Iron Man III

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A long time ago, there was the age of superheroes – some people might call it childhood; and during that age, three of the most significant superheroes might have been Superman, He-Man and The Phantom. But life changes and the focus had to shift to Spider-Man, a process which was boosted by the release of a movie starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Then Christian Bale and Liam Neeson had their say with that Christopher Nolan movie which shifted the scene to Batman. Iron Man came later, but survived through the assault of the bat on all the superheroes making the darkest and the not-so-super one the superior crime fighter. The man of iron was seen more as a lesser superhero compared to the man of steel as well as the man of darkness, but the series stepped on this prejudice and has given the viewers the third movie with no rust. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has never failed in that case, as it has impressed me not only with the the three movies of this series, but also with those movies – with the incredible man-monster painted all green by science, with the alien god of the other world with a hammer, with the captain and defender of honour with that shield, and not to forget – with all of of them were combined and put together in a brilliant manner. These movies which are not named are quite easy to find out, and it is due to their popularity itself.

The movie occurs sometime after the alien invasion, the much effective team work, and all those events of The Avengers. Tony Stark has been too much concerned about the safety of his girlfriend, the new Stark Industries chief Pepper Potts; he has filled his place with Iron Man armour and most of them now works on their own according to his command. But soon, it is realized that the alien invasion is not what would be the upcoming terror for him, as Stark, with his lover of the time, and brilliant scientist Maya Hansen, had avoided the crippled scientist Aldrich Killian, whose dreams are shattered beyond repair. Meanwhile, a series of bombings by an unknown terrorist, the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies with no evidence to get on with their investigation as there is no bomb found. When Stark Industries security chief happens to be a victim of such an attack, Stark issues a threat to the Mandarin, and soon gets an unexpected response as he destroys Stark’s home with helicopters fitted with guns. Stark is taken far away from the site by his artificial intelligence and finds himself reported dead and too weak in power to return.

During his journey to revival, he discovers that the explosions were triggered by soldiers from an experimental treatment which would allow people to recover from horrible injuries. It is their bodies which couldn’t handle the programme that exploded. He also discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor named Trevor Slattery and the terrorist is a creation of Killian who has also kidnapped Pepper and subjected her to the same treatment. The President is also his target and for that, he has taken control of the War Machine armour which has been serving to protect the President. Now, the Iron Man has to deal with all his problems including the anxiety disorder which followed the near-death experience related to that alien invasion event, his love which he had failed to show as well as prove in the middle of all the chaos, save the world with his own lover and also one President – not really a hard task considering what he has done so far, but not that easy when his situation is given attention. But the fact remains that he is still the Iron Man, which he does say with confidence, and that is one thing which would guide him with chaos and misery all around. It is his success that should keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe going, and it is left for us to see.

300: Rise of an Empire is still the comic book movie which I want to watch this year more than anything else, but I would say that love is beyond comics and more into a dream of the past and a nightmare of history. The movie might not even reach here. My expectations about Man of Steel and The Wolverine won’t be as high as what I have for this one either. So it is worth talking about this one as the much awaited superhero comics movie of the year. If asked about the movie being living upto the expectations, it certainly did. While talking more about the expectations, wasn’t that more about pure fun than anything else? In that case, the movie has incredible success. I am not that much of a fan of the movie’s 3D, and would have found it good enough to have seen it in 2D at a lower price and without the trouble of having to wear the glasses. But as long as the special effects are concerned, they are well done and all those action sequences with the support of these effects, create a world of enjoyable chaos and destruction which are of no pain. The movie is made into a pure entertainer and a master of its genre, gaining in strength from its own pace and still getting faster from its strength that is sticking to what it has been doing through the previous titles – to entertain and not to take logic for dinner and make her talk.

Robert Downey Jr is the Iron Man once again, and there is no point where he isn’t the man in the armour, no matter how much he walks around without it. I would consider him more as Sherlock Holmes rather than Iron Man, but in this movie, he is more of iron, and his character has undergone more changes which makes him more of that superhero not just to the crowd, but also to his own people. The story of the man in the armour moves so, and so does the movie, and to expect some other person in this role is absurdity, for there is no question about it yet again. Gwyneth Paltrow’s role has been extended in this one, not just by the screen presence which is not an improvement – for it is more of the essence as well as the power and influence. She gets that much power by the end of the movie, and this strength which is more hulk-like than anything else is more funny than being significant enough to be carried on. The damzel in distress gets powerful – not forever and not in the way she wanted to be and it is surely not a thing to be kept in the urn and driven towards eternity by the horsemen of the other world. The character has become more and more of her, and the lady of the superhero has lived upto the title, as the woman of iron who burns – being hot was applicable to many women in the movie, but for her, it also becomes literal.

Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian is too effective as a villain that it is very easy to hate the character. One gets to remember Sebastian Shaw of X-Men: First Class – there was Kevin Bacon, and both the characters being involved in genetic mutation and the use of science and technology as evil, with a never ending desire to rule the world and keep things running in their own way – they deserve to be partners in crime, but I don’t see the X-Men being brought to the Avengers initiative and the Shaw character was already finished by the end of the last X-Men movie. Here, Killian is a “created” monster – an indirect creation, unlike Shaw who created monsters out of good men. Our monster here is not only the monster, but also the creator who creates more out of what he has become. He is able to channelize his anger and desperation in the right path, that is incredibly wrong and evil. What his wrath does is to redo the wrong and the wicked in such a way that it becomes so common. If he was shown with conscience or some kind of emotional attachment, that would have been his failure. But there is nothing of that sort, and the success in villainy is attained. There is the presence of science, technology, energy, destruction, and all which would suit an evil genius of his type – thats all he needs and thats what he gets.

Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen, is another character and a bit of the monster’s little helper, and despite of the presence of the so called “hotness”, the best looking lady around – talking about in a subjective manner. She is with the monster, but still not monster enough. Stephanie Szostak looks so scary and attractive as the assassin which makes an incredible contradiction out of nowhere. The literal “hot” version can be applied to her too, as she bruns quite a lot as the result of that experiment. Ben Kingsley creates a powerful effect on the movie, which was good to see. Don Cheadle continues to be the “other man of iron” as expected, with no trouble. With all these, the movie is undoubtedly a huge grosser even in this part of the world. There is a good amount of difficulty in getting the tickets and if asked why it is so popular, the reasons are so many. I had to witness too many trailers before the movie to get into it, and the crowd was huge and getting into the theatre took some time with all the traffic and related stuff, but it was worth that. My advice on it would be to drink some tea and get some tickets. Any other advice would be so much beyond the armour of iron, and the best of armour comes from the elixir of life that is tea.

Release date: 26th April 2013
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Croods

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This one brings back the memories of The Flintstones and Prehistorik, the first one being one of the most watched cartoons of that long lost childhood while the second one was among the first computer games I ever played – still, surely not the first ever. Both of them can be thus said to belong to my pre-historicism. Even as they could be categorized into the same category as cavemen, based on those ideas which originate out of assumptions about something which would never be known as how it exactly used to be, one could dare to say that this one is different – as a story of a predecessor of the modern family and as what came before what was to follow in a world of chaos, disorder and confusion which was not caused by the humans at that time; but now, as the nature has no need to cause the same as humans have themselves become the cause; this story is nothing less than an adventure rooted on more than one philosophy, and a tale of prehistoric truths belonging more to this age than any other, thus creating that connection which the audience could decipher in a three dimensional world of the theatre. They are no longer the stock characters, but the audience are – with their thoughts about specific individuals having certain ways of doing things, and what they are creates that infernal stereotype.

This movie was actually troubled by the large number of trailers which they showed right before the movie, and the interesting fact is that none of them were of English movies; for they were Hindi and Malayalam, and I shall not be depressed and say that they made no impact either, as I might just watch a few of those movies whose trailers were shown – something about which I can be sure as long as those Hindi movies are concerned and about the Malayalam movies, there would be more uncertainty surrounding them. But this long a trailer show was a first time experience for me, and I shall surely be ready to face such a thing from the next time onwards. But the positive impact is that the interval time had no advertisements, and still never did it impress me as the time taken for the second half to being again was long enough. To be frank, this not a movie which deserves an interval – it is quite short and continuous, and there is no loss of flow as it goes on like a river during the monsoon; full and powerful. It could have never inspired an interval with its length, but as we are so much used to having the first half and the second half, it is quite natural to be upset without a break in the centre and therefore it is justified.

The way in which the early prehistoric humans might have looked and behaved has been pretty much similar in most of the depictions in many ways. Their association with caves and pre-historic creatures have been commonly shown. This movie is about a family of Neanderthals who keep themselves confined to a cave as much as possible so that they could be safe from the outside world of predators. They are actually the last of the families out there to survive, as the others have already fallen victim to the creatures of the world as well as the deadly diseases of the age like common cold. Their survival can be attributed mostly due to the strict rules of the overprotective father and leader, Grug. Eep is the cavegirl, his daughter and the protagonist who forms the centre of the movie. The rest of the family includes Grug’s wife Ugga, his daughter Sandy, his son Thunk, and also his mother-in-law whom he always wished dead – the disapproval is more of a two-way procedure than anything else. He keeps telling his family that all the new things are bad, and so is the outside world which is extremely dangerous and they should keep themselves to a cave to survive. Considering the end of their neighouring families, he might be justified by most of his family members.

But this shall not be accepted by all, as this irritates the bored and highly adventurous young cavelady known by the name Eep as she keeps looking for an opportunity to do something new and find new things, and when the family falls asleep after dark, she ignores her father’s advice and runs out of the cave when she sees a light moving outside the cave making her feel that the sun has come down. She might have been troubled just as the Greek hero and adventurer Ulysses or Odysseus, just as Lord Alfred Tennyson had mentioned, it little profits an idle king, and same should be the case of a cavegirl. She cannot rest from travel either, and even with an experience which is an absoulute zero, she has decided “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”, and travel beyond the horizons to the end of the world. She is the pathfinder, lightseeker and the follower of the sun, even as they never worshipped the forces of nature. The situation of herself and her family is later described as “not dying” rather than living, by herself. But the other members of the family have been quite happy with that stuff about not dying, the only person with a slight doubt might be the oldes of them all, Eep’s grandmother.

Seeking the source of light which is synonymous to the sun for her, she meets Guy, an intelligent caveboy who doesn’t live in a cave, and neither does he believe in finding such a dark shelter without light. She is incredibly fascinated with the fire he manages to create and is eager to find more, and even own some fire as her own. He tells her about his new finding that the world is going to end, with earthquakes, volcanic erruptions and other not-so-good things and asks her to join him in his journey towards safety where they could survive. She refuses as she thinks about her family and Guy leaves, after giving her a loud noise-making shell to call him if she ever feels the need for help in a world of natural destruction and chaos. Grug, who had been desperately searching for her, finally finds the young lady and brings her back home, and what she tells them about the end of the end of the world is not believed by them due to the fear of the other and the new. But in a few minutes, an earthquake then occurs, leading to everyone running for the cave, only to be saved by Grug moments before their home and the cave is destroyed by huge falling rocks. When they climb over all the destruction, they discover a land with new types of vegetation, lots of colours and greenery, much different from their usual surroundings of rocky and desert-like terrain with no variety.

Grug is forced to take his family into this comparitively darker, but beautiful woods to find a new cave for them to be safe from the new dangers. While becoming aware of the strange world which surrounded them, the family are chased by a big saber-toothed cat and also by a swarm of red, piranha-like birds who act more like insects than good little flying creatures despite of their cuteness. Finding no solution to a possible question of death, Eep uses a bone from an unknown creature to sound a horn similar to that which Guy gave her. Guy is actually quite close to them and runs to them, creates a torch of fire, and scares the birds away at the very last moment. The rest of the family are incredibly impressed by the fire, having never such a light-giving, heat-giving and life-saving thing before, that they almost set fire to the forest playing around with it. After feeling impressed with Guy’s intelligence, or more of his usefulness in a strange world of unpredictable horror, they decides to use his ideas to save them from possible end. Grug puts him locked in a hollow log and carries him, as they travel to a cave of a nearby mountain mentioned by Guy as their final destination where they could be safe. Remember Ice Age: Continental Drift – for it is the same division of the landmasses that is happening in the background.

It is this journey towards the expected salvation that they undertake together, and even as Guy and the family finds themselves separate from each other in many ways, they co-exist and help each other in moving towards a world which is no less than what is undertaken in The Pilgrim’s Progress by Christian in a work which centres itself in his journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (this temporary world filled with devastation), to the “Celestial City” (the world that which is to come a.k.a Heaven) on the top of Mt. Zion. The Guy is the Evangelist, the Interpretor, the Faithful as well as the Hopeful – they are all inserted into one, for his faith is his ideas and intellect, and his hope is his belief in himself as well as in something which is far beyond his comprehension, that is the light or the word of God. But such an interpretation is not easily comprehensible as the movie is not perfected enough in such a way. If the movie’s childishness was lessened without affecting the funny moments or the philosophy, the movie might have been a perfect depiction of a wonderful journey, and a flawless allegory of this world and world which preceeded. But for now, lets enjoy the movie with all its fun and its effective 3D elements without any expectation to tickle the logic, but still staring at the easily visible message of mutual understanding and co-existence, exploration & knowing & accepting the world for all that it is.

Release date: 19th April 2013 (India); 22nd March 2013 (United States)
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Kirk DeMicco & Chris Sanders
Starring (voice): Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Immanuel

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There has been a certain absence of goodness in most of the movies of the last few years of new generation stuff; this absence which has been reclaimed more by another experimental movie which was Amen, and it is once again regained by this world full of goodness in the middle of evil in this movie Immanuel. The word “Immanuel” or “Emmanuel” has been a common Biblical name meaning “God is with us”. This presence of God and His Word happens to have an influence on this movie, which is more powerful than what is seen at first sight, as the strength lies in what is less noticed, and this strength powers the natural world that is conveyed to the audience; for even without them knowing, there is the power of divinity behind the seemingly ordinary goodness. The belief in essential goodness of man has been clearly broken with those movies which glorified pure evil. But this is not something which needs a theory to support the fact, as it has been proven by mankind by centuries of wars, brutal murders and destruction. The global presence of this evil is unquestionable. William Golding had made us believe the same with his Lord of the Flies which powers the belief in inherent evil in man. That tendency to sin innate in all human beings, held to be inherited from Adam and Eve.

As the “Fall of Man” has become more of an excuse for sins rather than something which acts as an influence, this movie comes up with one man who keeps his alignment towards the good. The mankind might be still inherently evil and this evil resides within everyone and could be unleashed at any moment as long as the situation is suitable, with no need for a Hannibal Lector. The dark side of human nature could be as vicious and as terrifying as the evil that exist unknown to man, and even the most innocent of mankind are vulnerable to it – but not our hero, as we welcome the man of goodness, Immanuel. He is no fairy king, halfling, hobbit or anything, but as human as one can be, in a world of lost humanity. He is the biggest surprise in the movie named after himself, and he is no lesser wonder in a world of utter chaos & misery, as the humane nature of humanity survives through him and runs his sacred endurance to the limits. Immanuel is not just a character of Lal Jose’s imagination, but a much needed reason for the salvation of human race – for the saved are less and the damned are many; for the greatest of the fallen ones has multiplied, not by breeding, but by intellect of the wrong kind calling it science and technology; profit and success.

The movie starts with the character of Immanuel working in a small book publishing firm. When the small company is forced to shut down due to the owner having heavy debts and going on a vanishing act, Immanuel and his family find it difficult to go through their regular lives. There are the usual requirements of a home as well as the needs of his son which makes life uneasy for the family. The difficulties he faces forces him to get a job which is not really suitable for someone like him. For a honest, good hearted person like Immanuel, the corporate world is nothing less than the inferno of the deepest level. He is forced completely out of his comfort zone, but he is also not able to quit the job as his family desperately needs the money. Thus he decides to go on as long as he can, and one day he might be able to find enough money to buy a home and get himself and the family out of the rented house. Most of his co-workers are of not much help to him, as they are all competitors in the same field and would use treachery if necessary to keep their levels high. His boss, Jeevan proves to be the biggest problem, as the cruel corporate master and oppressor, nothing less than a feudal lord or a colonizer. The boss’s aim is only to gain maximum profit, even as he talks about the customer being the king.

Remembering The Pursuit of Happyness, it was a movie which glorified this type of life, and the ultimate aim was to meet the deadline and get the target, but this one takes it upside down. Maximizing the client contacts and thus the profits doesn’t really get the job done for Immanuel. He is the kind of person who is ready to give up all of them as a sacrifice for leading a life of truth and sincerity. May be “happyness” was not what Immanuel was looking for, as it was “happiness” in its most stable form. Immanuel always had the needs, but he never over-valued money over the human relations, a total opposite to Jeevan, the latter who is more suitable to be included in the pursuit of “happyness” than “happiness”, more of a pseudo-happiness which takes a physical appearance rather than mental – for it is of this world in all its limited environment. Such a position wouldn’t create anything more than a void within a void, a point which is made clear through the lives of the two main characters in this movie. But the question would be about the point where humanity ends and divinity starts for Immanuel; and that other point where humanity ends and damnation starts for Jeevan, even if it is not a complete process. Such a question creates more doubts than solutions.

Mammootty’s Immanuel is more of a flawless creature of divinity. Even with contradicting philosophical problems created by the man of goodness, there is so much simplicity in his depiction of the character. There is so much ease around this performance, as the character undergoes heavy transformation from his early troubles to corporate frauds and to the final realization that not all dreams come true and most of them really needn’t. Dreams are also meant to stay as they are, and ambition is just another name for greed triggered by vanity and jealousy. There are two sides to everything, and as long as the black and the white are considered, there are Jeevan and Immanuel respectively, but the white always have the option to walk away from the black, not without loss though. Immanuel still doesn’t loss his qualities that makes him what he is, as he helps two characters played by Sukumari and Mukhta, the first one getting the much needed money for her daughter’s marriage after her husband’s death, and the second one for the treatment of cancer. His help extend beyond the office though, with the poor workers from outside the state, all of these creating more rift with Jeevan and making his staying on the job even more risky. But he continues to stay as himself.

Fahadh Faasil’s Jeevan is never outside the game. He is the boss of the game of sales, as well as the brain in a smaller ship of the corporate world. He is never in good terms with Immanuel, who seems to him as his nemesis from the moment he gets his job under him. Caught between profit-making in his job, loving his family and reading the Holy Bible, he is neither here nor there, but manages to keep his dark side going with his attitude towards those who works under him. It is a fantastic performance, even as the character has less screentime compared to Immanuel. Jeevan is also the exact opposite of those characters we saw in Red Wine and Amen, and a comparison to Solomon takes this further down to the abyss reserved for extreme opposites. Reenu Mathews who plays Immanuel’s wife has come up with another performance which is above the line, and really good for a beginner. Devan plays a role like he played in Gulumaal, and it is easy to connect with the role in this one; Mukesh’s role is also a cameo and the same can be said about that of Balachandran Chullikkadu. It can be said that Muktha Elsa George plays an extended cameo with a few appearances.

Bijukuttan, Salim Kumar and Guinness Pakru provides the lighter moments in the movie, and its comedy is all sensible. There is no stupidity or vulgarity associated with it. All these funny elements are not of lower standards either. Thus it moves on as a movie suitable for all, not just for the fans or the family. But it never runs out of its slowness, and never tries to have a look outside the ordinary. If it had done so, this might have reached a new level. But it may still be more comfortable in its own territory which is in this case, the normal side. There is nothing here like what kept the audience glued to Diamond Necklace – instead, this is just the story of one good human who managed to keep his goodness even as there were so many opportunities for him to lose it along with his soul. This movie is also a story of morality – it preaches and it does so with perfection; not as perfect as one would expect in theory, but as perfect as a human with all its imperfections could manage to do. The goodness needs to be generated in a society which is plagued by lies, and may Immanuel be a good model for the people who fails to deliver truth when it is most needed. The movie’s alignment towards pure goodness is to be appreciated. God is with this movie for sure.

Release date: 5th April 2013
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Mammootty, Fahadh Faasil, Reenu Mathews, Sukumari, Salim Kumar, Guinness Pakru, Sunil Sukhada, Ramesh Pisharody, Bijukuttan, Balachandran Chullikkadu, Muktha Elsa George, Mukesh, Devan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Oblivion

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It was about six or seven years ago, that the Vampire Bat landed on a game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and he landed on his broken tooth which made him as addicted to it, as Count Dracula is to his coffin. This sequel to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and the predecessor of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had shocked him in a good way, like no other game had before, and his wish was to write a review on it, giving it 100/100 along with Mass Effect, for providing him with that world, his second life where he actually lived, died, resurrected and got beheaded/shot on the head – well, he loved these two games so much that he finished it, as he wanted to that right from the beginning with no rest. For years, the Vampire Bat wished for the movie adaptations of these two, especially of the first one which was his mythical/fantasy world of chivalry compared to the inter-star battles and interactions of the second. But he has been disappointed for long, and here what he get is a movie of the same name as the Oblivion game, with a setting similar to the Mass Effect game. No, the movie doesn’t resemble both of these in story or theme; but this coming together of the elements of these two games is what came to the mind of this nocturnal soul when the first time he saw the movie poster, and he wouldn’t have dared not to share it.

The awesomeness of these two games are clearly visible in this movie though, but not in a way which has similarities. In those games, we could travel anywhere, but coming into the movie, it is a limited world which follows an alien invasion which nearly destroyed the Earth. After the devastation of moon which caused horrible natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis and terrible climatic variations. The land is left uninhabitable with the mankind being transported to their new habitat. Former Marine commander Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a drone mechanic who repairs flying machines with advanced weaponry used for defence against alien lifeforms, and is also one of the last few humans stationed on the dying planet with his co-worker Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) living in a baseless tower-like structure thousands of feet above the Earth, but she is still no Rapunzel, and neither is he her prince or adventurer, something which shall be revealed later. Most of their memories are erased, and the knowledge about their past stays locked at the moment. For now, their relationship would seem to reveal that they are in love and might have been even married.

They are part of an operation to clean up the remaining forces of the alien invasion who are referred to as scavengers and also extract the planet’s remaining resources and are due to join the rest of humanity on Saturn’s moon Titan. Jack and Victoria maintain contact with civilization through a video link with their commander, whom they recognize as Sally (Melissa Leo) who is their symbol of hope and salvation, an escape from a world which is almost a wasteland and surrounded by radio active areas. Jack suffers from dreams which are more like flashbacks, having images of New York before the alien invasion and an unknown beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko). Meanwhile, Jack rescues an unknown woman from a crashed spaceship as she was encased in a sleeping capsule, in a state of hibernation/hypersleep, and she turns out as the woman from his dreams. But they are captured by a group of humans led by Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman) who reveals to him that there are no aliens on the planet and it is the humans who are hunted by the drones. He requests Jack to reprogram one of the captured drones. But Jack refuses. Malcolm then tells Jack to visit the radio active areas which are restricted to him, and there all his doubts will be cleared.

With a spoiler alert, this paragraph shall proceed. It is revealed that the mystery woman is Jack’s wife, Julia who was with Jack and Victoria when they approached the alien ship, before Jack sending her and the other crew of the ship who are in hypersleep, into the space by detaching the backside of the ship, keeping them away from the aliens. Later it is found out that Jack and Victoria are cloned and there is a large number of clones of both, and they were not born, but grown – a reminder of The Matrix and The Daybreakers, I guess. Their supposed to be passionate relationship is also a product of these alien method of growth and one photo of them together. The alien shown here is more of a super computer, may be sent by the possible original aliens, masters of technology. This monolithic structure is clearly logical in its talks and even uses the images known to the originals of the clones so that they could be made to believe and obey. It creates a little dystopia to the group of two, or the groups of two to be exact. They are actually oppressed and are made to fight against their own race by naming them scavenger aliens. But, thanks to the imperfection of the humans, the imperfect cloning technology of the aliens and also a possible divine providence, Jack becomes somewhat the original again and leads the fight against his former employers. The solution would surely be much better than using a computer virus in Independence Day style.

The mystery starts and ends with Tom Cruise’s Jack – may be brings something from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall. We have had so many Jacks, from Jack Reacher to Jack the Giant Slayer, Jack Frost, Jack Sparrow, Jack and Jill etc. Here, this one is more of a thinker and a lover of nature, which makes Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome catch his attention, and he has quite a good collection of books including Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which he has kept in a small house in the middle of greenery unaffected by the destruction that has gone around for years. He is no parrot and this poetic imagination and love for literature makes him different, and may be he evolved thus after his cloning and erasing of memory. How can one not remember what happened in the movie The Island? Such a thing is perfectly applicable to an alien technology. Well, there is no limit for fiction, and if too many limits are placed, it would lose its right to be called fiction. It would become closer to reality, which would still spawn the question, who’s reality? Now that would be something better left untouched. This is another one of Tom Cruise’s memorable characters for sure, even as he may not be the perfect protagonist, and even if he may be many, numbering in millions. He seems to have fitted into the character with ease.

Jack’s should be existential. He should have been that confused in that wasteland, and also when he had realized that he was just a clone or a copy of someone else. There was that redundant identity crisis and those dreams which seemed to perpetuate nothing. His life gets more and more absurd every time he tries to get answers, as all the answers lead to him finally being a random copy. He had waited for salvation, the firmament which awaited him in the moon of Saturn, but that too is crushed. Now what would remain for him to end as a nihilist, but he has the last fight on his list, as he decides to help the human rebels, and in that process, even sacrifice himself. It is through that loss of life, that the Earth could be redeemed. But who needs an alien invasion to destroy the planet, and considering what is done to it, who might be the aliens? Some are alien to the planet and also to their fellow human beings, and in that case, aren’t these aliens with a powerful inverted pyramid computer better as they keep the human race alive? There is the oppression factor, but is that so much of an oppression considering what humans have done to their own kind for centuries and still continue to do the same in a worse manner even while calling themselves modern and technologically advanced?

Morgan Freeman is as solid as ever, and the two women, Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough goes through their sequences as the characters themselves. The former is the emotional lover and the latter the passionate lover. Still, their roles are limited despite the screen presence. Another thing is that the CGI and the special effects out-did the beautiful women. As Jack “wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills” in his mosquito-like helicopter (like that futuristic helicopter they called Raptor in Unreal Tournament 2004), the visually stunning world is brought to light. There is destruction clearly visible, and the signs of the civilization included destroyed buildings, ships and bridges half submerged in sand, never-ceasing smoke from some areas and so on. There are gaps leading to somewhat an abyss between a group of buildings held together by soil or may be in their own centre – a path to Hades and Persephone, half-destroyed structures which look like different things all together, as well as whatever is underground and underwater. To add to it, there is the beautiful area of nature with the small house. Oblivion is an experience, and a lesson to mankind, as well as a reminder of the power of art and literature – rooted on that creativity which is more important than logic, for science can win brutal battles, but to win the war, you need art and literature, as they heal the soul better and people need their wounds to heal and their scars to fade after a major disaster.

Release date: 13th April 2013
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Zoë Bell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Commando

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Today, something exceeded the expectations of the Vampire Bat. No, it was not that line of expectations built with continuous gunfire by the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of the same name, nor was it that thinner line of thread woven by that arachnid of my favourite computer games of those “twenty four hour gaming” days – Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty. With undeserving apologies to all those who misunderstood, this is a Hindi movie, product of Bollywood with a difference. Coming back to that arachnid about which I was talking about, this one belongs to its genre, even as this is no game to be controlled by the audience, but it is still one in its essence. It is surely one of the best action movies – I would rather leave a little doubt about saying it though, as this is not the kind of comparable action movie, for it has brought variety with it which makes it different. No, it doesn’t make it a pariah to the action-adventure-thriller group of genre. It is the same, but it has actually held on to what it is, unlike most of the Bollywood movies which strays away from the core or concentrate on too much shooting or slow motion melee combats which are more intolerable than all the over hyped movies like Agneepath and Krissh which went on to become super hits only on fans – but our movie is a silent killer, and the film itself is a commando as well as a hit-man.

As we move out of the nonsense which was Krissh and the void which was Agneepath, this movie takes over. In a world where movies can sell the nonsense of nothingness in a void with one celebrity, this movie is a boon and a redeemer. But it is still not the right product for your imagination on perfection. First of all, it doesn’t have a powerful story line to boast about. It starts off, goes on and ends with no surprises – it surely has no rocket fuel in it. There are also so many elements which can be compared to Tango Charlie (the least similarity), Koyla, Agneepath and Bodyguard. The story moves along predictable lines, and the element of suspense is missing even in the most thrilling moments. The story of Captain Karanvir (Vidyut Jamwal), a commando begins with him in Chinese captivity. As the Chinese government tries to take advantage of the situation, and brands him as an Indian spy, the Indian Government feels the pressure and chooses to simply deny his existence, despite of the fact that he has proved on multiple occasions as a valuable asset to the military forces, and in spite of his superior officer’s strong comments against it.

He escapes from China and on his way back, at the Himachal – Punjab border, he meets and saves a girl, Simrit (Pooja Chopra) who is escaping from gundas. Amrit Kanwal Singh (Jaideep Ahlawat) is the master and the owner of all illegal activities of the village, and it is from his wish to marry Simrit that all the trouble for the girl starts with her running away from home with the support of her helpless parents and relatives. Karanvir is forced by Simrit to accompany her in the bus to which he reluctantly agrees. But, the bus come up against a roadblock and finding himself outnumbered and nowhere to escape, he surprises and kicks the villain and jumps off the bridge with Simrit into a river, finally ending up in a forest. But finding himself embarrased by the former commando, Amrit Kanwal Singh decides to pursue them and make an example out of Karanvir so that he can keep the fear in the minds of the villagers going, as his failure would raise questions from the oppressed, and might lead to a challenge to his supremacy which he doesn’t want. There begins the high-voltage chase with a few moments of romantic touch. There, the numbers game of the cruel and brutal villain will meet the commando tactics of the trained hero, and it is a situation where there could be only one winner.

The movie belongs to Vidyut Jamwal, and there is no surprise in it. It was much expected with his first movie as the leading actor and with him placed in his familiar territory of powerful action and adventure. His roles in Thuppaki and Billa II as well as Force might have been incredibly negative, but here, he his a virtuous, patriotic commando of “rough and tough” chivalry. He has transformed from the powerful evil antagonist to the popular lead protagonist in this movie. That brings to us our new action star, already hailed as the next action hero. It does make one curious about what his role would be, in the upcoming action flick, Bullett Raja. This can’t help taking one back to Force, that 2011 Bollywood action movie directed by Nishikanth Kamath and starring John Abraham with Genelia D’Souza in the lead roles. As Vidyut Jamwal played the dreaded gangster, he was a force to reckon with, and his fight with John Abraham was the highlight of the movie. The confrontation between the two left the audience with a clue of what to expect from this rising star, whether they liked the movie or not. A movie with him and John Abraham on the same side would be a treat to watch, even as the verdict on this movie itself is currently on the balance with the side of success weighing much more.

The advertisement said that it is from the makers of Force and Singham, and we would never cease to see a few things of the former in this movie. Taking the “Khwabon Khwabon” song of teh John Abraham starrer itself, the background of that song would seem to be similar to that of the first romantic song of this one too, as only the audible side differs as well as the pairs. The other major difference would be that the hero of this movie had separated the other pair by murdering the lady in the other movie – so much for comparisons! But when you see a poster of Force, and later Vidyut Jamwal throwing a gunda through it and coming out through it, there is that feeling that we have another John Abraham in him. It wouldn’t be strange if one feels that the looks of John Abraham in that movie was also suited to the role of a commando. Coming back to Vidyut Jamwal, he conquers the audience more by the action sequences than anything else – to add to it, there are the one-liners, a few of them. To be frank, this was never a role which he couldn’t handle, as this commando is of best quality, and even if questions are asked and criticized, there is not much to take away from this man as an action hero of the highest quality.

From our skilled action hero, the scene has to shift, and we see that Pooja Chopra has a dream debut, playing a character of mighty significance, even if being the damsel in distress is the first thing to be noticed about her. Technically, it might not be her debut either, but on the intellectual ground of thoughts, it should be. Considering this as an action movie, the songs and the romantic side are of lesser concern, and might even damage the pace, but her character doesn’t really have that strong a romantic side, as she faces adversity and tragedy – but there is the presence of lighter moments. As the lady who never gives up, not when she is haunted by a villain and his minions, and not even when all hopes seems to have lost with the commando thrown down the cliffs, she hold on to the hopes, for the one “Karan”, like the mother hopes for Karan and Arjun in that movie which shall not be named right now. She is brave enough, but not George Bernard Shaw’s Joan, and also is the romantic one, but not William Shakespeare’s Juliet – but this is as much as needed in an action movie as long as the romance factor is concerned; in the charm, beauty and the innate cheerfulness, she conquers the hearts of the audience, and for a newcomer, and for non-action heroine in an action movie, she has done more than just enough.

Jaideep Ahlawat’s villain is as close to pure evil as possible for a weak man who always needs his minions all around him to support him and save him from a possible attack – more of the damned causing distress rather than our beautiful, gorgeous damsel in distress. His white eye balls which resemble the moon-blinked eyes of the Owls of Ga’Hoole seem to reflect his soul’s emptiness, its darkness eclipsing the outer eyes. He is a deadly force – more psychotic than anything else, matched only by the power of his nemesis. The beauty of nature, the sun rising, the beams of the sun getting into the forest, the river with the green background and the white mountains at a distance, they all create a feeling of beautiful mystery – where the commando is the predator for the villain’s team, for this time, the roles are reversed. For such an action hero, this reversal is a boon. The movie is recommended for being faithful to its genre in a remarkable manner, and for the people who search for the story lines of extreme depth and strong innovation, there will be other movies – for the ones searching for a heavy does of emotions which make them rain tears, there will be many more. For now, there is our own risk taking, gravity defying, rock solid commando who is in a familiar territory.

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Release date: 13th April 2013
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Dilip Ghosh
Starring: Vidyut Jamwal, Pooja Chopra, Jaideep Ahlawat, Jagat Rawat, Ishita Vyas
@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Olympus Has Fallen

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There are a few characters we find difficult to forget. One of them might be that NYPD detective John McClane makes more than just an impact in a Los Angeles skyscraper. It was Die Hard and spanned four sequels, the last one being the most critically panned edition. The first of the series was one of those movies which ruled my childhood, and what Olympus Has Fallen managed to do is to remind me of that one. It is not really a bad thing, as Die Hard never really had a deserving sequel, and this one could have been the closest to being the same. There are terrorists of different nationalities, the setting and the type of building vary by a heavy margin and both the hostages and the redeemer are different, other than that, there might seem a similarity in style and the attitude of the hero in both these movies. With the support of the new technology and the experience gained by the new age movie makers, this one has almost become a worthy successor, not just by the skills, but also by divine providence. This movie’s story is actually an opportunity to die hard, not just for the redeemer, but also for the terrorists – both sides have their own chances, as they have chosen to take the risk.

The name was the first thing to catch my attention. There is something “fallen”, long time after I hear that word, for the second movie of Transformers had it in the name, and so do we hear it relating to the fallen angels of the firmament. But it is not someone who has fallen this time, for it is something. Just for a moment, forgetting the fact that Mount Olympus is also the name of a mountain in the Washington state, lets go to the other Mount Olympus whom we are more familiar about, the highest mountain in Greece, hailed in Greek mythology as the dwelling place of the Twelve Olympian gods of the ancient Greek world ruled over by the most powerful God of thunder and lightning, Zeus himself. According to the writing of the legendary writer Homer, Olympus was that great and divine that it was not shaken by winds nor was wet with rain, and never did snow fall upon it. So it was said about the abode of the twelve; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Hermes, and here we have another Olympus, another seat of supreme power, the White House of the United States.

The hero of the story and another form of John McClane is Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), the lead Secret Service agent assigned with the United States President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) whose wife dies in an accident – an incident which Banning fails to prevent even as he manages to save the President’s life. Eighteen months later, Banning works at the Treasury Department, not separated by the scars of the incident which blinded his senses. But he is still not separated from his skills. His office is not too far away from the White House and lives a quiet life with his wife Leah (Radha Mitchell) after being demoted. Meanwhile, during a meeting between the heads of the United States and South Korea, Korean-led guerrilla forces, aided by some people from the inside itself, launch a perfectly planned air and ground attack which surprises and even shocks the defence and leads to the capture of the White House. The ease with which they achieves this rather surprising, and the deaths which occur in this assault, especially of civilians is more of a thing of terror than strangeness.

Asher and several top officials are held hostage in the White House bunker, where the South Korean prime minister is killed by the same terrorists. The attack has been lead by Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune), a wanted terrorist wishing for a reunification of Korea. He wishes to force the United States army to withdraw from Korea. He also wants to detonate all of America’s nuclear weapons in their own soil and destroy the country by turning it into a nuclear wasteland, but for this, he will need a few access codes, and in achieving this, he will go to any limit, murder being just a simple thing of no significance. Meanwhile, Banning manages to get into the White House, and begins his own mission of saving the President’s son who might be somewhere in the house and murdering the terrorists one by one before finally rescuing all the captives including the President himself. It is his miracle and his second chance given by fate on the way to redemption, his chance to become another John McClane, into which this character successfully transforms into. In the objective, he is aided by Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), the Speaker of the House and the Acting President through earphone.

Gerard Butler is at his best since his King Leonidas of 300; as he improves upon Gamer & unleashes the new action hero who is likable to most of the audience if not all of them. Mike Banning is the new John McClane, and there is no point in the movie where you can doubt it with full heart. He saves the day, and his world as well as of others, and he is alone in this job. He looks vulnerable on so many occasions, and is still strong throughout. He had his ups and downs in life and career. He has more courage and love for action than anybody else – he wishes to die hard. Radha Mitchell’s role as his wife is limited, and Morgan Freeman’s role is not that much as expected considering the posters. Rick Yune’s villains is successful without doubt, not in the mission but with the audience. Aaron Eckhart’s President works quite well. The best thing is that there is no silly romance, and even the screentime for married couple discussing future is pretty much low. There is no slowness in the movie, and even when the situation seem to calm down, there is a certain amount of thrilling factor ready to explode.

The movie can be termed as unrealistic and violent as most of the others of the same genre, but there are limits which the movie hasn’t crossed, those which have contributed to the success of this movie for the common audience. Still the dose of patriotism and CGI might be a little high. The action and the blood reminds one of more than one first person shooters of the 2000s, for I shall not speak about 2010s and what is to come later. But, this is no computer game – still, the destruction is immense, not just with the bombing and shooting, but also with the two people of fearlessness on both sides, of good and evil, of saving and destroying. There might be less memorable dialogues in this one considering what one should be expecting, but the avoidance of unnecessary dialogues also contributes to the success of this movie, for it rests on Gerard Butler’s character as what he is, rather than what he pretends to be, and what he appears to be. In that case, he is better than John McClane, even if not more interesting for the masses. The fall of the Olympus is one thing and the rise of the titan is another, and that titan in Butler as Banning, for he has to achieve what the Olympian gods couldn’t, not by fighting them or himself, but by saving his own Olympus from the common outsider enemy.

As the upcoming movie White House Down also seems to deal with the same theme of a takeover of the White House, one has to wait and see which one ends up being superior. But for now, Olympus Has Fallen keeps the title of being the movie which has taken this theme to new heights. Even as it is more of a Die Hard happening in White House, there is no point where this can be seen as a thing of lesser energy or imagination. There has been no creativity which was left in the gutters with this movie, as it had that impressive style of taking the audience by surprise, at least in this part of the world where this is to be considered as a highly under-rated and a not much screened movie. The presence of the new 3D version of Jurassic Park and G. I. Joe: Retaliation‘s hesitation to leave might be the main reasons. But as even Life of Pi hasn’t really left some of the theatres here, there is surely no surprise about. But the fact remains that it is time these movies get their due, even if they are not hyped enough and has no stars who are popular enough in this part of the world.

Release date: 22nd March 2013 (USA); 5th April 2013 (India)
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell, Rick Yune

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Rise of the Guardians

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There was a movie of the late December 2012 which belonged more to 2013 than 2012, and as the 2013 Movies List does include a movie which was released in the previous year, but was watched in the theatres later, including this story of the wonderful guardians and getting another special, honorary position for it shall do no harm. This might have arrived earlier in the United States, but in India, it came late for good – for Christmas, which made the occasion even better. This animated movie tells a story about the popular characters of the ancient beliefs, here referred to as the Guardians – Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Sandman, who are forced to enlist a much less interested and not-so-caring about the world, the seemingly selfish Jack Frost due to the advice of the Man in the Moon, to stop Bogeyman from immersing the world in darkness and change all the dreams of children into nightmares, with the first step being the destruction of all sources of belief, faith and hope. The movie is supposed to be based on the American author William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood book series and the short film The Man in the Moon by Joyce and Reel FX.

The spirit of winter, Jack Frost is raised from a frozen lake by the Man in the Moon with superpowers, but he is unseen in the world and shall remain so as he is not believed in, and all of his memories from his former life are gone. Only his name is known to the world and to him. Jack Frost has been popularly known to be the personification of frost and cold weather and his roots might be in the Norse or Anglo-Saxon system of beliefs. The most well known presence of Jack in literature might be in L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. This work by the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz might be the closest depiction of this character to the one in the movie. The other depictions can be left behind for now, and the stress is to be kept in what he is in the movie. He is a playful spirit who is hidden from the sights of people as he is not believed in, unlike the other guardians. But he plays pranks with the kids and lives as mysterious spirit with control over snow and ice. He is haunted throughout the movie with an identity crisis and his sadness and anger is not just because he is not seen by others, but also because he doesn’t know who he is, or his purpose. It is as if he never existed and never makes a difference.

It is the Man in the Moon who changes that life, for he instructs the Guardians to induct Jack Frost as a new Guardian in order to combat the threat of the powerful Bogeyman. There would be the question who this divine presence might be, and the answer could not be restricted to just one. It is just the moon that is shown, and there is the divine power which never hesitates to show the signs. From raising Jack Frost from the dead, to giving him his extraordinary powers and making the spirit a Guardian – all these is planned by that supreme power. But the person never speaks or make a direct impact on the world below on Earth, and it is with silence that the man speaks, most of the time. He is both the observer and the decision maker. His impact is not temporary, but permanent, and his power is not easily visible, but hidden. He might be one of those images and faces you see on the moon every day. He is surely no Neil Armstrong or Edwin Aldrin. As one finds it easy to believe what the science say about moon and all the details about it without being seen, it is not that hard to believe in a man in the moon – it is simpler and more believable than all the theories of science. May be that round thing you see every night on the sky is not really a natural satellite, but just some random lie invented by science just to make a good fictional story out of a white dot of heaven, and so might be the solar system, galaxies, meteors, comets, planets and whatever they might be.

As we now know that there is no moon as the science describes it, lets go to the next big character, the Bogeyman, also known as Pitch Black – the king of nightmares all set to become the emperor of all dreams, both good and bad. Wasn’t he the one nocturnal creature whom you feared without hesitation during your childhood? Didn’t he force you to look under the bed each and every time you wake up? No it rarely happened to me, as I had chosen to fall on the floor and sleep at times. Meanwhile, our villain is a strong and powerful one who has become better and meaner as he is powered by the fear of the children, and his nightmares cover all the good dreams of the world. His strives not on belief of love, but belief of fear. He feeds on the fear and thus on the souls of his victims, creating better nightmares every time. His aim is to destroy the Guardians one by one, by first getting rid of the faith and belief of children in them. He chooses them one by one and with his ever-increasing power driven by the dark horses of fear, he goes through his mission of darkness and pure evil which was hidden under an underground bed for a long time.

The Easter Bunny is the angry young man of the story and the short-tempered star of the Guardians – in simple words, and in ancient beliefs, that one rabbit bringing Easter eggs. This one is not the cute little one though, as he is a fighter who is always ready for action. He is not that friendly with Jack Frost in the beginning either. Well, he still brings the Easter eggs, and so that should be okay. Our Santa Claus, also referred to as North, is the more likable of characters, with his tattooed arms and funny dialogues. He is more of the leader of Guardians and he lives as a happy old man in his castle in the North Pole with Yetis and Christmas Elves. He has all he needs for Christmas including the flying reindeer driven chariot, and the gifts. He would deliver the presents, including toys and candy to all of the nice children in the world, as long as he can keep the Bogeyman away. As the movie was released just a few days before Christmas in India, the importance of Santa is further more – well, he is the most well-known of the team for sure, and the only one who can claim to be known enough might be the Bogeyman, and Easter Bunny can only claim the third place.

Then comes the Tooth Fairy, the mythical tooth collector. She is half human and half hummingbird and is assisted by a large number of little fairies who are just like herself, only incredibly small. According to the popular beliefs (which I came to know about only a decade ago) when a child loses a baby tooth and places it beneath the bed pillow, the Tooth Fairy will visit while the child sleeps, replacing the lost tooth with a small gift. Here in the movie, she collects the children’s teeth, and they hold their most precious memories during their life on Earth. She also has the role of storing them in her palace to return them when they are needed the most. She and her minions have an instant liking for Jack and his teeth. But her palace is the place which is first attacked by the Bogeyman who finds the memories very interesting. Well, I have always wondered where the dentists keep all those tooth which are taken out. May be they are given to the tooth fairies. I wonder if they keep that half-a-tooth of mine which was broken while eating “Chakka Varuthathu” in a special bottle. The Sandman is the next Guardian – according to the legends, the one who brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children while they sleep. Here he does not speak, but communicates through sand images that appears above his head. He is the exact opposite of Bogeyman, as the master of all good dreams.

These are our five guardians, one villain and the one divine element. Other than destroying evil, what the movie suggests is the importance of belief and saving the magic of childhood, both being destroyed by modernity. It tells the need for the power of wonder, faith, hope and belief in an artificial world where it is slowly, but surely disappearing, and are replaced by a void which can be filled by the wastes of hell, as inferno’s own dumping yard where no recycling of souls or bad deeds takes place. The machinery of the movie is without rust, as the magical 3D and beautiful animation tries the best to keep it working and to make this my favourite animated movie watched in a theatre – no disrespect to Kungfu Panda, but this one hit me better, in a good way. The Polar Express did a good job in re-affirming faith and belief, and Rise of the Guardians have done the same in an even better way. On first look, this might seem to be for kids, and there is no denying the fact that it could be a combination of X-Men and The Avengers for kids, but one can’t also deny that there has never been a more suitable animated family movie which is enjoyable to people of almost any age – not to forget the philosophical undercurrent which has its morality element running.

Release date: 21st November 2012 (USA); 21st December 2012 (India)
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Peter Ramsey
Starring (voice): Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Table No. 21

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There are times when one has break the narrative and the flow, and come up with something which he missed in his writing, something which deserved to be there, but faded into the void even before threatening to make an impact. This would need a flashback and some scratching of the memories, and here comes one movie which was left out thinking that it was released in 2012 while remembering the dates from February when this blog was started, but actually the date was 4th January 2013 – but considering how good a movie it is, there is the need for it to be present here, and here I add this one to the middle of the others, almost like inserting the past into the present even as 2013 as a whole could be considered the present. This can be more considered as a guest, or a former tenant who couldn’t stay in the house enough to make it known to the neighbours and the people of the town or village. Well, Table No. 21 is much more than a simple tenant – it is more of an owner of its own genre, something which would be revealed more as we progress. Welcome to the group, forgotten movie – for you are to be remembered in this post with a status as good as the others, as belonging to the present, for you deserve it; this is more of a honorary status.

I am being lenient on this one considering my ignorance which was inflicted upon this so brutally, even as the brutality affects not even Mickey Mouse. The question would be more like how much brutal this movie can be – and how cruel the game master can be. Well, this is about a game, and that much should be certain for everyone who has read something about the movie. The unemployed couple Vivaan (Rajeev Khandelwal) and Siya (Tena Desae) gets a chance to visit Fiji. To add to the glory of visiting the beautiful islands, it is their wedding anniversary. But all the beauty tends to take a wrong turn as they encounter Mr. Khan (Paresh Rawal), the owner of the resort who invites the couple to take part in a live game show named Table No. 21 which offers a breath-taking amount of 10 million Fijian Dollars as the prize money – something which would convert to crores of rupees. The rules are simple – a total of eight questions will be asked regarding their personal life for which they have to answer truthfully with an yes or no, and have to do the task assigned to each question. They are not allowed to quit in the middle of the game, and neither can they skip a question or its related task. Their mobiles are taken away and are surrounded by cameras and henchmen.

The questions first seem very easy to answer and the confidence level reaches new heights for the couple, as if they were made for this game and all their financial needs are soon to be met. Their doubts about this is an idea to make fun of them, slowly vanishes. The first question about their love and the task to kiss in public was of no trouble. The question concerning them knowing each other and the task of Siya eating non-vegetarian is also of not too much difficulty. The question concerning manipulating others and the task of instant manipulation creates no tension even if it leads to slight suspicions which they leave behind thinking about the huge amount of money which awaited them. Then comes the difficult parts, the need for blood which is the first dangerous and life threatening situation of the game, as Vivaan answers he would go to any extent to save his love – the point is that here he has to fight his tendency to faint at seeing blood to save her by filling a bottle full of his blood and use it as a key to unlock a glass cage short of oxygen. Even in an unfamiliar territory, as the need had arisen, the task is completed right in time.

The question of love continues, and the task involves shaving Siya’s head to which they protest, but is brought back into the game by threatening, with the lady ending up with a shaved head. The next question is about domestic violence, and Siya is asked to return a slap she recieved from him with full force, a point when they realize that the master of the game knows more about them than they thought, even the most personal details. The task involving Vivaan vandalizing a random car puts him in trouble as he gets beaten up as well as getting almost caught by police, and what it does worse is when he asks help and thus breaks the rules landing his wife in trouble. He arrives in time to save his wife, but that is not the last of the troubles, as the game goes on, the situation becomes even more strange and horrible, and they realize that their past is being reminded in a horrid manner. But the true realization comes only the end, and it is where the game master is justified and the hidden truth of the past is revealed to the audience. But this revelation never overpowers the thrills and the social message, as the balance is successfully maintained. An another message could be said to be against the greed and never-ending avarice, the desire for easy money and also about the meaninglessness of reality shows.

Parwesh Rawal seems to have the movie working like a flawless machine with his performance as the game master. He is the most hospitable resort owner, the sadistic manipulator and a loving father, three in one. Even as he has the second personality during most of the movie and may be before the horrid twist happens to the game, there is no loss of the power of trio in himself. Rajeev Khandelwal does his character in a rightly truthful manner. There is no exaggeration of the personality and there is nothing unnecessary added to it; the simplicity in complexity attributed to the character is lesser only to that of the game master – he traverses from the inflictor or pain to the vulnerable one at the recieving end. Tena Desae as Siya – has blended in well from the beach, bikinis and love to fear, anxiety and absolute horror. From having a shaved head to being in one of the worst situations for a damsel in distress at a strip club, from the passionate and loyal lover to losing her character and trust, from the photogenic lady in bikini to the oppressor who became the oppressed, it is quite a powerful performance adding to the strength of the film. There is no flat, static character among these, for they have all gone through the much needed changes.

The movie rests on the three, and if we add the next two important characters, the whole suspense would be lost. As the clues, there is the college were these two met and fell in love and there is the case of ragging. There is no loss of intensity in that flashback story too. The bottomline of the movie is its message that ragging is not a joke, but a crime. The title of the movie comes from the article 21, on the protection of life and liberty. The message is as powerful as the movie, and the use of flashbacks has worked perfectly to suit the overall mood of the movie, and the whole game is more or less a recreation of their cruel deeds at the college as the seniors. Even the uneasy silence and the absence of descriptions in the movie makes an impact and the whole setup which leads to one powerful social message is the ultimate triumph of the movie. But, the message is not used as a propaganda. A joke is no joke that causes harm to others and having fun at the expense of others is both a sin and a crime – this is the best way it can be summarized. The injection of reality into unreality in a sincere manner as to create the feeling of truth – it is surely not something many horror movies desire to achieve and not something any popular horror movie has come up with so far.

The greatest advantage of this movie is that it surprises you – right from the beginning to end; almost every moment has a certain amount of unpredictability associated with it, sometimes with the twists of plot and sometimes with the performance of the cast. There are lesser moments when it would seem that this one has lost its gasoline, but then it comes up with an alternative fuel which takes over and makes this one run better. The biggest of the twist comes up with the social message which is the most striking element of the movie and how it is unveiled is a method of slow, step by step ignition leading to the big catastrophe of ultimate success. There was rarely a moment when the movie was not ahead of the audience, creating that element of spooky suspense, and by the end, one comes to know how much ahead it really is, in a world where the suspense horror movies never really got its due – suffering from a typical horror movie rights violation due to some too-natural or never-natural romantic love stories which never really deserved to be called movies; therefore this is your welcome break and not to be missed even for a chance to go to Mars and be imprisoned by the Martians virtually created by the lies of science which people adore and would never cease to believe.

Release date: 4th January 2013
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Aditya Datt
Starring: Paresh Rawal, Tena Desae, Rajeev Khandelwal, Dhruv Ganesh

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.