Friday, December 25, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens release was delayed in India for a week, so I went offline pretty much completely to avoid spoilers after its worldwide premiere last week.

It's getting released here on Dec 25 Friday but they had a early Thursday night screening. And having a packed enthusiastic fan crowd just made the movie experience even better.

The movie has its problems especially with some of the story elements being a retread of the original trilogy, but the characters really hold up the movie for me.

Though it may not be the contender for my most favourite movie of the year, I enjoyed it very much and I'm hoping to watch it again next week.

The movie was fun, exciting and emotional. Couple of great goosebumps inducing moments. I was happy to see the familiar characters but even more glad to see the new characters blending so well in the existing mythology. The new characters are compelling and I am really looking forward to seeing their further adventures and to explore their backstories.

JJ Abrams was under so much pressure with this enormous task of delivering a sequel that would be embraced by the majority of Star Wars fans. And though the movie will always have its share of fans who were genuinely disappointed with the movie, I feel most would agree that he did a good job with it.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

My Dad's head injury and my stay at the hospital

Two weeks ago Saturday on September 19 my Dad who recently was having mild vertigo had a head injury after he slipped in the bathroom and hit his head on the sink.

(I now realize this is kinda similar to what happened to Doc Brown before he came up with the idea for the Flux Capacitor).

Anyways, after knocking and banging the bathroom door open after few attempts, I almost pulled my back as I struggled to lift my unconscious Dad. I couldn't do it.

Never did I feel so disappointed about my physical limitations and especially of my skinny built. And while I was helpless, the ambulance service was incompetent.

People always joke that we can get pizza delivered here under 30 mins but emergency services will not respond or arrive in time when needed the most and this time I got to witness that.

HUGE thanks to my cousin Roshan Baliga who arrived quickly at the scene and helped me to take my Dad to the hospital, also thanks to Rajesh Baliga, their office staff Suresh and my Uncle Prabhakar Bhat who all arrived at the house and helped with the process.

Though I am grateful to all the doctors, nurses and staff at the KMC Hospital in Jyothi who did their part in my Dad's recovery, I gotta say overall the hospital itself is a dump especially when compared to the some of the other hospitals in town who are charging similar prices or even lower.

I know KMC is a reputable hospital and I've friends & relatives who have studied in the KMC colleges and later on worked at these hospitals. Maybe it's great for doctors, but the KMC hospital at least the one in Jyothi area is pretty sub-par for patients and their families. Yet people arrive in droves to this hospital, guess it has to do something with its brand name being embedded in public consciousness. And being familiar with some of the known doctors there leads most of us to go to that hospital as the default option.

15 years ago in September 2000 after battling with pneumonia for 3 months, my mother passed away in the same hospital. So maybe I'm little biased, but my state of being disgruntled is pretty much based only on my current experience.

Right from their lousy parking system to the way the unprofessional emergency respond team were struggling to get my Dad out from the car to the emergency room, my list of complaints including about the lousy rooms and bathroom is endless.

He was admitted to ICU on day 1 and then transferred to the general ward room the following day. Doctors sometimes were not around when I wanted to talk to them despite waiting during the hours when they were scheduled to arrive. The doctors made cameo appearances shorter in duration than what Stan Lee did in Marvel movies.

On the plus side, after the initial MRI scan they said there is no need for surgery despite there being some internal bleeding and that he will be on injections and medication while being kept under observation. He had a huge bump on the left side of his forehead, couple of stitches near his right eye lid and his right eye was bloody red due to the impact. He also bit the side of his tongue during the fall and hence suffered some bleeding in the mouth.

My Dad struggled with his memories and recognizing people in the initial couple of days, which was expected in these scenarios.

One of the things I did remind my Dad was that I was not married, else the next thing I know he might be asking me 'Where are the grand kids?'

The patient who was admitted on the other side of our room was having a heart condition and was diabetic. He was an old man always shouting and complaining in pain to his grown up kids.

A day later he had to get his leg amputated, after the surgery his agony and howls at night were more frequent. And he kept telling his daughter that he wanted to smoke a beedi. Power of addiction.

Every time I took a stroll across the hospital was a depressing situation. Sometimes I would notice someone quietly sobbing outside their room for their family member. I was there in the hospital only for 5 days and it was plenty for me.

I was scheduled to leave to US on October 1 and was going to book my flights last week but had to cancel my trip for now. The plan was to attend the wedding of my friends Sandip and Lydia on the east coast, visit few other cities and then reach LA by Oct 20 for the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary event - We're Going Back. Most people close to me know I have been waiting for the October 2015 BTTF celebration since I was 16 years old when I saw BTTF trilogy for the first time later in the 90s. Besides some of my family and relatives, my Dad later on also told me that I should continue with my trip.

My Dad is a yoga therapist by profession and takes utmost care of his health and diet, he is 64 and actually healthier than me. So this was the first time in about 20 years he has been admitted to the hospital due to his mild vertigo striking unexpectedly and had this accident.

Every time I shudder thinking what would have happened if this accident took place while he was riding his scooter or while I was traveling to US, no one would notice him in the bathroom for days.

My Dad is feeling much better now and after being discharged from the hospital he has been staying with my uncle (his younger brother) and aunt. He will be there for few weeks. He has a second brain scan scheduled for next week. Thanks to all our family members, relatives, friends, and all my Dad's yoga students who reached out to us offering their wishes and support.

This incident and visit at the hospital made me realize that I need to always remain fit and healthy. But as with many things this sense of realization is very temporary for me, so I need to keep reminding myself of that.

Cause the following is bound to happen sooner. I will be like "Oh look, a new fast food joint".

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Jurassic World

The self awareness in Jurassic World has characters questioning the park's existence and corporate direction thus mirroring some of the doubts of the audience in regards to this franchise.

I liked the early pacing of the movie with its gradual build up, as it then kicks into gear and it stays that way for a while. And though I liked hearing John Williams' Jurassic Park theme music through the course of the film, I wasn't too pleased when they introduced it early on without it being part of a momentous occasion; even though I know I can't expect them to replicate the revealing awe moment like in the first film.

The characters aren't really all memorable and some of their actions and motives seems dubious, but they didn't make me cringe and Chris Pratt is a delight to watch even though he toned down his usual charm for most parts.

The movie was overall fun, delivered plenty of good dino action with some genuine scary moments along with few surprises. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing another sequel exploring the fallout from this movie.

Friday, May 22, 2015

NeoLev Back to the Future Part II Levitating Miniature Hoverboard Collection

Back to the Future Part II miniature Hoverboard set from NeoLev is one of the cool BTTF collectibles to come out this year. And hopefully there will be many more.

This is the Limited Signature Edition with laser-engraved signatures of Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis and hoverboard designer John Bell. I managed to get the set numbered #121 of 488. You can order a set here from

It makes for a great display piece especially on your desk, thus allowing you to constantly nudge the boards to see them oscillate in action. These hoverboards are approximately 1:15 scale. The boards are made out of foam with pyrolytic graphite backing which allows them to levitate over the magnetic base.

Technical specifications listed below, followed by video and pictures.

    Five Pyrolytic Graphite Hoverboards to scale from movie
    Accurate decals placed on foam of the following Hoverboards:
    Marty McFly (pink board)
    Pit Bull (black board)
    Rising Sun (white board)
    No Tech (green board)
    Question Mark (black board)
    Optimal rectangular geometry for maximum levitation
    Near friction-less movement (oscillates for very long time)
    Dimensions Varies: 1.7-2.2 long x 0.60.7 wide x 0.1 thick
    Weight: 1 gram each

    Two rows of track for simultaneous boards to hover back and forth
    Sleek, durable black acrylic support plates
    Full colored Back to the Future logo decal
    Custom-made high grade NdFeB magnets are slightly angled to simulate 6 long half pipe track
    Magnet assemblies and acrylic materials product safety tested per ASTM 963 for Ages 8+
    Laser Engraved Universal/NeoLev logo
    Dimensions - 6.8 long x 2.1 wide x 1.3 tall
    Weight - 12 oz.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Marvel's Daredevil Series on Netflix

After watching 13 hours of good entertainment like Daredevil, I now want to see more of the other Marvel comic characters get similar series treatment, allowing for richer story arcs and more fleshed out characters. It would definitely work for Spider-Man and his vast number of supporting characters, who will end up with only brief appearances in the movies.

Daredevil series is bloody and violent, perhaps little more than I expected and I am glad they went with that approach. And in the midst of all the grittiness, the show still manages to instill some humor from time to time. Besides the reference to Iron Man and Thor I was glad to see my favourite Avenger being given a shout out as well. The opening credits is cool and elegant, also liked the soundtrack including the different tracks played during the ending credits of each episode.

Jack Murdock had a short early appearance, but still managed to make a strong impact, almost making me want to see more scenes of him and Young Matt. Considering how much of pivotal role the character Karen plays later in the comics, it was good to see her being prominent through this series. But I kept wanting to see more scenes of Claire, also I liked her chemistry with Matt. Foggy is a delight to watch, especially when he is bouncing words with Matt. Since they are only a start up law firm, we got only one instance of Matt being a lawyer in the courtroom, I want to see some more of that.

The series has so many great action moments but the hallway fight in the end of episode 2 was fantastic and is one of my favourites. The way they shot and edited that scene made it seems quite seamless. By the time episode 6 rolls out, the levels of escalation in the story almost feels like a season finale. There is plenty of action after that, but the series comparatively slows down allowing for more drama and character conflicts. The action and pacing does pick up eventually.

Fisk is a villain who like many villains doesn't believe that he is actually a villain. He continues to justify his actions for building a better tomorrow. Maybe he will really embrace his true nature when he takes on the mantle of Kingpin.

As for the costume, the black version really worked well and was able to even highlight Matt's strong muscles and upper body without any additional padding, or at least it appeared that way. As for the red costume I wish they went with a darker shade of maroon instead of the black parts. But I think we will definitely see a better costume upgrade in season 2.

Monday, January 05, 2015

My 31 Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is my most anticipated film of 2015, followed by Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, Tomorrowland, Chappie and The Martian.

My 31 most anticipated movies of 2015 are listed below in release date order. You can find a bigger list of movies releasing in 2015 on the RPF here.

And though I didn't plan it that way, nearly half the movies in my list are not based on existing franchises.

Also out of the franchise movies, eight of them are from Disney.

Click on the release dates to view the trailers/info clips.

BTTF related: Robert Zemeckis's The Walk gets released on October 2, 2015 in IMAX and 3D. On October 16 (Friday, 5 days before Marty's arrival) theatres will start playing Steven Spielberg's St. James Place (working title), which is a cold war spy thriller based on the 1960 U-2 incident.

1. Jupiter Ascending

February 6

2. Kingsman: The Secret Service 

February 13

3. Chappie

 March 6

4. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

 March 13

5. Ex Machina

April 10

6. Avengers: Age of Ultron

 May 1

 7. Mad Max: Fury Road

 May 15


8. Tomorrowland 

 May 22

9. Jurassic World

 June 12

10. Inside Out

 June 19

11. Terminator Genisys

July 1

12. Ant-Man

July 17
13. Pan

 July 24

14. Fantastic Four

August 7

15. Everest

September 18

16. The Walk

 October 2

17. The Jungle Book

October 9

18. Crimson Peak 

 October 16

19. Bridge of Spies

 October 16

20. Jaws 19

 October 21

21. Spectre

 November 6

22. Peanuts

 November 6

23. The Hateful Eight  

 November 13

24. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

 November 20

25. The Good Dinosaur

 November 25

26. The Martian

 November 25

27. Krampus 

 December 4

28. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 December 18

29. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

 December 25

30. The Revenant

December 25

31. Silence

December 25