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'Pencil': A thriller that hardly thrills

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"Pencil" could have been an excellent edge-of-the-seat campus thriller, provided the makers didn't try and commercialise it for the masses. Had they stuck to the template (sans a romantic track) that was followed in the original, this could've been a path-breaking film.

'Criminal': Complex, but has strong performances

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The film is Kevin Costner's canvas and he leaves an indelible mark as Jericho, the criminal. He exhibits a fairly authentic portrayal of a heartless criminal, who over a period of time, turns sensitive.

'Captain America: Civil War': A purposeless fantasy

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Picking up threads from Marvel's earlier films, this one weaves a plot that makes it tedious to view, as a lot of what matters in Civil War isn't actually in the film at all. It takes a while for the narrative to sink in. And, unlike in a conventional script, this one does not give enough time or space for each character to settle into the narration.

'Santa Banta Pvt Ltd' - A dud company

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With a convoluted plot that is neither exciting nor convincing, the narration trudges along an idiotic route that crosses paths with Shankar’s wife Kareena Roy (Neha Dhupia) and Shankar’s best friend Sonu Sultan (Ram Kapoor), along with Fiji’s RAW agents Cutie (Lisa Haydon) and Akbar Illahabaadi (Sanjay Mishra). They are also chased by Nepal No. One Don (Johnny Lever), who is in Fiji and has his own inexplicable axe to grind with them.

'Before I Wake': Unhurriedly slow scare tease

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Jacob Tremblay, who had earlier this year delivered a wonderful, heart rending performance in the Oscar-nominated film Room, once again, as Cody is charming. He gives an exceptionally realistic depiction of a timid, guilt-ridden and defensive child, all at the same time.

'Fan': Shah Rukh Khan's best in years

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From the sunny to the sinister, Shah Rukh’s Gaurav Chanana takes us on a roller-coaster ride across a plot which is propelled by pungency. The superstar gets some valuable support from co-actors like Sayani Gupta, Deepika Amin and Yogendra Tikoo whose presence is skillfully woven into the darkly disarming drama of a duel between the dapper star and his distressed disingenuous doppelganger.

'Ki & Ka': Refreshingly fun, endearing

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Writer-director R. Balki's characters are perfectly chiselled with the right amount of emotional overtures, making them convincing and relatable. The plot, set in a hassle-free society, is taut, formulaic and evenly paced with no overtly major dramatic twists. It does not navigate through a cliched path, which is what makes the film questionable, yet refreshingly acceptable.

'Rocky Handsome': Convincing action, low on emotions

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Packed with maniac action sequences, "Rocky Handsome" is a typical dark, moody and coarsely crafted crime drama that is based on the 2010 released Korean film "Man from Nowhere".

'Kapoor & Sons': Joy and woe are woven fine

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"Kapoor & Sons" is a saga of a dysfunctional family, which makes you laugh and cry with its members, as you become an intrinsic part of their lives. It is a complete family entertainer with a universal appeal.

'Zubaan': An inspiring tale of self-discovery

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The screenplay with a layered narration, well-etched characters and gripping performances, make "Zubaan" real and stand out. The adept manner in which the back stories are inextricably woven into the main narrative is praiseworthy.

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