Dilwale: Rating – 2/5 stars
Buried somewhere beneath copious juvenile comic tracks – involving Johnny Lever as a petty thief, Sanjay Mishra as a stolen car-parts salesman, and Boman Irani as a local don searching his missing drugs – there’s at least one good twist, and a few charming moments between Shah Rukh and Kajol who still manage to light up the screen like no other on-screen Bollywood couple. Varun Dhawan flexes every facial muscle to embrace the film’s hammy humor, but redeems himself in a nice emotional exchange with Shah Rukh in the film’s last act, while Kriti Sanon barely passes muster, regardless of an unbaked role. The real problem with “Dilwale” is the sheer artificiality of the enterprise. From the rainbow-hued sets and the touched-up landscapes in the Gerua song, to several moments of comedic and emotional coercions; so much of it just feels fake. Doesn’t help either that the film clocks in at a mind-numbing 155 minutes. I got up to leave at three different points that I imagined were the climax, only to discover that there was still more to come. Never a good sign when you’re looking at your watch instead of the screen. My final rating would have been still lower had it not been for the legendary chemistry of SRK and Kajol that never fails to sizzle the screen.
The Revenant: Rating – 2/5 stars
The point of the whole thing – the reason “The Revenant” was made, and the reason we’re watching it – gets drowned beneath a series of memorable but disconnected images and moments. Defenders of this movie will talk about its “sense of place.” But this film has only a sense of things framed in a world of wonders, like the patched-up keelboat of the trappers, or even the protagonist, Glass’s, banged-up anatomy itself. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu blows it when he moves from the material to the mystical and tries to elevate an ugly story into a spiritual one, with repeated images of a spiral and even a flash of homespun magical realism. I came out of this would-be epic feeling physically exhausted, psychically mauled, and none the better for wear.
The Hallow: Rating – 2/5 stars
There are some strong genre-themed ideas (the ecological themes of “Deliverance”, the woodland devils of “The Evil Dead”) and impressively realized creature effects in former pop promo director Corin Hardy’s uneven feature debut. In “The Hallow”, Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic play newly sprogged parents whose presence in an Irish forest disturbs vengeful spirits, with devastating consequences for their infant son. While the core elements of the story never quite add up (writer/director Hardy struggles to reconcile the bad fairy fantasy with the “Straw Dogs”-y home invasion grit), there are a few arresting set pieces, most notably a night-time delve into an eerie lake that has an impressively weird atmosphere.