Indian cinemas trickled back to functioning after the release of films like Fast and Furious 9, and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Indian films like Bellbottom and Chehre, continued in theaters despite substandard performances at the box-office.
Silverscreen India brings to you an assessment of performances of some of the major releases, both offline and online:
Cinderella (Amazon Prime Video)
One of the most anticipated releases this year was the Amazon original film Cinderella, that marked the acting debut of pop-singer Camilla Cabello. The modern musical adaptation of thie fairy tale has been directed by Kay Cannon, and comes with many firsts. It includes the first ever Latino Cinderella, and the first ever gender-neutral fairy-godmother or Fab G.
However, contrary to the buzz that the film created, its reception fell flat for both viewers and the critics.
Prahlad Srihari of Firstpost wrote, “Framed by the conceit that this iteration of the fairy tale has been recontextualised by 21st-century gender politics, Cinderella gets quite shouty about it,” and called the film an “ill-conceived attempt at revamping the fairy tale.”
Soumya Srivastava of Hindustan Times, called it the film the most “disappointing” of all the versions and renditions of the fairy tale, so far.
Critics agreed that the film set was average, and the music, out of place.
Cinderella has a current IMDb rating of 3.6.
Fast and Furious 9 (Released on September 2)
The ninth installment of the Fast and Furious saga which went on to become the first Hollywood film amidst the pandemic to garner over $500 million through box-office collections, clearly owes its credit to the pandemic according to reviews from critics.
The action franchise, headlined by Vin Diesel, has once again proved its mettle in terms of providing high-end action scenes with cars jumping, racing and flipping. However, the film has fallen flat with regard to its story line and individual performances. The only performance that stood out is that of the newest addition of WWE performer John Cena.
Rohan Naahar of the Hindustan Times called the film “conceptually insane”. He called the film a classic example of committee-driven studio filmmaking at its worst.
Aditya Mani Jha of Firstpost, reflected a similar sentiments and wrote, “The best thing about F9 is that the sprawling cast is, by and large, in on the joke. They know exactly what this film is about and they do not try to deliver seven ounces of acting where two spoonfuls suffice.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Released on September 3)
While Marvel’s Black Widow had an online release in India depriving its people of an anticipated cinematic experience, Marvel balanced it out by releasing in general by first Asian super-hero on the big screen through Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The film features prominent actors including Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, and Ben Kingsley, among others. Marvel’s 25th film follows Shang Chi’s (played by Liu) path to self-discovery after his induction into the Ten Rings organization.
The film has been lauded for its original story with characters like Shang-Chi’s father and the villain Leung being the highlight. However, there the differences in opinion regarding the screen time given to Awkwafina’s character Katy, and Zhang’s Xu Xialing has been a popular debate online.
Rohan Naahar of the Hindustan Times wrote, “Shang-Chi, although it treads familiar thematic ground, feels positively radical in both its style and texture.”
Anupama Chopra of Film Companion called the film a “strong step forward,” and she noted, “The writing doesn’t have the heft or depth of that film. And while Simu Liu as Shang-Chi is likeable and effective, especially in the fight scenes, he can’t yet command the frame or summon the complex emotions that Leung does with such ease.”
The general attitude towards the film resonates with th reviewers’ and viewers’ ratings as the film has an IMDb rating of 8.1.
Shang-Chi also seems to have broken Bellbottom‘s record of the film with the highest opening weekend, and seems to have garnered Rs. 3.54 crore rupees on the first day of its screening in India. Its world box office collections for the first weekend stands at over $50 million.
The most anticipated film since Avengers: Endgame, Black Widow fails to have made a mark with both the critics and the audience.
The Scarlett Johansson-led film is a prequel that picks up from Captain America: Civil War (2016) and follows the past life of Natasha Romanoff, a former Russian spy.
Suchin Mehrotra of Firstpost, begins and ends his review by saying that Natasha Romanoff deserves better. He adds that the film is a “reminder of one of the MCU’s greatest failures.”
Gayle Sequeira of Film Companion, notes that Black Widow occasionally succumbes across as “the MCU’s penchant for big blockbuster excess.” However, she writes that the films provides an individual narrative to Natasha Romanoff as well.
Critics further point out the differences in the portrayal of Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow, directed by Cate Shortland, and other Marvel films, majorly directed by men.
Sequeira draws a comparison between Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), written and directed by Joss Whedon, and Black Widow. While Romanoff’s character is said to have grieved and blamed for her inability to bear children, “In Black Widow, her foster sister Yelena Belova (an excellent Pugh) direct that gaze outwards, describing to her father in excruciating detail. They also speak about how her uterus and ovaries were surgically removed.”
While the issues seems to resonate with the critics, the execution has somehow failed to work out.
Rahul Desai of Film Companion, calls it a “half-hearted and generic North Indian social dramedy.”
He adds, “The purpose of course, is to reveal the stigmas and contradictions of the Great Indian Middle Class. But the problem with Helmet, like most others, is that the film wants to be the cure too. As a result, the montage features Indian women reminding their partners to wear a condom to adopt the veneer of tacky songs”.
Anna MM Vetticad, of Firstpost, calls the film a brave attempt and says it is significant for highlighting the importance of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. She notes that the film “takes that initial risk but then holds itself back.”
However, she remarks that it “also acknowledges that sex workers serve an important role in society. Even the fleeting reference to men viewing condoms as disruptors of their sexual pleasure is noteworthy for a mainstream film.”
The film has an IMDb rating of 7.2