Sameen Amer

Sameen Amer

The author is a Lahore-based freelance writer and critic. She tweets as @Sameen (twitter.com/Sameen)

Boring and annoyingly predictable, Secret Obsession sinks into a puddle of tedium

Netflix has released a string of terrific web series over the last few years, but the streaming giant hasn’t been quite as impressive when it comes to its feature length offerings. Barring a few standout exceptions – the most prominent of which is last year’s acclaimed Roma – the original films produced by Netflix have mostly been underwhelming and paled in comparison to their big screen counterparts. It isn’t surprising then that its latest thriller, Secret Obsession, ranks among the worst additions to its online library. We meet the protagonist, Jennifer (Brenda Song), as she is fleeing an unidentified pursuer on a rainy ...

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With zombies and sequels losing popularity, is Zombieland 2 a smart move?

There was a time a few years ago when zombies were all the rage. From The Walking Dead to World War Z, it looked like Hollywood was desperate to cash in on the audience’s love for those slow, meandering creatures. Zombieland rode that wave of zombie interest very well back in 2009 and helped to further bolster the growing resumes of future A-listers Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg in a film where Woody Harrelson was the most well-known actor (not counting that brilliant surprise cameo by Bill Murray). But the fever has died down since and zombies no longer capture ...

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Mulan: More serious, less playful than the original

Most of Disney’s live-action adaptations have been fairly loyal to their animated counterparts, but it looks like the studio might be going in a dramatically different direction with its upcoming revisit to Mulan. Directed by New Zealand filmmaker Niki Caro and starring Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei in the titular role, the remake appears to have a more serious, less playful tone than its predecessor. The story is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, the daughter of an ailing warrior who disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the army. The teaser trailer suggests that this could ...

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Will Charlie’s Angels 2.0 fall before they even fly?

Hollywood really seems to have taken the 3R’s of conservation – reduce, reuse, recycle – to heart and has been busy reducing creativity, reusing plots, and recycling projects through its plethora of remakes, reboots, and revisits. Clearly everything must return to the screen in one form or another, which must be why we are now getting another Charlie’s Angels reboot. The standalone sequel sees a new cast pick up the crime-fighting baton as the newest recruits of the agency, headed by the unseen and mysterious Charlie Townsend. The current set of Angels include fierce spy Sabina (Kristen Stewart), brainy former MI6 agent Jane (Ella ...

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Toy Story 4 keeps surprising us with the franchise’s continued excellence

Pixar continues its tradition of making grownups tear up at children’s movies with Toy Story 4, a touching adventure so earnestly sweet that it’s futile to resist its charms. The studio once again makes good use of its abilities to entertain audiences of all ages with this animated adventure, and even though this instalment may not have been strictly necessary, it is still a delightful revisit to the acclaimed franchise. Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks, of course!), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang are now in the possession of little Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), given to her at the end ...

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Men In Black: International will leave you wishing to be ‘neuralysed’

The 2019 summer movie season isn’t going quite the way film buffs would have hoped. The big budget cinematic offerings so far have mostly been subpar, with very few intriguing exceptions. Men in Black: International, unfortunately, isn’t one of those exciting outliers. The lacklustre spin-off of the Men in Black (MIB) series shifts the setting from the US to the UK branch of the galaxy-defending organisation but doesn’t bother to bring anything new or even slightly interesting to the franchise. Molly (Tessa Thompson), who witnessed the Men in Black in action when she was a child, manages to track down the MIB headquarters ...

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The Secret Life of Pets 2: A disjointed sequel struggling to find a reason to exist

The financial success of a movie pretty much guarantees whether or not a sequel will eventually pop up, as Hollywood studios eagerly try to milk any and every cash cow they can lay their hands on. But not all films actually merit or deserve a sequel. The Secret Life of Pets, for instance, clearly didn’t. The 2016 animated adventure – a peek at what pets get up to when their owners aren’t home – was no masterpiece, but it did rake in a lot of money. Illumination unsurprisingly decided to give the film a sequel, even though it seems like ...

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Murder Mystery: an unexceptional, unmemorable summer movie

After starring together in Just Go With It, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston have reunited for another comedy outing. But instead of taking the big screen route, this time around they have chosen to bring their adventure to the smallest of small screens. Available on a smartphone, or laptop if you so prefer, near you is the duo’s latest offering, Murder Mystery, the tale of a getaway gone awry. Created in the image of the many mystery movies which have come before it, only with a more comedic slant, this Netflix film focuses on a couple that goes to Europe on ...

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Frozen II: Prepare to be enchanted by some more musical magic this winter

Just when we finally managed to get ‘Let It Go’ out of our heads, Disney has decided to unleash another instalment of Frozen, and the trailer for the upcoming sequel suggests that the past isn’t quite in the past anymore. History, in fact, appears to be of some importance in Frozen II, the much anticipated sequel that continues the tale of Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Princess Anna (Kristen Bell), the feisty sisters from the Kingdom of Arendelle who won our hearts in 2013 when the original adventure – which was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale ‘The Snow Queen’ – ...

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Artemis is one giant leap in the wrong direction for Andy Weir

The massive success of a debut project may propel its creator to global stardom, but it can also have some side effects. Operating under the shadow of an acclaimed first effort while struggling to meet its standards thenceforth can have its downsides, an idea that is conveniently illustrated by the phenomenon of the sophomore slump. Artemis appears to be Andy Weir’s sophomore slump. The American writer’s first novel, The Martian – the story of an astronaut stranded alone on Mars – was one of the most exciting, interesting and compelling science fiction adventures of recent years. Unfortunately, exciting, interesting and compelling are three of ...

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