Movie review: Wonder Woman reinvigorates tired superhero conventions

The story is repositioned to the trenches of World War I

“Wonder Woman! All the world’s waiting for you,” rang the theme song to the classic 1970s television show as one-time Miss World America, Lynda Carter, transformed into the star-spangled superhero. Yet while gun-toting raccoons headline today’s superhero movies, the world has waited a long time for its most famous female superhero to receive a dedicated film.

Female superheroes have been confined to sidekick roles (Black Widow is the highest profile Avenger without her own movie) or relegated to TV (where Jessica Jones and Supergirl kick ass on a weekly basis). Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is the first major female-led superhero movie – and as a hero, her antecedents reach back to the suffragettes.

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As historian Jill Lepore details in The Secret History of Wonder Woman, the formative years of Wonder Woman’s creator, psychologist William Moulton Marston, took place against the backdrop of the suffragette movement. As a freshman, he had heard Emmeline Pankhurst speak when she visited Harvard in 1911.

An advocate for women’s rights, Marston would later describe the “blood-curdling masculinity” of comic books as their “worst offence”. His remedy? To create a “feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman”. So in October 1941, All Star Comics introduced Wonder Woman, “to whom the problems and feats of men are mere child’s play”. Read more

Smartron srt.phone: A fine deal if you are a die-hard Sachin Tendulkar fan

Powerful innards of Smartron’s ‘all-rounder’ smartphone are failed by its many software glitches

Domestic information technology (IT) start-up Smartron, which counts Indian cricket legend Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar and former Motorola Mobility Chief Executive Sanjay Jha among its investors, recently launched the srt.phone smartphone, “inspired by the dependable traits of Tendulkar”.

At the launch of srt.phone, the company claimed that the smartphone used the best antennas and other security features that made it an all-rounder. Indeed, Smartron has pleased investors with its manoeuvres to deliver solutions ranging from internet of things (IoT) to smartphones built specifically for Indian consumers. But how does the srt.phone fare against the claims of dependability and the inspiration it apparently draws from one of the tallest role models for India in recent times?

To find out, Business Standard took the device for a spin and tested its real-life performance. Here is an in-depth review of the srt.phone:

Watch the hands-on review here
Design

The srt.phone offers a no-frills design, with rounded edges and curved sides. The smartphone might look appealing, but its polycarbonate built with metallic finish seems to somewhat spoil the experience. The plastic built is not loose or creaky – it fits perfectly on all sides and the matte touch adds to the aesthetics – but the pseudo metallic look was not necessary; it is way too prominent even at the first glance.

The front of the srt.phone is dominated by a 5.5-inch full-HD display protected with Gorilla Glass 3. There are three capacitive keys below the display, but these are without any sign or icon, just three flat dots. These dots acts are the home button and navigation keys. The earpiece along with sensors are placed neatly on the top, next to the front camera. (more)

Sachin: A Billion Dreams: A glorified account of an over-glorified celeb

Like his book, Tendulkar’s biopic is a nostalgic cruise through his career

As I walked out of the cinema hall after watching Sachin: A Billion Dreams, I wondered: Would I have thought differently of this biopic had I not known anything about the person it is based on? James Erskine’s documentary on one of the most celebrated cricketers in the world – one who has achieved a near-deific status in India – went along expected lines.

But was that because I, like many Indians and cricket followers around the world, already knew so much about Sachin Tendulkar? How would someone living under a rock for the last quarter of a century, and did not know who Tendulkar was, have liked it?

Sachin: A Billion Dreams starts off rather nicely, showing us a naughty curly-haired boy of seven or eight years living in Mumbai’s Bandra suburb, getting up to the usual seven-or-eight-year-old boy things like annoying his neighbours with pranks. The boy then receives a cricket bat as a gift from his elder sister, and this is where the story that most Indians and cricket followers already know begins.

This wasn’t the first time I was watching the celluloid adaptation of a story I already knew. I wasn’t, of course, expecting any suspense or plot twists, but I have been far more entertained by some of those other movies where I already knew what was going to happen, than I was by Sachin: A Billion Dreams. Maybe our man under the rock might think differently, but then a story still needs to be told properly, completely and honestly, and this is where Erskine’s attempt is found lacking. (more)

Salman Khan not worried about Baahubali 2 box office record

Baahubali: The Conclusion has so far collected over Rs 1,500 crore across the world

SS Rajamouli’s “Baahubali: The Conclusion” may be setting the box office on fire but superstar Salman Khan said he doesn’t get worried about the business of a film as he thinks every movie has its own destiny.

“Baahubali: The Beginning” released on July 10, 2015, a week before Salman’s “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”.

“Baahubali: The Conclusion”, which hit theatres on April 28, has so far collected over Rs 1,500 crore across the world.

“After ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’, we came up with “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”. Now after ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’, we are coming up with ‘Tubelight’. There is a lot of pressure on the CEO of Salman Khan Films. I don’t get worried so much. It is a phenomenal success and it is amazing.

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“I have not seen the film but I will watch it. But it doesn’t matter (box office records) as I think every film has its own destiny. Lets see what the destiny of ‘Tubelight’ is and how much it earns,” Salman told reporters here at the trailer launch of “Tubelight”.

The “Dabangg” star on a lighter note further said, “They (referring to Rajamouli doing one film in four years) do one film in four years, I do two films in a year and the average is that much.”

Salman’s brother, actor Sohail Khan, who also stars in “Tubelight”, said it’s good if a movie sets a record at the box office.

“It’s lovely when a film does well commercially as it sets a yardstick (for other films). It’s nice that ‘Baahubali…’ did well,” Sohail said.

During the launch, Salman seemed emotional while talking about his other co-star, legendary actor Om Puri. (more)

Brad Pitt in Mumbai to attend War Machine screening, meets Shah Rukh Khan

The 53-year-old actor plays a US General posted in Afghanistan

Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt is in India to promote his latest film, the Netflix satire “War Machine”.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan will be moderating a special chat session here with Pitt, in which the two actors will discuss the project.

In the movie, the 53-year-old actor plays a US General posted in Afghanistan.

Directed by David Michod, of “Animal Kingdom” fame, the Netflix Original film is inspired by the book “The Operators: The Wild & Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan” by late journalist Michael Hastings.

An investment in the range of $60 million also makes it Netflix’s biggest-budget feature to date.

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Pitt’s character is loosely based on General Stanley A McChrystal, a retired United States Army general best-known for his command of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

His last assignment was as Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, US Forces Afghanistan.

Hastings’s blistering profile on McChrystal led to his firing by Obama.

Pitt’s company Plan B is also one of the producers of the film.

The first big-budget Hollywood movie on Netflix will be released on May 26.