Shaun the Sheep – The Movie

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In recent times, as most of my readers know, the only movies that we have been going to, are cartoon movies. Two reasons behind this are – this way the kid and we can enjoy together (RoI is very important – since we are spending a sh** load of money on movie tickets) and secondly, the wife and me have started becoming impatient with respect to movies (partly due to watching recorded movies on Tata Sky Plus at home – where we can forward all the unwanted junk!).

Anyways, the cartoon movie scene in Bangalore does not help too much. Except big scale movies from big movie houses (read: Disney), all other cartoon movies barely cross a week in theatres. Same was the case with “Shaun the Sheep”. It release the weekend of the Independence Day (Aug 14 weekend) and by Aug 21 weekend, it was running one show in one theatre (and irony – the theatre farthest from where we live). But no, that did not deter us. We hauled it from Koramangala to the Orion Mall Rajaji Nagar for the 4PM show.

The wife and me (and the kid, incidentally) have been big fans of Shaun the Sheep cartoons on tv. If you have not, go to youtube and search. They are fun, clean, and smallish cartoon strips about a bunch of sheep, one of them being Shaun. Ofcourse Shaun, being the pratagonist, is smarter and more quick witted than the rest.

We went to this movie with a single thought – how could you make a cartoon strip which typically runs as a filler in the cartoon channels (most of the strips are 5-7 minutes long) as a whole movie. But the director has done a commendable job. The movie does not leave you fidgetting your thumbs. It is a fast paced movie.

The jokes are clean, which will leave young and old chuckling – very typical of the usual Shaun the sheep strips. None of the jokes leave you cracking up, but keeps you chuckling through the movie. Very nice animation. And hey, get this, there is not a single dialog in the movie – just like in the strip. The only person capable of speaking, the farmer, also just makes unintelligible noises, but that is it.

Very well done movie. One hour and 15 minutes of pure fun.

Movie Review: Big Hero 6

Big_Hero_6_Team

Note: No spoilers.

  • Beautiful animation and graphics
  • Coherent story line that children can appreciate
  • A couple of minor sad scenes but it is not a sob-scene. Subtle.
  • Awesome car-chases
  • Lots of stuff for adults to notice too – other than just the comedy.
  • Scene where Baymax runs out of battery is hilarious – and adults would probably enjoy that more.
  • Futuristic movie – city is Sanfrancisokyo – a combination of Sanfrancisco and Tokyo. Just imagine SFO with lots of Japanese stereotypes thrown in.
  • Characters are extremely inclusive and diverse. Asians, African-american, true-blue Californian caucasian, the movie has it all.
  • Lots of fun 3D scenes.
  • Nerds movie – so anyone who is/was/wannabe nerd would totally enjoy.
  • Overall: Excellent movie. Disney does not disappoint.

 

Disney Frozen

frozengroupWatched a movie in the theatres after a very very long time. A first for my son. We took my 4 y/o for his first movie experience over the weekend. Watched the new Disney movie ‘Frozen’.

My thoughts on the movie:

  • Excellent story line and execution – nothing surprising here – since it is Disney.
  • The snow effects are just awesome.
  • Since it is a kids movie, the 3D effects are not jarring or frightening. In fact, even without the glasses, it didnt feel bad. (Some 3D movies look super blurred without the glasses). Perhaps this was intentional too. Sometimes it is difficult to get the kids to keep the glasses on for a long time. This happened with my son midway through the movie.
  • Super comedy with Olaf the snowman. Great recovery at the end, where there is a magical arrangement (watch the movie to see it!) to make sure that Olaf does not melt away. Great touch – since the kids would have hated to lose this character.
  • Awesome depiction of feelings and human like emotions on animated characters.
  • Nice twists and turns in the plot.
  • Overall, a great entertainer.

(picture source: Official Disney Frozen Site)

Review: Shiva Trilogy

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This trilogy by Amish Tripathi (@amisht) was a fascinating read. I bought the first book out of curiosity. I had seen a video of Amish’s talk in the India today Conclave. I was impressed. He seemed a very well-read person. He was quoting the Upanishads, the Vedas, several mythological texts. I chugged through the first book on 2 rail journeys, both of which I did not sleep a wink. I could not put the book down. I came back from the trip and ordered the other two right away, and finished them the following weekend.

My reviews (of restaurants, books, products) are typically my random thoughts bulleted down in no particular order, and this shall be no different.

  • The familiarity with the character names made me relate to the plot. Shiva, and Brihaspathi, and Sati, and Nandi. All very well known characters in Hindu mythology.
  • The settings was also well done. He comes down from Tibet and down the Gangetic plains. Some well known landmarks like Varanasi etc make it very realistic.
  • The overall plot is the good-vs-evil rivalry. However, one particular thing that strikes out is when he learns about what the previous Rudra used to say – “What we call evil, may just be that, they are different from the good guys.” And maybe even the Asuras were just different. And since we can never stand people different from us, we call them evil. And we try to convert them to our ways, or, in other words, make them “good”.
  • I liked the way he describes the contrasts between the way of life between the rigid Suryavanshis and the carefree Chandravanshis.
  • The portrayal of Nagas as being gory to look at, but golden at heart – seemed a bit cliche. But it was well fitted into the plot.
  • Several stories are nicely borrowed from Hindu mythology (such as Parasurama beheading his mother).
  • I liked the segue between the books. Not abrupt. Not too TV-serial-like. You could very well finish a book and read the next book a month later. (I dare you to, though!).
  • Some of the stuff is based on actual archeological research findings like the existence of an underwater water stream source in the path of the Saraswati river.
  • The action fight sequences are the right level of gore – not too gory, but not flitting either.
  • I would have liked it if the war sequences were described more in detail – I loved LOTR for this.
  • Some of the scenes are just beautifully described – like Shiva sitting on a ledge in the High himalayas and gazing at the never ending scenery in front of him.
  • There are some folk who have objected to Shiva smoking a Chillum, but hey, this is fiction. And there is nothing wrong in making him a cool God.
  • In the interest of not spoiling the ending for those who have not read the book, let me just say that, I did not expect this ending. (Which perhaps was Amish’s intention anyway).
  • Overall, this is my first Indian Mythological fiction. I loved it. I think I will read some more (when I get the time, that is).

(Image courtesy: hinduism.about.com)

 

Wow’ing the customer

(Image courtesy: tristangage)

I had the good fortune of being wow’ed with customer service and quality yesterday.

Yesterday, I had agreed to meet with a prospective new-hire for breakfast. He had some questions, I had some info to give him before he joined us. We wanted to meet some place, where we could sit and chat over breakfast and a good coffee.

We had initially decided on Cafe Coffee Day. The website had said 7AM and we wanted to meet at 830AM. So it was perfect. Both of us reached the venue. Wham ! We were hit with a brick wall, and I had never seen this wall before. Apparently they open at 7AM, but do not serve anything until 9AM. In the words of the one employee who was cleaning up the place, “you could sit and chat until then”. Hmm. Ok. That did not seem quite right. This specific shop was a “Lounge” category shop, and he  suggested us to try another coffee day, ” a regular one” – about half a km away. And there we went. Same rule ! Whoa. And it was already 9AM, and still the staff had not come. Yes, you heard that right.

By this time, I was a tad bit irritated. I knew there was a Costa Coffee a block away, and we decided to try our luck there.

There was just one person who was manning the shop – a bright and cheerful lady. The shop was brightly lit. A welcoming aroma of coffee. A cheery “Good morning” from the lady. We asked for the choice of vegetarian sandwiches available. She made a good recommendation. We ordered our sandwiches and coffee, and went and sat at a table facing the road.

In just a few minutes, the nice and hot sandwiches made their appearance. And the awesome cappucinos along with them. Beautiful chocolate and cinnamon sprinkles on top. Heaven. On the initial sighting of the cappucino along with the food, I was a little apprehensive though. Coffee shops tend not to give hot coffee in India, but are only mildly hot (bordering on not hot at all) for immediate drinking ease. But the lady had beautiful heated up the coffee just right.

In a single word – “Wow”. Well three more words- “New found respect”.

What did Costa do, that Coffee Day did not ?

  • Opened their stores on time.
  • Realize the full potential of the market. There are folks who would want to come in for breakfast and a coffee.
  • Cheerful customer service.
  • Luring the customer in.

And yep, Costa did it right. Good going guys. You guys just got a regular customer.

Jay Leno buys a Tata Nano

.. and gives a glowing review.

 

Some statements that made me proud to be an Indian :

  • These guys build the Jaguars. These guys build Land Rovers. And then they build this beauty. I am sure this will evolve into something even greater.
  • The AC in this thing is so good, I am going to rip this one out, and put it in my F1 McLaren (whose AC sucks).