Films that struck an instant chord this year, and should easily go on to be remembered as classics in their genres.
Neerja – 4/5 stars
With “Neerja”, Director Ram Madhvani delivers a film that’s grim, hard-hitting, real, emotional, and terrifying all at once. “Neerja” is not a film that you watch for entertainment, it’s a depressing watch because the real-life story, where a 23-year old flight attendant sacrifices her life to defend the passengers aboard her plane, is deeply tragic and heart-wrenching. Moreover, at approximately two hours, the pacing of the film is just right, giving the audience enough time to both digest the proceedings and get involved in the narrative. As an ode to the youngest recipient of India’s highest civilian honor, the Ashoka Chakra (for displaying extraordinary valor, human kindness, and self-sacrifice away from the battlefield), “Neerja” is a must-watch. You’ll be glued to the screen as Neerja Bhanot’s intrepidity, calmness, and willingness (surprisingly well-done by Sonam Kapoor) to put other lives before her own fills you with admiration, pride, and even a sense of humility. In addition, the movie also makes a brief but telling statement about the need to raise our daughters as fearlessly as our sons, a message that the legendary Shabana Azmi nails in that last scene.
Deadpool – 3.9/5 stars
Irreverent, incorrigible, downright hilarious, and gleefully profane, “Deadpool” subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining and deliberately non-family-friendly results. It busts the pomposity of your average Hollywood comic book movie and also manages to totally rip apart the fourth wall with complete self-awareness, a deliciously laugh-out-loud script, and a cocky, abrasive title character played with much joie-de-vivre by a surprising likable Ryan Reynolds (perhaps he should play all his onscreen roles with a mask). It’s about darn time that superhero flicks got a character as twisted, as real, as unbothered, and even a bit selfish as “Deadpool” is. Even though the bad guy and his character arc are somewhat of a letdown, this is still about as much fun as you could ask for from an R-rated superhero movie.
Kung Fu Panda 3 – 3.8/5 stars
Along with the expected visual splendor reminiscent of its first two installments, “Kung Fu Panda 3” also boasts much of the same whole-scale fun, dreamy charm, and inescapable with that made its parts one and two such lovable family fare. On the whole, the film is simpler and sweeter than the first two entries of this infectious franchise, but that doesn’t in the slightest take away from the fact that it’s humor is just as effective and the characters as affable or memorable (both new and recurring) as they ever were. And, as often it is with these kinds of films, the animation is spellbinding, but, where it sets itself apart from most of the other visually gorgeous affairs is in its striking palette of colors and mesmerizing landscapes, derived from sources as rich and diverse as Chinese and Japanese artwork to grunge and rock music album covers. If the plot is a tad rushed in places and some of the characters not as fleshed out when compared to parts one and two, then the animation and visuals takes it to whole different level that those two films didn’t come near. At the end of the day, “Kung Fu Panda 3’s”vibrant and merry mix of life lessons and action-packed adventure wins you completely over.
Images Courtesy: DreamWorks Animation, 20th Century Fox, and Fox Star Studios