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Battle of the Sexes

Since humanity first crawled out from the dust, the battle between man and woman has been eternal. Who is smarter? Who is the strongest? Are we all equal? These questions have befuddled people for eons. ‘Battle of the Sexes’ toys with this issue with a quirky and fun look at gender politics. Set during the 1970’s where universal equality was a merging entity, it may not answer all viewers’ questions but it’s an entertaining ride hitting goals.

In 1973, the tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) is hotly anticipated. Both giants in their field, the duo’s rivalry extends beyond the court. Matching wits in all possible ways, King and Riggs stir up plenty of publicity for their looming court-side showdown. When the media get hold of their opposing views, all bets are off. With man vs woman on the tennis field rapidly looming, this battle of minds hurtles towards a finish where winner takes all.

‘Battle of the Sexes’ is much better than trailers suggest. Whilst primarily using the typical ‘man vs woman’ motif, it’s a lot more than that. Exploring themes of sexuality, love, rivalries and being comfortable in one’s skin, ‘Battle of the Sexes’ has a densely multi-layered script. It would have had little value had it just been about one thing with the rich screenplay effectively making the most of its true-life premise.

Backed by a solid story, ‘Battle of the Sexes’ also succeeds due to its sympathetic portrayals. As King, Stone conveys the conflicted emotions of her role well and genuinely gets under the skin of an interesting person. Carell is less memorable due to him making Riggs more of a caricature than true person. But both work well together in their scenes and their co-stars aid in evoking the 70’s era well. ‘Battle of the Sexes’ isn’t all about disco and flares with its emotional core more engaging than any surface trimmings.

In an era where equality for all has been making headlines, ‘Battle of the Sexes’ is timeless despite its period setting. Sharply directed and well written, it’s a movie worth watching. It may not settle the constant gender debate but it proves how equality and fairness for all are always things worth fighting for.

Rating out of 10: 8

Flatliners

‘Everything old is new again’ is a term Hollywood uses well. Sequels, remakes and revamps have been a Tinseltown mainstay for decades. The trick is to make any follow-up feel fresh and adding to the established story. A sequel to the hit 1990 movie ‘Flatliners’, it attempts to extend the allure of the original. Having one of its stars in the updated version can’t hurt with its connection to the past welcome. It’s also a reasonably worthy successor as ‘Flatliners’ delivers the same style of thrills making the first entry memorable.

Decades after taking part in experiments involving near-death experiences, Nelson Wright (Kiefer Sutherland) is in charge of a new group of medical students. Among them is Courtney (Ellen Page) who is doing her own experimental research. Aided by fellow students including Ray (Diego Luna), Courtney conducts a new round of near-death trials. When seeing sinister visions after flat-lining, Courtney and her group move towards danger as evil reaches out from beyond the shadows.

‘Flatliners’ feels like the ‘Final Destination’ franchise where death stalks its prey. Like that series, ‘Flatliners’ has a bunch of young people surrounded by peril with death striking at any moment. Generating interest is how the danger is caused by character’s guilt of past events. This gives death the power it needs to claim their lives which only the characters can solve by confronting their early misdeeds. This element raises ‘Flatliners’ above the mundane level it occasionally descends into with an overly predictable script.

The performers do their best to inject sympathy to their initially unlikeable roles. No one cast member stands out as giving a strong performance as they deliver their lines in dour monotones. Where this takes the edge off the scares, ‘Flatliners’ tries to generate true terror. Unfortunately most of the shocks are of the usual ‘jump scares’ variety with a loud noise accompanying any spectral presence. Had ‘Flatliners’ not been anchored with an intriguing premise which is handled well it would be less than what is presented.

‘Flatliners’ doesn’t break the mould in horror sequels but it doesn’t disgrace it either. It’s a fair effort capturing fire in its second half as its narrative themes kick in. Those old enough to have seen the original when it came out may feel déjà vu with yours truly feeling like he was in a time warp as death hunted down the film’s characters.

Rating out of 10: 6