Action comes to your TV screen through Lethal Weapon – the buddy cop action comedy is based on the film franchise of the same name. Just like the Danny Glover and Mel Gibson duo, here Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford play Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs whose only aim is to make their boss angry. In their free time, they catch bad guys and bring them to justice – sometimes lawfully and sometimes not.
The best part of the series is, however, the chemistry between Murtaugh and Riggs; one is a recovering heart patient and the other has all the ingredients to cause one. While the former is usually methodological and thinks about his family before making a decision, the latter makes rash decisions to be with his family – his wife died prompting him to move from Mexico to LA. Although the two actors had huge shoes to fill, Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford fit the roles perfectly. The supporting characters also are a treat to watch as Mrs Murtaugh runs the house her way, Dr Maureen Cahill tries to understand Riggs and the boss is always thinking of ways to curb their enthusiasm for exploding cars, shoot-outs and car chases.
The first season of the show ended with Riggs on the run from the law and Murtaugh on his way to bring him back – by hook or by crook. The story is all set to explode in the first episode of the next season because Riggs is all rage, Murtaugh is all cool. Together, they are the ‘Lethal Weapon’ that can save lives and crack jokes about it. Be ready for the second season due in a few months. •
Remember Bryan Mills, the guy who would do anything to save his family? Well, he is back in a modern-day origin story where you get to know what made Bryan, Bryan. He is shown to be a special intelligence operative who saves lives after losing someone close to him in the pilot episode of Taken, the TV series.
Clive Standen stars in the series as the young Bryan Mills who is yet to start a family he so much cared about. As an ex-military man, he is a handy person to be in the team. Jennifer Beals leads the special unit that acts as one of the many lines of defence, against terrorists and those supporting them. Bryan is the key operative of her team who is always on the job, be it at home or in the office. He keeps no one close initially but develops feeling for her sister's friend Asha.
In the 10-episode first season, there are interesting stories including one about a kidnapped American Muslim, another about a drug that killed hundreds and so forth. Bryan seems to be involved in every case somehow or the other and usually wins the battle due to his ever-ready wit and presence of mind. Jennifer Beals as the boss also does well and her backstory makes things look interesting. Binge watch for 10 hours before the next season arrives. •
The name’s Bull, Dr Bull, and he doesn’t work in a hospital. In fact, Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) runs a Trial Analysis Corporation, where he and his team help solve cases through a mirror jury. In short, he has a courtroom drama in his office at the same time it is happening in an actual court. His team helps him understand the jury and he passes on the information to his lawyer who then changes gears after learning what the jury might be thinking.
Like in many other TV shows on air these days, Bull also relies on his trusted team – there is Benny (Freddy Rodriguez) a defense attorney with a past. His sister was married to Bull one time and despite the divorce, Bull and he have maintained contact. There is former cop Danny (Jaime Lee Kirchner) who loves to do the legwork; Marissa (Geneva Carr) brings tech to the team and uses her days with the Homeland Security to help the guys while Cable (Annabelle Attanasio) is a hacker - may be the best one there is.
Most of the time, Bull is seen making faces in the courtroom while sitting behind the lawyer but that has nothing to do with contempt of court. That’s Bull’s job description to observe and relay the info to his team. There are episodes where he had to work as a lawyer and he mightily impresses in those scenarios. TV star Eliza Dushku makes an appearance in the final three episodes as a lawyer who saves Benny from jail and in return gets a three-case deal with Bull, something no one was able to do. There were episodes where the team had to relocate, fight angry protesters and even find dirt on a clean-image businessman after his company was blamed for faulty construction. Bull might remind you of House or Lie To Me but it has its own charm, something that only the fans of NCIS would understand. •
The name says it all - MacGyver is reborn as a secret agent who can disarm bombs using a hair pin, light a fire with glasses and open anything with his Swiss Army Knife. Unlike the original series in which Richard Dean Anderson played the 'always hero' Mac, Lucas Till gets the chance to do the same this millennia. Along with his team featuring Jack Dalton (George Eads), Riley Davis (Tristin Mays) and later Wilt Bozer (Justin Hires), Mac goes around the world to solve problems that have baffled all.
At first, the series resembled Scorpion where a handful of geeks save the world on a weekly basis but MacGyver came into its own with the passage of time. Yes he does get to use his fits and kicks but he stays away from using guns as he does better without them. Some critics have blasted the series for bringing a bad name to MacGyver but trust me, it’s a good watch because it takes you to different parts of the world, the dialogues are fun and MacGyver always wins.
There are two people Mac must beware of - his ex-girlfriend-turned-terrorist Nikki and the hitman she sent to kill him, Murdoc. They try to get him out of the way during the 21st episode of the first season but Mac and his team is always a step ahead. There is also a one-episode crossover with the Hawaii Five-O team where Mac and Jack save people trapped in an earthquake, and Mac uses his innovations to make fans even on the island. Watch the series even if you are not a fan of the previous one, which is quite impossible. •
In Transformers: The Last Knight (TLK), you don’t care about the story. But it is there, for whatever its worth.
To the laymen, it won’t make any sense – actually the film’s first half, about orphan teens and hunted robots will most probably bore anyone. To the diehards – or those who have seen the animated serials – there is a lot of trivia.
TLK is, by far, one of the most enjoyable Transformers films after Dark of the Moon – the third entry that featured, more or less, an amalgamation of several classic episodes, and the introduction of Sentinel Prime (voiced by the late Leonard Nimoy, who voiced Galvatron in the 1987 animated movie). Dark of the Moon’s chaotic rhythm is intact in TLK.
TLK starts with an epic old-world battle. King Arthur, and later a lot of human history, it seems, was helped by the Autobots – the good transforming robots in the film. When we last saw Optimus Prime (the voice of Peter Cullen animated by several computer artists), he soared out of Earth to question his “creators” about the drastic, chaotic life of the sentient robot race. His second question to his makers was why the Earth was painted as a moving target for every Autobot or Decepticon (the latter, their mortal enemy).
Prime doesn’t succeed, because we see him dead in space. He is soon reanimated by Quintessa – a multi-tentacled sorceress – into Nemesis Prime. Quintessa plans to use Optimus to rebuilt Cybertron (the robot’s home world), and destroy Unicron – a massive Planet-sized Transformer capable of inconceivable levels of destruction.
Quintessa, Optimus’s “Dark Awakening” and Unicorn are moments where fans would go ‘wow’. The film unfolds a strong narrative from Transformer’s classic folklore and paves way for future TF movies.
If the idea doesn’t recoil your brain and make you puke, there’s much to appreciate here.
Forget the crashing robots for a second: TLK features the excellent Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton, a man of royalty who knows a lot about Transformers. He is aided by Cogman (the voice of Jim Carter), a sociopathic, loose-screwed, human-sized Transformer who is Sir Edmund’s keeper and assistant. The film actually boosts its entertainment level by a few notches with them, even if you are not a fan.
Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager and Josh Duhamel as William Lennox provide ancillary human support to the story. The rest of the human cast includes: Stanley Tucci and John Turturro (in brief), Jerrod Carmichael as Cade’s hired mechanic, Isabela Moner as the young orphan we talked about earlier, and Laura Haddock, who locks into the narrative by forced screenwriting.
Actually to be honest, with exception to Hopkins and his robot-manservant, (and slight exception to Josh Duhamel), TLK does not need any human characters.
The production, however, deems them necessary for two things: one – your eyes (and mind) will tire after seeing Autobots and/or Decepticons scene after scene, especially because even as friends they bicker and fight like highly pumped idiots; and two – it is costly animating and rendering all of the Transformers through computer graphics.
Speaking of which, (and there is no need to say this), TLK looks spectacular. Its 3D, a lot of it shot on location with stereoscopic cameras, is technically brilliant (and very difficult to achieve on set). The special effects (the physical damage one sees on set) and the visual effects (the computer generated ones) are seamless and spot-on.
At times, though, you wonder: is this all there is to the Transformers world? Especially, after TLK, there is going to be at least one Transformers movie every year. Apparently, yes.
For those following the franchise, (or longtime fans) there is some redeeming factor. For others, it’s another headache – a technically brilliant one that bears director Michael Bay’s frantic-genius stamp – but a headache nonetheless.
The Despicable Me world has never been about great new ideas (except minions – the characters, not the film – of course); the stories don’t have content and substance. The whole franchise is full of fodder made up of things that could sell easily: warmth, silliness and colour – which a lot of G and PG animated movies try to emulate, but these producers succeed in, though not as gloriously. Box office wise, it churns out gold.
Gru (Steve Carell) and his new wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are living the peaceful life of fighting crime in the Anti-Villain League (AVL). At home things are great with their three adopted daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Nev Scharrel). The minions are happy and still talking gibberish, and for some reason, Dr Nefario (Gru’s home-based scientist), is frozen in ice and will remain so for the rest of the movie.
Things don’t stay rosy. We need conflict and resolution, so comes in the evil Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), an 80’s cancelled show’s child star and he clearly has not left the era. He blasts fantastic music and flaunts the pop-culture of bubblegum, shoulder-pads, vibrant colours and mullet.
Failing at stopping Bratt from stealing the biggest diamond in the world, Gru and Lucy are sacked by AVL’s new boss, Valerie Da Vinci (Jenny Slate). Then comes in Dru (also Steve Carell), Gru’s long separated childhood twin. They look the same, but Dru is wealthy, happy, with a head full of blonde hair, wearing a lot of white as his style statement. Gru and his whole family is invited to stay with him in his mansion in the land of Freedonia, to catch up and bond.
Dru wants to be taught the ways of villainy by Gru; their late father – also a great criminal mastermind – was always proud of the latter for his natural talent for villainy, the family’s secret business.
The side characters are left mostly to their own devises. The little ladies Agnes and Edith, are busy finding unicorns in the forests of Freedonia. Margo has an unexplored event when she gets tangled in local culture and Lucy tries hard to find her footing as a mom to the three girls. Meanwhile, the minions are angry at Gru for not being a super villain anymore, and leave him to go on their hackneyed mini-adventure.
Directors Pierre Coffin (franchise staple) and the newer Kyle Balda and Eric Guillon, and writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (who have never really left the world of Despicable Me and Minions), don’t add anything fresh. The humour is repetitive and the minion side story is uneventful. It seems everyone wanted to save all the good jokes for a minion’s solo movie.
The one thing that isn’t bad is that Gru is completely at the centre stage. Things move around him and he genuinely has turned into a good guy, who most of the time doesn’t even try to be bad.
As it is an Illumination Entertainment feature (credits include: Despicables, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets and Sing) the plot is paper thin. The visuals are pretty, silly and fun. Younger ones will love it for that, but pre-teen will get confused at the 80’s references. Parents will bob their heads to Michael Jackson’s Bad and Madonna’s Into the Groove. There isn’t a mind blowing original song like Happy. The new song Yellow Light just comes and goes without leaving a mark – like most of the movie.
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