The Archies Movie Review: Agastya Nanda, Suhana Khan & Khushi Kapoor's film only rides in nostalgia and no solid impact
Archies Andrews, Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper along with their friends join hands to save Riverdale's culture and heritage.
- Zoya Akhtar
- Agastya Nanda,
- Suhana Khan,
- Khushi Kapoor,
- Vedant Raina,
- Mihir Ahuja,
- Yuvraj Menda,
- period drama/romance/drama/coming-of-age
- Hindi and English
The much-awaited Zoya Akhtar directorial The Archies was finally released on Netflix today (December 7). It always becomes a challenge to make the audience relive the nostalgia and recall the value of a beloved comic book, movie, or TV show. The Archies take up the mammoth task as it is based on the cult-classic comic book, Archies. However. The movie unfortunately only relies heavily on the nostalgia factor without creating a solid impact. Courtesy? The shoddy screenplay, lack of effective performances, and lack of realism in the premise.
Talking about the plot, it revolves around the main characters Archie Andrews (Agastya Nanda), Veronica Lodge (Suhana Khan), Betty Cooper (Khushi Kapoor), Regie Mantle (Vedang Raina), Jughead Jones (Mihir Ahuja), Dilton Doiley (Yuvraj Menda) and Ethel Mugs (Dot) who are childhood friends in the Anglo-Indian city of Riverdale which is situated in the north of India and is named after a former British officer John Riverdale. They bask in the happiness and simplicity the town has to offer especially the Green Park which is a beautiful garden located in the heartland of the city which is attached to their heritage. However, things changed when Lodge Industries wished to inculcate commercialization into the town for more profits which included closing down the old shops and mainly the Green Park to create a hotel and a plaza. It is then that these kids go through a phase of self-realization and take up the mantle to stop the demolition of The Green Park and preserve the beauty of Riverdale.
Well, the biggest drawback of The Archies is that the movie fails to strike a chord with his characterization and the sub-plots. Apart from riding onto the nostalgia that the lead characters have in the minds of the fans of The Archies comic books, the film though an honest attempt falls flat due to a weak execution. The love triangle between Archie-Betty-Veronica is not explored well and looks rushed with a comical conclusion (not in a good way). The themes of excessive commercialization replacing cultural and empathy values of Riverdale are inculcated well but the events and the characters look extremely caricaturish. Except for a few performances, the others do not look convincing to strike a chord. It was a good idea to instill musicals to communicate the thoughts and emotions of the characters but they look misplaced and only add to the pace of the movie laboriously. However, the climax is a feel-good emotion and you only wish that the built-up was as effective. The writing tried to ride on many running themes of nostalgia, young love, friendship, power, and ambition but the execution went downhill when it came to the relatability and the realism quotient.
Speaking of the performances, Agastya Nanda is charming and convincing in some of the scenes which showcases his flirtatious and carefree side but he does struggle in the emotional scenes. Khushi Kapoor is again skillful at showing the empathetic and friendly side of her character but falls flat when it comes to the scenes wherein she has to be vulnerable. Suhana Khan alas is the weakest of the plot. She looks pretty and is amazing as a dancer and as a roller-skater but the actress has a lot of room to grow when it comes to her dialogue delivery and portrayal of the complex emotions. It is the other characters of Reggie, Jughead, Dilton, and Dot who shine more than the debutantes who had some high expectations and more screen time. Mihir Ahuja, Yuvraj Menda, and Dot do full justice to their respective characters of Jughead, Dilton, and Ethel. However, it is Vedang Raina who shines the most as the handsome, endearing, and intense Reggie Mantle. There is never a dull moment with him on the screen and you only wish you could see him more.
Where The Archies manage to win is the production department which looks oh-so aesthetic, authentic, and lovely. It transports you to the setting in the comic books be it the Green Park, the town shops, Pop Tates, or The Riverdale High School. The costume and the cinematography department is again a chef’s kiss and once again Zoya Akhtar goes perfectly right with the technicalities. The songs ‘Va Va Voom’ and ‘Sunoh’ manage to stand out. However, overall The Archies could have been a better-made film but it takes much more than pretty-looking actors, sets, and costumes to do justice to an iconic and nostalgia-heavy franchise like Archies comics.