ZeroZeroZero web series review (2020)

Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

ZeroZeroZero trailer

Rating: 5/5

Time: 8 episodes of 50-55 minutes each

Cast: Adriano Chiaramida, Andrea Riseborough, Dane DeHaan, Harold Torres, Gabriel Byrne

Set on three different continents with characters speaking 4-5 different languages, ZeroZeroZero is a multicultural and transnational tale of the narcotics trade. Reminiscent of famous narco thrillers, such as Narcos and Sicario, what sets ZeroZeroZero apart is its encompassing global story of the drug trade. The buyers sit in Italy, the suppliers are from Mexico and the Americans are the middlemen. As things stand, it should be a straightforward transaction. But nothing is straightforward in the drug trade. Family betrayal on the Italian side and mutiny on the Mexican side means the Americans are in trouble.

Memorable characters shine through in ZeroZeroZero. Don Minu (played by Adriano Chiaramida) is an aging mafia boss wanting to regain past glory. However, his grandson, Stefano, is not completely on board. His betrayal of his grandfather sets in motion a series of events that take place as far away as Mexico, Senegal and Morocco. This directly impacts the Lynwood family of New Orleans who are the middlemen. After the death of her father, the daughter Emma Lynwood (played by Andrea Riseborough), struggles to get the cocaine shipment from Mexico to Italy.

Why is ZeroZeroZero called ZeroZeroZero?

Based on Robert Saviano’s novel of the same name, ZeroZeroZero refers to the nickname given by drug traffickers to the purest form of cocaine. Saviano takes inspiration from the real world to tell the story of international drug trade. He is an Italian journalist whose expose of the mafia has put him on their hit list. He has been under special police protection since 2006.

Is there a season 2 of ZeroZeroZero?

No, the producers have confirmed that ZeroZeroZero was a limited series and there will not be a second season of the web series.

No Time to Die (2021) movie review

No Time to Die trailer

Rating: 3/5 (only because of Daniel Craig, otherwise 2/5)

Time: 2 hours, 43 minutes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ana de Aramas

In terms of plot, No Time to Die has nothing new to offer. It is the basic “world is in danger and only James Bond can save it” story line. While everyone agrees that saving the world is James Bond’s job, the movie’s writers have been lazy using the same rehashed plots we’ve seen in previous movies.

The villain doesn’t scare us

Specifically, the villain (Lyutsifer Safin played by Rami Malek) could easily be replaced by anybody else and it will not lead to a different outcome. Safin has developed a bio-chemical weapon that can kill particular individuals based on their DNA. Now, the reason he wants to kill half the world’s population is the same inane reason almost any ordinary villain in an average movie has – there is no specific reason. Maybe it’s because he can?

Another big hole in the plot – Lyutsifer Sarin has an axe to grind with Bond’s love interest Madeleine Swann (played by Lea Seydoux). Her father, the mysterious Mr White (killer on hire and member of the secretive organisation, Spectre) is responsible for the mass killing of Sarin’s family. So, he wants to kill Mr White’s family in revenge. Yet when the opportunity presents itself to kill Madeleine Swann multiple times, he does not take it. Clearly, plot and storyline are not the movie’s strong point. It is left to James Bond and his supporting constellation of stars to prop up the movie with their performances.

No Time to Die

Who will be the next Bond?

As the new 007, Nomi (played by Lashana Lynch) does not get a meaty role that showcases her character’s style. After all that is what made James Bond special – his style. While she can easily pull off individual action sequences, can she hold up an entire movie? The producers and writers will really need to work on the Nomi character to develop her individual style, quirks, interesting back story….the works. In contrast, Paloma (played by Ana de Aramas) a character that was present for all of 15 minutes on screen had so much more charisma, funnier and wittier dialogues, and irreverent approach to saving the world. Just like James Bond.

In his last outing as 007, Daniel Craig’s opening scenes in No Time to Die, clearly reflect the 15 years the actor has spend playing James Bond. Weary facial lines show up in the close-ups and you realise he is getting old. Perhaps that is why the actor decided to call it a day. The producers have been tight-lipped about the future of the James Bond character- will it be replaced by a female agent? Or will it be another male agent?

Arguably, Daniel Craig has been the best Bond ever. But to have no Bond at all? Ian Fleming must be turning in his grave….

Nine Perfect Strangers series review

Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime

Rating: 3/5

Time: 8 episodes of 45-50 minutes each

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Regina Hall, Asher Keddie, Tiffany Boone, Bobby Cannavale

Nine Perfect Strangers is a drama about guests at a health and wellness retreat run by Masha (played by Nicole Kidman). A mysterious Russian woman, Masha turned her life around after a near-death experience. Now she runs Tranquillium, a wellness resort that is promising to heal the mental and emotional scars of its guests. She is picky – not everyone who applies to attend Tranquillium is able to get in.

This time round, joining her and her team is a motley group of deeply scarred strangers. There is Frances (played by Melissa McCarthy) a failed writer betrayed in love. There is Tony (played by Bobby Cannavale) a depressed and failed football star unable to connect with his family. Then there are the Marconis – father, Napoleon (played by Michael Shannon), mother Heather (played by Asher Keddie) and daughter Zoe who are grappling with the suicide of Zoe’s twin brother. Luke Evans plays Lars, an investigative journalist, who is at Tranquillium to investigate its mysterious owner and her methods. But he has demons of his own to deal with. Carmel (played by Regina Hall) is grappling with a cheating husband and low self confidence. Ben and Jessica, a couple looking to rekindle their relationship, round up the disparate group.

Nine Perfect Strangers

Masha’s healing protocol is to micro dose her guests with psilocybin (aka magic mushroom) and other assorted psychedelics. The jury is still out on the use of psychedelic substances in treating anxiety and mental health issues. However, many people have reported being helped immensely by microdosing on these substances. Will Masha’s methods help these strangers regain the balance in their lives or will the relationship dynamics implode? While the limited series is well worth a watch, in certain parts, it tends to slow down instead of keeping up the pace.

On the Rocks (2020) movie review

Where to watch: Streaming on Apple TV+

On The Rocks movie trailer

Rating: 3/5

Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Cast: Rashida Jones, Bill Murray, Marlon Wayans, Jessica Henwick, Jenny Slate

On the Rocks is the story of Laura (played by Rashida Jones) and her father, Felix (played by Bill Murray). Laura feels her marriage is on the rocks. She is barely able to hold her life together. She has to manage two kids, while trying to write a book with no help from her husband Dean (played by Marlon Wayans). Dean is super busy with a business he has just started. On top of everything, she suspects Dean is having an affair. She tries to rationalise the situation – “What if Dean’s just busy and I’m stuck in a rut? That’s it?”

Laura is clearly stuck in a rut. While sitting down to work on her book, we see her rearranging her desk for the nth time and then staring out of the window because of writers block. In desperation, she turns to her father for help. In part because Felix, a man about town, may know a thing or two about other men about town. Felix’s solution is to spy on Dean and so, father and daughter follow Dean all over Manhattan and a Mexican resort.

Rashida Jones plays the part of the overworked mother and suspicious wife very well. Bill Murray is classic Bill Murray, delivering comedic dialogues with a deadpan face. Directed by Sofia Coppola, On the Rocks is a lightweight movie for someone like her with established filmmaking capabilities (Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette) and family pedigree. One would have expected something better from Coppola. Nevertheless, On the Rocks is a light-hearted watch.

Deutschland web series review

Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime

Deutschland 83 trailer

Rating: 4/5

Time: 19 episodes of 45-50 minutes each

Cast: Jonas Nay, Maria Schrader, Sylvester Groth, Carina Wiese, Sonja Gerhardt, Alexander Beyer

At the height of the Cold War, Europe was divided into two – Communists and Capitalists. The city of Berlin was literally split by the construction of a wall.

The Deutschland series (Deutschland 83, Deutschland 86 and Deutschland 89) covers the decade leading up to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the fall of communism in Europe. It provides a front row seat to the Cold War by depicting the adventures of the East German spy, Martin Rauch (played by Jonas Nay). Rauch is a reluctant spy who is forcibly recruited by his aunt Lenora (played by Maria Schrader) – a spy herself. Planted as the assistant to a West German general in NATO, Rauch passes on secrets from the West to communist East Germany.

Deutschland 83 is the first season that was released in 2015. It is set in 1983 at the height of the Cold War. The second season, Deutschland 86, came out in 2018 and reveals how cash-strapped East Germany tries to make money by embracing not-so-socialist ideas. The third season, Deutschland 89, was released in 2020. It is set in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sadly, Amazon Prime only carries the first 2 seasons in India. However, it includes a documentary on East Germany, which is a great watch for history buffs.

Deutschland 83

While the characters in the Deutschland series are fictious, some of the key incidents are based on real-life events. This includes NATO’s Able Archer war exercise that the East Germans believed to be an actual attack. In the series, our hero, Rauch, is able to correct this misunderstanding and prevent the breakout of war in Europe. Rauch comes across as a street-smart character who consistently thinks on his feet to extricate himself from dangerous situations. Not quite James Bond, he displays the vulnerabilities of his young age and lack of experience. As he learns more of the world around him, Martin Rauch tries to maintain his moral compass.

Deutschland is an engrossing and binge-worthy show. It brings in a bit of 80s nostalgia with its music and fashion. It also touches on more serious issues such as the breakout of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. Fans of this series in India are missing closure, so let’s hope that Amazon Prime streams Deutschland 89 soon.

The Tomorrow War movie review (2021)

Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Trailer of The Tomorrow War

Rating: 3/5

Time: 2 hours, 18 minutes

Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, JK Simmons, Sam Richardson, Betty Gilpin

The Tomorrow War is a fun watch, although in terms of story there is nothing new here. We have a bunch of aliens, time travel and end-of-the-world scenario with one hero, Dan Forester (played by Chris Pratt) saving the world. Well, one hero and his daughter, Muri Forester (played by Yvonne Strahovski).

Although, the movie is full of cliches, it still has the thrills, special effects and fight sequences, that make it an interesting watch. The movie opens with a dramatic open sequence. We see Chris Pratt and others falling from the sky. If he had not fallen into a swimming pool, we would have lost our hero in the opening scene. We get to know that in the future, 30 years later, aliens have taken over the world and human species are faced with the threat of extinction. So, naturally, our hero has to time travel to the future to save the world.

Chris Pratt plays a character that we recognise from the Guardians of the Galaxy – a swashbuckling, goofy hero who gets the job done in the end. In the words of our hero “I have to do what nobody else is willing to do.” Cliched dialogues aside, The Tomorrow War keeps itself interesting from the beginning to the end and is well worth the watch.

The Tomorrow War

ZOO series review (2017- 2019)

Where to watch: Streaming on Netflix

Zoo series trailer

Rating: 3/5

Time: 3 seasons, 39 episodes of 40 minutes each

Zoo series cast: Kristen Connolly, James Wolk, Billy Burke, Nonso Anozie, Nora Arnezeder

“The world was becoming a zoo, without cages.” James Patterson, author of Zoo

The James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge novel of the same name is the inspiration behind the Zoo series, streaming on Netflix. The show is based on an interesting premise – what if after generations of subjugation, hunting and killing by humans, the animals and birds of Earth were to rise up in unison against humans?

This rebellion takes place in multiple locations across the world. In Botswana, Africa, lions unify as one team to hunt and kill tourists. In Japan and Rio de Janeiro, swarms of bats come out of their hiding places to wreak havoc in broad daylight. In Slovenia, domestic and street dogs form packs to kill people.

In order to make sense of this dystopian nightmare, a motley group of investigators is put in place. We have Dr Jackson Oz (played by James Wolk), a zoologist based in Africa who has a day job as a safari guide. His father’s thesis on animal behaviour may shed light on the bizarre behaviour of the animal kingdom. He’s joined by his assistant and good friend, the ever-dependable Abe (played by Nonso Anozie). We have the veterinary pathologist, Mitch (played by Billy Burke) and pushy journalist, Jaime (played by Kristen Connolly) who is convinced that the chemicals dispensed by a big, bad global corporation is responsible for the animal attacks. Finally, we have Chloe Tousignant, a French spy agent who is the leader of this disparate group.

Heroes of Zoo

Season 1 of Zoo is eminently binge-worthy. You will want to know what happens next….will the investigators find out how this happened? Can they find a “cure” for the animals’ erratic behaviour? However, the fast-paced sci-fi thriller runs out of James Patterson’s original novel in the first season. By the second and third seasons, Zoo begins to take on new and bizarre twists and turns, which even for the sci-fi genre is hard to believe. We’ve given a 3/5 rating for Season 1. Seasons 2 and 3 can be given a miss.

Has Zoo been renewed for Season 4?

The Zoo tv series was cancelled by CBS after Season 3 due to dwindling popularity. The show could get only a 0.51 rating in the 18-41 demographic and just 2.56 million viewers.

The Courier movie review (2021)

Where to watch: Streaming on

The Courier trailer

Rating: 3/5

Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Angus Wright, Vladimir Chuprikov

Oftentimes, the contribution of less famous men and women in changing the course of history goes unreported or unrecognised. The Courier narrates one such story of the sacrifices made by two men in averting a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile crisis in the 1960s.

The Courier tells the real-life story of Greville Wynne (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), a British businessman, who gets roped into being a go-between a Russian mole and British and American intelligence. The story reminds one of Tom Hanks’ Bridge of Spies, another true story of getting a civilian to do spy work.

Since the CIA had very little presence in the USSR, they got British Mi6 to recruit Wynne to do business in Moscow. In Wynne’s words, he was only “an ordinary salesman with no connection to the government.” This put him above suspicion on business trips to the USSR. In Moscow, his contact was Oleg Penkovsky (played by Merab Ninidze) a member of the Soviet military intelligence. Penkovsky passed on tremendous amount of information to the British and the Americans, especially about the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. His information enabled Kennedy to call Krushchev’s bluff in Cuba and avoided a Third (perhaps last) World War.

Unlike a Bond spy thriller, there are no action scenes or gun fights in The Courier. But as often happens in real-life, history is made by men with a conscience who are willing to sacrifice their happiness for the greater good of mankind.

Where can I watch Harry Potter movies?

Ever since J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in 1997, the young boy wizard has captured the attention of young and old admirers alike. Readers thronged book stores to get their hands on the latest instalment of Harry Potter’s adventures.

So when the first movie, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 2001, it was a super-duper hit. There are a total of 8 Harry Potter movies based on the books of the same name.

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) – On his eleventh birthday, young Harry Potter discovers he is the orphaned child of two powerful wizards. He is taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn about his unique heritage.
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) – Harry Potter is warned not to return to Hogwarts but he does. He encounters a series of mysterious attacks and events at the school.
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – Harry returns with his friends, Ron and Hermione, for a third year at Hogwarts. They face the infamous prisoner, Sirius Black, who has escaped from Azkaban and is headed for Hogwarts.
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) – Harry Potter’s name emerges from the Goblet of Fire and he must represent Hogwarts in the Triwizard Tournament.
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix (2007) – Lord Voldermort has returned and the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to prevent the truth from coming out.
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) – Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for the sixth year and finds that Lord Voldermort is tightening his grip on the school. Dumbledore prepares Harry for the inevitable final battle.
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) – Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to destroy the Horcruxes and discover the three most powerful objects in the wizarding world – the Deathly Hallows.
  8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011) – The final battle – it all ends here.

Where to stream Harry Potter movies in India?

There are multiple options to view Harry Potter movies online –

  1. Apple TV+ : Apple TV+ is offering all the eight Harry Potter movies as a bundle for Rs 2,900. You need to subscribe to their service which costs Rs 99 per month. Currently, you can get a free trial for 7 days, after which you will be charged Rs 99 per month.
  2. Amazon Prime Video: All eight Harry Potter movies are available on Amazon Prime Video. You need to subscribe to their service, which costs Rs 999 per year. This also includes ad-free music, and free and expedited delivery for e-commerce orders.
  3. Google Play – All eight Harry Potter movies are available on Google Play on rent for Rs 120 per movie. Once you rent, you can start to play it within 30 days and finish once started within 48 hours. Alternatively, you can buy each movie for Rs 620.

Teheran series review – Season 1 (2020)

Streaming on Apple TV+

Tehran series trailer

Rating: 4/5

Time: 8 episodes of approximately 47-48 minutes each

Cast: Niv Sultan, Shaun Toub, Navid Negahban, Liraz Charhi

Tehran is created by the same writer (Moshe Zonder) as the famous Israeli spy series, Fauda. As such, it follows the tradition of Israeli spy thrillers – fast-moving story line with plenty of twists and turns, full of action and gadgets, and some good, old-fashioned spy work.

Tamar Rabinyan (played by Niv Sultan) is a Mossad agent who enters Tehran disguised as an air stewardess. The circumstances of her entry into Iran is the stuff of great spy thrillers. She speaks fluent Farsi because her Jewish family is originally from Iran. In fact, her aunt still lives in Tehran but has since converted to Islam. Tamar’s mission is to disable an Iranian nuclear reactor. Her plans are foiled by an agent from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Faraz Kamali (played by Shaun Toub). Stuck in enemy country, Tamar seeks help from a group of Iranian dissidents who are in secret rebellion against the Iranian regime.

Filmed in Athens, with foot-tapping music by Mark Eliyahu, Tehran is an entertaining watch. Farsi- and Hebrew-speaking actors lend an air of authenticity to the series.

About Tehran – Season 2

Apple TV+ has confirmed the second season of Tehran. While the release date has not yet been confirmed, it is expected that season 2 of the Israeli spy thriller will drop in September 2021. Glen Close has signed on to the second season of the web series. She will be playing the role of a British citizen living in Tehran.