Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

Film critics feel it’s a sequel that was never asked for, yet no one can deny that Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again turns out to be serenely fun. The fun-packed piece of cinema is carefully crafted to ensure no one regrets their trip to the theatre and if you enjoy youthful dancing, fluffy music, and jukebox style filming the sequel is a pragmatic diversion from reality many would enjoy.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again picks up quite a few years after the events that made the first film such a hit. By now Donna, previously Meryl Streep’s character has passed away and Sophie, her daughter, played by Amanda Seyfried, is completing work on the impressive Bella Donna Hotel based on a picture-perfect island. Both dads (Andy Garcia and Pierce Brosnan) are invited to the opening of the Bella Donna Hotel. As the preparations take shape, Sophie’s thoughts hark back to the time when her mother first came to the island and then decided to make it her home. (a younger version of her mother played by Lilly James). Meryl Streep’s absence is felt, especially her shenanigans which made the first film so much fun apart from the musicals. Her presence is brought back via photographs, and Lilly James does great in mimicking the mannerisms of Streep in the first film.

Mama Mia A Proven Formula for Success

The successful formula that made the first film so popular by injecting songs into the film every two minutes remains unchanged. However, this time the new director Ol Parker (known for writing Exotic Marigold Hotel) adds some vigour and energy that seems enough to update and show the passage of time, and at the same time works as a throwback. The choreography and music are overwhelming, and the story beats predictable, which makes it impossible not to be swayed away by the good-natured intention of the film.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is again a fantastic watch for Abba fans, and this time all the hits notably absent from the first film is added in full blast. What adds even more to the fun and enjoyment element of the film is the frenetic pace Director Parker executes everything to ensure dull moments are eclipsed by show-stopping numbers, greater and more frantic than the previous. The film tells of another woman with man troubles as well as cascading all-encompassing conflict that comes as no surprise. While everyone loves Brosnan, he still can’t sing, and it remains hilarious, while the number of familiar faces offers a familiarity that is comforting. The collection of charming actors paired with Abba’s music is well worth seeing, while it the Swedish pop band, Abba reached the top 5-spot on the Billboard 200 album chart again due to Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The Mission Impossible series is one that many are well versed in. Now, the sixth instalment in the series was released recently. This series is known for the action-adventures of Ethan Hunt, who has been played consistently by Tom Cruise since the first film. This film starts off with the Ethan getting new instructions via a tape recorder that would be commonly seen decades ago – which was a pleasant and smooth reference from the original series that the franchise has taken inspiration from. While the movies are popular, it is undeniable that one of the strange appeals is the simple ridiculousness of the missions that can take some people out of the film while also drawing others in.

Mission Impossible: Fallout Highly Anticipated

While the film was highly anticipated by fans and movie-goers who just enjoys actions – the plot, on one hand, is a tad bit on the nonsensical side while the actual action itself, such as the stream of explosions and fight seems were eye-catching but nothing that stands out with what has been seen with the previous films. Though even with the small handful of faults, the movie did deliver an engaging spectacle of Tom Cruise portrayal of Ethan Hunt with the skillfully performed stunts that can be likened to be more reality-adjacent than overly realistic.
Once Mission Impossible: Fallout begins with Ethan Hunt brooding over his past mistakes, mainly the guilt relating to the divorce with his wife – while waiting to receive new mission instructions from his agency, which is conveniently named Impossible Mission Force. Though he is soon tasked with the exciting and dangerous job of finding and taking down the leader of a terrorist group who also doubles as his longstanding enemy, Solomon Lane.

While the mission itself is filled with mystery and a serious flare, a mistake lands Ethan a more lighthearted partner to help complete the assignment – Walker, who is played by Henry Cavill. His role gives the film a bit more humour that counteracts the seriousness and gave the movie-goes a few chuckles before slapping them with more thrills. This tripped with helicopter scenes, cliffhangers, and gunfights that are not light on the bloody side is one of the main reasons why the film is doing so well since its recent release days ago.

Though what makes Mission Impossible: Fallout such a hit is the well-done action scenes and plot that has the perfect mix of reality as well as impossible. Plus, the film has reminiscent of a James Bond movie, just with a more modern and humorous touch. The scenery which is set in London, Kashmir, and Paris gives the movie a foreign and familiar feeling that can catch the eyes of anyone who plans on watching. While Mission Impossible pulls out some of the classic Hollywood cheesiness – the brashness and action is a good source of entertainment for anyone who doesn’t mind watching a 2hr and 30-minute film that is filled with new laughs and old references from the franchise.

Set It Up

Set It Up

 

A 2018 romance/comedy of the Corporate world, two Personal Assistants (PAs) hatch a plan to set their bosses up so that they could gain free time for themselves. Being PAs to high-powered bosses, regularly entailed them having to work for horrendous ours and being prepared, one step ahead of their bosses at all times, which they never really were. They did learn the intimate likes and dislikes of their bosses however, and could predict their moves, which was how they were able to strategically concoct a plan to have them meet and date.

The movie portrays the reality of some members of society today. Women are so caught up in their job that they fail to form a tight bond with a partner who they consider to be good enough for them. Men on the other hand, are always seeking an opportunity to take revenge, treating women as though they are possessions for them to acquire and do not bother to take the time to understand their feelings. Having a PA to some corporate bosses means that they do not have to remember such insignificant details, or what they consider to be insignificant, which is really very significant to maintain their relationships.

Harper is the PA to a pioneering sports reporter, Kristen, and wishes that she could learn enough from her to write her own articles. Charlie is the PA of Rick, a nutty venture capitalist executive, and hopes to climb the corporate ladder to a cushy Analyst role in the company. Using their knowledge, the PAs get their bosses to meet in the most uncanny situations that force them to come together, and then send each of them gifts, making them believe that they both shared a mutual interest in each other. The two PAs enjoy their own life, Harper finally dating someone and Rick finally having enough time to spend with his girlfriend.

Kristen, a boss who walks her floor with a speaker phone, becomes very friendly and charming to deal with when things are going well with her love-life but soon returns to square one when things go awry. Rick however, two-times Kristen by secretly having an affair with his ex. Which literally makes no sense because he and Kristen decide to get married. Harper finds out tells her boss the truth, only to be fired and her boss refusing to budge. A couple years senior to Harper, Charlie discovers his human empathy a lot later than her, resulting in him finally standing up to his boss and quitting his job.

The story itself is very predictable, and it is not a movie that you would swoon over. From the course of events that unfolds, you can easily see that the PAs, Harper and Charlie, end up falling for each other. It does however, please the fans of this genre as they get their happy ending and familiar, yet enjoyable experience. This movie is a step in the revival of romance comedies that provide comfort food to its fans.

Sara’s Notebook

Sara’s Notebook

This non-fiction movie would make you feel as though your heart is in your hands. It delves into the dark side of human nature, deep into the Congo of Africa. It shows you how much journalists risk their lives for a story and how much danger someone is willing to put themselves in while searching for their loved one. Sara was a medical doctor who would practice her skills in Africa regularly. She had a father who suffered from Alzheimer’s and a sister Laura, who was a lawyer in Madrid. Sara disappeared for 2 years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) when she turned up in a photo taken by a journalist, setting the scene for this political thriller.

Laura, determined to find her sister, travels to Uganda and was given Sara’s Notebook by a foreign aid worker who worked with Sara. Laura met up with another aid worker who agreed to retrieve Sara from the DRC in exchange for money, which resulted in Laura selling off her wealth. She agreed but insisted that she must be part of the search crew. The aid worker, Sergio, suspiciously agreed to the condition but later called Sara with an excuse that there was an issue with the transportation and she can follow later with his crew. Laura, using her smart wit, discovered that Sergio was being dishonest, took back her money and enrolled the help of a friend of Sara’s called Sven.

Upon reaching the DRC via a light aircraft, the airplane flagger or air traffic controller for a more appropriate term, risked his life to alert the pilots that there was danger on the ground. On pulling the aircraft upward, the rebel group on the ground began shooting, striking Sven in the foot. Back in Uganda, Sven and Laura sought the help of Jamir, a native of the Congo and a former child soldier. Unwilling to come to their aid at first, Jamir refused at first, but admired Laura’s courage and joined her on her journey.

It must be noted here that Laura spoke Spanish in a country where it was not a first language of anyone, except maybe a United Nations (UN) employee. Jamir claimed to have learned Spanish from Sara and this is what he and Laura used to communicate. They successfully entered the Congo via boat and after Laura used money to bribe the Immigration officers to let Jamir through. A series of violent occurrences ensued, showcasing how rebels would descend on the community, rape its women, murder the adults and kidnap the children, even forcing the children to shoot and kill their own parents. The heart wrenching ordeals continued, all the way until Sara could have safely left the Congo with her sister.

Sara, believing that she could do more to change the situation in the Congo, choose to stay where she eventually died and was buried. While the movie may have been an over dramatization of the real events, it touches on actual barbaric acts and conflict that still exists in Africa.

Maktub

Maktub

Ever wondered how you can change the world for the better? This movie will tell you just that. Based in Jerusalem, two mobsters, Steve and Chuma, survive a terrorist attack and decides to become guardian angels. The movie starts with the gangsters visiting restaurants to sample and critique dishes, and collecting money for their boss. During one of their meals, they retreated to the restroom to discuss a particular stain found on the shirt of Steve, arguing that it was either a blood stain or a stain from concentrated pomegranate sauce. While there, a bomb went off in the restaurant, killing their security personnel, Kadaev, who held a case filled with money from the collections of the day. Discovering that they could safely leave the restaurant, unnoticed by anyone, they took the case of money and left through the back door.

Outside, they contemplated how they need to visit the Wailing Wall to give thanks that they are still alive and didn’t go ‘kaput’ like everyone else. The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is a place where people would write wishes and leave it in the cracks of the walls. At the Wall, Steve discovers that Chuma cannot hear him and he has blood oozing out his ear. He pulls out a paper from the Wall and writes a message to Chuma. Steve visits his boss and tells him he and Chuma wants out of the business and leads the boss to believe that Kadaev ran off with his money. Trusting Steve, the boss starts his investigation to find Kadaev while Steve goes back to Chuma’s place and convince him that they take the money as part of their retirement fund, go to New York in America, and open a Fish Kebab truck with their friend Zadok.

Steve uses the same paper her took from the Wall to transcribe his idea to Chuma, who still has hearing issues. Chuma turns over the paper only to discover it was a wish from the Wailing Wall. Understanding that they could help the person who wrote the wish, they analyze the situation and come up with a solution, then set out to achieve their goal. Being successful and feeling he could do more, Chuma tries to convince Steve that this was their purpose. The next day, Chuma dresses as a woman so that he can retrieve a wish from the female section, to even the gender gap.

The movie itself establishes the underlying importance that when you do good deeds, you should not expect anything in return or request payment for it. As with Karma, what goes around comes around so if you do good, expect good to follow. It is a dark comedy, ensued from a near-death experience resulting in a change of heart, which is what usually happens in present day reality. The movie, while well-timed, required a little patience to watch it to the end. The underlying sub-plot unfolded in the end, and can be emotionally moving if you allow yourself to sink deep within the scripted scenes.

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther, the number one (1) box office movie for 2018, grossing to nearly $700million, is a Marvel studios creation. It is a superhero, comic book adaptation but what sets it apart from all the previous superhero movies are its predominantly black cast, an all-female royal guard and brilliant inventor/engineer who is also female. The timing of its launch was also epic, as it was during a climate where the future of the black community is questionable in American society. The movie is another remarkable creation that would leave you empowered and wanting a Black Panther Part 2.

The movie itself is of the Action/Adventure genre and it does not fail to deliver in this category. There is combat, a lot of brutal hand-to-hand combat which is also a requirement for being suitable for the throne. The country real country of ‘Wakanda’ is isolated, from the public with technological illusions that are impenetrable to all outsiders. The façade of Wakanda is portrayed as an impoverished land of farmers, with nothing valuable to offer, which is what the world expects Africa to be. Wakanda is fictional but its outlay is similar to that of Lesotho, an actual place in Africa that is surrounded by high mountains and where most of its villages can only be reached by a light aircraft or on horseback.

Current day Lesotho provides water to the rest of South Africa while the fictional Wakanda is rich in vibranium deposits that carries with it, immense power and technological advancements. Wakanda’s wealth cannot be made public because it will cause the entire world to erupt out of fear since Wakanda, a country that has nothing to offer, is ultimately more powerful than any country on the face of earth. The monarchy of Wakanda came up with the strategy to hide the vibranium from the rest of the world, lie about its wealth and ban all interaction with the outside world to keep all foreigners out. This way, no one will know about it and they can avoid the destruction of its country and keep the vibranium out of reach from the hands of those who lust for power.

Unfortunately, though, Wakanda can solve a lot of the world’s issues such as being hosts to refugees, halting the slave trade or curing illnesses. But in order to prevent the outside world from discovering its wealth and power, the monarchy of Wakanda focuses more on its security policies rather than concerning itself with human rights in other parts of the world. The Kingdom reigned for many years like this but as in everything else, good things usually come to an end. The movie was based on how the seeds it planted from the beginning, grew into a plant of that would cause its own destruction.

The superhero within the movie is the Black Panther, the ruler of Wakanda. Whoever ruled the Kingdom would gain the supernatural abilities of the Black Panther by drinking a “heart-shaped herb” that was affected by the vibranium which was stored in a meteorite that landed on Wakanda.

Ali’s Wedding

Ali’s Wedding

Ali’s Wedding

Ali’s Wedding is a tale about true events, portrayed as a romantic comedy about an Muslim-Iraqi boy living in Australia. It starts off with Ali riding a tractor through a vineyard while being chased by the police, which is the basis of the story, why was Ali on the tractor. This movie reveals the situation of immigrants who went through war and poverty before they settled in Australia, where the children were either required to study well and become doctors, or, if not, they become taxi drivers. Needless to say, you may have to watch the movie a second time to grasp that it is a true story and not a make-believe comedy.

There are many elements in this story that are important and still happening today. The first element is the society. Ali was clearly loved by his community as was his father who was the cleric at the mosque. However, pressured by society, Ali lied about scoring high on his entrance exam for Medical University and even agreed to an arranged marriage, informally. The lie caused him to attend Medical University, unenrolled, for an entire year and the latter situation almost cost him his true love. Throughout the entire movie, Ali was not sure about anything, except the fact that he was in-love with an Egyptian-Lebanese-Australian girl named Dianne.

In Muslim culture, it was frowned upon to have females mingle with boys and most girls were denied a proper education because of this. Dianne was brilliant in her studies, scoring the highest percentile in their community on the Medical University entrance exam. Ali, who was admired by all and expected to do well, scored the lowest in the community. Ali influenced the father of Dianne to send her to University, promising that he would keep an eye on her. They became close and did not want their relationship to be wrong in the eyes of God so they performed a temporary marriage for a stipulated time, unbeknownst to their family. This is a common occurrence in the Muslim world even today.

Dianne however, did not know that Ali would be engaged to another and Ali, not wanting to hurt his parents, he did not come out and tell them no. He mentioned Dianne indirectly to his mother but when she refused to see things Ali’s way, he dropped the topic and continued with the two relationships. Ali’s father composed a comedy-play centered around Saddam Hussein, the former President of Iraq who caused them to flee the country. The group got invited to the United States (US) to perform but as soon as they landed, they were interrogated and deported back to Australia. Feeling downtrodden because his plan to live in the US and send for Dianne, had failed, was increased when he arrived home to find that his lie had been revealed.

In addition to Ali having to apologize to the community, his secret affair with Dianne was exposed. I would not give away the rest of the movie but it is a refreshing movie, not based upon the violence and war that is happening in the Muslim world today.

Steven Spielberg First To Top $10 Billion

Steven Spielberg is one of the biggest directors of all times, duh, with many iconic movies he has directed. His latest out in theatres is Ready Play One and with its huge success, Spielberg became the first director to pass $10 billion at the box office. The overall gross is adjusted for inflation and the 32 films he has directed is for around four and a half million, but when you adjust that for inflation the $10 billion mark has been breached.

Spielberg may not be caught anytime soon, as his peers are well behind when you are talking about overall box office gross. Peter Jackson, Michael Bay, and James Cameron are the next top three earners and none is above $7 billion. However, Cameron may be catching up in the not too distant future with the Avatar sequels not far off. Cameron has directed nine movies and comes in at $6.1 million, but from Avatar and Titanic by themselves, they racked in a combined $4.9 billion.

Ready Player One is one of the top grossing movies of 2018 and one of the bigger ones Spielberg has made in over 10 years, as it approaches a worldwide gross of $500 million. His biggest movie of all time in terms of box office grosses was Jurassic Park, which took in nearly a billion dollars and that was 20 years ago.

Thirty Two Movies and Counting

Even with 32 movies under his belt Spielberg has no plans to slow down with a few movies in the works. He is working on the 5th instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise and a remake of the West Side Story (1961). Ready Player One had a huge opening in China and has been a big success even though Spielberg made some changes from the book the film was based on.

Spielberg’s current project is the new Indiana Jones movie, which will be the 5th one in the series. Harrison Ford is back again and production of the movie is slated for 2019. The 4th instalment in the series in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a pretty big hit at the box office, but critics and even fans did not receive the movie well. This will be Ford’s last foray into the Indiana Jones lore, as he will be hanging up his whip and fedora. In an interesting piece of info Spielberg has stated that the series may go on without Ford and that he may recast the lead role for a woman.

Summary

Spielberg has earned his success as the only $10 billion-dollar director and has been behind the lens for some of the most iconic movies of all time from E.T. to Jaws to The Color Purple and Schindler’s List. Many of his movies are classics and flops are not in his vocabulary. He is well ahead of his peers when it comes to box office grosses and with a whopping 32 movies, he has directed he will keep adding to that list in the future.