Friday, July 24, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Check in again for more love and laughter as new arrival Richard Gere joins an all-star ensemble cast - including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel — returning for this heartwarming sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! Now that his first venture has been proven successful, ever-confident Sonny (Patel) is busy juggling plans for a second well as his own wedding. But his efforts are constantly hampered by hilarious complications, and in order to pull it all together, he’ll need a little help and encouragement from his resident friends.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
I put off watching The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for a bit because I hadn’t seen the first movie in the series. I checked Netflix, Hulu, my Dish On-Demand, Vudu, iTunes and Amazon and no one had it streaming for free and I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay to get it because I wasn’t sure I would even like it. I finally said “forget it,” and put the disc in the PS4 and hit play on the controller. What I watched was funny, smart, heartwarming and a whole bunch of other words the thesaurus suggests to describe it.

Where you’d think the movie would pick up where it left off, it surprises you and begins eight months later with Sonny (Dev Patel) and Mrs. Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) speeding down the highway in a convertible and blasting music with the top down. Their destination? San Diego, where they are going to meet with some potential investors about expanding the hotel to another location in Jaipur and possibly beyond India. They are told that an anonymous inspector will be visiting the hotel to see how it’s run and then will make a decision. After the presentation, as Sonny is talking wedding plans over Skype with his fiancĂ©, Suniana (Tina Desai), he sees her brother’s friend, Kushal, in the background, gets jealous and says he has to go.

Back in Jaipur, Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) is offered a permanent job as a fabric buyer for the company she has been consulting for; Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) struggles with his affection for Evelyn and ultimately asks her to meet his daughter when, by coincidence, they will all be in Mumbai at the same time. Norman and Carol’s relationship is progressing and Norman is shaken when he believes that a cab driver took some of his comments to mean that he wanted an accident to befall Carol.

When Sonny and Muriel arrive back in Jaipur, they are greeted warmly by the others who are interested in what came of their meeting. The next morning, a writer named Guy Cousins (Richard Gere) arrives, and Sonny, thinking he is the mystery inspector, caters to him, much to the detriment of everyone else. He gives him the best room available, bumping another guest out of it, takes him on a private tour of the new location and when Guy expresses an interest in Sonny’s mother, Mrs. Kapoor, Sonny encourages his mother to spend time with him.

During this busy time, Sonny is also preparing for his wedding to Suniana, who is growing increasingly frustrated with Sonny’s lack of interest in the details of the wedding. Between the engagement parties, the dance rehearsals and the other preparations, Suniana is becoming more upset with Sonny. The issues between the hotel, the wedding and Kushal come to a head right before the wedding and Muriel does what she can to help Sonny not ruin everything. At the wedding, Sonny makes an announcement that the reception will not be held at the First Exotic Marigold Hotel like planned, but at the Second Exotic Marigold Hotel, where he has found a new and better location to open.

While it might not seem like it, I left out a lot of plot points because some of them end up being spoilers. There was actually a lot going on in the movie and when I was watching it, I wasn’t thinking there wasn’t, but each resident had their own story-line which was woven into the main story. Even as I write this, I wonder if I’m leaving things out that should be mentioned – but if I added everything in, this would be much longer. The acting was phenomenal. When you put a cast together like Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Richard Gere, among others, you end up with a movie that is just amazing. I loved each character and the actor portraying them. Each actor fit perfectly with his or her character and each character was a reflection of the actor. The script was very well-written and the story was great. 

I’m not usually a person who will watch movies or read books out of order (my OCD doesn’t allow for that), but when I sat down and started watching, I quickly became engrossed in these people and their lives and wanted to see more. Every scene flowed so well together – the direction and editing was really great putting everything together like that. There were no awkward moments or movements and I didn’t have to think about who went with whom or what happened five minutes previously. I just can’t get over how much I loved this movie, especially after thinking I wasn’t going to like it.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The colors in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are gorgeous. They are bright, sharp and the palette is perfect. The widescreen presentation was near perfect; scenes transitioned well and there were no issues with the picture. The only thing I noticed is that with all the colors at the end of the movie – the lights, the costumes, the decorations – some of it kind of blended together. At least it did for me. It was still really pretty and I enjoyed watching it.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The English DTS-HD 5.1 master audio was near perfect. My only complaint is that the music tended to be much louder than the normal volume, so I had to adjust my sound a few times.  The dialogue was clear and every word was easily heard, even when they were speaking hushed tones. Audio is also available in English descriptive audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and six other languages. In addition to English for the deaf and hard of hearing, Spanish and French, subtitles are available in 22 additional languages. The sheer amount of languages for the audio and subtitles amazed me and I was impressed by the language list.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
I really, really liked all the special features included on the Blu-ray. From the promotional materials to the still gallery (which I’m usually not a fan of) to the trailers, I liked watching all of them. I don’t think I’ve ever said it, but these are special features I’d likely watch again.
  • Promotional Featurettes - Six almost three-minute long featurettes on the movie, its cast and characters. This was really interesting and fun to watch. Each one had cast and crew interviews and gave a little more insight into the story.
    • Story – a quick background on the story and how the characters are intertwined and how a few of them changed since the first movie.
    • Cast – The cast and crew discuss their return to the hotel and the introduction of Richard Gere to the movie.
    • Returning to the Marigold Hotel – The cast and crew talk about returning for the second film and how happy they were to do so.
    • Blossoming Romance – Each of the relationships in the movie and how the characters connected and got to know each other.
    • The Marigold Wedding – How the dance at the wedding was put together and the ceremony involved in Indian marriages. Simply beautiful.
    • Filming in India – What it was like filming in India, using the country, the people and the culture as part of the film.
  • Gallery – A still gallery with no background music or narration. The photos are beautiful and I liked seeing them.
  • Theatrical Trailers – Two of the trailers available in individually or as play all.
  • Sneak Peek – The trailers from the beginning of the disc.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
The longer I sit and think about this movie, the more I love it. It’s funny and there are some real feel-good moments. I found myself rooting for each character; there really isn’t one you don’t want to see have a happy ending. I am going to buy the first movie so that my series is complete, but The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was just so good, my hopes are very high for going back to the first. I know I will watch this over and over again, and I already can’t wait to watch it again. Buy it, don’t rent it. You won’t be disappointed!

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