. There in an attempt to introduce him to the astounding abode, he does some eye-popping magical shenanigans. It becomes almost overwhelming at one point. I overheard one of the fellow spectators complain:

“What is he trying to do?”

Primarily because Newt stays reticent most of the times and well quilted under his acting wraps. To play a nerdy character that asks him to stay shy, gnaws on his character’s capabilities.

The Pairing Up

The chemistry Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Kowalski (Dan Fogler) bring into the tale is akin magic. Their side-plot is amazingly portrayed as well. It almost takes the lead characters Newt and Tina out of the picture entirely. It is both a good thing and a bad thing for the story. Reason being it leaves you with a rare feeling of insouciance towards any budding relationship between the latter couple, taking away their supposedly thunder. Their lack of nerd chemistry “obliviates” you from seeing them go anywhere in the long run.

still of graves colin farrell in fantastic beasts movie

Colin Farrell does plenty of justice to the character of Graves. And then that remarkable acting in those final rad moments make for a resounding icing. Johnny Depp was an insane revelation as the badass villain we all wanted. But a lesser renowned face would have done Grindelwald justice I think. Let’s see how he fares in the future runs. Keeping fingers crossed on that one.

Music by James Newton Howard is extraordinary as well. Very soothing and aptly placed! Sways you like an Occamy to a tune of roach!

The Final Verdict

Overall, the Fantastic Beasts movie was beautifully packed in one magnificent capsule of delight. Can’t wait to find out where this brilliant prequel takes us. Most interested in how Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will connect dots and give more Easter eggs to make magical omelettes from.

Check out the trailer of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie here: