The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

If you’re onto a good thing you stick with it is a mantra that has served cinema well in the last few years. ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ differentiates itself by being the first sequel catering to older audiences. Boasting a cache of elderly performers, their experience effectively serves the creaky plot. Although predictable, it is still fun with the actors having a grand time amidst India’s lush vistas.

Evelyn (Judi Dench), Muriel (Maggie Smith) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) are enjoying their Indian stay. Still residing in their favourite hotel, its popularity leads co-owner Sonny (Dev Patel) opening another one. Whilst planning the new venture, he is also preparing to get married. The arrival of Guy (Richard Gere) throws a spanner in the works as the various dilemmas of the hotel’s tenants quickly becomes entwined.

With so many characters ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ could have been a mess. Whilst occasionally the burden of multiple story arcs is apparent, Director John Madden skilfully handles this dilemma. The generous run-time allows the script to breathe and add new wrinkles to the formula. There is much that is familiar but the sequel doesn’t just re-hash its predecessor. Fans should enjoy the new additions as they effortlessly slot themselves into the bohemian entanglements.

Not much can be said for the performances given the high calibre cast. They all slip into their roles with ease successfully managing to balance the humour and pathos. Each has their own distinct personality with their quirks adding to the overall joviality. Another plus are the Indian locations which are superb as always. Basically an extended advert for this amazing country, viewers may find the temptation to travel there hard to resist.

‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ definitely isn’t second best. Although conventionally corny, fans wouldn’t have expected any less. It is an enjoyable romp to while away the hours in the company of some eccentric and unique ageing rebels.

Rating out of 10: 7

Project Almanac

‘Project Almanac’ explores time-travel, a concept used for decades in all forms of entertainment. ‘Doctor Who’ is a classic example of using it as a basis for spectacular TV stories. Like others, it asks whether viewers want to travel in time or to actually change it. These tales usually have a moral message to be careful in altering anything. This is an ideal the characters in ‘Project Almanac’ learn as they confront the ‘butterfly effect’ in messing with established time-lines.

A group of friends, including David (Jonny Weston) and Jessie (Sofia Black D’Elia), find plans for a time machine. Eager to test their new discovery, they put their technological knowledge to good use. Successfully using the machine to correct past errors, they become enraptured by possibilities. Eventually exploiting time-travel for personal needs, they learn the cost this brings. Desperate to right their recent wrongs, the gang struggles to re-set history’s course before time catches up with them.

‘Project Almanac’ is a reasonably diverting sci-fi yarn. Overlooking the many plot holes turns the story into a fun ride in the time vortex. How all deal with the consequences of their actions is interesting and well played by the decent cast. Jonny Weston as David is particularly good in conveying the growing addiction his character has towards the machine. Obsessed with correcting the time-line, his descent into near-madness ensures ‘Project Almanac’ is consistently watch-able.

Dean Israelite’s direction grapples with the story as best he can. He would have been more successful had he reigned in overlong scenes and hidden the more illogical aspects of the concept. Pedantic viewers may have a field day spotting inconsistencies although for this type of film ‘Project Almanac’ is more entertaining than most. As a ‘found footage’ movie, it’s a complete failure with this visual trick detracting from the drama. The story doesn’t lend itself to the format, although the cast do their best to overcome this obstacle.

Better than expected, ‘Project Almanac’ is worthy viewing. No new ground is broken although time will be kinder to this film than to ‘Project Almanac’s’ wayward characters.

Rating out of 10: 6