5 Sundarikal

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5 Sundarikal which can be translated as 5 Beauties, is that romantic anthology film which might have had its existence to thank the 2009 anthology movie Kerala Cafe. There were ten stories in that one and here it is cut to half with five, and only Anwar Rasheed doing a story in both the anthologies. The Vampire Bat would not agree to the title though, as it would be left to him to say which one is the beauty and which one is the beast. The only suitable title would have been 5 Females, and fighting with three other movies which has interested the crowds, even the name of a movie has to add to the total interest generated. Even in my case, this is the first time I get a Malayalam movie with a Malayalam name to review, and the “5” is to be read as Malayalam “anchu” and not “five” as far as I know. Watching stupidity like Raanjhanaa is clearly out of the equation and this movie having five stories instead of one increases the probability of getting at least two good ones; so there is no doubt which Indian movie one is supposed to go this week. There is the power of five compared to the power of six in ASK a.k.a Aaru Sundarimaarude Katha, and the obsession with beauties continue, this time with more success, and one beauty judged less is always the truth gained further. Whether it should be “sundarikal” or “sundarimaar” is a question to be asked to satisfy the quest to find grammatical errors, and I would go with the former.

Sethulakshmi: directed by Shyju Khalid :: [59/100] :: No, there isn’t going to be a total score based on the average of these stories, as that should annihilate the purpose of this movie as an anthology as well as this review as a subjective reality. There would be separate worlds for each story and for the movie, there would be another reality of totality, to which this simple story adds on first coming as an adaptation of M. Mukundan’s short story, Photo. The story of two school kids is shown in its own natural innocence until their world-changing event happens. The simplicity turns itself into the tough theme which the story has to deal with, and that is the place and may be where it scores. There is the depth of evil portrayed in a way that will haunt one with innocence. But the question remains if this belongs to this movie, as the presence of a beauty or even pseudo-beauty here itself negates the need for this story in the movie and all the purpose it would have served, and however one tries to look at this, a more deserving platform for this one would have been Kerala Cafe, and might have been the second best story in that movie after Anjali Menon’s Happy Journey. It is kind of misplaced here, and this might have been added here to arouse the curiosity of the viewers as well as to create that new generation element – otherwise this among the other stories is like Roger Federer guarding the goal post for the Spanish national football team.

Isha: directed by Sameer Thahir :: [79/100] :: Along with the former one, this story also has the scope of becoming a one and half to two hours of good cinema. It stars Nivin Pauly as the thief a.k.a the Santa, and Isha Sharvani who makes her debut as the beauty of this segment, and undoubtedly the smartest and the most charming of them all. They start off as two strangers and with many things in common, and the question would be what they end up to be, and that is the surprise, that twist of plot which raises the story from its existence just inches about the average level. Nivin Pauly has remained similar to what we saw in Thattathin Marayathu, as this time he has another Isha, Isha Sharvani instead of Isha Talwar, another lady from the North, and this female lead does a lot more than the other one did. This story and what is to follow are the only two segments which are actually centered on the beauties, and this is the only segment in which the beauty is in control and remains so throughout most of the story. One has to say that this one has the best of the lighter moments too, and the claps which came after this segment are well deserved. The whole story is centered on the two leading characters, and there we see the most beautiful lady and the one romantic hero; they make this work like nobody else could have.

Gouri: directed by Aashiq Abu :: [10/100] :: This is the weak link in the whole movie, and without this, the movie could have been declared the best anthology in Malayalam movie industry ever. This is Aashiq Abu’s worst so far, and from what we have seen of him already, it might remain his worst. Biju Menon is there as the husband with nothing to do that really matters to the story. Tini Tom and Rimi Tomy makes an unnecessary visit, as Kavya Madhavan who plays the wife expresses her need to have a kid. Kavya is there as if she is to be that strange character who is more unsure about herself and the world around her than Popeye without his spinach. Jayasurya also makes a small appearance thus making this one the most powerful segment in terms of celebrity power, but in performance, it is a dynamite of the next generation which failed to blow. This is a painfuel half an hour of torture, which could have been avoided or may be replaced. It is surprising that it came from the same director who gave us Da Thadiya in the same year. This might even make Estragon and Vladimir say that there is something to be done – sorry, Samuel Beckett. Kammath and Kammath and Lokpaal were not that bad now, as you go through this one. This story in the middle shows us the middle finger, but fortunately it was preceded and followed by brilliant segments.

Kullante Bharya: directed by Amal Neerad :: [84/100] :: This is the moment which strikes you hard. Amal Neerad has come up with a story which is narrated by Dulquer Salmaan who sees everything from the top floor of a group of apartments. The awesome presentation and the story’s ability to relate with the contemporary society of Kerala, and may be even India as a whole, has helped this one to get the most claps in the theatre, and remain the highlight of this five star experiment. Dulquer Salmaan has eased through this segment, and even as a person moving on wheelchair, there is so much of impact with every word he says. Reenu Mathews leaves an imprint without even a word said. The newcomer Jinu Ben brings tears to the audience with no direct revelation. The story also works as a satire on the self-proclaimed righteous, highly moral society which considers itself as the role-model, and has a lot of prejudice against the people whom they are not familiar with, and those who think or act different. If there has been so much interest in this story which has only one actor who has performed in a leading role in more than one movie, it shows how much impact this one has created, and how much it could relate with its audience.

Aami: by Anwar Rasheed :: [61/100] :: This might be the most awaited story of the movie, with a businessman, Ajmal (Fahadh Faasil), who travels from Malappuram to Kochi and vice versa. His too much affectionate wife who is known only by her nickname (Asmitha Sood) keeps asking tricky questions to him and leaves him puzzles to solve – a strange abnormal habit, to which anybody would agree. The night journey then transforms into something that changes his life. The presence of Honey Rose and Vinayakan just adds to powerful cast of this segment which is already the talking point due to Fahadh Faasil’s presence and his new looks. It is him who excells in this story, and everything else is a little let down. With meaningless puzzles and strange happenings, this is not something which the viewers can relate with, but thanks to the leading actor and some interesting dialogues, this one lets the movie with its head held high, not annihilating the world which was created by the second and the fourth segments. As Fahadh Faasil fights extreme anger, greed for money, violence and his own old relationships and gets back to his beloved, the whole thing ends happily. This is surely better than the highly predictable Bridge segment in Kerala Cafe by the same director.

The movie is that roller coaster ride of Final Destination 3, in which death tries to pull the movie down, as some of the stories lose charm, and suddenly a story comes up which changes the things around. It is the advantage of having five different stories directed by five different people, and this is well done, and it would live on as long as this theme doesn’t come up with a overdose, either with the stories or with the concept of pseudo-beauty. To be frank, there is nothing in this which binds this collection together, as same was the case with Kerala Cafe, and it doesn’t give that much of anything that Cloud Atlas gave its viewers. This movie uses the concept of enchanting viewers with its title and the trailer, and tries to undo the failure of Poppins which had its own wrecked set of anthologies in which only the story of Kunchako Boban and Nithya Menon made any impact, with Indrajith-Padmapriya and Jayasurya-Meghna stories staying there not without troubles. Still, the question remains, who is the beauty? If they were all eligible for the same title, won’t they be good enough for that word which comes as just the opposite? Why would we be forced to believe with that willing suspension of disbelief that they are all beautiful? Will Isha Sharvani and Kavya Madhavan look like beauties to two people who have different concepts of beauty? Even myself is clearly sceptical about the latter; but leave that for the intellectuals, and concentrate on the medium for now.

Release date: 20th June 2013
Running time: 145 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Amal Neerad, Anwar Rasheed, Sameer Thahir, Shyju Khaled, Aashiq Abu
Starring: Isha Sharvani, Asmitha Sood, Reenu Mathews, Honey Rose, Kavya Madhavan, Baby Anika, Nivin Pauly, Dulquer Salmaan, Biju Menon, Fahadh Faasil, Jayasurya, Master Chethan, Tini Tom, Rimi Tomy, Jinu Ben, Vinayakan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

World War Z

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Even in the world dominated more by vampires as the popular fantasy creature, there is no lack of support for the zombies, even in India as shown in Go Goa Gone. Otherwise, the Resident Evil series always had the complete control over that zombie world which came up as the result of an infection. The animated corpses which were something more than just a mindless vampire or human, has had more success with the stories of science rather than magic, with virus infection rather than being resurrected by necromancy or being summoned from another world by a sorcerer or a witch. Even then, they would remain the most important weapon for the battle in the box-office, as vampires have had too much run on the big screen. I would still miss I Am Legend for the kind of vampire mix which was given to the zombies, a combination of intellect which has been completely destroyed by Twilight. There are many people whom I can recommend to be zombies without being dead and coming back, but I choose to remain silent now due to the respect which I pay towards them – not those people, but the real zombies of the world. Still, I can’t hesitate to say that the hunger of the human flesh or the human brain should exist with both of them. I would thank Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein more than anything else on this occasion, and move forward.

A global pandemic in the form of a zombie outbreak has become so interesting these days that even if someone prepares for it as if the end of the world is near, there is no need to be surprised. A zombie apocalypse is something which needs its own glorification, as it is already happening with some of the mindless hypocrites who are slave to logic. But here in this Brad Pitt starrer, we have the true, respectable undead zombies, based on the 2006 novel with the same name by Max Brooks. Even as seeing Brad Pitt among the list of producers reminded me of what happened with Will Smith’s After Earth which shattered those hopes made of glass into so many pieces that it was not easy mend, there was a certain belief about this one. In that case, it would have been surprising that this movie made it to the theatres here, as there was a great chance for this one to miss the multiplexes belonging to this part of the world. The presence of Man of Steel and its reluctance to move out of the theatres might be a major blow to this one as well as to Monsters University which has been restricted to a single show if present. None of these can give even a small fight to Superman and his impact on this part of the world, something which is rooted in the childhood memories – the presence of Now You See Me and Fast & Furious 6 shouldn’t really hurt this one though.

After Tom Cruise and Will Smith jumped into the world that was post-apocalyptic Earth in the same year, with the former been a vampire in Interview with the Vampire and the latter been a zombie-vampire killer in I am Legend, Brad Pitt already had the vampire experience as Louis de Pointe du Lac, the complete vampire despite of the human conscience and existential questions of life and death, good and evil, God and Satan, heaven and hell. This time, he is not part of the attacking gang, but still raises his own questions about humanity in not that effective manner. Anne Rice’s works had its own versions of zombies, even as they were also called vampires, like the ones the leading characters encounter in Eastern Europe, with no mind of its own, attacking everything that moves, driven by its own need to feed; the only characteristic that can define them. One has to wonder what differentiates a zombie from the human beings without civilization in a world which has quite a shortage of resources. Won’t each and everyone act the same as a zombie in such a situation, in the absence of the rules and regulations of the society and the restrictions of sin imposed by the religion? That should identify us more with the term zombie rather than the vampire, knowing our need for society and religion to keep us from becoming zombies or even worse.

It must be clear from the title by now that the “Z” stands for Zombies. There is no doubt about the fact that most of the people who came to the theatre were not expecting the same, thanks to the posters which gave no clue about such a thing. Another thing is that there is no scope for 3D, as those glasses give you almost nothing other than some words which would seem to project off the screen in the beginning of the movie. There are some good CGI moments for sure, and the special effects are limited; not a very good thing for a movie of this genre. There is a good chance that most of the comon zombie fans might choose to say a no to this one. It is the story of former UN employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family who are saved from a group of zombies who turn all who they bite into their kind, and after being taken to a US Navy ship in the middle of the sea, he is forced to invetigate into the matter using the special skills he achieved through his missions, so that the origins of the virus could be found out and the pandemic could be stopped. Not without reluctance, but still agreeing for the sake of his family’s staying on the ship rather than in a refugee camp on the land surrounded by zombies, Gerry joins the team of experts on a plane for a military base in South Korea from where some of this is supposed to have started in the first place.

Here is the paragraph which might give you the spoiler – and the story till the end. From there the journey is to Jerusalem, as the nation of Israel seems to have had a prior knowledge about a possible zombie infection, as they did already bring up some walls. But he gets nothing useful from there, and Jerusalem is also attacked, as the zombies climb over the wall, as they form a ladder by piling on the top of one another. As the ultimate chaos follows, he manages to escape from there by boarding a Belarus Airlines flight with his escort soldier, a journey which is cut short when one of the zombies get to bite an airhostess from where hell breaks loose, and Gerry manages to throw a grenade which divides the plane into two and leads to a crash from which the two survive. They finally reach a World Health Organization research facility and assists them in finding a cure, and the find out that the virus needs people who are healthy, and those ill and therefore unsuitable as hosts for viral reproduction are not bitten, and are rather more invisible than anything else. This camouflage helps them to fight zombies, and that should save the day for the world, but the war would continue, as it might seem to the audience. There might be a question though, about this being all that we have been waiting for.

The huge pile-up of cars and the zombie attack in the beginning as well as the Jerusalem zombie attack forms the highlights of the movie. But it remains without enough moments when these two sequences are removed. The attack on the plane is the only other thing worth mentioning. Brad Pitt has done a great job to add to it. He plays an effective character, and without him, this movie would have surely collapsed. The zombies are fine, with their own pros and cons added in this one. But this movie remains slow, and without a good enough reason other than Brad Pitt to attract the viewers. All the awesomeness which was expected to follow after the initial zombie attack never comes, and as it doesn’t attempt to do anything extraordinary, the expectations are scattered and the 3D glasses are wasted. The catchy dialogues might be about the mother nature being a serial killer and how she disguises her strengths and weaknesses. The noises that the zombies make are somewhat attractive too. I would still prefer the zombies and special effects of Resident Evil, and it is a little depressing that this one lacks action, but the advantage is that this one is closer to reality and there is absolutely no exaggeration at any point of time.

The movie is just a little scary and a little thrilling. It might be the slowest zombie movie of the recent times and the most realistic of them all – it is an exaggeration, as these hardly get close enough to reality to be identified with. This world war of the zombies never tries to expand its entertainment elements beyond what is ordinary. It could have been its achievement, but for now, it is clearly working against it. Zombies and vampires have been too commericalized these days, and when the entertainment value is somewhat drained from it, there is only a little to gain. If this was about the wars from A to Z, and this one is the final one of them, there could have been a slightly better chance. World War Z does its job and there is no denying it. With Brad Pitt’s never ceasing charm and acting, and the realistic portrayal of a supernatural world stained with scientific curiosities, this one can go the distance, and stay there until something bigger comes its way and take over. One should choose to watch this one for the one leading actor who carries the movie on his shoulders, and a zombie world which takes a different stance. It is a war which this movie got to face now, as a certain amount of uncertainty is ready to pounce over it.

Release date: 21st June 2013
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Daniella Kertesz, David Morse

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Man of Steel

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Behold this moment, for this is that period of time when our childhood superhero, the most popular one of that time, would seem to be someone else when we look at the name of the movie which features him, but then we realize that he is still Superman.  He is the Man of Steel, as Batman is the Dark Knight, both rises and without any doubt, both would end. Both have changed and evolved so much that one can no longer use the common joke about Superman and Batman, what differentiates them from the common man without superpowers is the way they make the underwear into outerwear; for The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel no longer comes with the same, may be they found it incredibly difficult to find one, or in more modern terms, it doesn’t suit the new generation of so called stylish people who despite their own traditions in every possible way.  It is still good that they have learnt that what is to be worn inside should remain inside.  Actually, they are both not the superheroes who continue the legacy, as they move out of it.  Another thing is about this Steel Man and the Iron Man; considering the success of the Man of Iron, may be Man of Steel can make an impact close to enough to it, at least with the adults who still think Superman is a little childish, and with no doubts, too powerful for anyone to like. So, this is a new superhuman, as the alien takes a turn at the road not taken except for Christopher Nolan’s Batman.

This movie begins in another solar system, another galaxy, which might be strange for a superhero movie, as it is not usually expected unless the protagonist is He-Man of Eternia with all the focus on Castle Grayskull. But, this is a change which works quite well. We see that when the planet Krypton is facing total annihilation due to an unstable core, Jor-El and his wife Lara launch a small spaceship carrying their newborn son Kal-El and a genetic codex. Zod arrives in time, but fails to stop the launch; in rage, he murders Jor-El, but is captured, and he and his supporters are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, a prison which holds its prisoners who suffer for almost eternity, thus serving as a device for damnation beyond the control of Satan. But they manage to escape when Krypton explodes and their control over the jail is gone. They travel around different planets looking for life as well as things to salvage. Meanwhile, Kal-El lands on Earth and is discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their son. So, the Earth’s location and its peculiarities provide the kid with superhuman abilities, which he manages to control with the help of his foster parents. This is where Superman begins his second phase, and the first known phase of this whole sequence of origins.

Living a wanderer’s life fearing for his own power and the possible reaction of the people of Earth about his strength and abilities, he finds a Kryptonian spaceship fron under the ice and meets the hologram of his own father which explains to him more about himself and his origins. The Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane comes to know about the same, but decides not to publish about him without his consent. Meanwhile, Zod finds his existence and comes to Earth with his followers and it is where the twist of fate takes place and the fun begins with the life or death situations, not just for Superman, but also for all Earthlings, all threatened by the superior technology and weapons of the Kryptonians as well as their superhuman strength on Earth. As he plans to terraform Earth and make it another Krypton, eradicating the whole population and replacing them with the Kryptonians with the help of the genetic codex, Superman chooses the side with which he is not supposed to get along despite his own evolution, that is humans. This is the choice which will define him in what is to come, as he is the alien, ghost as well as the guardian angel. With the help of the military and whatever is on his side, he has to prepare for the final battle, as the Kryptonians launch a world engine which terraforms the planet.

I guess Zack Snyder’s movies have never really disappointed me it, as Dawn of the Dead was good, Watchmen was even better, 300 was very impressive, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole had my attention, Sucker Punch was much above the expectations, and here is Man of Steel which raises the expectations for the upcoming 300: Rise of an Empire for which it is incredibly difficult to wait. That should be a hundred percent record which is not seemingly inclined towards being broken. To add to it, the Greek hero of Immortals & the fairy tale princess-to-be from Enchanted make such a genuine combination on-screen even between such complexity and duality which surround an extraterrestrial heritage of thirty three years. Henry Cavill makes that super impact while Amy Adams as Lois Lane makes that character much more dearer to the viewers. Princess Giselle or Amelia Earheart from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian will now be more of Lois Lane, and that less known Theseus surely has a more powerful real demi-god status this time. But this Superman is not just any other alien, as he is more human than any of the most wretched Earthling. He is more concerned about Earth and human life than the average common man who feeds on his own people and the mother nature. Superman is less involved with that title “super” which is a relief, as it is that word which one uses as a lie when many other words fail; welcome relief again.

As the movie is more inclined towards the Dark Knight series in its theme, but still resembles The Avengers in its alien invasion sequences, there is more to look forward to. Michael Shannon plays the impressive villain, General Zod – an iconic supervillain for sure. The villain is made for what he does, as the newborn babies are all created to be someone; to follow a path or duty – there is no moment when the person looks less focused on the one aim which is the return of Krypton’s life. It is more of a reflection of the current age, when the children are programmed into professional courses, rather than letting them make a choice. The result is just a profit-oriented world without morality and values, slowly moving towards total annihilation as in the case of Krypton. Antje Traue as Faora makes the villain’s sidekick, may be even as good as the General himself. Going back to her role in Pandorum, she is that person one might wish to watch in most of the action movies. Her fight sequence with Superman can be considered second only to the final battle. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, the editor in chief of the Daily Planet, is that role which is surely going to be explored a lot in case of a sequel. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane plays the roles of Superman’s adoptive parents, and Russel Crowe and Ayelet Zurer his real parents from Krypton, providing some of the best emotional moments of the movie.

The movie is about choices, as Superman chooses to be human and not of his kind, and also chooses to hide between the people with whom he doesn’t belong. He also chooses to end his planet’s last hope of survival by helping the Earthlings. That might have brought the end of his culture and heritage, and all those which he could have achieved as the hero of his own race. In all these decisions, he makes him the most vulnerable, more mentally than physically. Superman is more of a man than the super being, something we could never associate with him during our childhood. Right now, it will be just right to say that he has made himself the most righteous superhero, many times better than Iron Man, and also above his nearest competitors who are Batman and Spider-Man. Well, this is set to break box-office records for sure, and it is already pulling in too much crowd at this part of the world even for those shows which are usually not even a quarter full. The lower critical ratings of this movie compared to the ones like The Avengers and Iron Man 3 forms another thing which is out of this world. The former has such ratings that even Superman might decide to choose any random Kryptonite prison for eternity rather than seeing these one-sided opinions which so many people are actually forced to believe. The movie also proves this dialogue from Kill Bill wrong: “Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman.” Superman became superman because Earth made him so; he was nothing at Krypton. Everybody has life molded by choices, whether it is Superman, Count Dracula, Batman or Skeletor, and it is faith, belief and hope that guides one side, and the exact opposites the other.

So, Man of Steel is a must watch for all action fans, as this genesis go back to the planet of Krypton with stunning visuals and powerful sound effects. There is still the emotional element which has not let go; not yet. The effect of The Dark Knight series is also something which seems to hide, but still stays there. The action sequences are breath-taking, and one can see how well one superhero does all that the whole team in The Avengers could barely manage to do – some might disagree, and they can have enough reasons for that. Here is the man who can smash and also get beaten up like the Hulk and Thor, be aggressive and agile as the Iron Man, be righteous and true to the cause like Captain America, be as accurate as the Hawkeye, and be a better fighter than the Black Widow. This one has won the battle of superheroes this year, as Iron Man 3 would surely have to take the backseat, not by a long distance though, for both would seem to belong to different genres as we consider the souls of them. Thor: The Dark World wouldn’t stand a chance as far as the things seem to be now. This is where you see the need for He-Man and The Phantom again, but this year has been booked by the alien from the other planet, and there is nothing to be done other than to watch this one and enjoy it.

Release date: 14th June 2013
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hotel Transylvania

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This review features the major excerpts from the interview with Count Dracula by the Vampire Bat during the last full moon night when both the Vampire Crocodile and the Vampire Owl were able to predict what was to expect in the movie After Earth and initiated a cryo-sleep on themselves to save themselves from visiting the theatres, something of which they are incapable. Any relation to any person living, dead, undead, going to die, half-dead, partially alive or those watching Malayalam new generation rom-shit movies/Hindi supposed-to-be-romantic movies (Eg: Annayum Rasoolum/Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) might be a co-incidence and never practical. To add to it, no vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, monsters or aliens (both Avatar blue and general green) were harmed while this interview was going on, but there is no guarantee about what happened after that. Well, this is that kind of an animated movie which can’t stand alone without Count Dracula, the supposed to be proud owner of Hotel Transylvania, where the world’s most awesome monsters can get away from human civilization and take rest. No, he is not the one who should not be named, so lets not call him just “D” or “CD”, and lets get on with what he thought about this flick.

Count Dracula: Oh its you again. Welcome to Hotel Transylvania! No, wait, welcome to Dracula castle. Hope you will never enjoy your stay here and get lost as soon as possible. You called my place a hotel in your letter – how can you even think so? I have a reputation to keep here, and movies like Twilight and whatever followed already took away half of it, and I am adjusting with whatever is left. Do I look pale? Do I sparkle right now? It has been so difficult to keep up with the new vampire fake myths. Nobody thinks that I am a vampire any more. To add to it, they are using the names like ward and swan related to vampires. And now, you come here with your fangs thinking this is a hotel. This is the worst thing that has happened to me since Twilight, New Moan, Ellipsis and Breaking Teeth – I lose my mind thinking about them and can’t even pronounce them right! Make it quick, Vampire Brat!

Vampire Bat: Well, this is the seven hundred and twenty seventh time in he last five hundred and one years of acquaintance that I am telling you that it is not the Vampire Brat, but the Vampire Bat. The “R” is not there ; it doesn’t even exist. Where do you think you are? In The Matrix trying to be Neo and bend the spoon even as there is actually no spoon? Is that what you want?

Count Dracula: Neo and spoon! Can I feed a little bit of that Neo thing in the spoon to my Zombie Dog who is caught in a loop chasing that local Vampire Cat for eternity? He can’t even stop for death; isn’t that the worst thing that can happen to anybody?

Vampire Bat: The first thing is that I hate that dog. The second thing is that there is no time. The third thing is about your home and your lovely monster friends who come to visit you very often.

Count Dracula: You are talking about Frank frankie freak? Frankenstein’s monster as you call him, is my oldest and the best friend even as he belongs to the zombie category which gives him reservation. He used to get thirty five marks moderation in his exams for which the pass mark for his category was twenty five. We vampires used to be given a maximum of thirty five out of hundred in all exams so that the balance was maintained! He even passed the interview for the job at The Demon’s Keep soul ferry service by only pretending to apply for it. But he is a good friend as I can murder him so many times and he won’t mind as he is already ugly and dead.

Vampire Bat: This doesn’t really feature in the movie, and I would like to stick to it. Your best friends include Wayne the werewolf, Frank the zombie, Griffin the invisible man and Murray the mummy. Your wife was murdered by a mob who set fire to your house and it was for your daughter Mavis that you built this hotel, I mean castle.

Count Dracula: That doesn’t make any sense as I was never married and neither did I have a daughter. I do call doctors here though, most are dentists. Do you like my golden tooth or the silver one? Never mind, please continue, as I like that story even as it is in no way related to me as a vampire.

Vampire Bat: On your daughter’s 118th birthday, you use your zombie minions to trick her and make her stay away from the humans whom you consider dangerous. But a human named Jonathan arrives, and you are forced to make him look like a monster to the other monsters to save your hotel. But soon, your daughter becomes attracted to him and the rest is history. Any part of this which you agree to?

Count Dracula: None of it. This mortal-immortal love story is the worst thing in the world. But I am glad that they didn’t add wolves to it this time. There is still a little bit of attraction which even a vampire would feel to such a simple, and yet different story. Was the movie a good watch for you?

Vampire Bat: I think it was very good during most of the parts. But the death of that mortal and Mavis living the right immortal life would have made it more interesting. She is the most evil one among the monsters as she chooses to go after a mentally retarded creature of modernity who doesn’t care about anybody but himself and his personified stupidity, a characteristic which changes only by his stay with the Count. She will surely be in hell for making such a nasty decision out of pure selfishness, but as it is fiction, let her rest in hell, for that Lucifer, Belzebub and Mephistopheles won’t mind. The visuals were pretty good, but the characters were kind of shallow. You are kind of strange in that movie and so is your daughter. To be frank, none of the monsters retain their basic qualities except for the looks which are made funnier, and this fun is the bright side along with the variety which has been brought.

Count Dracula: I would watch it then. I have many ways of watching a movie undetected by the humans at their own places. Do you think it deserves me by its portrayal of the great Count Dracula of Transylvania?

Vampire Bat: I would say yes. You have been depicted more good than ever, which is not always a bad thing. It is shown that you are a loving and caring father, and also has concern for the fellow monsters. You would even do anything to make all which you believe happen. If you can forget the funny part as just part of the complete fun, you surely won’t find it humiliating or anti-vampire.

Count Dracula: I shall watch it on next full moon with Frank. I trust you on this, and if you fail me, I shall make you watch some movies of nothingness – like that Malayalam movie Kili Poyi.

Vampire Bat: I have watched it and died many times in my immortal hours, Count. Now, it is the time to take my leave, until we collide on a hunt again. Good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, brother; for now.

Vampire Bat (to himself): It might have been sad for such a legendary Gothic horror character to live through something as modern and horribly romantic as Twilight. The same would have happend to the Frankenstein monster as well as the Mummy, but in a lesser manner. This movie doesn’t give him his lost glory, but it surely does provide an alternative to Twilight for the faint-hearted ones who can’t really handle the supreme vampire with all his horrifying powers.

There a few things which are to be kept in mind while going for this movie. It has great animation, and the way in which each monster is detailed needs special mention, especially the Mummy and the Frankenstein monster. But the plot doesn’t stay that powerful, and there is the lack of use of the evil side of each and every monster except Quasimodo whose dark side is not that black to be explored in such a way. The characters are not that strong enough to create a grand experience. It is perfect for the kids with its lovable characters who show no shade of their original evil, and the love between a mortal and an immortal would interest many, as a Twilight inverse made in a cute way. Even Count Dracula gets his due, still not in the way he might have wanted; yet, works in the right manner. But, each and every second, you know what is going to happen, and there are no surprises in this one. If you are expecting something like Megamind, Monsters v/s Aliens, Finding Nemo or Kung Fu Panda, you are going to be disappointed. The attempt is still good, and I would wait for its sequel supposed to release on September 25, 2015 – lets see how much they can improve on this beginning. Adam Sandler voices Count Dracula and Selena Gomez is the daughter Mavis; that should add to the need for watching the movie.

Release date: 28th September 2012
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring (voice): Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Cee Lo Green

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Cabin in the Woods

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On one of those days which supported flashbacks in a big way, I could unintentionally fall into the wonderful trap of horror which was this movie. In this trap that is a horror movie, there was another world, which had a lot from the former horror movies, thus serving as a tribute along with being a great horror treat. It is a perfect story of five friends who become part of a perfectly executed horror reality in an environment which is more of a cage – they are watched through hidden cameras, and are made to act in the way the people watching them wants them to act. But the fact remains that this not just a horror movie, as it drains energy from the earlier slasher movies and along with paying homage to them, there is a little bit of satire involved in the treatment. There are elements of The Evil Dead, Hellraiser, as well as all the vampire, zombie and werewolf movies, and not even leaving the mythological as well as the natural beasts behind. The movie has combined all of these to create an astonishing effect, a mixture which can be scary and creepy enough as well as funny enough. It leaves the horror movies with lots of nostalgia with all these, and there might surely be pure satisfaction on most of those faces. This is a mixture which leaves a long-lasting impression on one.

Five college students Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly), Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison), Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams), Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz) and Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth) travells to a remote cabin in the distant woods away from civilization for a vacation. But the abandoned cabin is more of a controlled environment, as a number of people manage whatever happens in that cabin as they view each and every incident in there with hidden cameras. It is seen that they have an influence throughout the area and not just the cabin. They also give drug the students to reduce their awareness and capability to think in a rational manner. A cellar opens automatically which they feel a result of the wind. Inside the cellar, they find many strange items, including a diary of Patience Buckner, a girl who was abused by her sadistic family. Reciting a Latin incantation from the diary, Dana accidentally summons the whole Buckner family in the form of the walking dead, a group of zombies. Jules is the first one to be killed by the zombies outside, and soon the cabin is attacked by the monsters. With a number of people frequently monitoring and guiding the monsters, as well as trying to weaken the possibilities of the remaining four friends in surviving the horror, it will be a perfect hell-ride for each of them, and escaping the living dead might be more difficult than death itself.

The movie keeps giving that feeling of The Evil Dead throughout its first few minutes in the cabin. There is going to be a little bit of a spoiler from now on, and the base of this movie lies on ritual sacrifice. This is about the need to appease the ancient gods, resembling more of giant monsters who live beneath the facility under the cabin and are kept there in satisfaction by these rituals. The sacrifice should have five constituents, the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty) and the Virgin (Dana), and the Virgin is supposed to die last with the process usually starting with the Whore. All of these begin with the future victims choosing their method of torment and death, in this case the diary of Patience Becker. They are lead to choosing these, and being unaware through the careful tactics of the people in control, who always check the camera for each move, and manipulate the environment so that the victims will fo what they want, including opening a door or window as well as closing it, or drugging them. Another person could have unleashed the Lord of Pain, a vampire, a merman, an anaconda or a werewolf – the list is almost endless as these creatures are all locked away in the facility.

Kristen Connolly as Dana Polk a.k.a the Virgin; the first movie I ever watched starring her, and she is one of the characters who are in control, keeping within the limits, thus surviving much longer. Even as she keeps tp herself, she is still part of the gang, very unlike Amber Heard’s character in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. But it is debatable if she is really a virgin from what they talk about in the beginning of the movie. She does seem surprised when the director mentions her as the Virgin, and the facility had to admit that they work with what they have, which should imply that she was clearly the better of the two, consider the character of her only female friend in the gang. Jesse Williams as Holden McCrea a.k.a the Scholar is her lover in a relationship which seems hundred percent platonic for now. He works as the perfect gentleman who doesn’t force her into anything and even decides not to look at Dana’s nudity through a one-way mirror and alerts her of the vision he is having in the other room while she undresses. There he also put a block on the desire of the facility’s employees who are watching the same scene to see something. But he is still proud and very confident about his skills, which doesn’t really serve him that well when affected by the drugs.

Chris Hemsworth as Curt Vaughan a.k.a the Athlete is the strongest member of the group, and is extremely confident about his power, and this confidence leads to his death. Anna Hutchison as Jules Louden a.k.a the Whore is a character which proves to be closest to the title from the beginning itself, and even solves the employers’ sadness of seeing no nudity. Her death occurs right after she undresses, about to make out with her boyfriend Curt, as she has completed her role as the archetype which is seen in most of the horror movies. She had already done a sexy dance and even kissed a wolf-head on the wall before this, thus reiterating her position as the one stereotype, the immoral one who gets killed first, and at its perfection, when topless – the facility works with what they had, and therefore, considering her abstinence and also her relationship with the lover, Dana had to be the Virgin, and therefore, Jules had to be the Whore. In that case, even Holden is not too less of an athlete and just loses out to Curt. These roles might have been assigned by the facility’s helper at the petrol pump, who already called Jules by the same title. The employees looking to the screen and waiting for her bare bosom or even extended nudity as well as the betting is less a result of their prejudice and more based on what information the man outside had already given them.

Fran Kranz as Marty Mikalski a.k.a the Fool is the most intelligent one among them all, and the only one without a heroine; no Virgin and no Whore. He is more of the lone wolf who still sticks to the gang without any problem. As he is always on drugs, the drugging never really works on him and he remains in control of his full brain. He might be the first person ever to kill a zombie out there, or at least semi-murder or half-murder those undead creatures. He doubts the presence of puppeteers around right from the beginning, which Dana acknowledges only after the death of Curt. He also saves Dana from sure death in the hands of a zombie. His intellect seems to be more based on movies, and not what is taught in the school and the college which might have helped him to guess things that others couldn’t in such an environment of horror. With his limited arsenal, he has humiliated both the Hercules equivalent and the Socrates equivalent in survival, and he still had remaining darts in his quiver. He even fooled the experts who spent most of their lives in front of the camera, and thus even faked his death, something which might have been unintentional, but still, perfect.

Well, other than the facts that the monster details are awesome, and the leading ladies do a great job along with looking stunning, the more interesting thing is the philosophy involved in it. The gods who are kept underground by ritual sacrifice are more like the viewers who need those good doses of movies in a certain pattern, and the breaking of that pattern might destroy the movie by depriving it of the common viewers, but the gods are change, and variety would come in another generation of movies. May be for a change, the Whore survives, or the whole situation might be reversed. In the case of the giant monstrous gods coming out of the ground to destroy humanity, as the Fool would agree at any point of time, there is the need for another species to be given a chance where humanity failed in its treatment of its own species as well as nature. This movie is a surprise, and it leaves so much for its viewers, to find and deconstruct in their own world, as the gods that they are, and not as the voyeurs who look on the screen from darkness with full confidence that nobody is watching them. There are so many possibilities for imagination related to this movie, and the movie audience got the power. It would have surely been a grand success if its had released here, but what to do for people who can’t even release Evil Dead.

Release date: 13th April 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Amy Acker, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Prometheus

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Enter the most significant flashback to 2012, and welcome Prometheus, the Greek titan who is credited with stealing the fire and giving into humans. The punishment of Prometheus for this generous act is the most significant and the most interesting part of his tale, and it is a major part of ancient as well as modern works of literature and art. He was immortal and thus open to eternal torture, an opportunity which someone like Zeus was not supposed to miss, as he was tied to a rock, and each day an eagle would test its beak on his liver and eats them, which would then grow back to be eaten again the next day. Prometheus is said to be freed at last by the strongest of the Greek heroes, Heracles a.k.a Hercules. So how does Prometheus fit in this movie? Well, he is the symbol of human quest for knowledge, and also that of the risk of unintended consequences. The Modern Prometheus was used as the subtitle by Mary Shelley for her 1818 Gothic horror novel Frankenstein with its hero attempting something which was not supposed to be done according to the divine will, thus creating life which is not just abominable, but too strong for him to end. Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus can take it better, as Doctor Faustus crossed the limits himself, and paid for it with a lovely, intellectually superior soul for dinner in the inferno that night as Mephistopheles, Lucifer and Belzebub are concerned.

The movie does the same, it is the story of a search to another world in a ship was rightly named Prometheus, even as I think the name Icarus would have also done good, considering the fact that they are going after a thing which could burn themselves as well as their world. You can have your own wings of fire, but they will eventually burn out – Icarus could at least drink water before he died, but for the seekers for something bigger than sun, one can’t be so sure. The biggest advantage of the movie is that it raises questions about the origin of human life and doesn’t provide the viewers with answers, making them use their brains as well as wait for a possible sequel with all the answers. There are also times when one should stop searching for answers and logical explanations for everything, as there are things for which there is no suitable explanations, for the world was not built on science, and controlling life and nature is just a distant impossible dream. Therefore, those who watch the movie will have to understand the mystery and accept the fact that it has to remain the same. There are things that you shouldn’t and couldn’t understand. The other group of people who oppose this movie are the trolls of the worst kind, who are always looking for attention, pretending that they know everything with their off-topic nonsense.

Another thing about the mystery is that if you do understand what you are not supposed to understand with the help of stupid logical explanations, there would be disasters, and you would end up being nothing more than another Greek mythological figure, Sisyphus who was forced to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever – no you won’t get to be Naranath Bhranthan, as he was divine and intellectual, and you will be termed fools. He pretended to be mad, but in your case, there might be no need to pretend as long as you keep seeking things that you shouldn’t. You can keep searching for something which is not supposed be found and shall never be found, therefore initiate a meaningless action similar to that of our Sisyphus. Why should one create such a cruel situation for oneself in a world which is complete in itself unless human beings won’t interfere with the progress of natural life with too much science and technology? Wonder why the so called rational minds are so proud and prejudiced that they can’t accept what they can’t understand; unfortunately, that well has the devil prepared his webs of sin and lies. Just see how much destruction man has brought upon the planet by seeking the wrong things rather than God. Lets learn from it, and stop searching for the wrong answers and cease asking the wrong questions.

As a spaceship is seen to depart from a world similar to Earth during an unspecified time period, and a humanoid alien drinks a vial, then starts to disintegrate and then fall into the waterfalls under his feet and his remains would seem to create some biological transformation on the world. In 2089, Peter Weyland, the CEO of Weyland Corporation, funds an expedition to a distant moon LV-223 on the spaceship Prometheus on a mission to find the creatures who predated humanity, calling them the Engineers. The Prometheus lands on the moon near a large artificial structure. The place looked good enough to live, as if someone already lived there, or someone was supposed to. During an exploration, they find a huge number stone cylinders which are arranged in an orderly manner, a large and a monolithic statue of a humanoid head reminding of the large stone-heads of the Easter Island of Chile. From a corpse of a large alien, a head is taken which is later found to be similar to that of humans in the DNA. There would be questions to be asked and some of the answers would come at a price, including th total annihilation of the human race on Earth. The only thing which is predictable is the presence of alien life forms which would attack humans, and even form a parasite-provider relationship with them if possible; something which will end in the same mode as the original Alien movie.

Noomi Rapace plays the protagonist, Elizabeth Shaw, an archaeologist, and a firm believer in God who keeps the crucifix close to her heart and the mind. No, she was never like Alien franchise’s own alien destroyer, Ellen Ripley. This one is a more believable character for sure, and there can still be questions about her being another Ripley as the series get a second part. She had faith and it kept her making the right decisions, and also helped her in being the one sensible person out there. She has kept her beliefs in that time of turmoil, and what kept her strong is that symbol of faith which she carried. In a society which was so advanced, and might have surely persuaded her to leave it by hook or by crook, she held on to it like any righteous person would do. It is her faith that makes her the true protagonist, and considering the person she is portrayed to be, the lack of it would have ended whatever was good in her, just like it can be seen in the other characters. She survives the alien creature coming out of her stomach, and also the death of her lover; she even stops the alien life forms from destroying Earth, something which was made possible by her faith and belief, which the other lacked. She searches her own God even when looking for the so called superior creatures; she is a noble soul and the heroic character, a lady knight for the mankind against the aliens, a title which she might truly gain by the end of the franchise.

Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers has another villain-like role for her after her evil queen in the worst movie of 2012, Snow White and the Huntsman, in which she was the fairest of them all, and Kristen Stewart who played Snow White looked pale and useless. She is still not that evil this time, as she is just trying to take control all the time, and remain the lady in command throughout the mission. There might still be questions about her being real human, with her decisions which is without emotions, these doubts only proven wrong when she comes out drop-dead-gorgeous out of that tube like chamber in which she was cryogenically frozen in a hyper-sleep and then again when she tries to save herself, something which a machine would have cared about less. She looks incredibly beautiful throughout the movie, and still working her character to its strong, selfish motives. To be frank, she was rather good in some of her decisions, and I would be deeply saddened to say that they have killed off the character with a spaceship on her head – still there is a little hope in the second part, as she could have fallen into some pit when the spaceship crashed on her; well, they brought back significant characters in Fast & Furious 6 and G.I.Joe: Retaliation from the dead, and so it is there for giving a chance.

Michael Fassbender scores as David, the android robot whose action leads to the death of Elizabeth Shaw’s lover as well as her impregnation with the alien. He works for Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), and both act together in their logical need for immortality for the boss. Along with great performances from the case, the movie continues to score with its mind-blowing CGI and the 3D which can be termed optional. There is nothing about Prometheus that a sensible person can hate, and when the movie takes unexpected turns and take to a least expected universe, learn to live with that, because it is for the good. It is evident from the fact that sensible critics did give the movie a good rating. James Cameron, the director of Aliens, has said that the movie is great. There might be a few people who think otherwise, and their problem should be the inability to take in the awesomeness, and this one was clearly out of their comprehension, as they gave away all their imagination and creativity to the demon of logic. Prometheus doesn’t wander around people like you, slaves of logic, it is for the people who dare to create their world and live in it without going with the modern barbarians looking for nonsense logic and talk bad about everything which remains beyond their tiny brains. These people can stop playing dogs and asking for bones. Prometheus is a brilliant start to something new, and if it was released before Alien, it would have been the top grosser of the year or even the decade.

Release date: 8th June 2012
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Now You See Me

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There has always been something special about magic, going as far as the wizards and sorcery, often even into necromancy summoning the apparitions or even the living corpses from the grave. That should be black magic or witchcraft, and Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus had the hero ending up giving his soul for it in not that romantic a way as in the movie Bedazzled. One can’t really abandon Goethe’s Faust in that case. But this movie has none of these deals with Mephistopheles, Lucifer, or Belzebub, and neither does it have walking dead, nor does it lead you to Hogwarts or to Narnia as the lord of a particular, incredibly powerful ring which will change your life in that fairy tale style. This is magic purely of this world, and connected to a crime as an engaging, powerful thriller. Magic has always been a thing arousing curiosity among the common cats of the world, but none of them stays killed or dead as part of it. Magic shows still have some of its essence which still affects the minds of the common man over his mundane existence, for being able to manipulate and create illusions still have that mysterious charm for the unexplained, no matter how much science and technology and the reason has improved. One needs to see how this movie has managed to do nothing special and still manages to be special!

But it is not yet a magic movie, or something which takes you to a magical environment like Harry Potter, Narnia or Lord of the Rings, and there are no goblins, hobbits, dwarves or elves, and this one is the story of tricks, illusions and deception, which doesn’t really make it of lesser quality. This is more of that magic which is closer to reality and the real world, and it is a caper movie – a crime fiction supported by magic; and it is Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen all of them explored with the support of magic provided in the right manner. If you loved Tower Heist and Entrapment, there is no option not to like this one, as there are the additions which you can’t reject. The focus of the story is still magic, and the four magicians who performs it not for money or for entertainment, but for a greater cause. There are thefts, and there are police, FBI and even Interpol involved in this heist movie, but what forms the base of all this is still magic, not as the fantasy and the mythological wonder that attracts the generations starting from kids, this one is more of that thriller which keeps you at the edge of your seats. The world of these magicians are more than what meets the eye, and therefore you see me at one moment and then you don’t, and for now you watch what is justified by the title Now You See Me!

We have to start by introducing our wonderful protagonists of deception; the four magicians—Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) the illusionist, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) the escape artist and former assistant of Daniel, Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) the street magician and master thief along with Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) the mentalist specialized in mind-reading abilities —are brought together by a mysterious benefactor who is shown only as a man in a hood and, one year later, they have a performance in Las Vegas identifying themselves as “The Four Horsemen” and is sponsored by a billionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). During their first grand performance, the magicians invite a random member of the audience to help them in their next trick which is the first of its kind to be ever performed on stage, that is robbing a bank. The man is teleported to his bank in Paris, where he activates an airduct which vacuums up the money which brough down from the top onto their audience in the venue at Las Vegas. It is a bank in Paris that they are supposed to have robbed, and how they have done that to an institution in France from a location in the United States would remain a mystery to many.

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) investigates the theft and is unwillingly partnered with Interpol Agent Alma Vargas (Melanie Laurent). They interrogate the Four Horsemen, but are forced to release them when no explanation for the theft can be found other than magic. The magicianis even taunt them and says that if they charge them as criminals, it means that their magic is real and that adds to their popularity. Dylan then meets a man who was present during the show and had video-taped the whole thing, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). He is known to be an former magician who makes money by revealing the secrets behind other magicians’ tricks and have his fun with it. He tells them that the magicians had stolen the money long ago, and manipulated the audience as well as the police with their tricks and illusions into believing it happened at the moment of their show. He even shows a sample to Dylan after they have a look at the “site of the crime and the magic show”. He adds that the whole thing might have planned for months or even years and the group is up to something big and what was seen in Las Vegas was just the first of the samples.

The three of them attend the magicians’ next performance which is in New Orleans during the festival of Mardi Gras. The group’s manages a number of magic tricks including disappearing acts, floating in a bubble and even predicting the bank accounts of random people among the audience. Their last item involved them emptying their own sponsor’s bank account and distributing it to the audience, which had a good number of people whose insurance claims had been denied or reduced by Tressler’s insurance company in the name of a variety of reasons. The agents make an attempt to arrest the magicians, but they fails and even humiliates themselves, and becomes the breaking news in most of the television channels. Arthur hires Thaddeus to expose the fake tricks of the magicians and humiliate them before the public as revenge. Later, while researching on magic and the history of the world of illusions, Alma comes across the information about a secret society of magicians called “The Eye”, which exists unknown to the contemporary society of common man, and remains a myth. But if such a thing existed, the robberies were more of a test or initiation. She even suggests that the case might be connected to a magician whom Thaddeus had earlier exposed; the man was so embarrassed and depressed that he attempted a dangerous underwater stunt to prove his worth and drowned. Meanwhile, the Four Horsemen plan a final performance at New York City, which would decide many things.

Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco steal the show as the four horsemen who entertains not only the audience inside the movie, but also those outside with not only the thrills, but also the funny lines. They don’t really connect to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation directly with Conquest, War, Famine and Death, even as they do bring a disclosure, an uncovering which might come up more clearly in a possible sequel, as there is the concept of “The Eye” to add to it. I would suspect not only an upcoming apocalypse, but also a final judgement. It is stylish and also sure fun, and its use of CGI has been real appropriate as well as inspiring. Melanie Laurent has come a long way since Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and successfully portrays her suspicious character and so does Morgan Freeman whose character remains in doubt of being the fifth horseman. Isla Fisher’s character has that charm which is matched only by Jesse Eisenberg’s illusionist. Forget Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk of The Avengers, for this should be his better or may be among the best performances, as he seems to have that balance in his character about which only the Hulk can have doubts. There might be the need for a little more explanation in case of the logic freaks, but the movie had a well-deserved clap from the audience in the multiplex after it finished, something which was this loud only with The Dark Knight Rises.

As the options at the theatre are considered, this would seem to be a clear winner at least at this part of the world. After Earth has been bulldozed by the critics as well as the viewers as far as the rottentomatoes and imdb ratings are concerned, and there are only a few shows of the movie around here, which opens that door for Now You See Me which might have been seemed locked before its release here. I would still like to watch the critically panned movie as I won’t trust them on my individual taste, even as there might be nobody to accompany me. Now You See Me has had its share of appreciation in the theatre itself, and I would expect it to bring more audience by the word of mouth, that passing of this magic, and more seats would be full even with a less known cast for the common man of the Indian subcontinent despite of the Will Smith – Jaden Smith power and the power-packed Bollywood releases which take hold of most of the shows along with its wonderful Malayalam counterparts; not to forget Hangover III, Fast & Furious 6 and Iron Man III, all three of those crowd-puller which have refused to go away from the big screens of the malls around here. I would vote for this movie as of now, as I consider this the best of the year 2013 so far, edging ahead of Star Trek: Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6.

Release date: 7th June 2013 (India); 13th May 2013 (USA)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Mélanie Laurent, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

John Carter

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The story goes an year back, when I felt the horrible lack of respect to one movie which was better than another movie which was released in 2009. This better movie was John Carter and the inferior movie was Avatar. Even as the box office results and the critics say the other way around, the truth is not to be hidden. John Carter is superior to Avatar in each and every aspect, and unfortunately, the brainwashed audience go for movies reading the biased reviews of the so called critics. Well, how many times do someone have to tell these movie fans who read the fake paid reviews and look forward to to the hype, to listen to themselves and the less-hyped movies? For the same reason, I shall give this movie a little more in its ratings, for what it lost in its box office collection and the critical reviews. Seriously, why Avatar? What has it done other than building on the Pocahontas story and even becoming incredibly similar in theme to the Malayalam movie Vietnam Colony? Didn’t Avatar also get enough from this movie’s original story, A Princess of Mars, the science fantasy novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs? Still, it is hailed as the epic and became the highest-grossing film of all time, as well as of the United States and Canada; it is such a shame that there are two ways of treating the same material, the inferior one getting all the applause.

John Carter is more original than Avatar, being the right adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1917 novel, A Princess of Mars. It works as a perfect interplanetary adventure rather than a predictable world where one of the attackers get a candle lit in their brains and decide to get on the side of the helpless defenders. It has a dry and rather dark environment compared to Avatar which works very positively. Even the story is set in a more admirable world, with teleportation being the method rather than those giant space ships which repeats themselves in each and every movie, as the number of science fiction movies featuring space ships and the end of the Earth has reached a new record, as if they are too much interested in ending the Earth with that Voluntary Retirement Scheme which features the world’s most interesting voids which keeps creating more of themselves and call it science fiction, when they are actually confused what kind of creation they have actually given to the viewers. One has to wonder how much satisfaction they get by creating the same thing again and again.

After the sudden and unexpected death of John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), attends the funeral. As per Carter’s instructions, the body is put in a tomb that can be unlocked only from the inside, and Burroughs is left with his journal to read and know more about what has happened. It tells his epic story when he is accidently transported to what seems to be a dying planet, Barsoom, a name which is used by inhabitants for what is known to Earthlings as Mars – with a harsh desert environment deprived of vegetation and even water on most of the areas. Because of his variable bone density and the planet’s low gravity, Carter is able to jump very high. But he is captured by a group of Green Martian creatures, called the Tharks and their leader Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe). Meanwhile, the princess of the city of Helium, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) escapes from a possible marriage to Sab Than (Dominic West), the leader of the city of Zodanga who is armed with a special weapon obtained from the Therns, the creatures who take the role of the gods of Mars and control the world through manipulation.

After Carter and Dejah unite in the Thark camp, they escape with the leader’s daughter, Sola (Samantha Morton) after being sentenced to death for entering their sacred temple. They decide to get to the end of a river sacred to the Martians in an attempt to find a way for Carter to get back to Earth. Instead they obtain information about the ninth ray, a source of poweful, infinite energy which only the Therns can use to their advantage in a variety of ways, the same thing which they used to strengthen Sab Than, so that Helium would be taken over and may be even destroyed, as Dejah herself was so close to unlocking its secrets; something which would have threatened their own existence as gods, knowing, controlling and manipulating everything on Mars. But before they realize anything else, But they are attacked by the Tharks who are manipulated by the Therns. After Helium troops arrive for help, Dejah agrees to marry Sab Than. So, it is upto the Earthling to save the day, but he is captured by the Thern who tells him how he has manipulated civilizations around the world for centuries in what he calls restoring balance in the world is theirs to control. This leaves Carter with more to deal with other than just a cruel, mindless ruler.

He was very good as Remy LeBeau a.k.a Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this one is undoubtedly his best role ever. It is with amazing skill that he has changed from the former soldier to the defender of Mars; from John Carter of Earth to John Carter of Mars, from John Carter of Virginia to John Carter of Helium, from just a cavalryman on Earth to the saviour, redeemeer, hero and the prince on Mars. Adding Daryl Sabara as Edgar Rice Burroughs seemed like another brilliant idea which helped the movie to become a complete whole, both as a film and a literary adaptation. Lynn Collins looks incredible, outdoing the Kayla Silverfox of X-Men Origins: Wolverine; the two has united for good in this movie, it seems. If there is any doubt if she isn’t a princess of Mars, that would be a clear case of blasphemy in its purest form as long as all the concepts of a princess are concerned. She looked so immersed in that character, and if someone says there is no Helium nor Barsoom, she would be surprised. Strong in will and strong in combat, and surely not trailing in beauty to any other soul around her. It is good to see James Purefoy after watching two of his great movies, Solomon Kane and Ironclad, even as it is in a minor role.

John Carter has the advantage over Avatar in its pacing and characterization, and its environment, even if not too bright and heavy with so much unwanted elements of nature, gives a good effect on the screen – it looks real, unlike the all-time box office topper. Just like a university topper, college topper or class topper is not the best or not even near the best, Avatar can bow down to this movie in that alternate reality which would never come to existence in this world. Well, people are slowly coming to know about this one and how awesome it is, and thus John Carter will be hailed much later at least by a few sensible people. The lack of mechanized warfare, and the absence of blue people can be added as that advantage, but still there are the green ones who live a similar subaltern life as the human-like creatures fight each other and cause collateral damage. If we look closely, it is the species looking closer to humans that are always causing trouble – not really a thing to be proud about, I guess.

John Carter is actually a movie of a revolutionary in many ways – and that man is Carter himself who fights for the people to whom he doesn’t belong, the land to which he is not part of, and brings justice and equality not only to the human-like Martians, but also the oppressed subaltern in the form Tharks. The enslavement by the Therns will be also almost over with his success. He is that Earthling who changes a world for good, thus becoming a man of the cause. If there is any story that can inspire one, this is it. With that ending which the movie has got, there is no reason why one wouldn’t watch it on Star Movies, every time it makes an entrance. On a parallel Earth, this would have been a grand success, but in this world of prejudice and the love for nonsense movies, one has to ask an impaled dead body for truth and the right facts about a movie; for there is not much that one can gain by reading the reviews – never to believe what is written out there, as they misguide you and lead you to the wrong movie, which is why every movie missed is a grand tragedy!

Release date: 9th March 2012
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Willem Dafoe, Daryl Sabara, James Purefoy, Thomas Haden Church

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Avengers

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This is a flashback into what was pure entertainment. In the movie, Nick Fury, the director of the fictional intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D recruits Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor to form a group of talented superheroes to stop Thor’s adoptive brother Loki and his army from capturing Earth. Well, even one of these heroes usually proved enough in most of their movies, and having them together was nothing less than classic entertainment at its best. It did beat the other two superhero movies of the year by the box-office collection, an achievement which one have to doubt if it deserved in the case of The Dark Knight Rises, even as it is debatable in the case of The Amazing Spider-Man. Staying at the top of the highest of grossing movies of 2013 list and being the third highest grossing movie of all-time with no intention to be overtaken any time soon, this movie makes regular visits to Star Movies as if it is a home. As Marvel’s Iron Man 3 makes it to the all-time top five grossers list, one has to wonder how good a universe has been created by Marvel using these few lesser known superheroes who were always considered inferior to Spider-Man, Superman, He-Man and The Phantom in this part of the world, Batman being a more recent phenomenon of awesomeness.

Loki has made a pact with the alien race known as the Chitauri as they promise Loki a huge army to capture Earth in exchange for Tesseract, an incredible energy source of unlimited power. In what would seem an ambush, Loki takes the Tesseract from where it is safely secured, and also gain control over several of the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D before escaping. Feeling that the only way of getting it back and saving the world is the Avengers initiative, he brings together the superheroes, and even manages to capture Loki before he escapes later when the group becomes divided somewhat due to Loki’s own manipulative powers and also due to their own lack of admiration towards each other, when Loki’s minions attack the place. It even suggests that Loki’s capture was rather a surrender which was meant to manipulate the Avengers initiative and also weaken S.H.I.E.L.D. Loki’s plane is to use the Tesseract, to open a wormhole above Stark Tower, thus creating the portal for his army to come in and conquer the planet. The Avengers stay divided and fallen, but it is upto Nick Fury to make them that one superhero team again without the pride and prejudice which they seemed to show earlier which had lead to the first victory of Loki.

So, the question remains – who is Loki (Tom Hiddleston)? He is Thor’s adoptive brother and still always the enemy who wishes to rule Asgard as well as most of the worlds which are out there, a character based on the deity of the same name in Norse mythology; the same person we encountered in the game Age of Mythology where he was not this bad, manipulative or close to evil. He continues to be more than what he was in the mythology, and the old Norse poems as he is the super-villain around here on Earth for a change, rather than being Asgard’s trouble during the early times. That should be Marvel’s Loki without whom this movie would not have been possible, thus making him the true unsung hero and the true protagonist. Found by Odin and the biological son of a fallen frost giant king, this god is torn between his double identity between two kingdoms of Asgard and the Frost Giants, still trying to conquer more and more world as possible, and denying his existence of frost for living a god’s life in Asgard. Loki has always lacked the pure strength and bravery of Thor as he went on to become the manipulator and the master of illusion nothing less than a sorcerer who lived on lies, cheating and mischief, this aligning himself to evil from just being a trickster.

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man; that arrogant superhero who always gets more attention that he really deserves, and has become a crowd favourite these due to the one-liners. But due to the repetitions and the lack of innovation other than coming up with new suits and facing everything with that inherent arrogance which is the result of being a billionaire and a superhero at the same time, this is not the kind of role-model of a superhero that one should have. If it wasn’t for Robert Downey, this hero should have been dead and buried even before it came into existence in the Marvel movie world; still, this one is no match for his own Sherlock Holmes which will remain his best role for me. The Stark Industries would remain an evil entity run by the arrogance of Tony Stark. Well, without that suit, we know what Tony Stark is; a selfish, arrogant not-so-young character who lacks in goodness comapred to the other superheroes of the team, a quality of evil which he has surely attained with too much spent immersed in science and technology – a lesson for most of those people who are plugged into the internet posting stupid things and spreading hatred of the next level; also applicable to mindless fans, especially those of fixed games like cricket. Well, this guy still saves the world even as he is might be having a torture session with Satan at hell – what good have you done?

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers a.k.a Captain America; probably the best of the team, as a man with values, a modern day knight who knows honour and chivalry. This Chris Evans character is just the opposite of the Johnny Storm or Human Torch which he did in Fantastic Four and its sequel, for this one knows how to align to goodness. Human Torch might have been interesting as a character, but he was still more of the league of Iron Man in his extremity of arrogance and lack of respect for his fellow human beings. While we hope that that series would have a better Human Torch in its possible reboot releasing in 2015, it can be seen that Captain America is the undisputed leader, a deserving one. Captain America: The First Avenger was surely among the best superhero movies ever released, or the only true superhero movie in which the protagonist could be admired for being extremely righteous right from the beginning. We can hope that the 2014 release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier would also make one say the same. He didn’t begin with billions or physical supremacy, and knows what it means to be at the bottom of the pyramid, and this knowledge would help him to keep him from being carried away in the glory, as he is still that weak kid who committed the act of self-sacrificing bravery inside.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor (better known to many as Loki’s “adopted” brother); The next prince of Asgard for as many centuries as possible, as the king will always be Odin; he is based on the deity from the Norse mythology of the same name. He has that great advantage of having good practice at home, as it is his brother who creates all the mischief. He might have been acquainted with Loki from his childhood itself, but as he has tranformed into the god of muscle with special emphasis on the hammer carrying biceps from the controller of thunder and lightning, he might have had the lack of brain not only in this movie, but also in Thor. We can only hope that this character would have his lost brain back on November 8, 2013, when Thor: The Dark World releases. But in the movie, he is shown as the only person who can stand of his own against the Incredible Hulk even when he is on his mentally retarded rampage. That should be a good thing, as Hulk smashes even gods even while belonging to the same green alien race of the Lizardman of The Amazing Spider-Man. Thor’s presence is still the most wonderful thing to be seen, as he is an imposing figure with that hammer, and also brings variety from another world, as the outsider who fights for another world which doesn’t belong to him.

Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner a.k.a Hulk; this character is considered a genius scientist who can’t even control himself – such a waste, but still funny in stupidity adding lots of fun to the movie by being a mentally retarded green monster. Still, it is the original form of the doctor who makes the right impact on the movie. Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff a.k.a Black Widow steals the show even without any super powers, and same is the case of Clint Barton a.k.a Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), both having their moments in the movie. Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) is just there for the job. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury co-ordinates the whole thing. As this one has turned into more of a plot summary and character analysis, the fact remains that it is what the whole movie is about. These superheroes joined by a story of alien invasion and all the powerful 3D, special effects and CGI that supports it superbly. It is a visual treat like no superhero movie has ever given before. It is something which raised the bar, as it was taken to the extreme low with Transformers: Dark of the Moon when the robots turned stupid enough to ruin the movie with a similar alien invasion.

Release date: 4th May 2012
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgård

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Resident Evil V

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It is should be the right thing to say in this redundant flashback – that Resident Evil, in both its forms, as the movie and as the game, have been an integral part of my alternate reality. Thus this flashback to a few months ago is clearly justified. There are so many things that this one prepares us for, and the most important thing is to be prepared for a zombie apocalypse, and that a virus is the most evil and the powerful thing which could be created and manipulated by man in a zombie fiction, and proving it with a series of arrows from its quiver which is the game and movie collection. The addiction with this movie made my download even another movie The Resident by mistake, which was pretty good too, and being such a master in action-horror genre, our series makes such an impact on everyone who is not faint-hearted in an anti-gore manner, that the need for more of it arises. It is from this need that the game series has reached its peak, and the movie series has reached what is called Resident Evil: Retribution, and is going to reach that stage which is called Resident Evil: Armageddon which should be the last movie of this series unless they change their mind or do a reboot. In this world of pseudo-experts growing dislike for this movie, what you need to do though, is accept this movie with its flaws which are not really “the flaw” considering its origin.

As a continuation of the story, Alice (Milla Jovovich) and he friends are attacked by a group of airships led by Alice’s former ally and friend, Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), who has been brainwashed by the Umbrella Corporation through a red scarab device attached to her chest, a battle which results in an explosion which knocks her out and throws her into the water. Alice awakens as a prisoner in an Umbrella jail. Jill tortures Alice, but she escapes and fights through another world, the Tokyo simulation of the original outbreak and encounters Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) who has changed sides leaving the Umbrella Corporation behind. They go on a mission to save whatever is left of mankind, but before that they have to get out. They have to go through a number of artificial worlds though, the different virus outbreak simulations which are meant to test her clones and may be she can even encounter a few other faces of herself. As there are many simulations and recreations of outbreaks, with so many basic models in such testing environments with different roles assigned to the same Alice, as she might be a businesswoman in one, a housewife in another or even a soldier working for Umbrella Corporation in the next. It is another centre of pure scientific evil through which they have to go through to get out into the real world.

Resident Evil series can never be included in the list of pure action nor pure horror movies. It is a clear mixture of both, and what is has produced is a group of powerful female protagonists who are also incredibly good-looking in their attires, and comes up with breath-taking stunts. There are a few male characters who supports, but still fails to create the much needed impact. To add to it, the human villains remain the men, and zombies have to be considered beyond them. There are basically five female characters who have created a huge impact within the series, and among them, one is the main protagonist and two of them can be considered as her perfect partners in action. The other two also make a powerful impact upon presence. This is more of an improvement from both Underworld and Kill Bill series, which had such protagonists, but just one female in all cases, and so is the case of Alien series. What Resident Evil has done is that there are so many characters who have filled this apocalyptic future with their own style and characteristics, and they all have their significance in the future.

Milla Jovovich as Alice Alice, is the main protagonist of the Resident Evil film series. The story of each film is mostly about her own struggle with the Umbrella Corporation. She starts as lady wearing nothing other than two pieces of paper supported by a small thread, which is more like a superior fashion design which Umbrella seem to be interested in giving to their captives and research items from the number of movies she wears it – in the first movie, she starts under the shower with amnesia. This repetition of paper-clothing and her words about her name being Alice are the two things which seems to reiterate itself without any sense. But what is to be noticed is that she evolves into a highly efficient killing machine and more of a bio-weapon which is stopped from unleashing itself only by her conscience. Alice would seem to become more and more efficient throughout the series. It is even seen in her clothing, as she seems more like Underworld‘s Selene (Kate Beckinsale) in this movie, close to being the best female action protagonist. Alice’s superhuman abilities which she has achieved with the successful bonding with the T-virus which has negatively affected others, makes her more of a superhero character – she even has psychic abilities. Considering the number of clones of her which the Umbrella Corporation produces, one might even end up doubting if she who is depicted in the movie might be really that Alice of the first movie.

In the last movie, we saw that her superhuman abilities have been taken away by the disabling of her T-virus affected cells. Still, we can see that she is still strong enough in this movie as she comes up with those breath-taking stunts. But, at the end of this one, her powers are back with another injection as it is needed as the last hope for humanity. She is referred to as “Alice in Wasteland” in the posters of this movie, more of a combination of Alice in Wonderland and The Wasteland, thus combining the feelings of being in a different world of strange characters as well as feeling the disaster of the world. Li Bingbing as Ada Wong has run away from Umbrella to save the remnants of mankind in this movie, and she serves as support for Alice in Resident Evil: Retribution. She could be seen as another version of Alice itself, without the T-virus and involving in all the action and adventure with what seems to be her highly trained abilities. She could be another perfect clone of Alice with all that she seemed to be doing in the movie. Even in her first appearance in the movie series, she has created an impact which is on par with her character in the video game, and that is perfect.

Alison Elizabeth “Ali” Larter as Claire Redfield is first seen as the leader of a convoy of zombie apocalypse survivors in Resident Evil: Extinction. In Resident Evil: Afterlife, she is captured by the Umbrella Corporation and manipulated by a device that controls her mind before reuniting with Alice and her brother Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller). Claire did not return in this movie despite of the popularity of her character. Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, is back in this movie after being a major character in Resident Evil: Apocalypse. This time, she no longer is with Alice due to the mind-controlling device placed on her. It is upto Alice to bring her back to her side. These two characters would be needed as the main protagonists of a possible reeboot as they might be able to surpass Alice in creating a better impact on the viewers as they did in the game series. Michelle Rodriguez as Rain Ocampo is introduced in the first Resident Evil movie, where she works for the Umbrella Corporation’s commando division. In this movie, there are many of her, as good and bad clones are used as test subjects in the simulated environment, but they are all killed. So there is doubt if there would be any more of her in the next installment unless another return occurs for Michelle Rodriguez in the Fast & Furious 6 style.

I have believed in Resident Evil just like I believed in Silent Hill, as a computer game, and it is the same with the movies too, and I have never really tried to separate one experience from the other. The former had been with me till Resident Evil 4 and has been my favourite video game adaptation so far along with Hitman and Tomb Raider, and the latter is more of memories, mostly of Silent Hill 3. For me, this genre of fear was mostly about Undying, the first graphically good enough horror game which I had played. Well, these three games together make such an impact which nothing else can; the horror is possibly better than most of the horror movies around. The world of gaming has almost ended for me, even as there is a little dose of Age of Empires, Age of Wonders and Unreal Tournament at times – No true gamer with faith in computer gaming can forget the classics, right? I would wait for the release of the games based on Need For Speed, Deus Ex, Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed though, for they have more and more memories of another world, of that reality where I spent a good amount of my life. Here, the movie is strong in its action sequences and moments of horror and surprise supported by great 3D effects and awesome CGI with all the needed special effects. You can try to be pseudo-intellectual and dislike this movie, but it has continued to do what is expected of an action-horror video game adaptation.

Release date: 14th September 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Li Bingbing, Kevin Durand, Aryana Engineer, Shawn Roberts, Colin Salmon, Johann Urb, Boris Kodjoe

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Mama

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This one goes back a little to the past in this year itself, and this is one of those movies which could easily initiate such a sequence in the eternal time machine. This is rather more of the present than the past, as it doesn’t really go back that far if there is an intellectual consideration in depth. It was different in being different, and therefore its influence had to be such a lasting thing. There is one point where all the interest about this movie begins, and that is when one reads these lines from its cover – “Presented by Guillermo del Toro, creator of Pan’s Labyrinth“. He serves as executive producer, and as far as it is known, the movie is based on a 2008 short film of the same name in Spanish, about which there is nothing more to shoot in the quiver which is short of its crossbow bolts from that part of the world. The movie comes up with the dark tale of two little girls left in a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods, taken care of by an unknown person or creature that they call Mama, and the same entity even follows the girls to their new home to which their father’s brother takes them after finding them as two feral children.

During a financial crisis, a disappointed and depressed man, Jeffrey Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), kills his business partners and wife before taking his little children Victoria and Lilly away from home. Driving too fast on a road paved by snow and upset with all the thoughts about his failures and the crimes he had committed, the car slides off the path and crashes in the woods. Jeffrey takes the children and walks away from civilization, finally reaching something that seems to be an abandoned cabin. He plans to murder his daughters and commit suicide with a gun, but then a mysterious figure arrives in time to instantly kill him and it also feeds the two children. Victoria talks about the figure as a woman whose legs don’t touch the ground. Then the scene shifts to five years later, with Jeffrey’s brother, the kids’ uncle Lucas Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), living with his girlfriend Annabel Moore (Jessica Chastain). They don’t live under good conditions, but Lucas haven’t lost hope about finding the children of his brother. He still sponsors search parties hoping to find some trace of his brother and children.

One of them find the children alive in the same cabin, but dirty, half-naked, horribly thin and with an animal-like behaviour – walking on four legs and talking like making some strange noises. The girls are put under the care of psychatirst Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash). They keeps talking about someone called “Mama”. He feels that it is just a creation of the girls’ minds as they were alone in the woods without help. But soon, Lucas is attacked by the same shadowy figure known as Mama and enters a comma. Annabel is forced to take care of the girls all by herself even as Mama’s visits continue. Annabel does get close to the elder child, Victoria, but Lilly remains hostile and highly attached only to Mama. Meanwhile, Gerald finds out something about this mysterious figure from the clues which Victoria gave away. Mama is a mother separated from her child – she used to be Edith Brennan, a mental asylum inmate in the 1800s. He also finds a box containing an infant’s remains from that former mental asylum which was kept as her belonging there. Meanwhile, Annabel has a nightmare revealing Mama’s past which reveals more about her. Lucas also has a disturbing dream of his dead brother Jeffrey telling him to save his kids.

But there might have been more about Mama that what met the eye. She is undoubtedly supernatural as well as tormented. The problem remained if she is normal and thus if she is reasonable. The psychatrist might have thought so, but the experience doesn’t go well for him. Even Lucas and his wife has to go through near-death experiences. So the question would be more about “why mama why?” rather than “who is mama?”. Well, mama is undoubtedly a former mother who no longer exists as a human mother. The nature of her strange love for her child is evident from her asylum background. The question might be about how much torment a mentally unstable ghost can cause to a group of normal, living people. That would be a lot of it, much more than what the mentally unstable father of two little children could do. How much is the chance of one making peace with her? It wasn’t possible when she was alive, and considering the fact that she is more motivated by the love for children rather than anything else, the solution becomes even more complicated in the human world.

Mama is a visual treat of a horror film, and not part of the gory ones which take over in the usual style. There is a well-created world of horror right in front of you all the time, and then suddenly there is a scene that takes your breath further away and then it goes back to normal to await the next thing. Welcome to this story of old-style less bloody horror movie of low gore level. There are signs of Guillermo del Toro’s magical extravaganza Pan’s Labyrinth or El laberinto del fauno, are evident in both the characters as well as the environment. There is the feeling of a dark fantasy through out and there is the lack of sunshine which is more motivating than the depressing thing which it might have become, which is a success in all ways. It’s just how horror films should be, without using any cheap or low class tricks. The looks of Mama is also a revelation, as she emerges from the walls or closet, sometimes suddenly and on other occasions as if part of all the horror that surrounds them. The use of moths to show Mama’s presence is a further effective thing, as it shows more of her tormented sould which is not completely evil, thus owl, crow or bat not chosen; neither is the wolf or cat given a chance at it. Mama is more of a butterfly rather than anything else, but a fierce one.

The movie’s dark world move along the path of Pan’s Labyrinth, but it is still not of that class of ultimate perfection and awesomeness, and still is close enough. It meets Hansel and Gretel in its witch-like creature who is less of a ghost and more of an undead freak of nature. There it shows the qualities of The Orphan meeting The Grudge and The Ring in a good way. Mama could have even made a good creature in Alien or The Exorcist, and the creature’s success is in its strange, but “suitable for almost every genre” looks. She is a dark fairy, the nature’s spectre, the tormented undead mother and the dark elf. She belongs to nature and as a creature to the living, she is more moth or a group of moths rather than anything else. They signify her presence, and if she takes the children with her, there will be more moths for sure. There is the positive thing – the innovation, for how the ghost is treated around here with a difference. The movie is fresh in its treatment of a new ghostly creature with heavy parental instincts. Such a creature is not onne would expect in such a movie, and until it appears everything might look more psychological than supernatural, even if the signs are already there from the beginning itself.

While Mama is a benevolent spirit when it comes to two children, but she is a malevolent and even a death-dealer with everyone else. She hasn’t yet become pure evil, even as her allignment away from goodness and sanity is clear by the climax scene. Even her unseen presence suggests the same. Her moths symbolize the little beauty that she has lost to death and decay and the beautiful world which was lost to her more due to the people around rather than her own madness. There are no usual suspects of the common supernatural, as there is only the variation which is Mama. The movie is very much dependent on your taste to survive, but the fact remains that it is more close to being suitable for all people with not that much blood and gore, or the display of any kind of nudity – well, this one never needed it considering its content and presentation. There is not much of a male gaze or a possible female gaze working out in this one. It is story of an undead mother’s love and with the addition of insanity to it, there is a lot to think about. There is no compromise in being spooky or creepy enough though.

Release date: 18th January 2013
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Hangover III

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There was the age of the wolf-pack, with its own lone wolf with a beard. They have extended that age so much that the first movie had to suffer the consequences of getting the bad name of not inspiring worthy enough sequels. No, the sequels are not that horrible, but they are just faded visions of what the original was, and considering what Dude, Where’s My Car? happened to be, and the memory loss being shown in an even better way before the series, these two sequels struggle to keep up with them. Well, stupidity might save one or two movies, and the same theme which doesn’t have that much chance of repetition can’t be that much of a saviour, but as long as this part is concerned, it has just managed to make it interesting enough. It surely trails in comparison to the other Hollywood movies in the theatres right now, but it has surely made it into the good movies list, and the moments when it was going to go down can be forgiven. It has fought hard, and it has made sure that it won’t lose. As most of the shows are now already nearly booked and full around here, I guess it will have a good run here.

Welcome the wolf-pack again, for this should be their final battle in the big screen together in a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, “it ends” style unless they decide to expand the triology many years later or create a spin-off or a reboot; Bradley Cooper as Phil Wenneck (the unproclaimed, but still the seeming leader of the lost wolf gang), Ed Helms as Dr. Stuart Price (the dentist-doctor with a gorgeous Thai connection) a.k.a Stu, Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner (former member of a lone wolf-pack) and Justin Bartha as Doug Billings (the man lost and found in Las Vegas and to be lost again). Well, they surely must have had a death wish, not only in the movie, but also outside, as they were on a battle against Fast & Furious 6 which had already accumulated enough people to watch the movie with its first trailer itself. There were people who forgot everything else just for that one racing-action-adventure movie, and unfortunately, this movie doesn’t create that high an impression, and it also fails to invoke curiosity, thanks to the second installment of the series which preceded this. But the gang is still up for a fight, and they will surely win territories especially because the Vin Diesel starrer was released one week earlier at this part of the world.

After being arrested in Bangkok, Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from prison through a tunnel he made in the The Shawshank Redemption style using a prison riot as cover. Meanwhile, Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) has gotten mentally worse and tries buying a giraffe as a friend but it gets beheaded under a bridge causing a Final Destination 2 situation on the highway minus the horrible deaths. His father is shocked and angry at him and dies of a heart attack. After the funeral, Alan’s old friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper), Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) and Stuart Price (Ed Helms) make a return to find out that he is kind of out of control and decides to get him to rehabilitation centre. But they are captured by Marshall (John Goodman) and asks them to return the gold Chow had stolen from them, along with the robber himself, as Alan was the only one in contact with him through letters to and from the Thai prison. He also keeps Doug as a prisoner so that they won’t stray away from their path. Now they have three days to find the person or their friend dies, an equation which is simple enough.

Alan has an e-mail from Chow talking about them meeting in the city of Tijuana in Mexico. Stu and Phil attempt to drug Chow and capture him, but when he finds it out, they reveal to him about the deal with Marshall and the need to save Doug. Chow agrees to take the gold back to the man, but it is stored in the walls of the basement of a Mexican villa that he used to own before he was captured by the police. Stu, Alan and Phil goes on the robbery mission with Chow and successfully find and take out the gold from inside the walls. But Chow cheats them, as he locks them down in the basement, alerts the security, and escapes with Phil’s own vehicle. They are arrested, but are surprised when they are taken back to the house from where the stole the money. There they meet Marshall again who tells them that Chow had lied to them amd the villa never belonged to him, and the gold which they were stealing belonged to Marshall. But he gives them another chance, as they already found Chow and they might be the only ones who might know where to look for him. So the wolf-pack is out there again, this time with less clues.

One thing that might be clearer than most of the things out there must be the fact that there is no real hangover in this one and therefore the title is of lesser significance and this one belonging to the series is more of a less suitable thing. But still, arguing that this movie is the result of two hangovers that happened earlier, and mostly the first one, this is that part of the series which is an extension. It has both the first and the second parts in it, and it tries to build on those two, and without them, this movie is absolute nothingness. The movie successfully deviates from the original formula, but that has done not much good, except for bringing a little dark shade associated with what was otherwise good fun. This dark side is rather an eclipse and with it should this movie series end, as it is known. But they have given themselves a scope for another movie with that end, and it is not a good sign. It should have ended with the scene before the closing credits, but it chose to bring a hangover element to this movie after it had successfully finished. That was one of the worst things ever, as a happy ending which is really an end, would have done this series a lot of good. Now someone might think about building on it and make it miserable without knowing that all good things must end well.

There is lot of fun, but it should still be considered as a lazy effort, with nothing special to offer, and what it has done is that it has alienated the common viewers who loved it even further more. The essence of losing one person has been kept in there though, as one person is destined to be lost in every movie of the series, and this time, it is again Doug which gets his “I am lost, please find me” score to two out of three, which is very good as he has much less to do even as an important member of the wolf-pack. There is too much of Chow instead, which is surely funny, but at times it does get irritating. The most laughter-deriving character is still that of Alan, and there is nothing changing that this time too. For the Malayalam movie watchers, there is a little bit of Jagadish from In Harihar Nagar in Alan this time, and it can be identified by the way in which he cries with no reason. 2 Harihar Nagar and In Ghost House Inn had made better sequels in Malayalam, but this one doesn’t do that much good to the original. The lack of innovation haunts this movie in its soul and the jokes might not be enough for all.

Behold the negative reviews though, for how much can something go on with a group of alcoholic drug addicts who mess up things because of their own fault only. The repetition always have its limitations, and the lack of repetition leads to a diversion from what made this series a grand success; such is the confusion and thus the complication. There is a limit to what drugs and alcohol can achieve, even in the movies. With the signs, “Alcohol is injurious to Health”, “Smoking is Injurious to Health” and “Drugs Kill”, the movie might have been against the use of the drugs which started all the trouble in the first place, but in many ways, it also glorifies the same, just as the Malayalam movie Spirit glorifies alcohol consumption throughout the first half. The comparison is surely far-fetched, but when you deconstruct them, there is a seventy five percent chance that you come up with the same conclusion once in a while. As this is an R-rated comedy, one has to wonder how much the censor board has cut just to make it adjustable to this world. One has to wait for the DVD to know exactly how much of the movie has gone to the grave, never seen by the people of this part of the world. Still, this time it looks less cut and that is a surprise!

Release date: 31st May 2013 (India), 23rd May 2013 (USA)
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham, Jeffrey Tambor, Justin Bartha, John Goodman, Jamie Chung, Lela Loren

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.