“SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL”
Did you ever see a film that you like is getting a sequel, and at first you are really happy that it is getting a sequel and then you stop and think ‘why is this film getting a sequel’. That’s the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for me this year. I really enjoyed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel when it came out, it was genuinely a surprise to me on how good it was, especially as at first I didn’t even intend on going to see that film, in case you’re wondering, I saw it as an in flight movie. I loved the plot and the ensemble cast, with brilliant writing and some excellent characters. Did it have its flaws, yes, but they weren’t too distracting and I think the general surprise on how good it was, allowed the film to achieve a critical and financial success, thus warranting the sequel. But that’s about the only thing that warrants Best Exotic Marigold Hotel getting a sequel. It really didn’t have an open-ended story, if anything it ended with all the characters having some sort of a personal victory. If the first film was really good the sequel could probably do a decent job and you never know, lightning does often strike twice in the cinema world!
Now, the film’s plot is fairly similar to the first film, acting as another adult ensemble piece surrounding several retired and elderly British people starting their new life in India, only this time, obviously it extends their life as it’s about the extended period after they have started their new life. There are several sub-plots competing for attention like the first film had, this film tends to add another focus around Sonny’s character played by Dev Patel, not only preparing for his up-coming wedding but also trying to gain an American Investor who will help him open a second hotel and potentially eventually, a whole chain of hotels. The plot really kicks off after Sonny believes that a new resident Guy, played by Richard Gere is a hotel inspector sent by his investor to see if the hotel is viable and potentially be a decent investment for a future expansion. But, as I mentioned, this is only one of about five or six sub-plots that are all competing for attention. The first film was very good at bouncing out the various sub-plots and I would say that is definitely the case with this film, however, the balance is slightly lacking are we are mainly concentrating on Dev Patel and Richard Gere in this version. I will say, I do enjoy the majority of these sub-plots, but I don’t think any of them really reach the levels of enjoyment of the comedic hilarity that the original film managed to achieve. In fact I think the humour was kind of lacking for the most part, but I did find myself laughing at quite a few jokes. I also think another problem is that the writers at times definitely forgets that a few of the characters are still going through the sub-plots. Judy Dench’s character, for example is missing for about two thirds of the movie, only popping up briefly and her relationship with Bill Nighy goes round in circles and isn’t really that interesting! I am glad that the film has a bit of a focus, but it is probably to the film’s detriment as Richard Gere and Dev Patel’s plots are probably the least interesting of all the plots of the film, particularly Richard Gere’s! Dev Patel, once again does a pretty decent job, but I think the writers have not done a brilliant job with his character, he has definitely gone back from the progression he achieved in the first film. Not that he is back to the point he was at the beginning of the first film, but he has definitely gone back a few levels. Once again we are seeing the same sort of plot points from the first film. The weakest point of the first film for me was Celia Imrie’s sub-plot and whilst not much better in this film, considering she has literally zero chemistry with her love interests, it’s still a lot better than the first film. The worst sub-plot, however has to be Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle’s! It just doesn’t start out well and only gets worse! Ronald Pickup’s plot starts with him believing that, in his drunken state, he has ordered a taxi driver to put a ‘hit’ on his girlfriend, (trust me, it makes some sense in the film), and it really leads to an eventual plot surrounding whether both the people in the relationship can exist in a monogamous relationship! I definitely think this one could have worked better if it had had a bit of a re-write and if the not that funny jokes that surround this plot didn’t constantly repeat themselves. There should have been more time devoted to giving us more of an insight into this couples relationship. Even some of the less enjoyable sub-plots were still not awful! I definitely enjoyed a lot of the plot in this film, I just think it has slightly too many characters and slightly too much plot this time around and they are all competing with each other way too much. I also think that none of the plot lines in the film come close to how well written and profound Tom Wilkinson’s plot was from the first film surrounding his character’s homosexuality. There is, however, still a really likeable charm to this film that I think has been missing from a lot of the films that are out currently in cinemas. I think the charm definitely comes from the film’s cast, but I will go more into detail when I get into the acting portion of my review. And I’m just gonna say it I still love these characters they are all still very enjoyable and I think they make the movie and they are what kept most of my interest. The plot isn’t bad, I just don’t think it is as good as the first one. Mainly because a lot of the surprise of the first one has gone and we have higher expectations going into this one. I really, really love Maggie Smith’s character, who gets a large majority of the time in this film and it’s definitely worth it! I also like the fact that her character hasn’t gone backwards since the end of the first film. There is a reason she is one of Britain’s top actresses!! If you enjoyed the first film, you are more than likely going to enjoy this film’s plot. I am aware that I am not in the target demographic for this film, in fact I was actually the youngest person at my particular screening of the film, but I think, like the first film, it’s going to have some charm outside of its target demograph. I just think the film is kind of lacking in a few areas from the first film, which maybe could have been ironed out.
The one strength that this film had which has carried on from its predecessor in quality was definitely it’s cast, this is an excellent cast. Every actor from the first film returns to reprise their roles, with the exception of Tom Wilkinson which is obvious for anyone who has seen the first film. The stand out performance for me is definitely still Maggie Smith who once again delivers a brilliant role in this film. Bill Nighy I actually think has improved in the role since the first film in which I think he was a bit too under-stated, which has now been rectified so that he can deliver an excellent performance. Dev Patel is once again as good as usual and I am really glad because I think he needs some really good roles. He is a really good actor and deserves decent direction which I think has been a lot of the problems in his films of late. I think Penelope Wilton is good in her role as well and Celia Imrie is another actor who I think has improved since the first film despite the fact that her apprence in the film feels really forced, it’s as if the writers realized that she was contractually obligated to be in the film and they had to do a ton of plot gymnastics to get her back in despite her story arc being over in the first film (though both Dr Buchan and her colleague disagreed with me on this one). The supporting cast also does a pretty decent job as well. Tina Desai is pretty good as Sunaina and again is another actor who I think has slightly improved since the first film, but she hasn’t been given enough to do to show it off. I enjoyed Ronald Pickup’s acting performance as well as Diana Hardcastle, but it was kind of put to waste considering that their sub-plot was probably the worst of the film!
That’s all the returning cast, but this time we’ve also got Richard Gere appearing in the film as well as Tamsin Greig who most people will know from Episodes (the Matt LeBlanc sitcom). They both deliver pretty decent roles although I don’t think Tamsin Greig isn’t allowed to do enough of her comedic side in this film, which is a shame because she is a very good comedy actress. If you watch Episodes, she is hilarious in that series! Also Richard Gere is delivering a pretty decent if under-stated performance, but he is not given enough to do to really take advantage of it. I am also starting to believe, from his recent roles, the man is going a bit past his prime. He has pulled it back a bit with this film, but his most recent roles haven’t been much to look at and if it wasn’t for the fact that the actor is appearing in Franny later this year I’d say the man was planning a quiet retirement! It’s a complete upgrade from the last time we saw him on a cinema screen in Movie 43 and the least said about that complete waste of time, that somehow got called a movie the better!! I also think Judie Dench, despite the fact that she is doing a brilliant performance, is not given enough to do. Especially considering the fact that her blog, which was the main narrative of the first film, is completely absent from this film, so we lose her narration, which was one of the key charms that the first film had. Overall the cast is once again really good, they are definitely what makes this film not a disaster of a film making. I think that John Madden did a pretty decent job directing the actors. You don’t get good performances like this out, without a good director.
I now need to talk about the film’s cinematography. This is a very interesting one for me. As I mentioned last year, when I first started writing this blog, I took a break to go on holiday to India, so I have been to a lot of the major locations where this film was shot. The film mainly takes place in Jaipur and Mumbai and I think the cinematography once again is pretty good in capturing these environments. You definitely feel the hustle and bustle and madness that makes up India as well as the excellent bright colours and the cinematography towards the end of the film surrounding the actual wedding and subsequent dance sequences were probably some of the best cinematography of the film. I will say, however, there is one problem I have with the film now after being in India is I think the film has whitewashed a lot of the problems of India out of the production. We are never allowed to see much of the poverty and awful living conditions that a part of India has. For example, Bill Nighy was on the famous wide walkway in Mumbai, by the ocean, at night time, yet we didn’t see anyone sleeping on the streets! I guarantee at that time of night, you are going to see people asleep on the streets in India!! This still does feel a bit too much, like it has been directed by the Indian tourist board and I wish the film had gone into a bit more detail this time surrounding some of these issues, but it never quite does. Other than that, I absolutely love the way the film was shot, although I will say, on the presentation front you will be a bit surprised when the title cards of the film pop up because it took about 15 minutes into the film before we actually saw the title of the film and the majority of the cast members names on the screen. Yes, you thought Arrow took a long time to bring up its title card, this one takes the cake!!
Overall the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a film that can best be described as OK. Let’s face the fact that it was never going to outdo its first film, but it definitely gives it a valiant attempt and I think as Film Brain mentioned doing his review of the first film it’s great that films are actually being made for a more mature audience considering a large majority of films at the moment are aimed at the 18-30 year old market. Would I describe this film as good? Probably Yes, I would say it was good, it just wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be!! What propels the film up is it’s cast and decent performances, I just think it could have been slightly better written.
I went to see the film with Dr Buchan and her colleague Elspeth Bromiley and I think they both enjoyed the film a lot more than I did, but even they did accept some of my points about the writing and the plot. I think, given a bit more time, this film could have been great. I will say, however, if you enjoyed the first film maybe you should go and see it at the cinema. I would personally recommend you wait for it to come out on DVD though, especially considering that I would rather this film not be a box office success and encourage the idea of making a third film. Seriously, stop here!! You’re already pushing it a bit with this film, don’t go over the edge!! And both Dr Buchan and Else agreed with me that The Third Best Exotic Marigold hotel isn’t a good idea.
So, what were your thoughts on Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel guys. Leave something in the comments section if you have an opinion. Remember you do not need an account or be from a specific area to do so. I also would really welcome some comments on the first film as well.
Time to now ask one of my usual Axia Film Society questions:
Since this film was a sequel I figured I would ask which film sequel disappointed you the most? If you don’t like that question: Which film sequel did you think was better than the original?
It’s time to move on to my next film. I would like to give you a definite answer to this, but at the time of writing this, I can’t give a definite answer!! I was hoping I was going to review “To Kill The Messenger” as it comes out on the day of this reviews publication and I am assured of this fact by several cinema chains, but at the time of writing this review I haven’t been able to find a single cinema showing of this film!!! However, I do intend to review this film if at all possible. If I can’t get to see it I may review another film like “Chappie” or “Still Alice”, but I seriously intend to review “To Kill The Messenger” if possible as a thanks to our good friend and brilliant IT guy “Dream”, who really wants to know if this film is any good.
Come back on 13 March where I will definitely have a review and fingers crossed, it’s “To Kill The Messenger”.
Thanks for reading my review and I hope you enjoyed it.
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